Thursday, February 08, 2007

Real Estate Realities

HSBC says bad mortgage loans will be 20% higher than forecast, setting the stage for the next round of ripples from a softening housing market. The third largest bank in the world expects to take in excess of $10.5-billion in bad debt charges this year.

HSBC grabbed a ton of sub-prime mortgages in 2005 and 2006, before housing went south. They’re not the only banking group in trouble…Washington Mutual lost $122-million in bad loans last quarter, and things aren’t looking up for this quarter.

That was one of my lead stories this morning…which I find difficult to square with the continuing hawking that goes on by some of these real estate get-rich clubs that insist on pushing their brand of snake oil in spite of what’s happening in their arena.

The National Association of Realtors reports more and more of their ranks are being depleted by an alarming rate of attrition, as making a living selling real estate becomes more difficult. Part of that is a natural, Darwin-esque survival-of-the-fittest phenomenon; but part of it is that the luster’s been lost in real estate for all but the hardiest.

Two questions arise from these truths which are self-evident:
Houses ain’t selling like hotcakes anymore, so why does the hoopla continue from these hucksters?
The glut of empty homes on the market is going to result in a softening of prices; what will it take to be the last man standing who scoops up those properties at a fraction of their value?

I am inherently skeptical when I hear promises of untold riches selling real estate for a few hours a week in your spare time.
That’s a myth.
I am intensely suspicious of anyone offering to mentor me in the ways and mysteries of the real estate world…for a fee.

The giveaway for me is when a business makes more money selling the “how-to” secrets, instead of earning its way by practicing what it purveys.


Joe said...

Who is Washington Mutual's primary customers? It's amazing they lost that much in bad loans.

Brent Clanton said...

Actually, given their massive market share, it had to happen. There are only so many loans you can cherry-pick, and the larger the customer base, the better the odds some of those loans are going to go sour. Mix-in lax underwriting, and you've got a recipe for disaster. Many of the banks that were going and blowing, making loans, are now reaping the whirlwind.