Fritz Pfister
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Did you read the story home prices are up due to falling inventory? Case-Shiller just reported home prices were up in their 20 city index 5.5% in November all the way back to 2003 levels.

Regarding these price increases one must put them into perspective. As reported at the BusinessInsider, Quinn Eddins at RadarLogic argue the recent rise in home prices reflects the weakness in 2011 home prices more than the strength of 2012 home prices. I concur.

The reason for prices rising? According to the WSJ: “Economists see the report as a sign of the housing market gaining strength. “The house price rally still has a long way to go. The most important driver will be the dwindling supply of new homes. Thanks to a combination of an extended period of under construction … and a fewer foreclosures, the inventory-to-sales ratio fell in December to the lowest level since May 2005,” said Harm Bandholz of UniCredit Research.”

This is a mystery when just in July of 2012 Bloomberg reported the following:

“The shadow inventory of homes – those in foreclosure plus those 90 days late on mortgage payments – is on the rise again, a further indication that the supply side has not yet healed. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure starts jumped 6 percent on a year ago basis in the second quarter, the first year-over-year increase since 2009. There are roughly 4.16 million homes that could begin to flow to market.

Once one takes the number of homeowners 30- to 90-days late on their mortgage payments and includes the likely default of those that have negative equity on their homes, there is a strong possibility more than 6.5 million additional foreclosures will enter the pipeline. The  addition of homes that banks may be holding back suggests a much larger number. Laurie Goodman of Amherst Securities Group has testified before Congress that it could be as high as between 8 and 10 million.”

The Bloomberg report came four months before the FHA announced conveniently the week after the election that they have 789,000 homes in foreclosure or coming soon.

Where have all the houses gone? Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but do you think the big banks who were the recipients of government largesse with bail outs, or the risk free money making turnstile between the Fed loaning them money at near zero to buy treasuries returning 2.5% provided the capital necessary to hold foreclosed properties off the market?

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Fritz Pfister

Fritz began his Real Estate career in 1987 and has been with RE/MAX since 1989.
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