Archive for 2007

Over the last several years, buyers have not concerned themselves with the day they were going to become sellers. Why would they? There was an endless demand for properties, and buyers were going to pay whatever was asked. Those days are gone. They are not coming back any time soon. In one of my first posts, I talked about Financially Conservative Home Financing. There has been much discussion on these boards about the high debt-to-income ratios and adjustable rate mortgage terms now required if you chose to buy in today's market. For anyone considering buying a home right now, I would like you to think about the buyer who is going to buy your home from you at some point…[READ MORE]

Appreciation is Dead. It is not merely delayed for a temporary housing price crash only to resume its historic 7+% rate. Appreciation is dead. We will never see high rates of house price appreciation again in California. Sacrilege! Yes, but there are reasons to believe this may be true. In October of 2000, I attended a conference put on by TradingMarkets.com. The NASDAQ had experienced the spring collapse and summer bear rally. The huge fall sell-off (which was the first of many sell-offs before the bottom was reached in the spring of 2003) was just beginning. One of the speakers at this conference was a very successful hedge fund manager named Mark Boucher. Everyone gathered at the conference had just…[READ MORE]

Denial runs deep in the financial markets. The vast majority of participants either want or need prices to steadily increase. Any facts or opinions that run counter to the idea of ever increasing prices must be quelled in order to prevent a catastrophic collapse of prices due to panic selling. One of the more glaring examples of this phenomenon has been the slow leak of information regarding the upcoming debacle in our housing market. In February and March as the sub-prime lending implosion became front page news, market bulls were presented with a major public relations problem. It was imperative for the bulls to convince buyers the damage from subprime lending was "contained" and would not "spill over" into other…[READ MORE]

There was a recent article posted on MSN about mortgage companies working with hopeless borrowers to save their homes from foreclosure. This particular article is most likely part of a public relations campaign from the lending industry to show they are working on the problem. They are bracing themselves for the inevitable congressional hearings which will happen next year. There is nothing quite like an election year crisis to bring out congressional grandstanding by our leading politicians. But I digress... the MSN article got me thinking about what really could be done about the foreclosure problem. I have written in several posts about the serious foreclosure problem looming as several trillion dollars of mortgages reset to higher payments over the…[READ MORE]

Southern California is a beautiful place. The weather is perfect, there is a lot to do, and the people are generally friendly and keep out of your business. For those reasons and many others, I have chosen to make Southern California my home. However, Southern California is not perfect. The culture is infected with pathological beliefs that have led us to the huge problem with house affordability and the impending disaster in our real estate market. What do I mean by Cultural Pathology? There are certain beliefs if widely held and acted upon by a group of people leads inevitably to collective suffering and/or destruction. One example we all see is in the American auto industry. Before imports hit our…[READ MORE]

Many people when they first discover bubble blogs think housing bears are tinfoil-hat-wearing crackpots with extremely pessimistic outlooks on life. There are perma-bears (Roubini, Shiller, Fleckstein) as well as perma-bulls (Watts, NAR, Kudlow). The truth is generally somewhere in between. I learned long ago that extremists are never happy people because they seldom get their way. As the Buddha noted, it is the "middle path" that leads to happiness. I have spent my voting life as a independent/Libertarian voting for whoever I believed to be the best candidate, most generally a moderate. However, there are times when what is perceived as an extreme is actually the correct view. As Barry Goldwater noted, "...extremism in the defense of liberty is no…[READ MORE]

I wanted to share it here. So who is responsible? Borrowers, lenders, investors, the FED: IMO, they are all responsible; it is only a matter of degree. Irresponsible borrowers are like children, if you offer them something they want, no matter the terms, they will take it. The federal government realized this basic fact years ago when they passed predatory lending laws. Does that make the borrower any less responsible? No, but by definition, sub-prime borrowers are irresponsible. If they took responsibility for their debts, they wouldn't be sub-prime. So if you offer a bunch of money to the most irresponsible among us, what would you expect? I would expect them to spend it irresponsibly and not worry about paying…[READ MORE]

The big discussion on Wall Street today is whether or not the problems with sub-prime will impact alt-A and prime loans and if all of this will impact housing markets and the economy as a whole. I want to examine why and how sub-prime's implosion will impact the housing market. It is estimated that tightening lending standards are going to eliminate 21% of the buyers from the market. We all know intuitively this sounds bad. But what is the impact? For a deeper understanding read The Plankton Theory Meets Minsky. This will result in lower prices. If prices are lower and standards are tightening, serial refinance will come to an end. Many, if not most of the borrowers needing to…[READ MORE]

This is the final installment in my series of related posts pertaining to the Irvine residential real estate market. It is my intention in this post to bring it all together, make a prediction as to the timing and depth of the upcoming crash, and describe the variables that will influence the market decline. Below is a chart I created to demonstrate what I believe will occur in the Irvine Housing market between 2007 and 2013. Median sales price will decline approximately 40% from near $700,000 to near $400,000 over the next 5 years. There will be a multi-year flattening of prices at the bottom. Sustained appreciation will not return until 2013 or later. Peak bubble prices will not be…[READ MORE]

We have speculated a great deal on this board about the future of home prices in our area. The arguments all boil down to a simple conjecture: will prices fall to back to their fundamental values, or are prices going to remain permanently detached and inflated? I make no attempt to answer that question here. The chart link below is a graphical representation of what it would look like if home prices fall back to their fundamental valuations in Orange County.   Below is a link to the excel file I used. It is a bit messy, but experienced users can probably navigate it. Orange County Median Price Projections Worksheet BTW, I was thinking about the current state of the…[READ MORE]