Tag Archives: homebuilders

The Housing Market Is Heading South

A subscriber from Canada emailed me last night about the Canadian housing market: “Toronto and Vancouver sales down 40% and 30% YoY respectively. Prices are still up in Vancouver but down 14% in Toronto. I don’t know how prices stay up if the volume continues to trend down. Canadians are even more levered than Americans I believe. This is going to get ugly before it’s all over.”

The only part I disagree is Canadians being more levered than Americans. The average first time buyer in the U.S. can buy a Fannie/Freddie guaranteed mortgage financed home with zero down as long as the credit score is north of 570. “Zero down?” you ask. Yes zero down. Now included in the down payment is any amount of concessions tossed in by the seller. Soft dollars. Fannie and Freddie are already asking for “bail out” money from the Government after posting big losses. Fannie posted a $6.5 billion loss in Q4. How is that possible if the housing market is healthy? It’s the sign that the average homebuyer is overleveraged.

Now I’m hearing ads all-day long (sports radio) for 100% cash-out refis, home equity loans, purchase and refi mortgages for buyers who don’t even have FICO ratings. “Past bankruptcy” is okay. “Simon Black” (his nom de plume) wrote a piece the other day accusing the bankers of being idiots for letting the subprime debt issuance get out of control again. He’s wrong. It’s the Taxpayers who are idiots for rolling over every time the Government bails out the bankers. Quite frankly, if I lacked morals and ethics, I’d rather be on the bankers’ side of this trade. They make massive bonuses underwriting all of the nuclear waste and then pay themselves even bigger bonuses when the debt blows up and the Taxpayers bail them out. Who’s the “dumb-ass,” Simon?

Homebuilder stocks are a low-risk shorting proposition.
A subscriber asked me about the 10yr Treasury yield, which for now appears to be headed lower, and if a significant drop in the 10yr yield would stimulate home sales.

That’s a great question. Mortgage rates are a function, generally, of the 10yr Treasury yield and risk premium. As the risk of repayment increases, mortgage spreads increase. The LIBOR-OIS spread reflects the market’s rising fear of repayment risk.  I just noticed that the 30-yr mortgage rate at Wells Fargo – 2nd largest mortgage lender – has not changed much in the last few weeks despite the decline in the 10yr yield.

Part of my argument is that the general credit quality, and ability to make any down payment, in the remaining pool of potential first time buyers is dwindling. In other words a large portion of under 35’s, who make up most of the 1st time buyer cohort and who are in the “pool” of potential homebuyers, do not have the ability financially to support home ownership. In the last 2 months, the percentage of 1st time buyers in the NAR’s existing home sales report has started to decline.

New homes on average are more expensive than existing home resales. This fact makes my argument even more compelling. We saw this in KBH’s FY Q1 2018 numbers, which showed flat home deliveries vs Q1 2017. Homebuilders are also getting squeezed by commodity inflation (lumber and other materials), which lowers gross margins.

I saw a study that showed the annual rate of change in real wages, where “real wages” is calculated using a “real” inflation rate, is declining. Furthermore, most of the nominal wage gains are concentrated in the upper 20% of the workforce. The lower 80% of wage-earners are experiencing year over year declining wage growth.

The conclusion here is that a majority of those in the labor that would like to buy a home can not afford to make the purchase. In fact, a study by ATTOM (a leading housing market data aggregator) showed that the average worker can not afford the median-priced home in 70% of U.S. counties. The relative cost of mortgage interest is only part of this equation, which means lower mortgage rates based on a falling 10yr yield would likely not stimulate home buying at this point.

I think the only factors that can possibly stimulate home sales would be if the Government takes the FNM/FRE down payment requirement to zero and directly subsidizes the interest rate paid. I’d be surprised if either of those two events occur.

P.S. – just for the record, Lennar’s real earnings yesterday were substantially worse than the headline GAAP-manipulated EPS that ignited the rally in the homebuilder sector. I’ll be reviewing LEN’s numbers in Sunday’s Short Seller’s Journal and showing why the reported GAAP numbers were highly deceptive. I’ll also suggest ideas to take advantage of this knowledge.

313k Jobs Added? Nice Try But It’s Fake News

The census bureau does the data-gathering and the Bureau of Labor Statistics feeds the questionable data sample through its statistical sausage grinder and spits out some type of grotesque scatological substance.  You know an economic report is pure absurdity when the report exceeds Wall Street’s rose-colored estimate by 53%.  That has to be, by far, an all-time record-high “beat.”

If you sift through some of the foul-smelling data, it turns out 365k of the alleged jobs were part-time, which means the labor market lost 52k full-time jobs.  But alas, I loathe paying any credence to complete fiction by dissecting the “let’s pretend” report.

The numbers make no sense.  Why?  Because the alleged data does not fit the reality of the real economy.  Retail sales, auto sales, home sales and restaurant sales have been declining for the past couple of months.  So who would be doing the hiring?  Someone pointed out that Coinbase has hired 500 people.  But the retail industry has been laying off thousands this year. Given the latest industrial production and auto sales numbers, I highly doubt factories are doing anything with their workforce except reducing it.

And if the job market is “so strong,” how comes wages are flat?  In fact, adjusted for real inflation, real wages are declining.  If the job market was robust, wages would be soaring.  Speaking of which, IF the labor market was what the Government wants us to believe it is, the FOMC would tripping all over itself to hike the Fed Funds rate.  And the rate-hikes would be in chunks of 50-75 basis points – not the occasional 0.25% rise.

The Housing Market Is Starting To Fall Apart

Last week I summarized January existing home sales, which were released on Wednesday, Feb 21st. Existing home sales dropped 3.2% from December and nearly 5% from January 2017. Those statistics are based on the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate) calculus. Larry Yun, the National Association of Realtors chief salesman, continues to propagate the “low inventory” propaganda.

But in truth, the economics of buying a home has changed dramatically for the first-time and move-up buyer demographic plus flipper/investors. As I detailed a couple of issues back, based on the fact that most first-time buyers “buy” into the highest possible monthly payment for which they can qualify, the price that a first-time, or even a move-up buyer, can afford to pay has dropped roughly 10% with the rise in mortgage rates that has occurred since September 2017. The game has changed. That 10% decline results from a less than 1% rise in mortgage rates.

That same calculus applies to flipper/investors. Investors looking to buy a rental home pay a higher rate of interest than owner-occupied buyers. Most investors would need the amount of rent they can charge to increase by the amount their mortgage payment increases from higher rates. Or they need to use a much higher down payment to make the investment purchase. The new math thereby removes a significant amount of “demand” from investors.

It also occurred to me that flippers still holding homes purchased just 3-4 months ago are likely underwater on their “largesse.” Most flippers look for homes in the price-range that caters to first-timers (under $500k). This is the most “liquid” segment of the housing market in terms of the supply of buyers. Any flipper that closed on a home purchase in the late summer or early fall that needed to be “spruced up” is likely still holding that home. In addition to the purchase cost, the flipper has also incurred renovation and financing costs. Perhaps in a few markets prices have held up. But in most markets, the price first-time buyers can pay without significantly increasing the amount of the down payment has dropped roughly 10%. Using this math, any flipper holding a home closed prior to October is likely sitting on a losing trade.

Similar to 2007/2008, many of these homes will be sold at a loss or the flipper will “jingle mail” the keys to the bank, in which case the bank will likely dump the home. I know in some areas of metro-Denver, pre-foreclosure listings are rising. Some flippers might turn into rental landlords. This will increase the supply of rental homes which, in turn, will put pressure on rental rates.

New home sales – The plunge in January new home sales was worse than existing homes. New home sales dropped 7.8% from December. This follows December’s 9.3% plunge from November. The December/January sequence was the biggest two-month drop in new home sales since August 2013. Back then, mortgage rates had spiked up from 3.35% in June to 4.5% by the end of August. The Fed at that time was still buying $40 billion worth of mortgages every month. With QE over and an alleged balance sheet reduction program in place, plus the Fed posturing as if it will continue nudging the Fed Funds rate higher, it’s likely that new home sales will not rebound like they did after August 2013, when mortgage rates headed back down starting in early September 2013.

Contrary to the Larry Yun false narrative, the supply of new homes jumped to 6.1 months from 5.5 months in December. How does this fit the Yun propaganda that falling sales is a function of low inventory? The average price of a new home is $382k (the median is $323k). New home prices will have to fall significantly in order for sales to stop trending lower. What happens if the Fed really does continue hiking rates and mortgage rates hit 5%?

January “Pending” Home Sales – The NAR’s “pending home sales index,” which is based on contract signings, was released this past Wednesday. It plunged to its lowest level since October 2014. The index dropped 4.7% vs. an expected 0.5% rise from the optimist zombies on Wall St. It’s the biggest 1-month percentage decline in the index since May 2010. On a year-over-year comparison basis, the index is down 1.7%. December’s pending home sales index was revised down from the original headline report.

The chart below, sourced from Zerohedge with my edits added, illustrates the way in which rising and falling mortgage rates affects home sales. The mortgage rate data is inverted to better illustrate the correlation between mortgage rates and home sales:

Housing sales data is lagged by a month. Per the blue line, current homes sales (i.e. February sales/contract signings) have likely declined again given that mortgage rates continued to rise in during the month of February.

The above commentary on the housing market is from the latest Short Seller’s Journal.  Myself and several subscribers have been making a lot money shorting homebuilders this year.  But it’s not just about homebuilders.  I presented ZAGG as a short in the SSJ in the December 10th issue at $19.  It plunged down to $12 yesterday.  I’ve had several subscribers report gains of up to 40% shorting the stock and 3x that amount using puts.

You can find out more about this unique newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal

The Stock Market Is Setting Up For A Historic Collapse

There is no history to suggest this is sustainable. This price move remains the most extreme technical disconnect in the $DJIA ever.   – Northman Trader

The U.S. dollar has had the worst January since 1987.  There’s a lot of reasons why the stock market crashed in October 1987, but the declining dollar was one of the primary catalysts.  The rest of the world, led by China, is methodically and patiently removing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  The cost for the U.S. Government to fund its rapidly expanding spending deficit is going to soar. Absent the ability to print unlimited quantities of electronic dollars, the U.S. Government’s credit quality is equivalent to that of a Third World country.

Silver Doctor’s invited me to join Elijah and Eric Dubin for their weekly Metals and Markets podcast.  We discuss the issues above plus have a little bit of fun:

The cost to buy down-side protection has never been cheaper.  No one, I mean no one is short or hedged this market.  When slide starts, it will quickly turn into a massive avalanche.  You will have to be set up with hedges and short positions or you will miss the money that will be made from taking a lonely contrarian view of the market.

My subscribers who shorted my homebuilder stock idea two weeks ago are now up 17.7%. That’s if they shorted the shares. They are up even more if they used puts. If you are interested in learning how to take advantage of the coming stock market crash, you learn more about the Short Seller’s Journal here:   Short Seller’s Journal information.

The Debt Bubble Is Beginning To Burst

There will be numerous excuses issued today by perma-bull analysts and financial tv morons explaining away the nearly 10% drop in new home sales.  Wall Street was looking for the number of new homes, as reported by the Census Bureau, to be unchanged from June.  June’s original report was revised higher by 20,000 homes (SAAR basis) to make this month’s huge miss look a little better.  The primary excuse will be that new homebuilders can’t find qualified labor to build enough new homes to meet demand.

But that’s nonsense.  The reason that home builders can’t find “qualified” labor is because they don’t pay enough to compete with easier alternatives, like being an Uber driver, which can pay nearly double the wages paid to construction workers.  I had a ride with a Lyft driver, a family man who moved to Denver from Venezuela, who to took a job in construction when he moved here.  As soon as he got his driver’s license, he switched to Lyft because it was easier on his body and paid a lot more.  If builders raise their wages to compete with alternatives,  they’ll be able to find plenty of qualified workers but their profitability will go down the drain unless they raise their selling price, in which case their sales will go down the drain…which is beginning to happen anyway.

Toll Brothers, which revised its next quarter sales down when it reported yesterday, stated that new home supply is not an issue in the market for new homes.  No kidding.  I look at the major public builders’ inventories every quarter and every quarter they reach a new record high.

The real culprit is the record high level of household debt that has accumulated since 2010. The populace has run out of its capacity to take on new debt without going quickly into default on the debt already issued.  Mortgage purchase applications are a direct reflection of this.  Mortgage purchase applications declined again from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.  In fact, mortgage applications have declined 14 out of the last 20 weeks.  Please note that this was during a period which is supposed to be the seasonally strongest for new and existing home sales.  Furthermore, since the beginning of March, the rate on the 10-yr bond has fallen over 40 basis points, which translates into a falling mortgage rates.  Despite the lower cost of financing a home purchase, mortgage purchase applications have been dropping consistently on a weekly basis and at a material rate.

The NY Fed released its quarterly report on household debt and credit last week. In that report it stated, “Flows of credit card balances into both early and serious delinquencies climbed for the third straight quarter—a trend not seen since 2009.”

The graph above is from the actual report (the black box edit is mine). You can see that the 30-day delinquency rate for auto loans, credit cards and mortgages is rising, with a sharp increase in credit cards. The trend in auto loans has been rising since Q1 2013. The 90-day delinquency graph looks nearly identical.

I’m not going to delve into the student loan situation. Between the percentage of student loans in deferment and forbearance, it’s impossible to know the true rate of delinquency or the true percentage of student loan debt that is unpayable. Based on everything I’ve studied over the past few years, I would bet that at least 60% of the $1.2 billion in student loans outstanding are technically in default (i.e. deferred and forbearance balances that will likely never be paid anyway). In and of itself, the student loan problem is growing daily and the Government finds new ways to kick that particular can down the road. At some point it will become untenable.

The auto loan situation is a financial volcano that rumbles louder by the day. Equifax reported last week that “deep subprime” auto delinquencies spiked to a 10-year high. Deep subprime is defined as a credit score (FICO) below 550. The cumulative rate of non-performance for loans issued between 2007 and Q1 2017 ranges from 3% (Q1 2017 issuance) to 30%. The overall delinquency rate for deep subprime loans is at its highest since 2007. To make matters worse, in 2016 deep subprime loans represented 30% of all subprime asset-backed securitizations.

Combined, the percentage of auto, credit card and student loan delinquencies and rate of default is as big or bigger than the subprime mortgage problem that led to the “Big Short.” To compound the problem, the nature of the underlying collateral is entirely different. A home used as collateral has some level of value. Automobiles have collateral value but a shockingly large number of borrowers have taken out loans well in excess of the assessed value of the car at the time of purchase. Unfortunately for auto lenders, used values are in a downward death spiral. Credit card and student loan debt have zero collateral value.

NOTE: The stock market has not priced in the coming debt apocalypse nor has it begun to price in at all the upcoming Treasury debt ceiling/budget fight that is going to engulf Capitol Hill before October. The Treasury apparently will run out of cash sometime in October. Supposedly the Fed has a back-up plan in case the issue can’t be resolved before the Government would be forced to shut-down, but any scenario other than a smooth resolution to the debt ceiling issue will reek havoc on the dollar, which in turn will send the stock market a lot lower. In my view, between now and just after Labor Day weekend is a great time to put on shorts.

Existing Home Sales Tank This Summer: Fact vs Fiction

Existing home sales declined nearly 2% in June from May on a SAAR basis (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate).   (SAAR is the statistically manipulated metric used by industry organizations and the Government to spin bad monthly economic data into an annualized metric that hides the ugly truth).

Here is the NAR-spun fiction:  “Closings were down in most of the country last month because interested buyers are being tripped up by supply that remains stuck at a meager level and price growth that’s straining their budget…” – Larry Yun chief “economist” for the National Association of Homebuilders.

This has been Yun’s narrative since home sales volume began to decline last year.  His headline mantra of low inventory is mindlessly regurgitated by Wall Street and the financial media. But here’s what the truth looks like (click to enlarge):

Going back to 1999, this data sourced from the Fed, who sourced it from the NAR, shows an inverse correlation between inventory and sales. In other words, low inventory drives sales higher.  Conversely, as inventory rises, sales drops.  You’ll note that the chart does not go past 2015.  This  is because, for some reason, the Fed purged its database of existing home inventory prior to June 2016.  There’s a gap in inventory between mid-2015 and mid-2016.  However, there is this (click to enlarge):

I hate to call Larry Yun a “liar” because it sounds unprofessional. But what else am I supposed to call him when the data completely contradicts the narrative he shovels from his propaganda port-o-let into the public domain? I have no choice.

AS you can see, from 1999 to mid-2015 and from mid-2016 to present, inventory and sales are inversely correlated.

This has been the worst selling season for the housing market’s peak sales months since 2011.  In 2011 the Fed was dumping trillions into the housing market and mortgage finance system.   To make this morning’s report worse, mortgage rates have been declining at a steep rate since the end of December.  Near-record low rates, combined with near-zero percent down payment Government-guaranteed mortgages combined with the lowest credit-approval standards since 2007 combined with the peak selling months should have catapulted home sales much higher this year.

Here’s the problem:  the factors listed above have tapped out the available pool of homebuyers who qualify for a near-zero downpayment, low-credit rating Government-backed mortgage:

The graphic above shows the average household mortgage payment as a percentage of disposable personal income (after-tax income). The graphic above is for those households with 20% down payment mortgages. As you can see, that ratio is at an all-time high. It’s far worse for households with 3% down payment mortgages.  Either the Government will have to roll-out a program that directly subsidizes the households who still want to over-pay for a home but can’t afford the mortgage payment let alone the cost of home ownership – i.e. helicopter money – or the housing the market is getting ready to head south.  This won’t end well either way.

As for the inventory narrative.  New homebuilders are bulging with inventory.  How do I know? Because I look at the actual balance sheet numbers of most of the publicly traded homebuilders every quarter.  Newly built homes sitting in various stages of completion or sitting complete but completely empty often are not listed in the MLS system.  There’s a rather large “shadow inventory” of new homes gathering dust.  This fact is reflected in the fact that the rate of housing starts has been declining for most of the past 8 months.   There’s plenty of new home inventory and homebuilders are open to price negotiation. This is evident from the declining gross margins at almost every homebuilder.

This is the type of analysis that is presented in the Short Seller’s Journal.  I research and dig up data and present facts that will never be reported by Wall Street, industry associations and the financial media.  This is why my subscribers were short Beazer (BZH) at $14.99 on May 21st.  It’s currently at $13.39 but has been as low as $12.  It’s headed much lower.  Despite the Dow et al hitting new highs, there’s a large universe of stocks that are plumbing 52-week and all-time lows.  You can find out details about the SSJ here: Short Seller’s Journal information.   In the latest issue I present an in-depth analysis of Netflix’s accounting and show why it’s a Ponzi scheme.

The Housing Market Bubble Is Popping

As with all other highly manipulated data, the financial media has a blind bias toward the “bullish” story attached to the housing market. Understandable, as the National Association of Realtors spends more on special interest interest lobbying in Congress than any other financial sector lobby interest, including Wall Street banks.

New home sales were down last month, according to the Census Bureau, 11.3% and missed Wall Street’s soothsayer estimates by a rural mile. Strange, that report, given that new homebuilder sentiment is bubbling along a record highs. Existing home sales were down 2.3%. You’ll note that the numbers reported by the Census Bureau and NAR are “SAAR” – seasonally adjusted annualized rates. There is considerable room for data manipulation and regression model bias when a monthly data sample is “seasonally adjusted/manipulated” and then annualized.  You’ll also note that mortgage rates have dropped considerably from their December highs and May is one of the seasonally strongest months for home sales.

It’s becoming pretty clear to me that the housing market’s “Roman candle” has lost its upward thrust and is poised to fall back to earth. I believe it could happen shockingly fast. Fannie Mae released its home purchase sentiment index, which FNM says is the most detailed of its kind.

The report contained some “eyebrow-raising” results. The percentage of Americans who say it’s a good time buy a home net of those who say it’s a bad time to buy a home fell 8 percent to 27% – a record low for this survey. At the same time the percentage of those who say its a good time sell net of those who say its a bad to sell rose to 32% – also a new survey high. In other words, homeowners on average are better sellers than buyers of homes relative to anytime since Fannie Mae has been compiling these statistics (June 2010).

Currently the prevailing propaganda promoted by the National Association of Realtors’ chief “economist” is that home sales are sagging because of “low inventory.” He’s been all over this fairytale like a dog in heat. The problem for him is that the narrative does not fit the actual data – data compiled by the National Association of Realtors – thereby rendering it “fake news:”

The graph above shows home inventory plotted against existing home sales from 1999 to 2015 (note:  when I tried to update the graph to include current data, I discovered that the Fed had removed all existing home sales data prior to 2013).   As you can see, up until Larry Yun decided to make stuff up about the factors which drive home sales, there is an inverse correlation between inventory and the level of home sales (i.e. low inventory = rising sales and vice versa).   I’m not making this up, it’s displayed right there in the data that used to be accessible at the St Louis Fed website.

Furthermore, if you “follow the money” in terms of new homebuilder new housing starts, you’ll discover that housing starts have dropped three months in a row. The last time this occurred was in June 2008.   IF low inventory is the cause of sagging home sales – as Larry Yun would like you to believe – then how come new homebuilders are starting less homes? If there’s a true shortage of homes, homebuilders should be starting  as many new units as they can as rapidly  as possible.

Although the Dow Jones Home Construction Index is near a 52-week high – it’s still 40% below it’s all-time high hit in 2005.  Undoubtedly it’s being dragged reluctantly higher by the S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq and Tesla.   Despite this, I presented a homebuilder short idea to subscribers of the Short Seller’s Journal that is down 13.6% since  I presented it May 19th.  It’s been down as much as 24.2% in that time period.   It is headed to $7 or lower, likely before Christmas.  I also  presented another not well followed idea that could easily get cut in half by the end of the year.

The next issue of the Short Seller’s Journal will focus on the housing market.  I’ll discuss housing market data that tends to get covered up by Wall Street and the media. I have been collecting some compelling data to support the argument that the housing market is rolling over…you can find out more about subscribing here:  Short Seller’s Journal info.

In the latest issue released yesterday, I also reviewed Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods:

I just read it and the analysis on Amazon is awesome. This has the potential to be the short of year when the hype wanes and reality sets in – subscriber, Andreas

A Quick Note On Today’s Existing Home Sales Report

What about the biggest rise in existing home sales on record in December? These guys are offending my sensibilities. By virtue of all the fake statistics and bogus market action, there has to be something seriously wrong right now.  –  John Embry email to IRD

Existing home sales are based on a sample estimate of contract closings.   The actual “sale” took place when the contract was signed 30-45 days ago.  The headline report is based on a “seasonally adjusted annualized rate.”  The big farce about statistics, away from the obvious fact that “seasonal adjustments” are a polite way to say “statistically manipulated,” is that the metrics reported in terms of percentage changes can make an economic report sound a lot better than the underlying reality.

The underlying reality in today’s report is that allegedly a technical glitch cited by the NAR pushed some closings from November into December and therefore artificially depressed the November number and  artificially inflated the December number.  This is only part of the explanation for the 14% seasonally adjusted annualized rate of increase for December vs. November.   The balance of the 14% seasonally adjusted annualize rate metric is most likely attributable to the “seasonally adjustments” applied to the sample data.  It’s analogous to taking the scraps of pig of the slaughterhouse floor and putting these scraps though a grinder to produce “sausage.”

By the way, does anyone find it a bit suspicious that a “seasonally adjusted annualized rate” metric is used to describe what may or may not have occurred during one month? Think about that.

Notwithstanding this statistical smoke and mirrors, pending home sales for November dropped 1% vs an expected rise of .7%.  Pending home sales are contracts signed, most of which evolve into closings, which become existing home sales.  Some of this decline in pending home sales should have been reflected in December’s existing home sales – in other words, it calls into question the credibility of the existing home sales report.

Furthermore, the November pending home sale number should translate into lower closings, i.e. existing home sales, for January.  That latter assertion relies on an unwillingness of the NAR to completely lampoon the statistics for January’s report- an assumption that may be highly naive based on the degree to which the NAR has been adulterating the statistics for at least the last year.

One last thing.  If you find yourself wanting for some intellectual entertainment this weekend, compare the commentary from the NAR’s Larry Yun in the Pending Home Sales report and his commentary in the Existing Home Sales report.   It epitomizes the phrase, “through the looking glass.”

The homebuilder stocks are rebounding right now on the back of that rigged existing home sales report.  One of the featured stocks in this week’s report will either be a homebulder or a homebuilder supplier.  The last h/b supplier I featured is now up (i.e. down in price) over 13% from the 12/7/15 report.  The last h/b I featured 2 weeks ago is now down 8%.  You can access my Short Seller’s Journal here:   SSJ Subscription

 

This Homebuilder Could Default In 2016

UPDATE: This stock is down over 3% today and headed lower

I was responsible for forecasting at Toll Brothers during the peak bubble years. My forecasting model showed a massive downtrun coming. The CFO refused to look at and consider my forecast.  Bob Toll ignored the signs and bought $1 billion of land at the peak in 2006. I saw the writing on the wall and quit before the brown stuff hit the fan I left the company to dodge the coming storm. Toll then lost money for 14 quarters in a row…It’s about to happen again.  – email yesterday from a well-known blogger

We’ve seen four homebuilders report their quarterly and or fiscal year end results so far. Two builders showed considerable unit volume delivery declines and two reported increases.  Going forward from here it will be all down hill.

In revising and updating my stock report for one particular homebuilder, I discovered that this Company has a huge debt repayment in second half of 2016.  This company must be worried about that because for the first time since 2012, it did not add homes to its inventory, it only replaced what it sold.  It’s cash balance still declined significantly year over year.

The stock is still down 22% from its price when I first published this report.  Even if I’m still early BlogPicon my call for the overall market, and I’m more confident everyday that the market is in trouble, this Company’s stock will likely head lower.   The section on prudent capital management and using options (puts and calls) has been updated to reflect my current suggestions.

Despite an increase in both price and unit deliveries, this Company’s operating income declined year BlogLOGOover year for its fiscal year.  That fact alone tells us that something is wrong with the way this Company operates.  Imagine that, in the greatest new home price inflationary environment in history, this Company is still having trouble generating a profit.

You can access this report here:  This Homebuilder Could Face Involvency In 2016.  The section on prudent capital management and using options (puts and calls) has been updated to reflect my current suggestions.

Short This Homebuilder Bounce

Last week and the week before, Pulte and Calatlantic (Ryland/Std Pacific merger) reported their latest fiscal quarter.  Both companies reported a decline in homes delivered to buyer (closings).  This was consistent with the new home sales reports, overall, for the 3-month period.  The home builders were hit after both of these reports, taking the DJUSHB from 600 down to 560 – or 6.7% – over the next 13 trading days.  Beazer is still down 20% from when I first posted the original research report.  It’s headed to zero, or close to it.

Yesterday DR Horton reported its Q4/Fiscal yr-end results and Beazer reported the same today.  While DHI “beat” earnings by a penny, it missed on the Street’s revenue estimates. Beazer missed on its revenue estimate.  It’s earnings vs estimates is useless because Beazer decided to dump $323 million – or more than 10x its operating income for the quarter – of non-cash “tax benefits” into its net income calculation.

While both companies, contrary to Pulte and Calatlantic, showed an increase in units delivered/closed, further analysis I’m sure will show some extreme measures were implemented in order to move inventor.  I’ll will have updated research reports on both and special research report offer sometime over the next couple of days.  If you want a head-start, I would suggest taking a look at this report, which will not be part of the research report special:  RED FLAG ALERT FOR THIS HOMEBUILDER

However, interestingly both homebuilders stopped investing in new inventory.  By this I mean on a net basis, they both reduced their inventories quite a bit during their Q4.  If the outlook for the housing market is extremely optimistic – per the NAHB builder “confidence” report – how come these two homebuilders reduced their inventory after building them up to levels that exceeded their 2005/2006 housing bubble peak levels?

On a quick glance at Beazer’s numbers, its margins took a hit during the quarter, which means it was offering its homes at a big discount.  DHI’s cancellation rate during the quarter popped up to 27% vs 23% for all of 2015, which is a huge red flag.  Among other indicators, it means that DHI’s reported order book is highly over-inflated.   BZH’s cancellation rate also increased during Q4.

Furthermore, DHI’s Numbers were not nearly as strong as the headlines in their press release. They “beat” by a penny, but there were several somewhat arbitrary non-cash adjustments that gave them the leeway to engineer a “beat.”  It also looks like like they underwrote the mortgages for a lot of their buyers which means they financed subprime buyers to the hilt. We know this because their “mortgages held for sale” jumped nearly 50% year over year. If these were conventional, non-subprime mortgage, they would be able to off-load onto FNM/FRE and not hold them for sale.   It also means that there will be mortgage loss write-offs in DHI’s future.

It’s highly likely that this quarter will be the “last hurrah” for homebuilder sales volume and rising prices.   Most Americans are sliding into insolvency and it looks like the Fed/Government has saturated the last of the population that makes enough money – for now, anyway – to support the monthly cost of home ownership.  For example, read this report:  Most Americans Are Too Broke To Afford To Buy A Basic Home.

Next Up:   Another bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie are inevitable and the FHA will require one as well (FHA was 2% of the mortgage market in 2008, it’s 20% now).

Peak Housing Market Propaganda

I was chatting with an Denver-based real estate professional yesterday.  This person stated outright that the real estate market was in an insanely overvalued bubble that was going to pop.

It’s pretty obvious to anyone who makes the decision to look at the facts.  For instance, the media, Wall Street and industry association promotional juggernauts (National Association of Realtors, National Association of Homebuilders) continue to gloat over the supposed continuous price increases being reported by highly statistically unreliable data series like the Case-Shiller housing price index (Even Robert Shiller has admitted to this series’ flaws in the past).

Every metric promoted in the headlines is based on “year over year” comparisons.  A far different truth emerges when you shine the light on month to month changes in price.  In fact, I linked an article in a blog post earlier this week (LINK) which showed that 30% of all homes across the major MSAs lost value over the last year.  In many markets, prices have been declining for most of this year to date when measured serially month to month.

In just about any market across the country, if you closed on a home in June and used a 10% or less down payment, you are now underwater on your mortgage.  That’s a fact agreed upon by my friend mentioned above.

Aaron Layman, based in Houston and one of the few truly honest real estate professionals, posted commentary today which shows just how extremely misleading media reports about the real estate have become.  His example uses the Houston condo market, but the same type of relative numbers apply to most large MSAs:

  • Annualized sales of townhomes/condos are down 1.6 percent, but inventory is up 12.9 percent.
  • Annualized sales of highrise condos are down 14%, but inventory is up a 16.1 percent!
  • The median price of combined new and existing highrise construction is down 11.6 percent.
  • The median price of new highrise construction in Houston has shown ZERO appreciation from last year!
  • Annualized sales of new highrise condos are down a stunning 75 percent!
    Inventory of new highrise condos in Houston is up 44.2 percent!
  • MLS shows 111 months of inventory for new highrise construction in Houston!

You can read all of Aaron’s commentary here:  LINK

That same dynamic is definitely occurring in Denver.  And the non-stop rise in rent prices being reported all over the place is just outright wrong.  Nearly every building in Denver is offering some type of rent concession to sign a year lease, with some offering up to two months free.  Denver has been cited as allegedly one of the hottest markets.

The homebuilders are more overvalued now than they were at the peak of the housing bubble.  We’ve already seen one homebulder stock lose over 9% in one day.  I happened to have published a research report on this company about 4 days before it reported.   You can still take advantage of the significant amount of downside that remains in this stock, which is loaded with red flags – including an ongoing IRS audit:   RED FLAG ALERT HOMEBUILDER