Friday, October 24, 2008

Financing for Foreign Investors Discontinued

Once again the mortgage lending guidelines have changed with the wind. For a brief period there was a window for foreign nationals to obtain mortgage financing on investment and second homes in the United States with down payments as low as 25%, but now that window has been slammed shut along with a host of other “make sense” loan programs. (Don’t even get me started on condo hotels that can’t be financed by anyone with even 50% down!)

Many of the foreign nationals who contacted us in recent weeks were willing to put down as much as 30% to 40% or even 50% on Las Vegas foreclosures. With the current housing market crunch, what are the big banks thinking? Here are people with real money, good credit and big down payments that would love to take advantage of lower prices and they can’t get financed?!!! Some of these investors were already under contract on projects in development, and they may have to walk away from substantial deposits unless alternative financing is brought online. (Just as a side note, permanent resident aliens are still able to obtain financing on the same terms as US citizens. If you are a permanent resident alien and need a Las Vegas mortgage, please contact us at 702-985-7654 so we can put you in touch with the right lender.)

On top of all this, with the stock market dives globally, even those foreign investors who didn’t need financing and were planning on paying all cash are now stepping back as they watch the value of their portfolios diminish. The Euro is back down to 2005 levels and the British pound has plummeted even below that level.

Canadians, who saw their dollar rise to all an all time high against US currency at $1.10, have watched it tumble in just the past few days to 79 cents versus the US dollar. Literally thousands of Canadians were looking for winter getaways in the US, but have had to put their plans on hold. Again, many of these were all cash buyers looking for modest Las Vegas condos under $100k, but with the devaluation of their dollar they have once again been priced out of the market without financing.

And even US citizens are being crunched/punished in the mortgage marketplace. The latest is that anyone who has three or more properties with any kind of mortgage on them cannot get financing for a fourth property. Again, even if they are willing to put 50% down and have low loan to value ratios on their existing properties and excellent credit and income, they still can’t get a fourth loan. Not even if you’re Donald Trump.

With all the resale Las Vegas homes and condos for sale, not to mention the hundreds of thousands nationwide, and all the opportunities to pick up great deals on foreclosures, our banks are not willing to lend to these impeccable buyers who want to buy and have money. Certainly I am not suggesting we should go back to no or low money down programs with no income or asset verifications. But why not create some solid loan programs to entice these good buyers, whether or not they are citizens of the US? The banks would be able to lower their inventories of properties substantially, which would in turn stimulate the economy and gradually raise prices again in a controlled manner.

All I know is that in the months to come, those with cash who are willing to take a chance on the market now are probably going to come up looking like geniuses in couple of years. My other prediction is that while Las Vegas real estate was one of the first to fall, it will also be one of the first to recover, and I am personally putting my money where my mouth is.