Thanks to Incline Jim for this doozy… a chart and graph lover’s dream! This informative slideshow presents a compelling case for the we’ve got a long way to go baby argument. Honestly, my head is spinning and I think I may be turning into, gasp, a pessimist. (Say it isn’t so!) Highlights include the salient point that consumer borrowing power is anywhere from 39-41% less than it was just nine months ago, and a sea of questionable loans are still scheduled to reset later this year. These sorts of numbers want to make me downgrade my latest, ever-changing, possible-but not-so-sure local, bottom prediction from 2009 to 2011… What do you guys think?
One new client today was telling me about his experiences with foreclosures and mayhem in the early 90’s in Houston. To him, our current local troubles were mild in comparison thanks to continuing economic growth. He told me the story of a new house that originally sold for $120,000 (a lot at the time in Houston), then sold again to an investor for $80K, then again to another investor for $40K, then again at auction to his landlord for $21K. (When the lumber is worth more than the house, I guess it’s time to buy.) Though neither of us think it will play out that dramatically here, a small part of me says, who knows? Two years ago I was blowing off all the bubble talk as an unimaginative metaphor.
I do watch our numbers with a very close eye. The only positives in our market I see so far are increased pendings, which are suspicious because I wonder how many are useless, fake, short sale escrows that will ultimately fall through as banks take back the houses. I’ve also noticed more builders utilizing the MLS, which means their pendings stay on for months on end as the houses are built, because no builder seems to be building on spec these days. And then of course, it is spring, which always brings a seasonal bump in activity.
The other bright spot is Cyan, the only new home builder I know of doing brisk sales and actually reinvoking the lottery system. With this development, Centex seems to have hit the right price point, the right location, the right value for the dollar, which of course translates into to pending contracts and hopefully closed escrows. I am glad to see that somebody is doing well in this market. It gives me hope. I need some hope.