On a recent tour of Jacksonville, Fla., Paul Miller, managing director of FBR Capital Markets, found plenty of houses selling for $10,000 to $25,000, with most purchase prices below $100,000. But jumbo mortgages were few and far between.
In a report published Wednesday, Miller provided anecdotal evidence of two borrowers' struggles to get loans in this tight credit market.
A top-20 golfer buying a multimillion-dollar home with a 50% down payment still had trouble getting approved by his bank, Miller said. Another borrower with a high FICO score looking at a $300,000 home could not get a loan because he had recently changed jobs and became self-employed.
"Should the mortgage market remain frozen, we expect the inventory of homes to remain high and the prospect for clearing the inventory to remain low," Miller wrote.
Banks and the GSEs have totally different attitudes about asset dispositions, Miller said — and astonishingly, "the government seems to be getting it right."
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are at least putting a little money into fixing up homes to get a higher sale price, while banks generally refuse to put more money in.
"We find this troubling, as it sounds as though the banks are not doing enough to get value out of the homes they have foreclosed upon, and we cannot figure out why," Miller wrote.
In Jacksonville, where the smell of coffee perpetually emanates from the 100-year-old Maxwell House plant downtown, one out of every 395 homes received a foreclosure filing in November.
The unemployment rate stands at 10.9% in Jacksonville, Florida's largest city, with 850,000 residents.