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Saturday, March 30, 2013

In California, pending home sales are at a four-year high

The housing market is growing so robust that even "hard-hit" regions are getting up off the mat and back in the fight.

In California, pending home sales are at a four-year high, according to the California Association of Realtors. That's increasing homebuyer competition and leading to multiple offers on many homes, the group says.
"The strong increase in January's pending home sales is an encouraging indication that we'll kick off the spring homebuying season on a solid start," says Don Faught, president of the association. "However, a low supply of available homes for sale will affect buyers, especially first-time buyers looking for more affordable, lower-priced homes, since they are having to compete with investors and all-cash buyers."
According to San Diego-based Data Quick, a real estate technology analytics firm, 13 of the most troubled U.S. housing markets also saw "significant" growth rates in the first 30 days of 2013.
Phoenix, Ariz., leads the way with a 24% increase on a year-to-year basis (from January 2012 through January 2013). Sacramento, Calif., clocks in second, at 15%, and Detroit hits third place at 14%.
Other "troubled' metro areas experiencing housing price gains include Las Vegas; Richmond, Va.; San Jose; Fort Myers, Fla.; San Diego; and Orlando, Fla.
Data Quick is, well, quick to point out that there is no way of knowing whether those price gains are for the long haul. "The January PIR reviews whether or not there is justification for these elevated growth rates, or if these growth rates are evidence of a new bubble forming in these areas," says Gordon Crawford, vice president of analytics at the company. "Although these markets are rebounding, there is uncertainty as to whether or not they will sustain consistent growth."
For now, though, growth it is, and at a steady, upward rate.
Why the ramp-up in home values?
Experts cite three reasons:
Employment is up. Data Quick says the U.S. jobs market is "steadily improving," and that has fueled home price gains in those hard-hit markets and other metro areas, as well.
The "bottom" has been reached. For years, economists, real estate agents and even homebuyers and homeowners yearned for a real estate market bottom, signaling that the worst is behind us and prices could once again move upward. Apparently, that benchmark has been reached. "During the housing crisis, many were uncertain as to where the bottom in home prices had been reached, causing many owners and investors to patiently wait on the sideline," Crawford says. "Once interested parties saw a market trough, they eagerly returned to the market."
Home improvement stocks are up. Revenues at home improvement retailers such as Home Depot(HD) and Lowes(LOW) are up, and that means consumers are once again putting money into improving their most valuable asset -- their homes. Fitch Ratings says that store sales figures were up 4.2% at Home Depot in 2012, while Lowes showed gains of 1.4% over the same period.
All in all, those trends paint a pretty picture of the U.S. housing market for the rest of 2013.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top Grass Valley Home and Lands Picks

Desirable Peardale/Chicago Park Location. This Manufactured Home Has A Great Floor Plan Sits Perched On A Nice Level Site. Open Floor Plan W/ Living Room, Dining Area W/ Built In Hutch, Family Room W/ Freestanding Gas Log Stove. L-shape Kitchen With Breakfast Bar, Electric Cook Top, Built In Oven, Dishwasher Lots Of Counter Space. Over The Years There Have Been A Number Of Items Replaced.. Roof 10 Years New, Windows 7 Years New, Water Heater Well Pressure Tank 5 Years New,Toilets 2 Years New The Heat Pump Is Being Serviced (Approx. 10 Years Old) And Should Work like New. Detached 2 Car Garage, Terraced Garden Beds, Some Fruit Trees, Storage Shed, Good Solar Exposure, Nice Neighbors, And Good Commute Location.

Build among the stars. There are 2 side by side parcels, 5.2 acres and 5.49 acres, located in exclusive Alta Sierra. The hill top 300 degree views are incredible and the prices are even more incredible. These parcels were valued at over $250,000 each. The Seller has owned them for more than a decade and this is the first time they are offered for sale. 15995 Fay is listed at $84,000 . Buy one or get them both for the reduced price of $125,000.

Beautiful All Usable Land W/ Paved Road Frontage, Nid Irrigation Water Avail. Awesome Long Range Views Of The Surrounding Mountains. Property Has Been Drastically Reduced And Owners Are Anxious To Sell. Sellers Will Credit Up To $5.000 Toward Either A Well Or Perc And Mantle At Close Of Escrow. One Or More Agents May Have Active Real Estate Licenses. Perfect Ranchette Property For Animal Or Organic Gardening. Hurry On This One. Exccellent Commuter Location Only A Short Distance Iin On Melody Road Off Hwy 20. Quiet And Peaceful! Irrigation: Available Topo-Site Desc.: Meadow Mountain View Valley View

A vacant Land parcel with so much to offer...sounds & Views over the Bear River. Possible building pad on the upper portion of this parcel sloping down towards the river. Paved Access off Deerwood Place..Sign is on fence next to shed where you can walk through. The parcel also has easement for ingress and egress to Bear River for the adjoining Parcel #2. The property between the River and the east property line is owned by The Fish & Game

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feeling Good About Housing?

Feeling Good About Housing, With Old Mortgages Being the Buzzkill

 At long last, U.S. homeowners are seeing a real rise in the value of their homes, five years after the housing market collapsed and millions of Americans saw their most valuable financial asset plummet in value.

That was then and this is now, with two sets of new numbers framing the story.
According to the National Association of Realtors, home prices are up in 88% of U.S. metropolitan areas. Home prices also saw the strongest year-over-year growth rates since 2006, the NAR reports.
All in all, the median U.S. home price rose 10% from 2011 to last year, to $172,000 from $162,000. That translates into good times, at least as it pertain to 2006-12, for the domestic real estate market.
"Home sales are on a sustained uptrend, mortgage interest rates are hovering near record lows and unsold inventory is at the lowest level in 12 years," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR. "Home sales are being fueled by a pent-up demand and job creation, along with still favorable affordability conditions and rents rising at faster rates. Our population has been growing faster than overall housing stock, so supply and demand dynamics are very much at play."
Another good barometer of real estate health is the state of home mortgage delinquencies.
TransUnion is out this week with numbers on that front showing the national mortgage delinquency rate (which the firm defines as the rate of borrowers 60 or more days past due) in decline for the fourth straight quarter.
The U.S. mortgage delinquency rate fell from 5.41% in the third quarter of 2012 to 5.19% in Q4 of last year. On a year-to-year basis, the national mortgage delinquency rate is down 14% from 2011.
Why the still historically high numbers on mortgage delinquencies? TransUnion says it's complicated, but by and large, while fewer new homeowners are paying bills late, older mortgage-holders are propping up higher delinquency rates.
"The national mortgage delinquency rate experienced its largest yearly decline since the conclusion of the recession, though we still remain far above normal levels," says Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing at TransUnion. "For the most part, newer vintage mortgage loans are not the reason for the stubbornly high delinquency rate. They are performing relatively well. The elevated delinquency levels that we still are experiencing are a result of older vintage loans -- borrowers who haven't been making their payments for a rather long time that are still in the system, inflating the overall rate."
The "glass half-full" outlook shows improvements on all mortgage payment fronts, however.
But here is the "glass half-empty" story -- TransUnion analysts say the outlook for declining mortgage delinquencies is apparent, with a "continue downward trend" in early 2013, albeit at a "muted" pace.
"The declines in the mortgage delinquency rate will likely be muted for the foreseeable future, as the foreclosure process in some states can take more than 1,000 days," Martin says. "It's not clear yet, but recently announced regulatory rules related to mortgage servicing may tend to slow down this process further. What is clear from the data TransUnion collects is that, until the old vintages work through the system, we expect the delinquency rate to remain elevated."
Even so, the big picture for the U.S. housing market is one of recovery, after a half-decade of misery. And that's worth raising a glass over.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The health of the mortgage market improved significantly in 2012

Mortgage Default Rates Are Years Away From Normal

 The health of the mortgage market improved significantly in 2012, with nearly every risk indicator heading down, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in its quarterly National Delinquency Survey.

The delinquency rate for one-to-four residential mortgages -- the percentage of loans that are at least one payment behind but not in foreclosure -- fell to a seasonally adjusted 7.09% of all loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter, the lowest level since 2008.

The serious delinquency rate -- the share of loans at least 90 days behind or in foreclosure -- fell 95 basis points from a year earlier to 6.78%.

The foreclosure inventory rate -- the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process -- was 3.74%, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2008.

"With fewer new delinquencies, the foreclosure start rate and foreclosure inventory rates continue to fall and are at their lowest levels since 2007 and 2008, respectively," said Jay Brinkmann, MBA's chief economist and senior vice president of research.

An improving jobs market, rising home prices and the strong credit quality of recent originations are helping to lower the delinquency rate.

The number of delinquent borrowers have also declined because they have, in effect, ceased to be borrowers. Banks are pursuing more short sales to resolve delinquent loans, thus reducing the number of delinquent borrowers without increasing the foreclosure pipeline, which in some states is only growing longer.

The survey also highlighted the continuing disparity between states based on the way they process foreclosures.

States that follow a judicial foreclosure process -- in which the bank needs to prove the borrower is in default in court before pursuing foreclosure action -- continue to show an elevated foreclosure rate, as long timelines have created a large and growing backlog of foreclosures.

The average foreclosure rate in judicial states, which includes Florida, New York and New Jersey, among others, is at 6.2%, three times the 2.1% average of non-judicial states.

"In those cases, the ultimate reduction in the number of loans in foreclosure will have less to do with the recovery of the economy and the housing market than with the return to reasonable foreclosure timelines," the report said.

The economists also noted that the percentage of loans at least 90 days past due ticked up from the third quarter on a non-seasonally adjusted basis to 3.04%. That means foreclosure actions could rise in the coming months.

While delinquency rates overall are heading in the right direction, they remain well above the normal rate of less than 1%.

Some measures, like the 30-day delinquency levels, were already at their lowest level since 2005, which is promising because it is a leading indicator.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

5 Worst Housing Markets for 2013

5 Worst Housing Markets for 2013

 The U.S. housing sector has apparently turned a corner -- but some big cities shouldn't expect much of a price rebound this year, a 2013 forecast from market tracker Zillow(Z) says.

"Housing markets have different performances from each other because the fundamental drivers of home prices vary from market to market," Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries says. "Phoenix looks quite different from Detroit."

Zillow, a popular website that estimates property values for virtually every home in America, predicts median U.S. prices will rise 3.3% this year after bottoming out in 2011. (The site estimates median values rose 5.9% in 2012.)

Zillow, though, also expects 19 major metro areas -- from Boston in the Northeast to Las Vegas in the Southwest -- to see either price declines or below-average increases this year.

Ironically, Humphries says many cities Zillow predicts will see substandard gains can blame the fact that their markets didn't fall as much during the housing bust as others did -- leaving less room for rebounds.

"These were not the nation's hardest-hit markets," the expert says.

But Humphries also attributes many cities' below-average forecasts to the fact that they're in "judicial-foreclosure" states, where banks must go through lengthy court proceedings to seize homes.

He says that puts a damper on price gains because buyers in such locales know there's a backlog of distressed properties that will eventually hit the market.

"People are very likely to either be in distress themselves or know someone who is, and that colors their perception of the market," Humphries says.

Here's a look at the five cities Zillow predicts will have the worst price appreciation this year among America's 30 largest metro areas (excluding Houston, which doesn't make enough property information public to allow for analysis).

Zillow compiled its forecasts by looking at local market conditions, job growth and other factors. (Click here for a look at the site's predictions for 2013's five best markets.)

Forecasts refer to median property-value gains for all houses and condos in a given market, whether they're put up for sale in 2013 or not. Estimates of current median values are as Dec. 31, the latest date with figures available.

No. 5 worst market: New York City

Projected price change: 0.5%
Big Apple homeowners should expect only small price gains in 2013.
Humphries says that's partly because Gotham had a relatively mild housing downturn in recent years, with median prices falling 15.6% peak-to-trough vs. 23.4% for America as a whole.

He also says the New York Metropolitan Statistical Area -- which officially runs as far south as the Jersey Shore -- includes struggling locales such as Newark, N.J.

"It's an extremely mixed market," Humphries says. "Manhattan is doing fantastic, but there are places in New Jersey that have not done very well."

Add in the fact that New York and New Jersey are judicial-foreclosure states and attract few retirees or second-home buyers and you get a market that Zillow expects will see paltry 2013 gains.

The site predicts median New York-area home values will rise only about $1,600 this year from $345,700 as of Dec. 31

No. 4 worst market: Cincinnati

Projected price change: 0.4%
This is the only big U.S. city where Zillow believes home prices have yet to bottom out.

Even though Cincinnati's median property values are down 14.9% from a 2008 peak, the site predicts prices there will keep falling until mid-2013, then rebound a bit late in the year. All told, Zillow expects the Queen City's median home price to inch up just $533, to $122,433, by 2013's end.

Humphries attributes Cincinnati's lackluster prospects primarily to a lack of buyer interest among "the demand [drivers] we see in cities that are performing the best right now -- retirees, second-home purchasers and foreign investors."

The fact that Ohio is a judicial-foreclosure state also puts a lid on the city's outlook, he says.

No. 3 worst market: St. Louis
Projected price change: 0.09%

St. Louis' famous arch is a good metaphor for how the housing market there has performed in recent years.

Median home values shot up during the housing boom to $153,700 in February 2007, but tumbled nearly 19% over the next five years.

Prices are still down 17.9% from their peak, but Zillow expects they'll rise only $116 in 2013 to finish the year at a median $126,316.

Humphries says that like Cincinnati, St. Louis suffers from a lack of demand among today's three key buying groups -- retirees, second-home buyers and foreign purchasers.

No. 2 worst market: Charlotte, N.C.

Projected price change: 0.08%
North Carolina's most populous city will see little home-price appreciation this year because prices there never fell that much.

Median home values dropped 15.3% during the bust -- far less than the 23.4% declines seen nationwide.

"Affordability has not reset that much in Charlotte," Humphries says.

As a result, Zillow predicts Charlotte's median home values will add only $114 this year, ending 2013 at $137,114.

No. 1 worst market: Chicago

Projected price change: 0.6% decline
The Windy City's housing market looks likely to take some fresh blows in 2013 -- in fact, it's the only major city where Zillow expects median home prices to fall.

"Chicago is a market that hasn't been doing great for quite a long time," Humphries says. "It's been a long housing recession there."

Although Zillow believes Chicago's median home values bottomed out a year ago and rebounded during most of 2012, the site expects prices to fall again in 2013 -- albeit not by much. Zillow forecasts the Windy City will see median values drop $941 to wrap up the year at $160,659.

Humphries attributes Chicago's negative outlook primarily to weak demand amid a glut of supply.

He says that because the metro area's home values peaked in January 2007 -- 12 to 18 months later than many U.S. cities -- local developers kept building condos well into 2006. "But then the recession set in and buyers for that new supply never materialized," Humphries says.

The economist adds that Illinois' status as a judicial-foreclosure state only increases the Chicago market's headwinds.

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