- Tom Silva
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Jafer Hasnain: The Housing Crisis: Where Do We Stand?
With home sales increasing in six of the last nine months and prices still 30 percent below the peak, the housing market is quite confounding. That’s the opinion of Jafer Hasnain, Principal and co-founder of Lifeline Assets, a private equity firm that invests in single-family homes.
In a recent interview for the Alter NOW Podcasts, Hasnain said that the nation has 10 million homes whose mortgages are seriously delinquent or even in foreclosure. According to Hasnain, this is the shadow inventory, which consists of mortgages that are either 90 days late, in foreclosure or bank owned. If you look at the next four or five years, that number will add up to between six to 10 to maybe 11 million homes.
When asked why President Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Plan (HAMP) didn’t work as intended – a program meant to help five million homeowners that saw only 800,000 sign up – Hasnain quoted the truism “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” As Hasnain sees it, the obstruction was in HAMP’s implementation. Although HAMP brought down interest rates to as low as two percent, the real problem for many is that they had lost so much equity, participation simply was not worthwhile. Because HAMP had no impact on the principal owed, homeowners still owed the same amount of money – which typically was significantly more than the house was worth in today’s market. Many concluded that it made more sense to let the bank foreclose – a process that takes 700 or more days – live in the house for free, save money so they ultimately could pay the bank a fraction of what they really owed.
Hasnain pointed out that approximately half of all existing mortgages could no be re-underwritten today because of stricter lending standards. In other words, half of all mortgages are potentially distressed, a fact that distresses Hasnain. “That reflects society, and that reflects the potential to really crimp consumer spending. I think housing is the number one, two and three issue right now.” Part of the trauma is caused because, at one time, most people were convinced that they could always rely on the value of their home. In the last few years, that balloon has been deflated to the point where we are now witnessing a failure in confidence. This is a fairly unique problem that most people have never faced, one that calls for creative solutions — whether they come from the government or the private sector.
To listen to Jafer Hasnain’s full interview on where we currently stand on the housing crisis, click here for the podcast.