Historically, properties in this market sell at a 22.3% premium. Today's premium is 11.3%. This market is 11.0% undervalued. Median home price is $778,900, and resale $/SF is $434/SF. Prices rose 5.0% year-over-year. Monthly cost of ownership is $3,589, and rents average $3,214, making owning $374 per month more costly than renting. Rents rose 4.3% year-over-year. The current capitalization rate (rent/price) is 4.0%. Market rating = 9[READ MORE]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4 Several years ago, I was playing craps in Las Vegas when the shooter went on a long, long run. After about 40 minutes without rolling a seven, I had about $750 I took off the table in front of me, and I had about $500 still sitting on the table from the numerous times I pressed my bets or let it all ride. In the middle of the pandemonium at the table, I had a funny feeling. Despite the euphoria around me, I felt it was time to leave. Before I could think more about it, I found the words coming out of my mouth, "Please, take down all my bets." Some of the people at the table ridiculed…[READ MORE]

Lenders lower standards to qualify more borrowers and increase business, a precursor to another bubble, but only if risk is again mispriced. Let’s assume for a moment all qualification standards were eliminated and anyone who wanted to borrow money could get a loan, similar to what happened in 2004 through 2006. Would this cause a housing bubble? In my opinion, it would not. It would inflate prices, and it would cause a great deal of downward substitution of quality to get a property, but it wouldn’t necessarily create a housing bubble as long as loans were based on verifiable income and reasonable debt-to-income ratios on conventionally amortizing mortgages. The loose lending standards of 2004-2006 allowed many people to buy homes,…[READ MORE]

Homebuilders believe less regulation and a stronger economy are in store thanks to the election of Donald Trump. Despite being in California where an overwhelming majority of people are Democrats, homebuilders are mostly Republican in California and across the nation. Homebuilding is an entrepreneurial business that chafes at regulation, so it shouldn’t be terribly surprising to see so many Republican homebuilders. Since Donald Trump won the election, it's also reasonable to expect homebuilder confidence would rise. If Hillary Clinton had won, I don’t believe homebuilders would have been despondent, but they would have expected more of the same — increasing regulations and slow economic growth. When Trump surprised everyone and won the election, homebuilders were thrilled at the idea of a…[READ MORE]

Negative equity decreased by $26 billion in 2016, saving lenders from potential losses on millions of home loans. Can-kicking works. When lenders first began can-kicking bad loans in 2008, I didn't believe the policy would succeed, and for the first four years, it didn't. However, with no viable alternatives, all lenders embraced can-kicking through loan modifications and a permissive attitude toward long-term delinquent mortgage squatting. I believed the policy would fail because it was a cartel arrangement. Each bank gained more by foreclosing and recovering their capital than waiting because prices were still falling, and many banks needed the cash to survive the recession. However, the federal reserve and the federal government stepped in to save the day. The federal…[READ MORE]

When people view homes as an investment rather than a family home, prices become volatile, and it disrupts people's financial lives. Homeowners love it when houses go up in price; after all, it makes them rich. During a home price rally, the bulls intoxicate with greed and obsess about owning real estate as an investment. However, once houses become an investment, the prices of houses begin to behave like an investment, and volatility enters the system. Houses should not trade with the volatility of a commodities market because it causes more harm than good. Price volatility is a very disruptive feature in a housing market: the upswings are euphoric, and the downswings are devastating — and there are downswings. Declining house…[READ MORE]

Politicians and special interest groups utilize increasingly sophisticated ways of confiscating the wealth of private landowners. The resale value of a house in California is only loosely tethered to construction costs. While homebuilders won't construct a house if they can't sell it for enough to recoup their costs, once house prices rise above construction costs, the key variable that fluctuates most radically is the residual land value. Land value is a residual calculation, meaning it's calculated by determining the market sales price and subtracting off all the costs of production. Since land residual is determined by whatever is left over, rising market prices fall entirely to the bottom line, and any increases in costs come directly out of the bottom line. Residual land…[READ MORE]

Good climate, good services, and a chronic shortage of housing combine to create an intractable problem with homelessness in California. What is the minimum level of housing quality people are entitled to? If you pose that question to Coastal California residents, many will cite their needs for a large single-family detached house with granite counter tops — and they believe they are entitled to it. For me, I’m just thankful I am not homeless. Have you ever thought about what you would do if you faced homelessness? How would you tackle the problems of daily life without stable shelter where you can store your possessions or control your environment? If I were facing homelessness, I wouldn’t want to freeze, and…[READ MORE]

Future housing busts will be busts in sales volume, not in price. When lenders make loans, they far prefer borrowers to repay those loans; in fact, their entire business plan relies on it. As long as borrowers are current with their payments, lenders are happy and making money. When borrowers don’t make their payments, the end result is a distressed sale. If there are enough of these, market prices go down dramatically, causing significant lender losses. Lenders know this too, so when distressed loans become an overwhelming problem, they devise can-kicking methods including loan modifications, mark-to-fantasy accounting, and when all else fails, they simply allow the delinquent borrowers to squat without paying a dime. Below is the lender decision tree for delinquent…[READ MORE]

People buy homes for many good reasons, and many bad reasons too. The need for shelter is basic, often closely followed by the desire for community. In the United States, people borrow prodigious sums to buy real estate to satisfy this need, whether it's good for them financially or not. Basic human emotions drive the activity in real estate markets. Most people buy because their family circumstances push people toward ownership at different times. Some are fortunate, buy at the bottom of the real estate cycle, and earn an enormous windfall. Some are not so fortunate, buy at the peak, and leave after a foreclosure, destitute and angry. The most damaging aspect of our system is the price volatility because…[READ MORE]

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