Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Housing Double Dip Fudge

In December, I posted a note about how I like chocolate ice cream.  I like it in a cone, double dip and I eat it with spoon.  Well, really, the post was about the economy and housing in particular.  I had friends that were bullish on the stock market, jobs, the economy, housing, you name it, they said buy it.  A lot of that braggadocio in regard to economy came from individual's fear of things going sideways.  It certainly didn't help that trusted sources like the Wall Street Journal were salivating over futures makets and Ben Bernanke was imputed with indicating that he didn't expect a double dip recession

Information from the Federal Reserve and the futures markets seemed to indicate that the recovery was going to happen in 2011, 2012 at the latest (see the video on the WSJ link.)  This morning, CNBC, not my most common source of news because it tends to push a rosy view of the economy, came out and said this morning that a "Double-Dip" in housing prices is even worse than expected. It would seem, that Mr. Bernanke likes a little fudge on his double-dip. In all fairness, I couldn't find a single quote from Bernanke saying there was not going to be a double dip, but he did make indications that there wouldn't be, with caveats. He should have been a lawyer.

So what is the driver in this "unexpected" double dip in the housing market.  Well, first of all, it isn't or shouldn't have been unexpected.  The amount of foreclosed/ bank owned properties on the market or yet to be available in the market is enormous.  The US housing market on average will sell about 4 million units.  The banks are holding nearly 8 million units and foreclosures are ramping up.  Though the data is not yet in for April/May 2011 in Washington, I expect Realty Trac to make an announcement of nearly a quarter to half increase over the previous quarter in new foreclosures for the state.

This has partly to do with the new Foreclosure Fairness Law, okay, scratch that.  It has almost everything to do with the new Foreclosure Fairness act.  So, if your house was worth X in February, the number of new foreclosures happening will likely place downward pressure on your price, no later than August meaning your house will be worth X-Y.  Additionally, Washington is already on pace to see more nonjudicial foreclosures this year than last year according to the congressional fact finding for the Foreclosure Fairness Act.

The article in CNBC said that the US average drop this year has been 3.5% which is more than what I had reported as being 1% per month and there are a lot of foreclosures to come.  State specific data on Washington showed a loss of 4.15% since December, well ahead of the US average.  Surprisingly, Seattle remained even from February to March, one of only two cities on the S&P/Case Shiller index to do so.

This double dip leaves this question to be asked:  What do I do about it?  If you purchased/refinanced your home between 2003 and now so you locked into the height of the housing market, how long will it take you to recover your house value?

This is a serious discussion that you have to have with your self and your financial advisers.  The average family has lost over $125,000 of value since 2008 and the greatest asset of most families is the home.  Can you afford to loose more over the course of the next two years? 

It is time that you sat down with a lawyer trained in foreclosure law and find out what your rights are in regard to your home.  I am not saying that your house is a stock and that it should be dumped, but when analogized, it can help make better economic decisions.  Let's head down to the local ice cream shop, get a real double dip, and see what you can do about avoiding the economic double-dip finally being reported by the media.  I like mine with some cinnamon bears on it and your paying.

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