All-Cash Home Sales Hit Record 42% of Sales

Courtesy of Mish.

Even though household formation by millennials is at a record low percentage, home sales are at modest levels thanks to investor all-cash buying.

Market-Watch notes All-Cash Home Sales Reach New High.

More Americans are buying homes in all-cash deals, according to a new report. But real-estate experts say this increase may not be a good sign for the health of the housing market, which may also be impacted by the Federal Reserve’s decision to pull back on its bond-buying program. 

All-cash purchases accounted for 42% of all sales of residential property in November 2013, up from 39% during the previous month, according to data from real-estate data firm RealtyTrac released Friday. “This is still a very cash- and investor-driven market,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

The cities [states?] with the biggest month-over-month jumps in the number of all-cash sales, according to RealtyTrac, included Florida (63%), Georgia and Nevada (both 51%), South Carolina (50%) and Michigan (49%). This helped boost overall sales of U.S. residential properties, which sold at an annualized pace of 5.1 million in November 2013, a 1% increase from the previous month and a rise of 10% from a year ago.

The decision by the Federal Reserve Wednesday to reduce its bond-buying program to $75 billion per month starting in January, from $85 billion per month currently, may also encourage more cash-purchases — at least for those who can afford it, Blomquist says. “They’re going to do everything they can to keep interest rates low, which may be tough to do,” he says. To reduce cash buyers, he says there will need to be low interest rates and a cooling off in home price appreciation. “Otherwise, you’ll see the market skew even further toward cash buyers,” Blomquist says.

When interest rates went up slightly in June, there was a notable increase in cash sales, Daren Blomquist says. “Some markets are more interest-rate sensitive than others based on affordability,” he says. “Just a slight increase makes homes a lot less affordable.” In fact, another report by Goldman Sachs in August was even more strongly in the cash-is-king camp, estimating that cash sales now account for 57% of all residential home sales versus 19% in 2005.

A record number of Millennials, adults aged 18 to 32, put off household formation and stay at home to live with parents.

See Haircut Deficit: Kids Living in Basements a Drag on U.S. Services Spending; Since Recession Ended, Durable Goods +34%, Services +6.3%; What’s Next?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

 

 

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6.4mn Home Mortgages in US Still Underwater

There are still about 6.4 million homes with “underwater” mortgages in the US.
Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:34AM
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Nearly 6.4 million homeowners in the United States are still “underwater” on their mortgages, owing the bank more than their house is worth, experts say.

“Nearly 6.4 million homes, or13 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage were still in negative equity at the end of the third quarter,” said CoreLogic, an Irvine, California based company providing financial, property and consumer information.

Certain states are bearing a greater brunt of the problem, CoreLogic found. Just five states accounted for more than one-third of the underwater homes nationally.

Nevada led with the highest percentage of underwater mortgages (32.2 percent), followed by Florida (28.8 percent), Arizona (22.5 percent), Ohio (18.0 percent) and Georgia (17.8 percent).

The problem is greater at the lower end of the economic scale. CoreLogic found that 92 percent of homes worth more than $200,000 had equity; for homes less than $200,000, only 82 percent had equity.

More than four years after the worst financial crisis in the US officially ended, a new wave of mortgage trouble appears to be threatening the American banks again, Reuters warned in a November report.

The news agency reported a worrying rise in the number of US borrowers who are increasingly missing payments on home equity line of credit they took out during the housing bubble, which led to the Great Depression of 2008.

The report warned that consumers’ payments will rise further when the Federal Reserve starts to hike rates, because the loans usually carry floating interest rates.

AHT/ARA

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The rise of modern day real estate feudalism: How a majority of Americans are missing out on the gains of the new rentier class.

From Doctor Housing Bubble

 

Feudalism was a set of customs in medieval Europe that setup a society in which relationships were based on holding land in exchange for service and labor.  There is a modern day movement that is silently pushing out the middle class from truly owning real estate.  In my view, there is no coincidence with the contracting US middle class and the massive expansion of “all cash” buyers.  For most working Americans buying a home with all cash is so far removed from economic reality that it is not even an option.  This used to be historically the case.  However, since the Fed adjusted accounting rules and banks were able to control how inventory leaked out into the market, we suddenly have the highest number of cash and investors diving into the real estate market with alternative financing.  People in Nevada, Arizona, and parts of Florida are competing with 50 to 60 percent of investors just to buy a home.  In California the figure has been over 30 percent going back to 2009.  Lower rates are a bigger pull for large investors since the safe trade in bonds or Treasuries is no longer there.  So for this group, those 4 to 5 percent cap rate yields seem more attractive than the nearly non-existent rates on Treasuries.  So we now have a system in place that is crushing the US homeownership rate and is shifting more property into concentrated hands.

 

First step, control that inventory

There was an interesting trend that started early this year.  Nationwide inventory was starting to increase.  Yet once rates spiked in the summer, that trend completely reversed:

inventory back and then gone

Banks have an entire menu of methods of slowing down inventory that hits the market.  Slowly since 2007, banks have figured out better methods of leaking out inventory.  For example, freezing mark-to-market accounting and all the other programs that allowed for mortgage modifications.  In some cases, the foreclosure process was dragged out 3 to 4 years!  Yet the public face was to help average people but in reality, what has really occurred is a major shift from US household ownership of properties to investors swooping in and picking up properties on the cheap courtesy of modern day banking policy.  In the end 5,000,000 Americans (and counting) still lost their homes via foreclosure and continue to do so.  The massive spike in prices is allowing more people to exit mortgages they simply cannot afford by simply selling.

Yet the drop in inventory is adding pressure to a market where sales are still weak.  What you have is a fully controlled “market” where the Fed is buying up virtually all mortgages and investors instead of focusing on companies or more productive economic activity are becoming large scale landlords.

Prices up and homeownership down

Prices are up yet the homeownership rate in the US continues to fall:

us homeownership rate

How is this even feasible?  For one, you might have one investor, purchasing a ton of properties:

“(Bloomberg) The market for rental-home securities may grow as large as $900 billion, assuming 15 percent of annual home purchases are conducted by investors and 35 percent of those and existing rental-home owners turn to the market for financing, according to Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc. Banks have been the main source of financing for new property landlords such as Colony Capital LLC and Blackstone, which has spent $7.5 billion on about 40,000 houses.”

Instead of having 40,000 families buying those homes, you have a couple corporate owners.  For nearly half a decade 30 percent of all US single home buying is going to investors.  Historically, this figure was closer to 10 percent.  That is a dramatic shift in the US real estate market.  Did becoming a landlord suddenly become sexy for Wall Street?

With prices up dramatically in the last year including going up close to 30 percent in California, regular families are having a tougher time competing with the small amount of inventory available when investors are battling it out.  What is interesting is also the number of rentals on the market has declined causing rents to spike.  Household incomes are being eaten up either by higher home prices or higher rents as more households shift to renting adding pressure to the low supply of rentals.  Ironically, we are not seeing a flood of these purchases hit the rental inventory market.  Some are trying to flip which might explain the lack of rental inventory but this would add to overall sales inventory which has also fallen.  This isn’t a full market so hard to guess what the next move is.

New home sales – make a fuss for nothing

There was a big splash being made about the “massive” jump in new home sales.  You want to see this big jump in context?

new home sales

The chart above sums it up.  All the action is happening in the existing home sale market and investors are dominating this game.

Cash buying

It is very clear that one-third of single family home purchases have gone to investors since 2009.  However, some estimates put this figure a bit higher:

GS-housing-cash

all cash buyers

A safe number is one-third.  In markets like Nevada, Arizona, and Florida it is closer to half.  Even in Las Vegas, what regular working family is going to have $100,000 sitting around to make an all-cash offer?  In California where a shack goes for $500,000 the game is even more bizarre.  Yet people have to work and live somewhere.  People for the most part are idle creatures.  In California you have the conundrum of golden real estate handcuffs via Prop 13.  People can sell and move to another state and have a healthy retirement but would rather eat cat food and live in a shack with low tax rates.  It is an interesting trend especially with many baby boomers now seeing their kids coming back home with loads of college debt.

Rental market getting squeezed

The low supply and large investor buying is now causing a drop in the rental vacancy rate:

rental market

Because of this rents are moving up but in some markets are still below the record highs:

median rent

Source:  Quandl, Zillow

However nationwide rents are at an all-time record high:

nationwide rents

Low inventory is a symptom of market manipulation.  Too many odd incentives and banking shenanigans have created a distorted market.  The Fed now owns 12 percent of the mortgage market and is essentially the only buyer of mortgage backed securities.  Look at all the above data.  Who do you think is really winning here?  Rents are higher.  Home prices are higher.  Yet the menu of good employment opportunities is limited.  Incomes are hardly increasing.  The younger generation is massively in student debt and they are having a tough time finding good work.

What an odd game of real estate we are living in.

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VAPORIZED: Detroit Obliterates Retirement Funds: 80% Cuts to Pensioners: “This Is Going to Affect Everyone”

Mac Slavo
December 3rd, 2013
SHTFplan.com

 

detroit-bankrupt

Though a decade ago civil servants and union members would never have believed it could happen, the stark reality of the situation came to pass this morning.

We now know the answer to the question: What happens when a government makes promises it can’t keep and borrows so much money it can never be repaid?

This morning a judge overseeing the City of Detroit’s fiscal sustainability ruled that the City can be afforded bankruptcy protection, meaning that all 100,000 of its creditors now stand to lose a significant portion of monies owed to them.

The most notable victims are the tens of thousands of retirees living off of pensions – many of whom will see an 80% obliteration of the retirement funds they believed they’d receive until they died.

Creditor attorneys have repeatedly speculated they expect Orr’s plan of adjustment to mirror the June 14 proposal he offered creditors to avoid bankruptcy. That deal proposed giving unsecured creditors such as pensioners and bondholders a $2 billion note for $11.5 billion in estimated debts — or less than 18 cents for every dollar owed.

Most of those affected assumed the government would simply find a way to borrow more money or fabricate it out of thin air. They were wrong and now they are paying the price:

“Oh my, oh my. Everyone is worried. When we think about what could happen, it’s scary,” said Larsen, 85, who moved to Palm Harbor, Fla., outside of Tampa after he retired in 1976.

“If they take our health insurance? Oh god. Cutting pensions? It’s terrible. The city of Detroit was our pride. Honest to goodness. We loved it.”

“We are all worried,” said Nancy Schmidt, the group’s secretary. “This is going to affect everyone in different ways. If it comes to fruition, I’ve got two empty bedrooms and I may end up having to rent them out.”

“My net pension is $2,300 a month,” said Kammer, 77, who moved to Englewood, Fla., not long after retiring with a disability in 1977.

“I could make it for a while, go through savings, but pretty soon, I’d end up in bankruptcy.”

“(Retirees) feel like something that they’ve earned and were promised is being taken away from when they’re not in a position in their lives to plan for it and fight back,” Plecha said. “They’re at a time in their lives when they’re most vulnerable.”

Detroit is the first and they have now set a precedent for other cities in similar situations. You can be assured that more will follow.

First it will be the cities. Then the states will go under. And finally, the Grand-Poobah – our own Federal government. Detroit’s debts are pocket change compared to the $200 trillion in future liabilities owed by the United States of America.

If you are depending on a government retirement package to be there for you for the rest of your life, you’d better think again. Over twenty thousand Detroit retirees thought the same thing – and as of today they have been wiped out.

When this crisis hits the Federal Government – and it will – you’d better be ready for them to take drastic measures. This means they’ll be forced to not only cut retirement benefits promised to federal employees, but will make the case that if they have to give up their retirement funds, you’ll have to give up your 401k, IRA or personal savings.

Sounds impossible, right? Congressional members have already gotten the ball rolling on a nationalization of America’s retirement funds, and when they are ready to do it they’ll pass the legislation just like they did when they seized 1/6th of our economy by nationalizing health care.

They are coming for the money – YOUR money – because they will be left with no other choice.

If you’re not planning on a secondary income stream or preserving wealth in the form ofgold and silver, productive land, or other tangible assets, you’ll end up just like the retirees from Detroit. Having additional resources, like a well stocked long-term pantryand a preparedness plan for financial disaster, can mean the difference between living in poverty or thriving when best laid plans fall apart.

Plan for the worst, because that’s what’s coming.

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