The Cresting Wave: “Housing Tipping Back to a Buyer’s Market”… Just Like 2008: FBI Investigating Multi-Billion-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Case

via CNBC:

  • Approximately 14 percent of all listings in June had undergone a price cut, that’s up from a recent low of 11.7 percent at the end of 2016, according to a new report from Zillow.
  • Home price growth is slowing in nearly half of the 35 largest U.S. metropolitan markets.
  • In San Diego, 20 percent of all listings had a price cut in June, up from 12 percent a year ago.

 

Housing starts rise only 0.9% vs 8.3% as a result of higher costs from CNBC.

 

After several years of rich home price gains, the market appears to have found a limit to what people can afford. Sellers are finally responding by lowering prices more often.

Approximately 14 percent of all listings in June saw a price cut, that’s up from a recent low of 11.7 percent at the end of 2016, according to a new report from Zillow. In addition, home price growth is slowing in nearly half of the 35 largest U.S. metropolitan markets.

Rising mortgage rates and affordability are behind the change. As the housing market recovered from its epic crash in the last decade, home prices began to gain slowly. And then they suddenly took off in the last few years.

The simple reason was supply and demand. As millennials aged into their homebuying years, homebuilders did not and are still not meeting the rising demand. In addition, millions of single-family homes lost to foreclosure were purchased by investors and turned into single-family rentals, further depleting the for-sale housing stock. The market was thus suffering a critical shortage, just as demand was taking off. Prices had nowhere to go but up. Until now.

 

via WSJ:

Owners of an apartment complex near Pittsburgh, who wanted to take out a mortgage on the buildings, allegedly made vacant units look occupied by turning on radios, placing shoes and mats outside doors and in one instance having a woman tell inspectors her boyfriend was asleep inside.

The owners obtained a $45.8 million loan, which was wrapped into mortgage securities and sold to investors.

Practices such as these—which were alleged in a federal search-warrant application—have sparked one of the largest mortgage-fraud investigations since the financial crisis. It focuses on whether income from commercial properties was falsified, a move that would enable owners to get larger mortgages and take out cash or expand their businesses faster.

Still in its early stages, the investigation has so far yielded a fraud-conspiracy indictment against four real-estate executives in upstate New York. Loans that some or all of them were involved with totaled about $170 million, the indictment alleges.

Investigators have sought mortgage data on dozens of other apartment buildings, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with people familiar with the probe. Investigators have looked at student housing and self-storage facilities in addition to apartment complexes.

About $1.5 billion of securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are backed by mortgages from just one developer who has been under scrutiny, according to a Journal analysis of loan data from Thomson Reuters .

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