Monthly Archives: December 2017

Why are There Too Few Homes For Sale

Almost anyone who has searched for a house recently knows there are not enough houses for sale.

One simple number defines the problem:

In October 2017, the nation had a 3.9-month supply of existing homes for resale. That means, at the pace seen then, it would have taken 3.9 months to sell all the homes on the market. A supply under six months puts home buyers at a disadvantage.

“Inventory is tighter than it appears. It’s much lower for entry-level buyers,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic, a data provider for the real estate industry. He spoke at the Urban Institute’s annual housing finance symposium on Nov. 1.

Why don’t millennial, first-time buyers and Generation X move-up buyers have more to choose from? Who is responsible for the shortage of homes for sale and why? We’ve identified some suspects.

1. Boomers won’t move

More than three-quarters of baby boomers own their homes. For millennials to buy their first homes, and for homeowning Gen Xers to move up to their second home, boomers have to sell. But boomers are staying put.

Realtor.com conducted a survey this year that found that 85% of boomer homeowners planned to stay put over the next 12 months. “The reasons for that could be that they’re living longer, they’re living healthier and so staying in place is more possible for them,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com.

“[Baby boomers] have been slower than previous generations to sell the family home, thus exacerbating the shortage of houses for sale,” concluded a Freddie Mac research report.

Also, thanks to rising home prices, would-be downsizers can’t find smaller homes that cost much less than their current homes, says Dennis Cisterna, chief executive officer of Investability Solutions, a real-estate investor marketplace. So they stay put. “There’s no urgency to sell right now unless you have to,” he says.

2. Landlords won’t sell

Millions of single-family homes were converted to rentals after the foreclosure crisis, Cisterna says. “Those investors have no incentive to sell,” he says. When a house goes up for sale, “now you’re competing not only with your neighbor who wants to buy that house, you’re also competing with investors.”

Renters made up 36% of households in the third quarter of 2017, up from 31% in 2005, according to the Census Bureau.

With greater demand for homes, but less supply, home values rise. Meanwhile, rents are rising faster than home prices. “Both of those factors would tend to encourage landlords to hold onto those homes and rent them out,” Hale says.

3. Owners are hooked on low mortgage rates

Over the last three years, the interest rate on outstanding mortgages averaged just 3.8%, according to the Department of Commerce. People savor their low mortgage rates and don’t want to give them up.

So as mortgage rates rise, homeowners tend to keep their homes a little longer, said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, at the Urban Institute symposium.

“That means the inventory of homes for sale, which is already very low, is likely to remain that way if we see higher interest rates,” Nothaft said.

4. Builders ignore entry-level buyers

Through the first nine months of 2017, about 473,000 newly constructed houses were sold, according to the Census Bureau. Fifty-five percent of those homes cost $300,000 or more. “Of the new homes that we are building, the vast majority are move-up products,” Cisterna says. “They’re not for the entry-level buyer anymore.”

Builders counter that they pay $45,000 for a typical buildable lot nationally and around three times that in New England. And they say they face a shortage of skilled construction labor because experienced workers dropped out of the construction trades during the Great Recession, younger people aren’t replacing them, many job applicants can’t pass drug tests, and immigration enforcement is scaring some laborers away.

5. Regulations add costs

Homebuilders say regulations — including environmental protection, infrastructure fees and rules that specify minimum lot sizes — add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of every home. Regulations account for about one-quarter of the cost of each home, said Michael Neal, assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis for the National Association of Home Builders.

A Freddie Mac report concurred. “Land-use regulations have become more burdensome” in the last 30 years, making it costlier to build, it said. Freddie Mac found that it takes just 3.5 months to get a building permit in lenient New Orleans, whereas it takes 17 months to get a building permit in restrictive Honolulu. A longer permitting process costs money as developers carry the investments on their books while awaiting permission to build.

6. Owners want to restrict supply

Local zoning and land-use regulations aren’t bestowed by a hidden hand. They’re enacted by officials who were elected by the people. When planning and zoning officials limit the number of houses that can be built in a neighborhood, or when they set minimum square footage for houses, they’re limiting the supply of homes and making them more expensive. They’re responding to constituents.

“There are regulations that are more about the neighbors’ sensibilities than they are about the safety of the people living in the houses,” says Miriam Axel-Lute, associate director of the National Housing Institute, a nonprofit that examines how social issues affect housing.

“It’s neighbors who want their property values to go up, in most cases, who are insistent upon some excess safety design standards or minimum lot sizes or other things,” she says. “They either want their property values to go up or they don’t want, quote, ‘the wrong sort of people’ in their neighborhoods. This is the pressure behind a lot of the most damaging regulations out there.”

How can home buyers respond?

Clearly, it will take time and concerted effort to fix the problem of not enough houses for sale. Meantime, there are things home buyers can do:

Be realistic about how long it will take to find and buy a home. Real-estate agents can provide an estimate, based on market conditions.

Save plenty of money for a down payment and reserves.

Improve your credit score to get a good mortgage deal.

Be ready to make a competitive offer when a suitable home comes on the market.

That advice works for any real-estate market, whether it favors sellers or buyers. But these tips are especially appropriate when inventory is low.

Source:  https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/6-reasons-there-arent-enough-homes-for-sale/

Want Higher Returns on Mortgages ?

With strict new federal mortgage regulations on banks coming in January, more borrowers – and investors – will be looking at alternative financing. Investing in alternative mortgage lending is already a fast-growing, multi-billion dollar industry.

Two key avenues for investors are Mortgage Investment Corporations (MICs) and syndicated mortgages. They both lend money to higher-risk borrowers, but  investors must understand the pros and cons of each, and what makes them so different.

Mortgage Investment Corporation (MIC)

An MIC is a pool of capital that is raised through shareholders and is collectively lent to a diversified pool of residential and commercial mortgages. You are buying shares in a corporation that invests on your behalf.

Pros:

Since you are investing in a pool of mortgages you can mitigate a great deal of the typical risk associated with direct private or syndicated mortgages.

An MIC has a team of professional mortgage underwriters who review mortgage loans every day and can determine the risk on your behalf.

It creates regular monthly cash flow that can be tax f ree savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan  (RRSP) eligible.

If a mortgage goes into default, it is only one of many, so the MIC can begin the foreclosure procedure without having to disrupt monthly cash distributions to the investor.

Targeted returns are typically from 7 per cent to 8 per cent, annually.

The monthly payment is a “flow-through” from the pool of monthly mortgage payments back to the shareholders. There is no term; it is continuous.

A MIC will have an offering memorandum that clearly outlines the parameters and lending restrictions, including: maximum loan to value and percentage allowable for commercial real estate, raw land or development.

Cons:

An MIC has higher overhead and, as such, charges a management fee. The gains are net after fees. Thus net returns are often closer to 7 per cent rather than the 10 per cent targeted by privates or syndicates.

Caution is required that the MIC does not do the following: allocate an excessive amount of loans to farmland, raw land or developments, since these are hard to foreclose on, and it can be difficult to recuperate the loan in the event of a forced sale; or loans lent to personal friends or management partners.

Check that the MIC you invest with has a third-party independent advisory board that oversees the nature of the loans and ensures that they are consistent with their operating memorandum.

Syndicated mortgages

This is the scenario in which two or more individuals lend their money to a specific project and borrower. The money could be lent on anything from a single-family house to a developer with a large project.

Pros:

A syndicated loan is a direct loan to an individual with no fees to a middleman, so the return can be higher – typically above 10 per cent.

The syndicated group can be on title.

A mortgage broker who tends to “de-risk” the investment typically sources syndicated mortgages.

You know exactly whom you are lending to and what you are lending on.

It provides monthly cash flow.

Cons:

The biggest downside is that you are lending directly to a single individual or developer.

Any individual can encounter problems beyond his or her control, which could cause a default on the mortgage, even foreclosure.

In the event of such trouble, the syndicated partners may not have the experience and/or willingness to foreclose, a process that can take months.

If you have to foreclose, your money, cash flow and return can be held in limbo for months. If you lent to a development that was half complete when foreclosed on, the syndicate could lose a large portion of its investment.

A syndicated loan can be re-paid early (depending on terms) and it may take time to find the next “deal” or person to lend to. The return on syndicated loans looks attractive but your money is not always at work for 365 days a year. Your real annualized returns over a five-year period may be closer to 8 per cent.

Not all syndicated mortgages are TFSA or RRSP eligible.

Summary

Investing through a syndicated mortgage will generate higher returns than an MIC, but in doing so you take on more risk.

There is always a risk that some people will default on their mortgage – remember, there is a reason they did not qualify at the bank. The single biggest difference between an MIC and a syndicated mortgage is that with an MIC, you bought shares in a fund that invests in a pool of mortgages, so if up to 5 per cent go into default, 95 per cent are still paying monthly. With a syndicated mortgage, if the person you lent to defaults, your income stops and your money is at risk.

Syndicated mortgages are more appropriate for the sophisticated investor who understands the risks associated and expects a higher return.

MICs are more suitable for the less-experienced investor who is willing to accept a slightly lower return in exchange for increased security.

 

Source: http://www.westerninvestor.com/news/finance/investing-in-alternative-mortgage-lending-risks-and-rewards-1.23105791

Thinking of Leaving Your Mortgage Company ?

Mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate alleges that while still employed at the company, one of its “most highly compensated executives” planned and participated in an exodus of more than 20 employees to a newly formed rival, according to a lawsuit filed by the Chicago-based company.

Joseph Caltabiano, the former senior vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate who is named in the lawsuit, disputes those claims. “I deny the allegations that I did anything inappropriately,” he said.

The employees who left Guaranteed Rate allegedly joined the staff of Bemortgage, a recently launched mortgage lender that operates as a division of Bridgeview Bank Group, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court. Caltabiano joined Bemortgage’s ranks as senior vice president of mortgage banking about two weeks ago, he said Friday.

Guaranteed Rate paid Caltabiano about $1.75 million this year through Nov. 15, according to the lawsuit. He was one of the three highest producing loan originators employed by the company, and remains the ninth largest shareholder, the complaint states.

The company “terminated” Caltabiano on Nov. 16, according to the suit. Court documents say Caltabiano allegedly coordinated the transition of Guaranteed Rate’s Chicago-area team to Bemortgage with senior executives at Bridgeview, some of who had also previously been employed at Guaranteed Rate.

Those team members’ transition allegedly had been planned while Caltabiano was still employed at Guaranteed Rate, according to the complaint. The lawsuit alleges that Caltabiano breached his fiduciary duties to Guaranteed Rate by soliciting its employees to leave and join Bemortgage and by competing with it on behalf of Bemortgage.

“Mr. Caltabiano was terminated for misconduct, as described in our lawsuit,” Guaranteed Rate said in a statement Friday.

Caltabiano denied those allegations and said he disagrees that Guaranteed Rate terminated him. He said he worked there for 15 years and that it was a good place to work, but the time had come to explore more opportunities.

“I have a staff that works with me that voluntarily decided to pursue other opportunities as well,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of new opportunities in the mortgage banking space that weren’t here five years ago.”

Also named in the suit is Bridgeview Bancorp, holding company of Bridgeview Bank, which has about 15 locations throughout the Chicago area. The lawsuit also alleges Bridgeview and Caltabiano conspired to breach their fiduciary duties. Peter Haleas, chairman of Bridgeview’s board, said the bank did nothing wrong.

“I know that Bridgeview conducted itself in the full spirit of the law and business ethics, and we have no culpability,” he said.

In May, Guaranteed Rate filed an unrelated lawsuit alleging an employee and two former employees solicited other workers to join competitor Cross Country Mortgage and planned to open competing branches while still employed by Guaranteed Rate. The case was dismissed in September, according to court documents.

 

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-guaranteed-rate-lawsuit-20171201-story.html

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