Sunday, January 27, 2013

Economic Recovery?

If many of you dear readers, like this writer, have been paying attention to the "mainstream" media recently you have heard that the US economy is in a slow but steady "recovery" from the financial crisis of 2007-2009. This drumbeat includes the recent data proving that the housing market has begun to rebound as evidenced by an increase in the prices of existing single family dwellings.

Our own experience here in west Georgia seems to refute such an assertion. Vacant homes in many residential neighborhoods in this area approaches 1 in 5 (20%). Two strip malls consisting of a dozen retail shops each which were completed in late 2009 and early 2010 remain completely vacant to this day with a recent sign at one of them announcing "free rent". (click on above image to enlarge)

Members of our family who have recently fled California with cash in hand have attempted to purchase at least a dozen properties listed "for sale" only to be advised by the agents that the properties are "under contract". Investigation has revealed that all of the properties are in the process of being transferred to the ownership of this or that limited liability corporation (L.L.C.).
...[W]hat’s fuelling the soft rebound in the U.S. housing market and home prices is something that’s never happened in our history. It’s not individuals buying houses who are moving prices and demand higher; it’s institutions. Yes, big institutional investors are buying houses—and in a big way!
The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE/BX) bought $2.5 billion worth of U.S. homes—that’s 16,000 units in total so far, with cash! In October of 2012, the company owned $1.5 billion worth of homes and was spending $100 million a week to purchase more! (Source: Bloomberg, January 9, 2013.)
Other companies like the Colony Capital LLC and Waypoint Homes are taking similar courses of action as the home prices increase. Colony Capital has already purchased 5,500 homes since April of 2012 and expects its investments to increase to $1.5 billion by the end of this year. Waypoint Homes has bought 2,500 home and plans to have a total of 10,000 homes by the end of 2013.
Indeed, a neighboring single family residence selling for $210,000 in 2007 and which stood vacant for 3 years after being abandoned by its resident owner was occupied a year ago by a "minority" single mother of three minor children whose rent is subsidized by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development under Section 8.

As soon as the emerging glut in rental properties results in a lack of return to these corporate investors and the federal subsidies end as a result of the "Great Default", the fecal matter will definitely encounter the rotating ventilating device. I suggest that you gentle readers refuse to surrender your "personal defense" weapons. You may need them.



YIH said...

As you noted, wealthy investors are buying up SFHs/condos en masse. Because they want section 8. For them it's a 'win-win' the rent gets paid every month guaranteed and section 8 tenants seldom complain even if there are rather major problems with the unit. The tenants don't want the landlord/property manager showing up or coming in because they are either doing something in violation of the lease or just plain illegal (theft of utilities, too many people/people not on the lease in the unit, drugs, stolen property, ect.) so unless the problem is so severe that the place is barely/unlivable they won't complain (plus they are used to slipshod/no maintenance).
And yes, when the government teat finally dries up they will indeed be up the proverbial creek. They are essentially betting that the unit will be paid up to at least it's raw land value plus demolition costs by the time that happens so they can at least somewhat break even (or make some profit) before that time. Even if they don't they can file bankruptcy and/or abandon the property and wash their hands of the whole deal.

Starlady NW GA said...

You must be nearby! Exact s/d description of where I live. Looking for new place in farmland, don't want these neighbors when the bennies run out.

LFMayor said...

YIH - They won't have any demolition costs, the denizens themselves will see to that when the "Poo Fling Olympics" start.