Home sales have plunged since the home buyer tax credit breathed its last in April.
But now, thanks to the robo-signing scandal, along comes another artificial stimulus to prop up the housing market.
Hammered with questions over the validity of foreclosure paperwork, banks are pulling back big time, putting on hold both initial foreclosure petitions and foreclosure deeds, the last step in the process.
Foreclosure petitions fell 51 percent in October, while foreclosure deeds, representing completed home seizures, fell 39 percent, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.
Now don't get fooled here into thinking this is some great boost for the battered housing market. In fact, there are already some suggestions to that effect, unbelievably really. While this could prove a short-term boon for sellers - stick with me, I will get to that - it is likely to prove another unfortunate roller coaster ride for the housing market as a whole.
Just wait until the spring, when foreclosure petitions and takings soar after the major banks work out the paperwork kinks. After all, the foreclosure crisis was already on track to set new records here in Massachusetts and across the country before the robo-signing controversy erupted.
So we are looking at a temporary lift followed by another deep dip, similar to what happened this summer after the home buyer tax credit went away.
But for anyone faced with having to sell a home, yes, the next few months could prove to be a rare opportunity akin to what we saw last spring in the months leading up to the end of the credit.
That spurred frenzied buying activity, and we are not likely to see that again for years.
Instead, the drop in foreclosures is likely to have a more subtle impact, working quietly, strengthening the hand of some sellers.
For a few months anyway, the number of foreclosure specials on the market will stop increasing at an exponential rate, while some homeowners just sliding into foreclosure hell will find themselves with some breathing space.
"It should stabilize or raise prices above what they would be otherwise," Alan Clayton-Matthews, an associate professor of public policy at Northeastern University, told the Globe.
So sellers, get cracking.
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