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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: The greatest threat to the housing industry

Good 2Q news for Annaly; why home prices are falling; rent or buy?

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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news crossing HousingWire's weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues.

As Independence Day festivities slide into the rearview mirror, it’s time for a sobering look a the housing industry, and Sober Look takes just that, looking at why home price gains have slowed.

One of the reasons cited is the continuing weakness in wage growth. As they note, the latest data seem to indicate that in spite of the overall improvements in job creation, wage growth remains subdued - hovering around 2% per year over the past three years or so.

Click the graph below to enlarge.



“And wage growth is a key determinant in home price valuation. Merrill Lynch for example shows that current home prices may already be above where they should be, based on Merrill's fair value index that is driven to a large extent by wages,” the report says.

The other issue, they show in charts, is that there’s something else holding back home prices from accelerating: credit. Credit conditions for mortgages remain relatively tight and in fact have worsened for non-traditional mortgages.

Meanwhile, Money Rates says that the biggest threat to housing is inflation.

And how is the housing market like soccer? Most Americans still don’t understand what’s going on. But Richard Barrington explains it using the World Cup games as a metaphor.

“Despite a run of positive economic news that most recently includes a surge in new home sales, you have to be prepared for the possibility of a setback. If all goes well, the economy could be on track to restoring housing values, putting people back to work and bringing interest on savings accounts and other deposits back to a respectable level. But there are still plenty of factors that could disrupt things,” Barrington says.

He notes recent positive economic reports, including the May home sales data that shows sales surged by 18.6%.

“This announcement puts May's new home sales 16.9% ahead of where they were a year earlier, despite the fact that current mortgage rates are about 60 basis points higher than they were in May 2013. In other words, the housing recovery is finally showing some staying power,” Barrington said. “Couple this with strong employment growth in recent months, and things are going well. Where could an upset come from?”

He compares the late counter-attack in the U.S.-Portugal game that led to Portugal's equalizing goal seemed to come out of nowhere.

“Similarly, though economic upsets often take people by surprise, the source tends to be something that should have been somewhat predictable. In this scenario, the most likely suspect -- the player to keep your eye on -- may be inflation.”

Heather Ingrassia at Seeking Alpha looks ahead and predicts a good second quarter for Annaly Capital (NLY).

“It was recently noted that the 10-year Treasury yield had stood at about 2.50% just last week, but since then has risen right near the 2.70% mark and following the strong jobs report on July 3 in which unemployment reached 6.1%, a number of well-known Mortgage REITs have demonstrated fairly bearish behavior. With that said, and in the wake of its recent downtrend, I wanted to highlight several reasons why I've actually chosen to stay bullish on shares of Annaly Capital.”

And speaking of REITs, Brad Thomas at the Intelligent Real Estate Investor offers his list of what he calls “16 Rockefeller REITs” – the ones that pay monthly.

The list includes: American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP), Armour Residential (ARR), Chatham Lodging Trust(CLDT), Chambers Street Group (CSG), EPR Properties (EPR), Gladstone Commercial (GOOD), Gladstone Land (LAND), Inland Real Estate (IRC),LTC Properties (LTC), Realty Income (O), STAG Industrial (STAG),Wheeler Real Estate (WHLR), Whitestone REIT (WSR), New York REIT (NYRT), United Development Funding (UDF), Independence Realty Trust (IRT), and WPT Industrial (WPTIF).

Finally, want to know where it’s better to buy than rent or rent rather than buy? We have that covered.

According to the United States census, the average cost of a house, including the land, was $272,900 in 2010. In 2013, that number jumped to $319,275. Between those numbers it’s not surprising that young families are hesitant about buying homes.

Take a look at this graphic for more on which is better in your market, renting or buying. 

No banks were closed the week ending July 4, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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