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

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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.

Getty Images

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

 

 

Americans, by a margin of more than 3 to 1, expect the housing market to improve over the next 12 months, part of a broader brightening in their outlook for the economy, according to a Bloomberg National Poll.

 

Fifty percent of poll respondents say the market will continue to get better in 2013 compared with only 16 percent who say they expect it to decline. An additional 31 percent say the market will stay about the same.

i_HUBqi9VQ20Prices are very steadily, slowly, starting to creep back up,” says Eric Matheny, 31, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale,Florida, who purchased a new home five months ago. “The housing market is a major part of the economy, so it says something about the strength of the economy.”

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index rose 5.5 percent in the 12 months to November, the biggest year-over-year gain since August 2006. In January, homebuilders began work on 613,000 single-family homes, the most since July 2008, the U.S. Commerce Department said yesterday.

As the housing market, the epicenter of the 2008 financial crisis, continues healing, Americans say they expect its improvement to spread through the economy, according to the poll of 1,003 adults conducted Feb. 15-18.

By a margin of 43 percent to 26 percent, respondents say prospects for job growth will rise over the next 12 months, with 30 percent seeing little change; 37 percent anticipate a stronger economy compared with 25 percent who disagree and 37 percent who say it will be about the same.

Deficit Concern

Susan Kosko, 43, a risk-management assistant in ruralPennsylvania, says she feels “a tiny bit” better about the economy thanks to rising home prices in her area and lowinterest rates.

“The deficit is a big concern,” she adds via e-mail.

On several other measures of economic well-being that Bloomberg has tracked over time, the share of poll respondents saying they expect improvement rose from December.

Asked about overall financial security, 32 percent say they expect their situation to get better compared with 14 percent who see tougher times ahead and 48 percent seeing little change.

There’s also an increase in the share of respondents saying the market value of their homes will rise, with 27 percent expecting higher prices compared with 16 percent who anticipate falling values and 34 percent saying they’ll be about the same. In December, Americans were evenly split, with 20 percent predicting higher prices and 20 percent lower prices.

Getting Closer

By a margin of 49 percent to 37 percent, Americans say they feel they’re moving closer to their career and financial goals.

“We’re every year getting closer and closer,” says Matheny. “I’ve got a good work ethic and I put my heart and soul into my job.”

Still, more than three years after the end of the 2007-09 recession, concerns remain. Asked about having enough disposable income to make large household purchases, 29 percent say they expect more difficulty in the coming year compared with 19 percent who plan to loosen their belts.

Thirty-one percent say money for vacations or entertainment will be tighter while 21 percent say the situation will improve. While 28 percent say they expect their household-income situation will be better, 13 percent say it will be worse and 54 percent see no change.

“We’re advancing, but very, very slowly,” says John Grannan, 62, a retired police officer in Fort WayneIndiana, who now teaches criminal justice at a local university.

The economy will grow 1.8 percent this year, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Failing Grade

With the stock market close to regaining its pre-crisis peak, respondents expect betterinvestment performance by a margin of 23 percent to 18 percent, with 34 percent seeing little change.

Bob Magera, 63, a part-time pharmaceutical salesman in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, says his 401(k) retirement accounts lost about 50 percent of their value during the financial crisis.

“I’m not where I’d like to be, but I’m OK,” he said.

The outlook isn’t without clouds. President Barack Obama continues to get a failing grade from a plurality of respondents on the question of “making people like me feel more economically secure.” By 48 percent to 45 percent, respondents disapprove of the president’s performance on that issue.

Political Dysfunction

Outright majorities say they expect the national debt and health-care costs to continue worsening. By a 56 percent to 16 percent tally, poll respondents say the nation’s $16 trillion debtwill get worse over the next 12 months while 55 percent say health-care costs will get worse.

Washington’s chronic showdowns over government spending also have left Americans worried about the impact of political dysfunction on retirement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. And by 46 percent to 10 percent, those surveyed expect their federal tax bills to rise in the coming year.

Sizable shares of poll respondents express concern that Social Security and Medicare may not be available when they retire. On Social Security, 43 percent say it probably or definitely won’t exist when they need it, while 54 percent say the program will definitely or probably be there.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans are skeptical that Medicare will be around when they need it, while 57 percent say the health-insurance program for the elderly will definitely or probably be there.

Global Standing

“Unless we get this deficit under control and unless we get spending under control, I don’t think they’ll be around in five or six years,” says Grannan. “Sooner or later, those people we elected better get along and do something before this country falls apart.”

The poll also finds concern over the prospects for the U.S.’s global standing. Since the financial crisis erupted in the fourth quarter of 2008, the Chinese economy has grown at an average annual rate of 8.9 percent compared with 0.6 percent for the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In the poll, 35 percent say the country’s standing in the world will get worse over the next 12 months while 26 percent say it will improve. An additional 37 percent expect it to remain unchanged.

The Bloomberg National Poll was conducted by Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based pollster. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: David J. Lynch in Washington at dlynch27@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cesca Antonelli at fantonelli@bloomberg.net

 

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

Fannie Mae predicts record-low mortgage rates entering 2013

MortgageBond_1Mortgage rates are anticipated to remain at an all-time low for the first half of 2013, then slowly rise during the second half of the year, although they will remain below 4%, reported Freddie Mac.

On the same day that Fannie Mae released its National Housing Survey, showing increased consumer confidence in the housing industry, Freddie Mac revealed its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for December.

The housing outlook predicts what some of the market features are expected to look like in 2013.

“The last few months have brought a spate of favorable news on the U.S. housing market with construction up, more home sales, and home-value growth turning positive,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac.

Property values are expected to gain strength with most house price indexes increasing as much as 3% next year.

Housing starts are expected to jump to a net 1.20 to 1.25 million household increase in 2013, with starts up around the 1 million annualized pace by the fourth quarter.

Vacancy rates should fall significantly for both apartments and single-family homes for sale, dropping to 2002 to 2003 levels.

The 2012 refinance boom will continue into early 2013, suggesting single-family mortgage originations may decline by as much as 15%, while multifamily lending is believed to rise approximately 5%.

“This has been a big change from a year ago, when some analysts worried that the looming ‘shadow inventory’ would keep the housing sector mired in an economic depression. Instead, the housing market is healing, is contributing positively to GDP and is returning to its traditional role of supporting the economic recovery,” said Nothaft.

Available Housing Inventory Is Collapsing

Tuesday economic releases:
• At 10:00 AM ET, Trulia Price & Rent Monitors for November. This is the index from Trulia that uses asking prices adjusted both for the mix of homes listed for sale and for seasonal factors.

Here is another update using inventory numbers from HousingTracker / DeptofNumbers to track changes in listed inventory. Tom Lawler mentioned this last year.

According to the deptofnumbers.com for (54 metro areas), overall inventory is down 22 percent year-over-year and probably at the lowest level since the early ’00s.

This graph shows the NAR estimate of existing home inventory through October (left axis) and the HousingTracker data for the 54 metro areas through early December.

Since the NAR released their revisions for sales and inventory last year, the NAR and HousingTracker inventory numbers have tracked pretty well. HTearlyDec2012

On a seasonal basis, housing inventory usually bottoms in December and January and then increases through the summer. So inventory will probably decline a little further over the next month or so, before increasing again next year.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change in inventory for both the NAR and HousingTracker.HTEarlyDecYoY2012

HousingTracker reported that the early December listings, for the 54 metro areas, declined 21.7 percent from the same period last year.

The year-over-year declines will probably start to get smaller since inventory is already very low. It seems very unlikely we will see 20%+ year-over-year declines next summer, but it does appear that inventory will be very low in 2013.

Home affordability strong in many real estate markets

The average listing price for a home in the U.S. is $292,152. About 36% of the real estate markets analyzed had an average home listing price of less than $200,000, indicating affordability remains strong in many markets, according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s Home Listing Report.

The Coldwell Banker report analyzed more than 72,000 home listings in more than 2,500 markets by comparing the listing prices of similar homes in markets across from the country from January to June of this year.

Five of the most expensive real estate markets are located in California, with four out of the five markets located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Los Altos, Calif. tops the list, followed by Newport Beach, Saratoga, Melo Park and Palo Alto.

“The success of many of our native tech companies has shined a spotlight on Silicon Valley and our real estate market in the San Francisco Bay Area,” said president Rick Turley of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The most expensive state to live in is Hawaii with the average listing price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home is $742,551.

In contrast, the most affordable market is Redford, Mich., with the average home listed at $60,490.

Four of the top 20 most affordable markets are located in Michigan, particularly in the metro-Detroit region.

“Where Michigan was one of the first states impacted by the recession, it’s also been one of the first states to recover,” said chief executive officer Kelly Sweeney of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel. “Nobody ever gets priced out of Redford, putting the American Dream within grasp of nearly everybody.”

In the South, Georgia and Florida each have four of the 20 most affordable markets.

“Each year, our home listing report captures an insightful look at local market conditions and emerging trends in real estate,” said president Budge Huskey of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “We recognize that buying a home is a significant life decision, and we do this apples-to-apples comparison of similar homes to provide homebuyers with useful information about the many great opportunities that exist around the U.S.”

Bank of America holds event to discuss home #foreclosures in #Phoenix

With nearly 54,000 foreclosure homes in Arizona this year, Bank of America held an event in downtown Phoenix Tuesday for homeowners to meet with home loan specialists and discuss their current financial situation. Cronkite News reporter Bill Melugin has more on the story.

Eastmark in #Mesa to get more #homes – #az #realestate

Source: AZCentral.com

More developers are signing up for pieces of the former General Motors Desert Proving Ground in southeast Mesa.

Scottsdale-based AV Homes Inc. and JEN Partners LLC of New York City announced Tuesday they have combined to buy 527 acres in the Eastmark property being developed by DMB Associates of Scottsdale.

A new entity called TerraWest Management Co. LLC will coordinate the two developments aimed at very different demographics:

AV Homes is spending $18.6million for 310 acres on which it plans to build a 1,000-home active-adult community under its Vitalia brand. The company already is in the Phoenix-area market with its CantaMia adult community in the West Valley.

JEN Partners is spending $13.6million for 217 acres where it will develop 550 lots for a gated executive-housing community. The lots then will be sold to luxury-home builders.

Carl Mulac, executive vice president of AV Homes, said in a news release that Eastmark “is clearly one of the best development locations in the region.”

DMB bought 5 square miles of the former GM property for $265million in late 2006 and then had to sit on the property as the Great Recession ravaged the real-estate market.

Early plans for a luxury resort on the north end of the GM land fell through, and a 1.3million-square-foot First Solar Inc. factory built on its northeastern corner last year is largely idle because of the economy.

But, early this year, DMB announced plans to break ground on about 700 homes in nine subdivisions northwest of Ray and Signal Butte roads. In June, seven builders said they were spending $50million to buy those lots in hopes of having homes for sale by next May.

The developments announced Tuesday will be south of there, between Signal Butte and Crismon roads.

Plans for another big chunk of the former GM property, purchased in 2004 by Phoenix businessman William Levine, lay fallow until this year.

In September the Mesa City Council approved two developments on that property, totaling 590 acres, being purchased by Harvard Investments of Scottsdale.

The GM site is viewed as a prime target for developers because Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport lies just to the west, across Ellsworth Road.

If You’re Trying To Sell Your #Home, You Will Be Thrilled By This Chart

Source: BusinessInsider.com

With today’s update of Existing Home SalesCalculated Risk has updated the always-useful chart showing how many months of household inventory remains on the market.

The important line here is the red line: Months of housing supply on the market.

The months of supply is down to 5.4 months, which is down from last month, and sharply down from a year ago.

Everybody who is trying to sell their house should be thrilled that the balance between sellers and buyers is coming back into balance.

Says Nomura, with respect to today’s housing news:

The housing data revealed today are quite positive, reflecting the sustained recovery in the housing market that began earlier this year. Housing data for the months of November and December might reflect a slowdown mainly due to Hurricane Sandy. This slowdown would be temporary as people look to rebuild their homes that were destroyed during the hurricane and as transactions affected by Sandy are completed.