We have said for some time that the repricing of residential real estate has some way to go. While conditions will vary greatly by market, a number of measures all suggested that nationally, the decline peak to trough would be on the order of 35-40%. That would in turn suggest that we are only a bit more than halfway through a painful process.
And lest you think a bailout or government rescue program can solve the problem, consider: prices need to revert to levels that consumers can afford given non-predatory mortgages (30 year fixed, 20-25% downpayment). Housing prices need to fall roughly 35% from the peak to return to long-established pre-bubble multiples of incomes.
But this New York Times article treats the idea that housing to fall as a new realization:
The American housing market, where the global economic crisis began, is far from hitting bottom…..
Adding to the worries nationwide are rising unemployment, falling wages and escalating mortgage rates — all of which will reduce the already diminished pool of would-be buyers.
“The No. 1 thing that drives housing values is incomes,” said Todd Sinai, an associate professor of real estate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “When incomes fall, demand for housing falls.”…
Yves here. This is a tad misleading. As we indicated above, housing had further to fall based on existing incomes and a return to more traditional (conservative) mortgages. A recession will make the slide worse, but a further decline was in the cards.
On Wednesday, the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages was 6.75 percent, up from 6.06 percent last week. While banks are moving aggressively to sell foreclosed properties, the number of empty homes is hovering near its highest level in more than half a century.
As of June, 2.8 percent of homes previously occupied by an owner were vacant. Nearly 1 in 10 rentals was without a tenant. Both numbers are near their highest levels since 1956, the earliest year for which the Census Bureau has such data….
One reliable proxy of housing values — the ratio of home prices to rents — indicates that in many cities prices are still too high relative to historical norms.
In Miami, for instance, home prices are about 22 times annual rents, according to analysis by Moody’s Economy.com. The average figure for the last 20 years is just 15 times annual rents. The difference between those two numbers suggests that a home valued at $500,000 today might be worth only $341,000 based on the long-term relationship between prices and rents.
The price-to-rent ratio, which provides one measure of how much of a premium home buyers place on owning rather than renting, spiked across the country earlier this decade.
It increased the most on the coasts and somewhat less in the middle of the country. Economy.com’s calculations show that while it remains elevated in many places, the ratio has fallen sharply to more normal levels in places like Sacramento, Dallas and Riverside, Calif….
To cushion themselves from potential losses if homes lose value, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance companies that the government took over in September, have increased fees on loans made to borrowers who have good but not excellent credit records, even those who are making down payments as big as 30 percent.
Those higher fees are generally invisible to borrowers because banks factor them into mortgage interest rates. While the national average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now 6.75 percent, according to HSH Associates, mortgage brokers say the rates for many borrowers in the Southwest or Florida can be as high as 8 percent, especially for so-called jumbo loans that are too big to be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Those loan limits vary by area from $417,000 to roughly $650,000.)