Downturn “has turned ugly”

From Kiplingers:

Voices from the Home-Loan Bust

It wasn’t long ago that homeowners across the country were gloating over soaring home values in their neighborhoods. Now there’s blood in the streets.

What at first looked like an inevitable downturn in the real estate cycle has turned ugly. Wall Street firms that once eagerly packaged mortgages into securities and encouraged lax lending standards and 100% financing are pressing lenders to tighten up. In response, lenders now require larger down payments or more equity, higher credit scores and closer scrutiny of appraisals.

Although the vast majority of borrowers still make their payments on time, mortgage bankers report record rates of delinquency and foreclosure. A few high-profile subprime lenders — firms that granted loans to people with blemished credit or undocumented income — have declared bankruptcy. The National Association of Realtors predicts that the subprime sector’s distress will prolong the housing slump and that the median home price nationwide will decline in 2007 for the first time since the Great Depression.

Even homeowners with the best credit feel the squeeze from falling home prices and rising rates. Toward the end of the boom, the number of adjustable-rate mortgages with cheap initial rates surged as home buyers struggled to get a foot in the door of houses selling for bloated prices. Now ARM payments are ratcheting upward even as home values slide.

True, some homeowners cashed in their equity on goodies such as BMWs and expensive vacations. But many well-intentioned, overstretched homeowners are in payment shock and are unable to refinance because their equity has evaporated. Nor can they find buyers when selling is the only sensible way out.

This entry was posted in Housing Bubble, National Real Estate, Risky Lending. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Downturn “has turned ugly”

  1. HOUSE OF CARDS says:

    FYI Mortgage applications drop as rates remain high !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    >from USATODAY

    NEW YORK (Reuters) — Applications to buy and refinance homes dropped last week, an industry trade group said Wednesday, the latest sign that housing remains mired in a downturn.
    The Mortgage Bankers Association’s mortgage application index slid 3.4% to a seasonally adjusted 643.7 in the week ended June 15.

    HOUSING STARTS: Home building falls, but permits up
    BUILDER SENTIMENT: Index hits lowest level in 16 years

    The drop in applications piled on to reports from the country’s builders and the government this week suggesting that any sustained housing rebound could be next year’s business.

    Housing starts fell more than 2% in May as builders grappled with a stockpile of unsold homes, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

    FIND MORE STORIES IN: MBA | Housing starts | Builder | Home building
    Sentiment among home builders sank to its weakest level this month in more than 16 years, based on an index reported on Monday by the National Association of Home Builders. The group expects building and sales will keep eroding until late this year before starting to recover in 2008.

    On Wednesday, the MBA’s seasonally adjusted purchase index fell 3.0% to 450.9 while its refinancing applications index shed 4.2% to 1,776.8 on a seasonally adjusted basis.

    Thirty-year mortgage rates dipped 0.01 percentage point last week to 6.60%, the MBA said. Average 30-year mortgage rates last hovered in this area in July 2006.

    Last week, the MBA reported that homeowners started the foreclosure process at a record pace in the first three months of the year.

    Among the bigger problems were subprime adjustable-rate mortgages in some of the markets that had been the hottest during the five-year record home price and sales spree earlier this decade.

    Riskier borrowers are increasingly being pushed into the foreclosure process as their adjustable loans reset at much higher loan rates, boosting payments beyond reach.

    On Tuesday, Dallas Federal Reserve economist John Duca cautioned that the housing slump could be prolonged by lenders cutting back loans to subprime borrowers, or those with blemished credit histories.

    Many lenders have become much more restrictive in response to the mounting late payments and foreclosures. As a result, more applications are being rejected, and builders worry that rising mortgage rates will weaken demand for homes already pressured by tighter lending practices.

  2. 3b says:

    Permits up for apartment construction.

  3. HOUSE OF CARDS says:

    Housing Permits Year-over-Year chart … a must see

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