Market Conditions in Denver>Question Details

Amie MacKenz…, Real Estate Pro in Denver, CO

Some of my clients are asking about the possibility of a double dip housing slump. Thoughts?

Asked by Amie MacKenzie, Denver, CO Thu Jan 27, 2011

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Leah Thomas’ answer
My crystal ball was broken back in 2008, so I have no idea how to answer that, really. If you need a place to live, buy a house that you love. If you don't have to sell right now (and take a big loss), don't. It's just that simple. Speculating gets us all no where, except mistrusted by the public when we just make up stuff to try to sell houses.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Housing has become the favorite whipping boy of media. To accommodate that a mobius strip of "experts" and "analysts" and "data" companies have sprung up over the past 5 years to fill the media's need for news. Very few media out lets have resourses to do any research, and rely on the aforementioned for stories that are then parroted. On the premise that finding fault seems to deem one knowledgable, virtually all of these sources cast housing in a negative light and apparently use false or exagerated statistics to do it. Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal showing that many of these "experts, analysts and data compnay's" information is very suspect:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870473950457606… . One of the key facts that I've NEVER seen discussed is the cost of building. Notice you're not seeing many new homes being built, and the reason is prices in most part of the country have been driven to below cost. Until there is accurate and vetted information for the public to use, and of course jobs come back, housing will continue to drag. Advice: If you find a home you like, buy it. More than likely it is priced below what it would cost to build it; an unprescedented opportunity. I've been in the business for over 40 years.
Web Reference: http://holbenhomes.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Hi Amie, There's been a lot of talk about this issue for a long time now (2yrs). Since the original "bust" of the housing bubble and subsequent foreclosure moratoriums the REO inventory has been growing at a continuous increasing pace. Simultaneously these REO "sellers," better known as government entities or big banks, have been steadily listing less and less inventory. By holding the bulk of REO properties off the market, we have what's been coined "ghost inventory" all over the United States. This naturally promotes an illusory recovery in housing values, where we are now. At some point, unless the government and banks want to become landlords and revert to 15th century politics, they'll have to release this "Ghost" inventory. If and when that happens we will see "a double dip" housing shift.
PS - This type of shift would probably be accompanied by a massive global inflationary period. The value of your tangible assets would skyrocket with the inflation, so keep BUYING and HOLDING all Real Estate just like the big banks and government entities.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Thanks Amie for posting a start to a good conversation. Location is a huge factor, some areas didn't dip and probably won't take a dip while others took big hits. I think things overall are starting to improve, the prices are stabilizing in most of the Denver metro areas.

While watching the NED filings and seeing how many foreclosures are being withdrawn, it definitely shows that people are finding ways to keep their homes and stop the posted foreclosures. Many people are getting wise and not playing the trial modification game. They're calling the foreclosure hotlines and getting help or even filing Chapter 13 and getting their seconds wiped out. People are fighting back and winning.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Certainly a possibility.

Some of it depends on location.

Some of it, obviously, on the bank's "hidden inventory," interest rates, consumer confidence, employment/unemployment figures, and more.

My gut feel is that, rather than a distinct double-dip slump, we're now in a a really rocky up-down-up-down period. I think the experts will be puzzled when, one month, some figures look pretty good and the next month they look lousy. So, just when it's looking like the market's recovering, it'll drop again. And then, after a few months of drops, it'll seem to be improving.

Presumably--reading the intent of your question--your clients are reluctant to buy if there's another dip coming. And that's understandable. Be honest with them. Don't be one of these: "Now's a great time to buy. Interest rates are low and there's a lot of inventory." It's true about interest rates and inventory, but that doesn't address their concerns. If they've found a house they really like, if they do want to buy, if they can comfortably afford it, if they plan on staying in that house for 7-10 years, and if they can live with monthly statistics that indicate that their home value may have declined . . . . then it probably makes sense to buy.

But if they're comfortable renting, if it'd be a real stretch to buy, if their job prospects aren't solid, if they think they might have to move or sell in 3-4 years, or if they'd really feel some angst knowing that their home had declined in value (ah, Zillow!), then they probably would be happier renting.

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
MVP'08
Contact
I agree. It is a constant challenge to keep up with often contradictory news stories and answers to client's concerns. I see sparks of health in the Denver Market and don't foresee dramatic movement in either direction, but rather slow sustained growth over time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Nobody has a clue! The only tangible evidence of what is going to happen to the housing market is seeing how long people want to continue being "afraid"( anybody else remember Grouch Marks coming around a door in one of the old Marx Bros movies and going "BOOGIE, BOOGIE,BOOGIE to the old lady and she screams) . Seems odd that every other segment of the economy has recovered to at or above their 2007 levels, and businesses and aware people that are functioning are doing better than ever, but there's still that (apparently HUGE) segment of people who get their "information" from MSM and continue to hide under their rocks. I can't tell you how many investors from all over the world are seeing the ABSOLUTE SCREAMING DEALS there are on real estate (particularly land) and buying it up like crazy!! http://holbenhomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
The first dip has been deep enough and long enough that a double dip is unlikely.
Web Reference: http://www.golftobeach.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
Last time I checked prices were still falling...we have to get out of the first dip before moving onto the second, if any
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
Why waist any time worrying and publicizing things that we cannot know or change?!?!

Why not look at where we are right now and learn to make Lemon-aid out of the Lemons?

The FACT IS, it is a GREAT time to BUY. There is many Great opportunities to Buy now Cheaper then Rent or to invest in investment prop's....

I don't know about the rest of you, But I'm Moving on and living in the right now. Knowing that it will get Better!
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Here read this: http://www.trulia.com/blog/leegoade/2011/02/the_1st_step_to_…
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Cheers, Lee
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2011
I went out looking for the old S&P report that I referred to earlier that was written about a year ago. I knew I had sent the report to my clients. Sadly, the link does not work any more, S&P probably took it down because it is a year old. But, here is a web article that talks about the report
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
Hey, a friend sent me this today. It was written last week. Goes exactly to my discussion down below but is not the article i referred to a year ago.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
PART 1 OF 4

Great question. I don’t think I can answer with a short answer other than; YES there will be a “double dip housing slump”. But, that feels so short so let me explain further why I am convinced. It is like the Butterfly effect of real estate which I can explain as I go.

You can watch the news but that is a bad idea. First, the news has motives. First they have to fill their coined “Death and Destruction” segment, which is the first 10 minutes of the news. This is where they talk about doom and gloom and get your attention. You will always see fillers about Foreclosures in this segment. However, days later, you may see a different story that talks about the market improving in the coined “Feel good” segment toward the end, this is because they have pressure to increase consumer confidence. Their stories are often based upon which segment has to be filled and what gets ratings or where the most pressure is. Hey, off topic, is Saccharin good for you or not. For at least a decade this debate has gone on in the news, don’t know which side it landed on. I use sugar so it really does matter to me, but it is an example of what I am discussing above.

Now, back to the matter at hand. The market will do a double dip housing slump in, in my opinion. To some areas, this will look like walking through the Valley of Death, to other areas it will simply feel like driving over a minor pot hole. An example of this is what has happened in parts of Aurora and North areas like Thornton. Homes in many of those areas have decreased in value 40%-50% from where they were at in 2005-2006. However, homes in parts of the West and South have declined but some areas have only seen it effect prices 1% - 5% and have barely felt it or even noticed. This will happen again.

Although, it is not going to be like a per se’ double dip, it will more look like a professional skier. They are going down hill and increasing speed, then they hit a jump, go into the air, do a few flips and the crowd applauds. We have seen this applause in areas that have seen slight appreciation especially during the first-time home buyer credit. But, just like the skier, after the applause is over, the skier has to land and finish the ride down the hill, although, his speed may not be that of what it was prior to him hitting the jump. That is the best way to explain how the market is going to slide down the hill until it reaches the bottom. And, to put it simply, our real estate market has not hit the bottom of that skier’s hill yet.

Why are we not at the bottom yet? Well, it is exactly like two others have pointed out in response to your question. First, you have the Shadow/Ghost inventory. These are REO properties that must be cycled through the system. They exist and anyone who has watched the NED list for enough years or even charted it will understand this problem. Simply put, back when the market started to crash around 2005, your NED’s /Foreclosure Sales and REO properties on the market ran at a relatively equivalent ratio. The Foreclosure sales got cleared out through REO at the same pace. In 2007, the REO’s started to lag behind because of back log and they could not keep up with the pace of the Foreclosure Sales.

In March of 2009, Making Home Affordable came into affect and banks were asked to stop foreclosing. If you were watching foreclosures, you would have seen a dip in NED/Foreclosure sales. It took the banks months to figure out this program that worked for very few people, so when they started re-initiating foreclosures it was upwards of 6 months to over a year later; Hence more back ups in the cycle of Foreclosure Sale to REO properties. There is a great article written about a year ago by (I believe) Standard and Poor that has a graph that shows what I am talking about. The bottom line of the report (and again this was written about a year ago) was that with the back log, at the currently rate of release, it would take approximately 3 years to clear out the Foreclosures (Shadow/Ghost properties) if the economy improved immediately and we had no more Foreclosures.

So, problem #1 is the market has an abundance of Shadow/Ghost properties that must be cleared out via REO sales. The banks are hurting the market with their current philosophy on how they dispose of the properties; maybe you have witnessed it. Lets go back to 2005/2006 for an example. There were REO’s and if you represented an Investor you would watch these properties. They were oftentimes, put on the market at a much higher price than they ever could sell. You knew the bank (via asset manager) would take an offer approximately 5%-10% under list price, but often times they really deserved an offer 20%-25% below the current list price. So, you would wait and watch. The price reduction would hit (one maybe two) and then you would quickly submit your offer within 5%-10% of the new reduced list price.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
PART 2 OF 4
Now, how do the banks sell these properties now-a-days? Well, the property is listed at 20%-25% below market value. They have 10-20 offers (residential detached) in 24-48 hours. The property sells higher than list price, but still often times 5%-15% under fair market value. Listing the properties as low as they do then creating a feeding frenzy on the properties, attracts many investors, but often times eliminates Owner Occupants from being able to race out and see these properties and bid quick enough. So, it goes to an investor who is buying it at a price that will allow them an opportunity to make a profit where an Owner Occupant might have brought a higher offer but did not have the time or could not compete with the attractiveness of a lower cash offer. This property now becomes a comparable sale in the neighborhood and could effect the overall value of the neighborhood (especially if there are 3-4 of these in one neighborhood.) -- A side note, some of the REO asset managers have begun offering an “owner occupied only” bidding period but it may not help that much.

The problem with the owner occupied bidding period is that it probably will not have a whole lot of affect. Unfortunately, some (to most) of these REO homes have been vacant for so long (some up to a year or two) and they have been seriously affected by neglect. Now there are serious roof issues, structural problems, frozen pipes, vandalizing (I could go on and on)…now these properties are so deteriorated that only an investor will tackle the multitude of problems. This is cause by the banks taking to long to convert these properties from Foreclosure to REO. They will sell much lower than they would have if an immediate Foreclosure/REO transition would have taken place. Again, it does not matter; the property will still become a value for the neighborhood. An appraiser will add to a comparable a value for condition comparison/REO status, but if all you have is REO’s in a neighborhood… watch how the adjustment may still, unfortunately, lower your property value.

Okay off of REO and on to Reason #2 you will see a “double dip.” Short Sales. I am a Short Sale Specialist, and I can guarantee you that I attempt to get the most for every short-sale I have listed, but that is not the mentality of all Short Sale agents. Ever see the agent that lists their property intentionally very low (there are classes out there that teach them to do that – it is totally the wrong approach but that is for another conversation.) Those agents’s aren’t seeking necessarily the highest offer on the property. You would think the bank would see right through this, right. Not necessarily. I have gotten offers on properties before that I thought had no chance of the bank accepting. I simply was waiting around for the bank to send me a counter to present to the buyer. Then low and behold…they have taken the offer!! I have been shocked when they do.

Bottom line, if you short-sale a property and you are not in pursuit of the highest offer possible, then you actually could be assisting with a double dip in the housing market. Short Sales also become comparables in a neighborhood. I would like to also note, that when I have an approval and the buyer looses their financing or walks on inspection, I do not immediately drop the price to what the bank will accept. I keep the property at fair-market value. I have been surprised how many times my second or third offer actually comes in higher than that initial offer and I am able to payoff more than the bank was expecting. This helps to maintain neighborhood values. But, other Short-Sale agents…when a deal falls…will immediately tell the world what the bank will take which then causes the buyer to bring exactly that offer…when they could have gotten more by just trying.

Then also another thing that affects Short Sale values, which become future neighborhood comparables, is Buyer’s agents who refuse to show Short Sales or talk their Buyers out of looking at them. If all a Short Sale property gets are bad investor offers then that is all we can go with. We beg, plead and grovel for realistic offers at fair values…but if the agents won’t show the properties then it will lead to the properties selling lower to investors and an overall market decline.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
PART 3 OF 4

Furthermore, you have the “Must Sell” traditional sellers. They are in a “Must Sell” situation but are not a foreclosure/Short Sale (maybe they divorcing, having to relocate because of work, etc.) Watch these “Must Sell” traditional sellers compete with each other in a neighborhood. One lowers their price $5000, the other lowers their price $7,000 then the one who lowered their price $5,000 lowers it $5,000 more. Their agent has explained to them how many Buyers are shopping in the neighborhood, how much inventory is in the neighborhood (many times a 6-12 month inventory). The Sellers know their home is very similar to others in the neighborhood and they want to make sure the next Buyers pick their home and so the price dropping war begins. It is our jobs as agents to advise our client Sellers what the competition is doing. Then Buyers are savvy and work off of the “Gas for 2.98 cents philosophy” (if you don’t know what this is…I can discuss it some other time.) So, even though you are advising you client to reduce their price to compete with the other homes…in affect you are affecting the value of the entire neighborhood. The result is that not only is your Listing going to sell at a lower price because of the price dropping war but so will the other home(s); Hence, now 2+ homes affecting the value of the neighborhood. This whole price dropping war is an effect of the limited amount of Buyer’s in the market and has even more of an affect on properties in the $300,000+ and up price range.

Then finally, you have the Real Estate Butterfly effect, which is preamble by the move-up buyer. See, now a days, there are less move-up Buyers. When a first time Buyer or low price range Buyer buys a home and it is REO or Short Sale there is no move up Buyer so the next price range is affected. Then the lack of move-up Buyers in the next price range also affects them from being Buyers in the 3rd price range. So on and so forth.

The REO’s and Short Sales hurt the advantages that the “Move up” Buyer brings to the market place. Some of the worst hit properties are those in the million dollar plus price range. There are homes that I am personally aware of that were appraised at 1.2 million and 1.5 million just 3-4 years ago that are now selling Short-Sale or REO for $500,000-$600,000 (right now.)

The Real Estate Butterfly effect is simply that everything that happens affects everything else. The best way to explain it is to picture an earthquake. Where the earthquake hits…the immediate area feels the most impact and is hit the hardest. But, it does not stop there. As you go out to the next outer circle around that you find damage, but not as bad as the initial impact point. Then you go farther out, they may say they felt it but had no damage. Then you go farther out and they say they barely felt it.

Lets relate the Real Estate Butterfly (earthquake) effect to the million dollar homes I was speaking about prior. Have you seen the neighborhoods where you have a higher class areas (more likely more recently build than the neighboring areas), next to a middle-average neighborhood (nice but older), next to a neighborhood of town homes/condos. Of course you have. Now for example, when the upper range homes are selling between $600,000 -$900,000, the middle is at $300,000-$500,000 the town homes are at $200,000 -$225,000 and the condos are at $100,000-$150,000. Everything is great and makes sense.

However, everything stops making sense when your upper range (due to the lack of move-up Buyers) drops to $400,000 - $600,000. Your middle homes can no longer be worth $300,000 - $500,000, a Buyer would never go for that when they can go buy a newer larger home for $400,000! So, then your middle homes drop to $200,000 - $350,000. Well of course that now affects your town-homes. Most Buyers will not buy a town home for $200,000 when they can have a larger detached home for the same price. Anyway, you get my point. And it works both directions. If a condo sells for $75,000 that will normally have an effect on nearby town-homes, so on and so forth.

Then, in the Real Estate butterfly effect, you have to take into consideration the REO and Short Sale properties that are being (for lack of a better way to put it) dumped for low values. Again, that has an effect on that neighborhood’s value which then has an effect on other neighborhoods, and so the Real Estate butterfly effect continues.

As I said in the beginning some will feel like they have walked through the Valley of Death because they are where the Double Dip earthquake hits the hardest or near where it is hitting the hardest (maybe sandwiched between two earth quake zones). Some will be farther out and the double dip will only feel like a pot hole.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
PART 4 OF 4

Simply put, the Real Estate Butterfly effect cannot stop until the REO inventory (Shadow/Ghost properties) have cycled through the system and there is a decline in the number of Short Sales being done. Short of that, there will have to be a major event to counteract the double dip earthquake (as was basically seen when there was the first-time home Buyer credit that gave incentive for Buyers to buy). This counter-reaction could end up being seen in areas that have major companies entering the area, new employment opportunities or economy growth that would affect that direct area.

Okay. You get the point. I have rambled on long enough, but I wanted to give you a through answer to your question. It is my opinion, and I know others may/ may not agree and that is okay.

Bottom line, tell you Buyer’s to buy because even though I have explained that there will be a double dip, who knows where the earthquake will hit hardest and where it won’t and there is always a chance that an unexpected major even will come that will counteract the earthquake. Interest rates could go up, etc. If your ready to buy…now is always time to Buy. Live for today and not what will happen tomorrow. Just make a smart purchase and don’t purchase more home than you can afford.

P.S. One final thought, we have watched properties slip from what was 32,000-33,000 properties on the market back in 2005-2006 period to only around 19,000 now. If the number of properties on the market slips much more, some areas may actually flip to be Seller’s Markets for those Buyers want to live in those neighborhoods. This will be like the ski’s jump I spoke of earlier – an applause will happen…but we will still need to finish down the hill.

Best of luck in this very interesting time, if nothing else, it keeps us on our toes!

Thanks,

Tammy L. Deitz
REALTOR, CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert)
The Deitz Group of RE/MAX 100, Inc.
Office: 303-202-2281
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 30, 2011
This is really the first time I have used this network. I'm so impressed! I believe that one of the silver lining aspects of the market crash is that the real estate professionals who have made it through the slump are the extraordinary ones. This proves that point. I look forward to more discourse here. Thanks for the insightful remarks!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 28, 2011
Benjamin Berman said it best below. The government has to allow these foreclosures to hit the market and stop these lifelines for owners who ABSOLUTELY CANNOT AFFORD TO MAKE ANY MORTGAGE PAYMENTS.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 28, 2011
Well, I think we've been there, done that ... in my opinion, we've already bottomed out in a lot of areas throughout the Denver Metropolitan area. There are, of course, exceptions, but there always are. I really believe the Stapleton area has a LONG way to fall. A huge percentage of these properties (and there are a LOT of them) were purchased new in the early 2000's.

Stapleton was the latest/greatest thing out there, and people were more than happy to pay premium prices to live there. The problem, like most new housing developments built in the the last 10 years, buyers bought direct from the builder in an overly inflated market.

I think there will be GREAT deals in Stapleton for years to come --- just not right now. Julie Montgomery, RE/MAX Masters, Inc., 303-906-3150
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Here's a good article by John Rebchook on this issue:
http://insiderealestatenews.com/2011/01/state-recession-over…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Don and others have covered this one very well. I would just emphasize that it is critical to examine demand and supply conditions for each neigborhood, housing type and price range to develop very focused trend characteristics.

Remaining objective will serve you well!

Here's to better times for our clients!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
The media is reporting it, in particular the Case Shiller index. While we can't predict the future, prices may indeed go down, but Denver's market has always remained stable relative to other markets...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
It really depends on each individual market which is why it is so frustrating when there are big headlines stating there is going to be a "double dip" due to things like "shadow inventory" and the economy. I believe it is our job as professionals to be the "experts" in our individual markets to help guide Buyers as to whether this will be the case. While no one can predict the future with an certainty, we can definitely provide them with data that supports what we see in happen in our markets.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
Anything's possible, we can't make guarantees. IMO it depends on the jobs situation, which certainly has not gotten better. If inflation also sets in, and interest rates go up, there will be even fewer buyers out there. Still, if your client is a buyer I think it's bad advice to wait for lower prices, while risking higher interest rates.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 27, 2011
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