Housing Market Predictions from RE Connect

To follow up from last week’s Inman Connect, here are the answers from panelists to the question, “When will the housing market recover?”

Noah Rosenblatt, Founder of Urbandigs
Severe and deep recession, housing may bottom at the end of 2009 with recovery in 2011.

Dottie Herman, President, Prudential Douglas Elliman
We’ll hit bottom in the first quarter of 2009, after the election and stay flat for a few years.

Avram Goldman, President and CEO of Pacific Union GMAC Real Estate
We’re in a recession now. Some markets will do fine and go up, some markets will be down a long time.

Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism
I wish I could say 2010.  The Alt-A ARM resets bother me because they will peak in 2011.  Market will bottom in 2010 and stay flat for a long time.

John Williams, Economist; Shadowstats.com
We’ll have an L shaped decline, hyperinflation, and a great depression.

CR, CalculatedRisk
Foreclosures are moving upstream. Notice of defaults will rise in the mid and higher price ranges. They’ll never reach the foreclosure levels of the subprime loans, but foreclosures in the mid and higher price ranges will rise.  Wonders if our government is out of tricks; the new housing bill doesn’t do much, but we have to have confidence in our GSEs.  Different areas will bottom out at different times: 2010 to 2012.

Same question, two days later, different panel. Here are their answers:

Alex Perriello, CEO Realogy
We’ll have a sloppy, rocky, bumpy bottom. It’s not pretty where we are today. Inventory is key.  We can support 4.6 to 4.8 million sales nationwide. The last time inventory was this high (nationwide it is 11 months) was in 1986.  Inventory drives price.  Realtors should datamine their clients who bought 2002 and prior: Sell them a new home! Market to renters! Alex says it’s too early to call the bottom.

Joel Singer, EVP, California Assoc of Realtors
Prices are exploding downward in CA. Worried that if anything happens to the GSEs all bets are off. There’s a lot of wild cards in the financial sector. Cali seems to have hit a bottom but this may be a false bottom.

Patrick Stone, Chairman, The Stone Group
What hasn’t been fully communicated is that price stability has been achieved in a third of the country.  In the next six months, we’ll see another third achieve it.  The last third will achieve price stability in “probably one year” unless we have a cataclysmic event where the impact on our economy could be severe. The stability of our financial system is paramount to finding the bottom.

Jonathan Miller, Co-Founder, Miller Samuel, inc.
It’s very challenging for appraisers to come up with a value when there’s a lower pace of sales. Until progress is made with the credit markets, it is too soon to talk about the bottom.  To call a bottom is not professional. We can’t do it.

The Housing Crisis is Like Hurricane Katrina

There were four back-to-back panel sessions on the topic of Foreclosures at Real Estate Connect this morning. Here are some sound bites and quotes.

There are 25,000 homes per MONTH in California that are going back to the lender.  This is going to create a glut of housing inventory for many months into the forseeable future.  The percentage of loan modifications that are re-defaulting and going into foreclosure is high.  Estimates are 40% or higher.

In Cali, the very low end price range REO homes are now selling to long term investors who are are able to put a renter in that house and make their cash flow goals. 

There are an estimated 400,000 people living in their homes for free in California right now.  Lenders are stalling the foreclosure process because there simply is not enough people working in the loss mitigation departments to process all the paperwork.

There is a huge problem nationwide with listing agents who are taking short sale listings and have no clue on how to help the homeowner navigate through the short sale process.

Quote: “This [the housing crisis] is like Hurricane Katrina.”

Question to the panelists: How can consumers who are facing foreclosure help themselves?
Answer from Frances Flynn Thorsen, “Stay away from Realtors.” 

Jillayne here. That answer brought forth many laughs and suprised blurts of shock.  I personally think this took quite a lot of moxie to say in a room filled with Realtors. The point Frances was trying to make was that not all homeowners who are in default want to sell their home!  When real estate agents stick with only a single mindset that selling is the ONLY option, they are doing a grave disservice to their clients.  Frances said it is imperative that agents connect homeowners with either Acorn or NACA or some other HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency that can effectively negotiate with the lender, and to make sure the homeowner receives legal counsel from attorneys who specialize in consumer protection law, which is something they can find at NACA. 

There are very few loan modifications being granted if the homeowner is seriously underwater. The example given was $2,000 in monthly income and $11,000 in monthly debts.  No loan mod for that consumer because the chances of re-defaulting are way too high.  This homeowner may be better served through the foreclosure process.

The loan modifications that are granted are often done by lowering the interest rate on the note to say, 3% for a fixed period of time such as three years, but with NO principal reduction. 

Jillayne again.  I say this practice may lead to a build up of shadow inventory that could end up hitting the market in 2011 and further drawing out the housing recession into 2012.

Short sales in Florida are a complete waste of time.  Buyers in Florida are looking at sellers with equity or REOs ONLY.  Banks are only now starting to dump their REOs by lowering the prices in order to get them off their boooks.

Florida should WISH FOR another Florida bank failure because then the other banks will become extremely nervous about the bank regulators poking around and will begin to get real with dropping the prices on REOs in order to clear out their inventory, especially the closer we get to the end of a quarter.

“Real estate agents have a moral and fiduciary duty to our clients.  We have a duty to try and maintain values.  We should be encouraging sellers to help hold the value by offering to “buy down” the interest rate instead of lowering the sales price.”

Jillayne here again.  That quote came from LJ Jennings, a real estate broker/owner.  I’m not so sure that holding prices artificially high could pass a fiduciary test.  This may NOT be in the client’s best interest.

VERY interesting insight from a data analyst. She said some companies would rather stick with data that their analysts have been using INSTEAD OF showing NEW data to their end users….because then their existing analysts would be proven wrong and the company doesn’t want to deal with that. 

Take aways:

  • Banks will begin to “throttle out” their inventory quarter to quarter,
  • A lot more big pools of scratch and dent (loans with problems) loans will start to be sold off in bulk to investors
  • Lenders will slow down the default process for due diligence and accounting reasons
  • In the second have of 2008, 100 billion (correction: dollars) in loans will reset.  If ONLY 13% default, this is a huge number of homes that will impact inventory levels for the years to follow.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Alt A loans will reset in 2009.
  • Foreclosure relief bill is a little too late.  Our problem right now is that lenders are afraid to lend on a declining asset and buyers are afraid to buy.  The bill does more to shore up confidence in Fannie and Freddie than anything else.
  • There ARE options for a homeowner in default who does not want to sell.
  • Foreclosure is only a temporary part of a person’s life.  Life goes on.
  • Loan modifications and short sales are being done faster through banks that have a history of predatory lending (this is a concept I’ve been teaching for 8 years now.)

I have an entire set of notes from the attorney who spoke on the liability issues agents face when listing REO homes. I’ll have to do a separate blog article on that for you. 

Reporting from ConnectSF08

I’m here at the beautiful Palace Hotel in San Francisco for the Real Estate Connect conference put on by Inman News.  I’ve been to Connect conferences in the past and came away with some fond memories of presentations by Larry Page and John Seely Brown.  I’m sure my raincityguide blogger colleagues are here someplace; by this time of night I’ll guess they’re out drinking and I’ll hook up with them tomorrow.  There are two tracks to choose from tomorrow morning, blogging and foreclosures.  Guess which one I signed up for?  Tomorrow afternoon, Brad Inman delivers the opening keynote “How the Nomadic Culture Will Rock Your World” and right after that, we’ll here from Craig Newmark and RCG’s Dustin Luther and THEN finally, “The Housing Debate: Bull v. Bear” panel with two of my favorite bloggers, CR from CalculatedRisk and Yves Smith from Naked Capitalism.  It doesn’t look like all the meals are covered so if anyone who knows San Francisco has suggestions for where to step out for a quick bite, please let me know. I’m across the street from the Mongtomery Street BART station and I am armed with a four day BART pass.