The #Housing Market Is Experiencing ‘Dangerous Foreclosure Flare-Ups’ #realestate

Seattle skyline

February foreclosure filings increased two percent month-over-month (MoM) in February, according to the latest foreclosure report from RealtyTrac. These include default notices, auctions, and real estate owned (REOs) properties. But filings were down 25 percent from a year ago. One in every 849 homes received a foreclosure filing in February, down from a foreclosure rate of one in every 869 homes the previous month.

“The U.S. foreclosure inferno has been effectively contained,” according to Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “But dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up in states where foreclosures have been delayed by a lengthy court process or by new legislation making it more difficult to foreclose outside of the court system.”

Foreclosure flare-ups

In Washington for instance, foreclosure activity was up for the 10th straight month, rising two percent MoM, and up 123 percent from a year ago. It now has the nation’s fifth-highest foreclosure rate, for the first time since RealtyTrac began reporting on foreclosures in 2005.

Maine saw an over 400 percent year-over-year (YoY) surge in foreclosure activity. Meanwhile, Maryland’s foreclosure activity was up for the eighth straight month, rising 105 percent on the year and 49 percent on the month.

 

And the rise in Maryland’s foreclosure activity was driven by a 319 percent jump in foreclosure starts – the pace at which mortgages enter the foreclosure process. 

Overall, foreclosure starts were up 10 percent in February, rising for the first time in three months. They were however down 25 percent YoY.

Rising foreclosure starts are cause for concern, because the decline in inventory supported home prices, and in large part helped drive the housing recovery.

Housing analysts have been revising up their 2013 home price forecasts, with Bank of America Merill Lynch and Capital Economics calling for an eight percent rise in home prices.

For now, Florida, Nevada and Illinois continue to have the nation’s highest foreclosure rates.

 

SOURCE: Business Insider

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Pending Home Sales Soar Despite Rough Winter #housing #realestate

Rough winter weather across much of the nation at the start of this year apparently did not keep home buyers away.

Contracts to buy existing homes in January rose a strong 4.5 percent from the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors, which also revised December’s numbers down. That beats expectations of a 1.8 percent gain. Volume is now 9.5 percent above January 2012 and is the highest reading since April 2010. This as closed sales of existing homes, where contracts were signed toward the end of last year, were basically flat.

“Over the near term, rising contract activity means higher home sales, but total sales for the year are expected to rise less than in 2012, while home prices are projected to rise more strongly because of inventory shortages,” wrote Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors in a release.

The existing home market is faced with a lack of supply of homes for sale, as nearly half of home sales last year were of distressed properties.

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Banks have been slow to put foreclosed homes up for sale recently, possibly waiting for prices to improve further. While some expected a surge in inventory once home prices began to improve, that so-called “shadow supply,” has yet to emerge. Prices are rising fast, up nearly 7 percent in December from a year ago in the nation’s twenty largest real estate markets, according to the S&P/Case Shiller Index. But some would-be sellers may be waiting to see just how high prices move in the coming months, while millions of others are still trapped underwater, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 5 percent last week from the previous week and is now at its lowest level since the end of last year, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association weekly survey. Applications historically start to pick up around now, as President’s Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the usually busy spring housing season.

Regionally, the Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast rose 8.2 percent in January and is 10.5 percent higher than January 2012. In the Midwest the index increased 4.5 percent and is 17.7 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 5.9 percent and are 11.3 percent higher January 2012. In the West the index edged up 0.1 percent in January but is 1.5 percent below a year ago. Supplies of homes for sale are most limited in the West, where investors have been buying distressed properties in bulk.

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—By CNBC’s Diana Olick; Follow her on Twitter @Diana_Olick or on Facebook atfacebook.com/DianaOlickCNBC

 

Distressed Homes Still Drive Sales

By: CNBC Real Estate Reporter

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The housing market appears to be surging ahead suddenly on all cylinders, but that does not mean it is free of the remnants of its recent downfall.

The number of distressed home sales, either bank-owned or short sales, may be shrinking, but it is still making up a significant share of the overall housing market.

Foreclosure-related sales made up 21 percent of all U.S. sales in 2012 and short sales, when the home is sold for less than the value of the mortgage, made up 22 percent, according to a new report from RealtyTrac. Add it up and 43 percent of all 2012 sales were of distressed properties.

Banks are making more of an effort to do short sales instead of taking a home to foreclosure, and new federal guidelines are streamlining the process. That led to a 15 percent drop in sales of bank-owned homes and a 6 percent increase in short sales. This has helped home prices because short sales on average sell for a higher price than do bank-owned homes, because they are usually neither abandoned nor vandalized.

“Although foreclosure-related sales represent a shrinking share of total sales, primarily because of fewer bank-owned purchases, distressed sales are still a disproportionately high portion of the overall housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “And while distressed properties — whether bank-owned, pre-foreclosure or short sales not in foreclosure — are still selling at a significant discount compared to non-distressed properties, average distressed property prices are increasing in many markets thanks to strong demand and limited inventory.”

Limited inventory continues to be the key in today’s housing market, driving prices higher than most analysts expected. This is surprising, as distress in the market has not simply vanished. There are currently 1.7 homes in the foreclosure process and 1.5 million more seriously delinquent loans (90 days without a payment), according to a new report from Lender Processing Services. Banks are being more aggressive with loan modifications and principal forgiveness, but many of these homes will inevitably end up going back to the banks.

“Inventories continue to be low because non-distressed sellers are largely absent from the market, apparently waiting for prices to increase even more before they decide to sell,” noted Blomquist. “I think we are seeing signs of the shadow [foreclosure] supply hitting, but more on a market-by-market basis and often in the form of short sales as opposed to REO [bank-owned] sales — although REO sales are starting to show signs of life in judicial foreclosure markets with bigger backlogs.”

Strong investor demand for these properties is pushing prices higher, even creating bubbles in some of the formerly hardest hit markets, like Phoenix and Las Vegas. If prices get too high, however, and investors can’t reap the returns they need, then supplies could grow. So far that has not happened, but home prices are rising far faster than anyone predicted.

 

Home #Buyers Are Back, but Where Are the Houses? #housing #realestate

The first official day of Spring may still be 20 days away, but the Spring housing market is already underway. Buyer traffic is rising along with home prices, but one traditional Spring phenomenon is sorely absent: rising supply. The raw number of homes for sale is now at its lowest level in over 13 years, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the numbers continue to fall.

“Some listings are vanishing from a strategic decision of waiting for an even a higher price later. Some are due to few newly built homes available to trade-up to, hence some current existing home owners are unwilling to list. Some could be related to fear of being unable to buy after selling,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Supplies are down across the nation, not just in the former crash markets, like Phoenix and Las Vegas, where investors decimated inventories of distressed homes in bulk purchases. Listings are down 31 percent in Seattle from a year ago, down 32 percent in Denver, down 20 percent in Houston, down 37 percent in Boston, according to local Realtor associations.

“At the moment it’s a seller’s market again,” said David Fogg, a real estate agent in Burbank, CA. “Very low inventory, very low interest rates, almost no bank inventory of homes, it’s crazy out there. Every good property I’ve listed this year has brought 10-50 offers and sales prices 10-20 percent over comps. Cash is King.”

Nearly one third of all existing home sales in January were paid for in cash, and not just by investors, who are making up a shrinking share of the market. Fierce competition is forcing buyers to use every advantage, given that so many are going after so little.

In California’s San Fernando Valley there are usually over 9,000 homes for sale this time of year, according to real estate agent Billy Wynn. Today there are just over 1,400.

“Realtors are getting so many offers they are taking the homes off the market and not accepting additional offers before any offer is even accepted,” said Wynn. “This is real estate bubble 2.0 on steroids.”

It is a puzzling situation, given all the warnings of a tsunami of so-called “shadow inventory” that was supposed to be flooding the market right now. As it stands, fewer distressed properties are coming to the market.

“The ticking time bomb of shadow supply has been diffused by a combination of foreclosure processing delays in judicial states, legislation slowing down the foreclosure process in non-judicial states, foreclosure prevention programs and initiatives encouraging short sales,” said Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac. “Notably, in 2012, was the National Mortgage Settlement, which both encouraged foreclosure prevention and short sales as an alternative to foreclosure, and the loosening of short sale guidelines by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in November.”

As a result, short sales, where the home is sold for less than the value of the mortgage, are rising as a share of total distressed sales, while bank-owned home sales are falling. Investors are now competing for such little supply that they are ironically pricing themselves out of the market.

“We are hearing also, that new home buyers are not really looking at the foreclosure market—the houses are either not in good neighborhoods or the house is in bad condition and needs a lot of updates,” noted Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR. “So home buyers are either going to new-builds or being very picky with the type and shape of the house. We are hearing from plenty of mortgage brokers that they are working with many couples, and they just can’t find the perfect house.”

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It is the same story in Houston, Texas, where there were 25,600 listings in January of last year and just 19,000 today. Real estate agents there doubt they will see a surge in inventory this Spring, as Houston is experiencing an employment boom. The Texas Workforce Commission reported more than 85,000 new jobs were created there in 2012. Housing starts are expected to rise by about 17 percent, but that only translates to about 28,000 new homes, according to the Houston Association of Realtors, and current homeowners are just not stepping up.

“Many of my clients are unsure about the economy and the future costs they may face that are associated with The Affordable Care Act. Many say they are nervous about the future and are just sitting back waiting for economic conditions to level out,” explained Danny Frank, Chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors. “Some sellers may be reluctant to put their homes on the market because it typically requires them, in turn, to purchase a home. They may not be financially prepared to make that commitment at this time. Another factor is that there simply isn’t a vast number of homes currently on the market in Houston because of the buying surge we experienced throughout 2012 and now into the new year.”

It may also be a case of, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Homeowners were crushed by falling home prices, losing trillions of dollars collectively in home equity. Now that prices are rising, and rising faster than most expected, sellers likely see no reason to rush.

“We are not seeing a flood of new listings, as I would have predicted in a rising market,” said Steve Storti of Philadelphia-based Prudential Fox & Roach. “Sellers are wary and perhaps a little shell-shocked by having listed previously and not being successful. They also may be waiting for prices to rise.”

—By CNBC’s Diana Olick; Follow her on Twitter @Diana_Olick or on Facebook atfacebook.com/DianaOlickCNBC

Will the #housing market revival last?

Sale pendingFor the moment, the good news in the housing market comes with fundamental shifts in supply, demand and mortgage interest rates. (Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images photo / March 1, 2013)
Ilyce Glink & Samuel TamkinReal Estate Matters, Tribune Media Services4:30 a.m. CST, March 1, 2013
The housing market news sounds good this week. Sales of previously owned homes crawled up another 0.4 percent in January, which means that if this level of housing activity keeps up all year, sales will hit nearly 5 million,.That’s not the only good news. Existing home sale prices rose again, for the 11th month in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in January, up 12.3 percent from January 2012. (The last time it jumped that much was from July 2005 to May 2006.)

It’s the best year for the housing market since 2007, before the economy fell off the cliff into the worst recession in 80 years. And for the moment, the good news has to do with a couple of fundamental shifts in supply, demand and mortgage interest rates.

Let’s start with interest rates. When the Federal Reserve Bank moved to lower the federal funds rate (which is the rate many long-term interest rates are tied to), there was a lot of howling about how near-zero interest rates would ultimately cause hyperinflation, or an interest rate environment where we would see 30-year mortgage interest rates climb to perhaps double-digits.

That hasn’t happened, not by a long shot. Despite the fact that the Federal Reserve continues to spend of $85 billion per month buying mortgage-backed and other securities, long-term interest rates are actually lower this year than last year.

All the chatter about mortgage rates at historic low levels has sparked another round of refinancing. It has also piqued the interest of buyers who are starting to wonder whether they will miss the opportunity to buy homes that are still priced 20 to 30 percent below the high values set in 2006 — and to finance the purchase at the lowest interest rates in history.

Homes are the most affordable they’ve been in decades, say the Realtors, but that could change soon if more homeowners don’t decide to jump off the fence and become sellers. The number of homes on the market is the lowest it has been since 1999, and that is one of the main reasons home prices are rising, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

“Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady,” Yun explained. “In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.

“We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring, but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth.”

Frenzied bidding wars may sound good to sellers who have been waiting for prices to rise to a place where they’re not underwater and can sell and move on with their lives. But it isn’t the balanced market so many in the real estate industry have been hoping for.

In fact, a number of factors could derail the housing market revival.

Let’s start with the economy. The economy contracted slightly (by 0.1 percent) in the fourth quarter of 2012, surprising most economists. If government spending continues to decline, it may well spark another recession, though perhaps not as bad as the last.

Even if the country doesn’t fall into a technical recession, extremely slow growth and continued high levels of unemployment mean more homeowners will fall behind on their house payments and into foreclosure or short sale. That will, in turn, drive down home prices again.

Real estate investors have played a key role in turning around the housing market, sopping up homes at the low end. But once the low-hanging fruit (super-cheap homes) is absorbed, real estate investors will either turn into sellers or put up “for rent” signs on their property. With less competition, home sellers won’t get bidding wars and may have to accept lower prices.

Finally, there are a number of reasons why the Federal Reserve will start to raise interest rates, including a rise in inflation. Once that happens, many economists expect the housing market to hit the brakes, as home buyers get used to the idea that their mortgage will carry a 5 or 6 percent interest rate. While that used to seem cheap, it seems downright unreasonable when today’s 30-year fixed rate mortgages are at 3.5 percent.

Higher interest rates mean home buyers will have to spend less to get the same payment. And that will translate into lower offer for sellers.

While it looks good now, that could change. Nevertheless, if you’re selling or refinancing, you’re in a better place now than you were last year.

These Are The Questions About Crime #Homebuyers Always Forget To Ask

breaking-bad-4The list of question every buyer asks about the various properties during a house hunt is relatively predictable.

How many bedrooms does it have? Baths? Square footage? What are the HOA dues?  What’s the school district?

Then, we get more specific, personalizing the questions based on our own vision, aesthetics and lifestyle needs:

Can that wall be moved?  Is there space for Grandma’s dining room table? Is there a shady spot for an orchid house in the backyard?

When it comes to crime, most of us simply don’t ask any questions at all, as (a) agents might be prohibited from doing much beyond pointing us to law enforcement sources, and (b) we tend to assume most neighborhoods are either ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ low-crime or not.

The truth is never so black and white. Fortunately, technology has made it easy-peasy for us to get a deeper, more nuanced, and more usable understanding of the crime that takes place in our neighborhood-to-be, which in turn allows us to make smarter decisions about which home we buy and how we live in it, once we buy it, than we could have even ten years ago.

The key to tapping into this nuanced crime information is asking the right questions. Here’s a short list of the right questions to ask about crime before you buy a home.

1.  Do any offenders live nearby? In most states, Megan’s Law and similar provisions mandate that certain individuals with histories of criminal convictions must register their home addresses with local authorities, who in turn are required to make this information available to the public. Google “your city, your state Megan’s Law registry” to find sites where you can type in an address (like the address of the home you’re considering buying) and find a list of registered sex offenders in the area. Many of these sites will also offer you a map showing your address and the relative locations of the homes of the registered offenders.

The reality is that every neighborhood – even very upscale areas – has someone living in it who has committed a crime in the past, so don’t completely freak out if you happen to find someone in your neighborhood-to-be with a history of sex offenses. The utility of this information is that it empowers you and your children to recognize these dangers and to take care to avoid hazardous situations. That said, if you happen to have young children and notice that the Megan’s Law map has a halfway house with a dozen registered sex offenders living right next door to your target home, that information might change your decision about whether that property is the right one for you.

There is also power in following the path of the information you are given on these registry sites.  Many will surface information like what the registrants’ crimes were, when they happened, the registrants’ photos and more useful intelligence. This information can help you evaluate the degree to which you should be concerned before you buy.

2.  Was the home a drug lab?  You think your home’s former owner’s food or pet smells are toxic? That’s nothing compared to the truly unpleasant and health-impairing effects some have experienced after buying a home that turned out to have been a methamphetamine lab in a former life.  If the sellers know this about a home, they should certainly disclose it. Unfortunately, many of these homes end up sold by banks as foreclosures, or by estates, trusts, landlords or other corporate owners who don’t know the home’s past – or don’t have a legal obligation to disclose it.

Get the answer to this question to the best of your ability via this two-step process:
(a) talk with the neighbors – they often will reveal whether the house had a shady past, then
(b) search the federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry, here:  http://www.justice.gov/dea/clan-lab/clan-lab.shtml.

3.  What sorts of crimes happen in the area. Where and when do they happen? Crime happens virtually everywhere. But the details of crime patterns vary widely in various neighborhoods. One side of town might be plagued with an overall low crime rate, but the crime that does happen tends to be violent crime after dark. While another neighborhood across town might have lots of car break-ins during the day while people are at work, but not much going on after residents get back home – and not much violent crime at all.

This sort of information can be highly useful to a buyer-to-be, as it can help you make decisions not just about whether or not to buy, but also about whether to park your car outside (or not), whether to get an alarm and where in a given neighborhood you might prefer your home to be (e.g., interior cul-de-sac vs. thoroughfare in the same area).

Trulia Crime Maps offer precisely this sort of nuanced information, allowing you to view your town and neighborhood’s crime rate in heat map format showing the relative violent and non-violent crimes that have taken place recently in different parts of town. It also provides information on crime trends, in terms of the frequency of criminal activity taking place at various hours of the day, and the most dangerous intersections in your town or area.  SpotCrime.com offers another angle on nuanced crime data, breaking down crime types with easy-to-scan icons and providing data for communities all over the country.

4.  What anti-crime features does – or can – the home have?  Review your disclosures and talk with the sellers (through your agent, of course) about what anti-crime features the home currently has. This will allow you to prepare for any upgrades, downgrades or changes you’ll want to make.  For example, if a home has security bars that were installed 3 decades ago, you might want to have them brought up to code with a fire release bar, or removed altogether.  Or, perhaps the sellers currently have the home wired for an alarm that can be armed, disarmed and video monitored remotely – if you want to continue that service, you’ll need to get that information and make the account change when you take over the other utilities and home services.

On the other hand, the home might not have any anti-crime features.  So, if there is a particular alarm or monitoring system you like, it is smart to check in with that provider before close of escrow to find out whether they can provide services to the new address and, if so, what it will cost and take to equip the home and start service up at closing.

5.  What does the neighborhood do to fight crime – and how can I help? Neighborhoods across the country fight and prevent crime the grassroots way, by maintaining strong connections between the home owners and neighbors who all have in common the desire to live and raise their families in a safe, secure, thriving place.  Don’t hesitate to ask your home’s seller and/or any neighbors you talk to about whether there are any neighborhood associations, neighborhood watch groups, email lists, social networks, regular meetings, block parties or other community connections in which you can actively participate. ALL: Did you ever omit to ask a crime-related question about a home – and later come to regret it?

SOURCE: Trulia.com

#Housing holds key to full #job growth rebound #realestate

ap-builder-sentiment-4_3_r536_c534Housing began to rebound last year, with home starts, sales and prices all rising solidly. But many economists say the recovery is likely to be slow.

Excluding housing-related sectors, private payrolls increased to 99.5 million jobs in January, exceeding the previous high of 99.4 million in January 2008, the RBC study says.

That shows those industries haven’t completely recovered, because their job numbers should be even higher in a healthy market in light of population growth.

A more vigorous housing recovery would indirectly boost sectors such as education and health, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.

Still, RBC’s analysis does show that “the private sector (excluding housing) is back and in full recovery mode,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

By contrast, employment in housing-sensitive sectors — including construction, wood product manufacturing, furniture sales and architectural services — totaled 13.5 million last month, RBC says.

That’s nearly 500,000 above their December 2010 low. But it’s still almost 3 million below their total before the recession started in December 2007.

The construction industry, for instance, has gained nearly 300,000 jobs the past two years, though it’s still 1.8 million off its late-2007 level of 7.5 million. If all those jobs had been recouped, the nation’s jobless rate in December would have been 6.6% rather than 7.8%, according to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Housing construction also has an outsize impact on the overall economy. Although it makes up 3% to 4% of the nation’s gross domestic output, it accounted for more than a tenth of economic growth last year.

That doesn’t include its ripple effect on other industries. Employment in wood products manufacturing, for instance, rose to 344,000 in January, up from a recent low of 331,000 in 2011 but below 500,000 in December 2007.

Hundreds of makers of kitchen cabinets, doors, flooring and other products have shut down in recent years, says Philip Bibeau, head of the Wood Products Manufacturers Association. Many of those that remain are breaking even or losing money, living off their cash reserves from the mid-2000s housing boom, he says.

“They’re hanging in there,” Bibeau says, hoping for a stronger housing upturn.

That could take awhile. Economist Patrick Newport of IHS Global Insight predicts housing starts of 966,000 this year, up from 781,000 in 2012. But he doesn’t expect a normal level of 1.5 million starts until 2015 because high mortgage debt and strict lending standards are still crimping growth.

Zandi says rising home prices and falling mortgage delinquencies will open the home-lending spigots much sooner. Next year, he expects 1.7 million housing starts — and much stronger job growth.

 

 

Source: USAtoday.com

Top 10 Moving Destinations in the U.S. #housing #realestate

By Ilyce Glink | CBS MoneyWatch3e5e575e-52dd-42ba-85cb-d0e750e49bed_116662729Americans are on the move. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 36 million people relocated in 2012, an increase from 2011’s record low mover rate of 35.1 million. And while many of those stayed within the same county, plenty of them packed their bags and moved to a different state.Data from Penske Truck Rental, a global transportation services provider, showed that warmer climates were the biggest impetus to move last year. Check out where Americans moved in 2012.

10. Sarasota, Fla.Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota is home to Siesta Key Beach, which ranked one of the top three beaches in the U.S. for four years in a row. In addition to its fine white sand and calm blue waters, Sarasota is the perfect place to enjoy boat rides, eco-tours, world-class restaurants and more. With a median home sale price of $165,000, according to online real estate firm Trulia.com, housing is affordable for many middle-income families.

9. Charlotte, N.C.Charlotte is a major U.S. financial center, with Bank of America and the East Coast operations of Wells Fargo both headquartered here. In 2011, the city was named the second largest financial center by assets, behind New York City. Nicknamed “The Queen City,” Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, more than 40 public golf courses and plenty of other big-city attractions. On average, homes sell for around $162,000.

8. SeattleIt’s certainly not warm and sunny, but Seattle offers residents a little bit of everything. Check out the city’s gorgeous mountain and water views from the famous Space Needle, or enjoy the generally mild temperatures and locally grown food at Pike Place Market. Homes sell for a median price of $362,500; if you have more to spend, check out the unique houseboats — a la “Sleepless in Seattle” — on Lake Union. They’re more expensive than a traditional home but offer a one-of-a-kind living experience.

07-denver-630-jpg_1901557. Denver
Denver is the perfect blend of big city and mountain living. A short drive from the Rocky Mountains, the “mile high” city draws residents who want to work hard and play harder — outside. From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to mountain biking and hiking in the summer, there’s always something to do. The weather is generally mild, with super-hot and below-freezing days peppered in for good measure. For all its perks, Denver’s home prices are reasonable — the median home sale price is $233,950.

6. Houston
Winters in Houston are mild, to say the least. Temperatures average in the mid-60’s December through February, and are well into the 70s by the time March rolls around. If you like mild winters, hot summers and Southern hospitality, Houston is the place for you. There are plenty of employment opportunities, and homes sell for a median price of $124,050. For that price, you’ll have plenty of cash left over to enjoy the countless restaurants and shops Houston has to offer.

5. Chicago
Residents of the Second City enjoy food from all over the world, thanks to Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, and entertainment that ranges from the world-famous Joffrey Ballet to local rock bands. Public transit moves residents easily from neighborhood to neighborhood, so a car is unnecessary, and the median home sale price is $190,000 — a steal for a home in a large city.

4. Orlando, Fla.
It’s well-known as the home to Disney World, but Orlando isn’t just Mickey Mouse. It’s also one of the world’s largest golf destinations and home to more pro golfers than any other city in the world. But you don’t have to hit the links to enjoy the city. Locals relish fishing, boating and other outdoor activities in the year-round warm weather. Homes are inexpensive, with the median home sale price hovering around $116,000.

Phoenix-png_2015453. Phoenix
If you love warm, sunny weather, Phoenix is for you. The average temperature is 70 degrees in February, and rainfall is a rarity year-round. While summer days can peak well into the 100s, evenings are great for dining under the desert stars. Residents enjoy kayaking, hiking and biking in the spring and winter months, before the heat of summer gets too oppressive. The Phoenix real estate market is slowly rebounding from its post-housing bust lows, but the median home sale price is still a reasonable $131,000.

2. Dallas-Fort Worth
Reasonable housing prices, ample job opportunities and pleasant weather continue to draw new residents to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Enjoy the classic, Texas-style fun, like rodeos, along with fast-paced thrills at the Texas Motor Speedway and Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. Even with all the nightlife, shopping and entertainment that residents enjoy, home prices remain reasonable — the median home sale price is $61,000.

1. Atlanta
For the third year in a row, Atlanta was the country’s most popular place to move last year. A diverse city with many cultural attractions, residents enjoy the perks of big cities like New York and Chicago without the sub-freezing temperatures. Atlanta is home to the world’s largest aquarium, numerous critically acclaimed restaurants and a thriving cultural scene. For a city as in-demand as Atlanta, homes are affordable, with a median home sale price of $200,100.

Source: Yahoo.com

Americans are Moving More Often

HouseforSale_9Rising home values, affordable prices, pent up demand and fewer households underwater on there are motivating more American families to move more often. The average home buyer is expected to stay in a home only 13 years, down from a peak of 20 years in 2009.

Based on a long-run calculation that averages mobility tendencies over a number of years, the typical buyer of a single-family home-including first-time buyers as well as move up buyers- can be expected to stay in the home is now approximately 13 years, according to recent article published by the National Association of Home Builders.

The NAHB work updates a previous article that used data from the American Housing Survey (funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted in odd-numbered years by the Census Bureau) through 2007. The new study incorporates AHS data through 2011.

The mobility tendencies observed in the 2011 data imply that the expected length of stay in an owner-occupied, single-family home would be about 16 years (the time it would take half of single-family buyers to move out). However, 2011 is likely to be an atypical year, so the article repeats the analysis using mobility tendencies observable in earlier years, with results as shown in the figure below.

If a single estimate is needed for how long buyers who move in today or in the near future can be expected to remain in their homes, the article recommends 13 years, based on the rounded average across all data points.

The article also shows that, over the 1987-2011 period, the expected length of stay in a single-family home has been consistently longer for trade-up buyers than for first-time buyers. Averaged over those years, the expected length of stay in a single-family home is about 11 and a half years for first-time buyers, compared to 15 years for buyers who have owned a home before.

The National Association of Realtors reported that the average tenure is still nine years in its recent 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, up from six years before the housing crash in 2007, but the average buyers expectation is to live in theuir new home 15 years.

Why the #Housing Market Can’t Move On Without More First-Time #Homebuyers

FE_PR_121024housing425x282Home values are now increasing nationwide. While that’s certainly better than the alternative, a deeper dive into the data reveals a serious crack in the foundation: too few first-time homebuyers.

First-time homebuyers are the vital first rung on the home ownership ladder. They are usually buying from a seller who is “trading up” to a more expensive home or building a new one. When potential new buyers sit on the sidelines, existing homeowners are stuck, unable to move out and up.

In October, the first-time buyer’s share of the purchase market stood at about 35 percent according to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Survey. That’s down from 37 percent as recently as June and it’s the lowest percentage recorded in the survey’s history. Typically, a healthy housing market sees first-time homebuyers occupy around 40 percent of the purchase market.

The survey results also revealed that first-time homebuyers heavily relied on the Federal Housing Administration for financing, thanks to its low down-payment requirement of 3.5 percent. With the FHA’s recent announcement that it will tighten credit standards, first-time homebuyers will see the barrier to homeownership grow even more.

But it’s not just a tightening credit market that’s squeezing first-time homebuyers. Enticed by historically low but increasing home prices, rising rents, and record-low interest rates, yield-hungry investors ranging from giant hedge funds to cash-rich seniors are crowding out crucial first-time buyers. In red-hot Phoenix, for example, investors have purchased more than 30 percent of all single-family houses and condominiums sold in 2012, and those numbers are rising.

But a closer look at the widely followed Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price indices reveals two trends that might blunt enthusiasm about recent returns for investors. First, on a month-to-month basis, home price gains are slowing in key metro regions. Atlanta, dubbed the “Phoenix of the East,” suddenly saw prices peak in June, and then drop dramatically.

Second, year-over-year increases in home values will begin to wane as many metro regions approach the one-year anniversary of their lowest price points. This is significant since many areas have seen considerable yearly gains and those numbers have been a large part of the media narrative, in turn enticing more investors to enter the market.

To boost first-time sales, lawmakers should focus on promoting a culture of savings among future homeowners. Homeowners who come to the table with larger down payments have more options in homes and choices in financing, which will result in lower monthly mortgage payments and higher levels of home equity. Stable housing markets, with reasonable levels of appreciation, will nurture economic growth and encourage private lending.

One way to foster a culture of savings is a “Home K Account,” which would create a sub-account in current retirement savings plans, such as 401(k) plans. This would allow first-time homebuyers to save for a down payment on a tax-preferred basis. Workers are facing increasing threats to retirement security in the shadow of looming entitlement reforms, and too many Americans are forced to choose between saving for retirement and saving for a down payment. Or worse, they’ve given up on both. By encouraging saving for both kinds of assets, Home K Accounts would help America make the transition from a debt society to an equity society.

This is not a one-size fits all solution, but a piece of the puzzle. We need more jobs and increasing wages. We need fresh ideas to help low-income home buyers that don’t simply saddle them with costly, highly leveraged loans.

Whatever the policy prescription, we should encourage savings. It’s the only way we will begin to build a pipeline of responsible, sustainable homeowners.