Archive for 2017

Americans borrow more money for consumption rather than the acquisition of assets. Not all debt is created equal. I borrowed large sums to buy cashflow properties in Las Vegas, debt backed by a cashflow-producing asset. The income stream repays the debt with interest, and if for some reason I am unwilling to pay back the loan, the lender can auction the property and either receive their money back or obtain cashflow equal to or greater than the payment on the debt. That is asset-backed debt. Lenders provide asset-backed debt for the purchase of property, plant, and equipment. When lenders evaluate these loans, they consider the useful life, the recovery and resale value, and the cashflow the asset may generate (if any).…[READ MORE]

As house prices rise and more homeowners possess equity again, some are withdrawing this money at low rates and spending it, stimulating the economy. During the housing mania, people bought homes because house prices rose rapidly, and lenders gave equity to homeowners at 100%+ of the value set by recent comps. Under such circumstances, houses were very desirable, and unlimited access to home equity fueled the housing mania and funded millions of personal Ponzi schemes. Homeowners like mortgage equity withdrawal because it provides them instant access to the free money bestowed upon them by the magic appreciation fairy. Even better, they didn't have to sell the golden goose: they got to keep their home and wait for it to grant them…[READ MORE]

The foreclosure crisis stopped when lenders quit foreclosing and forced homeowners to wait until they had equity to sell the property. Many homeowners are still waiting, so MLS inventory is quite low. I’ve stated many times my contention that the housing recovery is built on a foundation of market manipulation; distressed inventory dried up because lenders opted to modify loans rather than foreclose and purge the bad debt from the economy. Unfortunately for lenders, today’s loan modifications are tomorrow’s distressed property sales, and in my opinion, the mortgage mess is not resolved, the outcome has merely been delayed by loan modifications. Lenders designed loan modifications to maximize lender profits while giving borrowers feeble hope of clinging to their family homes.…[READ MORE]

A cap on loans and increased builder costs forces builders to increase density to meet the burgeoning demand of Millennial buyers. Millennials find very little available for sale on the MLS in their price range because the previous generation, Generation X, is still trapped in their starter homes, lacking the equity to make a move-up trade. Nearly 6 million people remain trapped in their entry-level homes they purchased a decade ago. Perhaps they enjoy their gilded cage, but since they may not leave without severe financial consequences, their homes resemble a debtor’s prison. People also remain in their homes longer because even with the newfound equity from reflating the old housing bubble, without increases in pay, they face limitations on…[READ MORE]

California's wall is a barrier of high home prices caused by a lack of supply created by nimby resistance in areas dominated by California Progressives. President Donald Trump's policies, like Donald Trump himself, enjoys very little support among California voters. When Trump campaigned in California during the primaries, it caused riots. During the general election, Trump lost California by nearly 4 million votes. California Progressives resist and detest everything Donald Trump proposes and stands for, particularly his immigration policies, which include proposals to deport undocumented workers illegal immigrants and build a wall to keep out future undocumented workers illegal immigrants. Surprisingly, California Progressives and Donald Trump both embrace exclusionary policies that prevent people from taking up residence in California. Whereas Trump's…[READ MORE]

Since the mid 1990s, mortgage interest rates and home sales moved in opposite directions. Dodd-Frank made this inverse correlation even stronger. Back in February of 2013 when mortgage rates were near record lows, I wrote that future housing markets would be very interest-rate sensitive, despite assurances to the contrary from most macroeconomists. Last year I noted that fewer home sales or lower prices was sure to follow higher mortgage interest rates. Generally, volume precedes price, and as one would expect, the recent spike in mortgage rates is already hurting sales. The prevailing economic view is that the housing market would respond positively regardless of what happens with mortgage rates because house prices in the past have correlated poorly with mortgage…[READ MORE]

My first post I am IrvineRenter (Inventory Cholesterol) debuted ten years ago on February 27, 2007. Over the last 10 years, I posted every weekday without fail. It's been a source of joy and discipline that's shaped my life, my career, and my character. During my ten-year run, I observed many trends come and go, and I learned a great deal about the art of blogging. Today, I want to share some of these observations with you. Blogging needs a purpose I started writing ten years ago because I wanted to save people from financial ruin. I firmly believed housing was a financial bubble, and I was right. I didn't do it for money or fame as I wrote completely anonymously…[READ MORE]

Very few strategic mortgage defaults were ruthless. Most strategic defaults were inevitable, and the borrower merely chose the timing. People form strong attachments to their homes. Walking away is never a decision they take lightly. We can discuss the pros and cons and come up with our own beliefs and attitudes about it, but the turnover of our housing stock caused by the housing crash will be very painful for those who go through it. Ruthless default or accelerated default? I write often about hidden premises buried within the arguments writers make. These distinctions are important, and unless we uncover our fallacious beliefs, we make erroneous judgments and carry false beliefs. I wrote many times about strategic default, and in my…[READ MORE]

Inventories of below-median homes are well below historic norms due to the large numbers of underwater borrowers, leaving first-time homebuyers frustrated. Back in late 2012, I predicted that Below-median home inventories may not recover for years, which it has. My reasoning was simple. For home inventories to recover, sellers must come back to the market. Since so many homeowners are underwater or lack the equity for a move up, particularly at lower price points, very few organic sales occur on below-median properties. Since lender can-kicking kept the foreclosures off the market, what was once a source of supply actually became a restriction of supply. Given these circumstances, it will be several years before inventories of below-median properties recover and provide opportunities…[READ MORE]

The conventional wisdom holds that renters favor new construction and homeowners oppose it because renters want more abundant and less expensive housing and homeowners want more valuable housing and less traffic. But is it really that simple? A new study says no. Nimbys oppose all development because they believe their neighborhood was perfect when they moved in, but new development removes beautiful natural features, clogs the roads with more traffic, and changes the character of the community they moved into. True Nimbys don’t evaluate the pluses and minuses of new development and form an opinion based on facts. True Nimbys oppose everything, and in doing so, they fail to see the hypocrisy in their attitude and actions. After all, they…[READ MORE]

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