U.S. existing home sales rise in December but down for 2014

24 01 2015

U.S. home resales rose slightly in December but fell overall for the year, the first annual drop since 2010 and another sign that the housing market recovery remains uneven amid expectations of a pick-up in 2015.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.04 million units last month. That was slightly below economists’ expectations for a 5.06-million-unit pace.

“The still-tight mortgage credit conditions and more challenging first-time homebuyer affordability that were revealed by the failure of home sales to continue recovering last year remain serious concerns as we head into 2015,” said Ted Wieseman, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

First-time buyers made up 29 percent of transactions in December as well as for the year as a whole, well below the level needed to boost growth in the housing market.

For all of 2014, existing home sales fell 3.1 percent, the first annual drop in four years. The housing market has struggled to maintain momentum since stagnating in the second half of 2013 following a run-up in mortgage rates.

At December’s sales pace it would take 4.4 months to clear all available houses from the market, down from 5.1 months in November and the lowest since January 2013.

However, a decline in mortgage rates, an easing of lending standards and the resurgent health of the U.S. economy over the last few months has spurred optimism that sales could strengthen this year.

And the outlook for the economy remains upbeat. In a separate report the Conference Board said its Leading Economic Index rose 0.5 percent last month after a 0.4 percent increase in November.

December’s jump was driven by gains in most of the index’s components, suggesting the short-term outlook is getting brighter and the economy continues to build momentum, the Conference Board said.

Source: Reuter

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Delinquent Homeowners Two Years Behind on Mortgage Payment Can Now Qualify For Loan Modification

21 10 2014

Florida borrowers two or more years late on their mortgage payments could get another chance to save their homes following a change in loan modification rules by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Federal mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced the elimination of an eligibility cap that forbid loan modifications to people with delinquencies of 720 days or more.

The change was made to the “streamlined modification” program, which was created in 2013 and billed as a more automatic route to lower mortgage payments because no application or exchange of paperwork is required.

It’s estimated that nearly half of borrowers nationwide who are ineligible because of the 720-day cap, would otherwise be able to get a loan modification through the program, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Lenders must comply with the cap elimination by April 1, 2015, but are being encouraged to make the change immediately. Borrowers who were previously denied a streamlined modification because they were more than two years late on payments must be reevaluated, according to letters sent to lenders and mortgage servicers Oct. 1.

“We’ve had multiple clients receive approvals under this program,” said Paul Baltrun, director of corporate development for the Law Office of Paul A. Krasker in West Palm Beach. “It’s very little paperwork, mostly just phone conversations with the lender, and the turn time is quicker.”

The streamlined modification program was developed because of consistent complaints from borrowers that banks repeatedly lose loan modification paperwork in a bureaucratic process that can take years to complete. Banks have also said obtaining the correct employment and payment documents from borrowers can be a hurdle in completing a modification.

Under the program, lenders send contracts to borrowers with new payment amounts. The modification could include a fixed interest rate, an extension of the loan to 40 years, and possibly deferring a portion of the debt owed to the end of the loan so it’s not included in current payment calculations.

Also, borrowers are encouraged to apply for other loan modification plans, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program, which could offer a better deal.

If the borrower agrees and makes three on-time payments, the modification becomes permanent.

Baltrun said it’s hard to gauge how many people the change will affect. Although the worst of the foreclosure crisis is over, he said a significant number of homeowners are still looking for modifications because they have lost jobs, or have used up their savings trying to stay in their home.

“I think it will help a small number of people in specific circumstances,” said Baltrun, who believes removing the cap is a good change. “Why would someone who is 721 days late be declined when someone who is 719 days late is approved?

Other eligibility requirements for the streamlined modification include homeowners must be at least 90 days late on their mortgage and can’t have more than 20 percent equity in their home.

About 3 percent of Florida homeowners with mortgages were 90 days late or more on payments during the second quarter of this year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Nearly 10 percent were either 90 days delinquent, or in foreclosure.

While that’s still the second highest foreclosure and serious delinquency rate in the nation behind New Jersey, it’s an improvement from where Florida was at the end of 2011 when 18 percent of mortgages were in the same position.

Streamlining modifications is increasingly important in Florida where foreclosure courts are moving cases more quickly through the system. That means less time for negotiating with the bank before a final foreclosure judgment is issued.

“You can’t even keep people in their homes very long anymore,” said Deerfield Beach-based attorney Bonnie Lynn Canty, who defends foreclosures. “Used to be four years out before you were looking at a (foreclosure) sale date. Now, it’s at the most two years.”

Source: Palm Beach Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek





Florida Tops in the U.S. for Cash Sales of Homes in July

16 10 2014

Florida had the largest share of cash sales of any state in July, with 49.7 percent, a new report from CoreLogic shows.

For the United States as a whole, cash sales made up 32.9 percent of total home sales in July, the lowest share since August 2008 and down from 35.9 percent in July 2013.

Besides Florida, other states with the largest percentage of cash sales included Alabama (47.6 percent), New York (44.5 percent), West Virginia (42 percent) and Idaho (39.9 percent).

Of the largest 100 core based statistical areas measured by population, West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach had the highest share of cash sales at 57.9 percent, followed by Cape Coral-Fort Myers (57.3 percent), Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (56.5 percent), North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton (55.8 percent) and Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Mich. (55.8 percent).

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md. had the lowest cash sales share at 15.4 percent.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal.





U.S. Existing Home Sales Dip in August

30 09 2014

U.S. existing home sales retreated 1.8 percent to a 5.05 million annual pace in August.

Pending home sales dropped in August for the same reason closings did— investors retreated from the housing market

The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index, which is based on contract signings, fell 1 percent last month to 104.7. That number still represents an above-average level of contract activity.

But traditional home buyers who rely on mortgages will have to carry the housing market going forward — investors who pay cash aren’t buying as many homes as they were.

“Fewer distressed homes at bargain prices and the acknowledgement we’re entering a rising interest rate environment likely caused hesitation among investors last month,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

The question is whether first-time buyers will become bigger players in the housing market. They’ve represented less than one-third of home purchasers over the past two years.

Yun thinks their share will go up gradually.

“The employment outlook for young adults is brightening and their incomes finally appear to be rising,” he said. “Jobs and income gains will help repay student debt and better position first-time buyers, setting the stage for improved sales growth in upcoming years.”

Yun projects existing home sales will total 4.94 million this year, down 3 percent from 2013.

The South remains the hottest market, with a Pending Home Sales Index of 117. The Northeast is the coolest, with an index of 86.5.

Source: Nightly Business Report and Bloomberg





Jacksonville Home Sales and Prices Decline, But Pending Sales at Nine-Year High

15 09 2014

Fewer homes were sold in Northeast Florida in August than in the month before. And they sold for less money, too. Median sales prices dropped in August 2014, both from July and from August 2013, according to the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.

There were only a few pieces of good news in the report. Even though sales were down, there more pending sales (contracts signed, but not closed) than any month since mid-2005.

The number of lender-mediated homes (foreclosures, short sales or lender-owned) continues to drop. At one point a few years ago, close to 60 percent of all listings were lender-mediated. That dropped to 34.9 percent in August 2013 to 23.5 percent last month.

The key numbers:

■ Median sales price – $158,500, down from $165,250 in July and $169,900 in August 2013.

■ Average sales price – $199,930, down from $216,305 in July, up from $198,360 in August 2013.

■ Pending sales – 2,305, up from 2,266 in July and 1,901 in August 2013.

■ Closed sales – 1,996, down from 2,196 in July and 2,045 in August 2013.

■ Average days on the market until sale – 82, down from 83 in July, up from 79 in August 2013.

■ Number of houses for sale – 9,758, down from 10,448 in July and 10,576 in August 2013.

Here’s the number of homes sold and media price sold in area of Northeast Florida. The first two figures are for August, the second two are for August 2013:

Area Sold Median price


 

NE St. Johns County – 19, $433,693; 12, $283,500

Neptune Beach – 9, $348,000; 10, $367,700

Ponte Vedra/Vilano/Palm Valley/Nocatee – 104, $340,051; 115, $328,750

Jacksonville Beach – 42, $295,000; 56, $275,500

NW St. Johns County – 205, $260,000; 222, $256,500

St. Augustine east of U.S. – 11, $239,500; 10, $154,500

Fleming Island – 58, $238,000; 56, $230,000

Atlantic Beach – 41, $211,000; 27, $310,000

Riverside/Ortega/Avondale – 25, $207,500; 51, $192,500

Ponte Vedra Beach North – 8, $184,500; 19, $230,000

Nassau County – 60, $183,510; 52, $177,000

Southside/Mandarin – 198, $182,500; 233, $180,000

SE St. Johns County – 77, $175,000; 65, $216,000

Jacksonville North – 90, $169,750; 92, !59,990

Middleburg – 60, $149,950; 42, $134,700

Green Cove Springs – 12, $149,500; 15, $116,500

Orange Park – 132, $142,000; 128, $136,900

Southside – 278, $136,775; 263, $168,000

Baker County – 24, $121,000; 16, $143,500

Marietta/Whitehouse/Baldwin/Dinsmore – 28, $119,750; 19, $78,000

Arlington/Fort Caroline – 149, $113,000; 160, $131,400

West Jacksonville- 94, $111,500; 119, $100,000

SW St. Johns County – 8, $102,000; 7, $192,481

Keystone Heights – 11, $87,000; 14, $79,500

Hyde Grove/Murray Hill/ Lakeshore/Wesconnett – 81, $60,000; 78, $47,500

West Putnam County – 18, $51,750; 13, $45,000

South Putnam County – 15, $44,000; 14, $41,250

NE Putnam County – 28, $39,950; 34, $68,100

Springfield/Downtown/Paxon /Trout River – 73, $21,000; 69, $23,150

 

Source: Florida Times Union and Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.





New Home Sales Increased 6.4% in April

23 05 2014

Sales of new homes increased by 6.4 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted rate of 433,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales of existing homes also increased last month, but only by 1.3 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Put the two reports together, and it’s an encouraging sign that housing has shaken off its winter-induced doldrums. But sales of both new homes and existing homes were below what they were in April 2013.

Lawrence Young, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, expects total home sales for 2014 as a whole will be below what they were in 2013, primarily because of the “sluggish first quarter.”

The average price for a new house sold last month was $275,800, according to Census Bureau.

The median price for an existing home in April was $201,700, according to NAR.

Mortgage rates are trending down, but they’re still higher than were a year ago. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.14 percent with an average 0.6 point this week, according to Freddie Mac. A year ago, the rate averaged 3.59 percent.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Residential Real Estate Price Growth is Strongest Since 2005

4 02 2014

Home prices — both nationwide and in Jacksonville — are on the rise, according to a report from CoreLogic.

Across the United States, home prices have increased 11 percent from December 2012 to December 2013, including distressed sales.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index report on Tuesday reported the 22nd consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in US home prices based on Multiple Listing Service data.

In Jacksonville, home prices increased 9 percent including distressed sales and 11.5 percent when distressed sales are excluded, on a year-over-year basis.

Sales jumped 1.5 percent from November to December.

The CoreLogic report follows a report from RealtyShack showing an increase in home flipping.

See the full CoreLogic report here.

Source: CoreLogic and Jacksonville Business Journal








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