Housing - no way near a bottom

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Cutten, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. ***A pretty good article with decent stats***

    U.S.News & World Report
    A Housing Crisis Checklist
    Friday July 27, 3:33 pm ET

    By Alex Markels

    Have we seen the worst of the housing downturn?
    Most experts agree that things are likely to get worse before they get better. But with prices firming and inventories of unsold homes now falling in many areas, some at least see signs of a market bottom.


    Here are five reasons to be hopeful--and five to be fearful--about the housing market.

    The Glass Half Full
    1. Lower inventories: The dramatic oversupply of unsold homes is finally beginning to fall--by about 4 percent last month, according to the latest figures from the National Association of Realtors. That's still an 8.8-month supply at current sales rates (well over the six-month threshold that signals a buyer's market), but it at least suggests that supply and demand are beginning to come in line.

    2. Firming prices: Although one month does not a trend make, prices of existing homes have staged a bit of a comeback of late and are actually higher than they were a year ago, according to the NAR. Unfortunately, sales volume has continued to drop as sellers brush off buyers' low-ball offers. But at least those houses that do sell are going for a bit more.

    3. No subprime spillover: As spooked as stock market investors have been by the subprime mortgage mess, the overall economy is holding up just fine. Employment is strong in most parts of the country, and consumer spending--the economy's most important growth engine--is humming right along, both of which suggest that home buyers remain able, if not willing, to pull the trigger when the right house comes along.

    4. Steady mortgage rates: Although they've ticked up a bit since earlier this summer--to about 6.6 percent for a fixed-rate loan, versus about 6.2 percent a month ago--mortgage rates remain below their historical norms and aren't expected to rise substantially in the near future. So with personal income rising and house prices steady or falling, buyers can now afford more house than they could have a year ago.

    5. Tightening mortgage credit: Lenders are taking a much closer look at mortgage applications--verifying income, assets, and the like--as they look to reduce their exposure to bad loans. The long-overdue move may slacken demand over the short run, but it will prevent the sort of surge in delinquencies and foreclosures that has recently wreaked havoc on the market.

    The Glass Half Empty
    1. Rising foreclosures: The subprime mortgage meltdown has contributed to national foreclosure rates that have nearly doubled in the past year. (They're actually up nearly 800 percent in California.) With little or no equity, many subprime borrowers are simply walking away from their homes, leaving their bankers holding the bag and the neighbors staring at the unsold eyesore across the street. And with more foreclosures expected as a flood of adjustable-rate mortgages reset higher over the coming year, supplies of unsold homes will only increase--at the worst time possible.

    2. Builders keep building: Despite a sharp falloff in construction permits, home builders with thousands of acres of undeveloped land have little choice but to keep building. The result: Inventories of unsold new homes have fallen by a paltry 5 percent over the past year. Some economists say it will take a decline of at least four times that before the market--and prices--finally firm up.

    3. Lenders getting cold feet: Tightening credit standards may help the market over the long run, but they are crimping buyers' ability to get in the game. Moreover, the disaster in the subprime mortgage market has all but dried up demand for subprime-backed bonds and is even making investors in other, less-risky mortgage-backed securities skittish. The likely result: less liquidity in the market and, if things get worse, a full-blown credit crunch that could dry up key sources of home-lending dollars.

    4. Houses still unaffordable: Despite falling nationally by about 4 percent since their price peak in 2006, houses in many parts of the country remain less affordable than at any time in the past 15 years. Although personal incomes are rising in most areas, it would take three or more years of flat house prices for affordability to get back to where it was before the recent boom--either that or an additional 5 percent haircut on the median price of a home.

    5. Not-so-prime borrowers (or lenders): The wild card still to play out in the housing market is whether all those prime loans made during the heyday of the easy-money boom are as first rate as many mortgage brokers led lenders to believe. News that Countrywide Financial--long regarded as a lending bellwether--has suffered increasing defaults by its prime borrowers is a sign that shoddy lending standards (and outright fraud) have put too much house in the hands of people with too little money to pay the mortgage.
    #51     Aug 8, 2007
  2. ElCubano


    but there are thousands of vacant condos and homes and more on the way and alot for sale signs and no buyers....and although i agree with you 100% on it being cheap relative to other big name cities; the huge amount of inventory and the lack of purchasers and on top of that the cutting off of the spicket of easy getting loans leads me to believe we might be seeing some more trouble ahead, at least here in my area.......this is not to say that one buying today will lose money, he/she might just have to wait it out....because i agree lots of people want to live here and near the water and we gots plenty of that....
    #52     Aug 8, 2007
  3. Adobian


  4. Arnie


    One thing you might be over looking is commercial RE. The last bear in RE (early '90's) was due to over speculation in commercial RE that splilled over into residential RE. Lot of people forget that. Residential always gets the headlines.
    #54     Aug 8, 2007
  5. You posted that article today, but it was written on July 27th....

    AHM was a 10 dollar stock that day.

    Mortgage rates are up over 1% since then.

    The article and it's stats are meaningless now.
    #55     Aug 8, 2007
  6. Cutten


    That article contains one egregious error:

    "And why should a crisis in subprime drive down stocks in Mexico and Thailand? Again, because the speculators seek to create panic to make money by selling short, and they sell short everything.

    There's simply no connection between subprime and developed or developing nations' stocks."

    Well, they do have a connection - they are all risky assets, and thus their valuation is affected by the risk premium which investors demand to take on risk.

    If the risk premium rises, then the price of everything from subprime to junk bonds to emerging market stocks & bonds all gets hit in the same way.

    He is making the mistake of thinking that the only thing which ought to affect price is the outlook for fundamentals. He forgets that the risk premium is the other key factor in pricing of financial assets. And since the risk premium is pretty much a global thing nowadays (given free capital movement), then a crash in subprime and risky US debt will indeed affect the pricing of Mexican banks or Thai cement companies.

    His attempt to create a bogeyman of evil speculators is just laughable.

    This guy just doesn't understand a rather basic factor of financial asset pricing. I'm quite frankly surprised that the guy studied economics - he can't have been paying much attention in class. It's irresponsible of yahoo to allow him to post on personal finance, if this is the sort of thing he comes out with.
    #56     Aug 8, 2007
  7. from a trade perspective, i am looking to short IYR into strength

    nice risk/reward and hedge in this play
    #57     Aug 8, 2007
  8. ElCubano


    wouldn't that make it a better buy???

    when tech companies imploded it dragged the entire market down....and left some pretty sweet deals out in the open....the ones that had good fundamentals...but i understand what you said..i undersatnd why it would drag it down, but can it keep it down for long is the question...peace
    #58     Aug 8, 2007
  9. Toro KMA

    Toro KMA

    #59     Aug 8, 2007
  10. =============
    Probably about right, especially TN;
    seems overly optimistic for Michigan,
    even with lake/water prop increase . Thanks,Toro.

    Short sale home just closed on my street;
    probably more of those ,
    despite good RE uptrends, also:cool:
    #60     Aug 11, 2007