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Bravo, to all of you for writing in, and may I just say that perhaps the politicians should be reading this, because if they think a government bailout would be popular, they’d better think again. We got about 57 emails to the realty check site in the hour after I did the bailout piece on TV, and I can’t find even one post that supports a bailout.
I’m interested in getting some opinions on a story I’m reporting today because I’m not sure I agree with any of it. As the subprime crisis continues to unfold, and tightening lending standards bring the already sluggish spring market to a crawl, the blame game is heating up on Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers want to hold the big banks accountable. Bear Stearns, UBS, Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch, they buy the loans, pool and securitize them. It is estimated that mortgage backed securities issued in 2007 will top 2 trillion dollars, not all of them consisting of subprimes of course.
I’m reporting a story on Lennar today. The sixth largest public homebuilder in the nation sent out an interesting letter to its contractors a few months ago offering them two choices: (A) Reduce your unpaid invoices as of 1-26-07 by a minimum of X [many have reported up to 20%]… or (B) Not reduce your unpaid invoices and be excluded from bidding future work for a minimum of 6 months. Those companies who choose to participate in this request and/or can exhibit the best price possible will continue to have every opportunity for future business with Lennar.
I’m not going to talk about mortgages today. I’m not tired of the topic; I just want to remind myself that there are other stories playing out in the real estate market. Lest we forget, people are still buying and selling homes, legally and responsibly, and I want to focus on that for a minute.
Ok, I want to take a little space here to respond to a number of complaints you readers have been sending to the RealtyCheck mailbox. Don’t get me wrong, I love it that you’re riled up, I love it that you disagree, most of all I just love it that you read all this stuff, so here goes:
I’m working on this story today about the ripple effects of the subprime crisis on the wider mortgage markets, specifically something called an Alt-A loan. What’s an Alt-A? Well, I did a little net-search and found a wide variety of definitions:
With anxiety over the subprime mortgage market, calls for tighter lending standards, continued high inventory of unsold homes and home prices dropping from coast to coast, to call Tuesday’s housing starts number curious is an understatement. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports housing starts in February jumped 9% from a month ago but are still 28.5% below February 2006. This is the biggest jump since January of last year and comes off a 14% drop in starts in February.
Anxiety over trouble in the subprime mortgage market has home builders changing their vision of a recovery in the housing market. After a slow and steady rise from a low in September, the monthly survey of home builder confidence from the National Association of Home Builders slipped three points in March.
Continuing in the blame game … today we took a look at all the potential litigation, which will inevitably be the next bit of ooze in all this subprime seepage. Yesterday lawmakers on Capitol Hill were pointing fingers, then today, in New York City, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, asked about the subprime market, jumps on the bandwagon, “We’re looking at that market as well.” Then in DC, at about the same time, Sen. Hillary Clinton says, “This market is clearly broken, and if we don’t fix it, it could threaten our entire housing market which in turn would threaten our entire economy.”
Since I received so many responses to my blog yesterday on Subprime Subterfuge, I thought I’d post them here for everyone to see. Thanks to all for writing in!
Today the Mortgage Bankers Association released its quarterly “National Delinquency Survey.” Delinquencies and foreclosures rose across the board, across each sector of the mortgage marketplace, prime and subprime alike.
If you’re at all interested in the housing market, then you’ve probably heard the sound from yesterday’s webcast of a Citigroup homebuilder conference. Donald Tomnitz, CEO of D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder by volume, said, “I don't want to be too sophisticated here, but '07 is going to suck, all 12 months of the calendar year.”
The Pending Home Sales Index fell 4.1% in January from December and is 8.9 percent lower than January of 2006. This number comes after a 3% jump in sales in January, those of course based on contracts signed in December. And the Realtors say it’s all about the weather.
Existing home sales are up and new home sales are in a despair spiral. What’s up with that? Two days and two completely different reports on the US housing market. The National Association of Realtors reports existing home sales in the month of January jumped 3% and then the next day the US Commerce Department reports sales of new homes in January plummeted 16.6%. I repeat, what’s up with that?
There’s a lot of data out today on existing home prices across the U.S., and I want to quickly make a little sense of it for you. First we get results from the National Association of Realtors, which reports that the median existing home price in the U.S. is $210,600, down 3.1% from January of 2006.
I’m getting frustrated with two words: “Housing Market.” For weeks now I’ve been getting the questions from my friends, the pitches from so-called housing experts and the assignments from my bosses: How is the Housing Market this Spring??
An interesting note popped to my inbox today: the final tally from the International Home Builders Show. The National Association of Home Builders, which runs the show, reports this year’s show was the largest in history, by number of exhibitors - more than 1,900 - and by space - one million net square feet of exhibits. Attendance did not break last year’s record, just over 105,000, but it only missed it by a thousand or so.
A bright spot in today’s earnings report from KB Home, one of the nation’s largest home builders: prices on their homes are coming down this quarter. While the company posted some nasty earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter and is showing a 48% cancellation rate, that fact bodes well for the usually busy spring season.
Kermit the Frog may think, “It ain’t easy being green,” but the 10-foot-tall frog on the placard welcoming you to the Bosch display at the International Home Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., might beg to differ. Bosch has long been at the forefront of energy-efficient, or “green” appliances, but the company now stands at the front of a very long line of companies turning their attentions to energy conservation.
I want to share a conversation I just had with my friend Nancy Taylor Bubes, a top realtor in D.C., who has helped transfer literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property in the coveted Georgetown neighborhood. ...For the past year she's been bemoaning the market, showing me homes that have been sitting on the market for months without so much as a sniff. So I visited her at a small townhouse in Georgetown that just sold for a touch over a million dollars.