You would think that with all the surefire bets in housing that people would be dialing up their realtors and heading out every weekend to make those lustful multiple offers presented in PowerPoint format on properties. Yet the overall market data shows a different story. The house horniest of them all, investors, are clearly pulling out of markets including sunny and inflated California. Apparently home prices do matter when making investment decisions. Cash strapped hormonal buyers will keep on buying but housing prices are set on the margin. That margin is becoming razor thin on current volume. I find it interesting that the biggest housing supporter of them all, the National Association of Realtors is also somewhat tepid on this recovery. Why? Because home sales volume is pathetic. Keep in mind they make money on selling and buying. Volume is key. Their model doesn’t work so well with banks holding onto properties like Gollum holding onto the ring and the foreclosure process being dragged out like the forever college student enjoying year 10 at Santa Monica City College. You see this overarching trend occurring in many metro areas across the country. Investors have been propping up the market since 2008. They are now slowly pulling back. You are also starting to see a convergence of analysts putting out their predictions on how overvalued housing is and backing it up with mountains of data. The other side of the argument points to prices. Sure, they’ve gone up but value is created by actual price and that is sort of the point. The answer as always isn’t so simple but using your thinking cap it is important to understand that housing is not a “no brainer” decision in this market.
Our Fed-fueled lottery-ticket economy will unravel with a vengeance in the years ahead. Malinvestment - the systemic consequence of the Federal Reserve's policies of near-zero interest rates and abundant credit - doesn't just inflate destruction asset bubbles: it poisons productive assets and the entire economy.
"New starts contracted 15% yoy (vs. -21.9% yoy in March); property sales fell 14.3% yoy (vs. -7.5% yoy); and land sales (by area) plunged 20.5% yoy (vs. -16.9% yoy previously). ... the housing market situation has undoubtedly turned quite gloomy. There has been a constant news stream of falling property prices everywhere, even in the 1-tier cities. A number of local governments, as we expected, have started to ease policy locally, especially relaxation of the home-purchase restrictions." - Soc Gen
Sometimes it's worth remembering that while the demise of the status quo may take a while, there are actions one should be taking despite the sound and fury each and every day. As Marc Faber warned, "I don’t trust anyone." Simply put, Faber blasts, "the monetary policies as they are implemented by central banks around the world, are actually preventing the markets from clearing and [not allowing] the economy to truly improve." His recommendation, he'd "prefer investors hold physical gold in a safe deposit box, ideally outside the US," because "Fed policy will destroy the world."
This time is different - check; Moral Hazard - check; Easy Money - check; Overblown growth stories - check; No valuation anchor - check; Conspicuous consumption - check; Ponzi finance - check... and, of course, Irrational exuberance: check!
Based on Markets revenue results to date, which reflect a continued challenging environment and lower client activity levels, expect 2Q14 Markets revenue to be down approximately 20%+/- versus 2Q13.
Higher levels of mortgage interest rates are expected to continue to have a negative impact on volumes
Expect pretax production loss of approximately $100–$150 million in 2Q14 and pretax margins to be negative in 2H14
Expect net servicing revenue of $600–$650 million in 2Q14 and declining by approximately 10% (not annualized) per quarter for 2H14
It happened in 2000 and 2007. Spectacular consequences! Now it happened again. And beneath the blue-chip highs, parts of the market are already crashing.
The still-dominant consensus view that America’s economy is poised to single-handedly yank the world out of its lethargy is likely to be disappointed once again with the odds high that our economy will remain burdened by growth-inhibiting monetary policies. In addition, it will continue to be negatively impacted by various other impediments, including a populace that is increasingly under-employed, an unwieldy and inscrutable tax code, a Rube Goldberg-like healthcare system, an increasingly ossified infrastructure, and a regulatory apparatus that congests the lungs of our economy, small businesses... weaning the stock market off of casino capitalism promises to be anything but pain-free. But did any responsible adult really believe there would be no pay-back for all these years of the Fed’s force-fed gains? If you do, you probably also believe foie gras grows on trees.
Overnight, RealtyTrac released its latest home-flipping report. What it found is that while the latest housing bubble may have indeed popped, manifesting itself not only in a decline in flipping prices but also a tumble in flipping activity across the US as a percentage of all sales from 6.5% a year ago to just 3.7% in Q1, and down from 4.1% last quarter, flipping, where a home is purchased and subsequently sold again within six months, can still be massively profitable, leading to returns that would make the pimpliest 25-year-old, math PhD HFT-firm owner green with envy. Among the core findings was that the average sales price of single family homes flipped in the first quarter was $55,574 higher than the average original purchase price. That gross profit provided flippers with an unadjusted ROI (return on investment) of 30 percent of the average original purchase price averaged out across the US. The average gross profit per flip a year ago was $51,805 for an unadjusted ROI of 28 percent. However, it is the range that is notable: the flip ROI ranged from -8%, or a loss of $10k on the property, to a gain of 80%, a whopping $144K!
Yellen is evidently aware that stocks are bubbling. As Fed Chairman she cannot admit it (no Central Banker will ever say the markets are in a bubble), but the signs that she is aware of this are present.
While the Fed has clearly had a problem with reflating the broader housing bubble, one which would impact the middle class instead of just those who are already wealthier than ever before thanks to the Russel 200,000, one place which not only never suffered a housing bubble pop in the 2006-2008 years, but never looked back as it continued its diagonal bottom left to top right trajectory is Canada. As the chart below shows, the Canadian housing bubble has put all attempts at listening to Krugman and reflating yet another bubble to shame.
With Canada having closed the door on the cash-for-canadian-citizenship housing bubble blowing machine, it seems the Russian oligarch sanctions have left a gaping window for the Chinese to swoop and spend their billions. As Reuters reports, for the first time in history, wealthy Chinese top wealthy Russians are the biggest buyers of Manhattan real estate. It seems Manhattan real estate will always be home to some desperate capital flow, money-laundering 1%-ers cash - no matter what the price.
The similarities between 2007 and 2014 continue to pile up. And you know what they say - if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Just like seven years ago, the stock market has soared to all-time high after all-time high. Just like seven years ago, the authorities are telling us that there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, just like seven years ago, a housing bubble is imploding and another great economic crisis is rapidly approaching.
Back in August of last year, we first reported data that not even believed at first, but has since been proven correct using existing home sales data, namely that a whopping 60% of all home purchases are "cash only." However, not even that data could prepare us for what we learned today courtesy of CoreLogic, which narrowed down the range from the broader "housing" segment just to the most appetizing (especially for investors and flippers) condo market. What it found was stunning: not less than 80% of all condos in key markets such as Florida, Nevada And New York are all cash.