Builders Hurting Phoenix Housing Market (again)
Ironically, the Phoenix real estate market is being hurt (again) by homebuilders in a sort of pendulum back swing effect.
The run up in the Valley’s housing market in 2004-2005 was exacerbated by over-building coupled with irresponsible lending practices by the builders themselves. Many builders sold double-digit units to investors who were clearly poised to either re-sell or rent their units out upon completion of construction. Neither high resale inventories nor high percentages of tenanted homes helps local property values.
As with many lending institutions, some builders’ financing arms were overly lax with application approvals, putting some homeowners in risky programs that we’re seeing play out in today’s market.
For an interesting article on how homebuilders contributed to today’s crisis by jumping into the mortgage business, click here.
Now we see builders, in a desperate play to generate cash flow and “hit their numbers,” slashing prices so steeply that they’re hurting their own customers, many of whom are experiencing such huge losses in equity that it will be a decade or more of historical appreciation rates before they can even hope to break even.
When builders slash prices, they do accomplish their goals, but they hurt surrounding homeowners in other ways, too. By lowering sales prices, they affect ‘comps’ values. Comps are used in most appraisals to determine fair market value for a given property. So properties that sell at fair market value in the eyes of the buyer and seller, but not in the eyes of the bank, won’t close escrow unless the buyer and/or seller ‘take their lumps’ and compromise. Either the seller lowers the price or the buyer comes up with cash, if they want the deal to happen.
Furthermore, homeowners who have responsibly accrued some equity in their homes and want to pull some out through a refi may not be able to do so.
And all surrounding communities that have already been built out, suddenly find themselves competing with the builders if they decide to sell.
To the builders, this is business. To homeowners, it’s intimately personal. Unfortunately, the builders have the advantage of deep pockets and being able to control the game, at least within their communities. The homeowners are the ones who suffer in the long run.