Tag Archives: mortgage rates

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.

Housing Starts Crash – Sales Volume And Prices To Follow

In many areas of the country prices are already down 5-10%.   I know, you’re going to say that offer prices are not reflecting that.  But talk to the developers of NYC and SF condos who are trying to unload growing inventory. Douglas Elliman did a study of NYC resales released in October and found that resale volume was down 20% in the third quarter vs. Q3 2015.  A report out in November published by Housing Wire said that home sales volume in the SF Bay area fell 10.3% in the first 9 months of 2016 vs. 2015. Price follows volume and inventory is piling up.

NYC led the popping of the big housing bubble.  It will this time too.  Prices in the “famed” Hampton resort area down 20% on average and some case down as much as 50% from unrealistic offering prices.  Delinquencies and defaults are rising as well.  While the mainstream media reported that foreclosures hit a post-crisis low in October, not reported by the mainstream media is that delinquencies, defaults and foreclosure starts are spiking up. Foreclosure starts in Colorado were up 65% from September to October.

Housing starts for November were reported today to have crashed 18.7% from October led by a 44% collapse in multi-family starts.  No surprise there.  Denver, one of the hottest marekts in the country over the last few years with 11k people per month moving here, is experiencing a massive pile-up in new building apartment inventory.   I got a flyer in the mail last week advertising a new luxury building offering 2 months free rent and free parking plus some other incentives.   Readers and subscribers from all over the country are reporting similar conditions in their market.  Yes, I know some small pockets around the country may still be “hot,” but if you live in one of those areas email me with what you are seeing by June.

Here’s a preview of some of the content in Sunday’s Short Seller’s Journal (click to enlarge):

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The graph above is from the NAHB’s website that shows its homebuilder “sentimement” index plotted against single-family housing starts. You’ll note the tight correlation except in times of irrational exuberance exhibited by builders. You’ll note that starts crash when exuberance is at a peak. Exuberance by builders hit a high in November not seen since 2005…here’s how it translated in the homebuilder stocks:

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Note the crash in housing stocks a few months after homebuilder “sentiment” index peaked.  From a fundamental standpoint, the homebuilders are more overvalued now than they were in 2005 in terms of enterprise value to unit sales.  This because debt and inventory levels at just about every major homebuilder is as high or higher now than it was in 2005 BUT unit sales volume is roughly 50% of the volume at the 2005 peak.  The equities are set up of another spectacular sell-off.

Refi and purchase mortgage applications are getting crushed with mortgage rates up only 1% from the all-time lows.  What will happen when mortgage rates “normalize” – i.e. blow out another 3-5%?

The next issue of the Short Seller’s Journal will include a lot more detail on the housing market and some surprisingly bearish numbers on retail sales this holiday season to date. You can find out more about the SSJ by clicking on this link: Short Seller’s Journal subscription link. 

The Housing Market Is Unraveling

You wouldn’t know it from the housing industry organizations, Wall Street or the media propaganda, but the housing market is starting to unravel. It does not matter which person or political party occupies the White House and Capitol Hill. The debt orgy that followed the Fed’s QE program is now showing visible signs of unintended but inevitable consequences and it’s beginning smell a lot like 2008.

Per RealtyTrac, U.S. foreclosure activity increased 27% from September to October. Foreclose starts posted the biggest monthly increase since…December 2008.  Scheduled foreclosure auctions posted the biggest monthly increase since 2006.  The data is even more startling in certain States.  Foreclosures in Colorado jumped 64% in October from September and foreclosure starts soared 71%.   Colorado tends to be an economic and demographic bellweather State.  In the housing bubble 1.0, foreclosure activity in Colorado began to accelerate before it hit all the other major MSAs.

Just in time for foreclose activity to ramp up, the Obama Government rolled new Fannie and Freddie mortgage programs which removed or reduced required mortgage insurance. Once again the Taxpayers will be left holding the bag and monetizing a mortgage collapse from which the bankers, real estate and mortgage industry collected $100’s of millions in fee money.

Per this analysis posted by Wolf Richter, the Miami condo market is in a freefall:  LINK. Mortgage rates have spiked up considerably in the last week.  This will extinguish a significant amount of home sales and cash-out refi’s  – note – the following is an excerpt from the latest issue of my  Short Seller’s Journal :

untitledI continue to see with my own eyeballs, which I trust a lot more than the manipulated b.s. reported by the National Association of Realtors and the Government’s Census Bureau, a stunning number of “for sale” and “for rent” signs all around central Denver. Note that Colorado has 11,000 people per month moving here, so if inventory in both homes for sale and rentals are visibly increasing here it means they are increasing everywhere.

I’ve heard horror stories about the south Florida market from several sources. A colleague who runs a real estate brokerage firm in Houston published a report last week on a growing glut in luxury apartments in Houston:  LINK.

I bought Toll Brothers (TOL) December $28-strike puts on Thursday for 64 cents. The stock at the time was $29.40. It closed Friday at $28.25. I also bought Pulte Home (PHM) January $18-strike puts for 72 cents. The stock at the time was $18.65. It closed Friday at $18.32.

I did this after chatting with the friend of mine mentioned earlier who is a mortgage broker. We are working on a refi for my significant other, which is why he called me on Thursday to see if I wanted to rate-lock her loan after informing me that the mortgage market was getting “funky” and spreads were widening.

Finally, again just like the mid-2000’s housing bubble, NYC is showing definitive signs that its housing market is crumbling very quickly. Landlord rent concessions soared 24% in October, more than double the 10.4% concession rate in October 2015. Typical concessions include one free month or payment of broker fees at lease signing. Days to lease an apartment on average increased 15% over 2015 in October to 46 days. And inventory listings are up 23% year over year.

DR Horton (DHI) reported earnings on Tuesday. It missed both revenues and earnings. The stock was hit 5.4% that day and closed even lower by Friday. Any stock that sold off on Thursday and Friday while the stock market was going orbital has real problems. DHI reported the slowest order growth rate in three years. More troubling from my perspective is that, with the market obviously slowing down, DHI’s inventories continue to balloon, increasing by $537 million to $8.3 billion vs $7.8 billion at the end of September 2015. The Company’s cancellation rate jumped to 28% from 23% last year. Again, this smells exactly like 2008…perhaps this part of the reason the Dow Jones Home Construction index looks so ugly:

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The graph above shows the Dow Jones Home Construction index vs the S&P 500 for the past year. Since hitting 601 on July 26, the index is down 14%. It’s down 16.5% from its 52 week high of 618 on December 1, 2015. As you can see, the index is below both its 50 and 200 dma’s (yellow line and red line, respectively). The 50 dma is about to cross below the 200 dma, another potentially highly bearish techincal indicator. Perhaps first and foremost is the fact that the homebuilders were extremely weak relative to the buying frenzy that gripped the market Wed thru Friday.

In my opinion, it’s safe to put a fork in the housing market. And this is the primary reason that it smells to me a lot like 2008.

You can access  the Short Seller’s Journal with this LINK or by clicking on the graphic to the right.  Almost all of the ideas I have presented since NewSSJ Graphicearly August have been working, some have been yielding tremendous returns.   It’s a weekly report for $20/month with no minimum subscription requirement.  I provide options trading ideas as well as disclose all of my trading activity from the short-side.

The Housing Bubble Is Popping

The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) economic numbers are now manipulated beyond the definitional meaning of the word “absurd.”  This is especially true with the housing market and auto sales reports.  – Investment Research Dynamics

Today the NAR released its “pending home sales” index.  On a “seasonally adjusted annualized rate” basis, it showed 1.3% gain over June.  June’s original report was revised lower from +.8% to -.2%.  Mathematically, this downward revision enabled the National Association of Realtors to report a gain from June to July.  Keep in mind this is on a “seasonally adjusted” and “annualized rate” basis.

Now for the real story – at least as real as the reliability of the NAR’s data sampling  Untitledtechniques.   In the same report the NAR shows the “not seasonal adjusted” numbers. (click on image to enlarge) On a year over year basis for July, pending home sales were down 2.2%.  They were down 13% from June.   This is  significant for two reasons.  Using a year to year comparison for July removes seasonality and it removes the “seasonal adjustments.”   Just as important, if you look at historical data for existing home sales by month, “seasonality” between June and July is non-existent – i.e. in some years June sales exceed July and in other years July exceeds June.

The not seasonally adjusted data series is much more reflective  of the real trend in the housing market that has developed this summer than is the manipulated SAAR number vomited by the NAR’s data manipulators.  The 13% from June to July should shock the hell out of housing market perma-bulls.

FURTHERMORE, the not seasonally adjusted numbers are consistent with the highly correlated mortgage purchase applications data.   “Pending” sales are based contracts signed.  Concomitantly with signing a contract – the NAR reported that 80% of all existing home buyers in July used a mortgage – the buyer needs to file a purchase application.  But the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage purchase applications hit a 6-month low in July.    The mortgage applications data contradicts the NAR’s pending home sales report on a SAAR basis but is entirely consistent with the pattern in the not seasonally adjusted data.

The not seasonally adjusted data are pointing to a rapidly developing housing market implosion – 13% drop in contracts signed from June to July in a two-month period that has little if any seasonality and with 30-yr fixed mortgage rates hitting all-time lows.
Just like the big bubble which finally exploded in 2007-2008, I was early in my call on Housing Bubble 2.0  (HB 2.0).   Because it takes a lot of capital and “inertia” to move the housing market, directional movements take time to develop and they become fast-moving trains with no brakes – until they either hit a wall or hit the ground.  But change in direction happens suddenly.

When prices are moving up, the market becomes very illiquid on the “offered’ side and buyers become ravenous.  This occurred because the Fed dedicated $2 trillion of it’s QE to the mortgage market and the Government made Government-guaranteed mortgages much easier for buyers by taking the down payment requirement down to 3% and in some cases 0%.   But when the market rolls over, supply quickly builds and demand disappears and the market becomes very illiquid on the “bid” side.  The market is about to become very illiquid on the buyer side of the equation.

I made this call in my latest Short Seller’s Journal this past week:

The housing market is heading south now as well. It’s been my view, and I’ve supported this view with detailed analysis of new and existing home sales on my blog, that both the Government (new home sales report) and the National Association of Realtors (existing home sales report) are using their mysteriously calculated “seasonal adjustments” to inflate the true level of homes being sold on a monthly basis. MOREOVER, and this point is crucial to understand, to the extent that there are flaws in the “seasonal adjustments,” the “annualized rate” calculation compounds these flaws by a factor of 12.

As an example, last week’s new home sales report, which showed an unexpected and absurd 72,000 (SAAR) new homes sold in July vs expectations and 154,000 more homes sold vs. July 2015. However, the report also shows the “not seasonally adjusted, not annualized number for July, which never makes its way into the media reports. In that section it shows only 16,000 more homes vs the 154k SAAR headline sold year over for July AND a decline in sales from June to July of 6,000 homes. In other words, the sensationalized headline reports were manufactured out of thin air from the “seasonal adjustments” applied to the monthly numbers and then converted into an annualized rate

As you can see, the Government’s new home sales report is utterly unbelievable. In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association has reported that mortgage applications to purchase homes hit a 6-month low in July. New home sales are based on contracts signed. With 93% of all new home buyers using a mortgage, if mortgage applications are not being filed, contracts are not being signed. It’s really that simple.

The NAR’s existing home sales report was well below consensus expectations and showed a 3.2% drop in existing home sales from June and a 1.6% drop from July 2015. These numbers are based on closings. Again, if mortgage purchase applications dropped in June and July, we can expect (or at least should expect )that existing home sales reports for at least the next two months will show further declines. Furthermore, the NAR uses the same statistical “adjustment” model as the Government. To the extent that the NAR’s SAAR numbers showed a decline, the true decline is likely much greater.

After the employment, GDP and inflation reports, the home sales reports from both the Government and the National Association of Realtors are among the most highly manipulated economic data reports.  The data is heavily modeled and massaged via the “seasonal adjustments.”

The truth from the ground, based on the extensive footwork due diligence I conduct plus emails from readers around the country reporting similar observations, is that the inventory of home listings of soaring (the published inventory reports by design have 2-3 month lag), prices are dropping quickly, the time it takes to sell a home is increasing significantly and, most important, the potential pool of middle class home buyers no longer have an income level that will support the size of mortgage it takes to “buy” a home.

Short-sell ideas are starting to work again.   The short-sell selections in my Short Seller’s Journal have now worked four weeks in a row.   My pick from 3 weeks ago is down 6%.  At one point it was down 10%.  The pick from two weeks ago gave subscribers a quick 13% drop after it reported earnings and it’s still down 10%.   My pick from last week is down nearly $2  (2.3%)  after 2 1/2 days of trading  but the puts are up 42%.  I am also making several homebuilder short recommendations now each week.

You can subscribe to the Short Seller’s Journal by using this link:   SSJ subscription.

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As The Stock Market Levitates, Economic Activity Deteriorates

In my latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, I predicted a weak showing for July auto sales.  Both GM and Ford missed Wall Street’s forecast.  With the magic of seasonal adjustments, the industry data overall was presented to show a .7% increase in overall sales vs. June.  GM sales dropped 2% and Ford’s sales fell 3%.  Again, any overall industry gains can be attributed to mysterious “seasonal adjustments.”  June auto sales dropped 3.4% from May.

When Ford reported its Q2 earnings, Ford’s auto finance division reported a decline in profits that reflected lower values realized at auction on cars returned after the lease expired.  Auto market weakness typically shows up first in the resale/used market (I traded the auto supply sector junk bonds when I traded on Wall Street in the 1990’s, which is why I’m familiar with auto cycle dynamics).  In addition, Ford Credit reported higher than expected credit losses.

My point here is that the auto industry, after being hyper-stimulated by the Fed with $100’s of billions of subprime quality car loans and leases, is going  to head south – probably rather quickly.   Our financial system is about to feel a huge shock from delinquent and defaulted car financing extended to people who could never really afford the payments.   Ford is already feeling it.   Carmax also reported bigger than expected losses in its car loan portfolio.

Housing is the other economic sector that has been hyper-stimulated by the Fed and the Government with artificially low interest rates and taxpayer-sponsored low to no-down payment mortgages.  Housing is going to head south quickly as well.  This was evident with yesterday’s construction spending report:   June private construction spending fell .6% from May, non-residential construction dropped its most since December, April construction spending was revised to down 2.9% from down 2%.

Not only is construction spending declining, previously reported construction spending is being revised to show that it was weaker than originally reported.

The housing market data reported by the National Association of Realtors is tragically corrupted.  Recently the NAR has been reporting an increase in first-time buyers.  Yet, the Census Bureau-measured rate of home ownership continues to decline.   Last week the CB reported the rate had dropped 62.9%, a 51-year low (click to enlarge):

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What this means is that real first time buyers are not showing up as buyers, contrary to the NAR’s manipulated data.  The chart to the left is from the National Association of Homebuilders.  It shows the breakdown of home ownership by age demographic for Q2 2015 vs Q2 2016.  As you can see the first-time homebuyer age demographic has declined.  This graph undermines the data being reported by Larry Yun and the NAR.

My educated bet is that a large percentage of existing home buyers over the last couple years has been speculators – either quick-flippers or “investors” who buy a home with the intent to fix it up and re-sell it six to twelve months later.   There will be a lot of “second” home owners who end up stuck with their “investment.”

I have been theorizing for quite some time that the housing market would get “squashed” from the top.    The first-time buyer is the key component in the housing market sales activity cycle.  If a move-up buyer can’t sell its home to a first-time buyer, the owner with the “move-up” home – the upper price-range home – for sale can’t sell. It leads to a glut at the high end – something that is being reported all over the country.

As I’ve noted several times recently, high-end inventory has been building up across the country for well over a year.  Long-time housing market analyst and consultant, Mark Hanson, said in his latest blog post:

I am getting reports from sources in mid-to-high end regions all over the nation that after a strong June, July sales were down between 15% and 50% with Pendings down as much as 60% from a year ago. One large West Coast brokers with whom I talk said they are recommending to clients with mid-to-high end properties on the market over 30-days with no offers to cut list prices aggressively in order to get in front of the market versus the process of small, frequent price cuts that look bad optically and keep sellers constantly behind the market.  LINK:  Big Trouble Ahead

In other words, the inventory clog at the high end of the market is starting to spill over into the upper-middle price range.  I received a price-change alert yesterday about a $1-million+ home which was taken down over 14% in price.   The “new price” competition is heating up.  I’m seeing “new price” signs in the mid-priced homes now all around Denver.

The point here is that the two primary drivers of economic activity – albeit artificially stimulated economic activity – auto and housing – are heading south.  I believe the U.S. economic system will be engulfed by drop off in economic activity that will shock even those who can see through the economic propaganda being reported by the Government, Fed and industry associations.

In my last couple of Short Seller’s Journals, I have been recommending shorts in the housing and auto sectors.   These are two high-beta sectors that will sell-off more than the overall market once the market heads south again, something which may already be happening.

As you can see from the following 11-year weekly graph of the Dow Jones Home Construction index, the homebuilders and related home construction companies have been trending sideways since April 2013 (click to enlarge):

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The index is down 6.8% since hitting 610 intra-day last Wednesday.  The S&P 500 is down just .7% in that same time-frame.  But this illustrates my point about the downside potential for the housing stocks if the S&P trends lower.

My Short Seller Journal presents facts about economic data not reported by the media and analysis not generally found on most, if any, blogs.  It’s a weekly report in which I also offer ideas for using options to short the market plus trading and capital management strategies.

It’s clear that the Fed is doing what it can to keep the broad market indices from selling off,NewSSJ Graphic but underneath the marquee lights there’s a whole world of stocks that are collapsing in price.  In the next issue I’ll be presenting what I believe is an energy sector debt-induced Ponzi scheme that could drop from $20 to at least $5.  You can access the my short-sell ideas using this link:   Short Seller’s Journal.

The NAR’s Existing Home Sales Report For January Is Not Credible

The 14 percent quarterly decrease was fueled primarily by a 24 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in purchase originations — the biggest quarterly drop in purchase originations in more than five years, since the third quarter of 2010.  – RealtyTrac

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE that is used to further intended policy is adjusted that way to the nth power.   Inflation, employment, housing…Our world has become so delusional and a house of mirrors that it’s impossible to rule out anything.  Policy today should be called:  NHB (no holds barred).   – A friend and colleague of IRD

The National Association of Realtors reported their statistical estimates for January existing home sales today.  According to the NAR, home sales on a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) basis increased .4% in January vs. December.  The NAR claims that the same metric shows an 11% year over year increase for January 2016 vs. 2015.

I’ve never understood the purpose of using an annualized rate number in order to report monthly economic data.  That does not make any sense whatsoever.   To begin with the NAR uses data samples that it describes as “representative.”  However, as anyone who has taken elementary statistics in school knows, all data sampling is highly vulnerable to sampling errors and sampling bias.  To the extent that the data pool for a monthly time period contains errors, annualizing this data compounds the error by a factor 12.

And then there’s the seasonal adjustments.  The NAR will not share its seasonal adjustment algorithms with the public.  The seasonal adjustments further pollute the data samples and therefore further corrupt the annualized metric.

However, we can test the NAR reported numbers using some highly correlated comparative reports.  It just so happens that, understandably,  there’s a high correlation between between purchase mortgage originations and existing home sales.  A week ago RealtyTrac released a report that showed U.S. residential purchase loan originations dropped 24% in the fourth quarter of 2015:   RealtyTrac.  This was the biggest drop in purchase loan originations in more than five years.

You might ask what mortgage purchase loans in Q4 have to with the existing home sales report for January.  Good question.  Existing home sales are based on contracts that close (escrow closes and title changes hands) – as opposed to new home sales which are based on contracts signed.   Unless an existing home sale is an all-cash transaction, it takes at least 30-60 days for a contract to close once its signed.  This means that up to 2/3 of the contract closings in January were more than likely based on contracts signed in November and December.  Mortgage originations for those months should move in lock-step with contract signings.

How is it possible that existing home contract closings increased slighly over December or 11% year over year for January when mortgage purchase originations plunged 24% during the period of time that NAR claims that contracts were being signed and converted into closings?   In fact, per the NAR, all-cash transactions declined slightly in January, which means that the use of mortgages was a slighly greater part of the sales mix for contracts that closed in January 2016 vs. January 2015.  In other words, it’s almost a statistical impossibility that home sales were up 11% for January 2016 vs. January 2015 or even vs. December given the huge decline in mortgage purchase originations.

Anecdotally, the market is breaking down here in the DC area. Homes are being listed and them removed after too many price reductions. If a home does sell, it’s probably a foreclosure that selling 33% below its 2005 price like this one:  Zillow LINK  – Reader comment

The other problematic assertion by the NAR is a claim of low inventory.  I know from the new listing notifications I receive daily for the Denver area that new listings have been soaring since the early fall, especially in the over-$750k price bucket.  Not only that, but the “price change” notifications have been accelerating since the late fall.  I have received similar reports from readers around the country.  The way the NAR calculates “supply,” when sales are overstated, it creates a downward bias in the “months inventory” metric. The annualization of the data exacerbates the problem.

Given the rapidly deteriorating economic condition of the U.S., a claim that housing sales Untitledcontinue to increase is simply not credible, with or without the verification provided by the mortgage origination data.  This is further reinforced by the rise in the cost of buying a home relative to the deterioration in household real income. We found out earlier today that, according to the Case-Shiller housing price index, the price of a home continues to climb.  How is it possible that more people are supposedly buying increasingly expensive homes with declining incomes?

The fraudulent data and lies being broadcast by the Government and various industry associations like the NAR are just silly given the increasing divergence between the statistically manipulated data and the underlying reality.   It’s funny because I play tennis weekly with a successful mortgage broker in Denver.  He is looking to move out the business and into something else because he sees the writing on the wall for the housing market…

This is the type of analysis that is the foundation for the Short Seller’s Journal.  When I pick out short-sell ideas, I don’t look for stocks that will go down just in correlation with the market, I look for stocks that will get demolished when the market moves lower.  To do this I spend several hours a week looking not just a p/e ratios and business models, but I also look “under hood” at company financials and industry fundamentals.  I am also going to roll out a bi-monthly Mining Stock Journal and SSJ subscribers will be able to subscribe to the Mining Stock Journal for half-price.

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Statistical Witches Brew Belies The Truth About The Housing Market

The fundamentals of housing are so weak that when the tide does start to go out because of different possible catalysts, it’s going to reveal a mess.  – comment to me from a reader who is watching the disintegration of the housing market “recovery” in California

Despite all of the bullhorn, rah rah rhetoric coming from the National Association of Realtor’s chief cheerleader, Lawrence Yun, the massive intervention in the housing market by the Fed and the Government is beginning to fade quickly.   I guess in the face of evidence far too overwhelming and obvious to cover up with propaganda-laced sound-bytes about “strong jobs growth” and “low inventory,”  the NAR has been forced to admit that the energy market depression – LINK.  At some point, when the “tide does start go out,” everyone is going to wonder why the NAR’s seasonally adjusted hocus pocus data has not transmitted into actual, bona fide sales.

I wrote an article for Seeking Alpha which explains the corrupted foundation underlying the NAR’s statistical witches brew.  In fact, I have evidence direct from the Fed that shows the “low inventory” narrative is 100% false – sales and inventory levels are actually inversely correlated.  Funny thing, that.  But it won’t be funny to the people who chased the price of their dream higher by listening to the “wisdom” of their “friendly” house broker.  You can read my article here:   Existing Home Sales For October Drop More Than Expected.

I toured some middle/upper middle neighborhoods yesterday that up until recently had very little on the market.  Mysteriously, a lot of homes seemed to have popped up on the market for sale in the last few weeks.   I was wondering if perhaps the home broker community had convinced their “pending” sellers to list their homes for Black Friday Month.  You have wonder, what is going on that would cause someone to list their home going into the slowest seasonal period of the year for homes sales?

Pulte Home Misses By A Country Mile

Pulte Home missed its Wall Street earnings nut by 10 cents. It would have been more had the Company not continued to burn shareholder cash with another huge quarterly share buyback. Closings were down 6% for the quarter year over year and the Company’s book value continues to plummet.  But, of course, they promote “orders.” “Orders” don’t mean a thing in a business model for which cancellations run 15-20%. Yes, upper management continued to dump shares into the Company’s share buybacks…

The Fed has handed the entire housing a multi-trillion gift in the form of a $2 trillion injection of printed money directly into the mortgage market and a zero-percent interest rate policy that has produced record low mortgage rates. Plus the taxpayer has, unwillingly subsidized down payments and interest costs, as all three major Government-backed mortgage entities are offering 3% down payment mortgages.

PayPalPicFor PHM to screw this up means that the Company’s management is incompetent. If you had purchased by latest homebuilder report when it was published you would be sitting on 6% gains in two days outright and even more if you played puts.  (click on the image to the left to access my stock report)

But this is just the beginning for PHM and my report explains why there’s an easy $10 of downside in this stock. This graph tells us everything you need to know about the true fundamentals of the housing market – even in an environment in which the Fed and the Government is literally shoveling money at the housing market as means of trying to prop up the economy, over the last 5 years the homebuilder stocks have underperformed the S&P 500 by 70%:

SPXvsHomebuilders

The Real Estate Bust Part 2 (Plus A Resurgence In Mining Stocks)

We’ve seen a big slowdown” said RE/MAX Unlimited realtor Ronda Courtney. “I have a listing that I’ve had to reduce twice in the past month…Sellers are starting to chase the market down,” said Anthony Rael, chairman of the market trends committee with the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.  – The Denver Post – Link1, Link2

Kerry Lutz of The Financial Survival Network invited me back on his show to discuss the housing market and mining stocks.  The housing market since 2010 has experienced what can at best be described as a “dead cat” bounce from its plunge that began in late 2005/2006.  This was to be expected given the trillions thrown at the housing market by the Fed and the Government.

While YTD in 2015 home sales overall are up a bit from 2014, home sales volume actually declined if you compare 2015 to 2013.  The only reason 2015 is up vs. 2014 is that FNM and FRE reduced their down payment minimum from 5% to 3% in January and, along with the FHA, all three agencies reduced the amount premium payment required to fund mortgage insurance for low down payment mortgages (i.e. down payments under 20%).

Furthermore, the primary component of the sales volume this year has been individual “retail” investors looking to generate rental income or to flip.

As we discuss in the podcast, this is the “retail” investor dynamic of “piling at the top of a market” after the sophisticated money has decided to sell, as the institutional fund money has disappeared from the market and many funds are now looking to sell part or all of their rental portfolios in response to a failed business model.

I will have a lot more to say about the housing market in the weeks ahead, but suffice it to say that, unless the Fed can push mortgage rates a lot lower and the Government uses even more taxpayer money to subsidize new home buyers, the housing market is about to shock a lot of people to the downside.

It’s called “The American Dream” because you have to be asleep to believe it. – “Julie Sheats,” Twitter

Existing Homes Sales Drop 3x Faster Than Expected

Existing home sales for August were released Monday.  They declined nearly 5% from July, with July revised down from the original report.  The brain trust on Wall Street was expecting a 1.3% decline.

It was only a matter of time before home sales started dropping again.  But a drop of this magnitude in August took me by a bit of surprise.  Of course, the National Association of Realtor’s chief “economist” offered pathetic excuses for the hammer applied to home sales in August with half-truths, distorted truths and omission of facts.   I was actually a bit shocked by the transparency of his apologies for the highly disappointing report.

For instance, every month he blames disappointing sales on low inventory.  The NAR is showing 5.2 months of supply as of the end of August.  However the inventory jumped to 5.2 months of supply from 4.9 months in July.  And the NAR inventory numbers are lagged by a couple months and do not include “coming soon” listings, which are listings exclusive to the listing broker for typically 30 days before they hit the MLS database.

Furthermore, based on what I’m seeing all over the metro-Denver area, the number of new listings accelerated toward the latter half of August and continued to increase on a daily basis throughout September.  This is interesting because typically listings tail off toward the end of the summer as families focus on back-to-school and then the holiday season. Even worse for the market, price reductions are hitting the market at an alarming rate.  It reminds me of 2007-2008 in Denver.

I get emails from readers describing similar observations in several other cities.  If you are not seeing what is going on in Denver, stay tuned because it is “coming soon.”  If the demographic pattern is similar to the pattern that developed when the housing bubble popped, Denver’s market was hit earlier than most of the other top-20 MSAs, the what is occurring in Denver with regard to an inventory pile-up will soon be all over the country.

The headline numbers and the data referenced by the NAR’s chief “economist” are “seasonally adjusted” and converted into an annualized rate of sales.  Any distortions in the data are exacerbated by when monthly data is converted into an annualized rate.  But let’s take a peek at the “unadjusted” data as reported by the NAR.

On an unadjusted basis, existing homes sales dropped 8.3% from July.  YTD there were 3.55 million homes sold. Compare this to the 5.3 million “adjusted, annualized rate.”  In order to cleanse “seasonality” out of the unadjusted monthly comparison, I looked at what happened from July to August in 2014.  Last year for the two month period home sales fell 3% on an unadjusted basis month to month.  In other words, the month to month drop this year is quite bit worse than it appears in the headlines.  The months’ supply at the end of August 2014 was 5.6.  Just for the record, in 2013 unadjusted sales from July to August were flat, declining by 1,000 homes.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the annualized, adjusted  sales rate in August 2015 was 5.2% below the same number that was reported in 2013.   Interesting that Larry Yun leaves that comparison out of his pathetic apology for a housing market report that was likely even much worse than was featured by the headline-regurgitating mainstream media.

Unlike Larry Yun, who seemed to make shameless love to the numbers, the stock market apparently hated the existing home sales report.  On a day when the S&P 500 closed up almost 9 points, the homebuilder index fell 1.3%:

Graph1

The homebuilders popped at the open on the heels of Lennar’s Q3 earnings report, which was mostly hype backed by little substance.  The homebuilder index dropped a bit on the horrific existing home sales reports but remained in positive territory.  It would appear that it took the smart money about 90 minutes to analyze and absorb the sales report, because around 11:30 EST, the homebuilders fell of cliff.

I’m expecting home sales to drop at a faster rate going forward for several fundamental economic reasons.  I’ll have a lot more analysis and commentary on this later this week.