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News Link • Housing

Real Estate: Is the Bottom In, Or Is This A Head-Fake?

• http://www.zerohedge.com, by Charles Hugh-Smith

There are two ways to expand the pool of qualified home buyers, and they both rely on expanding leverage: A) lower the down payment from 20% cash to 3%, and B) lower the mortgage rate to 3.5%.

Lowering the down payment increases the leverage from 4-to-1 to 33-to-1, a massive leap.

Increasing leverage increases risk. Over 90% of all mortgages are guaranteed or backed by Federal agencies such as FHA. This “socialization” of the mortgage industry means that losses ultimately flow through to the taxpayers, who are subsidizing the housing industry via these agencies.

Lowering the mortgage rate increases the leverage of income. It now takes much less income to qualify for greatly reduced monthly payments.

With mortgage rates barely above the prime rate and Treasury bond yields negative in terms of inflation, there is simply no room left for lower rates or down payments. The “increase home sales by expanding the pool of buyers” game plan has been run to the absolute limit.

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