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A Downward Spiral For the Housing Market?

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I think that all real estate professionals have been watching reports concerning the housing market. However, the amount of reports reflecting pessimism or optimism have been so many, that it is easy for us to ignore them now. To be honest, most positive reports are coming from Realtors who want a good spin on the issues, while negative reports seem to be originating from the financial community as well as individuals who are trying to sell their home.

Yesterday, I read this report about the investment firm ING looking towards the British market, while pulling away from the US market. Their fear was that worse is to come. The manager, a Mr. Robert Houston, felt that there was more potential for growth in the British housing market, but he did see that there were investment opportunities in the US debt market. At first, I found no meat in this article to support such a belief. This morning I found another report regarding this downward trend, which presented me with an argument that I could get behind. I wonder if this news is just coming on the tails of all of the bad news coming from the financial markets though.

Here is the argument in a nutshell: as lenders tighten up their rules for lending, there will be less buyers in the market. Values can continue to go down below a reasonable value as fewer buyers are harder to find, and as more people walk away from their homes when they realize that the values are lower than what they owe. Add on to that is the number of foreclosures as homeowners find themselves with ARMS that they cannot afford. Maybe this news came just at the right time for me to accept it, because I am reading up on the mathematical theory of Emergence. One concern that I have about foreclosures is that as more occur, it will become acceptable for others to follow that path. This spins out to effect neighborhoods which have to deal with the problems associated with vacant homes (crime and appearance). Eventually neighborhoods cannot maintain these homes, so the neighborhood starts falling into disrepair, which leads to home values to decrease. In one way, emergence theory could be applied to this spiral, showing that it is quite possible.

On the other hand, the National Association of Realtors has focused on the marketing campaign which shows that all real estate is local. Realtors are speaking of good times, keeping busy with work. The motto may seem trite, but there is a truth to it. Take my city, or state even. Houston has been experiencing job growth in the past year due to the higher fuel prices. This has brought an influx of residents, which in turn requires the city to have a place for them to live. Many are buying homes. The “but” to this statement is that buyers are few overall. Home values have either risen or remained steady, which is good news for sellers. There are various reasons behind the disappearance of buyer, like tighter lending practices, financial issues, or just waiting for a better price. Houston is not alone in this trend. The problem areas for housing really is California, Florida, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Certainly their crisis of a downward spiraling value will effect the entire nation’s economy, but it might not be that great on individual locales. Houston never had home values spiral quickly upwards, so there has been no fall. Most of the nation is in the same situation as my city.

Maybe just the fact that reports are coming which worry over the housing market in general will cause an effect where others follow the example of these concerns. In the end, we will be looking at a not-so-great market for the next year.

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3 Responses to “A Downward Spiral For the Housing Market?”

  1. I won’t speak for the rest of the cities across the country, but I can speak about Real Estate the Las Vegas Valley. In my latest inquiry we led the nation in foreclosures for reasons unrelated to the rest of the economy. It’s easy to blame 4 States and Cities for the economic downfall of the rest of the nation, but I encourage you to pull your head out of Houston TX. for just a moment and let’s try to take a look at the big picture.

    1. 60% of the Las Vegas Valley homes in foreclosure have never had a resident living in them. What caused it? Builders built multitudes of homes to sell to investors that wanted to flip them using zero or 5% down loans from mortgage companies. Investors had purchased thousands of homes and were flipping them like crazy, and then the spigot of money got turned off.

    The investors continued flipping until the market just flat stopped and just walked away from the homes they couldn’t sell. If half of the investor foreclosures fell off the charts, we would be right in the mix on a per capita basis with everyone else.

    2.I have personally been very busy since around March 1, 2008. My clients have been Baby Boomers, with money that have retired or on the brink of retiring. They are paying cash or are putting 20% down with a strong credit score. I have also been working with many clients that are doctors/ nurses, people in the building trades and teachers from cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and yes even New York City. What’s happening in those cities?

    My clients tell me that the loss of manufacturing jobs in the auto, steel and shipping industries have led to layoffs, which have caused people to move, which leads to layoffs in the types of jobs that I listed above. Not only that! What happens in those cities trickles into other service types of jobs in and outside of those cities. That affects our nation as a whole! Now for the people that rented in these cities decide to move to the Las Vegas Valley to start their new life, it’s a no brainer for them, in this buyers market, to buy rather than rent if they can. Did you know that FHA and the VA have new programs with little or nothing down if you have a strong credit score?

    3. On the other hand there are a lot of people who have already moved to Las Vegas now, to work, that own homes in the cities, mentioned above, that have to rent until their house sells. I know people who are renting here that have had homes on the market in these cities for up to a couple of years. They can’t sell them because there is no sustainable growth in the economy for companies in those cities to hire people. Those markets are shrinking and so are the home prices.

    4. So let me ask! What does Las Vegas have to do with dragging down their home values? If anything we are creating opportunity for these families to start a new life. The Las Vegas Valley leads the nation in job growth! Period! We were the last city into the sub-prime fray and appear, by last month’s home sales numbers to be one of the first cities out of the sub-prime mess.

    5. Without putting a so called positive spin on the issues, WE ARE IN A BUYERS MARKET! PERIOD! Financial institutions are going to have it rough for awhile. Heck! They weren’t complaining 3 or 4 years ago when they were handing out money to people that were stating their incomes with little or nothing down for a home. As for sellers, they are just going to have to wait awhile just like buyers have to wait when prices get beyond their reach to purchase a home. But have confidence, this rough period shall pass.

    6. My last point is this! Let’s take a look at the nation as a whole for a moment. Oil and Gas prices are at an all time high. We have been involved in a war about oil for the last 6 years. (Iraq owes us—BIG TIME!) The stock market has dropped 400 points in the last 2 days (as of the time I’m writing this). Ford and General Motors stocks are trading at an all time low. The Airline Industry is in the tank. What has been the cause? I’m going to tell you now! DON’T BLAME THE LASVEGAS VALLEY. I said it before! I can only speak about the Las Vegas Valley. I wouldn’t dare try to tell you what’s going on in your city when I have never even been there. But I would offer this!

    Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Independent or a non participant, you better start asking the politicians in your area who they are looking out for and hold their feet to the fire for some answers. Based on what I’m seeing these past few months, I don’t think it’s us.

    Best Regards,

    Mary Kennedy
    RE/MAX Central
    Las Vegas, NV.

    Local: 702-324-5390
    Toll Free: 888-725-4487

  2. Ok Mary, I will not blame Las Vegas. What do you think about the two reports though? As the financial markets have tumbled, one bit of news was from Standard and Poors downgrading the housing market in the US as an investment. It seems that such news feeds more people to stay away from buying.

    My real worry is for our communities. If cities are loosing tax dollars due to this situation, and costs are going up, it would be harder for them to stay on top of vacant properties. The Fed bailed out investment banks because it was a matter for concern for our economy. By this reasoning, should the Fed or another agency provide funds to municipalities to ensure vacant homes do not become a blight?

    Mary, thank you for coming in and commenting. Your thoughts are welcome.

  3. Ms. Kennedy,
    I tried being polite, and I did send an e-mail in the hope that you would reread the post, and maybe see more clearly. Considering your post on AR (yes, I am on that site as a member), let me respond to your post there as well as the comment here, so you can see that I do not have my head up my …Houston, as you so kindly sugest.

    Well, lets take that statement about where my head is at. If you had taken the time to look at my links in this post, you could have seen that I am looking at more of the market than just Houston. What is happening now is taking place in more markets than just an isolated area, and I was reading about what others are seeing, and how I could understand their argument, and what the consequence could be.

    Secondly, if you would take the time to read, instead of expressing your misplaced righteous indignation, you will see that I do not blame Las Vegas or the other areas alone for the current housing situation. I did say that they would effect the national economy. The comment which has been left on your blog confirms this opinion, and it is frequently stated in the national media. This statement does not lay the blame on your city’s doorstep for the housing crisis.

    Your own response does confirm my observation that Realtors which to find an optimistic outlook on the current crisis, while the links above show that the financial community does not have the brightest outlook on housing. This is only natural, and it is neither positive or negative. It should not be an object of contention; it is a statement of how the different professions react.

    You yourself give the fact that Las Vegas does have an issue. Look at your statement under your first point. So why is it bad that I mention that the city has an issue? It is simply a fact. Nothing to shout about.

    Again, I for one appreciate the discussion, and I will not delete your comments. I just would appreciate a civil, intelligent argument, and you are welcome to comment again.

© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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