New Home Construction Jumps 22%

17 03 2009

New home building unexpectedly rebounded last month as builders nationwide increased housing starts to a 583,000 annual pace from a record low of 477,000 set in January.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday that starts of new homes in the South, which includes Florida, jumped 30 percent last month compared to the month before, but they were still 44 percent below home starts in the South one year ago.

Nationwide, new home construction rose 22 percent from January to February, but remained 48.5 percent below year-ago levels. The surge was led by an 83 percent jump in multifamily construction. Single-family home-building rose a modest 1.1 percent.

Only one region reported a drop in housing starts – the West, where starts declined 24.6 percent. The largest increase was in the Northeast, where starts increased 88 percent.

Permits for new home construction in the South rose 5.9 percent from January to February, but were still 46 percent lower than the prior year.

Nationwide, permits rose 3 percent from January to February, but remained 48.8 percent lower than a year ago.

The South region includes Virginia; Maryland; Washington D.C.; Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi; North Carolina; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; and West Virginia.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce





New Home Construction Jumps 22%

17 03 2009

New home building unexpectedly rebounded last month as builders nationwide increased housing starts to a 583,000 annual pace from a record low of 477,000 set in January.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday that starts of new homes in the South, which includes Florida, jumped 30 percent last month compared to the month before, but they were still 44 percent below home starts in the South one year ago.

Nationwide, new home construction rose 22 percent from January to February, but remained 48.5 percent below year-ago levels. The surge was led by an 83 percent jump in multifamily construction. Single-family home-building rose a modest 1.1 percent.

Only one region reported a drop in housing starts – the West, where starts declined 24.6 percent. The largest increase was in the Northeast, where starts increased 88 percent.

Permits for new home construction in the South rose 5.9 percent from January to February, but were still 46 percent lower than the prior year.

Nationwide, permits rose 3 percent from January to February, but remained 48.8 percent lower than a year ago.

The South region includes Virginia; Maryland; Washington D.C.; Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi; North Carolina; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; and West Virginia.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce





Florida Existing Home and Condo Sales Rose 24%

4 03 2009

Florida’s existing home sales rose in January, making it the fifth month in a row that sales activity showed increases in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). Existing home sales rose 24 percent last month with a total of 8,450 homes sold statewide compared to 6,810 homes sold in January 2008, according to FAR.

“Many people are looking at today’s market and seeing opportunities to find the home or business they’ve always wanted,” said 2009 FAR President Cynthia Shelton. “With a range of available housing options, historically low mortgage interest rates and affordable prices, buyers who may have been hesitant before should take a closer look at the current opportunities for homeownership. As real estate professionals who know all aspects of their local market conditions, Florida Realtors are here to help counsel consumers making sound long-term decisions for their homes and their businesses.”

Florida Realtors also reported a 13 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in January, making it the fourth recent month (following September, October and December) that statewide existing home and existing condo sales were higher compared to year-ago levels.

Thirteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in January while 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales; it marks the seventh consecutive month that a number of markets have reported increased sales.

Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $139,500; a year ago, it was $206,900 for a 33 percent decrease. According to industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), there remains a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in December 2008 was $174,700, down 14.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $281,100 in December; in Massachusetts, it was $275,000; in Maryland, it was $267,925; and in New York, it was $220,000.

NAR’s latest housing outlook shows that home prices continue to fall, but also notes a trend of increasing sales activity in the Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada markets. “It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 2,556 units sold statewide compared to 2,266 sold in January 2008 for a 13 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $113,400; in January 2008 it was $190,200 for a 40 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $181,400 in December 2008.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.05 percent last month, down from the average rate of 5.76 percent in January 2008, according to Freddie Mac. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state’s large to medium-size markets, the Daytona Beach MSA reported a total of 419 homes sold in January compared to 321 homes a year ago for a 31 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $131,800; a year ago, it was $179,100 for a 26 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 77 units sold in the MSA last month, up 43 percent compared to 54 condos sold the previous January. The market’s existing condo median price was $167,800; a year ago, it was $230,000 for a 27 percent decrease.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors





Department of Defense Homeowners Assistance Program

4 03 2009

The Department of Defense (DOD) announced the Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) to eligible service members and federal civilian, including non-appropriate fund, employees. The program is authorized by law to assist eligible homeowners who face financial loss when selling their primary residence homes in areas where real estate values have declined because of a base closure or realignment announcement.

The DOD has designated the US Army its executive agent for HAP. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) administers the program for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

Working with installation commanders and housing officials, USACE district realty specialists are committed to offering all possible assistance in determining and providing HAP benefits to all eligible applicants.

HOW IT WORKS

Generally HAP provides assistance in four possible ways. If you are eligible for HAP benefits, the Government may:

1. Reimburse you for part of your loss from selling your home.

2. Assist you, if you don’t receive enough proceeds from the sale of your home to pay off your mortgage.

3. Buy your home by paying off the mortgage.

4. Help you, if you default on your mortgage.

HOW TO APPLY FOR HAP BENEFITS

The application is made on DD Form 1607, application for Homeowners Assistance Program. Part III, Section IV of the form must be completed by your personnel officer. In addition, you must submit a variety of documents to show evidence of your ownership of the property, your occupancy dates, your assignment orders, your efforts to sell the home (whether or not it was sold), and mortgage details.

A complete application pacakge can be obtained from either base/installion housing or personnel offices, or it can be downloaded from http://www.hap.usace.army.mil. Before you make an application, please contact the DOD HAP National Hotline at 1-888-DODHAP1 (888-636-4271.)

For more information, contact the DOD HAP National Hotline at 1-888-DODHAP1 (888-363-4271O, visit the website at http://hap.usace.army.mil or call the field office corresponding to your area of the country below:

HAP Field Office, Fort Worth
U.S. Army Engineer District, Fort Worth
P.O. Box 17300
Ft. Worth, TX 76102-0300
817-886-1209
888-231-7751

HAP Field Office, Sacramento
U.S. Army Engineer District, Sacramento
1325 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-2922
916-557-6850
800-811-5532

HAP Field Office, Savannah
U.S. Army Engineer District, Savannah
Homeowners Assistance Program
Attn: RE-RH
P.O. Box 889
Savannah, GA 31402-0889
912-652-5020
800-861-8144

National Program Manager
Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Department of Defense Homeowners Assistance Program
411 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000
202-761-1566





Fannie Mae Stops Cutting Real Estate Commissions in a Short Sale

4 03 2009

Real estate commissions are now protected in some short-sale transactions. In response to Realtor concerns, Fannie Mae announced that “preforeclosure sales may not be conditioned upon a reduction of the total (real estate) commission,” providing the total commission does not exceed 6 percent. The policy became effective March 1.

The move affects only short sales where Fannie Mae backs the mortgage, but experts hope Freddie Mac and other government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) will soon follow suit. Currently, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back over half the mortgages in the U.S.

The change seeks to solve a problem encountered by many Realtors. After putting together a short-sale package and submitting it to the lender for approval, Realtors report that lenders would often counteroffer with a cut in commission. Realtors then found themselves working twice as hard on a short sale for less money.

In November during the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Legal Seminar, Fannie Mae officials turned to Realtors and asked what could be done to expedite the short-sale process. Among other things, attendees took Fannie Mae to task for their commission policies. The recently announced change is Fannie Mae’s response.

Fannie Mae’s announcement appeared as a short notice in a “Miscellaneous Servicing Policy Changes” announcement. It says:

Servicing Guide, Part VII, Section 504.02: Contacting Selected Borrowers

Effective March 1, 2009, closing of preforeclosure sales may not be conditioned upon a reduction of the total commission to be paid to real estate agents to a level below what was negotiated by the listing agent with the borrower, unless the fee exceeds 6 percent of the sales price of the property in the aggregate. Servicers are reminded that they must continue to obtain any approvals that may be required by interested third parties in connection with preforeclosure sales.

The original document can be downloaded from Fannie Mae’s Web site at https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/guides/ssg/2009annlenltr.jsp?referrer=frpromo.





Florida Existing Home and Condo Sales Rose 24%

4 03 2009

Florida’s existing home sales rose in January, making it the fifth month in a row that sales activity showed increases in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). Existing home sales rose 24 percent last month with a total of 8,450 homes sold statewide compared to 6,810 homes sold in January 2008, according to FAR.

“Many people are looking at today’s market and seeing opportunities to find the home or business they’ve always wanted,” said 2009 FAR President Cynthia Shelton. “With a range of available housing options, historically low mortgage interest rates and affordable prices, buyers who may have been hesitant before should take a closer look at the current opportunities for homeownership. As real estate professionals who know all aspects of their local market conditions, Florida Realtors are here to help counsel consumers making sound long-term decisions for their homes and their businesses.”

Florida Realtors also reported a 13 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in January, making it the fourth recent month (following September, October and December) that statewide existing home and existing condo sales were higher compared to year-ago levels.

Thirteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in January while 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales; it marks the seventh consecutive month that a number of markets have reported increased sales.

Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $139,500; a year ago, it was $206,900 for a 33 percent decrease. According to industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), there remains a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in December 2008 was $174,700, down 14.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $281,100 in December; in Massachusetts, it was $275,000; in Maryland, it was $267,925; and in New York, it was $220,000.

NAR’s latest housing outlook shows that home prices continue to fall, but also notes a trend of increasing sales activity in the Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada markets. “It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 2,556 units sold statewide compared to 2,266 sold in January 2008 for a 13 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $113,400; in January 2008 it was $190,200 for a 40 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $181,400 in December 2008.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.05 percent last month, down from the average rate of 5.76 percent in January 2008, according to Freddie Mac. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state’s large to medium-size markets, the Daytona Beach MSA reported a total of 419 homes sold in January compared to 321 homes a year ago for a 31 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $131,800; a year ago, it was $179,100 for a 26 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 77 units sold in the MSA last month, up 43 percent compared to 54 condos sold the previous January. The market’s existing condo median price was $167,800; a year ago, it was $230,000 for a 27 percent decrease.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors





Department of Defense Homeowners Assistance Program

3 03 2009

The Department of Defense (DOD) announced the Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) to eligible service members and federal civilian, including non-appropriate fund, employees. The program is authorized by law to assist eligible homeowners who face financial loss when selling their primary residence homes in areas where real estate values have declined because of a base closure or realignment announcement.

The DOD has designated the US Army its executive agent for HAP. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) administers the program for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

Working with installation commanders and housing officials, USACE district realty specialists are committed to offering all possible assistance in determining and providing HAP benefits to all eligible applicants.

HOW IT WORKS

Generally HAP provides assistance in four possible ways. If you are eligible for HAP benefits, the Government may:

1. Reimburse you for part of your loss from selling your home.

2. Assist you, if you don’t receive enough proceeds from the sale of your home to pay off your mortgage.

3. Buy your home by paying off the mortgage.

4. Help you, if you default on your mortgage.

HOW TO APPLY FOR HAP BENEFITS

The application is made on DD Form 1607, application for Homeowners Assistance Program. Part III, Section IV of the form must be completed by your personnel officer. In addition, you must submit a variety of documents to show evidence of your ownership of the property, your occupancy dates, your assignment orders, your efforts to sell the home (whether or not it was sold), and mortgage details.

A complete application pacakge can be obtained from either base/installion housing or personnel offices, or it can be downloaded from http://www.hap.usace.army.mil. Before you make an application, please contact the DOD HAP National Hotline at 1-888-DODHAP1 (888-636-4271.)

For more information, contact the DOD HAP National Hotline at 1-888-DODHAP1 (888-363-4271O, visit the website at http://hap.usace.army.mil or call the field office corresponding to your area of the country below:

HAP Field Office, Fort Worth
U.S. Army Engineer District, Fort Worth
P.O. Box 17300
Ft. Worth, TX 76102-0300
817-886-1209
888-231-7751

HAP Field Office, Sacramento
U.S. Army Engineer District, Sacramento
1325 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-2922
916-557-6850
800-811-5532

HAP Field Office, Savannah
U.S. Army Engineer District, Savannah
Homeowners Assistance Program
Attn: RE-RH
P.O. Box 889
Savannah, GA 31402-0889
912-652-5020
800-861-8144

National Program Manager
Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Department of Defense Homeowners Assistance Program
411 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000
202-761-1566








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