The number of California homes entering the foreclosure process plunged to a more-than-seven-year low this year thanks to rising home prices, an improving economy and new laws designed to protect homeowners, a research firm reported Tuesday.
From January to March, 18,567 default notices were recorded by lenders—down 51.4 percent from the previous three months and down 67 percent from the first quarter in 2012, DataQuick said.
Ultimately, the idea is that the property would go to the Public Bridge Authority for its proposed expansion of the Peace Bridge plaza. Six months ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement for the state—through the New York State Department of Transportation—to buy the property from the Episcopal Church Home for $4 million. In conjunction with the state purchase announcement, the PBA agreed to pay off tax arrears on the property.
"The most important thing I can say to general agents about why they should sell new homes is the fact it the easiest, most stress-free sale in real estate," Rabits said.
The builder follows through with the financing and conducts all of the transaction management through closing, freeing up the agent "to be more productive, and better focused on the next sale," Rabits added.
The sale may be easy, but getting from seeing the home to buying one -- especially a new home -- can be difficult if the general agent does not let the onsite consultant answer questions about the product and location.
Nationally, foreclosure activity continues to decline, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based foreclosure listing site. In March the number of filings fell 1% from February and 21% from a year earlier, and home repossessions hit their lowest level in five and a half years. The national level declines have been driven by dramatic decreases in areas long considered foreclosure hot spots like California, Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.
The marco-level data sound very promising. But dig deeper into RealtyTrac’s first quarter report and you’ll also find that a handful of states are actually bucking that recovery trend, experiencing dramatic jumps in the number of homes facing foreclosure.
Wherever you find real estate listings online, you should also see which agent wrote or represents that listing. Why show something for sale without saying who to talk to if you want to buy it? That's why we show who the listing agent is -- because it makes sense.
This makes sense for at least two reasons. First, consumers searching to buy a house are going to need to talk to the agent who listed the house, so let's make that connection smooth and simple. Second, letting everyone know who the listing agent is also helps keep everything above board and ethical -- it keeps people from misrepresenting who the seller is.
New legislation — House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 1666 — which backers say will clear the backlog of foreclosure cases in Florida actually will create more problems by putting speed ahead of justice.
The backlog is blamed on homeowners allegedly dragging their feet. In reality, banks have been the cause because of federal directives to pursue loss-mitigation alternatives or by voluntarily slowing down the process to explore settlement options in the interests of both parties and the market.
"The upswing for the new home market may be a very short one based on the housing market index which fell 2 points to a much lower-than-expected 42," said Econoday analysts. "This is the lowest reading since October and the outcome, for the second straight month, is below Econoday's low estimate."
The decline of the past two months push confidence levels "further below breakeven 50 to indicate that more builders describe conditions as bad than good," commented analysts at Econoday.
Foreclosure starts in California showed a huge increase since the beginning of this year, but the long-term trend still points to an overall decrease, ForeclosureRadar reported.
In the Golden State, Notices of Default (NOD), or the first stage of the foreclosure process, increased 14.2 percent month-over-month in March. Since January, NODs have surged 72.5 percent. ForeclosureRadar said this suggests “some of the regulation-driven decline in foreclosures toward the end of last year reversed course.”
Just as most of us believe we've seen the worst of the housing market's collapse, two unlikely states are only now getting hit with a wave of foreclosures: New York and New Jersey.
The region was largely spared when home prices disastrously tumbled in 2007. New York and New Jersey, with some of the nation's priciest homes and highest property tax rates, saw nowhere near as many foreclosures during the Great Recession as most of the rest of the country. But that has changed.
Foreclosures are declining in most of the Western states tracked by ForeclosureRadar, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—but some experienced anomalous upticks over the month of February.
For example, in California notices of default and notices of trustee sale together increased 10 percent in February, according to the analytics firm. This is quite a change from the previous month’s 43.3 percent decline.
Though this framing is kinda technical, most of these factors can be summed up in a really straightforward comparison: monthly rent vs. monthly mortgage payment for similar homes.
When the market is balanced the monthly mortgage payment should be slightly higher than the rental payment because 1) Mortgages get a tax break and 2) Traditional rate mortgages offer you the stability of a fixed payment.
Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) need to produce a payment close to or even below rent to be a good buy.
California foreclosure filings — Notices of Default plus Notices of Trustee Sale — increased 4.0 percent in March, but were down 59.3 percent in the past twelve months. Foreclosure filings have been on a steady downtrend since March 2009 as government agencies have rolled out an ever-increasing array of programs to lengthen the foreclosure process or provide alternatives such as short sales, principal balance reduction loan modifications, second-lien extinguishments and other forms of debt relief.
Foreclosure timelines are growing more bloated, largely due to sustained government intervention in the housing market, according to RealtyTrac’s March U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. At the same time, foreclosure activity continues to subside, drifting closer to pre-meltdown levels, RealtyTrac reported.
“Although the overall national foreclosure trend continues to head lower, late-blooming foreclosures are bolting higher in some local markets where aggressive foreclosure prevention efforts in previous years are wearing off,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Riverside County's foreclosure rate edged up last month, mirroring a reversal of activity throughout the state, a real estate tracking firm reported today.
A total 1,698 mortgage default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions were recorded countywide in March, translating to 1 in 468 households in some stage of foreclosure, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac.
Riverside County had the eighth highest foreclosure rate in the state last month, while neighboring San Bernardino County had the third-highest rate. The balance of the top ten was comprised of Northern California counties.
While this has gone on for some time, the investor frenzy might have peaked. Rents for single-family homes have essentially flattened -- rising just 0.1% in March from a year earlier, according to a report released Thursday by real estate listing website Trulia. What's more, in some cities where investors had the biggest appetite for properties on the cheap, rents have fallen: Take Los Angeles, where rents fell 1.9%; rents in Orange County slipped down 0.7%; Las Vegas saw a 1.9% drop. And in two other key investor markets -- Atlanta and Phoenix -- single-family home rents remained flat, rising less than 1%.
Not only have brokers resisted the attack by the Internet’s real estate sites but their fees remain stable. Real Trends, a research firm, reports the average commission paid to the buying and selling brokers was 5.4 percent of the price of a home in 2011, up from 5 percent in 2008. (The seller’s agent collects the commission from the seller and then splits it evenly with the buyer’s agent.
Seems good, right? But that affordability is masking a problem—houses are overvalued. From 1988 through 1999, median home values averaged 2.6 times the median annual income. As the bubble kicked into gear, prices pushed up to almost four times income. With the crash, that ratio has come down—but not far enough, largely because incomes have been stagnant, if not declining, in recent years. Home values are now at three times the median income—that’s 15 percent higher than they have historically been, relative to what Americans earn.
The plight of a Florida agent who was dragged into a fair housing lawsuit over the description of a property he did not represent has raised awareness among real estate professionals that they can be sued for the content of listings that appear on their websites, regardless of whether they are the author.
Tampa-area agent Jeff Launiere and the brokerage he works for, Charles Rutenberg Realty, were sued in federal court last November by Cristin Forrest, a self-described "independent fair housing tester."
While housing may have shown signs of improvement in recent months, perma-bear Gary Shilling, an economist and president of A. Gary Shilling & Co., a financial consultant firm, is not convinced a recovery is in the making.
"It may have bottomed, but I am not sure it has a strong recovery," he tells The Daily Ticker's Lauren Lyster in the accompanying video. "I think the risks are on the downside."
Rentals are hot these days he says, while mortgage applications for new homes have been flat for the last four years.
One hundred fifty years ago, the U.S. was two years into a brutal Civil War. The financial cost left the federal government under enormous stress, leading to a result no one had imagined: the first modern system of bank regulation.
Before Congress passed An Act to Provide a National Currency on Feb. 25, 1863, government oversight of banking had been quite crude. The Second Bank of the United States, chartered by Congress in 1816 and 20 percent owned by the federal government, functioned in some ways like a central bank. At the time, there was no national currency, and most banks issued notes that were accepted as money.
While the number of foreclosures nationwide is thankfully coming down from its peak during the housing bust, there are still quite a few languishing out there. All signs do point to a strong housing recovery, with existing home sales edging up and distressed mortgages accounting for fewer of those sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. But there were still 750,000 homes in the foreclosure process as of February (albeit down from 1 million in early 2011).
So who is responsible for these foreclosures? 24/7 Wall St. took a look at the 10 banks foreclosing on the most homes.
Immigrants will generate almost 36 percent of the increased demand for U.S. homes this current decade, according to new research reported by USA Today. A study by the Population Dynamics Research Group at the University of Southern California found that immigrant buyers filled a "big hole" and played a key role in boosting home demand over the past decade -- when demand from native-born homebuyers was low. (Last decade, immigrants generated 39 percent of demand for U.S. homes.)
Though the report shows that homeownership demand from U.S. natives will pick up as the number of buyers in the 25- to 34-year-old age group grows, demand from immigrants will continue to remain strong. "We'll be firing on all cylinders," Dowell Myers of Population Dynamics told USA Today. "The native-born were absent in the last decade. Now, they're more present."
The U.S. housing market will see no surge at the start of spring, as fewer buyers signed contracts to purchase existing homes in February. An industry index of so-called pending home sales fell 0.4 percent from January but is up 8.4 percent from February of 2012. While the number of for-sale listings increased more than the seasonal norm, Realtors still say a lack of supply is keeping many potential buyers from desired deals. Pending home sales are a one to two month forward indicator of closed sales.
The housing bust has created great skepticism about the traditional connection between homeownership and the American dream, a survey commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation has found.
The How Housing Matters Survey, released Wednesday, found that more than three-quarters of Americans believe we are still in the middle of the housing crisis or that the worst is yet to come. When it comes to remedies, two-thirds believe the nation's policy should be to encourage renting and homeownership equally.
As housing supply continues to stay tight and home sales pick up, prices continue to rise.
There were 2.1 million homes on the market for sale in January, down 24 percent from a year ago. And though new and existing homes entering the market are up, the sales pace increased as well.
In a new report, Paul Diggle from Capital Economics writes that "ultra-low mortgage interest rates and steady, if not spectacular, job creation mean that the delinquency rate and foreclosure start rate are falling quickly."
Your honor, we'd like to call your attention to these disturbing facts:
— The number of "underwater" homeowners may be down, but it's still extremely high, with an estimated owing more than the home's worth. When people can't get out of their old mortgages, they can't move up to a nicer home.
— Home prices, on average, are still at — still roughly 30 percent below their peak in many markets. That means millions of houses will remain underwater for a very long time, making it harder for people to trade up.
The housing market is recovering. Prices are , the number of foreclosures is , and construction crews are finally again. But in one key way, housing remains in crisis mode: The U.S. housing market is still a ward of the state.
The vast majority of new mortgages — $1.6 trillion out of a total of $1.9 trillion last year alone— are guaranteed by the federal government. If a borrower defaults on a guaranteed loan, taxpayers are on the hook.
There are rumblings in the real estate world about whether we're entering another housing market bubble. We took a look recently at California and whether some frenzied homebuying activity there is a sign that a bubble is returning. The consensus remains that, on a national level, no, we are not in a housing bubble -- yet. But there are cities that could be seeing the beginning of one.
In the first quarter of 2013, the number of properties that were in the foreclosure process or bank-owned rose 9 percent year-over-year to 1.5 million, according to data from the online foreclosure marketplace.
“Delinquent loans that fell into a deep sleep after the robo-signing controversy in late 2010 are gradually coming out of hibernation following the finalization of the national mortgage settlement in April 2012,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac.
A subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors is partnering with state and local Realtor associations to offer members the ability to participate in a survey-based agent rating service provided by Quality Service Certification Inc.
QSC signed an agreement in August with the Center for Specialized Realtor Education, a NAR subsidiary that also runs Realtor University, to provide the Realtor Excellence Program through a half dozen state and local Realtor associations, said Laurie Janik, NAR's general counsel.
If the program works in those markets, it could be expanded to other associations.