Archive for the ‘Weekly News REcap’ Category

Real Estate News REcap for January 12, 2012

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

There is a lot of news out there in the real estate market, and much of it is very positive in pointing toward a market recovery. I am not putting a spin on things – this is what is going on now and the news looks good.

Mortgage Delinquencies Down. The number of mortgage delinquencies is lower than it was back in January of 2010 – 25% lower, according to LPS (Lender Processing Services). What does this mean? Many say this means the market is starting to recover, and they are predicting a decent year for housing. With less delinquencies there will be fewer foreclosures. The states with the highest percentage of non-current loans are Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois. Those with the lowest percentage of non-current loans are North Dakota, Arkansas, Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana. You can read the entire report here.

Mortgage Applications Rise 4.5%. Continuing on with the premise that the market is recovering, mortgage applications are on the rise, according the the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing also rose, and with low interest rates continuing it could be a boom to the Spring home buying season. Click here to read the entire story posted by Housing Wire.

Lowest Reported Lender Owned Inventory Since 2007. Lender owned inventory, or REO properties, has dropped 34% since 2010, and is at the lowest rate since 2007, according to a year-end report by Realty Trac. 804,423 homes were repossessed by lenders in 2011.

Fannie Mae Extends Mortgage Forbearance Program for Unemployed Borrowers. Fannie Mae just released new guidelines to help unemployed borrowers. The servicer will reduce or suspend mortgage payments to those who qualify, for a specified period of up to 6 months if requirements are met. At the end of the period the servicer will evaluate to see if the borrower is eligible for up to another 6 month extension. No foreclosures will be filed during these forbearance periods. The program is slated to begin March 1, but servicers are being encouraged to begin helping borrowers right away.

And some California real estate news…

Keep Your Home California Program Adds More Lenders. Keep Your Home California, the program dedicated to helping borrowers avoid foreclosure, has added more lenders to the program roster, bringing the total to 55 servicers who have pledged to assist struggling homeowners. According to a Union Tribune article, the servicers are amongst the biggest names in the mortgage industry, holding 90% of all California home loans. For more information on the program you can visit the website.

Mello Roos Taxes No Longer Deductible. A new tax law will create more tax liability for homeowners with mello roos taxes. Until now, a homeowner was able to deduct his entire property tax bill, including mello roos assessments, from his state income tax. Starting with the 2012 tax bill, the Franchise Tax Board will require property tax bills to be divided into deductible and non-deductible portions. Mello roos taxes will be non-deductible. Since the 2012 taxes are not due for over a year there are groups that will be fighting this tax increase, citing a bad move on behalf of the state in difficult financial times. If the law sticks it could create problems in selling homes with mello roos taxes, leading to losses in property values. We will have to wait and see if the FTB reverses this one.


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Weekly News REcap: 11-21-11

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! Here is some of the recent news in the real estate market.

More homes hitting the auction block. Auctions have been around a long time, but it seems more homes are now using this service to sell quicker, including higher end homes. There are arguments on both sides of the auction equation to consider. On the one hand, if you have a home that is not selling, or if you need to sell quickly, it could be a way to stimulate interest because the opening bid is much lower than comparable sales. It definitely creates the sense of urgency that is not present in the current market. The goal of course is to obtain multiple bids, leading to a higher sales price. Auction companies also claim to reach a wider pool of buyers.

On the other side of the coin, if the home doesn’t sell the listing history will show the drastically reduced price, which some homeowners feel will have consequences when they place their home back on the market. Either way, it is a great opportunity for buyers to get a great deal, and for sellers to possibly sell their homes faster. But the jury is out on the benefits to sellers…what do you think?

Unpaid mortgages in the U.S. fall to lowest level since 2008. Although their recent study shows just under 6,300,000 delinquent mortgages in the U.S., Lender Processing Services claims that this number has been steadily declining for the past two years. Loss mitigation services are apparently chipping away at this number, but with the potential for more to come will we ever truly see a return to affordable homeownership? With the foreclosure rate growing (and no end in sight), this remains to be seen.

Home price declines good news for buyers. The latest study by Fitch claims that home prices fell 7 percent this year, and will continue to do so. In fact, the prediction is that prices will drop another 13%. This may not sound so good, but it is great news for buyers. Price drops allow buyers to purchase in neighborhoods they likely would not have been able to afford a few years ago. With the number of distressed properties it also makes it a great time to be a buyer or investor.

Existing home sales rise in October. The good news is that existing home sales rose 1.4% in October to 4.97M, according to the National Association of Realtors. This number is above the 4.85M expected, and higher than the September number of 4.91M. Although this number is below the 6 million number that is associated with a healthy housing market, the signs are still good. So no matter how much negative real estate news you hear out there, there are still people out there buying and selling homes. If you are planning to do either, it is so important to work with a skilled agent.


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Conforming Loan Limits to Get the Ax

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

On Friday the House of Representatives failed to extend the current conforming loan limits, which are set to expire on September 30. This was a big blow to the real estate market and to buyers and sellers. But does this mean the fight for extension is over?

Let’s take a look at the situation so that you can understand the problem. Current conforming loan limits are set at $729,750. They were raised to that number in 2008, to allow buyers to obtain financing for larger mortgages. This was a great help to buyers in ares where housing is higher, like here in San Diego county. If the limits do not get extended they will drop down to $625,500 in some areas, lower in others. Again, this really effects higher priced areas, such as along the west and east coasts.

Some argue that dropping the limits will actually be good for housing, as it will assure that only qualified buyers will get loans. However, in the higher priced areas it will force buyers to have larger down payments, or to buy homes priced lower. This will effect the higher end market, and in pricier areas this will effect the market, period. This is not good news for those who need to sell, and the long-term effect is that it will likely bring down prices substantially, or stagnate markets further…neither of which are positive options in this economy.

The Obama administration says that allowing the limits to expire will cause more private money to flow back into the housing markets. I am not a mortgage expert, but wouldn’t these have much higher interest rates? Allowing these limits to expire is going to effect an already fragile housing market.

The next opportunity to reverse the loan limit reduction will be at the end of the year. Let’s hope we get there, as now is NOT the time to distress the housing market any further.

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Weekly Real Estate News REcap 7/8/11

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Obama Administration Extends Foreclosure Programs for the Unemployed. Those who are unemployed and have an FHA loan will soon be given up to a year of forbearance on their payments, giving them time to find a new job before losing their homes. This announcement arose from the fact that many Americans are unemployed for more than three months, making the current forbearance period (4 months) unfair in giving the homeowner a chance to get caught up and not lose their homes. Missed payments, plus interest, will be added on to the back end of the loan. The new program will start August 1 and last for 2 years.

Loan Limit Changes are on the Horizon. Starting October 1, unless Congress decides to be realistic and  prevent the change, federal conforming loan limit maximums will change from $729,750 to $625,500.  In preparation for this some lenders, like Bank of America, have already stopped accepting applications for loans over the new limit. Those seeking higher loan amounts through Fannie, Freddie or the FHA will need to apply for non-conforming loans, which have higher interest rates. Many politicians, organizations and other industry-related entities have been hard at work to prevent these changes, which they believe (and I agree) will be bad news for the already-injured housing market, pushing a recovery further into the future. Let’s hope these changes are prevented.

San Diego County Property Assessment Values Rise. For the first time since 2008 county property values have risen, and albeit a small amount (0.51%), it is still positive news for San Diego’s housing market. The only cities that did not see assessed value increases were Carlsbad, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach. The average a homeowner will have to pay due to the increase is about $260.

Bill Calls for Merger of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The struggle to do away with Fannie and Freddie continues, and the latest news comes from a California Republican, who wants to merge the two into a government-held corporation. Freddie, Fannie (who own or guarantee 56% of all home loans in the U.S.) and their cousin Ginnie Mae back the majority of mortgage loans on the market – if they were not around there would likely not be any mortgages available now. Debaters have been arguing on whether to keep them under government control or sell them and get the government completely out of the mortgage market. This new option throws another log in the fire. I am sure the debate about what to do with Fannie and Freddie will continue.

Government Still Toying with Idea of Mortgage Servicer Oversight. Again, the government is announcing that it plans to start regulating mortgage servicers. Citing the risk of consumer harm with the current system (you think?), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to put the choke collar on these firms. The power to impose these restrictions on non-bank servicers, who are not subject to federal banking regulations, was provided by last year’s Dodd-Frank Act. Details are still in the works so it will be interesting to see what transpires. If you are a buyer and are planning on applying for a loan, I highly suggest you speak with your mortgage professional right away.

Big Banks Modifying More Loans (but not in the way we hope). Big banks have been modifying, or attempting to modify, more loans. But the interesting part is that they have been doing so of their own volition – contacting those borrowers who are not yet late with payments, but who pose a risk of future default. While this seems like a great idea in theory, many borrowers who have tried to get modifications complain that it doesn’t help those who reach out to the lender for help – modifications that should be granted are not, while those that shouldn’t (not yet in default or borrower hasn’t contacted lender yet) are granted. It’s frustrating for people who are honestly trying to work out a plan to stay in their homes. I think the lenders need to address those who have stepped up and asked for help before contacting those who have not…a “deal with what is in front of you NOW, and worry about the future in the future” concept. What do you think?

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