After a tumultuous number of depressing years, real estate is a real profitable business again. Million dollar deals are once again common. As a licensed real estate agent who started during the crash, this feels like a miracle. I remember writing up many offers that were withdrawn due to buyers remorse. I remember when Shearson Leahman went broke. They were one of the few financial institutions to not get bailed out because they were the first to go belly up. A lot of people lost their houses and these same banks that got bailed out by the government, “lost” homeowners loan modification papers several times and foreclosed on them unjustly. Yet some banks did become solvent again and paid off their bailout funds that were supposed to help banks continue lending. Most just hoarded their money and stopped lending. But the fact that the they did pay back the bailout helped the economy to a certain extent.
Homeowners that were underwater never were able to write down the balances for their hard-won loan modifications to adjust to current market values. At least the market is up now. People are thinking about their homes as investments again instead of just places to live. They’re getting out of uncomfortable situations. In 2005, we were used to home prices always increasing. Some people thought they would never go down and then the bubble burst. Before that, It created a false sense of normal where it seemed almost anyone could get a mortgage because people with good and bad credit were bundled together to minimize risk into mortgage derivatives. Firms like Goldman Sachs bet that this wouldn’t work after they created the derivatives and a hedge fund to profit from their cynicism. When it all came down like a house of cards, they made billions, the same way Osama Bin Laden did on 911, by betting against the market. Goldman and others were fined, but were the penalty tough enough to prevent problems in the future? That remains to be seen. Financial reform aims to stop them, but so far, results are unknown.
What I see I fueling the current recovery in the housing market is that the news media started reporting stories of ultra rich celebrities paying enormous amounts for luxury homes. Loan modifications and other government programs, though tough to get, reduced foreclosures. These eventually raised all home prices. Now homes sell before being listed on the MLS with multiple offers. This affects home construction and places like Lowe’s and Home Depot are able to hire again. Supposedly, unemployment has dropped, even though it certainly doesn’t seem like it in many sectors. The recovery may also be short lived because interest rates are rising and creative financing may not be available since some lenders still use creative fraud to grow their businesses but the financial reform bill promises to put a stop to that. I say, if it meets your budget, buy now before the prices and interest rates go up and financial reforms make it more difficult to buy. Real estate will be your literal shelter during bad times and with the right realtor, it can make you rich in good times like now.
Jordan Schaffner Is a San Diego real estate agent, working for broker, Carol Hunt-Abreu. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-346-9433 to meet your real estate needs.BRE#01736921.