From the NY Post:
One decade after the biggest housing collapse in America’s history led to a global recession, could we be facing another crisis?
“Not happening,” says Burns, adding that the 2007 housing crash “was based on lending practices which have since been cleaned up.”
Many industry experts agree. The subprime mortgages that targeted borrowers with less-than-perfect credit and led to financial turmoil 10 years ago do not play a role in today’s real estate market.
“When you talk about a bubble, you think of people being really exhilarated and excited and prices going way up. We don’t see that now,” says Annie Cion Gruenberger, who has been a New York City broker with Warburg Reality for 28 years. “We have a very positive market, but a targeted market of smart buyers.”
So what do high price tags and low supply mean, if not economic catastrophe?”
The 2007 collapse spooked home builders so much, they didn’t want to build anything but high-end properties. That drove up house prices and made it harder for people to buy starter homes.
Meanwhile, the market was split into two halves: places such as Las Vegas, where development was overstretched and unsustainable, and which is still struggling to bounce back; and places such as Portland, Ore., and Silicon Valley, where NIMBY regulations limit how much construction can happen, meaning fewer homes available to buy. As a result, there’s a real lack of housing where the jobs are.
NAR’s Fears points to a number of trends: First, homeowners are staying in place longer, limiting the number of existing homes for sale. Low unemployment rates are keeping them from leaving town in search of work. High home prices are inspiring them to remodel rather than relocate within their communities, if they want a different kind of house. First-time buyers who can afford it might buy a home that can accommodate two kids instead of one, precluding a move a couple years after their purchase. Grandparents are staying put to live near their kids, rather than flying off to retirement far away.
In March, William Poole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote a column for cnn.com, pointing to concerns about the country’s two biggest mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “In Freddie’s 2016 Annual Report, the agency says 36 percent of its obligations are ‘credit enhanced,’ meaning they carry mortgage insurance of one sort or another, which is typically used for weaker mortgages,” Poole wrote. “If these weak subprime mortgages begin to fail in large numbers, so also will the insuring companies.”
Jonathan Miller, a real estate analyst at Miller Samuel, is unmoved by such arguments. He says the average buyer today has an average credit score “well above 700. They are some of the highest average credit scores in history.” He added that any subprime failures would be offset by the quality of most American borrowers being “unusually high.”