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Posts Tagged ‘strategic mortgage defaults’

Lew Ranieri: Housing Recovery Is Years Away

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 29th, 2010 3:34 PM |

Despite all reports to the contrary, markets in general and housing in particular are ultimately a function of supply and demand. On that note, why isn’t the housing market poised to truly do better anytime soon? The overhang of housing supply due to ongoing strategic mortgage defaults is increasing. These strategic mortgage defaults are much more a factor in the prime-Jumbo market segment than the conforming or sub-prime mortgage market. (more…)

Elizabeth Warren Highlights Washington’s Losing Battle on Housing

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 9th, 2009 9:21 AM |

Who in Washington will give you a straight answer? Elizabeth Warren.

Who is Elizabeth Warren? Her Wikipedia bio reads:

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren (born 1949) is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law. In the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis, she has also become the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout, formally known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program. In 2007, she first developed the idea to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which President Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, and Barney Frank are now advocating as part of their financial regulatory reform proposals.

In May 2009, Warren was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Ms. Warren consistently takes no prisoners or provides no pandering in making honest assessments of the interaction between Washington and Wall Street. She has called the banks on the carpet. She has called Secretary Geithner on the carpet. She has called Congress on the carpet. Why? A general lack of honesty, integrity, and transparency in dealing with the American public.

When she speaks, I listen.

What did she have to say this morning? In commenting on a recently released report on the effectiveness of government programs to support housing, Warren questioned the scalability and the permanence of the impact of the TARP funding. Bloomberg provides further color in writing TARP Oversight Group Says Treasury Mortgage Plan Not Effective. The report highlights:

“Rising unemployment, generally flat or even falling home prices and impending mortgage-rate resets threaten to cast millions more out of their homes,” the report said. “The panel urges Treasury to reconsider the scope, scalability and permanence of the programs designed to minimize the economic impact of foreclosures and consider whether new programs or program enhancements could be adopted.”

New programs or program enhancements? Yesterday I opined “Washington Needs a New Housing Model” and wrote:

While the administration swims upstream on this issue, bank policy of tight credit and restrictive lending only further exacerbates the housing market. Make no mistake, though, banks are taking that approach to tight credit at the behest of regulators who know the level of losses in the banking system and are trying to preserve the industry as a whole.

I like a rallying equity market as much as anybody, but I wouldn’t spend any paper gains just yet. Why? The new housing model is displaying that:

“As defaults become more common, the social stigma attached with defaulting will likely be reduced, especially if there continues to be few repercussions for people who walk away from their loans,” concluded Sapienza.  “This has an adverse effect on homeowners who do pay their mortgages, and the after-effects of more defaults and more price collapse could be economic catastrophe.”

This model needs some quick-dry crazy glue, which could only be applied in the form of a serious principal reduction program. Banks would take immediate and massive hits to capital which they clearly won’t accept.

So how can we generate some support for housing?

Aside from a principal reduction program, the penalty for those who would strategically default on their mortgage needs to be far more onerous.

The principal reduction would negatively impact bank earnings. Too bad. The banks are currently feeding at the taxpayer trough and would not be here without the bailouts. The individuals who are capable of making their payments need to accept the moral responsibility that is embedded in a contract.

Given the massive violation of moral hazards and breaking of contracts by Uncle Sam, that old man does not have a lot of credibility on that front.

What do we really learn here? Ultimately, the market is the market and efforts to manipulate or support a falling market will only be temporary. The market needs to find the clearing level where private money will purchase properties. That private money will wait while Uncle Sam continues to try to prop the market.

In the meantime, do not expect any meaningful support for housing.

LD

Washington Needs a New Housing Model

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 8th, 2009 12:04 PM |

Traders, strategists, analysts, economists, and politicians will always review models of past behaviors in an attempt to forecast future developments. In the process, the models are only as robust as the inputs. Many of the aforementioned individuals will become overly dependent on models. The risk in that process is that the models ‘work until they don’t work.’ As a result, programs, policies, and procedures are implemented that perhaps exacerbate rather than amend a situation. I believe this scenario is playing out in our housing market.

The breakdown in Washington’s housing model revolves around the newly developed phenomena known as “strategic mortgage defaults.” I highlighted this topic a few weeks back in writing, “Strategic Mortgage Defaults Have Major Implications for Markets and Economy.” We see more evidence of this new extension on our housing model in a report released by Reuters, The Flood of Foreclosures Shows No Sign of Ebbing:

The Center for Responsible Lending says foreclosures are on track to wipe out $502 billion in property values this year.

Investor's Real Estate Guide

That spillover effect from foreclosures is one reason why Celia Chen of Moody’s Economy.com says nationwide home prices won’t regain the peak levels they reached in 2006 until 2020.

In states hardest-hit by the housing bust, like Florida and California, the rebound will take until 2030, Chen predicted.

“The default rates, the delinquency rates, are still rising,” Chen told Reuters. “Rising joblessness combined with a large degree of negative equity are going to cause foreclosures to increase,” she added.

Anyone doubting that the recovery in U.S. real estate prices will be long and hard should take a look at Japan, Chen said.

Prices there are still off about 50 percent from the peak they hit 15 years ago.

(more…)

Strategic Mortgage Defaults Have Major Implications for Economy and Markets

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 21st, 2009 11:29 AM |

The Brave New World of the Uncle Sam economy has brought our economy and markets into realms very rarely seen or experienced. One of those realms which has received very little coverage, but will have major implications for the economy and markets going forward, is “strategic mortgage defaults.” What are strategic mortgage defaults and what will be the growing impact of this phenomena? Let’s navigate.

High five to KD of 12th Street Capital for bringing this development to our attention. The Los Angeles Times profiles this very troubling slope on our economic landscape in writing, Homeowners Who ‘Strategically Default’ on Loans a Growing Problem:

With foreclosures, delinquencies and loan losses at record levels, strategic defaults and walkaways are among the hottest subjects in residential real estate finance. Unlike in earlier academic studies, Experian and Wyman could tap into credit files over extended periods to identify patterns associated with strategic defaults.

The number of strategic defaults is far beyond most industry estimates — 588,000 nationwide during 2008, more than double the total in 2007. They represented 18% of all serious delinquencies that extended for more than 60 days in last year’s fourth quarter.

Strategic mortgage defaults are nothing more than a very calculated financial maneuver primarily by people with high credit scores. These people are literally walking away from their homes – and the mortgages on those homes – with little to no warning or indication of stress typically identified by increased delinquencies on the mortgage payment or other credit payments.

Why are people doing this? To fully understand the reasoning behind people strategically defaulting, we need to understand why people bought these homes and took out these mortgages in the first place. Over the last decade, many people purchased homes, including their primary residence, for investment purposes as much as for shelter and protection. As with other investments, these high credit and financially savvy people are assessing the market value of their home relative to their carrying costs (mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, etc) and making the decision that they are financially better off walking away from the property and mortgage than continuing to make the payments.

Is there a moral failure in this practice, especially on behalf of those individuals who do have the financial wherewithal to make their payments? Perhaps, but we should not kid ourselves that people bring their morals – or lack thereof – into their financial affairs. (more…)






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