Despite the growing optimism regarding the recent uptick in the market, there is no getting around the underlying foreclosure outlook for U.S. residential property.

Cliff Bowman, the Vancouver, B.C.-based marketing expert who turned pre-selling condominium buildings into an industry art form, pointed to data by credit bureau Equifax and Moody’s showing that recent home price declines have left 24 percent of all homes in the U.S. with debt that is greater than their value.

"People in Canada are in a better situation," Bowman said. "I don’t know why that is … perhaps they were better prepared."

Despite the growing optimism regarding the recent uptick in the market, there is no getting around the underlying foreclosure outlook for U.S. residential property.

Cliff Bowman, the Vancouver, B.C.-based marketing expert who turned pre-selling condominium buildings into an industry art form, pointed to data by credit bureau Equifax and Moody’s showing that recent home price declines have left 24 percent of all homes in the U.S. with debt that is greater than their value.

"People in Canada are in a better situation," Bowman said. "I don’t know why that is … perhaps they were better prepared."

That "preparation" had a lot to do with the Canadian mortgage system. One of the reasons our friends north of the border may be in a better equity situation is that Canadian lenders have historically required more skin in the mortgage game.

Not only have downpayment guidelines been more stringent, but there also is no mortgage interest deduction on federal income taxes in Canada, so residents have no incentive to consider huge interest payments as beneficial in any way.

Steve Ozonian, who has held several key positions in the real estate industry — including chief executive officer of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, senior vice president of Coldwell Banker and president of the former Realtor.com, the official Web site of the National Association of Realtors — is now actively attempting to facilitate loan modifications and refinances for those borrowers who are not able to make their mortgage payments or are in clear danger of not being able to do so in the near future.

His present company, Sorrento Capital, works as an intermediary between the lender and the consumer.

"We are looking at a backlog of foreclosures and there will be even more because of the moratorium now in place on them by some of the major players in the industry," Ozonian said.

"We are seeing a situation where borrowers get a 90-day moratorium, then another 90-day extension. This is producing people who have not made a mortgage payment in 14 months, yet they are still in their homes."

Ozonian has played a critical initial role in the advancement of real estate sales and relocation technology through computer systems, software and marketing tactics. Early on, he advised on the development of Microsoft’s HomeAdvisor.com and launched an e-certification program at Prudential to train and certify real estate professionals on the use of emerging technologies to better serve online consumers.

"It’s going to take a long time to reset the financial system now in place in regard to how we finance mortgages," Ozonian said. "The loan modifications will help, but I think we need to look further down the road." …CONTINUED

Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX International, said while the future of the market will be driven by motivated, tech-savvy youngsters who will be seeking present-time information on mobile devices, her concern is the glut of creative adjustable-rate mortgages, known as Alt-A loans, that will flip higher next spring.

"When a lot of these loans adjust, the payments due will be 60 percent higher than what they are now," Kelly said. "That’s quite a jump for families that are already stretched."

Larry Spencer, vice president of RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm that collects public records from more than 2,200 counties around the country, concurred with the idea of a spike in foreclosures early next year.

"That’s what we are hearing and that’s what all the indicators are pointing to," Spencer said. "With the number of loans expected to adjust, we are expected to see more foreclosures on the market."

Joel Singer, executive vice president of the California Association of Realtors, predicated a radically different mortgage market in the next three to five years. Jumbo loans need to return to the table to help push the sale of the housing market’s higher-end homes, he said.

"I think 2010 is going to be a tough year. We have the lower end of the market almost back in place — or at least the basics are back in place. Less expensive homes are selling. However, the top end will take longer to adjust and I don’t think that’s going to happen until we have a reconstruction of mortgage banking," he said.

"We need to be concerned not only about next year but also about our next generation."

Tom Kelly’s book "Cashing In on a Second Home in Mexico: How to Buy, Rent and Profit from Property South of the Border" was written with Mitch Creekmore, senior vice president of Houston-based Stewart International. The book is available in retail stores, on Amazon.com and on tomkelly.com.

***

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