Market Solutions for Preventing the Next Housing Bubble

Published: 05th June 2009
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There is one potential market-based solution that would require no government regulation or intervention that would prevent future bubbles from being created with borrowed capital: change the method of appraisal for residential real estate from valuations based exclusively on the comparative-sales approach to a valuation derived from the lesser of the income approach and the comparative-sales approach. Both approaches are already part of a standard appraisal, so little additional work is necessary, other than appraisers will have to focus on doing the income approach properly.

The secondary mortgage market was created in the 1970s by the government sponsored entities, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and Ginnie Mae. This market was expanded by the creation of asset-backed securities where mortgage loans are packed together into collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). This flow of capital into the mortgage market is a necessary and efficient tool for delivering money to borrowers for home mortgages. This market must remain viable for the continued health of residential real estate markets. The problem during the Great Housing Bubble was that the buyers of CDOs did not properly evaluate the risk of loss through default on the underlying mortgage notes that were pooled. The reason these risks were not evaluated properly is due to the appraisal methods used to value real estate serving as collateral backing up these loans.

In the current lending system, the income approach is widely ignored. This change of emphasis in valuation methods could come from the investors in CDOs themselves. When the fallout from the Great Housing Bubble is evaluated, it is clear that the comparative-sales approach simply enables irrational exuberance because the past foolish behavior of buyers becomes the basis for future valuations allowing other buyers to continue bidding up prices with lender and investor money. Prices collapsed in the Great Housing Bubble because prices became greatly detached from their fundamental valuation of income and rent. This occurred because the comparative-sales approach enables prices to rise based on the irrational exuberance of buyers.

If lenders would have limited their lending based on the income approach, and if they would not have loaned money beyond what the rental cashflow from the property could have produced, any price bubble would have to have been built with buyer equity, and lender and investor funds would not have been put at risk. There is no way to prevent future bubbles, and the commensurate imperilment of our financial system, as long as the comparative-sales approach is the exclusive basis of appraisals for residential real estate.Lawrence Roberts is the author of The Great Housing Bubble: Why Did House Prices Fall?
Learn more and get FREE eBooks at: http://www.thegreathousingbubble.com/
Read the author's daily dispatches at The Irvine Housing Blog: http://www.irvinehousingblog.com/ Visit Market Solutions for Preventing the Next Housing Bubble.

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