5 reasons why California will face another lost decade in housing – 493,000 real estate agents and brokers for 219,000 homes listed on the MLS. 7 percent of 90+ day late loans in California have no foreclosure filed. State budget depended on real estate bubble jobs for revenues.

Wish he can do both New York and Florida…would be interesting!

Source: www.doctorhousingbubble.com

How many real estate agents and brokers does it take to sell a California home?  2 ¼ if we look at current inventory levels and the amount of Californians with a real estate or broker’s license.  One of the early observations of the housing bubble was how much money was being spent in the economy because of high wage California housing bubble jobs.  Toxic loan after toxic loan provided wonderful commission checks but also provided the state with a nice chunk of tax revenue.  Year after year this went on.  Our fate has been intertwined with real estate and since real estate has busted so has ourstate economy.  I remember a few colleagues that were pulling in high six-figure incomes as mortgage brokers and real estate agents and were spending every dime as quickly as it came in.  Many have downsized drastically and don’t have a penny to their name.  Ironically many of these people drank their own Kool-Aid and bought million dollar homes with the same mortgage sewage they were passing onto their clients.  A few are now in bankruptcy and many have lost or will lose their homes.

California is likely to face a lost decade in housing.  Do I mean from 2000 to 2010?  In some areas we have already reached a lost decade.  Yet many areas will face their lost decade from 2010 to 2020.  Here are 5 reasons why California real estate will have a decade of slow or no growth ahead:

Reason #1 – High paying finance and real estate jobs are gone

I went ahead and compiled 14 years of license and broker data for California above.  From 1996 to 2002 we averaged approximately 300,000 active licensees in the state.  This was before the bubble ramped up.  We reached a peak in 2008 of 549,000 active licensees.  Today that number is down to 493,000 and is continuing to fall as many simply let their license expire.  Even with recent sales increases we are still close to half the volume of the bubble years.  Plus, home prices are half of what their peak values were.  So even basic math will tell you that at the very least, half of income in this industry is gone (for example the 5 to 6 percent agent cut is based on the sale price).  Then on the lending side you have 96.5% of loans being government backed and these don’t provide the nice kickbacks that the option ARMs did for example.  In other words, high income no GED required jobs are now gone.  Even those with industry specific degrees and training are finding it hard to get good jobs in today’s economy.

And many other jobs tied to the FIRE side of California employment and construction took big hits:

These were good paying jobs that are now gone.  Many of these jobs depended on the perpetual growth of the housing bubble.  But even as we will see with inventory levels, do we still have a bubble in this industry?

Reason #2 – Too little inventory and sales for the amount of workers

I went ahead and took a major snapshot of how much MLS inventory is currently listed for public view in California.  Although inventory is spiking, you start seeing issues that are plaguing the industry:

Since February of this year California has added 64,500 homes to the MLS, an increase of 41 percent.  This is a massive jump.  Part of this jump aligns perfectly with the failure of HAMP and more banks pushing inventory onto the market.

But let us use that current inventory number and run a quick analysis:

493,576 real estate agents and brokers / 219,217 homes on the CA MLS = 2 ¼ agents and brokers for each home

I find the above fascinating.  We have close to 500,000 licensed agents and brokers for 219,000 homes on the market.  And you wonder why we have a problem?  This is like going to a used car lot with 20 cars and finding 50 sales representatives.  However like many things in life, I believe that the Pareto principle applies here as well.  That is, 80 percent of sales is likely to come from 20 percent of those with active licenses.

Although the shadow inventory is much larger than the 219,000 homes on the MLS, agents and brokers only make money when they sell.  And banks don’t seem in a big hurry to move the entire inventory out at once.  In other words, we have years of junk built up in the pipeline with wages slashed.

Reason #3 – California budget and revenues shattered

If you want to see a problem in the making look at this:

The state for the fiscal year of 2007-08 collected over $101 billion.  How do things look today?

For the fiscal year that is coming to an end, we are projected to bring in $81 billion.  We are short by $20 billion and this includes every kind of tax increase you can imagine.  This does little considering half of the state revenues come from personal income taxes and many of those high paying bubble jobs (see above) are now gone.  Yet the state kept spending more and more assuming that a Ponzi like income stream was going to come in forever.  That is not the case as we are now painfully finding out so we must adjust.

The Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) is projecting problems well into 2015.  Another issue that the state will have to contend with is high pension costs of soon to retire baby boomers.  Recently CalPERs announced that the state will need to pitch in $700 million to cover its poor bets.  They are pulling back for the moment:

“(LA Times) Facing political fire, the state’s largest public pension fund Wednesday retreated for a month from a plan to approve a $700-million increase in taxpayer contributions it gets from the state and about 1,000 school districts.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System board, said the fund needs to assess the consequences of the huge hike on California at a time when the state faces an estimated $19-billion budget deficit.”

You can rest assured that there will be some serious battles on this front for years to come.

Reason #4 – Shadow inventory

The Wall Street Journal put together data regarding shadow inventory that we already knew about.  California ranks near the top of shady banks and home squatters that are simply staying put and not paying their mortgage:

Source:  WSJ

This is just nuts.  In California 7 percent of loans that are 90 days overdue are not in foreclosure!  What is even more stunning is the nationwide amount of people living in homes with no payment and foreclosure for 2 years!  This is a slap in the face of every prudent middle class American.  And the idea of poor homeowners is nonsense here in California.  You have folks living in prime locations not paying their mortgage who can easily afford a nice rental.  But they’ll sit it out while banks sit back and suck on thetaxpayer gravy train.  This data merely confirms what we already know.  The state is plagued with delinquent loans.  In fact, 15 percent of all California loans are 30+ days late or worse.

Reason #5 – Consumer psychology and jobs

The mantra that real estate prices never fall is completely shattered for an entire generation of Americans.  Those who lived through the Great Depression are largely absent from our current economy and can’t share their wisdom.  And given the preference of Americans to watch Dancing with the Stars instead of reading some history, many have forgotten that real estate can crash and crash hard.  But if history is any guide, we will have a generation of Americans who are more cautious and thus will put a lid on any mega jumps in appreciation for the next decade.

On Friday the California unemployment rate came out and we are still at a record high of 12.6 percent.  Adjusted for the underemployment rate we are closer to 23 percent.  Even the running average at the BLS shows us over 21 percent:

Keep in mind this is a one year rolling average so this will only move higher as we have been at peak levels for many months.  This also goes back to my earlier reasons for a lost decade in home prices.  Those high paying jobs are gone.  You can only purchase a home by what your income can support.  A large number of those depended on toxic mortgagesthat were easy to churn on a short notice.  After all, giving NINJA loans with no verification allowed seedy mortgage brokers to turn out loan after loan.  Now even with lax lending inFHA insured loans, at least they have to verify income.  As it turns out, there simply isn’t that many that can qualify in California.

I see a sideways moving decade for California real estate.  And for the next one or two years prices will start trending lower again as the Alt-A and option ARM waves hit and the gimmick parade starts running out.  You can only keep a lid on corruption for so long.  The “once in a century” problems now seem to be hitting every month.  A near 1,000 point drop in the Dow, the trillion dollar Euro bailout, and other mega events will come quicker as a reckoning day will hit.  All it takes is a failed Treasury auction and you can kiss cheap mortgage rates goodbye.

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High-End Homeowners Falling Into Foreclosure Trap: CNBC

I can say having a Real Estate license, that nearly every home I have sold in the last few years have or are heading in default status. They know for a fact that the equity they have lost will take too long to recover and they will not see a glimmer of hope in their lifetime. With all the shadow foreclosures out there not listed (believe me there is too many to count) and the current 7.4 Million in default… Does it make any sense to continue? With the reports that it is stabilizing…I disagree 125%. Do they mention…who these so called “EXPERTS” work for? Exactly who are buying these homes?? It’s not you or me as individuals but corporations and banks buying them in pools, lots or “TAPES”. Once again do not believe that it is heading back….it will take many years! If it was that easy then I will suspect fraud is involved. Think about it, It took a home from the 50’s 60’s 70’s & 80’s to see a 50%-100% increase in the 2000’s. So now you are telling me that it will take 2 years for these homes that lost value in the neighborhood of 50-75%??? to come back this quick?? I DON’T THINK SO! This is my opinion.

The American Dream Has Quickly turned into an American Nightmare!

Published: Friday, 7 May 2010 | 9:32 AM ET

By: Joseph Pisani
CNBC News Associate

Heated pools, ocean views and media rooms are not what most people would expect to find in a foreclosed property, but more high-end homes—priced over a million dollars—have been falling into the hands of banks this year.

Photo credit: Stephen Scott
This foreclosed home in Fort Mill, S.C. is currently listed at $1.148 million.

Foreclosures of homes worth over $1 million began increasing at the end of 2009, according to exclusive data provided by foreclosure tracking website RealtyTrac. Foreclosures reached a high in February 2010, the last month data is available, when 4,169 homes were somewhere in the foreclosure process; either having received a foreclosure notice, had an auction scheduled or the lender took ownership of the property. That’s a 121 percent increase from a year ago.

The deterioration comes just as housing experts say that foreclosures in the low- and mid- ends of the housing market are showing signs of stabilization.

“They were able to stave off foreclosure longer,” says independent real estate analyst Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research and Consulting in South Florida. “Lower-end homeowners were the first ones to see the escalating foreclosures because they generally do not have the cash reserves or credit available that the luxury homeowners do. They had the ability to take their credit cards and pull out thousands of dollars while the lower end buyers were already tapped out.”

McCabe expects to see foreclosures in the high-end market to increase into 2011.

Though the RealtyTrac data is not available on a regional or metropolitan basis, anecdotal evidence indicates the problem is cropping up across the country. Of course, the high-end and luxury categories vary widely from market to market. In some suburban areas of the Northeast and California, for instance, million-dollar homes are fairly common, but nationwide, they represent only 1.1 percent of the overall housing stock.

“We have seen an increase, in the million-plus range, of the number of foreclosures and short sales in the greater Chicago area,” says Jim Kinney, vice president of luxury home sales at Baird and Warner.

He says that of the 295 million-dollar, single-family properties sold in the January-April period this year, 37 were either a foreclosure or short sale (when a bank and homeowner agree to sell the home for less than the loan is worth). During the same period a year ago only 10 of 231 fell into those categories.

In the Fort Myers, Fla. area, a second-home market for the wealthy, Mike McMurray of McMurray and Nette and the VIP Realty Group, says he has seen a few foreclosed homes on the market compared to none last year. He’s currently showing a 4,800 square-foot, $3. 65 million home on Captiva Island, where foreclosures are usually very rare. The bank-owned home has five-bedrooms and access to 150-feet of Gulf coast beachfront.

“There are more we see coming down the pipeline,” McMurray says.

Data shows that that may be the case around the county. The 90-day delinquency rate on home loans worth over a million dollars hit a high in February at 13.3 percent, higher than the overall rate of 8.6 percent, according to real estate data firm First American CoreLogic. Foreclosure proceedings generally begin to start after a homeowner has been at least 90 days late on a mortgage payment, experts say.

One difference in the high-end market is that lenders are willing to do more to head off a foreclosure by either renegotiating the loan or accepting a short-sale transaction, which is essentially a last-ditch effort.

Captiva, Fla. Home
Photo credit: McMurray and Nette of VIP Realty Group
This five-bedroom, beachfront home in Captiva, Fla. is now bank owned and on the market for $3.65 million.

“Lenders are far more likely to go the short sale route,” says Andrew LePage, an analyst at real estate research firm DataQuick. “There’s a lot more money at stake, and maintenance can be high if a foreclosure just sits there.”

$1.15 -million condominium in Chicago in the landmark Palmolive Building started was initially offered as a short sale but , after a buyer did not materialize, is now owned by the bank , says Janice Corley, founder of Sudler Sotheby’s International Realty who’s currently listing it. The condo has lake views and a long list of luxury-building amenities including a steam room, doorman and gym.

The rise in foreclosures has one Las Vegas real estate agent flying prospective buyers into the city via private jet for free. Luxury Homes of Las Vegas and JetSuite Air teamed up to offer the complimentary trip for buyers flying from Los Angeles to view three foreclosed homes priced between $4.9 and $6.1 million.

Agent Ken Lowman said he gave three tours over a one-week period and hopes to expand the offer to buyers from other West Coast cities.

There’s just too much competition, says Lowman. “It takes an innovative approach like this to get results.”

© 2010 CNBC.com