Tag Archives: U.S.

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.

Mortgage Delinquencies Expected to Drop

FICO’s quarterly survey of bank risk professionals found a reversal in the sentiment of U.S. lenders, with expectations for loan repayments more upbeat in the first quarter of 2012 than they had been during the previous quarter.

The survey, conducted for Minneapolis-based FICO by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRMIA), found fewer lenders anticipating a rise in delinquencies on home loans than at any time since FICO launched its survey in early 2010.

In the latest survey, the number of respondents expecting mortgage delinquencies to increase over the next six months was 12 percentage points lower than last quarter – dropping from 47 to 35 percent…

Read the rest of this article by DSNews.com here: “Lenders’ Risk Managers Expect Mortgage Delinquencies to Drop“.

American are becoming more optimistic about homeownership

New Prudential Real Estate Poll: Americans Increasingly Optimistic About Homeownership

Prudential Real Estate, a Brookfield Residential Property Services company…released a new national survey showing that Americans are significantly more optimistic about homeownership than they were a year ago. According to the second-annual Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey, a full 60 percent of Americans have favorable views toward the real estate market. That’s up 8 points since last year.Prudential

The survey shows that signs of increasing optimism are widespread:

  • With interest rates at historically low levels, 96 percent agree or somewhat agree that now is a good time to buy.
  • A full 70 perce3nt of respondents have some degree of confidence that property values will improve over the next two years; with an 8 point increase in those very confident or confident compared to last year.
  • 63 percent believe that real estate is a good investment despite the recent market volatility; that’s up 11 points from last year.

The survey confirms that despite the recession, homeownership remains a central part of the American Dream. Eight in 10 respondents said homeownership is very important to them; only 15 percent said the economic downturn made homeownership less important….

Read the rest of this article here: “New Prudential Real Estate Poll: Americans Increasingly Optimistic About Homeownership.”

REO Inventory in 2011

RealtyTrac’s year-end report released Thursday shows foreclosure filings – including default, auction, and bank repossession notices – were reported on 1,887,777 U.S. properties in 2011. Of that total, 804,423 homes were taken back by lenders as REO.

Last year’s tally of nearly 1.9 million properties with a foreclosure filing seems staggering, but it’s actually the lowest reported since 2007. It’s 34 percent below 2010, 33 percent below 2009, and 19 percent below the 2008 total.

RealtyTrac’s newly appointed CEO Brandon Moore describes foreclosure activity last year as being in “full delay mode.”

“The lack of clarity regarding many of the documentation and legal issues plaguing the foreclosure industry means that we are continuing to see a highly dysfunctional foreclosure process that is inefficiently dealing with delinquent mortgages – particularly in states with a judicial foreclosure process,” Moore said.

These delays, however, may be coming to an end. Moore says there were strong signs in the second half of 2011 that indicate lenders are finally beginning to push stalled foreclosures through in select local markets.

“We expect that trend to continue this year, boosting foreclosure activity for 2012 higher than it was in 2011, though still below the peak of 2010,” Moore said.

Despite signs that some markets are experiencing a pickup in foreclosures, RealtyTrac’s analysis shows that processing timelines continued to increase.

On the national stage, properties foreclosed in the fourth quarter took an average of 348 days to complete the process, up from 336 days in the third quarter and up from 305 days in the fourth quarter of 2010.

RealtyTrac says the length of the average foreclosure process has increased 24 percent from the third quarter of 2010, when lenders began to re-evaluate foreclosure procedures as a result of documentation and affidavit errors.

New York holds the title of ‘longest foreclosure process in the nation’ – an average of 1,019 days.

New Jersey documented the nation’s second longest end-to-end foreclosure process, at 964 days. Florida has the third longest at 806 days. Foreclosure activity in both these states dropped more than 60 percent from 2010 to 2011.

All three states with the longest foreclosure timelines employ the judicial foreclosure process.

Texas continues to register the shortest average foreclosure process of any state, at 90 days, but that still represents an increase from 86 days in the third quarter and 81 days in the fourth quarter of 2010.

At 106 days, Delaware has the second shortest foreclosure timeline in the nation, and Kentucky lays claim to the third shortest, at 108 days.

More than 6 percent of Nevada housing units (one in 16) had at least one foreclosure filing in 2011, giving it the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the fifth consecutive year. That’s despite a 31 percent decrease in foreclosure activity from 2010.

Arizona registered the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate for the third year in a row, with 4.14 percent of its homes (one in 24) receiving at least one filing in 2011.

California registered the nation’s third highest foreclosure rate for all of 2011, with 3.19 percent (one in every 31 homes).

Other states with 2011 foreclosure rates ranking among the nation’s 10 highest include: Georgia (2.71 percent), Utah (2.32 percent), Michigan (2.21 percent), Florida (2.06 percent), Illinois (1.95 percent), Colorado (1.78 percent), and Idaho (1.77 percent).

This article is by DSNews.com: “New REO Inventory in 2011=804,423 Homes.”

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.”

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.

Top six reasons mortgage applications are rejected

Half of refinance applications are abandoned or rejected, as are 30 percent of purchase mortgage applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. All told, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) says that well over 2 million mortgage applications were rejected last year.

Want to avoid falling into that number? It’s tough — especially in light of the fact that mortgage lenders have become increasingly restrictive in terms of their lending guidelines since the housing market crash.

Here, as a cautionary tale and primer on what to expect, are the top six reasons mortgage lenders reject applications.FFIEC

1. Income issues. Most failed applications falling into this category have income too low for the mortgage amount they are seeking; often, a spouse’s credit issues can create this problem, too, as the income the spouse plans to actually chip in toward the mortgage cannot be considered by a lender.

But increasingly, the recent vagaries of the job market are also causing this issue, as people who have changed their line of work or have changed from salaried employee to freelancer over the last couple of years can also have their home loan applications rejected based on income.

2. Muddled money matters. If the mortgage for which you’re applying plus your monthly payments on credit card, car and student loan debts will comprise more than 45 percent of your total income, you could have problems qualifying for a home loan. You might also run into problems if you rely too heavily on bonuses, overtime, cash wages or rental income — all of these can be difficult or impossible to get a mortgage bank to consider, and if they do, they might not take all of it into account.

3. Credit issues. Today, the mortgage-qualifying FICO score cutoff falls somewhere between 620 and 660, depending on which lender and which loan type you seek. More than one-third of Americans, by some numbers, have credit scores too low to qualify for a home loan. Even if your credit score is high enough to qualify, if you have any late mortgage payments, a short sale, a foreclosure or a bankruptcy in the last two years, loan qualifying could be difficult to impossible.

4. Property didn’t appraise. Since the whole industry had its hand smacked for allowing home values to skyrocket in a very short time, appraisal guidelines have tightened up — some would say, even more than overall mortgage guidelines. So, it is increasingly common to have the property appraise for a price lower than the sale price negotiated between the buyer and seller.

This is especially common in the refinance realm, as well over a quarter of U.S. homes are now upside-down, meaning the mortgage balance owed is greater than the value of the home.

5. Condition problems. With all the distressed properties on the market, and with most non-distressed sellers barely breaking even, more home-sale transactions than ever are falling apart due to condition problems with the property. Many lenders will not extend financing on homes where the appraiser points out problems like cracked or broken windows, missing kitchen appliances, electrical problems, or wood rot.

And in the world of condos and other units that belong to a homeowners association, if more than 25 percent of units are rented (rather than owner-occupied) or more than 15 percent are delinquent on their HOA dues, new applications for refinance or purchase mortgages on units in the development are likely to be rejected.

6. Technical difficulties with application. The days when lenders just took your word for it are long, long gone. Applications with incomplete or unverifiable information are doomed.

If any of these mortgage loan application glitches arise in your homebuying or refinancing process, it’s critical that you connect with your mortgage professional, be it your banker or mortgage broker, to determine what course of action to take.

In some cases, it might be as simple as buying a stove you find at Craigslist and installing it before escrow closes; but with income issues your mortgage pro will need to help you determine whether it makes sense to pay some bills down, get a co-signer, or even wait six months so your income documentation will qualify.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com.