Back in September, we explained that when it comes to "boom" in US real estate, there are three key driving forces: i) the Fed's monetization of mortgage backed securities whose impact however is at best to stabilize the demand floor (and judging by the recent collapse in refi activity even that is questionable), ii) an implicit subsidy as banks keep millions of units on their books (to get a sense of how much check out at the chart in "Six Month + Delinquent Mortgages Amount To More Than Half Of Bank of America's Market Cap") in some phase of the foreclosure process, and away from clearing in the market, and perhaps most importantly, iii) the fact that the NAR can legally launder offshore money courtesy of being exempt from anti-money laundering provisions. This allows billions in ill-gotten offshore cash, sourced primarily from Russia and China, to be "invested" in US real-estate, with no cost or pricing discrimation and without any questions asked from any authorities. Because, sure enough, the final result can be spun as a "boom" in real estate by the administration and the banks so very invested in reflating the housing bubble.
This was explained as follows:
the NAR, best known for misrepresenting the real state of the existing US housing market for years, has an open waiver for anti-money laundering regulation from none other than Uncle Sam. Because while it is one thing to blow up the biggest breadwinning industry in Switzerland to pad the tax bill and to spread class warfare, it is something totally different to represent to the world that ultra-luxury segment aside, which is merely an artifact of global money laundering, the US real estate housing emperor is as naked as he was 4 years ago.
As a reminder, here is where the NAR stands on the issue of its most generous clients possibly being some of the worst criminals known to man, courtesy of Elanus Capital:
Many of you reading this will undoubtedly have spent time in an international bank and been forced to sit through countless hours of “know your client” and AML training. Fascinating to note that the National Association of Realtors lobbied for and received a waiver from such regulation. That’s right, realtors actually went to the U.S. government and said: we want to be able to help foreign business oligarchs and other nefarious business people launder money through the real estate markets of the United States – and prevailed.
Here's their official position:
"NAR supports continued efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism through the regulation of entities using a risk-based analysis. Any risk-based assessment would likely find very little risk of money laundering involving real estate agents or brokers. Regulations that would require real estate agents and brokers to adopt anti-money laundering programs may prove to be burdensome and unnecessary given the existing ML/TF regulations that already apply to United States financial institutions."
Hat’s off to the NAR – that is some serious doublespeak. My translation: We’ll support you as long as we don’t have to support you.
Indeed it is. What the NAR is saying is that for now go ahead and lift every offer on every duplex and triplex off Central Park. Your money is absolutely safe with us... this instant.
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While the above explained what is going on in theory, today courtesy of Mike Krieger we now have formal glimpse into just what is really supporting US housing in practice.
From Corrupt Chinese Politicians are Buying Billions in U.S. Real Estate, from Liberty Blitzkrieg
Many of us spent much of 2012 confused about how the U.S. real estate market was improving within the context of a broke and unemployed citizenry. Well as time has passed the answers to our questions have been revealed. The criminals are piling in. I first explained a couple of weeks ago how the financial oligarchs in the United States are currently in a bidding war to become America’s slumlords in my post: America Meet Your New Slumlord: Wall Street.
Now we also discover that part of the bid to U.S. real estate has come from another criminal class. In this case, we are talking about corrupt Chinese officials who are pulling their ill gotten gains from their homeland and desperately placing it in real estate all over the globe. From The Telegraph:
As China’s new leaders intensify a campaign to root out corruption, thousands of Communist party officials have been panicked into a fire sale of their illicit properties while billions of pounds have been smuggled overseas.
It said the volume of deals had intensified by “a hundred times” after Xi Jinping, the incoming Chinese president, warned that corruption could kill the Party and put one of the country’s most vigorous and resolute politicians, Wang Qishan, in charge of stamping out graft.
It also claimed that an astonishing $1 trillion (£630 billion), equivalent to 40 per cent of Britain’s annual GDP, had been smuggled out of China illegally in 2012.
Marco Pearman-Parish at Corporation China, a company in Beijing that helps clients find properties abroad, said there had been a strong rise in clients looking for homes in the Cayman Islands.
In the United States, the National Association of Realtors said that more than $7 billion of properties had been bought by Chinese in the US last year. Some high-end homes are now specifically built for rich Chinese with ponds for koi carp and a second kitchen for pungent cooking.
I guess word has gone out globally that the U.S. is open for business as far as the global criminal class is concerned. They can rest assured knowing they will never face repercussions in this lawless land. At least that is what they think. What we must do is never forget who is buying all of these properties and when the time comes they should all be seized and these crooks sent back to the place they came from.