When Everything’s Going Up, It Hides A Lot

A report from Vail Daily in Colorado. “Michael Slevin, owner and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said even as rates rise, his firm’s brokers remain busy. ‘We’re counseling sellers that the buyer pool may be diminished,’ Slevin said. On the buyer side, Slevin said his firm is ‘crafting creative ways to get buyers into properties.’ That means using interest-only or adjustable-rate mortgages. Adjustable-rate mortgages ‘make sense for some people,’ Slevin said.”

“While easy-to-get mortgages were part of the collapse of financial markets in 2007 and 2008, Slevin said the landscape today is much different. ‘Borrowers are much more qualified (today),’ he said. ‘It’s a different environment … but we may be losing a little air in the balloon.'”

A press release. “‘Homes are now getting one to three offers, compared with five to 10 two months ago and as many as 25 to 30 six months ago,’ said Jennifer Bowers, a Redfin real estate agent in Nashville. ‘Offers also aren’t coming in as high above the list price as before. I recently listed a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in a super cute neighborhood for $399,900. It ended up going under contract for $12,000 above the list price with an inspection, whereas three months ago, the buyer probably would have paid $60,000 over asking and waived the inspection.'”

The Washington Post. “At Olentangy Maids in Columbus, Ohio, more customers are putting off or canceling home-cleaning appointments. Some regulars are trying to negotiate lower prices, while others have stopped tipping altogether, co-owner Keith Troyer said. ‘It hasn’t been a massive drop off, but enough that it’s been noticeable,’ Troyer said. ‘Quite a few clients have called saying, ‘Hey, my wife got laid off. We need to cancel,’ or ‘Can I switch from biweekly to monthly?’ Prior to this month, that’s something that hardly happened.'”

“Customers at Salon Simis in Fairfax, Va., have begun cutting back in new ways. Clients who used to come in every four weeks are now going 12 weeks in between appointments, owner Ahmet Sim said.’People are cutting back left and right,’ he said. ‘They’re saying, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t afford this anymore.’”

“At Posh Luxury Imports, a Los Angeles car dealership that also rents high-end vehicles, owner Omar McGee said both consumer demand and their credit scores are markedly lower than six weeks ago. ‘I see more credit problems,’ McGee said. ‘More people have maxed-out cards or have fallen behind on payments. At the end of the day, that means people have to be much more cautious about their spending.'”

From Market Watch. “As the U.S. housing sector cools off, housing companies are slashing jobs left, right and center. One economist said that more pain was to be expected in the housing sector, given the rapidly changing environment. ‘We expected a bigger hit, but this is not the floor,’ Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note. ‘Mortgage demand is in free-fall, and the [National Association of Home Builders] index will drop much further over the summer.'”

Shepherdson said that inventory levels and new home sales data all point to signs of a further drop in prices and new construction activity. ‘This is still the early stages of the housing rollover; homebuilders are not yet ready to admit that the sky is falling in,’ he stated. ‘But it is.'”

From Queen City News in North Carolina. “In a span of six months, one of the busiest jobs in the home lending industry went quiet. ‘From the beginning it was just madness,’ Charlotte loan processor Anna Forbis said. Last year, Forbis was a small piece of the puzzle that made up a corporate mortgage lending local office in Charlotte. Fast forward to now, increasing interest rates has made the refinance industry nearly non-existent. Now, thousands of mortgage lenders are being let go across the country.”

“In Charlotte, Wyndham Capitol Mortgage is cutting 48 jobs.  Real Genius, another mortgage lender is set to eliminate 74 positions.  Wells Fargo, the county’s largest home lender says it too is shrinking the department. Motto Mortgage Metro co-owner Brooke Marin said said she has received in uptick in inquiries, not for loans, but jobs. ‘Many of them have called and said, ‘hey, I was let go via zoom with one hundred other people and I don’t want that experience for my family ever again,’ Marin said.”

From Mansion Global. “‘The stock market crash has put a lot of luxury buyers into shock mode,’ said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. ‘Now they are saying, ‘we can not buy that second home’ or upgrade from a $2 million property to a $4 million home…[luxury buyers] are dealing with two big events occurring simultaneously.'”

From ABC News. “The Fed’s decision on Wednesday to raise interest rates by 0.75%, its largest hike since 1994, will further increase mortgage rates and push many homebuyers out of the market. ‘It’s got a huge impact,’ Mark Stapp, a professor of real estate at Arizona State University, told ABC News. ‘It’s going to bump a lot of people out of homebuying.'”

“Mortgage rates will continue to increase at least moderately and could reach as high as 7%, some experts said. ‘A month ago, I would’ve thought that 7% would be outlandish and it would be delusional to think they could go that high,’ ​​Holden Lewis, a housing expert at personal-finance site NerdWallet, told ABC News. ‘Now I think okay, well, 7% might be possible. Every time I think they’ll stop, they keep going up,’ he added.”

The Ahwatukee Foothills News in Arizona. “The Cromford Report, a leading analyst of housing market trends in the Maricopa and Pinal counties, said one of the biggest factors threatening to dethrone sellers from the catbird seat they‘ve enjoyed in negotiations for several years is a mix of rising supply and falling demand. ‘Demand continues to fall in most areas but the dominant effect is now the rise in supply, with new listings arriving at a pace that is well above average,’ it said, predicting that Buckeye, Queen Creek and Maricopa already are close to a balanced market, where bidding wars have evaporated and sellers no longer can call all the shots.”

“‘There are two things that concern me about the sales decline in 2022,’ it continued: ‘It is taking place in May, which in a healthy market should be one of the busiest months for closing. We are seeing a very steep drop in a short period. In this environment, selling a home is no longer like falling off a log. Showings will be fewer in number and offers far less easy to get than they were in March. Once buyers realize what is going on, expect them to start flexing their negotiating muscles. They might even ask for the seller to pay for a home warranty (shocking, I know).'”

WFLA in Florida. “Tampa was included in the top 10, with a 24.7% rate of investor purchases for residential real estate. However, the market had seen a 13% drop in the purchases from the last quarter, according to Redfin. ‘Investor home purchases are falling for the same reason overall home purchases are falling: Surging interest rates and high housing prices have made it more expensive to get a mortgage and buy a home,’ Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari said. ‘While roughly three-quarters of investor purchases are made with cash, investors are still impacted by interest rates because often take out loans to get that cash.'”

From KXAN in Texas. “The Austin Board of Realtors says active listings are seeing a triple-digit percentage growth year over year. Inventory is also rising for the first time in seven months. According to ABoR, active listings skyrocketed 146.2% to 4,173 listings, causing housing inventory to more than double to 1.2 months of inventory, up 0.7 months from last May, as pending sales declined 12.5% to 3,643 transactions. ‘If they’re on the market for more than a few days, right now they’re lowering in price as well. So that’s something we have not seen in a very long time as price decreases,’ said Nanette Labastida, a realtor at Compass. Labastida is seeing more and more houses going on the market every weekend.”

KCRA Sacramento in California. “There are signs the red-hot, pandemic-era housing market is starting to cool, and that means conditions are shifting for buyers and sellers. Realtor Melissa Quade with Coldwell Banker Realty in El Dorado Hills is offering points to consider for those entering the housing market. ‘Sellers: You can’t overprice anymore. You can’t expect the moon,’ she said. ‘You can’t expect you’re gonna get the cash buyer waiving all contingencies.’ Another indicator there’s a shift happening in the real estate market: Realtors are starting to see many more active listings compared to pending sales.”

The Bay Area Newsgroup in California. “Some Bay Area properties owned by a fraud-linked and bankrupt real estate firm have tumbled into foreclosure, raising the specter that investors in the developer’s projects will be wiped out. The properties are sites where SiliconSage Builders and its principal executive Sanjeev Acharya — targets of fraud accusations levied by the Securities and Exchange Commission — had proposed the development of multiple housing projects.”

“The SEC claims that Acharya and Silicon Sage have defrauded about 250 people, primarily from the South Asian community, out of at least $119 million, according to documents on file with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. For more than a year, a court-appointed receiver, David Stapleton, has been attempting to sell as many properties as possible in a quest to recoup some money for the defrauded investors through proceeds from the sales. In some instances, however, the receiver has been forced to allow lenders on the properties to seize the sites through foreclosure. Two of the properties are in San Jose and one is in Fremont, according to court papers.”

From DS News. “Servicers may not have had a foreclosure department over the last two years because there was no need for it. Suddenly, they are faced with scaling up this department as foreclosures begin to pile up. Lenders and servicers need to assume that there will be a bigger number of foreclosures than what they are currently dealing with.”

From Bloomberg on Canada. “Zohal Habibi hadn’t even moved into her new home in the suburbs of Toronto when she started regretting the purchase. ‘We took a very bad decision,’ she says. It’s not about the house itself. The problem is the price they agreed to pay for the three-bedroom home in March: $920,000 (US$711,000). Not long after, prices started to slide, and quickly. By the time their lender got around to appraising the house in May, it marked the value down to $800,000. A second appraisal a few weeks later was even grimmer — $740,000.”

“Legally bound to the deal but no longer able to obtain a big enough loan to go through with it, the couple pleaded with the seller to nudge down the price. On Thursday, they closed at $810,000. ‘We didn’t know that the market would crash,’ Habibi says.”

“All across greater Toronto, until recently the epicenter of a national housing boom with few peers anywhere, similar tales are piling up. The specifics can vary: from someone who bought a new house before selling their old one and now can’t get as much money as they were counting on, to situations like Habibi’s, where the appraisals that determine the maximum mortgage size come in far below the agreed-to price, to simple cases of buyer’s remorse.”

“But they all amount to one thing: Sellers must agree to a lower price, fast. That’s contributed to home values in metropolitan Toronto declining at an unusually rapid clip — the average selling price is down nearly 9 per cent in three months. And with the pain now spreading to other parts of Canada, such distress threatens to both accelerate and deepen a housing market decline that’s already underway. ‘A lot of the sellers in the market today are effectively distressed sellers,’ said John Pasalis, who runs Toronto-based brokerage Realosophy Realty Inc. ‘This is putting a lot of downward pressure on prices.'”

From CTV News in Canada. “‘We’re not seeing as many multiple offers,’ says Megan Bell, the president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors. ‘Buyers are able to finally get some conditions in. They’re able to take their time.’ Chester Szypula, the senior vice-president of BDO Canada Limited, says we’re starting to see the effects of the market peak from a few months ago. ‘$100,000, $150,000 over asking price, people [are] really put themselves out there, further than they could truly afford.'”

The Telegraph in the UK. “Buy-to-let yields have hit a record low, fuelling fears that property investors will sell up. Landlords could soon turn a loss as higher interest rates bite. In London an investor who pays higher-rate tax will see their net profit fall by £840 a year – 29pc less than before the rate rise. Henry Bates, 58, is a landlord with 65 properties across south-east London. ‘Since the tax changes, we basically don’t make a profit,’ he said.”

YLE on Finland. “The OP Financial Group and bank Nordea forecast that the growth in housing prices in Finland will slow down this year and next, after 2021’s period of exceptional growth. According to Nordea, the capital region has seen the biggest slowdown, owing to a lack of demand for studio apartments, an excess supply due to increased housing construction in the region, and an outflow of people from urban centres. The bank stated that interest rates on housing loans were already on the rise, and predicted that the trend would continue for the next couple of years.”

From NBC New York. “After years of being a beacon for financial markets, the Federal Reserve suddenly finds itself second-guessed as it tries to navigate the economy through a wicked bout of inflation and away from ever-darkening recession clouds. ‘They should have known inflation was broadening and becoming more entrenched,’ said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist at LPL Financial. ‘Why haven’t you seen this coming? This shouldn’t have been a shock. That, I think is a concern. I don’t know if it’s as stark a concern as ‘the emperor has no clothes.’ But it’s the man in the street vs. the PhDs.'”

“After officials for weeks had insisted that hiking 75 basis points was not on the table, a Wall Street Journal report Monday afternoon, with little sourcing, said that it was likely more aggressive action was coming than the planned 50-basis-point move. Addressing the notion that the Fed should have been more prescient about inflation, Krosby said it’s hard to believe the data points could have caught the central bankers so off guard.”

“‘The Fed is going to have to raise rates much higher than they are now,’ said Lewis Black, CEO of Almonty Industries, a Toronto-based global miner of tungsten. In retrospect, Black thinks the Fed should have started hiking last summer. But he sees pointing fingers as useless at this point. ‘Ultimately, we should stop looking for who is to blame. There was no choice. This was the best strategy they thought they had to deal with Covid,’ he said. ‘They know what has to be done. I don’t think you can possibly say with the amount of money in circulation that they can just say, ‘let’s raise 75 basis points and see what happens.’ That’s not going to be sufficient, that’s not going to slow it down. What you need now is to avoid recession.'”

From Politico. “Coinbase, a publicly traded exchange and one of the largest global crypto marketplaces, slashed 18 percent of its workforce this week to brace for the slide. Billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss said they would lay off one-tenth of the workforce at their exchange. Even Crypto.com, which signed a $700 million deal to put its name on Los Angeles’s NBA arena just seven months ago, has cut 260 of its staff. ‘When everything’s going up, it hides a lot,’ Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Caroline Pham said in an interview. ‘From a regulator’s perspective, it really just underscores that we just need to be doing something.'”

“SEC Chair Gary Gensler says the rules around crypto lending are clear. ‘Lending platforms, they’re operating a little like banks,’ Gensler said at an event, adding that trading platforms and exchanges offering sky-high yields have largely failed to disclose enough information about their products to investors. ‘If it seems too good to be true, it just may well be too good to be true,’ he said.”

“While some decentralized finance (DeFi) lenders – or more centralized businesses hawking access to DeFi-like yields – might offer cheaper alternatives to tightly regulated banks, a lack of institutional underwriting standards injects even more risk into crypto markets. ‘If you’re offering higher yield by taking on worse loans, then that just creates a 2008 subprime crisis in a different industry,’ said Mike Boroughs, co-founder and head of portfolio management for the blockchain investment firm Fortis Digital.”

The Daily Mail. “Australia’s crypto investors are feeling the pinch as hundreds of billions are being wiped off the value of the currencies. The young Australians who profited most from getting in early have now seen large parts of their quickly-acquired wealth disappear, with many having lost a fortune in the latest downturn. ‘I thought I was a genius – ‘I’m going to be a billionaire by the time I’m 30,’ but unfortunately that didn’t happen,’ investor Queenie Tan told Daily Mail Australia. ‘I invested more than I was prepared to lose, I was swept up in the euphoria.'”