Morris Massre's Blog

Thoughts on South Florida Realty and the Planet in General

South Florida Shadow Inventories Leave More Questions than Answers

The debate as to whether or not South Florida’s struggling housing market is back on track or not is still up in the air as far as I am concerned.  If you asked one hundred agents here you would get a different answer from them all, but most would hinge on either a big time yes or a slowly but surely approach.

The problem with getting an accurate account of the recovery is simply tied into the shadow inventories, or the foreclosed homes that the banks are holding back on so as to not flood the market.  By doing so, the real estate market is left with a smaller inventory of homes, which generates multiple offers and higher demand.  Personally, as more of a listing agent than a buyer’s agent, I like the idea.  However, I do not like the false hope that it provides my customers.  Let’s face it, getting a loan today is like pulling teeth, so continuing to lower interest rates can only go so far.  So that pretty much leaves sellers with a whole lot of investment buyers, most of whom are foreigners.  On the other hand, if the market were to be saturated with thousands of foreclosed homes that would be a disaster as well.  Buyers would indeed come out of the woodwork like roaches, but their offers would be lower than usual, thus leaving the traditional sellers on the outside looking in because they are not the better deal.  This would probably also kill short sales since they close so much faster. 

I remember in 2006 and prior to when all the media could talk about was when the bubble was going to burst on the housing market.  Nobody paid attention to the warnings.  It was as if they wanted it to happen so that they would have something to talk about.  But now all they can talk about is the so called recovery.  What will the media talk about when that happens?  Make no bones about it – this is indeed an investor driven real estate market and without investors as buyers the South Florida market would look like Detroit.  It will lead to another bubble, however, that of the rental market because the area is being flooded with rentals now and landlords are gouging like tomorrow will be the end of the world.  It is sad at how people take advantage of others in their most time of need.  John Steinbeck’s, “The Grapes of Wrath” is a classic example of how the market collapsed during the depression and how those with took advantage of those without. 

So, as far as I am concerned the real estate recovery has to be divided into different parts of the country.  Some are better off than others, but Florida has a long way to go because it was probably the most greedy during the heyday.  The deeper you go into a real estate tragedy in terms of pricing and inventory, the longer you have to climb out.  Only time will tell how Floridians will bounce back from the deepest depths of the real estate abyss.  No media giant can ascertain that.

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Short Sale Madness

I think so. These days just about everyone is processing a short sale for little to no money at all. But, like my Grandpa always said, cheap is expensive. And that applies in this case too. Even if you have to shell out a few dollars to get a short sale started, is it not worth the peace of mind knowing that you are protected by an informed and licensed individual, rather than someone simply setting up shop? I only say this because I recently lost a listing when my competition offered the attorney side for free through their title company. It just seems to me that when you jump in this pile with the others you eventually end up at the bottom of the short sale stack, which eventually leads to no closing at all. When it comes to protecting the integrity of your credit and property I always recommend hiring a qualified real estate attorney. He/she will take all the harassing calls, slow down the foreclosure process, negotiate the best deal for you, and work in all of the closing costs so that you have no out of pocket expenses. My competition also stated that she knew someone at the bank whom she had an “in” with. That was probably going way too far because I don’t believe anyone has an “in.” What makes you so special that the bank is going to give you priority over the millions of others who are in mortgage trouble? Nothing. As I always say in situations like this, take a ticket and stand in line. The moral of this story? Be careful who you hire to list and represent you in a short sale transaction. Not everyone is built for doing it and there are a lot of agents and processors who will simply tell you everything you want to hear. Check them out thorougly and even go so far as to check references from prior or current customers. If an agent or lawyer is not willing to give these to you they probably are not for real. In this case in particular, I would have asked to speak to the “friend” at the bank personally.

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