Friday, June 10, 2011

Underwater homeowners taking on more water

Banks are selling more than three times as many distressed homes as builders are selling new ones, and half as many homes as the resale market. With as much as 39 percent slashed off what a similar resale home would cost, the distressed home sector is a real drag on home prices.

by Broderick Perkins
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Deadline Newsroom - Here's one more nasty little statistic that will make underwater homeowners wheeze for air.

Banks are selling more homes than builders. In fact they are selling more than three times as many distressed homes as builders are selling new ones, according to a recent Hanley Wood Housing Intelligence (HWHI) report.

What's more, the banks' REO (for "real estate owned") homes are selling at deep, deep discounts, with as much as 39 percent slashed off what a similar resale home would cost, according to RadarLogic's latest housing market report.

That's good news for buyers, investors and others who have the cash or can somehow wrench a loan from tight fisted lenders.

Unfortunately, the price plunge is sending homeowners further underwater if they already owe more than their home is worth.

Some economists say the deep discounts on the large volume of distressed properties sent home prices double-dipping this year, at a pace greater then the home price crash of the Great Recession.

HWHI broke down the home sale share for the first quarter 2010 with existing homes comprising 61 percent of the market, REOs accounted for 29 percent of the market and new homes only 10 percent.

For the first quarter this year, REO sales swiped a greater share, apparently getting more resale and new home buyers to join the REO buying crowd -- existing home sales' share dropped to 60 percent, REOs increased to 32 percent and the sale of new home sales also dropped to only 9 percent.

The share of new home sales has been reduced by half since peak times, and the resale share decline by about one-fourth, thanks to the incursion by REOs, according to HWHI.

"Defaults are expected to reach new record highs this year which have buyers holding out for better deals and traditional home sellers battling lowball offers from banks," HWHI reports.

RadarLogic says homeowners suffering negative equity are stuck. Most can't or won't pay lenders the difference between their current mortgage balance and the price for another home, given the new home is likely to lose value.

Other than FHA loans, lenders are tighter than ever, requiring larger down payments and higher credit scores. First-time buyers don't have the stomach for handing over hard-earned money as equity "in an environment where home prices are widely expected to fall over the next 12 to 24 months," RadarLogic reported.

Investors with cash are more willing to take the risk, especially at the bargain basement prices they can get from the REO sector.

"The aggressive pricing on distressed properties is undercutting individual home sellers and new home builders alike, and wreaking havoc on local housing markets," HWHI grimly reported.

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop.

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