As a REALTOR, I am always trying to put a positive spin on things. For example, a small increase in monthly sales means; "the housing market is on its way to recovery.” A home never needs a lot of repairs; rather it has “great potential!” And I would never describe a small backyard as tiny and unusable, it would be “maintenance free”
So when I read a prediction by Mike Colpitts, editor of Realtytrac's Housing Predictor about the possibility of 10 million more foreclosures hitting the market, I tried to find the silver lining. Maybe the prediction is simply the worst case scenario and unlikely to happen, or possibly the Making Homes Affordable program would prevent more people from losing their homes.
But then reality sets in and its not pretty. The more I think about it, 10 million foreclosures over the next 3 yrs might actually be the best case scenario.
Here are some of the statistics that should alarm you:
- The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that about 12% of all US mortgages are currently facing foreclosure.
- It is believed that in addition, there is a “shadow inventory” of approximately 600,000 homes that have been repossessed but not listed for sale yet.
- 2009 set a record for mortgage defaults with 3.9 million. That is up from 3.2 million in 2008.
- 16 million homeowners are currently upside down on their mortgages. This prevents them from selling and encourages some homeowners to walk away from their mortgages.
- The next wave of foreclosures will be homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages (ARM). Estimates have put the dollar value of ARMs at $2.5 trillion. Many people chose ARMs due to the low initial interest rates. They believed that they could sell their homes before the rates adjusted.
- In addition to the ARMs resetting, we are starting to see an increase in defaults in the high end market, as well as from buyers with good credit and conventional loans.
- According to Realtytrac, “One of out three Americans surveyed say that if home values continue to fall they'll walk away from their mortgages, which could set up a worst case scenario for the U.S. economy, triggering an economic calamity.”
I was also shocked that only 5% of homes targeted under Obama’s Making Homes Affordable program have been approved for loan modifications.
There are many problems with the program, but my main concern is that homeowners will still default, even after restructuring their mortgages to more favorable terms.
With the increasing unemployment rate and the slumping economy, the MHA program may be useless.
In addition, the tax credits for buyers will be expiring Apri 30th. Johnny Isakson, Senator from GA, pushed very hard over the summer to have the tax credits increased to $15,000 for both 1st time buyers and move-up buyers.
Unfortunately, Senator Isakson’s amendment was watered down. I think we need to increase the tax credit $15,000 for all buyers. Including investors. The quicker we can get the foreclosures off the market, the sooner the housing market will recover.
Tax credits for investors, or “house flippers,” would help move foreclosures off the banks' books and give investors more budget room to renovate and re-sell homes below market value.
OK.... maybe that last thought was the REALTOR in me coming out again.
The bottom line is that the foreclosure crisis is far from over. And I haven’t even discussed the looming disaster in commercial real estate yet.