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We’re entering the next stage of the housing market downturn—3 things to expect heading forward

“I’d say if you are a homebuyer, somebody or a young person looking to buy a home, you need a bit of a reset. We need to get back to a place where supply and demand are back together and where inflation is down low again, and mortgage rates are low again,” Powell told reporters.

Whenever a central bank moves from monetary easing to monetary tightening, there’s going to be an impact on a rate-sensitive sector like real estate. That impact, of course, is going to be even greater when monetary tightening comes after the asset class—residential real estate—spiked 43% in just over two years. Powell admitted that much in June. However, Powell was noncommittal as to whether the rate shock would push home prices lower.

Fast forward to September, and we no longer need to question if the housing “reset” will affect home prices. Back in June, the U.S. housing market was still just in the early innings of a sharp drop in housing activity. Since, we’ve seen housing activity, including home sales and home construction levels, go much lower. But as data rolls in for August, we now have clear evidence that the housing market downturn has moved beyond that first stage (i.e. a sharp drop in housing activity) and into the second stage (i.e. falling home prices).

“The longer that [mortgage] rates stay elevated, our view is that housing is going to continue to feel it and have this reset mode. And the affordability resetting mechanism right now that has to happen is on [home] prices. And so there are a lot of markets across the country where we’re forecasting that home prices are going to fall double-digits,” Rick Palacios Jr., head of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, tells Fortune.

Let’s take a deeper look at the three elements that’ll shift as we move into the second stage of the housing market downturn.

1. The home price correction is spreading.

As mortgage rates spiked—going from 3.2% to 6.3% this year—industry insiders knew it’d cause a sharp contraction in housing activity. However, many housing bulls thought it wouldn’t pull prices down. In March, Zillow went as far as to predict another 17.8% jump in home prices over the coming year.

It’s clear that housing bulls got it wrong. Among the 148 regional housing markets tracked by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, 98 housing markets have seen home values fall from their 2022 peaks. Just 50 markets remains at their peak.

In 11 markets, the Burns Home Value Index* has already dropped by more than 5%. That includes a 8.2% drop in San Francisco home values. While it’s common for median list prices to drop around this time of year, it’s not common for home values or “comps” to fall because of seasonality. Simply put: The home price correction is sharper—and more widespread—than previously thought.

A growing chorus of research firms—including Moody’s Analytics, John Burns Real Estate Consulting, Zonda, and Zelman & Associates—expect this home price correction to continue into 2023. Peak-to-trough, Moody’s Analytics thinks U.S. home prices could soon fall 5%. In significantly “overvalued” housing markets, Moody’s Analytics thinks that price drop could range from 5% to 10%. If a recession manifests, Moody’s Analytics predicts those price drops would double. But even that scenario would still be below the peak-to-trough U.S. home price decline of 27% we saw between 2006 and 2012.

There are still some firms that don’t think the home price correction—which is driven by an affordability squeeze created by spiked mortgage rates—will carry over into 2023. That includes Zillow. The Seattle-based home listing site acknowledges that 62% of housing markets should see falling home values in the third quarter of 2022. However, Zillow economists predict that only 28.5% of markets are headed for year-over-year declines between August 2022 and August 2023.

2. The housing downturn will soon spread beyond housing.

On a year-over-year basis, the ongoing housing downturn has seen new home sales and existing home sales fall by 29.6% and 20.2%. Real estate firms like Redfin, Realtor.com, and Compass have already issued layoffs. Homebuilders are calling off projects, while some mortgage lenders are teetering on bankruptcy.

That said, most of the financial pain of the housing downturn has been contained within the real estate industry. That’s about to change.

Researchers at Goldman Sachs recently released a paper titled “The Housing Downturn: Further to Fall.” The investment bank forecasts that U.S. housing GDP will drop by 8.9% in 2022 and another 9.2% in 2023. In the lead-up to the Great Recession—which officially started in December 2007—housing GDP fell by 7.4% in 2006 and 21.4% in 2007.

If Goldman Sachs is right, it’ll mean the contractions in the U.S. housing market will soon sprawl out into the broader economy. That’s not surprising. After all, the Federal Reserve has upped the Federal Funds rate in an attempt to slow the economy.

As home shoppers across the country put their home search on pause it causes homebuilders to pull back. That sees decreased demand for things like refrigerators, lumber, windows, and paint. Those economic contractions should, in theory, help to rein in runaway inflation.

“It [housing] is not the target, but it [housing] is essentially the target,” Bill McBride, author of the economics blog Calculated Risk, told Fortune earlier this summer.

3. Sellers are calling timeout.

As the Pandemic Housing Boom fizzled out this summer, we saw inventory jump across the country. In bubbly markets, like Austin and Boise, that inventory jump was greater than 300% between March and August.

But that inventory spike is already fizzling out.

Active listings on Realtor.com jumped by 106,900 homes in May. That was followed by 102,900 and 128,200 jumps in June and July. However, that slowed in August to just a 31,900 inventory jump. And through the rest of the year, Altos Research predicts inventory will actually fall.

What’s going on? For starters, sellers are realizing that buyers are done paying top dollar. Rather than take less, some sellers are simply waiting out the housing downturn.

There’s also the rate lock-in effect. The vast majority of outstanding mortgages have rates below 5%—with a big chunk even below 3%. If they sell now, they’d be giving up their historically low mortgage rate. That payment jump is hardly appealing for move-up buyers.

“It’s going to be very very hard to persuade people to let go of those insanely low rates,” Palacios tells Fortune. While many industry insiders believe tight inventory will help to prevent a housing crash, Palacios says it won’t be enough to prevent the home price correction.

Want to stay updated on the housing downturn? Follow me on Twitter at @NewsLambert.



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Wall Street hit with $2 billion in fines over employees using WhatsApp and other unauthorized messaging apps

U.S. regulators reached settlements with a dozen banks in a sprawling probe into how global financial firms failed to monitor employees’ communications on unauthorized messaging apps, bringing total penalties in the matter to more than $2 billion. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced $1.1 billion in fines and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission disclosed $710 million in penalties in separate statements Tuesday. Those levies — against firms including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — combined with JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $200 million in fines from December, bring the total to $2.01 billion, making them the biggest penalties ever against US banks for record-keeping lapses. 

“Finance, ultimately, depends on trust. By failing to honor their record-keeping and books-and-records obligations, the market participants we have charged today have failed to maintain that trust,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in the agency’s statement. “As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants appropriately conduct their communications about business matters within only official channels, and they must maintain and preserve those communications.”

Tuesday’s announcements cap months of discussions between regulators and the banks. Morgan Stanley said in July it was nearing a settlement that would see it pay a $200 million fine, with other major banks also disclosed setting aside similar figures as part of their second-quarter results without specifying the reason.

JPMorgan had been the only bank until now to reach a settlement with the regulators, and was the first to report the fines, in December. Even managing directors and other senior supervisors at the largest US bank had skirted regulatory scrutiny by using services such as WhatsApp or personal email addresses for work-related communication, regulators said at the time.

Finance firms are required to scrupulously monitor communications involving their business to head off improper conduct. That system, already challenged by the proliferation of mobile-messaging apps, was strained further as firms sent workers home shortly after the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In the SEC probe, eight firms agreed to penalties of $125 million each: Barclays Plc, Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG. Jefferies Financial Group Inc. and Nomura Holdings Inc. agreed to pay $50 million apiece, and Cantor Fitzgerald LP agreed to pay $10 million.

Bank of America had the biggest CFTC penalty, at $100 million, followed by Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS at $75 million each. Nomura was fined $50 million, Jefferies $30 million and Cantor Fitzgerald $6 million.

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Ray Dalio says the U.K.’s policies ‘suggest incompetence’ and warns other governments not to make the same mistakes

Ray Dalio added his name to a growing list of critics of the U.K.’s new spending plan, unveiled last week by Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng.

The billionaire investor—who founded what is now the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, in 1975—argued the plan’s aggressive tax cuts will raise the U.K. debts to an unsustainable level and cripple the pound.

“Investors and policymakers: Heed the lesson of the UK’s fiscal blunder,” Dalio wrote in a Tuesday tweet. “The panic selling you are now seeing that is leading to the plunge of UK bonds, currency, and financial assets is due to the recognition that the big supply of debt that will have to be sold by the government is much too much for the demand.”

On Monday, in response to Truss’ new spending plan, the U.K.’s bond market experienced the largest one-day sell-off in its history, pushing the total losses in the country’s stock and bond markets since Truss’ appointment as prime minister on Sept. 5 to over $500 billion. Meanwhile, the pound sank to a record low of $1.05 against the U.S. dollar on Monday morning, and although it has since risen to $1.07, the currency remains near a 40-year low vs. the dollar. 

After the new Truss spending plan was announced, the U.K. Debt Management Office said that it will raise its debt issuance by 72.4 billion pounds for the current fiscal year to 234.1 billion pounds.

The new spending plan will also push the U.K.’s debt to GDP ratio to around 101%, the highest level of debt the U.K. has held since 1962, according to Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank, UK Office of Debt Management

In Ray Dalio’s view, this rapid increase in debt, coupled with the lack of demand for the pound on the global stage, is a recipe for disaster.

“That makes people want to get out of the debt and currency. I can’t understand how those who were behind this move didn’t understand that. It suggests incompetence,” Dalio said. “Mechanistically, the U.K. government is operating like the government of an emerging country, it is producing too much debt in a currency that there is not a big world demand for.”

The investor went on to argue that this should be a teaching moment for governments around the world to not increase their debts to unsustainable levels.

“I hope, but doubt, that other policymakers who are doing similar things…will recognize that they are risking a similar outcome—and that investors will see this too,” he said.

Analysts are also worried that the U.K.’s new spending plan, which was designed to spur economic growth and help alleviate the effects of high energy prices in the short term, could end up exacerbating inflation in the U.K. overall. And consumer prices already jumped 9.9% from a year ago in August.

“The government is trying to balance support for consumers and businesses with measures that might trigger further inflation, whilst also trying to reinvigorate a stagflationary economy,” Giles Coghlan, chief market analyst at global Forex broker HYCM, told Fortune. “Such a large fiscal package could contribute to elevated prices in the medium to long term that could inflict further damage to an economy and currency that are already on their knees.” 

The potential inflationary impact of the new spending plan has increased calls for the Bank of England (BoE) to dramatically hike interest rates, with some economists even calling for the U.K.’s base interest rate to move from 2.25% to as high as 6% next year

That’s bad news for the U.K.’s homeowners. Monthly mortgage rates will increase immediately for 2 million people on tracker or variable interest rate plans if the BoE follows through with its next rate hike. And another 1.8 million homeowners with fixed-rate deals will also be forced to pay significantly higher rates next year, according to U.K. Finance.

With the U.K. facing more interest rate hikes ahead, rising government debts, a sinking pound, and a European energy crisis, Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, David Folkerts-Landau, said he now believes the country will experience a severe recession that lasts three to four quarters.

“We’re thinking in terms of a recession that will be deep and long,” he told Bloomberg on Tuesday. “It’s the price we have to pay for financial stability and for getting on the right track.”

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Russian billionaire Petr Aven used estate management companies as a personal ‘piggy bank’ British authorities say

Petr Aven does not have a bank account himself, authorities say.  

Instead, he has been using his wife’s account, and that of other estate management firms, as his personal “piggy bank” to support his lifestyle, lawyers for the National Crime Agency (NCA), a British law enforcement agency, told Bloomberg Tuesday.

The Russian oligarch is under investigation for allegedly routing nearly £3.7 million from an Austrian trust into the U.K. hours before Europe imposed sanctions on him following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. British authorities are now accusing Aven of using the funds of his companies for personal expenses, with no personal bank account of his own.

The Kleptocracy Unit, a new team within the NCA created to monitor sanctioned Russian oligarchs, says it was alerted to the last-minute fund transfer by Monzo Bank and HSBC Holdings. Authorities ultimately froze £1.5 million of the funds linked to the billionaire, Bloomberg reported. 

Aven has said that the transfer was meant to pay for things like security at his Surrey mansion and London property, Bloomberg reported. He is worth $4.98 billion, per the Bloomberg Billionaire Index

In a lower court hearing, a judge relaxed some of the restrictions on Aven’s estate accounts, allowing him to pay for “basic needs.” Lawyers representing Aven’s estate companies suggested that the NCA was looking for criminality in the money transfer by tying it to sanction evasion. Lawyers for Aven’s companies are now challenging the decision to keep his accounts frozen in London’s High Court, Bloomberg reported. 

Adrian Waterman, a lawyer for the companies that manage Aven’s household, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the NCA painted a “muddled factual picture.”

Waterman did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment. 

Aven, along with his business partner, Mikhail Fridman, made a considerable amount of his wealth from oil-related investments, especially after selling stakes in TNK-BP to the state-owned Rosneft in 2013. The duo also built a banking and financial services empire in Russia. They served on the boards of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest private bank and Luxembourg-based investment firm LetterOne, stepping down from their directorial roles days after they were sanctioned.

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