Sunday, August 28, 2011

After the storm

Last week RealtyTrac published it's findings about foreclosure and distressed sales for the second quarter of 2011. According to their release, "sales of homes that were in some stage of foreclosure or bank owned accounted for 31 percent of all U.S. residential sales in the second quarter of 2011, down from nearly 36 percent of all sales in the first quarter." In Florida the number was 35% of all second quarter home sales trailing six other states. Highest level of distressed sales was Nevada with a whopping 65% followed by Arizona 57%, California 51%, Michigan 41%, Georgia 38%, and Colorado 36%. Florida at 35% was just one percent more than Michigan at 34%.

Looking at the MLS data for Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, 26% of all Q2 sales of residential properties were distressed putting us in the same range as Virginia and Washington state. As of this morning August 28, distressed properties make up just 14% of total MLS residential inventory in the two cities.

My numbers for our market, because I've used only the MLS data, are probably slightly different than the numbers would be using the RealtyTrac methodology. However, because I suspect that private, non-MLS sales are probably skewed more towards non-distressed sales than the other way, my numbers may actually overstate distressed activity as a percentage of total sales. Because they do contain the lion's share of sales I trust that they reflect the local reality. Draw your own conclusions.

I hope all of you in the Northeast make it through Irene unscathed with no residuals except a good story. Most of us here are moving a little slower this morning after two days of epic surf. Stay safe.

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. __Elbert Hubbard


  1. The economy will dictate all.#1 Jobs #2 loan modifications #3 modifications that default. I don't see anything that suggests things are getting better in real estate--only worse--The number of distressed property is Hugh.Banks don't release the numbers on their books.Your area of Florida could be a bright spot in the abyss.You know your area better than most.Eight million households are behind or in foreclosure.New jobs are not happening and will not show improvement for years.Companies know they can do more with less and add to the bottom line of profits.You will see distressed property increase to numbers you never though possible.Unfortunately your beautiful area will be part of that dismay.The only thing that will turn the ship----JOBs.With the space center turmoil and the effect that has on your local economy--I don't think the word rosy is in anyone's vocabulary for sometime to come.My prediction--prices drop another 20+%.I don't mean to be the proverbial crape hanger but---things are what they are and one has to look at the reality of the subject matter.

  2. Larry
    Sometime in mid to late 2007 I did the free subscription thing with Realty Trac for 90 days or however long it was. I extended it as a paid subscription to about a year and a half total. My goal was to track the Realty Trac data with the Brevard MLS and Brevard Tax data to get a feel for listing prices, time on the market, sales prices, etc for distressed properties in Brevard. I can't recall all of the classes of map push pins Realty Trac offered but whatever they were, they were about useless, unless I read the results wrong.

    Many, many properties listed in their version of Short Sales never appeared in MLS or were listed in the Brevard Tax as Bank Owned with a closing date long ago. Their listings showed something akin to foreclosures which had taken place, yet watching the tax records for a year never showed an ownership change.

    I'm not sure what your faith in these folks is but mine falls in line with the gnat counters. I know I see Realty Trac's numbers quoted on the tube all the time. But like the gnat counters, if nobody else is counting, should we assume they are right?

    Your thoughts?

  3. I've had the same confusion as you with RealtyTrac and Foreclosure .com. The info is difficult to understand and often out of date or just incorrect. I think they are best used as a source for comparative data when they release their stats. For instance, Florida's market is made up of slightly more distressed sales than the national average and in way better shape than Nevada, Cali and Arizona. At least they are using the same flawed methodology for all. Don't even get me started on, or any of the other commercial "MLS" sites.

    You can't trust the MLS data to be accurate either. We can be certain about which sales are bank-owned and which are short sales but you cannot trust the days on market, percentage of asking price or even selling price. Looking at the MLS from the consumer's side, the listing history is hidden as are concessions at closing. A short sale may be recorded as having sold for $150,000 but the seller or buyer (on seller's behalf) may have paid an extra $10,000 directly to the bank off the contract. This info is only available from an agent's or broker's view of the MLS if the listing agent chose to share it when closing the listing.

    Same thing happens when developers record a sale for say $600,000 and give the buyer a $75,000 "decorating credit". Consumers looking at the MLS and see that the last unit sold for $600K and think their contract for $570K is a deal.

    My gut told me that our market was not as dominated by distressed sales as others and my research compared to RealtyTrac's recent stats seems to confirm that, flawed though the number gathering is. Take it all with a healthy dose of skepticism, squint your eyes and some truth might filter through.

  4. It's a little scary to see Realty Trac's numbers thrown out there for all to see on CNBC, Even worse, our leaders could be using them to formulate policy. They always seem to be held in some esteem when brought up in the financial and political circles.

    From the consumer side, I'm not sure what we see in the MLS, accurately shows a Y in the Short Sale or Foreclosure line. Your comment about $10K off the contract is something I've wondered about. I can't figure out what the advantage would be to do it though. Wouldn't this drive the comps down $10K for the next short sale the bank tries to sell? The decorators or carpet allowance has been around forever. Is this ever done if financing isn't involved, and if it is why? I can possibly see it in new sales as a way of raising comps but if there is no financing involved why?

    And we wonder why insurance companies and banks are worried about these crazy financial instruments which seem to be impossible to place a real value on.

    Where's the Snowman for a real negative comment?

  5. OOPS
    Snowman was already weighed in and I didn't see it.

  6. The seller contribution in the short sale is (I'm guessing) a sort of last-chance punishment of the borrower and a way to squeak a little more out of the deal. It's not uncommon for a buyer to pay up for a broke seller with the bank's permission.

    I've never seen any indication in a short sale that a bank was acting logically so expecting them to think ahead about comps and structure a deal accordingly is being way too generous with assumptions of competency and/or prudent business practice.

    Boosting the comps was practiced with black-belt finesse at one of the recently built Cocoa Beach complexes (often mentioned here) where the net to the developer was sometimes six figures less than the recorded numbers. Doesn't matter whether a buyer is getting financing or not. Protecting the comps is the goal. In addition to tossing in a fat decorator credit, they also happily paid 5% commission (bribe) to the buyer's agents to herd sheep into the shearing shed. Buyers were $100K in the hole the day they received the keys.

    RealtyTrac numbers, NAR press releases, BOLS jobs numbers, UCF economist Sean Snaith's or the Bernanke's comments, CNBC talking heads, etc. Trust them at one's own peril.

  7. RealtyTrac is nothing more than a pie in the sky effort to sell info that is neither correct or in my opinion--LEGAL--Most homes listed are not even for sale and the price quote is subject to the stink eye syndrome. Also-I don't mean to be negative--but facts are facts.If I wanted falsehoods I would have been a public defender.

  8. Larry
    I sure hope the message in your last paragraph gets to the leaders of our country. It's impossible to chart a course to anywhere without knowing where you currently are.

    Sorry about using "Negative". You do have a way of filtering out anything "Rose Colored" though, and that isn't entirely bad.

  9. No problem--I like the Blog--I try to keep my comments interesting.I learned years ago that boring is no fun.

  10. Don't get me started on RealtyTrac. Their numbers, in many instances, are grossly inflated. In Colorado, they report any type of foreclosure recording as a statistic. One property will be reported multiple times as it goes through the foreclosure process. A Notice of Default gets recorded, RealtyTrac counts it as a statistic. Later, when the Certificate of Purchase rolls through, they count it again. Same thing happens when the Public Trustee's deed gets recorded. Heaven forbid a Bankruptcy occur and force several other "foreclosure-type" documents be recorded.

    Even the number's relative worth is questionable. Many states have different processes that make it tough to compare one state's RealtyTrac numbers to another. It is maddening when I hear their numbers thrown around as facts.

    I'll get off my soapbox now. Thank you for your blog! I'm an out of state owner who really appreciates your insight!

  11. Interesting and important information. It is really beneficial for us. Thanks

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