Real Estate News America - The Real Estate Bust continues

The real estate market continues to go bust as I had predicted in my first major article on the subject in December of 2005. As it continues to rapidly barrel south, don't tell the Bush Administration, the Federal Reserve, International Bankers, Mortgage Bankers, Mortgage Brokers, Realtors, home builders or even home sellers. Let's keep it our little secret.

Still, none of them want to hear anything about it. They are, the majority of them, extremely myopic to the truth and material facts of what is really going on in the American economy. SEC regulators should take note if they are really doing their jobs, but even they are too busy chasing thousands of back dating stock option executives these days.

The major buzzwords of "soft landing" and "temporary slowdown" fail to take into account numerous factors, which the contrarian indicators reveal to be present in the market. "Housing depression" is more accurate a term.

Some big publicly traded home builders like Lennar, Centex and Pulte have seen their stock prices tumble 30% or more over the past year with no bottom in sight by analysts in the know.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are acting much like their sponsor, the Federal Government.

While cooking their books, they refinance old debt with new debt, Fannie having just sold $3.5 billion in new debt securities, the classic move in any ponzi scheme.

Both institutions are now required to improve their record-keeping systems under a directive from their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. The new rule, which took effect today, requires the mortgage finance companies to establish and maintain a record retention program that is easier for OFHEO examiners to access. A rhetorical rule that really means, "we know what's wrong but can't really, nor do we want to officially prove it".

If we sift through the false data being filed by public companies in the mortgage, banking, building and general real estate services industry, aside from the ongoing false statistics published by the government, we begin to discover that America's real estate markets are in far deeper trouble than anyone honestly dares to admit.

I continue to predict that the current bust will be the biggest loss in dollar terms in the history of this planet. Billions in coming losses are no longer a realistic estimate but rather we are talking trillions, perhaps by as much as five trillion being wiped out of the rather bloated false $20 trillion in equity in real estate across a broad spectrum of residential and commercial properties in the United States.

That may only appear to be a 25% correction in a market that has been inflated by as much as 500% during the past decade.

The sheer dollar volumes are what will ripple throughout the global economy and impact bond prices, stock prices, and commodities. Nothing and no one will be left untouched from the impact of this bust that is now well underway.

Although the Fed raised interest rates during the past two years and only recently stopped doing so during their last three meetings, in order to continue the previous trend of rising home prices, the Fed would now need to lower rates to less than 0%, much like Japan had to during the 1990's when its real estate bust collapsed property values by more than 50%.

America is about to experience the same economic impact as Japan. At one point, Japanese banks were actually paying people to borrow money resulting in a negative interest rate. The Fed, three or four years from now may find it in a similar position. Global Net capital flows coming into the United States is shrinking and is being directed more towards Europe, Asia and of all places, the Middle East and Africa.

One can still find the largest mortgage banks in the nation such as Washington Mutual and Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac making loans at close to 1% using option ARM programs that carry negative amortization clauses in their notes. These are ticking cluster bombs for the housing market.

Over a trillion dollars worth of mortgage backed securities have been issued to foreign investors which are collateralized by these types of mortgages, whose adjustments are gradually placing huge financial constraints on borrowers who are now trying to get out of them by putting their homes back on the market.

The exit doors are jammed, much like someone yelling fire in a theatre. And there is nothing wrong with yelling fire when there really is one. Because the refinance boom is well over, borrowers who lived off the equity in their homes are faced with only one choice and that is to sell, sell, sell, but many buyers are too nervous. They know.

The herd of thundering bulls rampaging toward the cliffs of real estate moguldom has blocked all the exits. Those who saw the edge of the cliff a year ago know that the time to sell was way back then, and now, if they managed to get out before everyone else, will sit on piles of cash, which was gained through huge amounts of leverage during the past decade, waiting for the end of the correction which may last as long as a decade.

Japan is the prime example of what happens when the people of a nation put their trust in the faulty banking systems currently in place.

Now, ten months after my article, the reports are trickling in. Martin Crutsinger, an Associated Press Economics Writer, wrote today "median prices of new homes plunged in September by the largest amount in more than 35 years".

The US Commerce Department reported that the median price for a new home sold in September was $217,100, a drop of 9.7 percent from September 2005.

It was the lowest median price for a new home since September 2004 and the sharpest year-over-year decline since December 1970.

The weakness in new home prices was even sharper than a 2.5 percent fall in the price of existing homes last month, which had been the biggest drop on record.

In just two months real estate prices in general have fallen around 13% across the nation and the trend continues, with some markets being hit harder than others.

The final impact and domino effect this has on the American real estate market has not been felt yet at the highest levels of American and global finance. Homebuilder's inventories are beginning to reach new record high levels, despite slowdowns in new permit applications.

Home buyers don't want to buy in a falling market and because they cannot sell their old homes may sit on them for a while as the market wrings out the trillions of dollars of loans that are backed by false financial statements from the no income/no asset verification and stated income/stated asset loans originated during the past five years.

It is estimated that 30% of all loans originated over the past five years have been these types of loans and that 90% of them contain false financial or inflated income statements represented by the borrowers with the help of hungry loan officers motivated by high commissions during the refinance boom which is definitely over.

Some borrowers had refinanced two and three times during the past decade, pulling cash out each time, the only thing that was driving the national economy during the Bush administrations war economy. Now its' all over but the shouting.

The Federal Reserve is well aware of these intrinsic problems in the asset qualities of mortgage-backed securities, as is the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That is another reason I wrote about America's Fannie Being Spanked, a growing problem that is yet to be resolved by securities regulators. If the SEC were doing its job, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would go out of business and may yet do so when foreign investors realize the widespread nature of consumer fraud in the American mortgage industry.

The scandals involving those two major government sponsored institutions have been contained by corrupt politicians who head up the financial and banking committees but who may yet be thrown out of office in the coming elections this November. Their approval ratings are lower than the Presidents for just those reasons.

The Fed has issued guidance to all major regional banks and various other regulatory bodies are expected to follow suit which will create more scrutiny for these types of loans and if they abolished them altogether, one could see half the mortgage brokers in the country out of work within the next twelve months.

There are currently about 50,000 mortgage banks and brokers in the country that employ an army of around 3 million people directly or indirectly. All of them have fed the growth of the four largest players in the residential mortgage market, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Countrywide announced that it would lay off 2,500 workers just to save $500 million in overhead as the mortgage market shrivels. Other companies are also expected to start the layoff process.

Washington Mutual already cut 10,000 jobs and may need more in order to cut expenses as mortgage originations have plummeted by 75% off their all time highs.

Those who failed to get out of their homes during the past year will be the only one's feeling the consequences of those who lied on mortgage loan applications.

Those lies impact everyone, but mostly the lenders, who may soon find themselves under greater scrutiny by the FBI and other government investigators searching for scapegoats in the debacle of the American nightmare. Many will wake up from their "American Dream" and wonder what really happened.

Foreclosures in Southern California are up 50% and property prices have already fallen by more than 20% in some asset classes including apartment buildings and condos, a statistic that is not reflected in what the federal government publishes through its financial media machines.

Trying to tell people in the industry that they are now seeing the true beginning of the real estate bust of 2006 is like telling them the sky is falling.

They all tend to come back with defenses to validate their own incorrect perceptions of the market. They are too over sold on their own sales pitches.

Boston Globe writer Alexander von Hoffman says, "the Boston real estate market has been booming and busting since the 1630s, when the Puritans first began divvying up the land around Massachusetts Bay. The city's most famous real estate bust took place in the South End in the 1870s. The Great Depression brought far worse. Unemployment and deflation crippled the finances of thousands of Boston's working families who could not make their mortgages and lost their homes."

The current bust will probably last a decade or more, just as it did in Japan, and put millions of people out of work. The fall guys in all of this will probably be Greenspan and the Bush Administration, not the millions of people who filled out phony loan applications to get artificially misleading low mortgage rates and bid up housing prices just to make their own quick profits.

The Federal Reserve knew twelve months ago that real estate was getting totally out of hand. They only stopped raising rates long enough to pierce the bubble. The stock market expects them to start lowering rates and if they don't the ripple effect will be felt as stock prices plummet.

We can probably expect to see a new historical one-day drop in the stock market some time during the next year as a result. This will then jolt the fed back into action, but like the giant tentacle of the Octodragon that it is, it can only move as fast as its' weakest cell.

In November of 2005, the National Association of Realtors lied to American homebuyers by stating, "the facts simply do not support the possibility of a housing bust -- not for these 135 markets and not for the nation".

Just like Bush lying about Iraq to help his partners in crime make billions from no bid contracts and keep the global military financial industrial media complex roaring, Realtors all across America lied to homebuyers just to make a sale. It was all false public relations.

They saw what effects the fallout of the stock market bubble had on the economy and were very worried that the implosion of a real estate bubble would have similar - if not worse - consequences. It was more comfortable to lie than to face the facts and swallow the truth.

Those insiders who realized it was time to sell, and knew the blood letting would begin, got out, all the while telling their clients that there was no chance of a bubble bursting.

In order to keep the markets calm, the Bush administration, through the U.S. Commerce Department is trying to temper the bad news by publishing good news at the same time, good news, which may in fact contain false and misleading statements. It is classic doublespeak announced just today.

Joe Bel Bruno, another Associated Press Business Writer said, "Wall Street initially was inspired by data showing capital spending jumped by the most in more than six years, but was then rattled by a report that indicated new home prices plunged at the steepest pace since 1970."

The current administration thinks in short term cycles and cannot see the long term, it is strictly near sighted, always has been, and always will be unless politics are removed and separated from the economic engines of the military industrial financial media complex, which is highly unlikely even in the long term.

Some multi-national investors have rushed back into blue chips seeking safety, pushing the Dow to new record levels, while shorting the US dollar, which continues to fall, along with major industrial commodities, and have shifted out of REITs and home building stocks, perhaps even taking opportunities to short those as well.

Peter Slatin, a writer for Forbes, misleads the general public when he says that, "the real estate industry continues to become ever more transparent, largely because of the increasing weight of institutional capital in the mix".

It is because of institutionalized capital in the market that the industry has become more secretive than ever before.

In fact, institutions have caused the REIT market to balloon from a total REIT market capitalization at just about $10 billion in 1992; to today's number which is closer to $1 trillion.

Between 1968 until the mid-1970s, there was a land rush of mortgage REIT initial public offerings. Then came the bust. In 1972, there were 46 REITs with a market capitalization of $1.8 billion. By the end of 1974 capitalization was down to $712.4 million. Cut by more than half.

30 years later there are more than 5,000 REITs, both public and private, with assets totaling over $2 trillion and combined public market caps of over $1 trillion, with three international banking organizations now approaching $2 trillion in assets each.

These same banking institutions (Bank of America, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch) are the very organizations that have fueled the boom in REIT's and pushed commercial and industrial property values to new highs.

Just one example being the 115 apartment buildings in New York City which recently sold as a portfolio for close to $5 billion dollars. The sale was between institutions.

Pretty soon, being a billionaire won't mean much any more, just like being a millionaire means you are now part of the lower middle class.

The secretiveness of the market prevents government regulators and politicians from seeing the daily billions in dollars of phony loan applications turned into mortgage loans and then sold off as securitized "assets" to unwary foreign institutions such as central banks, and multi-national corporations, pension funds and other institutional investors who are all driven by their own bottom lines – profit in an age of delusionally valued assets.

Deficit spending, and the national debt continue to balloon, forecasted to be $500 billion annually and $10 trillion respectively by the year 2008.

The national debt has already exceeded $8.5 trillion and is now growing at the rate of $2 billion per day. Congress will have to raise the debt limit from $9 to $10 trillion next year.

Part of that money may need to go to bailing out and consolidating Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an RTC type rescue package, the four biggest losers in the continuing real estate bust.

Article by: Alex Gabor - www.opednews.com