The Collected Works of Author and Blogger Larry Roberts

Archive for March, 2015

The current housing recovery is not supported by economic fundamentals, but manipulative price supports will likely hold until fundamentals improve. The word recovery implies improvement, but so far, the improvement is limited to price. Shouldn’t a housing recovery show improvement in multiple areas, not just price? A real housing recovery would be characterized by resurging new home construction and steady gains in sales and prices commensurate with strong job growth and rising incomes. The activity currently characterized as recovery lacks these characteristics. To this, lenders and underwater homeowners undoubtedly say, "so what?" As long as house prices go up, lenders and loanowners get out from under their bad bubble-era loans; they care about nothing else. Unfortunately, this so-called recovery hurts new buyers,…[READ MORE]

Historically, properties in this market sell at a 0.6% premium. Today's discount is 5.8%. This market is 6.4% undervalued. Median home price is $558,800 with a rental parity value of $591,200. This market's discount is $32,400. Monthly payment affordability has been improving over the last 10 month(s). Momentum suggests improving affordability. Resale prices on a $/SF basis increased from $374/SF to $375/SF. Resale prices have been rising for 1 month(s). Over the last 12 months, resale prices rose 4.8% indicating a longer term upward price trend. Median rental rates declined $16 last month from $2,615 to $2,599. The current capitalization rate (rent/price) is 4.5%. Rents have been rising for 12 month(s). Price momentum signals rising rents over the next three…[READ MORE]

Early reports are that OC housing demand is picking up early. Is this an anomaly caused by low mortgage rates or the beginning of a new sustained rally? The Orange County housing market, like other Coastal California housing markets, is subject to extreme price volatility and sudden changes in the delicate balance between buyers and sellers. The chronic shortage of available housing causes most of the problems. In late 2007, the credit crunch caused buyer demand to evaporate, and by early 2008, foreclosures flooded the MLS with supply creating a deep buyer's market. In 2009 the with stimulus from tax credits, the market changed again, and sellers found plenty of eager buyers to absorb whatever was available. When the tax…[READ MORE]

Retiring baby boomers helped lower the labor participation rate, and with fewer workers, housing demand is far less than it should be. During the housing bubble, many astute observers of the market outlined the various reasons housing was going to crash: mortgage resets, delinquencies and foreclosures, and an economic contraction caused by the collapse of mortgage equity withdrawal spending. While these obvious problems came to the forefront, a less obvious housing headwind went unnoticed, and now this headwind holds the market down: retiring baby boomers. Ordinarily when someone retires, a new worker is hired to take their place. Similar to a move up market, a retiring senior often vacates a high-level position in an organization, and hiring a replacement causes…[READ MORE]

Every asset is salable at a price. Adjusting to a market without government guarantees has a cost, but 30-year mortgages would still exist. Most people recognize the GSEs should be eliminated because their implied government backing is now explicit. These entities are not private entities, although many private investors would like them to be so they could profit off the government guarantee. Whenever people start discussing how to reform or terminate the GSEs, invariably someone will try to scare everyone by claiming US housing finance will cease to function, the housing market will crash, or some other nonsensical doomsday scenario will come to pass. I suspect the current round of fear mongering over GSE reform comes from GSE investors who…[READ MORE]

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