Category Archives for "National"

December 23, 2010

November sales of existing homes rise 5.6% over October

The housing market’s climb from the depths of depression is continuing at an uneven pace, and economists say signs point to further slow improvement in 2011.
“The trend is starting to move in the right direction,” says Diane Swonk, chief economist at financial services firm Mesirow Financial.

A string of new housing data is building optimism. Existing home sales in November rose 5.6% from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Demand has steadily improved since bottoming in July following the end of the buyers’ tax credit.

New-home sales data for November, out today, are also expected to show slight improvement after an October that made the third-worst showing in 47 years, says IHS Global Insight. Last week, the Commerce Department reported that housing starts rose almost 4% in November, the first uptick in new home production since August.

Despite signs of improvement, economists and home builders say next year will remain tough.

Home prices, down almost 30% from their 2006 peak, will fall 5% to 7% more before potentially rebounding later in the year, says Patrick Newport, IHS Global Insight economist. Banks will repossess 1 million U.S. homes next year, on top of 1 million this year, says market researcher RealtyTrac.

The glut of foreclosed homes drives down home prices overall and hurts demand for new homes. Last month, foreclosed homes sold at a 15% discount to non-distressed sales, NAR said.

Home builder PulteGroup expects 2011 to be on par with this year — the worst for home builders in decades, says CEO Richard Dugas. Yet he says the “groundwork is laid for a recovery,” because of low interest rates, low home prices, some job creation and improving consumer confidence.

Toll Bros., the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, is “cautiously optimistic” about 2011, says CEO Douglas Yearley. Toll has spent $400 million buying land in the past year — increasing its land bank for the first time in four years, he says.

Job growth is the key to housing’s recovery. Economist Newport expects the U.S. economy to add about 960,000 jobs this year, 2.2 million more in 2011 and 2.9 million more in 2012. But it lost 8.5 million during the recession.

Credit for home buyers is another issue. Almost a quarter of homeowners with mortgages owe more on their homes than they’re worth, making it tough to sell and move up. “Without people trading up or down, demand is limited,” says Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors.

This article was published on Dec. 22, 2010 in USA Today, article link.

To find out more about available and affordable housing in your area, click here.

December 20, 2010

“For Sale By Owner” Not as Successful in 2010

Homes sold without the help of a real estate professional dropped to a record low over the past year. According to the 2010 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, unrepresented sellers made up only 11 percent of the market, down from 13 percent in 2009.

Owners who sell their home without the help of an agent usually sell to someone they already know. Factoring out those private sales, the actual number of homes sold on the open market without professional assistance was a record low 5 percent, compared to 10 percent in 2004.

With the higher rate of foreclosed and short sale properties on the market currently, buyers need to use a certified Realtor to help navigate through a sale or purchase. It is not out of the ordinary for many Realtors to be unfamiliar with the process, and this can make the real estate journey a lot harder for the buyer.

Finding a Realtor that can assist you and your needs is the best way to find a home or have your property sold in a timely manner.

For help with this process you can contact Showcase Realty by clicking here to get started on your way to selling or purchasing a property.

December 7, 2010

Research Firm Says Housing Currently Undervalued by 14% to 17%

The following is an excerpt from an article in DSNews by Carrie Bay.

The sharp fall in residential property prices in the third quarter means that housing in the United States has become even more undervalued, according to the analysts at Capital Economics.

Based on the latest S&P Case-Shiller index, Capital Economics has concluded that house prices are now 17 percent undervalued relative to disposable income per capita. Housing has never before looked as undervalued, the firm pointed out in a research note released to

Looking at the data included in the index compiled by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), residential home prices are 14 percent undervalued, which is also a record, according to Capital Economics.

The housing affordability index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) remains close to its record high. Capital Economics explained that NAR’s affordability assessment indicates that a median income household with a 20 percent down payment can now more easily afford the monthly mortgage payments on a median-priced home than at any time in the last 30 years.

Rock-bottom interest rates have also helped to bring owning a home within the means of more Americans. Mortgage rates have begun to head upward from half-
century lows in recent weeks, but Capital Economics says the increase has done little to reduce overall affordability.

Full Article

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Distressed Homes 25% of Third-Quarter Sales: RealtyTrac

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Carrie Bay for DSNews:

New data released by RealtyTrac Thursday shows that distressed homes – including those in default, scheduled for foreclosure auction, and REO – accounted for 25 percent of all U.S. residential sales in the third quarter.

These properties sold at an average of 32 percent below the price of their non-distressed counterparts. RealtyTrac says that’s the highest distressed-property discount it’s seen since the fourth quarter of 2005.

According to RealtyTrac’s data, the average sales price of homes in the process of foreclosure or bank-owned was $169,523 in Q3, down 2.46 percent from the previous quarter. By comparison, the tracking company says the average sales price of non-distressed properties was $249,721, up 6.42 percent from the second quarter.

RealtyTrac reported that 113,933 REO homes sold to third parties during the July to September period. That’s 26 percent fewer than were sold in the previous quarter and down nearly 35 percent from the third quarter of 2009. REOs sold for an average discount of about 41 percent.
A total of 74,815 pre-foreclosure, typically short sale, transactions were completed in the third quarter, down 24 percent from both the previous quarter and year-ago levels, based on RealtyTrac’s findings. Pre-foreclosure sales went at an average discount of 19 percent.

All in all, 188,748 U.S. properties in default, scheduled for auction, or bank-owned sold to third parties last quarter. RealtyTrac says that figure represents a decrease of 25 percent from the previous quarter and is 31 percent below the third quarter of 2009.

Read More

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Wall Street Journal: What Happened to the Government’s Short Sales Program?

The following article was written by Nick Timiraos for The Wall Street Journal, published November 29, 2010:

In April, the Obama administration formally rolled out a new program, called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, that was designed to spur more short sales, where banks allow homeowners to sell their homes for less than the mortgage debt outstanding.

Like other foreclosure-prevention initiatives, this one appears to be off to a slow start — just 342 sales have been completed through September.

HAFA was designed as a cousin to the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program, HAMP, whose woes have been well documented. HAFA works like this: Servicers are supposed to consider short sales for borrowers who aren’t able to receive a HAMP modification. Because some 700,000 HAMP applicants have been ejected from that program, there’s a potentially large pool of borrowers who might be evaluated for HAFA.

Initially announced in May 2009, HAFA was also designed to help reduce wait times by streamlining the short sale process through standardized documents and approaches for short sales. Under the program, the government offers incentive payments to mortgage-servicing companies, investors and even the borrowers that accept a short sale under prescribed guidelines.

For example, second-lien mortgages receive 6% of the unpaid loan balance in a short sale, up to a maximum of $6,000, but they must agree to relinquish all claims against a borrower. (Our story on Saturday illustrated why seconds pose problems in short sales.) The program also provides $3,000 in “move-out assistance” to borrowers.

Many real-estate agents say banks have largely ignored the program and that they are applying it unevenly. “Banks are initiating the HAFA transaction and then after three weeks they say, ‘Naw, sorry, you didn’t qualify,’” says Greg Markov, a Phoenix real-estate agent. “That three weeks is a huge pain. You wasted all this time.”

Industry officials, meanwhile, say that HAFA has been hindered by extensive documentation requirements and restrictive qualification guidelines. A homeowner that’s already relocated isn’t HAFA eligible, for example, and neither are borrowers that apply within 60 days of a foreclosure date.

The program is also voluntary, which may limit participation from second-lien holders and mortgage insurance companies that see a financial reason to avoid a short sale that requires them to forgo the opportunity to seek deficiencies against borrowers.

“It looks good on paper, but you can’t make anyone participate,” says Kevin Kauffman, a Phoenix real-estate agent who says he’s closed 150 short sales but has yet to complete one through HAFA.

Still, the Treasury and other supporters say they’re optimistic that results will pick up. Because short sales take several months to close, it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect huge numbers of deals that would close within five months. Moreover, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t issue their own participation rules until August.

“It does take a little bit of time to see results on these,” says Dave Sunlin, Bank of America’s senior vice president for short sales and bank-owned property sales. “The concept on paper is there.”

For this article, click here.

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