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Jul 23

Sub-Prime Mortgages

Sub-Prime Will Return

The overall condition of the economy is creating an environment that will hasten the return of the sub-prime mortgage.  I was never an advocate of the sub-prime industry but it served a need.  That need is stronger today than ever before.  I predict sub-prime mortgages will return soon.  They may be called something different, may be touted as new and improved, but a rose is a rose.

There are many factors that will push my prediction forward.  Unemployment is very high with disposable income being the lowest it has been in modern time.   This is causing many homeowners to defer maintenance on their home opting instead to put food on the table.

Home inspectors are being super critical as their industry matures, causing many pending transactions to implode.  Not long ago the National Association of Realtors reported the highest fall out ratio since they have been keeping stats.   The number of real estate listings reported as a pending sale then changed back to an active listing is where that bit of information comes from.

Buyers and sellers are both more difficult than I have ever witnessed prior to the last couple of years.  Prior to last year I never had a buyer and seller disagree on a day and time for closing the deal.  This year it has been difficult to get both sides on the same page on any subject, let alone a closing date.  I mentioned in an earlier post that people searching for information on Power of Attorney or POA is the number one subject people are looking for when they visit this site.  They  just don’t want to attend the closing!

Another factor is the middle ground on credit scores seem to be disappearing.   I see either very high or very low credit scores, not much in the middle.  This is a personal observation; I haven’t read anything that supports this.  You would expect a general distribution, a third low, a third in the middle and finally a third on the top.  Not what I see these days, either very high above the top credit tier or very low below the minimum threshold.  Last week I saw several above 800 or in the high 700’s and an equal number in the low 500’s dipping into the high 400’s with none in the mid 600’s.

Finally, the wreckage caused by foreclosures and loan modifications will linger for at least a decade.   The buzz topic has been short sales, but in reality they are a very tiny slice of the pie.  They are a symptom of the times but I don’t think they are as serious to the overall market as the other factors mentioned above.

All of the dynamics mentioned here have one result, stress.   Sellers want to sell and buyers really want to buy but never has it been as stressful even back in the days of very high interest rates.

As the gap widens the mortgage industry will figure out a way to serve the demand that is having trouble moving above the minimum credit score threshold.   That segment of the buyer pool is the only one that is expanding.  The market conditions are not pushing people upwards, only down.   Individuals that have never been late on credit obligations are suddenly finding themselves below the credit thresholds.

The Solution

I don’t have an answer to the overall problem, but I see lots of opportunity.  A few people are doing very well, but most are not.  What I know for sure is the market has changed.  People have changed.  Those that are moving forward have a chance to improve greatly, interest rates are low and prices are good.  It has never been a better time to buy in the last 50 years.

Part of the solution to get things moving is going to be the return of some of the aspects of the sub-prime industry.  I am not calling for a movement, just predicting this is going to happen.

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