First, something to lighten the spirits of everyone:
Tales of homeownership:
If you are on a septic system, don’t drive over a waste line with a 10 ton truck loaded with gravel. I did and just learned that PVC waste lines will indeed pancake. The result is rather disgusting. – SCrow
No one is lending money: that is false.
Although the pace of transactions is meaningfully lower than what we have seen, the idea that no-one is lending money is not the case. Our office is closing routine sales, closing short sales and refinance transactions. The difference is that closings are taking longer, authentic underwriting is taking place and FHA is appearing to be very much the type of financing people are using. And, yes, borrowers are asking for and receiving concessions.
Some of the loan officers (still in business) we have worked with during the last 4-5 yrs. have jumped from one firm to the other that is FHA approved. FHA is the name of the game right now.
In the area in which I live (Snohomish and vicinity), we have had several sales take place over the last month or so, and, among those, a couple properties closer to where I live sold for $750K and up. So, there are some people who are snooping around and finding very good values for the current market we are in. My guess is that if you asked, “why in the world would they buy in this market”, they would reply, “talk to me in 15 -20 yrs.” And that is one of the primary real estate mindset shifts I’m discovering: few are those who are not looking at a long-term horizon in their purchase.
There are some absurd decisions being made
The unique view from the escrow seat allows for a lot of discussion in the S-Crow household, some of it funny and some of it just remarking about how foolish some people have been.
For example, a seller purchased a home within the last year to flip it. The seller made improvements and put it back on the market. The seller then obtained an offer and the transaction moved towards closing. Once escrow disclosed proceeds, the seller evidently did not like the net proceeds after expenses: not enough (code for potential paper loss). Buyer is ready to close and the seller refused to sign closing documents. You’d think that a seller would know within a small range what the proceeds would be before putting the home on the market and wasting everyone’s time and money. Result: highly probable legal action moved the seller to sign.
There are a number of people in our society (save the politics for another blog) that just refuse to take personal responsibility for stupid personal financial decisions. This is an issue that Mrs. S-Crow and I argued a lot over in months past. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that her analysis has more merit than my “it’s not all the borrower’s” fault mentality circulating in my head. Some borrowers did put too much trust in the people guiding them along the way. But, in the end, their signature is on the Note and Deed of Trust.
We are at the bottom, locally: I don’t think so.
I have no data to back this up, but my anecdotal evidence of closings is the best I can come up with. Based upon what I see in the refinancing realm over the last three quarters of this year, I see some existing homeowners delaying the inevitable. Refinancing costs thousands of dollars and there is a pervasive thought (I don’t know where some people get their information…either they are terribly not paying attention or someone is giving them false hope, which in many cases is more dangerous and damaging than being honest about where the chips are falling) that the market will turnaround within the next year or two. Possible? Anything is I suppose. Likely? Nope.
Real scenario: It is not realistic that a borrower can purchase a home late in 2006 for $500K+, now owes in the realm of $540K on the property and think that in two years time (2009-2010) they can have an equity gain to pay routine closing costs. And this is in a development that was birthed in 2005 that has already experienced a foreclosure and another distress sale (as so disclosed by the very borrowers that were signing their closing documents!). It is a classic example of a potential, not to distant, distress sale staring at me in the face.
Are the closed sales-price-to-list-price ratios accurate?: a question for local agents.
For example, if you have a listed price at the time of the sale of $100K and the sale closed at a price of $95K, you would have a 95% list-to-sales-price ratio. This is used a lot by agents to gauge how well priced a home was and another metric to show that homes in an area are selling on average, for example, about 97-99% of the list price. Does the NWMLS use the ORIGINAL list price in this metric or the last posted list price?
What’s up with all the Steve Tytler negativity?
Steve was was of the severely few locals in the business of lending that was reporting publicly that we were going to experience lower housing prices. Straight shooting integrity is what we need in this industry.
Questions about transactional things?: Just drop me an e-mail as many recently have and in the past. I may not have all the answers, but I’ll do what I can.
– S Crow