Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Monday, January 23, 2012, 8:55 AM
Here are names I have associated with each year since the fall of Lehman and the impact on housing.
2008 (Rat) – Year of the return to reality. Appropriately named, the year notes the final punctuation mark on the credit boom unraveling and the fact that the entire world lost it’s mind.
2009 (Ox) – Year of the first time buyer. The first year after the September 2008 fall of Lehman Brothers that marked the beginning of a new credit environment as well as a new housing market. Mortgage rates fell to the floor and the Federal government introduced the first time homebuyer tax credit – later expanded to existing homeowners. For appraisers it was the “Year of the Appraisal Management Company” as the Cuomo/Fannie Mae agreement effectively prevented the residential appraisal industry from becoming a reliable and impartial benchmark provider.
2010 (Tiger) – Year of the short sale. Preceding the incoming flood of foreclosures, the banking industry understood that it was a lot cheaper to effect a short sale rather than go to foreclosure. Unfortunately they had no idea how to manage the process and many fell into foreclosure. Here’s some free advice to banks looking to cut losses on foreclosure activity: actually pick up the phone.
2011 (Rabbit) – Year of the foreign buyer/trophy property sale. The DC politically charged debt ceiling debate leading to the S&P downgrade of US debt and economic debt problems in Europe drove many foreign buyers to the US housing market as a safe haven. A byproduct of this trend was a surge in the sale of unique high end properties in the US. Think Candy Spelling and Sanford Weill. I had originally dubbed 2011 as “Year of the foreclosure” but the “robo-signing” scandal in late 2010 tempered servicer/lender plans of releasing foreclosures into the market until they were more confident they could prove ownership and the right to actually foreclosure (what a time we’re living in).
2012 (Dragon) – Year of the foreclosure/election year do-nothingness. Servicers/lenders will begin to ramp up the foreclosure process again as more time has passed for them to get their ducks in a row. I am doubtful there was enough time to do much of anything considering the millions of potential transactions but it’s likely to start this year and heavier than usual volume should last for at least 3 years. This is a good thing because we need to clear the market before claiming a housing recovery. We will likely see a surge in election year political promises as an attempt to help troubled homeowners such as a more streamlined shortsale process, an improved loan modification process and an expanded refinance policy, but judging from all feeble attempts so far and the stalemate in DC on economic policy and their stunning lack of understanding about what ail’s housing, we’ll probably get the status quo instead.
The next Chinese New Year will be named Year of the Snake. Uh, I’ve never liked snakes.