The Collected Works of Author and Blogger Larry Roberts

Archive for 2008

The Credit Bubble Visualizing the Bubble With a huge influx of capital into the secondary mortgage market when the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates in 2001-2004, the industry was under tremendous pressure to deliver more loans to hungry investors seeking higher yields. This caused the already-low loan standards to be all but eliminated. All of the worst “innovations” in the lending industry occurred during this period: Negative Amortization loans, Stated-Income loans (Liar Loans,) NINJA loans (no income, no job, no assets,) 100% financing, FICO scores under 500, and one-day-out-of-bankruptcy loans among others. The joke was if borrowers could “fog a mirror” or if they “had a pulse,” they could get a loan for as much as they wanted to buy a house. It is…[READ MORE]

The Credit Bubble The Great Housing Bubble was not really about housing; it was about credit. Most financial bubbles are the result of an expansion of credit, and the Great Housing Bubble was no exception. Housing just happened to be the asset class into which this capital flowed. It could have been stocks or commodities just as easily, and if the government gets too aggressive in its actions to prevent a collapse in housing prices, the liquidity intended to prop up real estate prices will likely flow into some other asset class creating yet another asset price bubble. The root causes of the Great Housing Bubble can be traced back to four interrelated factors: Separation of origination, servicing, and portfolio holding in the…[READ MORE]

Valuation of Lots and Raw Land The valuation of land used for residential housing is mysterious and often misunderstood. [1] The valuation of lots and raw land requires a detailed knowledge of construction and marketing costs as well as a good estimate of the sales price of the final product: a residential housing unit. In short, the value of a lot is the total revenue (sales price of the home) minus the costs of production and the necessary profit. Land value is a residual calculation. Irvine, California, has been almost entirely developed by a single land owner, The Irvine Company, as a large, master-planned community. The development has been wildly successful. The median income of buyers on The Ranch is 30%…[READ MORE]

Investment Value The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the Rent of primary residence (rent) and Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (rental equivalence). They make this distinction because a house has both a consumptive purpose and an investment purpose. The consumptive value is measured by rent or rental equivalence. There is legitimate financial reason to pay more than the rental equivalence price. The normal rate of house appreciation–not the unsustainable kind witnessed during the Great Housing Bubble–can provide a return on investment. The source of this added value is the leverage of mortgage financing and the hedge against inflation obtained through a fixed-rate mortgage. The investment premium, which is about 10%, is less than most people think. The rental…[READ MORE]

What they are saying about The Great Housing Bubble "The author, Larry Roberts, is best known for his daily posts as IrvineRenter on the Irvine Housing Blog. Long before Lehman crashed, Fannie Mae was taken over, and even before home prices were dropping nationally, he was one of the few voices presenting real information on the housing bubble. The author's background is in new housing development in Southern California. It was a good start to understanding how things worked. Supplemented by knowledge from countless posters at the housing blog, he has been able to show why home prices couldn't stay elevated. Price to income ratios, price to rent ratios, and other factors detailed in the book showed how far out…[READ MORE]

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