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Monday, April 24, 2006

No Foreclosure Deals... Yet

In a real estate advice column this weekend, Everett Herald reporter Steve Tytler explains the difficulty of finding good foreclosure deals in Seattle's still-at-least-lukewarm market:

Question: Where can I learn about investing in foreclosures?

D.E., Renton

Answer: There are some truly extraordinary bargains to be found in the foreclosure market. Unfortunately, finding these bargains is like finding a needle in a haystack. I know, because I have tried to find them myself. To listen to the late-night TV real estate hucksters, you'd think people in foreclosure are just waiting to give their house away for half its fair market value. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Think about it for a minute. If you lost your job and fell behind on your mortgage payments, are you going to hand me the keys to your house just because I've shown up on your doorstep to save you from foreclosure? Probably not. Most people want to keep their homes, and in the vast majority of cases, they find a way to come up with enough money to head off the foreclosure auction.

Or if they can't raise the money, they put their home up for sale through a real estate agent and attempt to recoup as much of their equity as possible before the foreclosure auction.
It's true that as long as the market is at least a little warm, there just aren't going to be many deals in foreclosures. However, I think we all know what will happen when things level off and/or start to decline—combined with rising interest rates... That will be the time to be in the market for foreclosure properties.

(Steve Tytler, Everett Herald, 04.23.2006)

20 comments:

Mikhail said...

The truth is, there just aren't that many actual foreclosures right now, period. As long as house prices remain relatively bullish, most owners who fall into trouble are able to avoid an actual foreclosure auction by selling out.

As Tim said, the bargains will really start showing up when market appreciation ceases, and troubled home-owners lose the easy way out. Maybe by the end of 2007, or 2008?

Eleua said...

I think 2008 will be a foreclosure bonanza. My prediction is the market will tank enough where there just are not enough foreclosure vultures to save people. Sheriff sales and tax sales will be so commonplace, that homes will go unbelievably cheap.

With the burgeoning supply of houses and condos, and the gutting the labor market will take when the bubble bursts, combined with very pickey lending practices, there just won't be people with the cash to liquify and buoy the market when it goes down.

It will be very sad to see young families evicted from what was their home.

Bubbles have consequences. More often than not, it is the innocent people that did not participate in the greed, that get wiped-out when the bubble breaks.

I still hold by my 20 cents on the dollar by 2010 prediction.

Anonymous said...

Right now, the only people that end up getting forclosed on are in jail, dead or insane.

Otherwise they would have just put the house on the market at comps and had a buyer before the next mortgage payment due.

The real wave of forclosures starts months after appreciation is flat, when people try and convince themselves that "maybe it will pick up" only to find they're further behind and buyers are gone.

We're just nowhere near that stage in Seattle.

I suspect Bellingham is going to hit this point by late summer though. Inventory in Whatcom county is already higher than within Seattle city limits- with a population of less 1/3.

Comparison:

Whatcom county population 180K, 2050 homes for sale.

Seattle population, 570K, 1900 homes for sale.

Anonymous said...

Add to Eleua's comments above:

People will be so SICK of the idea of RE as investment potential, that the speculators will be out of the market for a while.

Many of them will be going through their own foreclosures.

So there should be properties available for people who consider a house a home, rather than a money bonanza.

Anonymous said...

it's starting already. Rising commodities (oil) the falling dollar. Give it a bit more time and be patient.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how the dollar's getting whacked. We knew it was coming but fascinating to watch it in real time, and who bails when, etc.

The reporting on it is way interesting too. Like who's surprised (or pretending to be) and who's not surprised.

I feel like I've got a front row seat to the demise of the American economy as we know it.

Looks like rising oil prices may force interest rate hikes?

Nick said...

"Amazing how the dollar's getting whacked. We knew it was coming but fascinating to watch it in real time, and who bails when, etc."

You guys are ridiculous. This "falling dollar" line has been going on for the last 18 months, and everyone's gotten burned jumping on that bandwagon, as all it's done is to mercilessly rally.

I'm not saying it can't weaken from here. But to use 2 days of trading data to make a point is like people saying "oh look, it's hot today, there must be global warming". It's anti-intellectual and it's disingenuous.

If the dollar rallies tomorrow against the yen, will that be proof that you are wrong today?

Sheesh, stop acting so smug about everything. I agree that housing prices will go down. But stop acting like you all have some kind of Perfect Information Crystal Ball.

matt said...

No crystal needed. Since I've been tracking inflation from about a year ago, I decided to dump money into 4 oz. of Gold back in April 2005... Well, Gold's gone up 45% on that hedge.. hmmm.. coincidence? No, the dollar's getting devalued with the rock-bottom interest rates... this can't continue, unless the Fed starts jacking rates further (which it must do to stave of inflation) we are in for a ride. Yes I know, I know, that'll spell doom and gloom for the marginal ARM barrower, but hey, I'm guessing the Fed ain't going to be crying over your foreclosers, and you can take that to the bank (so to speak).

Nick said...

"No, the dollar's getting devalued with the rock-bottom interest rates"

Well, then other currencies must be REALLY getting devalued, because the dollar has rallied a lot since the date you gave- most notably against the Euro. The Yen has rallied in recent months, but that's much more a function of Japan finally coming back into the fray economically.

Anonymous said...

Well, then other currencies must be REALLY getting devalued

Some are, some aren't. Canada's dollar is doing great. I've actually made more (deflated) money on Canadian contracts by letting the balance go past due for a few months.

matt said...

So what I think you're saying nick, is that property values meteoric rise is based on market fundementals? Nothing to do with the Fed's printing of money willy-nilly? Euro's currency devaluation has been significantly affected by chronic unemployment and stagnant progress in economically unifying the EU.... actually most Asian currencies are doing fine, their glut in savings has offset the Fed's interest rate hikes, keeping the cash flowing to the U.S. housing bubble.

Now, most of those savings country's ,worried about so much U.S. reserves have started lining up for Gold.

Nick said...

"So what I think you're saying nick, is that property values meteoric rise is based on market fundementals? Nothing to do with the Fed's printing of money willy-nilly?"

I'm not saying that at all. What I'm mainly saying is that it's laughable that the world's most difficult economic issues have evidently been so casually and definitely solved by a bunch of amateur currency and fixed-income blog commenters.

I mean, you do realize that some of the finest minds in the world differ greatly in their views on such things, don't you?

You do realize that there's real estate bubbles in a lot of these other countries who are supposedly so poised to take us over, don't you? Let's see how well these "strong Asian currencies" perform if Hong Kong fails.

You guys are arriving at your conclusion first (housing bubble) and then back fitting any type of macroeconomic "analysis" that you can to fit into that view. Now, I happen to agree that there is a housing bubble, but I in now way am arrogant enough to pretend that I can make these definite pronouncements about world currency and bond markets.

matt said...

nick, well considering we have one of the dumbest presidents in US history manning our fiscal/economic helm, its probably a good bet he'll run the country into the ground like his bud Kenny-Boy Lay, driving down the $ like Enron stock... not rocket science there.

There is no 'new' economy to bail us out of this one, none. Just like a sinking ship, parts of the ship surge out of the water, just before it goes down.

We are a nation of barrowers living on barrowed time. Everything must return to the mean, what goes up must inevitably come down

Nick said...

"nick, well considering we have one of the dumbest presidents in US history manning our fiscal/economic helm, its probably a good bet he'll run the country into the ground like his bud Kenny-Boy Lay, driving down the $ like Enron stock... not rocket science there."

Oh, I get it now. It all comes back to Bush, of course. Now I understand why all of you seem to so gleefully be HOPING for a bloodbath. It's so your Bush-hatred can finally experience some closure.

Please go take a look at Lay and his "bud" Bill Clinton. They've played their fair share of golf rounds together.

The Tim said...

well considering we have one of the dumbest presidents in US history...

We are a nation of barrowers living on barrowed time.

If you're going to go around calling people dumb, you could at least learn to spell words like "borrow."

Anonymous said...

Are we approaching hysteria on this blog?

Or perhaps surpassed it?

Would this be the time to calm down? Just a gentle suggestion....

matt said...

"Please go take a look at Lay and his "bud" Bill Clinton."

Gimme a break.

Bush-hatred? Sure, I'll throw in. I think the guy sucks, I think his atrocious fiscal policies are wrecking our future economy. He's run up so much debt that he's got it in the psyche of this beleagured nation that that can go in the red on their savings rate forever and its no big deal.

He's a puppet, a howdy-duty. Its folks like Dick "Milo Minderbender" Cheney that let all those Enron clowns into the White House to figure out how to bilk California and carve up Iraq.

I know this is off the 'housing bubble' tract of the blog, but if this President's running the country like he ran 'Arbusto', we're headed for bankruptcy.

Nick said...

"He's a puppet, a howdy-duty. Its folks like Dick "Milo Minderbender" Cheney that let all those Enron clowns into the White House to figure out how to bilk California and carve up Iraq."

Again, you have no idea what you're talking about. The Enron groundwork was firmly laid under Billy Boy. I vote libertarian, so I don't have a horse in this race. But it's ahistoric to believe that Bush was behind Enron in any way shape or form. The Bush White House actually TURNED DOWN Enron's requests for help when shit got hairy.

"He's run up so much debt that he's got it in the psyche of this beleagured nation that that can go in the red on their savings rate forever and its no big deal."

I agree that our fiscal situation isn't great, but debt levels are not significantly higher than they were under Clinton. I mean, if 8 trillion dollars is a big deal, then it's hard to argue that 6.8 trillion was just fine and dandy. Don't get me wrong, I hate every politician. But it's intellectually dishonest to act like Bush is the cause of every evil in the world.

matt said...

libertarian = closet republican...

debt levels are not significantly higher than they were under Clinton....

eh? We went into the Bush adminstration with a surplus?

whatever, wasn't a Clinton fan either, actually I think every president we've had since Ike's sucked, so...

Nick said...

"libertarian = closet republican..."

Oh, could you not be more wrong.

"eh? We went into the Bush adminstration with a surplus?"

First of all, the "surplus" was a sham and everyone knew it. But more relevantly, that refers to the deficit, not the debt. The debt was already trillions of dollars under Clinton.

"whatever, wasn't a Clinton fan either, actually I think every president we've had since Ike's sucked, so..."

I don't view the world in terms of 4 year election cycles. At best, I credit presidents with being a minor annoyance in the economy.