Jacksonville initial foreclosure notices drop sharply in Jan. compared to 2010

26 02 2011

The number of Jacksonvillle-area homes receiving initial mailings about foreclosure proceedings dropped 53 percent in January compared with January 2010, but the number of homes seized by lending institutions in the area rose 33 percent.

The fact that the speed of filings has slowed could result from a bank-imposed freeze on foreclosure proceedings that lasted from September through December.

Overall, the number of all foreclosure-related notices sent out to addresses in the Jacksonville metropolitan area – regardless of the point in the foreclosure process – rose in January from December by 8 percent, according to real estate data aggregator RealtyTrac. Total foreclosure mailings dropped by 40 percent in January 2011 from January 2010.

The foreclosure notice numbers dropped by 27 percent in Clay County from December to January, but rose in St. Johns County by 96 percent during the same time.

Throughout the metropolitan area, foreclosure actions affected one Jacksonville-area home out of every 391 in January, ranking the city 44th most affected by foreclosure activity nationwide.

Nationwide, fewer U.S. homes entered the foreclosure process in January than in any month in more than three years, The Associated Press reported. That’s a sign that lenders are taking longer to move against homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments.

“We are still seeing the lingering after-effects of the documentation issues that plagued lenders through the last quarter of 2010,” Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, told the AP.

“In some cases, courts are being more demanding and more particular about what they’ll even allow to go into foreclosure.”

In Florida, the number of homes receiving a foreclosure-related warning last month dropped nearly 16 percent from December and about 54 percent from the same month last year.

But even with the sharp decline, Florida still had the second-highest number of homes in some stage of foreclosure, RealtyTrac data showed.

Similar to the trend seen in the Jacksonville area, lenders may be taking longer to move homes throughout the nation into the initial stage of the foreclosure process, but they stepped up home repossessions in January.

Banks took back 78,133 properties nationwide last month, an increase of 12 percent from December – but fewer than in January 2010, RealtyTrac said.

The January total for the U.S. was down 11 percent from a year earlier.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

Discounted homes rise 17.6% in January

26 02 2011

The number of discounted homes rose 17.6 percent in January compared to the same month a year ago, far outpacing a rise in inventory, according to a monthly review of multiple listing service listings in 26 major markets by national real estate brokerage ZipRealty.

Inventory overall rose 2.8 percent year-over-year last month, to 583,218 for-sale homes. Of those, nearly half — 46.2 percent — had experienced at least one price reduction. That’s a jump from January 2010, when 40.4 percent had seen a discount.

“In more than half of the surveyed markets, sellers are averaging at least two reductions in price,” said John Oldham, ZipRealty’s spokesperson, in a statement. “Inventory has grown throughout much of the year; as sellers face the pressure of more buying options, they seem to be discounting to attract buyers resulting in list prices being cut for over 46 percent of the homes.”

The median discount last month was $19,088, down 12.9 percent from $21,925 in January 2010. Meanwhile, the median list price for a home fell nearly the same percentage, 13 percent, between the two time periods, to $225,015 from $258,634. The price-reduction-to-list-price ratio remained flat at 7.8 percent.

Sellers cut prices of more than half of homes in four markets: Baltimore (50.6 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (54.7 percent); Orlando, Fla. (52.1 percent); and Phoenix (55.4 percent).

Homes in the three Florida markets reviewed saw the highest price reduction to list price ratios: Orlando, 12.5 percent; Jacksonville, 12.1 percent; and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach, 11.9 percent.

Austin, Texas, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., saw the smallest discounts relative to price: 5.2 percent each.

Source: Inman News

Jacksonville is one of two regions statewide that grew in GDP in 2009

26 02 2011

A new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that economic production in Jacksonville continued to grow in 2009, a recession year in which all other state metro regions but one decreased or remained stagnant.

The region’s gross domestic product increased by 12.73 percent from 2008 to 2009, from $7.175 billion to $8.31 billion. Since 2001, GDP has increased 45.47 percent in Jacksonville. Local per capita production increased too in 2009, rising an average of $3,838 to $41,329 per person.

The lion’s share of production and growth was in the government sector, unsurprising in light of the proximity of Marine bases Camp Lejeune and New River, as well as the president’s Grow the Force Initiative, which brought more than 60,000 troops and family members to eastern North Carolina in 2008 and 2009. That year, government production rose from $5.174 billion to $6.22 billion.

The other North Carolina metro region that saw an increase in GDP was Fayetteville, an area boosted by its proximity to the Fort Bragg Army base.

The president of the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce, Mona Padrick, said that the latest data confirmed that the military made Jacksonville an economic oddity in times of recession.

“The military is our economic engine, so we tend to be insulated from what is going on in the rest of the country,” she said. “I do think that one part of it with the rest of the country being in the dire recession that we’ve been in … we have not gone down like the rest of the country has; we have contracted a lot of companies to come here. Those companies have attracted people from other areas.”

Some of the biggest production boosts in 2009 were in financial activities and real estate, rental and leasing, as well as professional and business services. Construction fell slightly, a precursor to the massive infrastructure buildup that 2010 would bring, with Camp Lejeune spending nearly $2 million a day on vertical growth projects for much of the year.

The veterans service supervisor for the Jacksonville Employment Security Commission, Larry Woods, said getting a civilian job in Jacksonville remained a challenge, but the ongoing work meant there were still jobs to be had on base.

“We don’t necessarily see a lot of expansion of growth in town, per se, but we have a lot of our contractors do work aboard the base, and we have a lot of jobs there,” he said.

The wave of growth has kept the region several percentage points below the state in terms of unemployment, and experts said Thursday that the area has not crested that wave yet.

The nation is now beginning to emerge from its recession, said David Wilmoth, division chair for Social and Behavioral Sciences and economics instructor for Coastal Carolina Community College.

“I think if anything our economic is going to continue to grow,” he said. “And as baby boomers continue to retire, I think you’re going to see more people move to the coast, ands that’s going to be a trend you’re going to see for the next decade.”

Though military presence may decrease in this area following a downsizing of the Corps predicted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the effects of that will likely be limited, Padrick said.

“Because we have a large military contingency here, we will likely be affected in some way,” she said. “As always, this is a military community that is very flexible, and has always dealt with deployments, sometimes more going out than others. And the business community has always reacted very well to that, and to riding those economic waves as they ebb and flow.”

Woods agreed.

“We might see a decrease in Marines,” he said. “… But as long as the community and Camp Lejeune, New River and Cherry Point enjoy the relationships we have built over the years, I think we’ll see a relatively stable environment.”

Source: EncToday.com

Jacksonville ranks 4th in Best Performing U.S. Home Sale Market in January

8 02 2011

Metro Jacksonville was the fourth highest performing home sale market in the nation in January, according to Clear Capital’s monthly home data index report.

The report, released Thursday, analyzes how local markets compare with the national trend in home prices.

Home prices in Jacksonville improved by 3.5 percent quarter-over-quarter, according to the report, though they were down nearly 8 percent year-over-year.

Real-estate-owned saturation, which Clear Capital defines as the percentage of REO properties sold compared with all properties sold in the last rolling quarter, was nearly 30 percent in Jacksonville.

“This recent national change in price direction is encouraging for the overall housing sector, yet it is still too early to determine whether this current uptick in home prices is a temporary reprieve or the start of a sustained recovery,” Alex Villacorta, senior statistician at Clear Capital, said in a news release.

The highest performing market, the Cleveland metro area, improved by 8 percent.

Orlando was No. 13 on the list of top performing markets, with a quarter-over-quarter increase of almost 1 percent in home prices. The Miami area was No. 15, with a decline of 0.4 percent.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville Ranks 6th in Top 10 Cities to Buy

8 02 2011

Despite the rising number of renters across the country, it is cheaper to buy a home rather than rent one in 72 percent of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., according to an index released by real estate search and marketing site Trulia.

“Since the start of the ‘Great Recession,’ many former homeowners have flooded the rental market. Following the principles of supply and demand, renting has become relatively more expensive than buying in most markets,” said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia, in a statement.

“Though necessary for achieving true economic recovery, stricter bank lending practices have also further aggravated the struggling housing market in the short term. Even highly qualified homebuyers face intense scrutiny on their income, savings, existing debt and credit history before they can get a mortgage loan.”

Trulia’s rent vs. buy index compares the median list price with the median rent on two-bedroom apartments, condominiums and townhomes listed on Trulia.com as of Jan. 10, 2011.

A price-to-rent ratio of 1 to 15 means that it’s much cheaper to buy than to rent in a particular city. A ratio between 16 and 20 means that it’s more expensive to rent than to buy, but, depending on the family’s situation, buying could “make financial sense,” the site said. Any ratio above 20 indicates that owning is much more costly than renting in a city.

In 36 out of 50 of the country’s most populous cities, buying a two-bedroom home is less expensive than renting one. These cities include many areas that have been hit hard by foreclosures, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fresno, California.

Top 10 cities to buy vs. rent:

City State Price to Rent Ratio
1. Miami Fla. 6
2. Las Vegas Nev. 6
3. Arlington Texas 7
4. Mesa Ariz. 8
5. Phoenix Ariz. 8
6. Jacksonville Fla. 8
7. Sacramento Calif. 10
8. San Antonio Texas 11
9. Fresno Calif. 11
10. El Paso Texas 11

Source: Trulia

In 10 cities, renting is cheaper, but buying might make more financial sense, according to Trulia. These cities include Los Angeles, Boston, and Fort Worth, Texas.

The index considers the total cost of homeownership compared to the total cost of renting. Calculations for the total cost of homeownership include mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, hazard insurance, closing costs at time of purchase, homeowners association dues, and private mortgage insurance. The homeownership cost calculation also includes tax advantages from mortgage interest, property tax and closing-cost deductions.

Calculations for total rental cost include rent and renters insurance.

The total cost of homeownership was highest, compared to the cost to rent, in New York; Seattle; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Francisco.

Top 10 cities to rent vs. buy:

Rank City State Price:Rent Ratio
1. New York N.Y. 31
2. Seattle Wash. 24
3. Kansas City Mo. 21
4. San Francisco Calif. 21
5. Memphis Tenn. 20
6. Los Angeles Calif. 20
7. Fort Worth Texas 19
8. Oakland Calif. 18
9. Portland Ore. 18
10. Albuquerque N.M. 18

Source: Trulia

“Although owning a home is relatively more affordable in most cities, market conditions have caused an interesting demographic swap between traditional renters and buyers,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator for Trulia, in a statement. Nelson is also an Inman news columnist.

“For example, lifelong renters are seizing the opportunity to become homeowners while affordability is high. At the same time, a growing number of longtime homeowners are finding themselves tenants — some by choice and others by necessity.”

Through newly acquired startup Movity, Trulia created interactive maps comparing each city’s population, projected job growth, and unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Source: Inman News

UF survey: Florida’s Real Estate Outlook Perks Up in Several Areas

3 02 2011

Optimism has increased slowly but steadily in Florida real estate markets through the fourth quarter of 2010, a new University of Florida survey finds.

The fourth quarter Survey of Emerging Market Conditions found improvement in several key categories, including the outlook for sales in new single-family homes and condominiums, office occupancy, retail occupancy, land investment and capital availability.

Much of the optimism derives from politics with the defeat last fall of Amendment 4, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required a referendum for all changes to local government comprehensive land-use plans, said Timothy Becker, director of UF’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. The conclusion of mid-term elections also eased respondents’ uncertainty as it provided a clearer picture of the future.

“The state welcomed a new governor who has promised to make Florida a more business-friendly state,” Becker said. “If he can succeed on his goals, respondents believe it will have a positive impact on the real estate market. Any help in attracting new business to move or form in the state will no doubt have a positive impact on job growth.”

Survey respondents’ expectations for occupancy and rent increased across every property type. The investment outlook rose in a majority of the property types, and the statewide outlook was the highest since the survey’s inception in 2006. Additionally, private capital is abundant as investors seek the few good products on the market. Overall, the market appears to be improving and will continue to improve at a slow pace over the next year.

Despite the positive outlooks in many asset classes, respondents’ optimism is tempered by troublesome economic factors, most notably Florida’s high unemployment rate of 12 percent. Respondents also relayed fears over federal, state and local budget issues.

“Local revenues continue to decline as property values decline, placing a tremendous burden on local budgets,” Becker said. “This will require tough decisions by local officials.”

The outlook for single-family and condominium sales increased slightly in the fourth quarter, but Becker said home builders continue to have a negative outlook because financing is difficult to obtain and lower prices in the foreclosure and short-sale market take potential customers away from the new housing market. Unexpectedly, however, respondents’ outlook for investment in residential development increased for both single-family homes and condominiums. Becker said the low cost of fully developed lots provides incentive for investors and developers.

Expectations for office and retail occupancy continued to improve. Occupancy expectations in the office sector increased, and the outlook for rental rates increased slightly but is expected to continue lagging inflation. In the retail sector, occupancy expectations improved for all property types.

Becker said respondents believe occupancy will increase in neighborhood centers and large retail centers. Accordingly, the investment outlook in retail increased for neighborhood centers while declining for the remaining property types.

Land investment and capital availability also rose this quarter. More respondents believe land is beginning to be priced at levels that support longer-term investment, despite the fact that lack of financing for land purchases continues to be a concern. The optimistic outlook for capital is due in large part to respondents’ belief that future availability will increase.

“Respondents believe there is a need to add additional apartment units based on the fundamentals and expect development financing to be available for that sector,” Becker said. “Private equity continues to be plentiful for quality core assets and valued-add assets.”

Expectations for apartment occupancy and the industrial sector were mostly stable.

Source: Florida Realtors

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