Mixed messages

In the past few weeks the real estate market showed multiple signs of a rebound of some sort.  In 20 metropolitan areas prices rose 0.2% in August but were still down 3.8% year over year.  This may all change soon.  In September, pending sales were down 4.6%.  Could this be another beginning of a triple dip?  With Freddie Mac requesting for another $6 billion of your tax money and holding about 60,000 REOs from the market, which will take approx. 15 years to sell off, I don’t think our country’s rebound in a lot of areas will happen anytime soon and hope that the triple dip is not too severe.

Some help is on the way.  The Federal Housing Financing Agency is trying to help change the market.  They are making a few changes to the Home Affordable Refinancing Program to attract more borrowers and stimulate the mortgage industry and helping more homeowners.  The National Association of REALTORS are also concerned with the state of our real estate market and has a 5 point plan that could get us out of this triple dip situation and stabilize the market.  With any change, it will take a while for the changes to make a difference.  Let’s hope that it won’t be too long.

How much is your home today?

The economy has driven our home values down and there is no end in site.  Many areas in the nation has experienced major price reductions.  Not all areas have been hit but California has 6 areas that had the largest drop in value out of the top 10 areas nationwide.   The prices have decreased more then 60% from 5 years ago.  This situation will not get any better anytime soon due to the 1,000,000+ foreclosures that the banks are holding this year and another 1,000.000+ foreclosures in next 2 years.  It will take a few years to sell off all of the phantom inventory before any appreciation can be realized in these areas.    

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Senate proposing to make financing harder

The Senate is proposing to change the FHA down payment to 5% and decrese the loan limits.  Why make it harder to qualify for a loan when FHA is critical in providing affordable financing to help decrease the growing foreclosed properties.  Currently the nation’s largest lending institutions own more then 872,000 homes which is twice that of 2007.  It will take 400 days for lenders to foreclose on the home and 176 days to sell it.  This will make our recovery even slower.  Although financing isn’t the only factor to a recovery, it is one of the most important factor to decrease the ever growing inventory.

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Fannie offers to pay closing cost

If you plan to purchase a home in the near future, you might want to speed up the process in order to have 3.5% of your closing cost paid by Fannie Mae.   That’s right, Fannie Mae is trying to decrease their inventory of REOs.  If you close on a HomePath property by June 30, 2011, you’ll be able to save 3.5% of the purchase price in closing cost.   So act now!!!! 

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Is the market really turning around?

In January, pending home sales declined however, the data is based on contracts signed in January not closings.  According to Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, “The housing market is healing with sales fluctuating at times, depending on the flow of distressed properties coming on the market,” he said.  He expects the recovery will be a straight upward path because there is still an elevated level of shadow inventory of distressed homes and interest rates are still historically low.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are plenty of signs that the housing market finally bottoming out.  If investors and buyers continue to take advantage of the most affordable housing in decades, prices will probably bottom out in 2011.   

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Foreclosures are up

Lenders have foreclosed on 78,133 properties in January, which is up by 12% from the previous month but it is 11% less then a year ago.  Although there has been an increase in default notices, auctions, and bank repossessions in January, it is encouraging to know that the increase is 17% less then a year ago. 

5 states are responsible for more then 50% of the nation’s total foreclosure activity; California, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois.  Nevada was the hardest hit state with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.  Bank repossessions increased 16% from December which is more then  5 times the national average.  Even though we are seeing more foreclosures, they are less then what it was a year ago.  Let’s hope that this is a good sign that we might be on the right track to recovery.   

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Home sales rebound in 49 states

During the 4th quarter of 2010,  over half of the metropolitan areas have experienced price gains from a year ago, but the rest of the areas did not.  NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun is encouraged by the trend and says the sales in the last quarter of 2010 has absorbed much of the inventory including distress properties.  This could be a good sign that we may be recovering.  With the continued improvement of the market and more jobs become available, the market will be back to normal. 

Interest rates have been a big factor in sustaining the sales of homes.  Last year we have seen interest rates at its all time low, but the rates have been inching up.  This is a reaction to the housing recovery that we might be experiencing.  We may never see rates lower then 5% in the future.  In my 30 years of working in this industry, I thought I would never see interest rates lower than 6%, but it did happen.  If you’re planning to finance a purchase or refinancing an existing property, you may want to do it now before the rates go sky high.

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More foreclosures are coming

Have you been hearing about the looming wave of foreclosures coming?  Well, it’s slowly coming to the market place.  With the economic problems we are facing, it is taking a toll on everybody.  We are still not out of our crisis.  Some areas in the country are really going through hard times.  California is so lucky, we have four cities out of eight, that ranks as the most miserable cities in the United States.   Let’s hope that things don’t get any worst!!!

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Things can’t get any worst or can they?

Home prices dropped 4.1% annually, in 2010.  Although there was an increase in prices, overall  70% of the major market prices experienced a decline and 8 had double digit declines.  There were 6 markets in California that managed to have some price gain. 

Unfortunately, 2011 will probably be the same, unless unemployment and distressed homes decrease.   Until there are more jobs and less people loosing their homes, we will not see too many price gains.

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Calm before the storm?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!  Foreclosures are down 21% of the previous month and 14% below November of last year.  This is great news but I think we will see another wave of foreclosures and  short sales in 2011. It could be as early as January 2011. We probably will see another wave of distressed properties on the market in the coming year.

If you remember in 2008-2009, the market was flooded with the first wave of  distress properties for sale.  There are still a lot of people having problems with their loan payments and the banks will have to follow through with their right to foreclose to recuperate the losses.  

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