The Collected Works of Author and Blogger Larry Roberts

Archive for June, 2012

Payment affordability is very high by historical standards. That means people who borrow most of the money to buy a home -- which is about 70% of buyers -- the cost of monthly payments is low relative to a borrowers income. But is this a good measure of affordability? A recent paper argues it is not. Further, they argue that affordability is still a major problem hindering demand. [gview file="" height="725" width="550" save="1"] I recently wrote about this issue in Record low interest rates fail to spur demand. Interest rates are at record lows, and prices are at or below rental parity in most markets, yet demand is low and sales volumes are weak. Most real estate shills blame intransigent…[READ MORE]

Foreclosure Radar just released its report on May foreclosures. The change in bank's behavior since the beginning of the year is becoming apparent. Lenders are determined to steadily reduce their standing REO inventory. At current liquidation rates, they will have cleared out the backlog of standing inventory by the middle of next year. Of course, this comes at a price. Lenders are not making headway on shadow inventory, and those who have been delinquent on their mortgages for a long time are going to get to squat even longer. Lenders are hoping these people will opt to short sell their properties. In all likelihood, since doing nothing gets them month after month of free housing, most will stay committed to…[READ MORE]

What separates homeowners from people who don't own homes? The answer is not as simple as you might think. If you go back to antiquity, the person who "owned" a house was generally the strongest warrior who was capable to taking it and holding it against all rivals. Over the last 500 years the development of government and stable laws of land ownership made it possible for ordinary people to have claims to real property stronger than the edge of a sword or the barrel of a gun. One of the first attempts to establish property title was the English Doomsday Book of the 11th century. The King set out to establish who owned what so he could better establish…[READ MORE]

People are basically honest and will do the right thing if given the chance. However, people are also opportunistic, and if encouraged and enabled to steal, many ordinarily good people will go down the wrong path. Lenders led many astray. During the housing bubble, lenders were desperate to loan money in what they thought were low-risk, high yielding investments. The advertising to entice homeowners to become loanowners was both effective and too-good-to-be-true. The housing bubble turned many good people into thieves. Most were petty thieves who merely gamed the system to get free money. This same group now feels completely justified asking for principal reduction as if that were an entitlement instead of what it is, government graft. Over the…[READ MORE]

Several months ago, I had a meeting with a representative of the OC Register who wanted to sell me ad space. During the conversation, he said the realtor community in conjunction with the OC Register needed to create a "buying frenzy" to help liquidate the abundance of distressed inventory. Obviously, he was not a reader of the blog. Perhaps in the era before blogs, a coordinated mis-information program conducted by realtors and the local media would succeed in persuading buyers to act when it is not in their best interest to do so. We have certainly seen consistent examples of ludicrous statements from the NAr that vacillate between spin and utter bullshit. However, in today's world of citizen journalists who…[READ MORE]

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