This is interview required viewing for anyone connected with real estate and mortgages. Here are a few choice snippets:
“We’ve made fraud and perjury just a business expense.”
“Felony, fraud, perjury on a mass scale.”
“It wasn’t Jamie Dimon…or the $8 burger flippers…the process was too institutionalized…what we don’t know is who the mid-level bank execu who said too hell with 700 years of property law…just rubber stamp it and get it through…”
“It’s the Ford Pinto approach…eh some will burn to death, we’ll write a check later.”
Spoken with amazing clarity – always love Barry’s insights and delivery of his views.
To be clear, Bill’s forecast is based on prices of the key housing indices i.e. Case Shiller and CoreLogic without seasonal or inflation adjustments. He is very clear about the definition of a housing bottom which is key to the argument – in fact, there are two housing bottoms:
First there are two bottoms for housing. The first is for new home sales, housing starts and residential investment. The second bottom is for prices. Sometimes these bottoms can happen years apart.
New Home Sales Bottomed in mid-2010 (moved sideways ever since).
Housing Prices Will Bottom Around March 2012 (will move sideways after that).
He provides a logical argument but I think he’s missing a key ingredient in the logic – how will the market be impacted by distressed properties and how they will impact the price trend:
Falling inventory is masking significant shadow inventory built-up during the credit crunch. Inventory is declining to more manageable levels, not because there are fewer homes to sell, but because sellers are holding back until conditions improve – big difference.
In other words, the call of a bottom is missing a huge element from the equation – supply. The forecast of a housing bottom could certainly be right in the short term, and housing prices could bottom in March temporarily, but there is a lot of excess supply to be dealt with and I suspect that prices will begin to slide as REO activity begins to slowly enter the market. It simply has to – there is too much of it.
No gloom and doom here, just that the market still has a lot of distressed inventory to absorb. Distressed real estate (foreclosure) volume has fallen by about one third in 2011 as lenders/servicers held back releasing more units into the market largely because of the “robo-signing” scandal in late 2010 and the potential AG settlement that has been languishing for much of the year.
The housing market got an REO reprieve in 2011 and has caused housing bulls to get ahead of themselves and the housing market, way too focused on demand, and not enough focus on supply.