Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Slumps

This foreclosure graph via OC Renter gives a good frame for Bearmaster's great three-part series, "The Last Great Southern California Housing Slump" summary from the Los Angeles Times archives, 1988-96.

I remember those articles, how banks' prices on foreclosures set a ceiling over other sellers until they were finally sold off.

I'd add the earthquake of early 1994, that took the already-fallen market in Santa Monica one final step down. I recall, for example, north-of-Montana lot value peaked over $900K in 1989, fell to $600K in 1993, then $550K in 1994 after some houses fell off their foundations. Here's another example.

Striking to me on the graph is that our local market doesn't feel much past 1990 of the last slump, yet California foreclosures have already passed the peak reached only at its end in 1996. Imagine what the next few quarters will look like.

4 comments:

Trent said...

I work for CurrentForeclosures.com, a foreclosures site and have seen a huge increase in the number of foreclosures in the past 7 months. I believe it is a combination of not only sub-prime and ARM mortgages, but also the high number of people who have gotten loans with interest rates at an all time low... in addition to the rapid depreciation in some areas and the difficulty some are experiencing in selling their homes.

Anonymous said...

Re Trent's comment- The following article regarding foreclosures and L.A. RE is for discussion and education purposes only (fair use).

http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/analysts-say-mortgage-woes-may-worsen/n20070725190009990002

Analysts Say Mortgage Woes May Worsen
By ALEX VEIGA, AP
Posted: 2007-07-25 19:00:23
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Here's a scary thought about the latest bad news on housing: A surprising increase in late loan payments and defaults among home owners with good credit is so far coming from traditional woes, like divorces, job losses and unexpected medical bills.

The next and biggest wave of problem loans could come as monthly payments soar for both prime and subprime borrowers who took out adjustable-rate loans with little or no documentation, or who used so-called piggyback loans on top of their first mortgages to make up for small down payments, analysts said.

These exotic loans were the only way many borrowers - even those with good incomes and sterling credit histories - could afford to get into the housing market as home prices soared in the last decade. But now those decisions are looking suspect.

That was one of the messages that sent a jolt through the mortgage industry and the stock market on Tuesday after Countrywide Financial Corp. reported its second-quarter profit shrank by nearly a third as softening home prices led to rising delinquencies and mortgage defaults.

Countrywide, whose shares have lost 11.7 percent of their value in the last two days, laid part of the blame for the uptick in delinquencies on borrowers with good credit who had taken out prime home equity loans.

Analysts said the trend could continue, particularly in areas of the country that have been hardest hit by job losses in general or seen a decline in speculation-driven construction, such as South Florida, parts of California and Las Vegas.

"As housing values weaken broadly and the job market slows in these areas that we're focused on, all borrowers will be touched," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.

He said subprime borrowers, those with spotty credit records, will likely show the greatest number of defaults. "But even prime, fixed-rate first mortgage borrowers will experience more credit problems," Zandi said.

The problems are expected even though the U.S. unemployment rate is currently at 4.5 percent, still low by historical standards.

More signs of the housing slowdown surfaced Wednesday as the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell by 3.8 percent in June to the slowest pace in more than four years.

In reporting its earnings, Calabasas-based Countrywide, the top U.S. mortgage lender, said it was forced to take impairment charges as it braced for the possibility of more people failing to make their mortgage payments on time.

The company said borrowers becoming unemployed or divorcing were the leading reasons why many borrowers with prime loans were falling behind on payments. And company officials told analysts on a conference call that the uptick in missed payments was not due primarily to borrowers seeing their loans' interest rate reset, triggering higher monthly payments.

Still, the mortgage industry anticipates that it could face a rash of defaults in coming months as many adjustable mortgages originated in 2005 and 2006 during the height of the housing market frenzy begin to reset to higher interest rates.

The loans, initially attractive options for buyers because of their cheaper "teaser" interest rates, can adjust higher after as little as two years. Even a small percentage increase can translate into a payment shock.

"The losses are just beginning," said Christopher Brendler, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc.

"Housing is increasingly a problem, prices are likely to go down, and so these loans underwritten in the best of times will now season in the worst of times," he said.

The mortgage industry has already tightened lending standards in response to the jump in defaults by subprime borrowers.

With fewer first-time buyers entering the market, homeowners in the mid-tier of the market, who tend to be among the most creditworthy, prime borrowers, are having a tougher time selling their homes.

"The same problems you saw in the subprime sector that caused the big meltdown in March is now a broader industry problem that's hitting the prime sector," Brendler said

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
07/25/07 18:59 EDT

Pat said...

I think the foreclosure graphs need to be adjusted for the number of households during the same period. Since the number of households has increased over time, one would expect that everything else would increase in like manner (including foreclosures). An adjusted number would give a better indication of how we compare today with past periods.

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