The coronavirus has managed to seep into every facet of the global economy and it seems nothing will escape its financial wrath. During the last two weeks as unemployment levels have skyrocketed in the U.S.; analysts, economists, and wealth managers have been warning about another subprime mortgage crisis. Most of these observers believe there’s no doubt the real estate market will collapse again, as economists understand that the loss of jobs, wages, and severe reduction of business activity has devastated the American economy.
Real Estate Industry Will Suffer from Unemployed Homeowners Who Can’t Pay Loans and Renters Who Can’t Pay Landlords
There are a number of individuals and organizations that predict the covid-19 economy will destroy the American housing market and it might be far worse than the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. One of the biggest reasons people think that the real estate economy is about to be hit hard is because of the number of U.S. citizens that are unemployed right now. This has caused mortgage borrowers to stop paying loans due to not having funds. Debtors who are landlords are suffering too, as renters cannot come up with the money to pay monthly rent expenses because they are out of work. At the time of publication, estimates note that roughly 40% of New York tenants may not be able to pay their rent this month which in turn hurts the landlord paying the mortgage.
Estimates from Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi note that 30% of Americans with mortgages might not be able to pay their loans. Zandi says that figure is around 15 million American households and it could grow worse if the economy is shut down through the summer months. Property owners and renters are concerned about the unpredictable economy and a great majority of earners are seeing a smaller paycheck thanks to fewer shifts, hours, and layoffs across the board.
The U.S. government’s safety nets are not working and the ones that are available only cover a fraction of homeowners. Many Americans are upset because government-backed home loans through the FHA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the VA are allowing deferred payments for mortgages. In some instances, these lenders are allowing up to a year of deferred payments. But government-backed loans only cover 60% of the nation and the 40% leftover have traditional real estate loans with banks.
What’s the break lease policy at the moment if they don’t offer a rental reduction? If we can’t afford rent anymore do we just say to our real estate agent like… ‘here’s my notice sorry?’ I’m 5 months into a 1 year lease.
— Michael Beveridge (@mickyb273) April 3, 2020
The Airbnb Bubble: Some Airbnb Super Hosts Have 10+ Mortgages
Similarly, property owners who rent might not get monthly payments for a very long time. As individuals in the U.S. are finding themselves out of work, they can’t pay the rent to their landlords. Some renters and politicians in various states are calling for an emergency rent freeze and eviction moratorium until the covid-19 threat is behind us.
Landlords with mortgages could be crushed as the Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS) estimates there are more than 22.5 million rental properties nationwide. Some economists think that super hosts from Airbnb could cause the housing market to buckle as well, thanks to the unwinding Airbnb rental economy. Mega or ‘super hosts’ are Airbnb landlords who mortgaged multiple homes in order to profit on the platform’s rental market.
“Watch the real estate market, my neighbor is an Airbnb super host,” tweeted Spencer Noon. She is on forums with other hosts [and] many of them have 10+ mortgages. 0 guests are booking their properties [and] they are running out of cash.”
From Predicting a ‘Booming Spring Real Estate Market’ to a ‘Catastrophic Buying Season’
Even small banks and real estate lenders are being told by the government they have no idea how long the industry shut down will last. “Nobody has any sense of how long this might last,” explained Andrew Jakabovics, an executive from Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit affordable housing group. “The forbearance program allows everybody to press pause on their current circumstances and take a deep breath. Then we can look at what the world might look like in six or 12 months from now and plan for that.”
On March 21, news.Bitcoin.com reported on how Lendingtree’s chief economist Tendayi Kapfidze predicted a complete “shutdown in the housing market.” Today, Kapfidze says with the government in “bailout everyone mode,” they probably will try to stop mass foreclosures. “I expect policymakers to do whatever they can to hold the line on a financial crisis,” Kapfidze told the press. “And that means preventing foreclosures by any means necessary,” he added.
In addition to the looming subprime mortgage crisis, office, retail, industrial, and multi-family homeowners invested a lot of upfront funds expecting a good season in the spring. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how quickly everything can change. Just weeks ago, mortgage lenders were predicting the biggest spring in years for home sales and mortgage refinances,” Bloomberg’s recent real estate coverage explains. Meanwhile, on April 2nd, financial publications wrote: “Real estate spring buying season could be catastrophic.”
Even the President Is Looking for a Loan Deferral
Throughout the covid-19 economy, wealth managers and economists are curious about which safe-haven asset will society be confident in during the financial meltdown. While many predict precious metals will be the avenue, history shows that during the 2007-2008 subprime mortgage crisis bullion markets were manipulated by central banks.
The current black swan event, covid-19 may call for a black swan asset like bitcoin because it’s not manipulated as easily as real estate property and precious metals. Traditionally investing in real estate outperforms a myriad of other investment assets, but cryptocurrencies have outshined property investment by a longshot. In fact, in contrast to real estate investment which gained 70-100% in ten years, BTC gained 8.9 million percent over the last decade.
Moreover, analysts can clearly see that office, retail, industrial, and multi-family investors will take a big hit from the covid-19 economy. Even U.S. President Donald Trump is having issues coming up with funds to pay for his Florida properties and his administration asked Deutsche Bank and Palm Beach County to give him leniency.
What do you think about the real estate industry’s hardships in the near future? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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