Property Flippers Soured Sales

’07 disaster won’t touch this year’s, experts say

September 21, 2008

By David Wren – The Sun News

Newly released home mortgage data for 2007 shows how speculators looking for quick and easy cash fueled and then burned Horry County’s real estate industry, but experts say last year’s numbers come nowhere close to reflecting the downturn currently under way in this area’s housing market.

The data, from the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, shows an increase in home sales and values for almost every Horry County census tract during 2004-’06, followed by a sharp decline in sales for almost all of the county’s 43 census tracts last year.
The hardest hit areas were along the oceanfront, where a high percentage of loans went to investors looking to resell – or flip – properties as prices rose and the housing bubble grew.

When that bubble popped, housing prices tumbled, and investors found themselves stuck with properties that were worth less than the money they owed on them.

Some investors allowed those properties to go into foreclosure rather than making inflated mortgage payments, and a soaring number of high-risk, subprime loans meant many people who bought during the boom no longer could afford their homes.

The result has been a record pace for foreclosures which, while devastating to buyers and the banks that loaned them money, represent a lone bright spot for the dwindling number of real estate agents trying to sell homes.


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