I have been a staunch critic of the National Associaton of Realtors (NAR), their various renditions of Chief Economists, and the laughable jokes that they attempt to pass as objective analysis. What is alarming is the fact that the joke that is the NAR gets constant MSM airplay and front page print exposure - credibility be damned. For a glimpse of my real opinions on the matter, see below then reference the nuggest of truth that actually fell out of the MSM yesterday.
Peruse each link below, for they contain more than enough info to identify the NAR for the joke that it is...
- A First In The History Of Mainstream Media? NAR Is Identified As A Joke!
- Why Keep Telling A Joke That's Just Not Funny? Enter The NAR
- When Will the Mainstream Media Be Ready To Call The NAR The Sham That It Really Is?
- In Case You Didn't Get The Memo, The US Is In a Real Estate Depression That Is About To Get Much Worse
If you thought the U.S. housing market couldn't get much worse, think again.
Far fewer homes have been sold over the past five years than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.
NAR said it plans to downwardly revise sales of previously-owned homes going back to 2007 during the release of its next existing home sales report on Dec. 21.
NAR's existing home sales numbers, released monthly, are a closely followed gauge of the health of the housing market.
While NAR hasn't revealed exactly how big the revision to home sales will be, the agency's chief economist Lawrence Yun said the decrease will be "meaningful."
"For the real estate business, this means the housing market's downturn was deeper than what was initially thought," Yun said.
Yun said the database NAR uses to track existing home sales, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), has led the real estate agency to over-count existing home sales for several reasons.
The MLS database only includes home sales listed by realtors, and excludes homes listed by owners, providing a very narrow view of the market. And because more people are using realtors to list their homes instead of selling them independently, realtor-listed sales numbers have become artificially inflated, said Yun.
In addition, some of the assumptions NAR used in calculating its data have become outdated, since they were based on 2000 Census data.
...The MLS has also been expanding its geographic coverage, so it may have appeared that there were more home sales simply because data from new areas were starting to show up. Also because of this geographic expansion, the system has been double-counting sales of some homes that can be considered part of multiple regions.
"Colorado Springs has their own database, but because the Denver market is nearby they may also list that home in the Denver database, so when the home gets sold, both Denver and Colorado Springs will say sales rose -- so that's genuine double-counting," said Yun.
Yun said NAR realized this upward "shift" in data during its most recent re-benchmarking process this year. With the help of the government, economists and other real estate groups, NAR has now taken these factors into account and will issue revised numbers on Dec. 21 at 10 a.m.
If readers remember back in 2009 I warned of the excessive risk of mortgage buybacks in the banking industry. Many analysts dismissed this risk then and still do (at least as recentely as the 1st quarter).Yes, I know my wording can be a tad,,, "bombastic", but that does not detract from the validity of said words. Let's parse recent history, shall we?
You've Been Had! You've Been Took! Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led Astray! Run Amok! This Is What They Do!
As far back as 2009 (yes, over a year ago) I have been warning readers and subscribers of the (not so) hidden risks of putbacks, warranty and rep reserves, and the overly optimistic under reserving of the big commercial banks. I used JP Morgan as an example (see link list below), but made it clear this warning stood for several big banks(several of the big banks – As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of Reserves, As a matter of fact I said that the banks ‘May Become The “New” Tobacco Companies‘ due to legal risk. This risk was significantly exacerbated the day after making that post, Less Than 24 Hours After My Warning Of Extensive Legal Risk In The Banking Industry, The Massachusetts Supreme Court Drops THE BOMB! wherein the Massachusetts Land Court Decision that invalidates foreclosures based on post sale assignments was up held by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. This is permanent, and precedent setting, absolutely justifying and vindicating my post from the day before and clearly demonstrates that The Robo-Signing Mess Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Mortgage Putbacks Will Be the Harbinger of the Collapse of Big Banks that Will Dwarf 2008!
The Robo-Signing Mess Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Mortgage Putbacks Will Be the Harbinger of the Collapse of Big Banks that Will Dwarf 2008!
Step one: Hide the Truth!
JP Morgan Purposely Downplayed Litigation Risk That Spiked 5,000% Last Year & Is Still Severely Under Reserved By Over $4 Billion!!! Shareholder Lawyers Should Be Scrambling Now
See As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of Reserves or “After a Careful Review of JP Morgan’s Earnings Release, I Must Ask – “What the Hell Are Those Boys Over at JP Morgan Thinking????” As excerpted from the The Robo-Signing Mess Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Mortgage Putbacks Will Be the Harbinger of the Collapse of Big Banks that Will Dwarf 2008!
This is the part that everybody seems to be overlooking…
All you really need to do is find the banks that accepted a lot of broker business, factor in the expense of the class action suit litigation that is popping up in nearly every state (try Googling it, you will be amazed as big firms and store front lawyers alike are throwing their hats in the ring), and you will see the easiest way out of a potentially tough bind for investors is the put back. Where does this land? Squarely on the balance sheet of the banks – who, BTW have the money to attract even more predatory lawyers. A forensic review of high LTV loans between 2003 and 2007 should find that at the very least 30% were aggressively valued, with a more realistic number coming in at about 60%. Ask anyone who was in in the business at that time, I doubt they will disagree.
When I warned of this LAST YEAR, it was not taken very seriously. I suggest all should think again – Reggie Middleton on JP Morgan’s “Blowout” Q4-09 Results. Let’s reminisce…
- and much more:Dexia Sets A $5.1bn Provision For Loss On Trying To Sell The Same Residential Real Estate Assets Upon Which JP Morgan Has Slashed Provisions 83% to $1.2bn from $7.0bn or There's Something Fishy at the House of Morgan
By now I can assume you either catch my drift or never will. If you do catch said drift, realize that the WSJ reports:
Bank of America Corp. is close to an agreement to pay $8.5 billion to settle claims by a group of high-profile investors who lost money on mortgage-backed securities purchased before the U.S. housing collapse, said people familiar with the matter. The payment would be the largest such settlement by a financial-services firm to date, exceeding the total profits of the Charlotte, N.C., bank since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. Bank of America's board approved the settlement during a meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter, one of these people said.
... A settlement would end a nine-month fight with a group of 22 investors who hold mortgage-backed securities originally valued at $105 billion, including the giant money manager BlackRock Inc., the insurer MetLife Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
A deal could embolden mutual-fund managers, insurance companies and investment partnerships to seek similar settlements with other major U.S. banks by arguing that billions of dollars in loans they bought before the housing collapse didn't meet sellers' promises or were improperly managed. Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. collect loan payments on about half of all outstanding U.S. mortgages.
The dispute between Bank of America and the mortgage investors began last fall when they alleged in a letter to the bank that securities they scooped up before the financial crisis from Countrywide Financial Corp. were full of loans that didn't meet sellers' promises about the quality of the borrowers or the collateral. The investors also alleged Countrywide failed to maintain accurate files while managing the loans. Bank of America purchased Countrywide in 2008 for $4 billion.
... Bank of America would take a corresponding pre-tax charge against earnings for the second quarter, these people said. The after-tax cost to the bank would be roughly $5 billion, they said. The charge would increase the chances that Bank of America will report a loss in the second quarter.
...On Wednesday, the bank is expected to announce it is taking a separate provision of billions of dollars during the quarter to cover future repurchase claims and other mortgage-related issues, these people said. The trustee expects to submit a filing soon asking a New York state court to approve the transaction.
...Earlier this year, the bank said its maximum possible loss from private mortgage put-back demands was $7 billion to $10 billion—above and beyond the $6.2 billion already reserved for probable mortgage-repurchase losses.
A multibillion-dollar charge would "wipe out most earnings in the first half of the year," said banking analyst Mike Mayo earlier this month, before news of the potential settlement. Bank of America earned $2 billion in the first quarter. Mr. Mayo had lowered his 2011 earnings-per-share estimate to 50 cents, from $1, based on an expectation that a settlement could amount to $7 billion.
I urge all readers to look back through your sell side analysts notes and ascertain whether these putback risks were adequatliy delineated back in 2009, like they should have been. As the WSJ article stated, "A deal could embolden mutual-fund managers, insurance companies and investment partnerships to seek similar settlements with other major U.S. banks by arguing that billions of dollars in loans they bought before the housing collapse didn't meet sellers' promises or were improperly managed. Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. collect loan payments on about half of all outstanding U.S. mortgages.". Oh, this is guaranteed. The insolvent monoline industry (the very same industry whose leaders - Ambac and MBIA - we declared insolvent in 2007) has been at the forefront of the putback brigade, and for good reason.
For the record, from Amercian Banker:The deal could set the stage for settlements by the other big banks sued for mortgage securities losses — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Paul Miller of FBR Capital Markets estimated B of A's total losses from soured mortgages could reach $25 billion. Miller predicted Chase's losses could reach $11.2 billion, Wells Fargo could lose up to $5.2 billion, and Citigroup could see losses of at least $3.3 billion. Before reports of B of A's settlement came out on Tuesday, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said, "Unresolved legal claims [related to these mortgages] could serve as a drag on the recovery of the housing market." The Journal added the $8.5 billion is more than "the total profits of the Charlotte, N.C., bank since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008." Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post
Relevant BoomBustBlog Research
For public consumption: An Independent Look into JP Morgan
A reader wrote me complaining about the nonsensical bubble blowing in multi-family properties before the last bubble was even finished bursting. I feel his pain. Let's run through a quick pictorial of how I see the macro climate for real estate as of right now...
I invite all to peruse the mainstream financial media and sell side Wall Street's take on JP Morgan's Q1 earnings before reading through my take. Pray thee tell me, why is there such a distinct difference? Below are excerpts from the our review of JP Morgan's Q1 results, available to paying subscribers (including valuation and scenario analysis): JPM Q1 2011 Review & Analysis.
Here we go...
There's Something Fishy at the House of Morgan
JPMorgan’s Q1 net revenue declined 9% y-o-y ad 3% q-o-q to $25.2bn as non-interest revenues declined 5% y-o-y (down 5% q-o-q) to $13.3bn while net interest income declined 13% y-o-y and (-2% q-o-q) to $12.5bn. However, despite decline in net revenues, noninterest expenses were flat at $16bn. Non-interest expenses as proportion of revenues went was 63% in Q1 2011 compared with 58% a year ago and 61% in Q4 2010. However, due to substantial decline in provision for credit losses which were slashed 83% y-o-y (63% q-o-q) to $1.2bn from $7.0bn, PBT was up 78% y-o-y (15% q-o-q).
Lower reserve for loan losses and consequent decline in Eyles test (an efficacy of ability to absorb credit losses) coupled with higher expected wave of foreclosures which is masked by lengthening foreclosure period and overhang of shadow inventory, advocate a cautionary outlook for banking and financial institutions. As a result of consecutive under-provisioning since the start of 2010, JP Morgan’s Eyles test have turned negative and is the worst since at least the last 17 quarters. The estimated loan losses after exhausting entire loan loss reserves could still eat upto 8% of tangible equity.
The Harlem Community Development Corporation and AAREPNY hosted a breakfast symposium on real estate last Thursday in which I was the keynote speaker. The audience consisted of bankers, developers, investors, lawyers... the usual fare. I fear I may have rained on the optimism parade with my presentation, but I also feel a few salient points were communicated. I have included portions of the presentation here for the blog readers to peruse. One of the main themes of the presentation was that of "lost decades". How likely is it that we can have 20 more years of housing price declines? Note: The "74%" reference below is a typo, the Japanese residential index did not drop that far.
Let's see if any of this sounds familiar, as excerpted from Wikipedia:
This is my response to an inciteful insightful comment posted by GJK313. It is in reference to an article which readers can find here, titled "FASB Surrenders - America Win". I suggest readers read the aforelinked document in its entirety before moving on. Notice how this is written by economists and analysts, not real world investors that are investing THEIR OWN CAPITAL! When I state "own capital" I mean their money, and not that of their clients. I cannot fathom how anyone who had their own money at stake would ever want more ambiguity in pricing assets, in lieu of less.. Let me pick this apart...
Another stint on Max Keiser discussing topics such as Goldman's Facebook offering that never was, what happens when its the banks that walk away from a home, phantom banking profits that never were, and more shenanigans that are the tour de force that is today's banking system and economy. To skip directly to the Reggie Middleton interview, move to 11:55 in the video.
As far back as 2009 (yes, over a year ago) I have been warning readers and subscribers of the (not so) hidden risks of putbacks, warranty and rep reserves, and the overly optimistic under reserving of the big commercial banks. I used JP Morgan as an example (see link list below), but made it clear this warning stood for several big banks (several of the big banks - As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of Reserves, As a matter of fact I said that the banks 'May Become The “New” Tobacco Companies' due to legal risk. This risk was significantly exacerbated the day after making that post, Less Than 24 Hours After My Warning Of Extensive Legal Risk In The Banking Industry, The Massachusetts Supreme Court Drops THE BOMB! wherein the Massachusetts Land Court Decision that invalidates foreclosures based on post sale assignments was up held by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. This is permanent, and precedent setting, absolutely justifying and vindicating my post from the day before and clearly demonstrates that The Robo-Signing Mess Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Mortgage Putbacks Will Be the Harbinger of the Collapse of Big Banks that Will Dwarf 2008!
I know many find this to be sensationalist, but they also found the bombastic posts of 2007 to be sensationalist as well, that is at least until 2008! We have mortgage situations where the actual BANKS are walking away from home, see I Warned That Banks Will Soon Be Forced To Walk Away From Homes… Guess What! Now, tell me how much the mortgages are worth behind abandoned houses - houses that were abandoned by both the homeowner and the bank? Although these are minority occurrences, I see them spreading away from the fringes and closer to the core as the economics of foreclosing on certain properties makes less and less sense in an increasing number of situations. All of this ranting and raving is simply to provide a background for the not so surprising development in the latest Bank of America quarterly earnings announcement. From Bloomberg: BofA Reports Loss on Costs Tied to Bad Loans, Mortgage Unit:
About 4 months ago, I claimed that Banks Will Be Forced to Forgo Certain Foreclosures, Even If the Borrower Has Admittedly Defaulted! In summary:
Without an economic incentive to foreclose, it would not be in the bank shareholders best interests to pursue foreclosure even though borrowers clearly defaulted & owe money to the lender. The economics of distressed assets in mortgage and commercial banking are quickly changing. I am quite open to discussing this in the mainstream media if any are interested in hearing the “Truth go Viral!” I want all to keep this in mind when pondering the release of reserves by the banks.
This was taken by many readers as sensationalist and unlikely. As a matter of fact, much of my writing is taken in a similar way, most likely due to the fact that I have an uncommon proclivity to state things exactly as I see them, sans the sucrose patina. This is not a pessimistic (bearish) outlook, nor an optimistic (bullish) outlook. It is simply called, the TRUTH! Realism! Something that is increasingly hard to come by in these days of media for a purpose and embedded agendas.
You see, the United States, much of Europe, and China have sever balance sheet issues that are ravaging their respective economic prospects. The media, analysts, and investors are gingerly mozying along as if this is not the case. Well, no matter how hard you ignore certain problems, no matte how hard you try to kick the can down the road - the issues really do not just "disappear" on their own.
With these points in mind, let's peruse this piece I picked up from the Chicago Tribune: More banks walking away from homes, adding to housing crisis blight: the bank walkaway.
Research to be released Thursday, the first of its kind locally, identifies 1,896 "red flag" homes in Chicago — most of them are in distressed African-American neighborhoods — that appear to have been abandoned by mortgage servicers during the foreclosure process, the Woodstock Institute found.
Abandoned foreclosures are increasing as mortgage investors determine that, at sale, they can't recoup the costs of foreclosing, securing, maintaining and marketing a home, and they sometimes aren't completing foreclosure actions. The property, by then usually vacant, becomes another eyesore in limbo along blocks where faded signs still announce block clubs.
"The steward relationship between the servicer and the property is broken, particularly in these hard-hit communities," said Geoff Smith, senior vice president of Woodstock, a Chicago-based research and advocacy group. "The role of the servicer is to be the person in charge of that property's disposition. You're seeing situations where servicers are not living up to that standard." City neighborhoods where 80 percent of the population is African-American account for 71.1 percent of red-flag properties, according to Woodstock.
Don't fret, this is definitely not an "African American" thing. As a matter of fact, the reason that this is concentrated in this primarily "African American" community is that this is one of the demographic groups that have been heavily targeted by predatory lenders. You will see other demographic "concentrations" start to show similar attributes and behavior from the banks - lower income, lower educated, higher LTV, lower mean rental income, lower property value, higher mean time to disposition from commencement of marketing areas, etc.
The day after I posted "As JP Morgan & Other Banks Legal Costs Spike, Many Should Ask If It Was Not Obvious Years Ago That This Industry May Become The “New” Tobacco Companies" wherein I made clear my opinion that the legal and litigation risks that the banking industry faces is woefully underestimated, the Massachusetts Land Court Decision that invalidates foreclosures based on post sale assignments was up held by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. This is permanent, and precedent setting, absolutely justifies and vindicates my post from the day before, which also contained links to other posts which any declared sensational just a few days before, ex., The Robo-Signing Mess Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg, Mortgage Putbacks Will Be the Harbinger of the Collapse of Big Banks that Will Dwarf 2008! and As Earnings Season is Here, I Reiterate My Warning That Big Banks Will Pay for Optimism Driven Reduction of Reserves. This is a very big deal since it actually unravels many thousands of foreclosures and sets precedent to be examined across the country (all 50 state's attorney generals are looking into fraudclosure issues) that will really cause material damage to the banks that are pursuing (have pursued) said foreclosures. As reported in the Massachusetts Law Blog:
Breaking News (1.7.11): Mass. Supreme Court Upholds Ibanez Ruling, Thousands of Foreclosures Affected
Update (2/25/10)–Mass. High Court May Take Ibanez Case
Breaking News (10/14/09)–Land Court Reaffirms Ruling Invalidating Thousands of Foreclosures. Click here for the updated post.
None of this is the fault of the [debtor], yet the [debtor] suffers due to fewer (or no) bids in competition with the foreclosing institution. Only the foreclosing party is advantaged by the clouded title at the time of auction. It can bid a lower price, hold the property in inventory, and put together the proper documents any time it chooses. And who can say that problems won’t be encountered during this process?... Massachusetts Land Court Judge Keith C. Long
“[W]hat is surprising about these cases is … the utter carelessness with which the plaintiff banks documented the titles to their assets.” –Justice Robert Cordy, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled against foreclosing lenders and those who purchased foreclosed properties in Massachusetts in the controversial U.S. Bank v. Ibanez case...
... For those new to the case, the problem the Court dealt with in this case is the validity of foreclosures when the mortgages are part of securitized mortgage lending pools. When mortgages were bundled and packaged to Wall Street investors, the ownership of mortgage loans were divided and freely transferred numerous times on the lenders’ books. But the mortgage loan documentation actually on file at the Registry of Deeds often lagged far behind.