There's been a lot of talk recently about home prices reaching a bottom. Most notably, Bill McBride at Calculated Risk— perhaps the most respected housing market analysts in the blogosphere — says housing starts already bottomed and housing prices are likely to bottom in March.
But not everyone is convinced. Keith Jurow argues that home prices are nowhere near the bottom. In fact, he thinks that one particular market — New York City — is close to collapsing.
Let’s look at the most misunderstood housing market in the country — the NYC metro. The published median sale price for both NYC and Long Island has seemingly held up better than other major metros — not much less than $400,000 for Queens or Suffolk counties. This has fooled people into thinking that the worst is over in the NYC area. On the contrary, the real collapse in prices is imminent.
In November 2011, Minyanville.com posted my 30-page New York City Housing Market Report. The report included never-seen-before charts, graphs and data that revealed what has been going on there. The banks have not been foreclosing for the past three years. This started well before the robo-signing mess. On February 7, 2012 there were a total of only 242 repossessed properties on the active MLS in Queens according to foreclosure.com. This is a borough with a population of 2.2 million.
Because of this, the number of seriously delinquent properties throughout NYC has been soaring. Based on individual charts for each borough from the NY Federal Reserve Bank which I included in my report, there were roughly 80,000 properties where the mortgage had not been paid in more than 90 days as of June 2011.
That number is considerably higher now. How about this statistic? I received updated numbers from the N.Y. State Department of Banking a few weeks ago. In 2009, the state legislature passed a law requiring all mortgage servicers to send a “pre-foreclosure notice” to all delinquent owner-occupants in danger of losing their home to foreclosure.
As of the end of December 2011, a total of 165,000 pre-foreclosure notices were sent to delinquent owner-occupants just in NYC. This does not include delinquent investors because the law requires that these notices be sent only to owner-occupants.
While not all of these borrowers were more than 90 days delinquent, the vast majority were 60+ days delinquent. What do you think will happen to home prices once the banks finally begin to foreclose on these properties? Prices will collapse in the four outer boroughs and will decline sharply in Manhattan. I am convinced that this will occur although we can’t be sure when the banks will begin to move on this.
The situation is even worse in Long Island — Nassau and Suffolk counties. I wrote a 22-page report on the Long Island housing market which Minyanville posted in December 2011. Just for these two counties — with a total of less than three million people — more than 149,000 pre-foreclosure notices had been sent as of the end of 2011.
As in NYC, the banks have not been foreclosing in Long Island. But they cannot put it off indefinitely. When they begin, prices there will collapse.
I won't pretend to understand the New York City housing market. I rent a very nice apartment and probably will never buy unless I stumble into a lot of excess cash. But, even after our national housing trauma, a lot of people I speak to still think I'm throwing my money away by not buying in New York City.
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