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2012 could be record year for short sales

2012 is on track to become a record year for short sales, according to a report from foreclosure data aggregator RealtyTrac.

Sales of U.S. homes in the foreclosure process, typically short sales, rose 33 percent year over year, to 35,000, in January. A total of 32 states saw annual increases in short sales, and 12 states saw more short sales than REO (real estate owned) sales.

The short-sale increase comes after three years of declines following the inauguration of “a new presidential administration with a new approach to the foreclosure problem,” wrote Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president and author of the report.

“Short sales have long held great promise as a market-based solution to the nation’s foreclosure problem, but short sales transactions over the past three years have actually declined after peaking in the first quarter of 2009,” Blomquist said in a statement.

“January foreclosure sales numbers, along with first-quarter foreclosure activity, strongly indicate that downward trend is ending, and we believe 2012 could be a record year for short sales.”

Several states saw triple- or double-digit yearly jumps in short sales in January, including Georgia (up 113 percent), Michigan (90 percent), California (52 percent), Texas (48 percent), Arizona (44 percent), Nevada (36 percent), and Florida (20 percent).

Although REOs continue to outnumber short sales nationwide, there were only 2,600 more REO sales than short sales in January. Nearly a quarter of states had more short sales than REO sales, including Utah, California, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Colorado, New York and New Jersey, according to the report.

Six out of the 10 states with the highest share of short sales in January were in the West.

Of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, nine out of the 10 metros with the highest share of short sales in January were in the West, six of them in California.

Even as short sales increase, the prices buyers pay for them have decreased. In fourth-quarter 2011, a pre-foreclosure property sold for an average $184,221, down 11.3 percent from fourth-quarter 2010. In January, such a property sold for $174,120, down 10 percent year over year.

Short sales are also selling for bigger discounts when compared to the average sales prices of nondistressed homes. Short-sale buyers received an average 21 percent discount in January, up from an average discount of 17 percent the year before. RealtyTrac does not take into account property condition or size when calculating discounts for distressed properties.

Short sales in Massachusetts, Missouri and California saw the biggest discounts in January.

Short-sale timelines appear to be getting shorter. After peaking at 318 days in third-quarter 2011, the average number of days it took for a property to go from the start of the foreclosure process to its sale as a pre-foreclosure was 306 days in the first quarter, slightly down from 308 days in the fourth quarter.’

Although foreclosure starts — either default notices or scheduled foreclosure auctions, depending on the state — were down 11 percent from the previous year in March, last month also saw the third straight monthly rise in foreclosure starts.

There are nearly 3.5 million delinquent borrowers nationwide; 41 percent of those borrowers are seriously delinquent and therefore at high risk for entering the foreclosure process and becoming short sales, RealtyTrac said.

Another, bigger potential pool of short-sellers are borrowers with underwater mortgages. More than 12.5 million borrowers owe at least 25 percent more on their mortgage than their home is worth.

“Even if these homeowners aren’t struggling to make mortgage payments and therefore are at low risk for foreclosure, if they need to sell sometime in the next five years it’s likely they’ll need to sell via short sale,” the report said.

Among lenders and loan servicers, Bank of America had the highest short-sale volume in January, followed by Chase and Wells Fargo.

PNC Financial saw the biggest annual jump in short sales, followed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac combined.

Those three government-backed entities also had the lowest average short-sale prices in January, the biggest declines in average sales price for short sales, the lowest number of average days to sale, and the biggest decrease in time to sell.

NAR Index: Housing Affordability hits 42-year high in January

NARThe National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Housing Affordability Index reached a record high this January, at 206.1. January 2012 is the first month since the index’s inception in 1970 that the index has hit or passed 200, the group announced this week…

…Late 2011 saw a steady monthly rise in the index from June’s 172.4, the 2011 low, to 197.9 in December 2011. The index has risen from 169.4 in 2009 to 174 in 2010, and to 184.5 in 2011.

Read this article in full by Inman.com here: “NAR Housing Affordability Index hits 42-year High in January.”

Unemployment Rate Falls to 8.5%

The nation’s unemployment rate continues to trend down. It slipped to 8.5 percent during the month of December as the economy added 200,000 new jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday morning.

The reported rate is down from 8.6 percent in November. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised downward from +120,000 to +100,000. October’s data was revised upward from +100,000 to +112,000.

December’s results were better than expected, with the consensus forecast among analysts looking for the rate to inch up to 8.7 percent and net job growth over the month to tally 150,000.

December marks the sixth consecutive month of 100,000-plus job gains and the first such stretch employers have been able to string together since 2006.

The number of long-term unemployed – those jobless for 27 weeks or more – was little changed in December at 5.6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed.

The unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage point since August, according to the Labor Department. At 8.5 percent, the rate ended 2011 at its lowest level in nearly three years.

Over the 2011 calendar year, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.6 million, up sharply from the 940,000 jobs added in 2010.

Employment in the private sector rose by 212,000 in December and by 1.9 million over the year.

Government employment changed little over the month but fell by 280,000 over the year.

The national unemployment rate averaged 8.9 percent in 2011, compared to 9.6 percent in 2010.

This article is from DSNews.com: “Unemployment Rate Falls to 8.5%“.

2011 had lowest mortgage rates on record

You’ve probably been hearing all year long how mortgage interest rates were at record lows.

Now, the final data is in. And it shows that 2011 had the lowest average interest rates in the 41 years that mortgage giant Freddie Mac has been tracking loan rates.

Specifically, the U.S. average was 4.45% on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, Freddie Mac reported. That beats the previous low of 4.69% set in 2010.

The past two years are the only ones in Freddie Mac’s records in which the annual average rates were below 5% for a 30-year, fixed-rate loan. In 1981, 30-year mortgage rates averaged nearly 17%. As recently as 2008, rates were averaging above 6%.

Interest rates fell below 4% for the first time in Freddie Mac’s data in October – and stayed at or below 4% for the last nine weeks of the year. Thirty-year rates set six records last year, falling to an all-time low of 3.91% on Dec. 22.

Other types of mortgages were in record territory as well. According to Freddie Mac:

  • Fifteen-year, fixed-rate mortgages set eight records in 2011, falling to an all-time low of 3.21% on Dec. 15.
  • Five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages set nine records in 2011, falling to an all-time low of 2.85% on Dec. 22.
  • One-year, adjustable-rate mortgages set 14 records in 2011, falling to an all-time low of 2.77% on Dec. 22.

The record low mortgage rates failed to spark a revival in the housing market, with fewer buyers able to qualify for a loan or able to afford to purchase a home. Overall, local and U.S. home sales remain well below average levels.

This article is from the Orange County Register; read it here: 2011 had lowest mortgage rates on record.”

November 2011’s Market Condition

Existing-Home Sales Continue to Climb in November

Existing-home sales rose again in November and remain above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. Also released today were periodic benchmark revisions with downward adjustments to sales and inventory data since 2007, led by a decline in for-sale-by-owners.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said more people are taking advantage of the buyer’s market. “Sales reached the highest mark in 10 months and are 34 percent above the cyclical low point in mid-2010, a genuine sustained sales recovery appears to be developing,” he said. “We’ve seen healthy gains in contract activity, so it looks like more people are realizing the great opportunity that exists in today’s market for buyers with long-term plans.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.99 percent in November from 4.07 percent in October; the rate was 4.30 percent in November 2010; records date back to 1971.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, said housing affordability conditions have set a new record high. “With record low mortgage interest rates and bargain home prices, NAR’s housing affordability index shows that a median-income family can easily afford a median-priced home,” he said.

“With consumer price inflation rising by more than 3 percent this year, consumers are looking to lock-in steady payments by taking out long-term fixed-rate mortgages. However, the problem remains that some financially qualified families who are willing to stay well within their means are being denied the opportunity to buy in today’s market by the overly restrictive mortgage underwriting situation,” Veissi said.

Source: National Association of Realtors

CoreLogic’s 2012 Housing Market Prediction

Where’s the real estate market going in 2012?  Well, according to CoreLogic–nowhere. Is flat growth really in housing’s future? Read the following article and decide for yourself.

Two prominent home-price indices continued to show declines in September and October, with one outlook indicating no more than flat growth in the next two years.

A home-price index report from loan data aggregator Lender Processing Services showed the national average sales price for single-family homes fell 4.4 percent year over year and 1.2 percent month to month in September, to $202,000.

LPS’ Home Price Index, launched in July, tracks monthly sales in more than 13,500 ZIP codes. Within each ZIP code, the index shows historical price changes for five home-price levels, including entry-level, middle-market and high-end homes.

Prices declined on a monthly basis in all ZIP codes covered by LPS. The top 20 percent of homes (selling for more than $317,000) saw a slightly smaller monthly decline, 1.2 percent, than the lowest 20 percent (selling for less than $102,000), which saw a 1.4 percent drop.

housing market forecast“Home prices in September were consistent with the seasonal pattern that has been occurring since 2009,” said Kyle Lundstedt, LPS Applied Analytics’ managing director, in a statement.

“Each year, prices have risen in the spring, but revert in autumn to a downward trend that has not only erased the gains, but has led to an average 3.7 percent annual drop in prices to date. The partial data available for October suggests a further approximate decline of 1.1 percent.”

A report released by property data firm CoreLogic bears out the monthly decline in October. For the third straight month, nationwide single-family home prices fell on both a monthly and yearly basis, dropping 1.3 percent from September and 3.9 percent from October 2010. Excluding distressed sales (short sales and real estate owned home sales, also known as REOs), October’s index fell 0.5 percent from a year ago.

“Home prices continue to decline in response to the weak demand for housing. While many housing statistics are basically moving sideways, prices continue to correct for a supply and demand imbalance. Looking forward, our forecasts indicate flat growth through 2013,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, in a statement.

The index was down 32 percent in October from an April 2006 peak. Excluding distressed sales, the drop was 22.4 percent. CoreLogic’s index is based on 30 years of data for repeat sales transactions, and “price, time between sales, property type, loan type and distressed sales.”

Among the 10 most populous metropolitan areas in the country, six saw index declines in October. Only Washington, D.C., and New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., saw index increases above 1 percent. When distressed sales were excluded, six experienced index increases.

Most states, 34, experienced year-over-year index drops in October. Ten states and Washington, D.C., saw index rises of more than 1 percent. West Virginia led the way with a 4.8 percent annual rise.

At the other end of the spectrum, Nevada was the only state to see a double-digit index drop in October, down 12.1 percent. When distressed sales were excluded, 28 states and Washington, D.C., saw flat or rising home prices. South Carolina posted the biggest increase, up 4.6 percent.

Read more concerning CoreLogic’s real estate prediction here: Research and Trends.

No rise in US real estate prices before 2014?

Two prominent home-price indices continued to show declines in September and October, with one outlook indicating no more than flat growth in the next two years.

A home-price index report from loan data aggregator Lender Processing Services showed the national average sales price for single-family homes fell 4.4 percent year over year and 1.2 percent month to month in September, to $202,000.

LPS’ Home Price Index, launched in July, tracks monthly sales in more than 13,500 ZIP codes. Within each ZIP code, the index shows historical price changes for five home-price levels, including entry-level, middle-market and high-end homes.

Prices declined on a monthly basis in all ZIP codes covered by LPS. The top 20 percent of homes (selling for more than $317,000) saw a slightly smaller monthly decline, 1.2 percent, than the lowest 20 percent (selling for less than $102,000), which saw a 1.4 percent drop.

“Home prices in September were consistent with the seasonal pattern that has been occurring since 2009,” said Kyle Lundstedt, LPS Applied Analytics’ managing director, in a statement.Real estate prediction for 2012

“Each year, prices have risen in the spring, but revert in autumn to a downward trend that has not only erased the gains, but has led to an average 3.7 percent annual drop in prices to date. The partial data available for October suggests a further approximate decline of 1.1 percent.”

A report released by property data firm CoreLogic bears out the monthly decline in October. For the third straight month, nationwide single-family home prices fell on both a monthly and yearly basis, dropping 1.3 percent from September and 3.9 percent from October 2010. Excluding distressed sales (short sales and real estate owned home sales, also known as REOs), October’s index fell 0.5 percent from a year ago.

“Home prices continue to decline in response to the weak demand for housing. While many housing statistics are basically moving sideways, prices continue to correct for a supply and demand imbalance. Looking forward, our forecasts indicate flat growth through 2013,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, in a statement.

The index was down 32 percent in October from an April 2006 peak. Excluding distressed sales, the drop was 22.4 percent. CoreLogic’s index is based on 30 years of data for repeat sales transactions, and “price, time between sales, property type, loan type and distressed sales.”

Among the 10 most populous metropolitan areas in the country, six saw index declines in October. Only Washington, D.C., and New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., saw index increases above 1 percent. When distressed sales were excluded, six experienced index increases.

Most states, 34, experienced year-over-year index drops in October. Ten states and Washington, D.C., saw index rises of more than 1 percent. West Virginia led the way with a 4.8 percent annual rise.

At the other end of the spectrum, Nevada was the only state to see a double-digit index drop in October, down 12.1 percent. When distressed sales were excluded, 28 states and Washington, D.C., saw flat or rising home prices. South Carolina posted the biggest increase, up 4.6 percent.

Existing-Home Sales Rise Unexpectedly in October

Sales of previously owned homes got an unexpected boost last month while the number of homes on the market continued to decline, according to data released Monday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The trade group recorded a 1.4 percent month-over-month increase in existing-home sales in October, pushing the annual rate of sales to 4.97 million. NAR’s latest reading is 13.5 percent above the 4.38 million-unit sales pace in October 2010.

Housing inventory fell 2.2 percent to 3.33 million existing homes available for sale as of the end of October, which represents an 8.0-month supply.

That’s down from an 8.3-month supply in September. NAR says the housing supply has been trending gradually down since setting a record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

Distressed homes – foreclosed REOs and short sales – slipped to 28 percent of October’s transactions, down from 30 percent in September. They were 34 percent in October 2010.

NAR says 17 percent of last month’s existing-home sales were foreclosures and 11 percent were short sales.

Market analysts were expecting up to a 3 percent drop in overall existing-home sales between September and October. Forecasts ranged between an annual rate of 4.76 million and 4.80 million.

According to NAR, October home sales should have risen higher than the 1.4 percent the trade group recorded.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, contract failures reported by Realtors jumped to 33 percent in October from 18 percent in September. Only 8 percent of contracts fell through in October of last year.

“A higher rate of contract failures has held back a sales recovery,” Yun said. “Home sales have been stuck in a narrow range despite several improving factors that generally lead to higher home sales such as job creation, rising rents, and high affordability conditions. Many people who are attempting to buy homes are thwarted in the process.”

NAR’s report shows the national median existing-home price was $162,500 in October, which is 4.7 percent below October 2010.

“In some areas we’re hearing about shortages of foreclosure inventory in the lower price ranges with multiple bidding on the more desirable properties,” Yun said. “Realtors in such areas are calling for a faster process of getting foreclosure inventory into the market because they have ready buyers.”

Yun adds that extending credit to responsible investors would help to absorb distressed inventory at an even faster pace, which he says “would go a long way toward restoring market balance.”

NAR’s data indicates investors purchased 18 percent of homes in October, while first-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of transactions. All-cash sales made up 29 percent of last month’s purchases.

This article is by DSNews.com.