Market Updates
May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Moves by banks to ditch law firms snared in the "robo-signing" mess are spreading delays and confusion to borrowers, while angering judges grappling with thousands of foreclosure cases now trapped in limbo.

The trouble began when U.S. banks and government-owned mortgage giants lost confidence in some law firms that handled a huge volume of foreclosures. After controversy erupted last fall over the shoddy review of loan documents known as robo-signing, banks dropped some law firms.

Source: The Wall Street Journal May 4 2011 Nick Timiraos
May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The FHA's PowerSaver program allows eligible owners to borrow up to $25,000 at fixed rates for as long as 20 years to finance energy-conservation retrofits. Fannie Mae has an energy-improvement mortgage add-on program.

If you've been looking for a way to pay for energy improvements to your house, two little-publicized new mortgage programs could provide the cash you need.

Both the Federal Housing Administration and mortgage investor Fannie Mae recently have launched options in the energy conservation arena. Here's a quick overview, with some pros and cons:

Source: Los Angeles Times May 1 2011 Kenneth R. Harney

May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

IT might be easier if you just paid cash for that vacation house.

There is loan money available for second-home purchases, but expect bigger down payments, higher interest rates and other standards tighter than on a principal residence — and those standards are tight already. In addition, there are quirks specific to vacation markets.

Vacation-home purchases accounted for 10 percent of home sales last year, according to a National Association of Realtors survey released this spring. Investment purchases accounted for 17 percent — but sometimes the line between the two is a bit blurry. That’s down sharply from the height of the real estate boom in 2005, when vacation and investment sales accounted for 40 percent combined.

Source: New York Times April 28 2011 Maryann Haggerty

 

May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

No-money-down mortgages are coming back, but it may take a rocket scientist to get one.

The NASA Federal Credit Union earlier this month launched a special promotion that allows borrowers to take out mortgages without making a down payment when purchasing a primary residence costing up to $650,000, or by putting just 5% down on a loan up to $850,000.

The credit union, which includes employees and retirees of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the deal applies only in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., a region that has seen the housing market recover faster than the rest of the nation.

Source: The Wall Street Journal April 30 2011 Nick Timiraos
May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

While making your home energy efficient is good for the environment, it's also good for your wallet.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, consumers spend $241 billion annually on home energy and 1.2 billion tons of green-house emissions are released as a byproduct. The typical family spends $1,900 on home utility bills, and much of the energy isn't used. It's estimated that doing a few simple home improvements would cut the amount of carbon-dioxide released, as well as the amount of money spent on energy bills annually, in half. We dug up some things you can do around the house to help lower both greenhouse gases and your utilities.

Source: Mercury News April 28 2011 Erika Riggs
May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

(MONEY Magazine) -- If you're in the market to sell your home, you probably feel you can't catch a break. Nearly five years into the housing bust, when many experts thought the real estate market would at least have stabilized, sales and prices are still dropping in most of the country.

In February existing-home sales tumbled 9.6% from the previous month, and the median price of a single-family home dropped to $157,000 from $163,900 the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors. (Latest home prices)

Source: CNN Money May 9, 2011 Amanda Gengler and Elizabeth Fenner

May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Saddled with vacant units , retirement communities across the country are trying to lure new buyers by any means necessary – from adding cushy amenities and special move-in deals to lowering prices on homes. And with summer fast approaching, one tactic is becoming especially popular: the "test drive."

Source: Smart Money May 9, 2011 Catey Hill

May 9, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Zillow says 44% admit they're not confident in knowledge of home-loan process

Pop quiz. True or false, the rates of 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages always increase after five years.

If you answered true, then you've joined 57 percent of people who also gave the wrong answer in a recent survey from real estate site Zillow on mortgage basics. (The right answer is false because while such loans do adjust after five years, the rates could go either up or down.)

Source: Sign On San Diego May 4, 2011 Lily Leung

Apr 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Mortgage lenders call it "dual tracking," but for homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure, it might go by another name: the double-cross.

Dual tracking refers to a common bank tactic. When a borrower in default seeks a loan modification, the institution often continues to pursue foreclosure at the same time.

Lenders contend that dual tracking simply protects their investment if the homeowner is unable to qualify for new loan terms. Mortgage servicers can lose money if they don't foreclose in a timely manner, and repossessions often are complicated and lengthy.

Source: Los Angeles Times April 14th, 2011 Alejandro Lazo

Apr 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The numbers report for the home-building industry couldn't have been more grim in February: New-home construction in the U.S. fell to a pace that would translate to about 250,000 homes for all of 2011, which would be the fewest built since the Commerce Department began keeping track in 1963.

If home building isn't dead, there's certainly time to think about what it would look like when it revives, perhaps from 2013 to 2015. That's according to John McIlwain, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, which studies trends in housing and development.

Source: Los Angeles Times April 17, 2011 Mary Umberger

 

Apr 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

You may have seen reports that the federal government is proposing new mortgage finance rules under which only home purchasers who can afford a minimum 20% down payment on a conventional loan would get a shot at the best interest rates and terms.

That is correct, and it's deeply sobering news for large numbers of first-time and moderate-income buyers who can't come up with that much cash or afford to pay higher rates.

Source: Los Angeles Times April 10, 2011 Kenneth R. Harney
Apr 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Shell out the money to install solar panels on your home, and you'll probably recoup that investment when it comes time to sell the house.

You may even make a little profit.

A study to be released today by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that solar boosts the resale value of homes, both new and old.

Source: SF Gate April 21, 2011 David R. Baker
Apr 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

During the housing boom, many lenders and mortgage brokers didn’t operate with consumers’ best interest in mind.

They enabled and sometimes encouraged borrowers to take out loans with interest rates that shot upward after an introductory period — even ones in which the principal balance rose over time.

The Dodd-Frank financial overhaul passed last year aims to prevent these practices from coming back, mandating that lenders ensure that all borrowers have the ability to pay back their home loans.

Source: The Wall Street Journal April 19, 2011 Alan Zibel
Apr 18, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Ever since the housing market hit the arc of its swan dive, real estate agents complained — sometimes quietly, sometimes not — that home sellers were hurting themselves by not recognizing that the glowing prices that buyers were willing to pay during the boom were long gone.

Source: Chicago Tribune April 8, 2011 Mary Umbeger

Apr 18, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

DIVORCED homeowners wrangling with the task of removing a former spouse’s name from the mortgage after buying out his or her equity stake in the marital house may think that refinancing is the only choice.

There is another, little-known option that can avoid refinancing and its costs, which generally run 3 to 6 percent of the outstanding loanprincipal, according to LendingTree. You simply ask your lender to remove the former spouse’s name, leaving the loan note in your name only.

Source: The New York Times April 7,2011 Lynnley Browning

Apr 18, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The agent in Cory Brewer's Mercer Island, Wash., Re/Max office received an offer that was far below his client's asking price. But before the contract could be presented to the seller, the would-be buyers posted on their Facebook page how badly they wanted the house and how much they really were willing to pay.

Bad move. The seller saw the posting and countered at the higher price. The buyers accepted because they loved the place that much, and the deal closed a few weeks later.

Source: Los Angeles Times April 3, 2011 Lew Sichelman
Apr 18, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy
Once a common home buyer's dream, new homes have lost some of their appeal. Instead, it's fixer-uppers and foreclosures that have been capturing buyers' attention, creating a window of opportunity for those still looking for new construction.

Source: Smart Money March 31, 2011 AnnaMaria Andriotis
Apr 18, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Don’t look now, but home price declines could be moderating.

Home values fell by 1.1% in February down from a 1.3% decline in January, according to Zillow.com research published on Tuesday. Zillow also reported a decline versus a year ago in the share of homes listed for sale that had a price reduction, at 25%, down from 32% last year.

Source: The Wall Street Journal April 6, 2011 Nick Timiraos
Apr 18, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

An unexpected 81% of U.S. adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center say buying a home is the best long-term investment.

The real estate bust appears to have done little to alter Americans' confidence in the investment value of homeownership.

A robust 81% of adults said buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Source: Los Angeles Times April 12, 2011 Alejandro Lazo

Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Contrary to popular belief, Americans still crave plenty of space and say they plan to move up. And if they can't get the room they want inside the walls, they'll take it outside in the form of yards.

Reporting From Washington—

Forget what you've heard about the incredible shrinking house. New homes are getting bigger, not smaller. And they will continue to grow, if not up then certainly out.

Why? Because Americans' hunger for more space appears insatiable, according to a new survey.

Source: Los Angeles Times March 27, 2011 Lew Sichelman

 

Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

We're at the end of an era in home renovations. The expensive projects during the housing boom are giving way to more dollar-conscious ones as the economy recovers, according to analyst Abbe Will.

Reporting from Chicago—

Goodbye, over-the-top kitchen remodel? Hello, sturdy but unshowy new windows?

Maybe so, if a recent report on where we'll put our remodeling dollars in the coming years turns out to be correct.

Source: Los Angeles Times March 27, 2011 Mary Umberger

 

Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

MORTGAGE lenders that are not banks acquired a bad reputation during the housing crisis, when now-defunct players like Countrywide Financial and Ameriquest Mortgage came to light as purveyors of risky, high-priced loans, often to subprime borrowers with less-than-stellar credit.

So-called nonbank lenders are trying to stage a comeback now, through two relatively new lobbying groups based in Washington that are seeking to burnish the image of those nonbank lenders that steered clear of risky lending.

Source: The New York Times March 31, 2011 Lynnley Browning

Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Congress has bestowed a wealth of tax breaks on homeowners, but in a way that resembles the Winchester Mystery House.

Whether you are a first-time or longtime homeowner, figuring out what you can and cannot deduct can be perplexing, especially because the laws change from year to year.

Source: SF Gate April 7, 2011 Kathleen Pender
Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Been dreaming of a vacation home? Somewhere warm to get away? Or maybe a cabin in the woods? Prices are right if you can afford it.

The median price of a vacation home was $150,000 in 2010, down 11.2% from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. In contrast, the national median for primary residences fell only 4.5% in 2010, according to NAR.

Source: CNN Money March 30, 2011 Les Christie
Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

TECHNOLOGY has made buying a home easier by making an unprecedented amount of information available to buyers. But managing that data and keeping track of multiple properties can be a challenge for house-hunting clients and their brokers.:

One solution has emerged from Buyfolio.com, a company that has developed an online tool that allows agents and their clients to save, sort and comment on listings.

Source: The New York Times March 31, 2011 Susan Stellin

Apr 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

California has decided that people who stripped equity out of their homes deserve taxpayer help after all.

The California Housing Finance Agency said Tuesday that people will no longer be excluded from three of the four Keep Your Home California programs just because they took out a home equity line of credit or did a cash-out refinance.

Source: SF Gate April 6 2011 Kathleen Pender
Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- January home prices fell for the sixth month in a row, edging closer to a double dip.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index covering 20 major markets fell 3.1% year-over-year, hovering near the market's bottom set in April 2009."

January brings us weakening home prices with no real hope in sight for the near future," says David M. Blitzer, a spokesman for S&P.

Source: CNN Money March 29, 2011 Les Christie

Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Some people who owe more than $1 million on their homes are coming under the microscope at the Internal Revenue Service over how much of their mortgage interest they can deduct on their tax returns.

The number of taxpayers involved could be in the tens of thousands because in some parts of the country, many homes sell for more than $1 million and even a buyer who puts down 20% or 30% may need to borrow. The amount of interest at stake is substantial, in some cases as much as $50,000 to $60,000 on a $1.1 million mortgage.

Source: Smart Money March 25, 2011 Arden Dale

Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The proposed deal among banks and government officials is aimed at stabilizing the real estate market and helping underwater borrowers who are months behind on mortgage payments avoid foreclosure.

Source: The Los Angeles Times March 30, 2011 Jim Puzzanghera and Alejandro Lazo
Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Are you tired of teaser mortgage rates and oversimplified loan calculators?

The folks at Mint.com say they have a solution for you.

Users of the popular personal-finance website can now get loan offers from several lenders once they plug in specifics that include income, credit score, down payment, ZIP code and years they plan on living in the future home.

Source: Sign On San Diego March 24, 2011 Lily Leung
Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

High residential vacancies are killing many housing markets, as foreclosed homes sit on the market and depress sale prices and property values.

The national vacancy rate at 11.4% according to a release Tuesday from the Census Bureau.

"Vacant homes equal more downward pressure on home prices," said Brad Hunter, chief economist for Metrostudy, a real estate information provider.

Source: CNN Money March 29, 2011 Les Christie

 

Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Last fall, Gretchen Steinmiller Torres and her husband, Dustin, bought their first place, a $204,000, four-bedroom, 2½-bath house in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio -- even though they didn't have immediate plans to use much of the space.

"We have a baby room in our house with no baby," says Ms. Torres, 29 years old, adding that the newly constructed home is in a good school district. Now they just have to grow into it.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal March 20, 2011 Rachel Louise Ensign

Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The insurance programs would make borrowers' mortgage payments for up to six months if they become unemployed during the coverage period.

Source: Los Angeles Times March 27, 2011 Kenneth R. Harney
Apr 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Lenders would have to originate mortgages with at least a 20% down payment if they want to sell a loan and not carry any of the risk. Loans sold to Fannie and Freddie would be excluded from the rule.

Source: Los Angeles Times March 29, 2011 Reuters

Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth rose at the end of last year, preventing many people from selling their homes in an already weak housing market.

About 11.1 million households, or 23.1 percent of all mortgaged homes, were underwater in the October-December quarter, according to report released Tuesday by housing data firm CoreLogic. That's up from 22.5 percent, or 10.8 million households, in the July-September quarter.

Source: SFGate March 8, 2011 Derek Kravitz
Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Without a house to sell , first-time home buyers have had a field day in the depressed housing market. Until recently, anyway. A series of new rules, regulations and policies have changed the landscape, making buying that new home harder and more expensive.

Not long ago, first-time buyers accounted for 40% of home sales. Now they're down to 29% and falling, experts say, as first-time buyers confront a steady accumulation of rising fees, costs, and rates. This month, fees on most new mortgages will rise by up to 0.50%. In April, fees on small-down-payment mortgages, a first-time buyer favorite, will spike. Meanwhile, more lenders are requiring larger down payments, and new proposals from the Obama administration call for mortgages to become more expensive and limited in size.

Source: Smart Money March 8, 2011 AnnaMaria Andriotis
Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Picky, picky, picky! Are today's first-time home buyers passing up great deals because they insist on flawless "move-in ready" houses requiring little or no changes - even at the starter-home price levels at which shoppers traditionally have been willing to factor fix-ups and renovations into their offers?

Or are they simply reflecting market realities? They see record inventories of houses sitting unsold, and they may not have the money, time or inclination to do fix-ups after making the purchase.

Source: The Washington Post March 4, 2011 Kenneth R. Harney

Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Laura Dominguez-Vasquez and her husband, Luis, recently sold their Coral Gables, Fla., home to all-cash buyers for just under $1 million. They're now shopping for a new home and intend to pay cash as well.

The busy professionals have three kids, aged 14 to 20, and they don't have the time or inclination to mess around with homebuying. "The process has to be painless," she said.

Source: CNN Money March 10, 2011 Les Christie
Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington—

Big banks put the brakes on foreclosure activity last month as the American foreclosure system faced a major overhaul and homeowners challenged their lenders in court.

The decline in foreclosure actions — from default notices to bank repossessions — dropped the most in states where a court order is required to take back a home; such so-called judicial states do not include California.

Source: The Los Angeles Times March 10, 2011 Alejandro Lazo and Jim Puzzanghera

 

Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

State and federal officials are pushing to more tightly regulate the way banks and other mortgage servicers treat struggling homeowners in a bid to stem foreclosures.

Current government modification programs are largely voluntary, and there are few rules governing servicers' practices. But on Thursday, the nation's largest banks, including Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc., received a detailed 27-page proposal from state attorneys general and federal agencies to force a shakeup in banks' mortgage-servicing policies.

Source: The Wall Street Journal March 5, 2011 Nick Timiraos and Ruth Simon

Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

WASHINGTON — How might home buying change if the federal government shuts down the housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan, the steady favorite of American borrowers since the 1950s, could become a luxury product, housing experts on both sides of the political aisle say.

Source: The New York Times Binyamin Appelbaum March 3, 2011

Mar 16, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Banks are dragging their feet when considering so-called short sales, an increasingly prevalent type of real estate transaction in which lenders allow homes to be sold for less than what is owed on them, according to a survey of California real estate agents.

Nearly two-thirds of the 2,150 respondents to the California Assn. of Realtors' survey of member agents said banks took longer than 60 days to respond to short sale offers and that fewer than three out of every five offers ultimately resulted in a sale.

Source: The Los Angeles Times March 7, 2011

Mar 7, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The number of Americans who believe that buying a home is a safe investment continues to fall, according to a new survey on housing attitudes from Fannie Mae.

Just 64% of respondents said they believe a home is a safe investment, down from 70% one year ago and 83% in December 2003.

The survey found that more Americans say it’s a bad time to sell a house, and fewer Americans say it’s a good time to buy.  Still, the share of respondents who believe home prices will stay flat or increase over the next year (78%) posted a slight increase from one year ago (73%).

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 28, 2011 Nick Timiraos
Mar 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

A new statewide program launching Tuesday will give homeowners rebates worth up to $4,000 if they make significant energy-efficient improvements to their houses.

The $300 million program, called "Energy Upgrade California," was developed by the California Energy Commission, local governments, utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission and contractors who specialize in home energy audits, upgrades and retrofits. The goal of the program, which has been in the works for over a year, is threefold: reduce household energy use, save consumers money on utility bills and create jobs in the state's "building performance" industry. Funding for the program comes from several sources, including federal stimulus dollars and surcharges that consumers already pay on their utility bills.

Source: Mercury News February 28, 2011 Dana Hull
Mar 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Banking regulators are pushing for mortgage-lending rules that require homeowners to make minimum 20% down payments on loans classified as lower-risk, according to people familiar with the matter.

The proposal is being floated as a way to rewrite the rules for mortgage lending to prevent a rerun of the housing bubble and financial crisis that resulted from years of easy credit. The Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law enacted last year enabled regulators to define a so-called gold-standard residential mortgage that would be exempt from costly new rules.

Source: The Wall Street Journal March 2, 2011 Victoria McGrane and Nick Timiraos
Mar 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Just one in four of the 2.7 million homeowners who sought to participate in the Obama administration's signature mortgage assistance program have succeeded in getting their monthly payments reduced.

The rest failed to qualify for the program or were disqualified after they were initially accepted into the program, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal of data on applicants to the program newly released by the Treasury Department.

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 28, 2011 Alan Zibel and Louise Radnofsky
Mar 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

If you have been sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to buy a new house or refinance a mortgage, you should act soon. New loans are starting to get costlier.

The mortgage market is facing pressures from new laws and regulations, still-declining home prices and the ongoing need for government-owned mortgage players to shore up their finances. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts mortgage originations, which reached $3 trillion in 2005, will be less than $1 trillion this year, the lowest level since 1997.

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 26, 2011 Karen Blumenthal

Mar 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

There might finally be some good news this year about the nation's dismal housing market. Or, at least, the bad news could stop.

Either way, it will be welcome relief for current homeowners as well as for potential real-estate investors. Reasons to be optimistic have been sadly lacking since the housing bubble burst in 2006.

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 27, 2011 Simon Constable
Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home prices took a big hit at the end of 2010, even as the rest of the economy gained steam.

National home prices fell 4.1% during the last three months of 2010, compared with 12 months earlier, according to the latest report from the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a closely watched indicator of market trends. They were down 1.9% compared with three months earlier.

Source: CNN Money February 22, 2011 Les Christie
Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

A record share of U.S. mortgages were in the foreclosure process at the end of 2010, matching the all-time high, as lenders and servicers delayed home seizures to investigate charges of improper documentation.

About 4.63 percent of loans were in foreclosure in the fourth quarter, up from 4.39 percent in the previous three months, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report Thursday. The combined share of foreclosures and loans with overdue payments was 14 percent, or about one in every seven mortgages.

Source: SFGate February 18, 2011 Kathleen M. Howley
Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK — Americans are feeling more chipper about the economy than they have in three years.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 70.4 this month, up from 64.8 in January, as Americans expressed more optimism about their income prospects and the direction the economy is headed, a private research group reported Tuesday.

It's the strongest reading since the early days of the most severe recession the U.S. has seen since the 1930s.

Source: MSNBC February 22, 2011 Ellen Gibson

Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Cities like Las Vegas and Miami boast killer buying opportunities, but you're betting off renting in New York and Seattle, according to Trulia's quarterly Rent vs. Buy index.

Source:  CNN Money by Les Christie

Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Adjustable rate mortgages are back!

After accounting for nearly 70% of all mortgages issued during the boom, ARMs vanished during the bust, totaling just 3% of the market in 2009. Now they make up 5% of all mortgages issued, and Freddie Mac predicts 10% by December.

Behind the comeback is a simple fact: ARMs are a great bargain right now. The most common ARM loan currently has a rate of 3.5% compared to 5% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Source: CNN Money February 14, 2011 Les Christie

Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Just as cars are sold with miles-per-gallon labels, more new homes this year will sport labels estimating monthly energy bills.

KB Home, one of the nation's largest builders, announced Monday its plans to have an EPG (Energy Performance Guide) on each of its U.S. homes by the end of this month, and other production builders plan to follow.

Source: USA Today February 14, 2011 Wendy Koch
Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

WASHINGTON — Home sales are starting to tick up after the worst year in more than a decade. But the momentum is coming from cash-rich investors who are scooping up foreclosed properties at bargain prices, not first-time homebuyers who are critical for a housing recovery.

The number of first-time buyers fell last month to the lowest percentage in nearly two years, while all-cash deals have doubled and now account for one-third of sales.

Source: Ventura County Star February 23, 2011 Derek Kravitz

Feb 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

(MONEY Magazine) -- When there was easy money to be made in real estate and stocks, mortgage debt seemed like nothing to fear. Now an increasing number of homeowners are wondering if it makes sense to hasten the day they can say goodbye to a big monthly expense while earning the equivalent of a decent, guaranteed return.

Source:  CNN Money February 23, 2011 Lisa Gibbs

Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home sales volume rose sharply in the final three months of 2010, aided by more stable prices on a year-over-year basis, a real estate industry group said Thursday.

Sales jumped 15.4% in the fourth quarter to an annual rate of 4.8 million units compared with 4.16 million a quarter earlier, the National Association of Realtors said.

Source: CNNMoney February 10, 2011 Les Christie
Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The overall price for building materials has been rising year-over-year since the summer. That could mean, in the words of one industry analyst, 'If you want to buy a new house and are in a position to do so, you should do it now.'

Source: Los Angeles Times February 13, 2011 Lew Sichelman
Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

THE lending industry has tried to make it easier for borrowers to understand the true cost of a mortgage by disclosing both its interest rate and its annual percentage rate, or A.P.R. But consumers may often wonder which figure they should focus on when buying or refinancing a property.

The answer, many mortgage experts say, may seem counterintuitive: while the A.P.R. is popularly seen as providing a more complete picture of what you are actually paying each month, it often omits some costs.

Source: The New York Times February 10, 2011 Lynnley Browning

Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Millennials, those between 18-34, will drive America's housing recovery as prices have generally become more affordable and mortgage rates are still historically low, said Pete Flint, CEO of real estate website Trulia.com on Wednesday.

A recent Trulia survey of 2,000 Americans shows that 26 percent of adults in that age range say their views on homeownership has become more positive in the last six months and almost a quarter say they plan to buy a home by the end of 2012.

Source: Sign On San Diego February 9, 2011 Lily Leung

Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Las Vegas always wins the title for worst forclosure rate in the country.  But these 10 unexpected cities have the fastest-growing rates out of the 100 worst-hit places.

Source: CNNMoney Les Christie

Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sometime, somehow, the foreclosure crisis will ease. But probably not anytime soon.

Home prices dropped 2.6% nationwide during the last three months of 2010, pushing more borrowers underwater, according to a quarterly real estate market survey from Zillow.com.

Source: CNNMoney February 9, 2011 Les Christie

Feb 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The down payments demanded by banks to buy homes have ballooned since the housing bust, forcing many people to rethink what they can afford and potentially shrinking the pool of eligible buyers.

Last week, the Obama administration called for gradually raising down payments to a minimum of 10% on conventional loans, meaning those that can be bought or guaranteed by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And mortgage data show that private lenders are already pushing sharply higher the required down payments, mainly to mitigate their risk as home prices continue to fall.

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 16, 2011 S. Mitra Kalita

Feb 17, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

SACRAMENTO – The California Housing Finance Agency today announced the full implementation of four programs to fight the ongoing foreclosure crisis in California, with the primary goal to help families remain in their homes. The programs, under the umbrella title of Keep Your Home California, are federally funded as part of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit fund, and are aimed at helping low and moderate income homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages amid the worst real estate crisis in decades.

Source: CalHFA Mortgage Assistance Corporation February 9, 2011

Feb 17, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

SAN FRANCISCO, February 9, 2011 – Trulia.com, a top site for homebuyers, sellers and renters, today released the results of its biannual American Dream survey, which has tracked American attitudes towards homeownership since 2009. Harris Interactive conducted this online survey on Trulia’s behalf in January 2011 among 2,079 U.S. adults aged 18 and over.

Source: Trulia.com February 2, 2011

Feb 17, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

February 14, 2011 - Most home buyers who claimed the federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for buying their first home in 2008 are required to start repaying the credit in 15 annual installments, beginning with their 2010 tax returns.

The credit—some form of which was offered for qualified home purchases in 2008, 2009 and 2010—has different repayment rules depending on when and under what circumstances the home was purchased. As tax season approaches, this may cause confusion among home buyers who received the tax credit.

Source: National Association of Home Builders February 14, 2011
Feb 17, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 15) – California home sales rose in January, marking three consecutive monthly increases and posting their highest level since May 2010, while the statewide median price declined to its lowest level since June 2009, according to data from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

“With lower home prices and rates edging up from their historic lows of late last year, prospective home buyers should consider the opportunities in today’s market,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce.

Source: California Associate of Realtors February 15, 2011
Feb 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

A new survey shows that Americans’ confusion over mortgage applications has become one of the most challenging aspects of buying a home today.

Nearly one-third of respondents said that understanding the mortgage process was the most difficult step in buying a home in the survey, conducted by MortgageMatch.com, a unit of Move Inc. That was higher than the share of borrowers who said getting approved for the mortgage (23%) or negotiating the home purchase price (25%) was the most difficult step in buying a home.

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 8, 2011 Nick Timiraos

Feb 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Home affordability returned to pre-bubble levels in a growing number of U.S. markets over the past year as price declines laid the groundwork for a housing recovery.

Data provided by Moody's Analytics track the ratio of median home prices to annual household incomes in 74 markets. By that measure, housing affordability at the end of September had returned to or surpassed the average reached between 1989-2003 in 47 of those markets. Most economists believe the housing boom took off in 2003.

Source: The Wall Street Journal January 9, 2011 Nick Timiraos

Feb 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Buyers in markets around the U.S. are snapping up homes in all-cash deals, betting that prices are at or near bottom and breathing life into some of the nation's most battered housing markets.

Cash buyers represented more than half of all transactions in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area last year, according to an analysis from real-estate portal Zillow.com. In the fourth quarter of 2006, they represented just 13% of deals. Meanwhile, downtown Miami prices rose 15% in 2010 from a year earlier, according to the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 8, 2011 S. Mitra Kalita

Feb 11, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

CONSUMERS who have practically made a national sport out of hunting down the best price for everything from lipstick to laptops online often fail to comparison-shop for mortgages, finding the Web sites unhelpful or difficult to navigate.

Source: The New York Times February 3, 2011 Lynnley Browning

Feb 10, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Financial disagreements are the number one reason couples break up; the stress created by major life changes rank number four.  Buying a home is the perfect marriage of life change and money matter – and holds the potential for causing relationship drama as big as, well, a house!

As Valentine’s Day nears, our mission is to help you make a home purchase that improves your life without impairing your relationship.  To have a harmonious house hunt, follow these 5 steps:

Source: Trulia.com January 25, 2011 Tara-Nicholle Nelson

Feb 10, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

CAMPBELL, Ca.

Four years after widespread subprime mortgage defaults touched off an international financial crisis, getting a mortgage today is so difficult two out of three Americans (70.6%) believe access to affordable mortgages is a serious problem, according to a national survey released today by MortgageMatch.com.

Source: Move, Inc. February 8, 2011
Feb 10, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Are you curious to understand the demographic breakdown of a neighborhood before deciding to make your big purchase?  This tool, designed by the New York Times, is where Google Maps meets the the US Census, providing data on income, race and ethnicity, education level, and housing information for each neighborhood in the country.

Source: The New York Times

Feb 7, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The cost of getting a mortgage is rising as higher fees hit more borrowers, including those with stellar credit.

Source: USA Today February 2, 2011 Julie Schmit

Feb 7, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

The first step in the homebuying process is to find out what you can afford to pay for a house, condo or co-op. This will depend on the amount of cash you have available for a down payment, your credit, income, assets and overall financial situation.

Source: Mercury News January 27, 2011 Dian Hymer

Feb 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Housing markets will remain flat, flat, flat in 2011, according to forecasts from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The organization, which represents more than 80% of the nation's mortgage business, predicts that overall home sales will inch down 0.1% during the year. Sales of existing homes will fall 1% to 4.82 million, and new home sale will rise 10% to 358,000.

Source: CNN Money January 26, 2011 Les Christie
Feb 6, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

A new slide in housing prices has begun in earnest, with averages in major cities across the country falling to their lowest point in many years.

Prices in 20 major metropolitan areas slid 1 percent in November from October, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday. The index has fallen 1.6 percent from a year ago.

Source: The New York Times January 25, 2011 David Streitfeld

 

Feb 1, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

San Francisco’s Planning Department has recently completed a comprehensive Historic Context Statement for Modern Architecture and Landscape Design in San Francisco between 1935 and 1970 in order to provide a "framework for consistent, informed evaluations of San Francisco’s Modern buildings and landscapes."

Source: SocketSite Blog February 1 2011

Feb 1, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

SAN FRANCISCO, January 24, 2011 – Trulia.com (www.trulia.com), a top site for homebuyers, sellers and renters, today released its latest Rent vs. Buy Index which found that it is more affordable to buy than to rent a two-bedroom home[1] in 72 percent of America’s 50 largest cities[2]. Meanwhile, a nation of renters has emerged as more Americans rent by choice or due to unforeseen financial difficulties. In contrast to this nationwide trend, renting is only less expensive than buying in four of the cities included in this study – namely New York, Seattle, Kansas City and San Francisco. The remaining 10 cities are locations where buying may still be a financially sound long-term decision despite the relative affordability of renting.

Source: Trulia.com January 24, 2011 Trulia.com

Feb 1, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

San Francisco Bay Area home prices fell 1.3 percent in December as foreclosure sales made up a larger share of purchases, MDA DataQuick said.

The median paid for new and resale houses and condominiums in the nine-county region was $375,000, down from $380,000 for both November and a year earlier, the San Diego-based real estate data firm said today in a statement.

Source: Bloomberg January 20, 2011 Dan Levy

Jan 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Groundbreaking on new homes fell more than expected in December to its lowest in over a year, suggesting the battered housing sector remained a roadblock to a recovery.

Source: The New York Times January 18, 2011 Reuters

Jan 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Federal officials took two steps Tuesday to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a second financial crisis caused in large part by large declines in the housing market.

Source: The Washington Post January 18, 2011 Zachary A. Golddfarb

Jan 27, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

California home sales rose in December to their highest level since May, according to a report Friday from the California Association of Realtors, as the inventory of unsold homes dwindled.

Source: Los Angeles Business from bizjournals January 21, 2011 Elizabeth Kim

Jan 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

You may be a pillar of your community, admired by your colleagues and beloved by friends and family, but if you have a mediocre credit score, you probably won't be able to get a decent interest rate on a car loan, mortgage or credit card.

Source: USA Today Jan 11, 2011 Sandra Block

Jan 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

What will be the top 2011 trends in green building? A non-profit research group expects green homes will become increasingly affordable, smart and energy-efficient -- all trends that Green House agrees are likely.

Source: USA Today Jan 7, 2011 Wendy Koch

Jan 23, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sales of existing homes jumped in December, marking the fifth month of gains in the past six months, based on an industry report released Thursday.

Source: CNNMoney Jan 20, 2011 By Blake Ellis

Jan 20, 2011
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: kathy

Massachusetts' highest court upholds the invalidation of two foreclosures in a case involving mortgage-backed securities, saying Wells Fargo and US Bank failed to prove they owned the mortgages.

Source: The Los Angeles Times Jan 7, 2011 By E. Scott Reckard
Sep 7, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

Housing inventories rose in many U.S. cities for the eighth straight month in August in a sign of the continued headwinds facing a soft housing market.

Source: The Wall Street Journel Sept 7, 2010 By Nick Timiraos

Sep 5, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

The unexpectedly deep plunge in home sales this summer likely is to force the Obama administration to choose between future homeowners and current ones, a predicament officers had been eager to avoid.

Source: The New York Times Sept 5, 2010 by DAVID STREITFELD

Sep 1, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

Affordable home prices and historically low interest rates have created an ideal situation for many qualified first-time home buyers to purchase a house.  Despite this opportunity, some buyers may be overconfident and make mistakes during the home-buying process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal Sept 1, 2010 by By SARAH MAX

Jun 8, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate
The assessed value of a property should never be higher than the property's value on the open market. Occasionally, market forces and other factors will cause a property's value to decline significantly enough to create that situation. In these cases, the Assessor may lower the assessed value of any real property if it is higher than the market value as of January 1.

Each case is reviewed individually at the request of the property owner. The Assessor considers both land and improvements when determining the  January 1 market value. 

source: http://www.smcare.org/assessor/

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

A key measure of consumer confidence climbed for a third straight month in May, a research group said Tuesday, with the outlook for the next few months spiking to pre-recession levels.

Source: CNN Money

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

Defying some analysts’ predictions of a slow and subpar U.S. recovery, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco are predicting a rapid economic rebound.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

Can it be possible? Despite the housing bust and high foreclosure rates, in some areas real estate agents are complaining that they don’t have enough homes to sell.

Source: CNN Money

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

If you’re thinking about applying for a home mortgage this year, here’s some important news: Beginning June 1, your lender is likely to order a second full credit screening immediately before closing.

Source: LA Times

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

Pressure is mounting on loan servicers and investors to reduce troubled homeowners’ loan balances ? but the two largest owners of mortgages aren’t getting the message.

source: CNN Money

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

The Internet can help simplify many financial transactions, though not always when it comes to home mortgages.  Those who sign up for information at mortgage Web sites have found themselves receiving a flood of calls and e-mail messages from brokers and lenders soliciting business.

Source: The New York Times

May 30, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

(May 10) Although the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit expired on April 30, 2010, home buyers who signed a written, binding contract by that date and close before July 1, 2010 may still be able to claim the credit. Below you will find general information about who can claim the credit and how. 

Source: REALTOR.org

May 27, 2010
Category: Market Updates
Posted by: ParcBayRealEstate

People who walk away from their mortgages are not as calculating as you’d think, according to a University of Arizona law professor whose academic paper on strategic default last year drew sharp criticism from lenders and Wall Street.

Source: The LA Times