Tag Archives: housing crash

housing.prices

Could Looser Lending Standards Boost Phoenix Market?

Will banks start to drop their standards and let people with slightly lower credit scores and much lower down payments buy homes? That’s the big question, after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other agencies voted to approve new, looser lending rules this week. A well-known expert from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University says if the change happens, and the adjustments are reasonable, then it could be good for the Phoenix-area housing market, stimulating growth.

Here are the highlights of the school’s monthly housing-market report on Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of August:

• The median single-family-home sales price went up 11 percent from last August, but that’s largely just due to having fewer sales clustered at the bottom end of the market.
• Both supply and demand in the market remain relatively low.
• Lenders have been reluctant to expand the number of people eligible for home loans, which is helping to stunt market growth.

After the housing crash, the Phoenix area had a fast boost in home prices from September 2011 to last summer. This year, prices leveled off and then rose somewhat. The median single-family-home price went up 11 percent – from $192,000 to $213,500 — from last August to this August. The average price per square foot jumped 7 percent. The median townhouse/condominium price went up 10 percent. However, the report’s author explains the median gains are not reflective of higher home values across the board.

“The median went up largely just because we saw a big drop in sales clustered at the low end of the market,” explains Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “The average price per square foot actually dropped last month. I expect prices to move sideways to slightly down over the next few months until supply and demand get back into balance.”

Both supply and demand are relatively low in the Phoenix-area housing market right now. Single-family-home sales activity dropped 15 percent from last August to this August. Investor interest, in particular, has dramatically fallen over the last year. The percentage of homes bought by investors in August was 14.4 percent, way down from the peak of 39.7 percent in July 2012. There aren’t a lot of cheap “distressed” homes to buy, with completed Phoenix-area foreclosures down 43 percent from last August to this August.

“Better bargains for investors can be found in other parts of the country,” says Orr. “Over the last three months, the percentages of homes bought by investors have been lower than we have seen for many years, confirming investors are no longer driving the market the way they did between early 2009 and mid-2013.”

Rental homes remain popular for those who don’t want to buy a house or who can’t qualify for a home loan. Fast turnover and low vacancy rates have already pushed rents up 5.8 percent over the last year in the Phoenix area.

Meantime, we’re seeing a lot of speculation about whether banks will lower their standards and start letting people with good – but not great – credit scores qualify for home loans. Also, conventional loan down payments could be dropped from 10 percent to as little as 3 percent. The chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Agency spoke in Las Vegas this week and indicated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would likely still purchase and retain those loans, if the banks make them.

“Right now, funds are flowing only to a small proportion of potential buyers, who have excellent credit, which is contributing to weaker-than-normal demand for homes to purchase,” explains Orr. “Lenders are reluctant to take any unusual risks in an environment when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might take negative, profit-damaging action against the banks on loans sold to them. It appears it will take a major move by Fannie and Freddie to limit those risks before mortgage availability can get back to a normal level and support the next stage in the housing recovery.”

Orr adds, “Banks have to walk the line on their lending standards. They went from the porridge being too hot (standards too lax) to the porridge being too cold (standards too tight). It’s still a while until we get to ‘just right,’ but striking the right balance could move the Phoenix-area housing market toward more sales and more demand.”

Those wanting more Phoenix-area housing data can subscribe to Orr’s monthly reports at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/realtyreports. The premium site includes statistics, charts, graphs and the ability to focus in on specific aspects of the market. More analysis is also available at the W. P. Carey School of Business “Research and Ideas” website at http://research.wpcarey.asu.edu.

Luxury Home - AZ Business Magazine November 2008

Housing Crash Hurts The Valley’s Luxury Home Market

High-End Distress: The housing crash is now hurting the Valley’s luxury home market


A meticulous five-bedroom, remodeled home sits nestled in one of Paradise Valley’s most beautiful neighborhoods. But the most remarkable thing about this home is not its one-acre lot, new flooring or up-to-date kitchen. It’s the “For Sale” sign that has graced the front yard for two years.

Two years, two different realty companies and several price reductions later, the home finally is generating some energy and a contract is in the works. But, according to information from Coldwell Banker’s luxury home experts with The Walt Danley Group, that never would have happened if the price hadn’t dropped 20 percent in one year and 40 percent from the time it first went on the market.

This scenario is playing out to varying degrees throughout the Valley’s high-end home submarkets, from the Biltmore area to Paradise Valley to North Scottsdale. Real estate professionals say that while wealthy clients clearly are insulated from some of the economic hardships that face production-home buyers, they are not completely immune from them.

Inventory is high, homes are sitting on the market longer and Realtors must convince sellers to lower their expectations on price.

“What’s happening in the marketplace,” says Sandra Wilken of Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties, “is we are trying

to get our sellers to be extremely realistic on their list price. The ridiculous prices of three years ago are not going to happen.”

In 2007, Wilken says buyers in Paradise Valley purchased 133 properties worth $2 million or more. The most expensive ho

me sold for $8.8 million. This year, 62 homes have been sold in that range, with the highest fetching $7.62 million.

Information from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service in two high-end zip codes, Paradise Valley’s 85253 and North Scottsdale’s 85256, shows inventory climbing through 2007 and the first half of 2008 compared to accepted offers. The average price for a property sold in Paradise Valley in September 2006 was $2.328 million. This past August it was $1.606 million.

Break it down
It is important to understand that in the luxury home market, different segments are performing in different ways.

Buyers who can afford a $2 million to $4 million home, or higher, are more insulated from current market conditions.

Tom Fisher calls them “program buyers,” successful and affluent business people who are on track to build homes that some call “family resorts.”

Fisher, owner of Fisher Custom Homes, builds houses that start at $2 million. His clients’ income or cash flow often is tied to the stock market, and while that has bred caution in their spending, in his experience it hasn’t derailed many building plans.

Walt Danley agrees there still is activity in the high-end market, but poor economic conditions fostered by sub-prime lending have, in a sense, trickled up.

Credit crunch
Credit in the form of jumbo loans, or loans for more than $417,000, has dried up as well. Several years ago, buyers could purchase a $1 million home with as little as 5 percent down, says Dean Bloxom, president of iMortgage Services in Phoenix. Some banks asked for 10 percent on $2 million.

Today, loans are available but banks want at least 20 percent down, and clear, documented evidence of someone’s assets and income — a correction that should have happened earlier, Bloxom says.

There are indications the market may pick up some velocity, says Cionne McCarthy, an agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.

The Luxury Home Tour, which showcases homes in Paradise Valley and the Arcadia and Biltmore districts, recently released figures that show homes in August spent less time on the market.

From Aug. 8 to Sept. 6, homes spent an average of 151 days on the market, compared to an average of 223 days between August 2007 and August 2008.

Arizona Business Magazine November 2008