It was about a year ago when we noted a core component of the US housing non-recovery: the time to sell foreclosed homes had just hit a record of 400 days across the nation. We showed the following chart from RealtyTrac confirming just this:
We also proceeded to highlight some thoughts from a real housing expert, not a made for financial comedy TV “housing guru”, in this case Marc Hanson, who pointed out the Bottom line on the Zombie housing market:
Of the 54 million homeowners with mortgages — the primary repeat buyer cohort and a primary builder demand cohort — over 22 million are dead to the housing market. Of the 70 million homeowners — mortgage’d and free and clear — 33 million are Zombies. Thus, we can’t expect housing to act like it has in the past. With so many Zombies it will be impossible for repeat and new home sales to perform as expected. The past 18 month bounce — especially on prices — has been on cheap and easy money from investors looking for a dividend stock and/or Treasury replacement trade. some foreigners following their lead, and finally the ‘dumb money’ (retail) chasing into this summer.
But we are running out of greater fools very quickly, especially with first-timers sidelined and new-era “investors” who are quickly pricing themselves out of markets nationwide.
(More can be read in the original article).
Fast forward to today when even the last traces of the lie that sustained the housing recovery myth are being swept away, and we get the following article from Bloomberg titled “Foreclosures Surging in New York-New Jersey Market.” The punchline is quite clear but below, for those who are new to this story, are the key supporting points:
The epicenter of the U.S. foreclosure crisis is shifting to New Jersey and New York, threatening a housing rebound in one of the country’s most densely populated areas.
New Jersey has surpassed Florida in having the highest share of residential mortgages that are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure, with New York third, a Mortgage Bankers Association report showed last week. By contrast, hard-hit areas such as Arizona and California have some of the lowest levels of soured loans after allowing banks to quickly foreclose after the 2007 property crash.
The number of New York and New Jersey homeowners losing their houses reached a three-year high in 2013. Banks in these states have been slowly working through a backlog of delinquent loans that enabled borrowers to skip mortgage payments for years. Now these properties are poised to empty onto a market where affluent Manhattan suburbs neighbor blighted towns that are struggling most with surging defaults.
The good news (according to some): thousands of people could live mortgage free for years until the bank delays obtaining the keys to the foreclosed property. This was money which instead of going to the mortgage owner, would instead go to buy Made in China trinkets and gizmos and otherwise keep the US retail party humming. Specifically, as we observed long ago in March of 2011, the benefit to the US economy from “deadbeat squatters” was about $50 billion per year. Which brings us to the bad news: the party – retail and otherwise – is ending, as courts and banks finally catch up with inventory levels on both sides of the foreclosure pipeline, and those who lived for years without spending a dollar for the roof above their head are suddenly forced to move out and allocated the major portion of their disposable income toward rent.
Lenders in New Jersey are pushing cases through more quickly and it now takes about two months to process final judgments against delinquent homeowners, compared with a backup of nine months a few years ago, said Kevin Wolfe, assistant director of the Civil Practice Division in the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The Office of Foreclosure, which reviews case files before they can move to the final step of sheriff sale, has added four permanent staff members, six law clerks and 10 case analysts since 2012. It previously had seven employees.
“We are staffed up to move these cases faster,” Wolfe said. “But the other reason cases are moving more quickly is that lenders have improved their foreclosure practices and worked out logistics with their law firms and, as a result, they’re geared up to handle foreclosures more efficiently.”
Which means that as the inventory bottleneck suddenly unclogs and thousands of new properties hit the market with an urgency to sell before anyone else does, things in New York and especially New Jersey are about to go from bad to worse.
“It is really a delayed reaction in New Jersey and New York,” said Michael Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. “Loans that were made pre-crisis have been in this state of suspended animation for a number of years. And now, we are beginning to see the pace of resolution pick up.”
In January, the number of New York foreclosure auctions reached 527, the highest monthly level since October 2010, according to data firm RealtyTrac. Foreclosure filings in New York City increased 30 percent to 15,993 in 2013, a three-year high, according to RealtyTrac.
Almost 10,000 cases in New Jersey headed to a sheriff sale in 2013, 47 percent more than the year before and the highest level since 2009, according to the New Jersey Administrative Office of the courts. Across the country, repossessions fell 31 percent in 2013 to the lowest since 2007, according to RealtyTrac.
The implication is that prices – already suffering in these two core states – are about to go far, far lower:
The real estate markets in New York and New Jersey are trailing the rest of the country as a result. Prices in New Jersey, the most densely populated state, climbed 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 7.7 percent jump for the U.S, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said yesterday. New York values rose 3.7 percent.
“Price increases that are occurring in the rest of the country are not likely to happen in the New York-New Jersey area, with the potential inventory that can come at any time,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.
“When one sees a price increase in Phoenix or many other parts of the country, one can assume it’s a genuine increase from falling inventory,” he said. “If it happens in Edison, New Jersey, or Long Island, New York, one has to ask, ’Is this for real or just temporary?”
Actually, Larry, when one sees price increase in Phoenix i) one will be wrong as prices in Phoenix just posted their first monthly decline since 2011, and ii) nobody can assume anything is genuine in a housing market in which mortgage origination just dropped to a 19 year low, meaning only those with abundant cash and no regard for cost can continue buying.
Everyone else is about to get a very harsh lesson in what it means to have been lied to by the propaganda machine for years, and suddenly have nothing to show for it but some vastly overpriced real estate.