Thursday, April 20, 2006

Notable quotables

**InfidelSix notes: Nicked off Housing Panic**
Robert Campbell said...

As a real estate builder/developer in San Diego, I lost $700,000 cash and three years of my time when the Southern California housing market crashed in the early 1990s.

Housing prices fell by 30 to 40 percent from the peak of the market in 1990 to the bottom of the marke in 1997.

As a 2nd generation buider/developer, I know from first hand experience that anybody that says real estate is always a good investment is either a liar or a fool.

Nothing is permanently safe in this world. Nothing. And that's why 96% of all Americans end up essentially broke and living on Social Security when they retire at age 65.

Sad but true.

Sunday, April 16, 2006 8:25:01 PM

**InfidelSix notes: RTC is Resolution Trust Company. Google it yerself!**

Anonymous said:
I'm the former RTC REO Marketing Analyst, but prefer to be Anonymous because I know some people are going to become very alarmed and very angry when I discuss what happened the last time.

When I left the RTC at HomeFed Bank in 1991, the RTC was in the process of closing down. It was the tail end of that cycle.

While at the RTC, I personally sold bank REO for 20%-30% of what it appraised for just two and three years earlier. Not for 20-30% less, but 20-30% of that real estate's former value from just 2-3 years earlier.

Mortgage defaults and bank REO are increasing rapidly already as of today. Keep in mind that banking regulators will never give lenders leeway to play the market so to speak, or hold on to REO in the hope of an improving market to get a better price or to cover their nut (i.e., mortgage). They HAVE to get those non-performing assets OFF their books. I have lots of stories about those days and I'm convinced this time it will be far worse because back then we didn't have any of the Geo-Political crises we have now (rampant illegal immigration, wars, we're a bigger debtor nation, we have a bigger trade imbalance with China than we ever had with Japan I'm sure, etc., etc.), interest rates that were artificially depressed to levels not seen in 40 years, dangerous and irresponsible lending products, and because the advent of the internet now facilitates the free flow of information much faster. Look at all the housing bubble blogs there are with all the reliable data they are providing. It's almost an avalanche of data supporting why all but the most ill-informed should not be looking to buy for at least 2 years.

I remember telling people in 1989-1990 that the writing was on the wall and nobody listened because there was no publicly available data (brokers like me knew based on MLS data only available to members) to cite in support of the impending crash, and the media, especially newspapers, weren't going to report it because their largest advertising constituency is Realtors/brokers.

With the internet and the info that is available on it, you'll soon see the amount of time it takes for real estate to crash significantly compacted this time. Just look how fast things have turned bad since just before the holiday season started last year.

Homeowners are now increasingly starting to put their homes up for sale to get an early start on the summer home buying season, and some are just now realizing how inventories on their local MLS's have tripled, quadrupled and worse. As of today, ZipRealty reports that San Diego is just about 4 weeks away (based on the average daily increase in inventory I have been monitoring since late last summer) from breaking the old record of 19,250 during the last down cycle.
I know some have said that you can't use that figure because San Diego has a larger population today, but I disagree and here's why. There are far more FSBO related companies today than 15 years ago because of the Internet and collectively, many of their their thousands of listings are not included in the ZipRealty figures. Also keep in mind that last year population in the County went down, and don't be surprised when it goes down again after this year finishes up.

Look how the tone of articles from mainstream media in the last 2 months alone have changed. Panic has already set in for many, but they have no idea how ugly it will get.

The one thing I'm always amazed to find out is how many borrowers think that when their home goes back to the bank, that's the end of their problems. What they don't realize is that if the lender writes off or forgives any debt to them (i.e., short sale, etc.) the former borrower will get a 1099 for the amount of that forgiven debt as though they had received it as income. If they sold their home through a short sale at the begining of the year and they got a 1099 by January 30th of the following year, they not only have to pay taxes on that forgiven debt, but now penalties and interest too, because it was due (unless you pay estimated quarterly taxes) at the time the debt was forgiven. I personally knew a borrower who had 11 rental properties and after he lost the first one to foreclosure, he got hit with a huge IRS penalty. He started selling off the others, but had huge tax hits because of depreciation recapture, and because the market was getting worse, he could not sell some for what he owed. I was an underwriter at the time and on paper, just prior to losing his first property he had equity of over $1,000,000; but in the end he lost it all because he couldn't sell in a market where bank REO dominated, and when he tried, the tax hit from depreciation recapture buried him further.

The same sheeple psychology that drove everyone to ignore cash flow fundamentals by flipping condos and homes based on the greater fool theory, will invert like it did in 1990, and for the next few years you'll hear nothing about real estate except how terrible of an investment it is, and it will be true for those who either bought with high leverage or refinanced with max cash out based on the value of their homes in the last 2 years.

And anyone who says rents will catch up to all the adjusting I.O. and ARM loans is in fantasy land.
Between 1990 & 1994, I had my landlord reduce my rent three times by simply giving notice that I could rent a better condo at the
beach for less. And you know why that's possible? Because of all the bank REO that was (and will be again) unloaded on the market. Owners who buy REO can easily compete on price alone. Market rent is meaningless to them. I rent a $750K place now and have been renting since we sold our residence in 2002 and our rent is under $2,000 and in the 5 years we'll have been here, the rent will have only increased by 3% from 2002 through 2007.

To those who ask how long to wait and how low will it get, here's my answer. Even though the Internet will compact the time it takes to crash, I still say don't even think about buying for at least another 18 months. Don't be fooled by ocassional news or market conditions that lead you to think things have turned better because that always happens on the way down, just as it does with stocks on companies you know are "Dead Man Walking".

As far as the percentage, don't think in terms of what percentage it will go down relative to the overall market, but what discount you can get on hardship situations, like bank REO. I think you will be able to get property for 20-30% of what it appraised for in 2005. Trust me. Even if you don't for whatever reason, others who are diligent will.

In 1995, my wife and I bought a La Jolla 1-BR condo one block to WindanSea beach with a peek ocean view off the balcony. It was in default and we bought it for a total price of $104,000 AND got the broker to kick in half his commission. That's how bad it was last time : )


Sunday, April 16, 2006 10:55:03 PM

Has anyone noticed the cliff up ahead?

Those people who are now wondering how they got into such a pickle (read: screwed) must feel like they're on a train headed toward a cliff ... and wondering how to get off. If you bought 3 condos to flip & now you're neighbors are trying to sell for less than you paid (and they're still not selling) then you're the sucker left chairless when the music stopped.

So the dollar is dropping, Gold and oil are soaring, and housing has stalled. What's a FED committee to do? Raise rates, killing housing and slowing the economy, but propping up the dollar? Or sacrifice the dollar and discontinue the raises?

Recently, the FED hinted at ending rate hikes. This, after they had suggested there would be at least one or two more for now. Hmmmm... they must be reading the blogs.

Meanwhile foreclosures in Los Angeles County increased by 63 percent this quarter (YOY). But it's even worse in Colorado.

But really, it's just begun. Most ARM's haven't even reset yet. When they do, hold on. A 2% increase from 4.5 to 6.5 on a median priced home will increase your mortgage $1000/mo. And you can't sell if you're underwater in negative equity. Mortgage payments may even double for those who had short-term "teaser" rates. Yikes!

Meanwhile back in the RE market, buyers are finally finding themselves no longer in a very disadvantageous position. No having to decide on the spot, no bidding wars. No pressure from knowing that this property will be sold the same weekend it goes on the market (and there will be 20 offers). Seller have ridden roughshod over buyers for many years. But the boom is over. Dead. And now it's funny to hear the greedy sellers complain. All of a sudden there's not enough sensitivity! Like the Prom Queen/cheerleader who finally has to get a job like everyone else. What goes around comes around. Deal with it.

So what about this soft landing? Arguing for a soft landing is the halt in FED rate hikes. Competition between Lenders (due to a lot less applicants) has pressured Lenders into not tightening they're lending standards (or pushing they're dangerous/exotic loans) even in the face of rising foreclosures. But I don't believe it can overcome the inertia of speculation that has fueled the boom. "speculation was rampant thru '05. An that has pretty much ended.

A Florida developer has stated: "The market has totally collapsed."

Wells Fargo, one of the nation's largest mortgage lenders, felt the impact of the slowdown in the housing market in the quarter. The bank said home mortgage revenue declined 43 percent, from $1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2005 to $853 million in the first quarter of this year.

Smells like housing related layoffs are forthcoming.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

93 Percent of Lenders Predict Housing Prices Will Drop 10 - 20 Percent

The Realtors will tell you there is no bubble. Try not to choke on your kool-aid when they tell you they expect apprection to slow to 6-9%.

The mortgage lenders think different.
Here is what they think

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tighter lending standards = less buyers

If the housing opportunity index (affordability) for Los Angeles is 2 (The percentage of new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2005 that were affordable by a family earning the metro area’s median income) and lending requirements are tightened, who will be left to buy the $500K-$700K "starter" homes.

Read this to judge for yourself if defaults & foreclosures are going to influence lending and the housing market. Beware: some of the #'s are shocking!
First Federal's reliance on mortgages that allow for reduced payments at the start raise concerns among regulators and analysts.

Can OTS manuevers force lenders to hold back more reserves and shrink the money supply and pressure a recession?

An oldie but a goodie

Just found this one. Who says you can't time the market.