September 9, 2013
NEW YORK – Sept. 9, 2013 – Business forecasters maintained their rosy view of the U.S. economy in 2014, predicting 3 percent growth by the second quarter of next year, low inflation and improving employment.
The top economists surveyed by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) between Aug. 8 and Aug. 20 also said there’s an 80 percent likelihood that the pickup in growth will prompt the Federal Reserve to trim its monthly $85 billion purchases of mortgage bonds and Treasury bills next year.
The NABE’s 43 respondents said in a report released Monday that there’s a 45 percent chance the Fed will begin its so-called “tapering” as early as this year.
But economists trimmed their expectations for the second half of 2013 since the last survey, in May.
The economists predicted that real gross domestic product would grow at a 2.3 percent annualized rate in the third quarter through September, down from 2.5 percent seen earlier; and 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 2.8 percent seen earlier. They were less optimistic about consumer spending, industrial production and private investment in nonresidential structures, equipment and software.
August 14, 2013
NEW YORK – Aug. 14, 2013 – Though home prices have risen nearly 12 percent from a year ago, a slowdown is expected soon. But many analysts say it’s no cause for concern.
“Prices are still going to rise – just not as at brisk a pace as we’ve seen over the past year,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “This should calm down those pundits who have fretted over a new crop of housing bubbles.”
According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, home prices will likely moderate because they have returned to “fair value” and are no longer being viewed as “undervalued,” as they were for the past two years. Also, a rise in mortgage rates may cause some buyers to re-evaluate their options.
For the first time this year, buyer traffic dropped below agents’ expectations, and “the next few months will be crucial to determining whether this is just a pause or something more,” the Goldman Sachs report notes.
The report also notes that investors will likely slow their purchases as the number of foreclosures starts to dry up. What’s more, the inventory of homes for sale is starting to loosen as more sellers look to put their homes on the market. Those sellers, in turn, will then be looking to purchase another home, so prices will still likely continue to rise until new-home construction catches up.
“With the improving underlying housing demand driven by household formation and economic recovery, we think housing activity will remain on an upward trajectory, despite occasional ups and downs along the way,” says the Goldman report.
Source: “Why Home-Price Growth Will Slow,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 12, 2013)
June 6, 2013
Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, June 06, 2013
The recent rise in home prices has more investors concerned that it will be increasingly difficult to turn a profit from their rental investments. Nearly half of U.S. real estate investors say they expect to purchase fewer rental homes in the next year, according to a recent survey conducted by polling firm ORC International.
Just 10 months ago, the percentage of investors who said they intend to buy fewer homes stood at 30 percent—compared to 48 percent today. Only about 20 percent of the investors surveyed say they plan to buy more homes in the next year—a drop from the 39 percent who reported they intend to buy more homes last August.
More than half of the investors surveyed who own rental properties say they plan to hold them for at least five years or more, and 33 percent plan to hold them for 10 years or more.
“Higher prices are reducing returns on investment and investors are responding by cutting back on their purchasing plans until conditions sort out,” says Chris Clothier, a partner in MemphisInvest.com and Premier Property Management Group. “Fewer foreclosures, rising property values, and competition from hedge funds are making it tough to find good ideals on distressed sales. On the other hand, investors are planning to hold onto their rental properties for at least eight to 10 years and realize the benefits of rising rents and low vacancy rates. Cash flow is much more important than appreciation.”
April 3, 2013
By Sarah Parr
The real estate industry and the consumer economy have some recent, positive news. CoreLogic published a report last week indicating that the shadow inventory of homes is down 28 percent from when it peaked in 2010. CoreLogic determined the shadow inventory figure by calculating the number of very delinquent homes, properties in foreclosure and homes held as REOs (real estate-owned) by mortgage servicers, but are not yet listed on multiple listing services (MLS).
As of January 2013, the shadow inventory includes 2.2 million housing units, or in real estate terms, nine months of supply. Florida currently has 16 percent of the total shadow inventory in the United States.
Defining the shadow inventory
In real estate, the shadow inventory refers to all of the homes held by banks, but not offered for sale, and homes that people are waiting to put on the market when prices increase even more. Vacant houses in some stage of foreclosure, known as “zombie foreclosures,” also comprise about half or more of the shadow inventory. Many homeowners anticipate foreclosure and move out of the house, leaving it vacant for a period of time.
What creates the shadow inventory?
The finalization of the National Mortgage Settlement in April 2012 caused the shadow industry to grow because of a 59 percent spike in properties in some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTRAC. Because of the settlement, banks have been required to work with homeowners on loan modifications, and their homes are kept off the market. The states in which the shadow inventory grew are mostly judicial process states since these states are more prone to having court backlogs of foreclosure cases. Foreclosure cases in these states typically take much longer to process.
The effects on real estate
Real estate professionals initially feared properties in the shadow inventory would be listed all at once and depress surrounding property values. Reuters reported that properties in the shadow inventory have been listed in miniature spurts, though, and the small inventory has actually caused an increase in prices in some areas. Investors have also helped mitigate potential flooding of the market by buying up some of the shadow inventory, according to a TIME article. These investors are a part of firms that buy out distressed real estate when it first hits the market. They often beat individual buyers with cash offers, sometimes before properties are listed.
All the same, a shadow inventory can create ambiguity for homeowners looking to sell their homes and for predicting when a local market can expect full recovery in the housing market. The shadow inventory can also affect overall housing inventory data.
Sarah Parr is a Central Florida-based writer who blogs about foreclosure issues for Altamonte Springs foreclosure lawyers.
March 12, 2013
NEW YORK – March 12, 2013 – Homebuyers may not get as great of a deal on a foreclosure as they once did, according to Paul Diggle from Capital Economics in a new report.
Foreclosure starts are falling and the inventory of foreclosures has been decreasing, which has caused the discount on foreclosures to lessen.
The discount on foreclosed homes compared to other homes has fallen to a 12 percent average, according to Diggle. That was about the same percentage prior to the housing crash, he says. Last year the foreclosure discount averaged about 30 percent.
“Ultra-low mortgage interest rates and steady, if not spectacular, job creation could mean that the delinquency rate and foreclosure start rate are falling quickly,” Diggle writes.
Source: “Those Amazing Deals on Foreclosed Homes Are Disappearing,” Business Insider (March 7, 2013)
March 8, 2013
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – March 8, 2013 – Lesley Deutch, senior vice president at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said the “Florida market is on fire” in her latest update on the state’s housing market.
Deutch says she traveled the state recently and visited more than 20 communities. While recovery reports differ between Florida cities and urban areas, she reports five major trends:
1. Land prices. While the price of land continues to rise quickly statewide, Orlando feels the most pressure. Deutch says she saw some submarkets where “land and finished lot prices have now surpassed peak levels.” In Orlando, she sees developers buying raw land “just to gain a position and market share.”
2. Home prices. Some communities, such as Orlando and Naples, are seeing 1- to 2-percent new-home price increases monthly, Deutch says. The hallmarks of a seller’s market have also returned, such as lotteries. She expects a 2013 price increase of at least 10 percent in many Florida markets.
3. 55-plus market. Deutch reports a 20- to 25-percent jump in potential buyers interested in active adult living, according to builders in Southwest Florida. She also notes a boost in customer traffic in second- and third-tier markets.
4. Foreign buyers. It’s more than Miami, Deutch says. While in Orlando, she visited a sales office that had three active buyers: One from Brazil, one from Germany and one from China.
5. Foreclosures. While the state has a notoriously long foreclosure process, Deutch says banks are slowly releasing foreclosures. But investors continue to buy new foreclosures shortly after they hit the market.
© 2013 Florida Realtors®
March 8, 2013
Today I had to explain to a new seller of mine that you cannot toss a case or two of wine into a sinkhole and call it a wine seller.
March 1, 2013
MIAMI – March 1, 2013 – Banks are increasingly willing to approve short sales before borrowers go into foreclosure, a bright spot for struggling homeowners hoping to escape an underwater mortgage with the least damage to their finances.
About 27 percent of home sales in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade counties last year were short sales where the lender had not filed foreclosure papers against the homeowner, according to a distressed property report released today by the Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.
It’s a turnaround from a time when borrowers had to default on their mortgages before persuading their bank to do a short sale, which is where the lender agrees to accept less for the home than what is owed on the mortgage. In South Florida, the average difference between the unpaid mortgage balance and non-foreclosure short sale price last year was $116,505, the RealtyTrac report said.
South Florida Realtor Joanne Epstein said the paradigm shift by banks is a reaction to federal rules that went into effect Nov. 1 allowing homeowners to qualify for a short sale even if they are current on payments. Banks also earn credits to satisfy their obligations under the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement by approving short sales.
“Some people are so scared to not pay their mortgage because they don’t have bad credit and don’t want bad credit,” said Epstein, who works for the Keyes Company/Ragbir Team. “But they can’t afford to pay anymore and are just throwing out good money.”
The federal rule changes only affect loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Under the November changes, borrowers who are current on their mortgage but suffer a hardship such as a death, divorce, or a job change requiring them to move more than 50 miles from their home can be qualified for a short sale by their loan servicers without additional approval from Fannie or Freddie.
The RealtyTrac report notes that the number of South Florida short sales conducted in 2012 before a foreclosure was filed increased 30 percent from the previous year.
Statewide, 33 percent of all home sales last year were short sales completed before a foreclosure was filed. The average difference between the unpaid principal balance and non-foreclosure short sale price was $94,950.
Housing experts say short sales benefit homeowners and lenders. A homeowner suffers a lighter ding to his or her credit than if a foreclosure was completed. Lenders save the cost of a lengthy court proceeding.
An increase in short sales may also lead to a quicker housing recovery, said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist. South Florida short sales had a higher average sale price last year – $133,816 – than bank-owned homes, which went for an average of $129,320.
“Allowing these homes to change hands more quickly will put them with new homeowners who have loans they can afford, which means they are more likely to maintain the property,” Blomquist said. “They’ll be more motivated to be responsible homeowners.”
Kevin Kent, a broker-associate with Platinum Properties in Palm Beach County, questions RealtyTrac’s numbers. He said the percentage of non-foreclosure short sales seems high and that many lenders remain stalwart about having homeowners go into default before considering a short sale.
“Until someone misses payments, the lenders aren’t paying a lot of attention,” Kent said.
But banks are more amenable in general to doing short sales because “they get hurt a lot less,” Kent said.
Copyright © 2013 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Kimberly Miller. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
February 26, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) – Feb. 26, 2013 – U.S. new-home sales jumped in January from the previous month to the highest level since July 2008, a sign that the housing recovery is accelerating.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000. The percentage increase was the largest in nearly 20 years. And December’s sales were revised higher to 378,000 from 369,000.
Steady job creation and near-record-low mortgage rates are spurring more Americans to buy houses. Sales of previously occupied homes rose to the highest level in five years last year.
At the same time, the number of previously occupied homes for sale is at a 13-year low. That shortage creates more demand for new homes. Builders began construction on the most houses and apartments in four years last year.
The supply of new homes for sale was unchanged last month at 150,000. That’s barely above August’s total of 143,000 – the smallest supply of new homes on records dating back to 1963.
At the current sales pace, it would take just 4.1 months to exhaust the number of new homes for sale, the lowest in eight years. Low inventories should encourage more construction.
Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the National Association of Homebuilders.
The increase in home building has helped boost construction hiring. The industry has gained 98,000 jobs since September, the best stretch since the spring of 2006.
Still, the increases in new-home sales are coming from depressed levels. Sales plummeted to a record low in 2011. And sales are still well below the 700,000 annual level that economists consider healthy.
The biggest gain in new-home sales was in the West, where they soared 45.3 percent. The supply of previously occupied homes in that region has fallen sharply. Sales jumped 27.6 percent in the Northeast, 11.1 percent in the Midwest but only 3.2 percent in the South.
A separate report Tuesday showed that home prices accelerated in December. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.8 percent in December compared with the same month a year earlier. That’s up from November’s 5.5 percent gain over the previous November.
Rising home prices can fuel the housing recovery by encouraging people to buy before prices increase further. They can also bring more sellers off the sidelines.
Higher home values also make homeowners feel wealthier, building confidence and encouraging more spending. And banks are more likely to provide mortgage loans if they are confident that home prices are rising.
AP Logo Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer.
February 21, 2013
NEW YORK – Feb. 21, 2013 – Short sales are increasing this year, and these transactions can take up to three times longer than a traditional transaction. A lot can go wrong in that timeframe.
These are the most common delays, according to a recent article by George “Gee” Dunsten, a real estate broker and president of Gee Dunsten Seminars.
Title issues: Be sure to do a title exam at the beginning in order to identify all individuals on the deed and mortgages – and determine all lien holders.
Lack of communication with the lender: Lost documents and misunderstandings commonly cause delays. Make it a habit to follow up with the mortgage servicer twice a week to avoid avoidable problems.
Delaying the start: Some short sales don’t begin until a contract to purchase has been initiated, but this can add up to two extra months to the process. The lender won’t even look at a buyer contract until a seller candidate for a short sale is approved and the market value has been determined, Dunsten says.
Incomplete packages: Make sure you carefully submit all documents completely and accurately. Submitting incomplete packages is another common culprit of delays. All homeowner financial information needs to be kept current and forwarded to the servicer every 30 days, says Dunsten.
Source: “Avoiding the Dirty Dozen Barriers to Short Sale Success,” RISMedia (Feb. 20, 2013)
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