The Collected Works of Author and Blogger Larry Roberts

Archive for August, 2012

Pwned. A term originally coined by mistake when the word "owned" was misspelled by a video game programmer. The word has come to symbolize domination of one party over another, and it's a particularly appropriate term for loanowners who bought a house hoping to "own" it, and instead they find themselves being "pwned" by the house. I first wrote about this phenomenon in 2008: Generation Y began buying starter homes in earnest during the Great Housing Bubble. Generation X is just now coming into their prime earning years, and many of them bought move-up homes at inflated bubble prices. The Baby Boomers took their equity and bought multiple properties during the bubble. They all have one thing in common: they…[READ MORE]

The housing market is anything but stable. Decisions by banks, government regulators, the federal reserve, congress, and Treasury department officials have tremendous impact on house prices. For example, decisions at the federal reserve regarding interest rates have imbued the market with such high payment affordability that buyers can finance the still-inflated prices of the previous bubble. Banks decided early this year to slow the rate they took back properties at foreclose auctions thus reducing MLS inventory of REO significantly. Government regulators changed accounting rules in 2009 to allow banks to keep delinquent mortgage squatters in place with delayed millions of foreclosures for many years. The GSEs, now run by the Department of Treasury, are liquidating their portfolios and changing the…[READ MORE]

With the acute shortage of resale inventory across the Southwest, it's hard to imagine prices going down, and in the short term, they won't. Of course, circumstances could change quickly as they did this spring, so anything is possible. However, if the federal reserve can keep interest rates at record lows, and if the lending cartel can process the backlog of distressed loans without causing resale inventories to spike, then prices will not go down in the future. But is it realistic to think both of these circumstances will come to pass? Mortgage interest rates hit all-time lows because the federal reserve took short-term treasury rates to zero and began buying 10-year treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to drive mortgage interest…[READ MORE]

There are many myths about housing markets perpetuated by banks and the financial press. Two of these myths include (1) keeping people in a house keeps up the values, and (2) foreclosures reduce neighborhood values. Many believe that allowing delinquent mortgage squatters to stay in place improves the condition of a property. Perhaps in rough neighborhoods prone to property crime, occupancy is better than abandonment, but in most neighborhoods, when delinquent mortgage squatters stay on, they property gets run down. Why would anyone spend any money to improve or even maintain a property in which they have no financial interest? If people were prone to do this, then landlords wouldn't need to spend money maintaining rentals. Delinquent mortgage squatters have…[READ MORE]

As strange as it sounds, most REO shouldn't be listed for sale. REOs being processed for sale -- the REO pipeline -- is all banks are supposed to have. Once they finish processing, they are supposed to put them for sale and liquidate. It's not unusual for a high percentage of REOs to be held by the banks. What is more telling about their policies is how long it takes them to sell a property, and how they classify the properties they hold. If all their properties are undergoing preparations for sale, and if sales are happening quickly, there is no problem. However, if it takes them a very long time to process, and if many properties are being held…[READ MORE]

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