Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quoted in Reuters Article Where I Criticize Lereah

In a story by Reuters titled Realtors keep bright outlook despite cloudy data, I was quoted and one of my other blogs was mentioned.

While many economists underestimated the depth of the nation's current housing slump, Lereah critics single him out for maintaining such a high-profile and upbeat appraisal for so long.

"His words harmed ordinary buyers who heard him and thought that the market was bottoming out. He knew better and that is the problem," said David Jackson, a 27-year-old computer programmer who balked at buying a home in 2005 because of ballooning prices in the Washington, D.C., area and came to see Lereah as an emblem of the runaway market. He skewers Lereah on his blog, David Lereah Watch.

Its grand to be quoted and have influence. It is disheartening, that while Lereah was at the National Association of Realtors, those who disagreed with his opinion generally had much less media exposure.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lawrence Yun is Wrong Abou Rising Prices; Puts Spin Machine into Overdrive

The National Association Of Realtors released their September 2007 existing home sales data. The numbers showed the housing market continues to decline.
  • National: Months supply of housing increased from 9.6 in August 07 to 10.5 this month
  • National: Months supply of housing increased from 7.3 in September 06 to 10.5
  • National: Inventory was up .4% this month compare to last and up 16.3% over last September
  • National: September 07 Seasonally Adjusted Sales Numbers vs last month -8%
  • National: September 07 Seasonally Adjusted Sales Numbers vs last year -19.1%
  • National: September 07 Not Seasonally Adjusted Sales Numbers vs last month -28.9%
  • National: September 07 Not Seasonally Adjusted Sales Numbers vs last year -22.7%

They quickly turned their spin machine into overdrive.
Lawrence Yun blamed 'temporary' problems in the mortgage market and assured us these mortgage 'problems' were already improving.

Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, said the decline is understandable. “Mortgage problems were peaking back in August when many of the September closings were being negotiated, and that slowed sales notably in higher priced areas that rely more on jumbo loans,” he said. “The good news is that mortgage availability has markedly improved in recent weeks with interest rates on jumbo loans falling, and more people are applying for safer and conforming FHA mortgage products. Some of the cancelled transactions will move forward as buyers apply for other loans.”

Mr. Yun went on to say that prices were really rising in many area.

“Because there were fewer transactions at the upper end of the market, there is a downward distortion reflected in a lower national median home price. Home prices continue to trend up in the Northeast and in the condo sector. In other areas not dependent on jumbo loans, such as much of the Midwest, prices are rising.”
Mr. Yun is wrong. The evidence shows that overall prices are not rising in both the Northeast and the condo market. Look at the Case Schiller Index as well as date from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Prices are also falling in much of where the population in the Midwest lives such as Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee

Remember for September 2006, the NAR reported "Total existing-home sales -- including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- dipped 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.18 million" David Lereah the NAR's cheif economist, and Yun's boss at the time said "this is a lagging indicator and the worst is behind us as far as a market correction -- this is likely the trough for sales." Since then the seasonally adjusted rate is down 19% to 5.04 million. Some trough? The NAR's spokespeople cannot be trusted as they are paid shills who give propagandist predictions. They are super spinners.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Senate Sqaure Condos are Now Available for Rent

Senate Sqaure Condos are Now "Luxury Apartments for Lease." Check out their website.

Senate Sqaure (Bubble Meter, August 2006)

52 Months Supply of Housing in Palm Beach County

September 2007: 52 Months Supply of Housing in Palm Beach County (suburban Miami). Or 4 year and a 1/3 year supply of housing units. (as a reader pointed out). ~52 = (25882 / 472) Yikes! Graph from Illustrated Properties

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lose, Lose Situation

Image from Silver Spring, MD: Suburban Washington, DC

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Criminality At Countywide

The Securities Exchange Commission is investigating Angelo Mozilo CEO of Countrywide Financial, which is the largest US mortgage company. Mortgage Daily News Reports:

Countrywide is the largest mortgage company in the country and Mozilo, its founder, is generally credited or blamed for the company's evolution from a mostly conventional lender into one where subprime products dominated.

At issue is the sale by Mozilo of some 130 million of his company's stock in the first six months of 2007. It seems that there is a rather large loophole... ahem, provision, in the rules against insider trading that allows an insider to set up what is called a 10b51 trading plan. Such a plan, once established, allows the insider to proceed with transactions such as buying, selling, or exercising options even if he or she subsequently comes into possession of information that might impact stock prices which is not available to the public

There are other shady companies and characters out which need to be investigated.

The SEC is apparently investigating a dozen or so companies, including Countrywide, in connection with the subprime mess but, according to The Wall Street Journal article it is taking a special if informal look at Mozilo.
Fraud was a significant contributing factor in the explosion in prices for housing units. How large is yet to be determined? There is no question that many of the loans that had no documentation (aka liar loans) were fraudulent. Additionally, the subprime industry was infested with shady doings, being that many of its borrowers were encouraged to borrower more then they could reasonably afford.

Hopefully, the SEC and other investigating authorities will take a very tough look at Countrywide and other players in the mortgage mania.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

September Home Sales in Southern California Plunge

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Sales of houses and condominiums in the most populous Southern California counties fell 29.9 percent from the previous month and 48.5 percent from a year earlier, DataQuick Information Systems said on Tuesday.

The report covers the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura and showed a total of 12,455 new and existing homes and condos sold in September, the lowest since the company began recording the data in 1988. (Reuters 10/16/07)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DC Area Housing Unit Sales for September Show Huge Yearly Decline

The number of housing units sold in the DC area in September 2007, has dropped precipitously from September of last year. The number of sold single family houses fell 42.2% from September 2006 and 67% from September 2005 in Montgomery County, MD. In DC, the percentage decline was basically the same, at 42.1%. The months supply of single family houses in Montgomery County, MD for September 2007 has now reached over 10 months. There were 4520 active listings and only 423 single family houses sold.

For more statistics go to: GCAAR Statistics!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Large Price Declines Expected in Fall and Winter

It is now the end of the beginning of the housing bust, in most bubble markets across the United States. In most bubble markets prices have fallen between 6 - 20% in real dollars from peak prices. In many bubble markets peak real dollar prices were reached in late 2005 or early 2006. With the coming of fall and winter, large inventory, slow sales, tightened lending standards coupled with increased negative buyer and seller sentiments will lead to large price declines over the next 6 months.

Real dollar prices will likely decline between 6% and 13% over the course of the next 6 months in most bubble markets.

Large Inventory

Inventory is significantly higher in most bubble markets then last time this year. According to Housing Tracker as of 10/01/2007:
  • Miami: 24.3%
  • San Diego: 3.6%
  • Washington, DC: 9.1%
  • San Francisco: 21.3%
  • Baltimore: 21%
  • Orange County: 10.9%
  • Portland: 32.2%
According to the National Association of Realtors, "inventories of unsold existing homes on the market rose by 0.4% to 4.58 million, representing a 10-month supply at the August sales rate, the Realtors said. For single-family homes alone, the inventory represents a 9.8-month supply, the most since May 1989. (Market Watch Sep 25, 2007)"

Sales Declining

According to the National Association of Realtors the September 2007 Existing Home Sales Pending Index broke the previous low of 89.8 in September 2001. September 2001, was that month of a major terrorist attack (9/11). Home sales have fallen tremendously from the peak of the housing bubble.

According to insides information via Housing Doom, who is busy reporting the shocking numbers that sales are declining precipitously in Phoenix.

As of this morning we had 3,176 sales for September. Obviously, there will be no official closings on the weekend but there may be a few more that trickle in because a few agents entered the 29-30th as COE. This will leave Phoenix with a 18 month supply of homes (57,441 active). In addition, September has seen one of the largest monthly drops in value on a cost/sf basis.

It believe the rush to close deals in August sucked a lot of sales from September.

In the Seattle area, "sales are lagging. Offers were accepted last month on 1,541 King County houses — a 32 percent drop from the numbers in September 2006 (Seattle Times, Oct 6, 2007)"

Lending Standard Tightened Up

Lending standards have tightened up significantly in the last 3 months. Richard Syron, chief executive of Freddie Mac said "the credit squeeze had left some parts of the housing market "literally frozen", which was a "substantial depressive to the overall economy" (MSNBC Sept 28, 2007).

ARMs are Adjusting / Foreclosures Are Rising

Nearly a quarter of a million foreclosure filings were reported in August, up 115% from a year ago and up 36% from July. Each home in foreclosure can have multiple filings as it moves from default status to bank repossession...."The jump in foreclosure filings this month might be the beginning of the next wave of increased foreclosure activity, as a large number of subprime adjustable-rate loans are beginning to reset," said James Saccacio, chief executive for RealtyTrac. (Marketwatch September 18th)

Source: Bank Of America

Growing Negative Phsycology

In general, Joe Six Pack (aka JOE6PAK, J6P), the ordinary person, have woken up to the reality that most bubble markets are undergoing price declines.

Seasonal Changes

Usually, prices fall a few percentage points in the fall and winter months as it is off peak season. This year due to the declining housing market the seasonal influences should have a greater downward pull on home prices.


With the coming of fall and winter, large inventory, slow sales, tightened lending standards coupled with increased negative buyer and seller sentiments will lead to large price declines over the next 6 months. Real dollar prices will likely decline between 6% and 13% over the course of the next 6 months in most bubble markets. Like this year's spring, spring 2008 will not stop or reverse declining housing markets.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hudson & Marhsall Real Estate Auction

Hudson & Marhsall is hosting a real estate auction from Tuesday, October 02, 2007-Sunday, October 07, 2007 for 300 properties throughout Maryland, DC and Virginia. Most of the properties that are located in the Washington, DC metro area are located in the outer suburbs (In places like Manassas, Orange and Winchetser, VA).

Careful! Better deals can be had in the future. Prices will continue to fall in the Washington, DC metro area in the coming years. We are not at the bottom!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Best of The Bubble Sphere

The Daily 2¢ - BOOYA! (Paper Economy)

Will Countrywide Toxic Mortgage's Angelo Mozilo go to jail? (Housing Panic)

Dr. Housing Bubble has an Excellent Blog. He also has a new website located at www.doctorhousingbubble.com/. His Real Homes of Genius series is superb and funny. :-)

Mortgage Implode-o-Meter is at 161. Really, there is absolutely nothing to see here. [Sarcasm off]

NAR on "Temporary" Housing Problems (Big Picture)