With all this talk of home values going up and people bidding hand over fist for the best properties in today’s market you have to wonder if the market has hit bottom and is now rebounding. There are lots of concrete signs that show that the market here in Southern California has hit the bottom and is now rebounding. It seems that the amount of buyers looking to take advantage of low prices and low interest rates is more than the market can handle causing a surge in home sales and home values. We all know about the rush of first time buyers trying to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit and we know that the entry level market is on fire right now. Homes sales are up month over month and home values are slowly gaining traction. But is this upward trend deceiving?
What the sales figures and charts do not tell you is that there are 7 million home loans that are currently in default and should have already been foreclosed on. Majority of those 7 million home loans are in the states of California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. The reasoning for this build up of what we are calling a “Shadow Inventory” is because the major mortgage lenders are trying to modify as many of these home loans as possible in order to keep people in their homes. The Federal Government has rolled out a voluntary program that will subsidize the lenders who participate in their loan modification program. The sad fact is that only about 15% of the homeowners will qualify for a mortgage modification and the rest will fall into foreclosure or be forced to sell. That means that roughly 5,950,000 homes will fall into foreclosure soon. What does this mean for the rest of us? Depending on how the banks handle the Shadow Inventory it could mean that the market will slowly but surely recover at the same pace as it is right now or something much worse.
If the banks are smart they might pursue the talked about rent to own option that will allow the current homeowner to lease their home from the bank instead of foreclosure with an option for the consumer to buy back the home at a later date. Congress has had many discussions on this option but have not been able to come to an agreement. The banks might also consider streamlining the short sale process allowing homeowners to sell their homes for less than the loan amount and forgiving the difference. The short sale process saves a persons credit rating allowing them to purchase another property in around 18 months or so. Short sales save lenders lots of money in lawyer fees, court fees, property repairs and an extended loss of non-performing home loans compared to foreclosure. Worst case scenario the bank unloads all of the foreclosures at one time and creates another real estate bubble. Meaning that the appreciation in home values experienced in the past few months would be deemed artificial and would hurt consumer confidence. This would be adevastating blow to the real estate industry and a start of another recession in the U.S. It would be a shame to go right back in to a recession after overcoming what most are calling the great recession of our time.
We can only hope that the Federal Government and the major lenders create a plan to rid the market of this Shadow Inventory. Until this Shadow Inventory is depleted I do not think it is fair to say that we have fully recovered from the bursting bubble and that we are headed towards a somewhat normalreal estate market. Of course this is just my opinion but there are figures to support all of these potential scenarios. Please let me know what you think of the market and tell me how you think the Fenderal Government along with the major mortgage lenders can tackle this problem. I always enjoy your input!
Talk with you soon,
Prudential California Realty
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