Category Archives: Housing Market

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America Get Pricked

San Francisco Bay Area & Seattle lead with biggest multi-month drops since 2012; San Diego, Denver, Portland, Los Angeles decline. Others have stalled. A few eke out records.

San Francisco and San Diego are catching the Seattle cold, and others are sniffling too, as the most splendid housing bubbles in America are starting to run into reality.

House prices in the Seattle metro dropped 0.6% in December from November, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, released this morning, and have fallen 5.7% from the peak in June 2018, the biggest six-month drop since the six-month drop that ended in February 2012 as Housing Bust 1 was bottoming out. The index is now at the lowest level since February 2018. After the breath-taking spike into June, the index is still up 5.1% year-over-year, and is 27% higher than it had been at the peak of Seattle’s Housing Bubble 1 (July 2007):

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-Seattle-2019-02-26.png

So Seattle’s Housing Bubble 2 is unwinding, but more slowly than it had inflated. Many real estate boosters simply point at the year-over-year gain to say that nothing has happened so far — which makes it a picture-perfect “orderly decline.”


San Francisco Bay Area:

The Case-Shiller index for “San Francisco” includes five counties: San Francisco, San Mateo (northern part of Silicon Valley), Alameda, Contra Costa (both part of the East Bay ), and Marin (part of the North Bay). In December, the index for single-family houses fell 1.4% from November, the steepest month-to-month drop since January 2012. The index is now down 3% from its peak in July, the biggest five-month drop since March 2012.

Given the surge in early 2018, the index is still up 3.6% from a year ago and remains 37% above the peak of Housing Bubble 1, fitting into the theme of a perfect orderly decline:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-San-Francisco-Bay-Area-2019-02-26.png

Case-Shiller also has separate data for condo prices in the five-county San Francisco Bay Area, and this index fell 0.9% in December from November, after an blistering 2.4% drop in the prior month. From the peak in June 2018, the index has now dropped 4.2%, the steepest six-month drop since February 2012:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-San-Francisco-Bay-Area-Condos-2019-02-26.png

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is a rolling three-month average; this morning’s release tracks closings that were entered into public records in October, November, and December. By definition, this causes the index to lag more immediate data, such as median prices, by several months.

The index is based on “sales pairs,” comparing the sales price of a house in the current month to the prior transaction of the same house years earlier (methodology). This frees the index from the issues that plague median prices and average prices — but it does not indicate prices.

It was set at 100 for January 2000; a value of 200 means prices as tracked by the index have doubled since the year 2000. Every index on this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America, except Dallas and Atlanta, has more than doubled since 2000.

The index is a measure of inflation — of house-price inflation. It tracks how fast the dollar is losing purchasing power with regards to buying the same house over time.

So here are the remaining metros on this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America.

San Diego:

House prices in the San Diego metro declined 0.7% in December from November and are now down 2.6% from the peak in July, the biggest five-month drop since March 2012, leaving the index at the lowest level since February 2018, and just one hair above the peak of Housing Bubble 1:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-San-Diego-2019-02-26.png

Los Angeles:

The Case-Shiller index for the Los Angeles metro was about flat in December with November but down 0.5% from the peak in August — don’t laugh, the largest four-month decline since March 2012. What this shows is just how relentless Housing Bubble 2 has been. The index is up 3.7% year-over-year:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-Los-Angeles-2019-02-26-B.png

Portland:

The Case-Shiller Index for the Portland metro inched down in December from November for the fifth month in a row and is now down 1.4% from the peak in July 2018. And that was the steepest five-month drop since March 2012. Year-over-year, the index was up 3.9%:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-Portland-2019-01-29.png

Denver:

House prices in the Denver metro edged down in December from November for the fourth month in a row, after an uninterrupted 33-month run of monthly increases. The four-month drop amounted to 0.9%, which, you guessed it, was the steeped such drop since March 2012. The index is at the lowest level since May 2018 but is still up 5.5% year-over-year:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-Denver-2019-02-26.png

Dallas-Fort Worth:

The Case-Shiller Index for the Dallas-Fort Worth metro in December ticked up by less than a rounding error to a new record, leaving it essentially flat for the seventh month in a row. The index is up 4.0% year-over-year:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-dallas-2019-02-26.png

Boston:

In the Boston metro, house prices dipped 0.5% in December from a record in November and are now back where they’d been in June. The Case-Shiller Index is up 5.3% from a year ago:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-Boston-2019-02-26.png

Atlanta:

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Atlanta metro inched up a smidgen in December, to a new record, and is up 5.9% from a year ago:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-Atlanta-2019-02-26.png

New York City Condos:

The Case-Shiller index for condo prices in the New York City metro ticked down in December for the second month in a row after a mighty bounce in September and an uptick in October. This index can be volatile, but after all these bounces and declines, the index was up just 1.5% from a year ago, the smallest year-over-year price gain on this list of the most splendid housing bubbles in America:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-New-York-condos-2019-02-26.png

On a national basis, these individual markets get averaged out with other markets that didn’t quite qualify for this list since their housing bubble status has not reached the ultimate splendidness yet. Some of those markets, such as the huge metro of Chicago, remain quite a bit below their Housing Bubble 1 peaks and are now declining, while others are shooting higher.

So the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index has been about flat since July, but is still up 4.7% year-over-year and is 11% higher than it had been at its prior peak in July 2006 during Housing Bubble 1:

https://wolfstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/US-Housing-Case-Shiller-National-Index-2019-02-26.png

It always boils down to this: Regardless of how thin you cut a slice of bologna, there are always two sides to it. When home prices drop after a housing bubble, there are many losers. But here are the winners – including a whole generation. Listen to my latest podcast, an 11-minute walk on the other side…

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US Pending Homes Sales Tumble YoY For 13th Straight Month

After plunging further in December, January Pending Home Sales rebounded more than expected (+4.6% MoM vs +1.0% MoM exp) but remains lower YoY for the 13th straight month.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/2019-02-27_7-03-55.jpg?itok=9ismcUUK

“A change in Federal Reserve policy and the reopening of the government were very beneficial to the market,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

“Homebuyers are now returning and taking advantage of lower interest rates, while a boost in inventory is also providing more choices for consumers.”

On a Year-over-year basis, the rebound left Pending Home Sales down just 2.27% YoY, but that is still the 13th annual drop in a row…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/2019-02-27_7-05-13.jpg?itok=7nDh-48k

Source: ZeroHedge

***

More Home-Sellers are Dropping Their Prices Than in Previous Winters as Buyers Seize More Control of the Market

https://www.redfin.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/price-drops-national_february-2019.png

More than one in five homes for sale nationwide dropped its price in the last month. In Fresno it was two in five.

How Low Will Housing Prices Go?

Now that Housing Bubble #2 Is Bursting… How Low Will It Go?

Unless the Fed is going to start buying millions of homes outright, prices are going to fall to what buyers can afford.

There are two generalities that can be applied to all asset bubbles:

1. Bubbles inflate for longer and reach higher levels than most pre-bubble analysts expected

2. All bubbles burst, despite mantra-like claims that “this time it’s different”

The bubble burst tends to follow a symmetrical reversal of very similar time durations and magnitudes as the initial rise. If the bubble took four years to inflate and rose by X, the retrace tends to take about the same length of time and tends to retrace much or all of X.

If we look at the chart of the Case-Shiller Housing Index below, this symmetry is visible in Housing Bubble #1 which skyrocketed from 2003-2007 and burst from 2008-2012.

Housing Bubble #1 wasn’t allowed to fully retrace the bubble, as the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to near-zero in 2009 and bought $1+ trillion in sketchy mortgage-backed securities (MBS), essentially turning America’s mortgage market into a branch of the central bank and federal agency guarantors of mortgages (Fannie and Freddie, VA, FHA).

These unprecedented measures stopped the bubble decline by instantly making millions of people who previously could not qualify for a privately originated mortgage qualified buyers. This vast expansion of the pool of buyers (expanded by a flood of buyers from China and other hot-money locales) drove sales and prices higher for six years (2012-2018).

As noted on the chart below, this suggests the bubble burst will likely run from 2019-2025, give or take a few quarters.

The question is: what’s the likely magnitude of the decline? Scenario 1 (blue line) is a symmetrical repeat of Housing Bubble #2: a retrace of the majority of the bubble’s rise but not 100%, which reverses off this somewhat higher base to start Housing Bubble #3.

Since the mainstream consensus denies the possibility that Housing Bubble #2 even exists (perish the thought that real estate prices could ever–gasp–drop), they most certainly deny the possibility that prices could retrace much of the gains since 2012.

More realistic analysts would probably agree that if the current slowdown (never say recession, it might cost you your job) gathers momentum, some decline in housing prices is possible. They would likely agree with Scenario 1 that any such decline would be modest and would simply set the stage for an even grander housing bubble #3.

But there is a good case for Scenario 2, in which price plummets below the 2012 lows and keeps on going, ultimately retracing the entire housing bubble gains from 2003.

Why is Scenario 2 not just possible but likely? There are no more “saves” in the Fed’s locker. Dropping interest rates to zero and buying another trillion in MBS won’t have the same positive effects they had in 2009-2018. Those policies have run their course.

https://www.oftwominds.com/photos2019/Case-Shiller2-19a.png

Among independent analysts, Chris Hamilton is a must-read for his integration of demographics and economics. Please read (via Zero Hedge) Demographics, Debt, & Debasement: A Picture Of American Insolvency if you want to understand why near-zero interest rates and buying mortgage-backed securities isn’t going to spark Housing Bubble #3.

Millennials are burdened with $1 trillion in student loans and most don’t earn enough to afford a home at today’s nosebleed prices. When the Fed drops the Fed Funds Rate to zero, it doesn’t follow that mortgage rates drop to zero. They drop a bit, but not enough to transform an unaffordable house into an affordable one.

Buying up $1 trillion in sketchy mortgages worked in 2009 because it bailed out everyone who was at risk of absorbing huge losses as a percentage of those mortgages defaulted. The problem now isn’t one of liquidity or iffy mortgages: it’s the generation that would like to buy homes finds they don’t earn enough, and their incomes are not secure enough, to gamble everything on an overpriced house that chains them to a local economy they might want to leave if opportunities arise elsewhere.

In other words, the economy has changed, and the sacrifices required to buy a house in hot markets at today’s prices make no sense. The picture changes, of course, in areas where 2X or 3X a typical income will buy a house, and 1X a pretty good income will buy a house.

Unless the Fed is going to start buying millions of homes outright, prices are going to fall to what buyers can afford. As China’s debt bubble implodes, the Chinese buyers with cash (probably not even cash, just money borrowed in China’s vast unregulated Shadow Banking System) who have propped up dozens of markets from France to Vancouver will vanish, leaving only the unwealthy as buyers.

The only question of any real interest is how low prices will drop by 2025. We’re so accustomed to being surprised on the upside that we’ve forgotten we can surprised on the downside as well.

Source: by Charles Hugh Smith | Of Two Minds

***

US Home Price Growth Weakest Since 2012

https://zh-prod-1cc738ca-7d3b-4a72-b792-20bd8d8fa069.storage.googleapis.com/s3fs-public/styles/teaser_desktop_2x/public/2019-02/2019-02-26_6-01-23.jpg?itok=W11ixPOh


“A decline in interest rates in the fourth quarter was not enough to offset the impact of rising prices on home sales,” 

 

 

US Housing Starts Crashed In December

https://zh-prod-1cc738ca-7d3b-4a72-b792-20bd8d8fa069.storage.googleapis.com/s3fs-public/styles/teaser_desktop_2x/public/2019-02/2019-02-26_5-37-48.jpg?itok=rMJrlaQ0

 

Year-over-year, housing starts tumbled 10.9% – the biggest drop since March 2011…

 

 

Debt Among Millennials Rockets Past $1 Trillion

https://zh-prod-1cc738ca-7d3b-4a72-b792-20bd8d8fa069.storage.googleapis.com/s3fs-public/styles/teaser_desktop_2x/public/2019-02/debt%20student.jpg?h=361ea814&itok=Kp6oBBxo

“Student loans make up the majority of the $1,005,000,000,000″, a massive handicap on ability to mortgage a home purchase at today’s prices.

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fall 8.5% YoY In January

The housing market is cooling, both in terms of existing home sales YoY and median price YoY.

(Bloomberg) — Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell to the weakest pace since November 2015, indicating that the housing market remained in a slowdown despite a drop in mortgage rates.

Contract closings decreased 1.2 percent in January from the prior month to an annual rate of 4.94 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday, below economists’ estimates for 5 million. The median sales price rose 2.8 percent from a year ago, the smallest increase since February 2012.

Is this a trend in median prices YoY for existing home sales?

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/medianpriceehsyoy.png?w=624&h=449

Milage in your town will vary.

Existing home sales YoY dropped 8.50% in January, continuing the cooling trend that started in 2017.

https://confoundedinterestnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/ehsyoy.png?w=624&h=449

I Dont Even Know What This Is Leonardo Dicaprio GIF

Source: Confounded Interest

Over Half Of Houses Listed In NYC Last Year Never Sold

A torrid post-crisis recovery in the NYC housing market came to a screeching halt last year as a chasm opened between what sellers were asking and what buyers were willing to pay.

https://ap.rdcpix.com/238832139/34d0af005e3bf18106be433233553738l-m0xd-w1020_h770_q80.jpg

But in the clearest post-mortem showing just how bad last year was for one of the world’s most unaffordable real estate markets, Property Shark found in a recent analysis that less than half of the housing inventory available sold last year. According to PS, 48% of the homes listed between March through May of last year had been sold as of Feb. 1.

It’s a symptom of New York’s softening market, where a glut of inventory has given buyers major bargaining power, said Grant Long, senior economist for StreetEasy. Of the homes that didn’t sell, only 14% are still listed. But most of the homes that were pulled off the market could easily reemerge

And of the homes from last spring that did sell, roughly 70% of them closed for less than their owners initially sought. That’s up from 62% of sales a year earlier and 61% in 2016.

The resulting glut in unsold inventory is creating problems for sellers who are facing another tidal wave of inventory.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Screen%20Shot%202019-02-08%20at%203.01.50%20PM.png?itok=xc33bN-d

Here’s a breakdown of the report’s findings (text courtesy of Property Shark):

1. Of All Homes Listed for Sale in Spring 2018, Fewer Than Half Sold

Just 48 percent of the homes listed during March, April, and May 2018 had sold as of February 2019. While weakness at the top of the NYC sales market has been grabbing headlines, the sluggish pace of sales has extended to homes across boroughs and price points. Manhattan homes fared slightly worse than others, with just 44 percent selling, but even in the comparably strong market in Queens, just 54 percent of homes found buyers. This is not only about price: Though 61 percent of all homes listed for $1 million or more failed to sell, so did 45 percent of all homes priced under $1 million. (Nonetheless, units priced at or above $5 million fared far worse, with just 140 of 656 units, or 21 percent, finding buyers.)

The Greenwich Club condominium in the Financial District exemplifies this trend. A total of 31 units in the building were listed for sale in March, April, and May 2018, but only six have sold. One more entered contract in December, and another six have since relisted, but many — including a 1-bedroom asking $1.25 million, 25 percent above its 2016 purchase price — left the market without fanfare in late 2018.

2. Many Homes Listed Last Spring Were Taken Off-Market

Most sellers who were unable to find buyers at suitable prices have simply pulled their listings from the market. Of all listings created in spring 2018, 40 percent are either paused, delisted, or otherwise no longer available on StreetEasy. Only 7.5 percent of all the listings from the peak months, or 14 percent of the total unsold units, are still actively seeking buyers. Listing agents marked another 4.5 percent of homes as in-contract, with the majority entering deals in late 2018 and presumably closing in early 2019. Yet with many more unsold, we will likely continue to see heightened inventory heading into the spring home-shopping season, as these sellers try again to find a buyer.

3. The Majority of 2018 Sales Closed Below Asking Price

Of homes listed last spring that managed to find a buyer, we estimate that 70 percent closed below their initial asking price[1]. The median difference between the recorded closing price (as reflected in public records) and the initial listing price on StreetEasy was 5.5 percent, for a $44,000 discount off the $800,000 median listing price for homes sold. Buyers enjoyed particularly high negotiating power in Manhattan, where 77 percent of homes sold below their initial asking price, compared to 68 percent of homes in Queens and 61 percent of homes in Brooklyn.

Homes selling below their initial asking price is not a new phenomenon, but with heightened competition for buyer interest, spring 2018 was particularly painful for sellers. In 2017 and 2016, 62 and 61 percent, respectively, of homes listed in the spring sold below ask in a comparable time period.

4. Aggressively Priced Homes Stand Out

Though these numbers make selling a home seem daunting, a significant chunk of homes – 19 percent of all sales – closed above their original asking price. While these home sales ranged across price points and neighborhoods, they tended to be among the cheapest in their respective neighborhoods for their bedroom count. Homes that ultimately sold above ask were initially listed for a median of 8.8 percent below the respective 2018 median price for their neighborhood and bedroom count. Meanwhile, homes that sold below asking price were listed a median of 1.2 percent above the respective median for their neighborhood and bedroom count. Homes that went unsold were initially listed for a median of 6.4 percent above their respective benchmark median.

* * *

To be sure, the property glut has given buyers serious bargaining power. And while sellers are hoping for a rebound (particularly if Trump does manage to repeal the SALT deduction cap, which the Senate has already said won’t happen), with more inventory set to hit the market, the downturn could persist for some time, particularly with median home values still well above the range that NYC’s population of indebted, cash-poor millennials are willing/able to pay.

Source: ZeroHedge

Housing Market Crisis 2.0: The Jury Is In For 2018-2019

Summary

  • Here is a play-by-play review of a housing crisis that began exploding one story at a time last summer.
  • What is different this time from last is that the 2007-2009 crisis started in the US and pretty much stayed in the US.
  • This one is developing all over the world simultaneously – in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, etc.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_2016-Economic-Predictions-Symbol.jpg

(by David Haggith) As happened with the first housing market crash that began in 2007 but didn’t become widely recognized until mid-2008, the present housing crisis began exploding one story at a time last summer, and this blog was perhaps the first to state that summer’s change was the turning point from decades of ascent into a collapse in housing sales and prices. I said the same thing back in 2007, and people didn’t believe me then either.

The present housing market crash, like the last, was created by the Federal Reserve artificially pressing mortgage rates down, then down further, and then down as deep they dared push for years and years. Falling interest allowed people with flat incomes to keep purchasing increasingly expensive homes. Since people buy payments more than house prices, housing prices kept rising as payments were kept in line via these artificial interest reductions.

The Fed’s ill-conceived plan, however, was never sustainable prior to the last housing market crash and is not now. I’ve said throughout the Great Recession and ensuing years that, sooner or later, we’d get to the point where the Fed would have to raise rates, and I’ve said its quantitative tightening will certainly raise rates as much as it increases its stated interbank lending interest targets. I’ve also said that, by the time the Fed started raising rates, housing prices would be unaffordable without the Fed’s artificially lowered interest; therefore, the market would have to crash all over again because, all over again, people would find themselves underwater on their mortgages.

And now, here we are. US banks have not started to go down, but they are feeling serious pressure as this article will point out, while eight months of statistics now prove housing is relentlessly falling with NO hint of letting up. As I wrote in my first Premium Post, “2019 Economic Headwinds Look Like Storm of the Century,” Housing Market Crash 2.0 is one of the numerous forces that will be knocking the US economy down in 2019. The rest of the global economy is already down further than the US.

The principal driver in Housing Market Crash 2.0 is the Federal Reserve’s Great Recovery Rewind (the downsizing of its balance sheet, which tightens financial conditions). This, I said two years ago, would cause mortgage rates to start rising one year ago, and you can now see that mortgage rates did exactly that all of last year:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_Mortgage-rates-Aug-18.jpg

Mortgage rates rose only a minuscule blip when the Fed started with a tiny rolloff (tightening) near the end of 2017, even as I had said the Fed’s unwind would not likely cause any serious damage to the economy until January 2018. Rates, however, immediately ramped up steeply when the Fed doubled its roll-off rate in January (which was when I said the balance sheet unwind would start to have serious market impacts). This has hit stocks, bonds, and housing the worst… so far.

Since the housing market is one of the major areas where Americans store wealth and since it is an industry that buys products and labor from a multitude of other industries, a decline in housing impacts the economy more than any other industry.

US Housing Market Crash 2.0

Here is the path US housing prices had been following until the market rolled over:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_Home-prices-Aug-18.jpg

And here is a play-by-play of how the housing market crash has gone since I made my brazen 2018 summer proclamation that it had arrived on schedule:

June-July, 2018: Average housing demand in the US was reported to have fallen 9.6 percent in June YoY, while the number of listings increased. Overall, 15% fewer offers were made on homes, which is probably why the inventory grew. In many major markets, however, inventory declined. Agents in So. Cal reported bidding wars were cooling down. Where homes had been getting 10-15 offers (causing a bidding war), they were now just getting one or two.

Prices continued to climb or remained high because sales have to slump a lot before sellers become willing to accept the harsh reality that their homes, in which they have so much of their wealth invested, are not worth as much as they were. As inventory rises, buyers become more choosy and make offers on only the best-priced homes, rather than bid prices up. As a result, prices stall so do buyers until eventually their waiting overcomes seller inertia and sellers start to move down to find the more deeply coalesced pool of buyers.

In affluent areas, however, prices already began to fall. In part, this jolt down at the top was due to the Trump Tax Cuts, which funded some cuts by curbing deductions for mortgage interest and particularly for property tax. That hit areas like Manhattan, Westchester County, New Jersey, and Connecticut the hardest because of their high property taxes that had been paid on behalf of the wealthy via income-tax breaks. (Property-tax bills in Westchester County, one of the highest in the nation, commonly hit $50,000 per year or more.)

On a quarterly basis, purchases nationally plunged 18% in the second quarter.

August 2018: Near the end of summer, reports like the following started to appear for the first time in almost a decade:

“We all think next year is going to be a tough year for real estate sales,” said Matthew Roach, a property attorney in Yorktown Heights, New York…. Some buyers are saying, “‘Look, I’m not going to spend more than $35,000 in taxes,’ ” said Angela Retelny, a broker at Compass. “Houses … have to be reduced – because their taxes are just way too high for the price range….” The state of the market is such that you’re seeing “dramatic price reductions every single day – every hour, pretty much,” she said.”

Bloomberg

But it was not just high-end markets that hit the skids. Farms in the midwest had been seeing rising bankruptcies for a few years and finally broke above the peak they hit in the last housing market crash:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_chart_4.png

The rise in farm bankruptcies, however, had little to do with mortgage rates or housing prices, and everything to do with commodity prices (particularly dairy); however, as goes the farm business, so goes the sale of the farm. More people selling in distressed conditions coupled to fewer people interested in buying into a failing industry equals tougher sales; and, so, this distress was certain to flow out into declining sales and prices. (Fire sales of land and equipment due to distress last summer are now well underway.)

The impact hit first in delinquent Ag. loans in the upper midwest, which rose (when measured against the farm capital backing those loans) to strike a level worse than what was seen in the pit of the Great Recession. The Kansas City Fed predicted farm income would worsen into 2019. The Trump Trade War certainly isn’t helping.

(During this same time, my wife and I – putting my belief in a housing market crash to practice – listed our farm in the hope of selling near the peak, possibly renting and then buying back in at a lower price in a couple of years. We hope to retire our mortgage so that we can more easily retire five years from now. We both have jobs that are fairly recession proof, so we’re not too concerned about needing to grow our own food. Still, if we can’t sell at near-peak value, we’ll happily hold on here since the farm produces relatively passive income. (We let other people rent agricultural use and do 90% of the work.) If things ever did go extremely bad, we can grow a huge amount of food in a valley that always has abundant mountain water. So, we’ll be happy to sell at peak value, but happy to sit it out here if we’re already too late to get that value.)

September 2018: By the end of summer on the east coast, some markets like Connecticut saw a rise in people choosing to wait out the foreseeable housing market crash by renting, even at $10,000 a month for higher-end homes, in hopes of buying low at the bottom of the market in a not-too-distant future. Several east-coast counties saw rentals rising sharply as sales fell just as sharply. Owners also began choosing to rent out homes rather than sell them at a loss because losses on a primary residence are not deductible; but if a home has been rented for two years, it can be converted into an investment property so that, at least, the loss can be deducted from taxes. (They may have also hoped that, by renting, they could wait out the decline in prices.)

Todd David Miller, a vice president of sales at the Higgins Group, said that of the $57 million in sales his team has done so far this year, primarily in the towns of Westport and Fairfield, almost all of the sellers have either moved out of state or are renting in the area. Those who are staying in the area are gravitating toward home rentals near the beach.

“These are mainly higher-end transactions, and the majority of them had to sell at a loss,” Mr. Miller said. “They don’t want to put any more money into real estate right now….”

“We’re going through this era of uncertainty. And what do buyers do when the near-term seems uncertain? They pause. People are just nervous that values will continue to decline, and for that reason, more people are opting to rent, if they are not forced to buy”, Miller said.

The New York Times

October 2018: New home sales were expected to start rising again in October but, instead, fell miserably (8.9% MoM). That marked the seventh month of missed expectations. The midwest led the slump that month, falling a hard 22%, but the fall was bad in all parts of the US. At this point, median prices began dropping nationally, too (down 3. 6%). As a result of a backlog from declining sales, inventory began to soar (climbing 7.4 in one month). Sentiment, too, had taken a bad plunge by October with the number of people who said they planned to buy a house in the next twelve months falling by half over the past year.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to a more than 2-1/2-year low in October amid sharp declines in all four regions, further evidence that higher mortgage rates were hurting the housing market.

Reuters

The Fed crush was fully on.

November 2018: By November, mortgage rates across the United States had hit their highest level since the Great Recession 8-1/2 years earlier. As a result, new mortgage applications across the US fell to their lowest level since December 2014. Since refinancing mostly happens when mortgage interest is lower than it was when a mortgage was taken out, refis hit their lowest point since the year 2000. So, clearly, the Fed has crushed mortgage activity.

By this point, year-on-year sales had fallen for eight straight months across the nation. The west coast – with Seattle leading the earlier procession in sales and prices – had long been one of the nation’s hottest markets, which is why I stated at the start of last summer the housing market’s initial decline in Seattle was a “bellwether” for the whole US market. While my one crow on a wire (detractor) insisted I didn’t know a thing, time has proven my summer proclamation that Housing Market Crash 2.0 had begun to be dead on with Seattle leading the recession in sales and prices:

Since that proclamation, inventories in the region have soared due to a buildup from declining sales. Lending limits have increased due to falling prices and less assurance on the part of banks that collateral will hold its value or that repossessions won’t be the next wave. King County where Seattle is located has led the decline to where the number of single-family homes on the market has doubled in just a year.

Since my summer declaration, King County has recorded a bruising fall. In just half a year, the median price plunged from its peak of $726,000 last spring to $644,000 in November. According to Mike Rosenberg, a Seattle Times real estate reporter, this was the fastest price drop anywhere in the nation (over 11% in half a year – a crushing reversal from years before when rises 10% in a full year were seen as evidence of a superheated market; so, doesn’t that make this flash-frozen fall?) The last drop that steep was back at the start of the Great Recession in 2008! Not a time for housing anyone wants to compare to.

In Southern California, home sales in November plunged 12% YoY. In California, however, prices remain above their 2008 summit and have so far largely resisted following sales down. Nevertheless, Bank of America proclaimed, “We are calling it: existing home sales have peaked.”

LA Times noted if volatility in the stock market and Washington significantly affects consumer confidence and business investment decisions in 2019, the housing market could be due for significant correction into 2020…. Richard K. Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, told the LA Times, he is very pessimistic about the housing situation in Southern California. Green warns prices could plunge 5% to 10% into 2020, even with the current level of economic growth.

Zero Hedge

Things looked just as stark in Las Vegas by November where, out of the 10,000 homes on the market, 7,000 of those had not received a single offer, a figure 50% worse than the year before. Realtors started warning sellers not to panic, which, in itself, easily becomes a self-fulfilling warning. In the last few years, Las Vegas had risen to become one of the most overvalued markets in the nation. It looks like prices have finally peaked now that they have risen out of site on the back of low-interest loans and now that interest is higher and now that the Trump Tax cuts have stripped away some of the benefits of home ownership in favor of a larger general deduction that goes equally to renters or buyers.

By the end of November, the US Census Bureau reported that new home sales had rolled off a cliff. New homes sitting on the market were at their highest point in five years, and unsold supply per quarter was growing at an alarming annualized rate of 33% (meaning should it continue).

In another sign the market has turned under, housing flips have flopped in the Chicago area. The flipper boom has nearly gone bust. With properties taking longer to sell, higher interest on loans to acquire and repair those fixers eats up more profit and increases the risk involved in flipping homes. With profits sometimes now shifting into reverse, flippers are backing out of the market. The number of homes turned around by flippers in the Chicago area went from a high of 7,600 in the first three quarters of 2017 to 4,000 in the first three quarters of 2018. Across the nation, the number of homes flipped dropped 12%.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_flipping_20trends.png

December 2018: The median price of a home in Manhattan fell below the one-million-dollar market for the first time in four years, and it took 15% longer to sell even at those lower prices. Again, real estate agents noted that the Trump Tax Cuts were making the situation worse, but particularly in high-end markets.

Relief started spreading to the boroughs, too. Most of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods saw more than a fifth of sellers pressed to lower their asking price. And in the pricey Hamptons, home purchases in the 4th quarter of 2018 crashed a full 35%, the biggest quarterly fall since … you guessed it, the Great Recession in 2009!

Inventory is piling up across the city, and that’s good news for buyers in search of a bargain. For sellers with dreams of making a big profit, it’s time for a reality check.

Bloomberg

Most of us don’t care what banksters are paying (or getting) for a home near their Wall Street office, but the massive year-end plunge in NYC and its surrounds is further evidence that the fall in home prices is not only unabated but worsening. What started showing up at the top of the market in the hottest markets like Seattle last summer is now, as I said would be the case, trending down to lower sectors just as seen in the spread from Manhattan to the boroughs.

This is all terrible news for my crow. If he had any integrity, he’d cannibalize and eat crow. Of course, neither crows nor trolls ever have integrity. However, for those who would like to become first-time home buyers someday, this is news to crow about. How you look at it depends on where you’re standing. Someone might even be able to become a first-time home buyer in Manhattan in a couple of years if the Fed doesn’t quickly spin on its heels and reverse its Great Recovery Rewind, as it is already sounding ready to do.

Nationally, sales dropped 11% in December, but the most valuable thing about December stats is that we get a final tally to reveal how the entire year went. A total of 5.34 million homes sold in 2018, proving the year to have the largest annual drop (about 10%) in total home sales since … you guessed it … the bottom of the Great Recession eight years ago.

Business Insider summarized 2018 as the year that…

The US housing market took a dark turn … as homebuying fell off a cliff and mortgage lenders saw a steep decline in applications, originations,and profits. Interest rates are partly to blame for the slide in housing, but that’s only half of the equation, according to analysts. It’s too soon to panic, but a deeper drought in housing is bad news for just about everybody, not just the banks. Significant housing declines have foreshadowed nine of the 11 post-war US recessions, according to UBS…. The decline has been broad, affecting every region in the US.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_Home-Sales-2009-2018-1024x607.jpg

2018-2019 Housing Market Crash 2.0 appears inevitable, given how far off the cliff we’ve already fallen and how fast we’re going down.

And here is where home-buying sentiment now lies:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_consumer_20housing_20sentiment.png

So, eat crow, Crow. In short, sentiment across the nation is as bad as it has ever been. It looks like how people feel after they’ve already fallen off a cliff.


How hard is Housing Market Crash 2.0 hitting banks?

At Wells Fargo, mortgage banking revenues fell 50% to $467 million in the fourth quarter, while originations declined 28% to $38 billion. JPMorgan, meanwhile, saw mortgage income fall to $203 million, a 46% drop from the same period last year. Originations fell 30% to $17.2 billion.

that’s Fifty percent!

Looking forward: Pending sales are a forward-looking indicator. Due to the lag of a month or two between a pending contract and closing, the direction of movement in pending sales tells us where we’ll most likely be in final sales a month or two down the road. November’s pending sales told us that sales in January when all reporting is completed in February will likely be down to their lowest since May 2014. And December’s sales, which were way down in November’s pending report, already came in worse way worse than November’s actuals, falling a whopping 2.2% from where they were in an already bad November. So, we can expect January’s to do no better once all reports are in.

Real estate bimbos had expected a 0.5% rise in December! Of course, they were also ebulliently predicting a warm spring market for 2019 and recently were forced by facts to temper their predictions. In my opinion, real-estate sales people (as a group, not all individuals) fit somewhere among the following groups for lying: 1) transportation sales people (car dealers and horse traders); 2) banksters; 3) stock brokers; and 4) politicians.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_US-housing-Pending-home-sales-2018-12-yoy-change.pngGraph by Wolf Street

“It’s been dripping down, down, down,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said…. “Frustrating that the housing market is not recovering.”
Wolf Street

Pending sales strongly indicate that Housing Market Crash 2.0 is still fully on track for 2019. Moreover, year-on-year declines have been worsening each month since the start of October even though interest rates improved in November. That, to me, supports my view that the Fed has already gone too far to stop the damage, even if it quits tightening altogether.On a longer-term perspective, consider the demographics: School-debt-ridden, under-employed millennials, who are more into buying experiences in life than things, are not inclined to buy homes that are in the housing-bubble price zone. Neither are baby-boomers looking to retire, which often involves downsizing.


None of this bothers me because my wife and I have the best of all worlds – very low fixed interest, a home we bought at the bottom of the market last time around, a chance to sell now high or stay and keep reaping the rewards of living in a beautiful place.

I benefited from the last crash. I hope others are able to reap the same reward by turning the next bottom into their blessing. It’s all about seeing clearly what is coming so you can sell high and buy low. It is what can happen to those who see reality clearly and don’t live in economic denial like my crow who could only see what he wanted to see in praise of his choice for president. My lone crow on a wire, who scoffed at a good call because he didn’t like it, now looks like the fool I warned last summer he would prove to be. He has fallen off the wire because he hasn’t a leg left to stand on. All reports everywhere have come in against consistently month after month for over half a year.

(I’m not advising anyone as everyone’s particular situation is different – just saying what I’ve done, what I’m doing and why. I’m saying what I believed would happen and is now happening so you can weigh all risks and possible rewards for yourself in your own context and your own ability to take risk in order to do as you feel best.)

Here is a picture of where we are in our developing 2018-2019 housing market crash:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_Seattle_-_House_damaged_in_Perkins_Lane_landslide_1954.png

After 2018, we look about like this. 2018 pushed us just over the edge into a housing market crash that is as likely to continue sliding as the house in this picture at the top of a bluff that is giving way. (And I’ve seen places in Seattle that look exactly like that.)

Canada Housing Market Crash

One major difference between Housing Market Crash 2.0 and the last time is that this one is already global. The last one started in the US and mostly stayed in the US. This one is rapidly building in several nations because it is part of the bursting of the “Everything Bubble.”

Vancouver, June-July, 2018: Residential property sales fell 14.6% from June 2018 to July but a massive 30.1% from a year before. The 2,070 transactions that took place were the fewest since the end of the last millennium. Buyers and sellers were both reportedly sitting things out in confusion as to whether recent price gains would continue or whether the housing bubble had already burst. (As of August, prices had not started to drop.)

Sales of detached properties in July decreased 32.9% from a year before, and apartments dropped 26.5%. In fact, July’s sales were 29.3% below the 10-year average for July. Much of the plunge was attributed to Vancouver’s new law aimed at shutting out absentee Asian buyers that were ramming up housing prices while leaving the homes abandoned to become derelict in high-end neighborhoods. So, the decline is, in large part, intentional; but, if declining sales bring down prices, the dangers of falling prices to people who find themselves underwater and to their banks remain just as high.

The topping of the Canadian housing market looked like this:

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2019/2/10/saupload_vancouver_20home_20prices.jpgCanadian market looks like a bus crashing into a brick wall.

January 2019: The B.C. Real Estate Association claimed the huge drop in British Columbia housing sales was due to mortgage stress testing. In spite of the plunge, prices are holding in the province, though no longer rising since last spring. Inventory is building to a level that will probably force prices down by or before summer.

Australia Housing Market Crash

Australia is faring even worse. Melbourne housing prices have plummeted at their fastest quarterly pace ever recorded! Less than two months ago, Australian housing regulators were warned to prepare “contingency plans for a severe collapse in the housing market” that could lead to a “crisis situation.” The Australian market peaked back in October 2017. It’s been downhill ever since with momentum now hitting break-neck speed. Sidney prices are down 12% from their peak.

Experts have been left stunned after Aussie house prices plunged at “the fastest rate of decline ever seen”. And there’s more pain to come…. “We have seen the downturn accelerate over the last three months. At 4 per cent down in Melbourne that’s the fastest rate of decline we’ve ever seen of any rolling three-month period, and Sydney is virtually (the fastest outside) a really brief period in the ’80s.” Sydney’s total decline is now the worst since [CoreLogic] began collecting records in 1980… One analyst has even tipped falls of up to 30 per cent, based on the revelation from the banking royal commission that almost all mortgages written between 2012 and 2016 … over-assess borrowing capacity.
News.com.au

The defaults will be cascading in soon. While Melbourne and Sidney are in an all-out housing crash, other cities in Australia are feeling the pinch, too. Every capital city marked declines, except Canberra. As in the US and Canada, the most expensive end of the market is taking the biggest fall first. Melbourne and Sidney, however, constitute half the value of Australia’s total housing market; so a drop in only those two cities if the plunge were isolated could still be devastating to Australian banks.

Hong Kong Housing Market Crash

Even the world’s hottest housing market is in decline. In stock market terms, one could say it has “entered a correction.” After its longest streak of falling values since 2016, the price of existing homes is down almost 10% from their August peak. This is actually seen by many, including some Chinese government officials, as relief to a market that had long run too hot.

The article above would have been one of my Premium Posts. Such articles are long to readbut are intended to present the most comprehensive overviews you’ll find anywhere. I chose to make this one available to all for two reasons: 1) to show the depth and breadth of Premium Post articles so readers can assess what they are like; and 2) because it concludes an argument made last summer over a prediction made almost two years ago for last summer.

Source: by David Haggith | Seeking Alpha

Vancouver Home Prices Post Biggest Drop In Six Years As Foreign Bid Vanishes

When China started tightening its capital controls on both its upper-crust investors and its public and private companies back in 2016, we anticipated that the bubble in popular urban markets (markets like London, New York City, Sydney, Hong Kong and Vancouver) was officially doomed to burst in the not-too-distant future.

And as a flood of stories over the past year have confirmed, once the foreign (mostly Chinese) bid was withdrawn, property prices started to drop. It’s happening in Australia (and especially in Melbourne and Sydney), it’s happening in New York, it’s happening in London and – as we’ve catalogued over the past few quarters, it’s happening in Vancouver, which for a while held the ignominious title of world’s most overpriced housing market.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Screen%20Shot%202019-02-05%20at%201.58.03%20PM.png?itok=vFypmMTo

After a chasm opened up between bids and asks in the Vancouver housing market last year, the halt in home sales has finally started filtering through to prices as reluctant sellers finally cave and cut their prices. According to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the city’s composite home price (which incorporates prices of houses, condominiums and townhouses) fell 4.5% in January from a year earlier to C$1.02 million ($780,000), the biggest decline since May 2013 and down about 8% from the June 2018 peak.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/2019.02.05vancouver.png?itok=3mqaMpV3

As we noted above, the drop in prices follows a decline in sales – the biggest drop in two decades – that many have attributed to new taxes, higher interest rates and a crackdown on dark money flowing into the Vancouver area real estate market. Meanwhile, outbound investment, Bloomberg confirms, has slumped.

Ultimately, the Fed-led global monetary stimulus sent prices in these markets roaring to dizzying new highs during the QE era. But now that the Fed is reining in its balance sheet (and until signaling a “pause”, had been raising interest rates, too) prices that rose on the back of a tidal wave of liquidity are now coming back down.

“Today’s market conditions are largely the result of the mortgage stress test that the federal government imposed at the beginning of last year,” Phil Moore, the realtor group’s president said in a statement Monday.

[…]

“Vancouver real estate was one of the largest benefactors,” of that stimulus, says Steve Saretsky, a Vancouver realtor and author of a local real estate blog. “It may be simple to summarize the slowdown as a few local tax policies and tightening of lending standards, but in reality it’s much more complicated,” says Saretsky, who’s now trying to explain the darkening macro picture in a market where many locals have long considered home price appreciation unstoppable.

The very top end of the market has been the hardest hit: Prices in tony West Vancouver have fallen 14% yoy as of January. And as one real estate agent confirmed to BBG, now that foreign buyers are pulling back, sellers who were once asking for C$12 million or C$13 million are asking for…significantly less.

“These homes in West Van were selling for C$12 million, C$13 million two years ago,” says Adil Dinani, a realtor with Royal LePage, a unit of Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc. “Agents are asking me to throw them off for anything – C$8 million, C$8.5 million, whatever it is.”

Dinani, who’s been in the business for 14 years, says there are fewer speculative investors, and foreign buyers have really pulled back. “And what local buyer has C$6 million, C$7 million to put towards a home?” he said.

Still, with Vancouver’s housing market extremely unaffordable when benchmarked to local wages, no local buyers have the money for these homes.

Which can mean only one thing: Prices have further to fall before the equilibrium point is found.

Source: ZeroHedge