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Opinion, commentary and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.

Overbuilding in New York upsets market balance

May 10, 2013

The New York Metropolitan Statistical Area continues to grow, but housing production outpaced household growth in the past decade, creating a market imbalance, the Obama administration concluded in a Friday report. 

The same study claims an influx of subprime lending during the ten-year period fueled the problem.

During the 10-year span, net annual housing unit growth reached 0.6% in the New York MSA, far greater than the corresponding population and household growth rates of 0.3% and 0.3%, respectively, the U.S. Census Bureau said.

The New York MSA is the largest in the nation with 19.6 million people, the Census pointed out. Increasing at a pace of 0.3% per year, the population jumped by an average of 62,300 people from 2000 to 2010, the Obama Administration revealed in its latest report.

The New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (New York MSA) includes the five counties that comprise New York City — Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), Queens, and Richmond (Staten Island) — and 20 other surrounding counties located in southeastern New York state, northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, writes the Obama Administration. 

While not as great as in some parts of the nation, the excess construction nevertheless contributed to an oversupply of housing. 

The Census Bureau adds that the number of vacant units rose by an average of 20,200 units, or 4.7%, annually in New York during those 10 years. This is slightly higher than the average increase of 4.4% during the same period. 

While investor speculation was strong in other parts of the nation, it was not a significant factor in New York's overbuilding leading up to the housing crisis. In fact, a very small share of the area’s home purchases were driven by non-occupant investors. 

From 2000 to 2006, investor home sales rose from 4.6% to 7.7% of total sales in the New York area, while the rest of the country saw a jump from 7.8% to 14.6% of sales.

What the Obama Administration believes did contribute to overbuilding in New York is subprime lending. In a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 19% of new mortgages in New York in 2005 were subprime loans. This compared to 20% nationally.

While the New York area numbers seems comparable to the national numbers, a conservative estimate based on the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act revealed that subprime originations tripled nationwide between 1998 and 2005. Other data sources indicate a seven-fold increase in subprime originations during this time. 

According to a study by the Center for Responsible Lending, approximately 90% of subprime mortgages experience increases in monthly payments of 30 to 50% within a few years, which causes subprime loans to typically default at more than seven times the rate of other mortgages.

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