While many predicted the current collapse of the real estate market, others were taken by surprise when the market that had left plenty of opportunity in the last few years for profit began to tumble.
Certainly, one of the leading events that eventually resulted in the crash of the real estate market was the crumble of the subprime market. As a result an unfathomable amount of companies suddenly were suddenly facing foreclosure. Even those companies that were not forced to declare foreclosure found they had suddenly lost billions of dollars.
The news has been filled with reports regarding the subprime market crash; however, while it has affected most property owners to some degree there remain many of remain uncertain exactly how this came to be.
Just a few years ago subprime mortgages were a great advantage to many property buyers. Buyers who were interested in taking advantage of the hot real estate market but who lacked good credit histories were able to take advantage of subprime mortgages in order to obtain loans. The underwriting guidelines for these loans were generally more lax than traditional mortgages. This allowed even buyers with poor credit to obtain a loan. In exchange for making a loan to buyer with less than stellar credit, lenders were able to charge a higher rate of interest. In addition, so the theory went, lenders relied on the belief that they would be able to foreclose on property and sell it for a profit in the event the borrower defaulted on the loan.
The money which funded these loans came from a variety of sources. Low interest rates made it possible in many instances for lenders to actually borrow money and then loan out those funds to home buyers. In other cases, the money was obtained from more complicated sources. As you may or may not be aware, it is not uncommon for governments to borrow money from central banks. This practice is particularly common in the United States.
At the time the housing market was stable. In fact, the housing market was experiencing a high that had not been seen in quite some time. Beyond the fact that many homebuyers were taking on massive amounts of debt there also existed another problem. Due to the health of the real estate market at the time, in many cases there were expectations regarding future growth that in hindsight now appear to have been unrealistic.
The last two years of the real estate boom occurred in 2005 and 2006. During that time period lenders did not hesitate in the least to lend money to borrowers regardless of their credit profile. These loans represented a tremendous money-making opportunity for lenders. Problems really began to occur; however, when interest rates began to rise from their previous lows. Historically, rising interest rates have always had a negative effect on the real estate market. When rates are low they help to produce demand; however, when they are high they ultimately cause prices to fall. Until mid-2006 home builders could not build new homes fast enough to meet the growing demand. During mid-year; however, the demand began to slow. It was also about this time that the rate of defaults on loans began to increase.
Before long many mortgage lenders began to find it difficult to obtain money from their previous sources of funding. As a result, would-be buyers discovered that loans were no longer as easy to obtain due to the fact that money was no longer as widely available. Additionally, investors suddenly became wary of taking on risk and underwriting guidelines grew stricter. Homeowners who had taken out loans with adjustable rates began to find it difficult to meet their mortgage payments as interest rates continued to rise. More stringent underwriting guidelines meant they were unable to refinance to fixed rate mortgages in some cases. As a result, defaults continued to rise; fueling the massive rash of foreclosures.