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Will Short Sales Hit Home Prices?

Could a new government program to help distressed homeowners wipe out recent gains in home prices?

Laura Gangi Pond /

On Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced new guidelines that are supposed to make it easier for homeowners to sell their home in a short sale. In a short sale, a home sells for less than the borrower owes on the mortgage. In addition, the new guidelines, which kick in on Nov. 1, allow homeowners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage to pursue a short sale even if they haven’t fallen behind on their mortgage payments but have a hardship, such as a job loss or divorce.

Consumer advocates say change will help some of the borrowers who’ve been unable to sell the estimated 11 million American  homes worth less than the value of their mortgage, according to CoreLogic. However, not all homes would qualify in this new program.

And while the changes provide new hope to distressed homeowners, experts say they could negatively impact home prices in neighborhoods that get an influx of new short sales. A rise in short sales will result in “downward pressure on home prices until we clear out the majority of these distressed properties,” says Jack McCabe, an independent housing analyst in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Home prices had been rising in recent months, a trend experts say is due to the limited inventory and the smaller number of distressed properties on the market. In July, median home prices were up 9.4% from a year prior, according to the National Association of Realtors. That marked the fifth back-to-back month of year-over-year increases in home prices — the longest streak since 2006. Inventory was down 24% from a year prior. And distressed sales—including short sales and foreclosures—accounted for 24% of July sales, down from 29% a year prior.

For its part, the NAR says it’s called for an expedited short sales process to help boost inventory. The FHFA says it expects short sales to settle at market prices and that they’ll help avoid foreclosures and long vacancy periods that result in declines in home values.

Still, data suggests that the impact on homeowners who aren’t in distress could be lower home values in the near term. Even if short sales fly off the market, they’ll likely go at a discounted price. According to the NAR, short sales sell at prices that are 15% lower than regular home listings on average.

Instead, the benefits for homeowners could be bigger in the long term. “It’s a better idea to clear out the backlog of distressed homes rather than delay the process in the name of supporting [home] values,” says Brad Hunter, chief economist at Metrostudy, a housing market research and consulting firm.


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    • By WebOsPublisher

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    • Shadow inventory…. bring it on because we need it here in Orange county California and Southern Calif or that matter. We need more supply especially when everything has multiple offer on it!!!!
      I showed an REO about a month ago that had 50 offers on it by the deadline to submit offers!

    • Will short sales hurt home values??? Hahahahaha! Who writes these articles!!!
      Short sales have been around in large numbers for the last 5 years! They’re not the reason homes values have declined!

      The article states that short sales
      sell for about 15% less than non-short sale homes and that’s probably correct! The question that they’re not asking is. why!

      It’s because the banks haven’t figured out how to streamline and speed up the process after 5 years of dealing with short sales! Everyone hates dealing with them, thereby making them less desirable! Which means less demand!
      This is economics 1a, day one stuff! If demand goes down and supply goes up, then price will fall!

      What’s the answer?
      If the banks get their head unstuck, and make the short sale process faster, then short sales will be more desirable. Demand for them will increase and they won’t sell for 15% less than non-short sale homes!

      Come on people, banks had to deal with short sales in the early-mid 1990′s and they didn’t get it right then. Now, they still can’t get it right???? Hello, it’s not rocket science!

    • Why is there a Shadow Inventory? In last quarter of 2008, U.S. banks and their lobbyists pushed the U.S. Congress to force the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to postpone the implementation of mark-to-market accounting (FAS #157). The FASB eventually acquiesced. So, after the acquiescence, banks and other collateralized mortgage obligation [CMO] investors can continue to carry these investments at origination value, rather than at the investment’s current market value.

      But, if a bank or other (CMO) investor forecloses, renegotiates the mortgage, or sells the home (the collateral) the new ‘book value’ of the investment is based upon the new selling price (or mortgage) – as determined by the terms of the new deal (auction, renegotiation, or sale).

      By not foreclosing, renegotiating, or formally taking back properties (REO) banks and other mortgage investors can, to some extent, manage what appears to be their losses, and hopefully offset the losses – they recognize – against other revenue, over time.

      Key-words-search: “Congress Helped Banks Defang Key Rule” By Susan Pulliam & Tom McGinty WSJ 6/3/2009 | Professor Adam Levitin Congressional testimony “Federal Regulators Don’t Want to Know” YouTube | Zombie Banks | Japan Lost Decade (Please note that, at the beginning of Japan’s lost decade our current Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner was living and working in Japan as a Treasury Department attaché in the U.S. Embassy.

    • I’ve been a real estate investor since 1974. The market goes up and it goes down. People have been making and losing money in the real estate market for…well, since the real estate market has existed.
      My own experience is the same. I’ve won some and lost some. Now, the government comes up with this hair-brained idea that taxpayers should subside losses. Terrible idea. The market will find it’s own equilibrium. It’s not healthy to prop up the losers. It will actually delay the recovery. Just as a homeowner does not pay the mortgage owner additional money when that homeowners makes a profit on selling his home the owner should bear the loss.

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