(hat tip to Nathan)

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
Matt Wrye, Staff Writer
Created: 04/25/2009 06:21:38 PM PDT

“Economists and real-estate agents are counting on homeowner affordability to stabilize California’s housing market mess, but Bruce Norris couldn’t disagree more. Owner of The Norris Group, a Riverside-based real-estate investor and financial broker for other real-estate investors, Norris says it’s not what a home shopper ‘can afford to pay’ that’s key in turning this market around – it’s what they’re ‘willing to pay.’”

“He’s bucking the popular belief that a 5 percent or 10 percent price drop on Inland Empire home values will usher in the market’s bottom. Think 20 percent or maybe more, he said. ‘It’s because of the 1004 MC form,’ Norris said. ‘It’s very dangerous.’”

“This ‘market conditions addendum’ for appraisers to use – enforced April 1 by the mostly government-owned mortgage investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and loan insurer Federal Housing Administration – might thrust the economy’s fragile mortgage system from its depressed state to something much worse, Norris argues.”

“The new addendum says a house must be appraised at the neighborhood’s median home value instead of market value, as long as the home is located in a downward market and as long as the mortgage is a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or an FHA-backed loan. Median home values in certain neighborhoods are taking a beating these days because their prices are skewed by dozens of foreclosures – which means nonforeclosed homes are slated to get hit by a double-whammy price-depreciation phenomenon.”

“Norris has already seen values stated on local home appraisals drop 20 percent in the past 3 1/2 weeks. ‘If this plays out, things will get much worse,’ Norris said. ‘We’re going to devalue the loan portfolios of almost every lender in the state of California. This could crash the system – it really could.’”

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