African American? Pick Me! I Promise I’ll Respond.

OK, everyone knows that there’s still discrimination. In fact, there probably always will be. But in a slightly weird piece of data, from a slightly weird source (phys.org), it would seem that the big discrimination still happening in the mortgage industry comes down to responding slowly, or not at all. The research claims that being African American basically results in the same effect as if you had a 71 point lower credit score. So, I promise you this here and now — if you’re African-American, I’ll respond to you with the same speed I would anyone else.

 

African American homebuyers

Thinking on Stephen Karam’s New Play: The Humans

This is slightly off-topic for this blog, but I think it has some relevance, and I think that for those of us who think long-term, it might be very important to the industry. The New Yorker has a piece on the play, which focuses on the challenges of longer life, and the strange blight that seems to be affecting middle-class, white Americans. What got me thinking was how the incredibly good state of the housing market doesn’t seem to be doing anything for consumer confidence. Now I’m starting to think in terms of existential angst, and the long-term impact on the housing market. Keep your eyes open: I predict demographic shifts afoot.

 

Theater

Time to Invest? Look at a HELOC.

I’m not an investment advisor — so don’t take this as advice; this is just me thinking out loud. Berkshire-Hathaway’s shareholder letter came out last week. As always, it’s well worth the read, if for no other reason than to be well humored by the Oracle of Omaha. But it did get me thinking: Warren doesn’t believe in selling — he believes in buying good investments when they’re cheap. And given my article from Monday, about the amount of equity people are putting into their homes, I’m beginning to wonder if now isn’t the time to take some of that equity out, and look at putting it to work in some other investment.

 

Buy low sell high

5% Housing Price Increase This Year

Crystal balls are great. Averaging everyone’s crystal ball together makes them even better. That’s kind of the way I look at polls about the future. Kind of a meta crystal ball. And to make things even more meta, Reuters has gone and looked at more than one poll! So, never mind a pinch, take this prediction with a giant box of salt: housing prices are likely to go up 5% in 2016. Actually, with so many analysts pointing that way, I’m tempted to lean contrarian, but I actually do think this will be a pretty good year for housing (based on my own crystal ball).

 

Psychic

Where’s The Debt?

MarketWatch reporter Andrea Riquier wrote a great article last week, covering the New York Fed’s quarterly report. She makes a lot of great points, and the article is well worth the read. But my question is, where’s the debt? Overall debt is down from $12.68 to $12.12 trillion. But mortgage debt is down from $10 to $8.74 trillion. So, my question is, where’s the extra $700 billion in debt? It can’t be all in student loans, and I don’t think it’s in credit cards, but, wherever it is, while Americans may be building equity in their homes, they’re building debt somewhere else. And that might represent a liquidity problem in the not too distant future.

 

Debt