Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Could it really be good news for the housing market?
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued its report on existing-home sales this week and reported that sales rose 3.4 percent — making the total so far 4.62 million homes, 10 percentage points higher than this time last year.
It’s not just for investors any more
NAR’s chief economist noted that “regular” consumers are once again entering the home-buying fray, bringing more balance to the beleaguered market:
“it is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions. A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices.
The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers' market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a sellers’ market.”
New home sales on the rise too
The Commerce Department reported that new home sales rose 3.3 percent. While compared year-over-year, sales this April were up 9.9 percent from the same month last year. Approximately 7.6 percent of home sales are new homes — especially as so many of previously owned homes are in distress and selling for far below market value.
Nonetheless, the median price for both new and previously owned homes rose in April, up 4.9 percent from April of 2011.
Monday, May 21, 2012
All of a sudden, the election doesn’t seem so far away, and the key states that are teetering may be swing back towards Obama as their housing markets show signs of life.
Key states see some improvement
An improving economy could significantly impact Obama’s chances of re-election — a Reuters review of 10 “key” states showed some positive movement in “even the most battered real estate markets, notably Florida, with some other key battlegrounds doing much better.”
The other states looked at by Reuters were: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. According to the report, the state of Virginia has seen an increase of 2.4 percent in home prices year over year. For Obama, that may mean good news, as a recent poll put him 8 points ahead of Romney in that state.
US News reported Jason Gold, director of the Progressive Policy Institute's (PPI) "Rethinking U.S. Housing Policy Project noted
“this flattening implies that the ever important states that will determine the fall election are in the process of putting a floor under falling home prices.”
A lot can happen in a few months
Although there has been improvement of up to 3 percent in some of these swing states, the election is still nearly six months away. Whether the money from the National Settlement is going to the intended recipients, how much of a role Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have and will have, and the fluctuating job market will all continue to bring pressure, positive and negative, on the housing market.
National boom, national crash, regional recovery
The Progressive Policy Institute maintains a “Battleground Home Values Index” — in the latest summary, they noted that Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics, has “proclaimed the crash to be over,” while Ron Insana, Senior Analyst and Commentator, CNBC, and panel moderator, “added some geographic context to Zandi’s assertion, artfully describing the housing market as a “ ‘national boom, a national bust and a regional recovery.’ ”
Zandi goes on to say that in looking at the housing market recovery, the focus should be on “hitting singles,” and that when interest rates do finally begin to rise — and, yes, one day they will begin to go up — there will be a giant flurry of activity as buyers realize the days of sub-4 percent rates are disappearing.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Over the last 5 years, many friends and acquaintences have been asking, "how are you holding up?" Let's be honest; it's been a wild ride. But during this time, I have adopted a number of little things that have made life much easier in real estate. Some have been humorous and some have been serious.
On the humorous side, I started counting the number of cars in the parking lot when prices were crashing. The competition among realtors was shrinking!
I also advised my team that we were in the middle of real estate's "Apollo 13" moment. There was a roll of duct tape stuck to the wall, and we reminded each other every day that "Failure is NOT an Option!"
I keep humming a Beatles song from my teen years (yes, Anna, I was a teenager once!), "I get by with a little help from my friends!" And boy, have I.
And I've found little places of refuge along the way.
So it's with great expectation that I am headed to Young Life's Washington Family Ranch for Women's Week-end, one of my favorite places to renew my soul.
I get the great privilege of sharing the week-end with my sweet daughter, my dearest step-daugther, a wonderful client and several long time friends. Theme of course; "Pretty in Pink."
This is absolutely my most favorite week-end of the year. There's sun, there's gorgeous hillsides in the Canyon, there's wonderful men, young and old, willing to serve their sisters. And of course - there's lots of giggling.
The ranch was once the home to sheep herders, the Pony Express and the Rashneesh in the '80's. But with much prayer and blood, sweat and tears, this ranch has been turned into a wonderful refuge - primarily for teenagers in the summer, but for women of all ages on this particular week-end.
The photo above is of the ranch at sunset. Could any place be more heavenly? There are competitors, I know - but this is tough to beat!
So if you are a woman, and think you might need a bit of renewal, keep the week-end after Mother's Day open next year. I have a dream of taking a van full of girlfriends with me next year. Will you join us? I know you'd enjoy our wild ride to the Canyon.....and then a totally girl week-end.
Ciao for now,
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Your clients could receive
$2,500 to $30,000 in relocation assistance
- Once you initiate the short sale at (Your Favorite Agent Knows Where!) we'll evaluate the homeowner for this offer quickly to determine if they qualify for the enhanced relocation assistance.
Ciao for now,
Monday, May 14, 2012
Both 30- and 15-year mortgages reached record lows
Long-term mortgages were introduced to the U.S. market in the 1950s — and the 3.83 percent average for a 30-year loan reported by Freddie Mac last week is the lowest rate recorded since then.
The average for a 15-year mortgage dropped to a record low of 3.05 percent.
First quarter home sales highest in five years
According to NAR, home sales in the first three months of 2012 were the highest of any first quarter since 2007. Home sales increased 4.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 and were up 5.3 percent year over year from the same period in 2011.
Loan fees and delinquencies dropping too
Last week, the average fee for 30-year loans dropped from 0.8 to 0.7, although the fee for 15-year loans remained steady at 0.7.
At the same time, homeowners behind on their mortgage payments reached the lowest level in three years — only 5.78 percent of borrowers were late on payments for the first quarter of 2012. This is down from 6.19 percent year over year from 2011, and from 6.01 percent the quarter prior (the last quarter of 2011).
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
New foreclosures down more than 30% year over year
For months, economists and industry experts have been predicting a flood of foreclosures to upset the housing market once bank settlements and other distressed mortgage initiatives were ironed out. As it turns out, however, the March Mortgage Monitor report issued by LPS shows that although new foreclosures for March are up 8.1 percent over February, they are down 31.1 percent from the same time a year ago. (via Lender Processing Services)
Completed foreclosures down nearly 20% from last year
CoreLogic’s monthly foreclosure report shows that there were 69,000 completed foreclosures in March, compared with 85,000 last March — a decrease of 18.8 percent. According to CoreLogic’s CEO, the reduction in completed foreclosures, given that the foreclosure inventory is also shrinking, “suggests that loan modifications, short sales, deeds-in-lieu are increasingly being used as an alternative to foreclosures to clear distressed assets in our communities. This is what was envisioned with the recent National Foreclosure Settlement, and can often be a better outcome for both borrowers and investors.” (via CoreLogic National Foreclosure Report - March 2012)
Short sales outpace foreclosure sales
For the first time, it appears that lenders are finally catching on to the idea that “short sales should be the dominant way of disposing of assets [in distress],” as Jonathon Weiner of Lender Processing Services puts it. In January 2012, short sales were 23.9 percent of home purchases, while foreclosed homes accounted only for 19.7 percent. A year ago, foreclosures were 24.9 percent while only 16.3 percent of home sales were short sales. Weiner also observed that the growing preponderance of short sales is a positive sign that the country is finally making real progress working through its overwhelming inventory of distressed properties — and could be a sign that home prices will bottom out this year. (via Bloomberg Businessweek)