This week, there was no hot air in the Zeppelin commentary. In fact it was so heavy, I don’t think it got off the ground. Here’s a sample:
* It’s interesting reading everyone talk about the inpact of interest rates on the slowing real estate market. “Rates when up .24356, that’s why real estate is slowing” etc. That is nothing! I live in Florida. I paid $3500 for my home owners policy last year. I thought that was too high. I just got my renewal notice. My new premium is $12,500! That’s an increase of $700 per month! Florida and the coastal areas of the US are in a free fall in property values as it is. This new wave of insurance hikes will be a disaster for coastal property values!
* Are you allowed to say “in a gentrifying area”?
* I have come to belive all news is presented in the most negative light possible, especially news about the economy. I have also come to believe that most people who post comments to blogs or news stories want the sky to be falling (I don’t know why – but it appears to be the case). I expect that you will be bashed for trying to “keep it in perspective”. [as I suspected, Matrix readers didn’t do that – Jonathan]
* We can strip away all the information overload and focus in to what real estate pricing is all about which is simply supply and demand.
* You definitely pinpointed the limited usefulness of the RealtyTrac report in that the comparison should be to the national housing stock that has mortgages. That’s exactly what the Mortgage Bankers Association did in a survey out today, which puts the foreclosure rate for the second quarter at .99 percent — up 1 basis point from last quarter, but down 1 basis point from the same quarter last year. If you have a lot more people taking out loans, as they did in the boom years, the (raw) number of foreclosures is naturally going to go up, even if people are just continuing to default at the same old rate. The real question is what’s the number of homes in foreclosure as a percentage of all loans. The MBA survey did show a pretty good bump in the number of delinquencies on subprime and FHA loans, however (and even prime ARMs), but chief economist Doug Duncan said he doesn’t expect “order of magnitude” increase in delinquencies next year. Companies like RealtyTrac are in the business of selling info about foreclosed properties to investors, and maybe the raw numbers mean something to that crowd — like more opportunities to cash in on others’ misfortunes. Which doesn’t mean their numbers aren’t true. They just, as you say, lack perspective.
* Here in Southern California, foreclosures (Notice of Defaults, actually) are sky-rocketing. In the first year of this housing market down cycle, the monthly number of NODs is already nearing the worst monthly levels of the 1990’s housing market down cycle. Yes, this is perspective. This is going to get very ugly before the sun starts to rise again.
* Now that you mention it, Lereah has been MIA for the NAR — hadn’t noticed that. Stevens tenure is about to end, so we soon won’t have him to kick around any more. But let’s give it one more shot. The Washington Post carried a piece last Saturday about (essentially) NAR President Stevens getting caught in the market … um … correction. “his old house in Great Falls has now been on the market for a year at the price of $1.45 million.”What I should have done,” confessed the senior vice president of NRT Inc., parent of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, “was listened to my agent and cut the price by $50,000 to $100,000 early on, and the property would have sold last October.” Or, even better, he said, “I should have listed it a month earlier,” when the market was only just beginning to lose air.” [And on, and on he goes.](http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/08/AR2006090800760.html) I don’t know what average days on the market is in the DC area, but I bet it is less than 365. And Stevens hasn’t sold yet…
* I was under the impression that prior to the impending bonuses of 2006, 2005 was also a record year. However, it didn’t seem to do all that much for housing – maybe in the luxury/ultra luxury area, but not overall. We still had a lousy spring. So I can’t see why that would change this year, with inventory so much higher. Besides, don’t all those rich guys own by now?
* New York’s economy is strong, and people are pouring in. In the short run, therefore, any price decrease would be the result of prices being too high relative to income to being with, and nothing else. I think that may happen. Next year, however, it may also be that weakness in the housing market elsewhere causes weakness in the economy elsewhere and weakness in the stock market, working its way back to NYC. Bonuses will be at record levels this year, but Crains reported on Monday Wall Street’s three-year bull-run is losing steam. “After a terrific first half, earnings are expected to fall 40% in the second half…The slowdown is hitting virtually every trade plied on Wall Street. Stock and bond underwriting volume plunged nearly 50% in the summer quarter compared with a year earlier. The hugely lucrative businesses of advising on corporate mergers and taking companies public are also slumping.” Perhaps, with a slowdown coming, those high flying finanical geniuses won’t blow their bonuses this time around. Naaaah.
* But you DON’T have perspective until you can answer the question, “What is the impact of NODs (or foreclosures) on the market?” Are they affecting inventory? By how much? What other pressures are there on inventory? The RealtyTrac survey reports 12,506 California homes entered into foreclosure in August — up 25 percent from July and 160 percent from the year before. That sounds pretty serious, right? Well, maybe not if foreclosures were at historic lows. Maybe not if some 500,000 homes change hands in the state every year. Which is not to say that the market’s not soft, especially in particular areas. Inventory in the state is up — CAR puts it at 7.5 months in July, versus 2.9 months same time last year. But what is causing inventory to rise? Is it because more homes are going into foreclosure, or because houses are just sitting on the market because they are overpriced? The bottom line is that the raw number of foreclosures, by itself, doesn’t tell you that much about supply and demand.