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

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

Northeast Florida Homebuilding Continues to Rise

16 01 2014

Homebuilding in Northeast Florida continued its upward trend in 2013, with builders in Duval, Clay, St. Johns and Nassau counties pulling nearly 6,000.

Builders in the four counties pulled a combined 5,971 permits, just shy of 2007’s 6,830 permits. The market peaked in 2005, when builders pulled 17,753 permits.

In addition to creating construction jobs, homebuilding is a bellwether for the region’s economy. The upswing — 1,700 more permits than 2012, and practically double permits pulled in 2009, 2010 and 2011 — means that more people are able to afford a home and mortgage, and that they are confident in the economy and real estate market.

As has been the case since 2011, St. Johns County led the region, with builders in that count pulling a total of 2,721 permits.

Builders in Duval pulled 1,907; and there were 900 pulled in Clay, and 443 in Nassau.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

Cash, investors still driving Jacksonville home buys

20 12 2013

The majority of residential sales in Jacksonville are still all-cash deals and are being driven by institutional investors.

According to RealtyTrac’s November 2013 U.S. Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report, which covers single family homes, condominiums and townhomes, 20.3 percent of sales in November were to institutional investors and 56.8 percent were cash sales.

Institutional investor purchases are defined by RealtyTrac as residential property sales to non-lending entities that purchased at least 10 properties in the last 12 months.

Jacksonville is among the top five markets in investor purchases, joined by Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix, Atlanta and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

Jacksonville was also among the highest markets for third party foreclosure auction sales (3.9 percent), trailing Miami (4 percent) and Atlanta (3.9 percent).

“The housing market recovery continued to be driven by investors and other cash purchasers in November,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a news release. “Lenders are taking advantage of this environment to unload more of their bank-owned inventory and in-foreclosure inventory at the foreclosure auction.

“But as the backlog of distressed inventory available dries up in many of the markets with the most efficient foreclosure processes — namely California, Arizona and Nevada, with Georgia not far behind — overall sales volume is declining and will continue to do so until more non-distressed sellers enter the market.”

Source: RealtyTrac and Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville Home Prices Up Nearly 20% in November

13 12 2013

The median sales price for homes in Jacksonville took a nice bump in November — rising nearly 20 percent year over year.

The median sales price last month was $154,000, up 18.9 percent from November 2012, according to the latest data from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR.)

“November’s numbers are encouraging and show a substantially stabilized market,” NEFAR President Carol Zingone said in a news release. “Lender mediated properties are declining, and while prices have risen to the point where sellers are getting more of a return on their investment, prices overall are still within reach for most buyers.”

Here are some other key figures from the report:

  • Closed sales were 1,531, down 1.9 percent.
  • Inventory of homes for sales was 9,203, down 10.7 percent.
  • Months supply of inventory was 4.9, down 26.9 percent.
  • Pending sales were up 14.7 percent, to 2,357.
  • New listings were up 21.9 percent to 2,357.

Source: Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and Jacksonville Business Journal

Investor Demand in Housing Market Begins to Wane

11 09 2013

The proportion of investors involved in the housing market has fallen in the last few months. As their numbers dwindle, it may allow other buyers to step in. Can this be the sign that the housing market is cooling down?

Investors have gone from accounting for 23 percent of home purchases in February to about 20 percent in June – the lowest level since September 2012, according to data from Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance survey.

Their numbers will likely decrease even more in the coming year. About 48 percent of investors recently surveyed say they plan to lessen their home purchases over the next year, according to a recent survey by ORC International. Only 20 percent of the investors surveyed say they plan to buy more homes in the next year, a drop from 39 percent 10 months earlier.

“Investors helped stabilize a housing market that was in free-fall and they did so by taking advantage of fire-sale home prices,” says Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Now you see few fewer bargain prices in the market and that’s a reason investor demand is coming off its peak.”

In recent years, many buyers – particularly first-time homebuyers – may have lost out to investors’ all-cash offers on homes. Both banks and sellers may have been lured by the quick deal that cash offers typically provide over offers from buyers who require financing.

But with less competition from investors, some housing experts say this may allow an opportunity for other potential buyers to get into the market.

Source: Reuters

Florida’s Housing Market Continues Positive Trend in August 2013

31 08 2013

Florida’s housing market continued its positive trend in August with increased closed sales, higher median prices, more pending sales and a stable supply of homes for sale.

“Both sales and prices demonstrate that Florida’s housing market is growing and continuing to gain strength,” says 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “The growth in jobs and other positive signs are putting buyers at ease with how the economy is progressing. At the same time, prices are encouraging sellers to get off the fence and helping to ease inventory pressures.

“August is the 20th month in a row that we’ve seen the statewide single-family home median sales price increase year-over-year.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 20,933 in August, up 12.5 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes rose 17.2 percent over the previous August. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $175,000, up 18.6 percent from the previous year.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in July 2013 was $214,000, up 13.5 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in July was $433,760; in Massachusetts, it was $350,000; in Maryland, it was $286,758; and in New York, it was $241,947.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at townhouse-condos, a total of 9,491 units sold statewide last month, up 6.3 percent from August 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 11.6 percent year-to-year. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $130,000, up 25.2 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in July 2013 was $209,600.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.1-months’ supply in August; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“The most striking feature of this month’s data relates to new listings and inventory,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Each month in 2013 has seen a rise year-over-year in new listings for both single family homes and townhouses and condos, with the exception of March for condo/townhomes. Balancing out the growth in closed sales, the increase in new listings has contributed to steady inventory. Single-family-home inventory is now at 5.1 months for August 2013, after holding steady at a 5-months supply in May through July. Condo/townhome inventory remains at a 5.2 months supply for the third month in a row.

“Combined with a relative decline in cash sales, this suggests that the pressure on inventories that has plagued the Florida market may be easing.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46 percent in August 2013, up from the 3.60 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

Source: Florida Realtors

July Home Prices Up 12.4% Year-to-Year

31 07 2013

Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12.4 percent on a year-over-year basis in July 2013 compared to July 2012 – the 17th consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in home prices nationally.

On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 1.8 percent in July 2013 compared to June 2013.

When distressed sales are backed out of the equation, home prices increased 11.4 percent year-over-year in July 2013 compared to July 2012. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 1.7 percent in July 2013 compared to June 2013. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

The separate CoreLogic Pending HPI predicts that August 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, will rise by 12.3 percent year-over-year and 0.4 percent month-over-month. Excluding distressed sales, they’re poised to rise 12.2 percent year-over-year and 1.2 percent month-over-month.

“Home prices continued to surge in July,” says Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Looking ahead to the second half of the year, price growth is expected to slow as seasonal demand wanes and higher mortgage rates have a marginal impact on home purchase demand.”

July 2013 highlights

• The five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+27 percent), California (+23.2 percent), Arizona (+17 percent), Wyoming (+16.4 percent) and Oregon (+15 percent).

• Only one state posted home price depreciation in July: Delaware (-1.3 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales from the equation, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Nevada (+24.2 percent), California (+20.2 percent), Arizona (+14.9 percent), Utah (+13.5 percent) andFlorida (+13.5 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, no states posted home price depreciation in July.

• The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-43 percent), Florida (-37.4 percent), Arizona (-32.5 percent), Rhode Island (-29.7 percent) and Michigan (-27.7 percent).

Source: CoreLogic

Florida home sales up 18.7% in May; up 32% in Jacksonville

21 06 2013

Single-family home sales across Florida was up 18.7 percent higher in May compared to a year earlier, according to Florida Realtors.

The Florida Realtors recorded closing 22,375 single-family home sales in May, the highest May total in Florida since 2005, when 24,523 sales were completed with the median price of $232,000. Florida Realtors President Dean Asher said the sales numbers are helping to attract more people to list their homes for sale.

“Statewide, new listings for single-family homes increased 10.2 percent in May, while new townhome-condo listings rose 7.1 percent,” Asher said in a release.

The median price of sales this past month was $171,000, up 15.9 percent from May 2012 and the highest mark for May since 2008, when the median price was $203,800. May 2008 also marked the lowest overall number of home sales for a May in the past decade, when 12,044 sales were completed.

Regionally top sales performers last month included a 35.5 percent jump in the Fort Walton Beach-Destin region, 32.2 percent in Jacksonville, and 46.3 percent in Tallahassee.

Meanwhile, Naples reported a 6.2 percent increase in the monthly year-to-year single-family home sales, while Fort Myers was at 1.4 percent and Pensacola stood at 4.8 percent. Naples retains the highest price for home sales, with median sales at $350,000.

The latest monthly numbers come on the heels of a 17.4 percent jump in single-family home sales recorded for April.

Source: Florida Realtor and Jacksonville Business Journal

Jacksonville Economy Among 50 Strongest in U.S.

23 05 2013

The Jacksonville economy continues to strengthen and slowly make its way up the list of the strongest in the nation — cracking the top 50 in the May version of the On Numbers Economic Index.

Jacksonville’s economy ranked No. 45 on the May index — up from No. 54 last month.

Of the big cities in Florida, only Tampa ranked higher than Jacksonville. Here’s how the other big cities in Florida ranked (with their previous position in parenthesis):

  • No. 31 Tampa (38)
  • No. 59 Miami (68)
  • No. 74 Orlando (61)

The index is calculated once a month, based on the latest official statistics for all U.S. metropolitan areas with estimated populations above 500,000. The index is designed to show the relative economic strength of those 102 major metros.

The index is generated by an 18-part formula that assesses private-sector job growth, unemployment, earnings, housing-price appreciation and construction and retail activity.

Here are the top-to-bottom rankings of 102 major markets in May installment of the On Numbers Economic Index, a monthly measure of economic vitality:

  • 1. Austin
  • 2. Provo, Utah
  • 3. Dallas-Fort Worth
  • 4. Oklahoma City
  • 5. Houston
  • 6. Ogden, Utah
  • 7. Baton Rouge, La.
  • 8. Tulsa
  • 9. Salt Lake City
  • 10. Des Moines, Iowa
  • 11. San Jose
  • 12. Denver
  • 13. New Orleans
  • 14. Honolulu
  • 15. Pittsburgh
  • 16. Boston
  • 17. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • 18. Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • 19. Nashville
  • 20. San Antonio
  • 21. San Francisco-Oakland
  • 22. Boise, Idaho
  • 23. Seattle
  • 24. Little Rock, Ark.
  • 25. Washington
  • 26. Durham, N.C.
  • 27. Omaha
  • 28. Louisville
  • 29. Baltimore
  • 30. Indianapolis
  • 31. Tampa-St. Petersburg
  • 32. Madison, Wis.
  • 33. Knoxville, Tenn.
  • 34. Richmond
  • 35. Buffalo
  • 36. Phoenix
  • 37. San Diego
  • 38. Greenville, S.C.
  • 39. Columbia, S.C.
  • 40. Bakersfield, Calif.
  • 41. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Calif.
  • 42. Lancaster, Pa.
  • 43. Charleston, S.C.
  • 44. Columbus
  • 45. Jacksonville
  • 46. St. Louis
  • 47. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
  • 48. Syracuse, N.Y.
  • 49. Birmingham
  • 50. Albany, N.Y.
  • 51. Jackson, Miss.
  • 52. Augusta, Ga.
  • 53. McAllen-Edinburg, Texas
  • 54. Cleveland
  • 55. Portland, Maine
  • 56. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
  • 57. Modesto, Calif.
  • 58. Raleigh
  • 59. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  • 60. Harrisburg, Pa.
  • 61. Worcester, Mass.
  • 62. New York City
  • 63. Portland, Ore.
  • 64. Allentown-Bethlehem, Pa.
  • 65. Rochester, N.Y.
  • 66. Dayton, Ohio
  • 67. Charlotte
  • 68. Los Angeles
  • 69. El Paso, Texas
  • 70. Palm Bay-Melbourne, Fla.
  • 71. Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • 72. Wichita, Kans.
  • 73. Cincinnati
  • 74. Orlando
  • 75. Kansas City
  • 76. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
  • 77. Fresno, Calif.
  • 78. Akron, Ohio
  • 79. Toledo, Ohio
  • 80. Sacramento
  • 81. Stockton, Calif.
  • 82. Atlanta
  • 83. Detroit
  • 84. Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.
  • 85. Lakeland, Fla.
  • 86. Philadelphia
  • 87. Virginia Beach-Norfolk
  • 88. Tucson
  • 89. Milwaukee
  • 90. Colorado Springs
  • 91. Hartford
  • 92. Youngstown, Ohio
  • 93. Las Vegas
  • 94. Providence
  • 95. Memphis
  • 96. Springfield, Mass.
  • 97. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
  • 98. Greensboro, N.C.
  • 99. Chicago
  • 100. Albuquerque
  • 101. New Haven, Conn.
  • 102. Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

Quick Home Sales Have Benefits and Pitfalls

1 05 2013

Like many house hunters, Joe and Kerry Mutschelknaus had been scouring the area for a new home for several months without much luck.

So when they found a five-bedroom colonial-style home in Loudoun Valley Estates in Ashburn, they didn’t waste any time: They made an offer the day after it went on the market. As soon as that contract was negotiated, they listed their house in Arlington County, selling it the next day.

The Mutschelknauses’ purchase offer was contingent on the sale, so they had an incentive to accept a buyer’s offer quickly.

“We received a full-price offer for our home, so even though we were a little nervous that we might be leaving money on the table, we were confident that we were getting the upper end of what we could expect,” says Joe Mutschelknaus. “Even if we had gotten a higher price, we weren’t sure if it would appraise for that amount.”

You’ve heard of flash mobs and Flash Player: Now there are “flash sales” — a term the real estate brokerage Redfin coined to refer to homes that sell in a day or less.

When too few homes are available for sale and the homes are selling quickly, buyers and their agents are forced to move fast when a home comes on the market. Thus, some agents are pre-marketing their sellers’ homes to ramp up the possibility of a deal the day a home is entered into the multiple listing service.

The quick sale has advantages for buyers and sellers who want to get ahead of the competition and avoid dragging out the process. But some experts cite some pitfalls: In going for the early offers, sellers might miss out on some potentially higher bids later. And buyers in those quick deals often waive inspections, potentially harming themselves later when they wind up spending thousands of dollars to correct problems that could have been identified early and fixed by the seller.

“Flash sales are clearly an outgrowth of the imbalance of supply and demand in attractive areas,” says John L. Heithaus, chief marketing officer of MRIS, the Rockville-based multiple listing service for the Washington region. “Flash sales don’t do buyers any good, because rationality goes out the window when competition kicks in. Sellers in a flash sale are likely to wonder if they could have gotten a better price for their home.”

According to data firm RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI), a subsidiary of MRIS, 350 homes sold in March within two days, up from 237 in March 2012. Also last month, 174 homes were sold with zero days on the market, up from 134 in March 2012.

Inventory is at near-historic lows. From March 2012 to March 2013, the number of listings, according to RBI, fell 40.12 percent.

Although data — including days on the market — can provide some information about fast home sales, statistics can’t tell you what’s happening behind the scenes.

“In some cases, buyers or their Realtors have advance notice that a home is coming on the market,” says Sitrin. “Buyers want to get into a house before it’s listed and to avoid the competitive market at all costs.”

Tonya Nelson, a realty agent at Redfin in Falls Church, who worked with the Mutschelknauses to sell their Arlington home, says sellers benefit from a flash sale because they don’t have to keep showing their property.

“Buyers are usually making good offers that appeal to sellers,” says Nelson. “In Joe and Kerry’s case, they not only got the full asking price, but they were also able to rent back the home so they had some extra time before they have to move.”

Other agents are more skeptical of the benefit of flash sales for sellers.

“When sellers accept an offer before their home is listed or on the first day, they haven’t tested the market,” says Robyn Burdett, an associate broker and vice president of Re/Max Allegiance in Fairfax City. “They didn’t allow the market to determine their price and terms but took what looked to be a good offer.”

Surprisingly, not all sellers are motivated solely by price, says Sitrin.

“Some homeowners would rather not have the hassle of people coming into their home, or they don’t want to fix it up and would rather sell ‘as is,’ ” says Sitrin. “If your mortgage is paid off, you bought your house for $40,000 decades ago and now it’s selling for $800,000, then you’re more concerned about selling your home and don’t care if you got $20,000 less for it than you could have. It’s different for a seller who’s moving up, because that seller needs every penny and should keep it on the market for at least a few days.”

Burdett says that some sellers have a valid reason for selling their home before it officially goes on the market, such as difficulty showing the house because of pets, young children or elderly parents.

Tom and Anna Kate Murphy worked with Burdett to sell their home in Burke, a single-family house that sold in one day for $525,000.

“The house went on the market on a Friday, and we got an offer on it that day,” says Anna Kate Murphy. “We had an open house scheduled for Sunday, but we decided to accept the first offer we received because it was a full-price offer, and we didn’t want to wait. Another home like ours had been listed at $485,000, and buyers got into a bidding war, but we felt like our house was priced competitively but not too high.”

Burdett says that other sellers she has worked with received an offer within two hours of going on the market but chose to wait two days to accept the first of the five offers they received.

Gretchen Koitz, principal of the Koitz Group with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Bethesda, says that although three to five days on the market is typical in our market today, homes listed as sold after zero days on the market are becoming more common.

“Zero days reflects the fact that agents are reaching out to other agents who do business in a certain neighborhood or building to find listings before they go on the market,” says Koitz. “It’s totally up to the homeowner whether to sell without exposing their property to such a hot market. On the other hand, the purchaser will usually make it worthwhile to accept a prelisting offer by offering a great price and eliminating contingencies.”

Koitz says that some sellers think a quick sale is worth the possibility of a lower price if they can avoid being “nickeled and dimed on everything by the buyers.”

Heithaus suggests that sellers get back-up offers by listing their home on MRIS as “under contract with a kick-out contingency” in case the offer they accepted falls through.

Burdett says she belongs to the Top Agent Network, a networking group of Realtors who are among the top 10 percent in their area in sales volume. The network sends out prelisting information to members so they know what’s coming on the market.

“Some Realtors call and ask, ‘What does my buyer have to do to get this house today?’ ” says Burdett. “The best way is an all-cash offer with no contingencies, including waiving an appraisal.”

Still, house hunters who enter these quick deals should go in with their eyes wide open, experts say.

“Buyers who remove contingencies are setting themselves up for potential problems,” says Heithaus. “They have to remediate any issues with the house themselves if they don’t make the sale contingent on a home inspection.”

Koitz says buyers must do their research and buy only when they are comfortable with the price.

“It’s the same rules as always for buyers, but it’s more important than ever to follow them,” she says.

Sitrin says that the downside for buyers is that they feel pressured to move fast.

“I tell buyers to take as long as you need to find the home you want, but once you find it, you should rush to make an offer,” says Sitrin.

Source: The Washington Post

U.S. Home Prices Jump the Most Since May 2006

1 05 2013

Home prices are rising at the fastest pace since May 2006, making it difficult for the first-time buyer to close a deal.

U.S. home prices rose from a year ago in all 20 cities that the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index tracks.

NBC’s Diana Olick reports: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/51340582#51340582

The Northeast Florida real estate market continues to improve, with smaller inventory levels and strong demand pushing prices up. Sales were up 19.2 percent from the same period last year and median sales price was up 16.4 percent from previous year.

Another change is buyers are shifting demand from distressed properties to conventional homes, the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR) reports.

Here are some of the key stats:

  • Median sales price was up 16.4 percent year-over-year to $139,650
  • Closed sales were up 19.2 percent to 4,541
  • Inventory of homes for sales was 7,825, down 31.9 percent
  • Pending sales were up 37.7 percent, to 6,240

Read the full report from NEFAR.

Strong Buyer Demand Outpace Home Supply in March

26 04 2013

Strong buyer demand for residential homes continued to outpace supply in March. The Buyer Traffic Index rose to 69 while the Seller Traffic Index inched up to 41. In many areas of the country Realtors reported low inventory levels of homes for sale. Tight inventory conditions have been cited as leading to higher prices and reduced time on market.

Inventory Homes Fell to a 13-Year Low

22 02 2013

The number of homes for sale fell to a 13-year low in January, leaving would-be buyers chasing a shrinking supply of homes just before the spring selling season.

The number of existing homes listed for sale in January totaled 1.74 million, down 4.9% from December and at the lowest level since December 1999, accordingly to the National Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, sales of previously owned homes were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million units in January, up 0.4% from December and 9.1% from January a year earlier. At the current pace of sales, it would take just 4.2 months to sell the existing supply of homes available.

Buyer interest is off to a strong start and the combination of rising demand and falling supply leave home shoppers with few choices to work with in the spring which traditionally the busiest season of the year.

“Sellers are calling the shots right now,” said Carolyn Williams, a real-estate agent in Dana Point, Calif. “What’s out there is gobbled up with anywhere from five to 25 offers.”

More competition is good for homeowners, who are seeing prices rise after six straight years of decline. Thursday’s report said the median price of an existing home stood at $173,600 in January, up 12.3% from a year earlier. Fewer options in the existing-home market also could spur traffic to newly built residences, benefiting home builders.

Homes are selling faster. The median number of days on the market for homes in January was 71, meaning half of all homes sold within that time, down from 73 days in December and 99 days one year ago.

Distressed sales—including foreclosures and short sales, in which banks allow borrowers to sell at a loss—accounted for 23% of sales in January, down from 35% a year earlier but still high by historical standards.

The Realtors’ group says it expects distressed sales to fall to around 15% of the market by year-end, in part because there are fewer foreclosures.

A separate report Thursday showed that the number of American households behind on mortgage payments fell to the lowest level in four years at the end of 2012.

The number of loans in foreclosure also fell by the largest margin in the 34-year history of the survey, conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Delinquencies have been falling for three years, as the economy and job growth have improved. At the end of 2012 about 10.8% of mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit homes were either in foreclosure or at least 30 days past due. That was down from a peak of 14.7% in early 2010.

Many of those are a legacy of the recession and housing bust: Thursday’s report showed that the level of loans that were newly delinquent—those 30 days late on payments—fell to their lowest level in 5½ years during the fourth quarter.

“We’re well on our way back to what is perhaps a new normal,” said Jay Brinkmann, the MBA’s chief economist.

Some housing analysts have warned of a second wave of foreclosures to hit markets, dragging down prices. But so far that hasn’t happened, and the prospect looks increasingly remote for much of the U.S. The share of loans in foreclosure, though still above precrisis levels, was 3.7% in the fourth quarter, down from 4.4% a year earlier.

The drop in foreclosure rates has been more pronounced in states like Arizona and California where banks don’t have to get foreclosure approval from a judge.

In so-called judicial states such as Florida and New Jersey, foreclosure rates have stayed much higher, leaving greater potential for “shadow” inventory that could hit the market down the road.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Housing Starts Up 23.6% from Previous Year

21 02 2013

National Association of Realtors’ Research Staff recently released economic indicators and market report showing an increase in housing starts in the report and its significant impact on the housing supply and job creation for the local economy.

  • In a mild disappointment, Census reported 890,000 starts in December, an increase of 23.6% from a year earlier, but an 8.5% decline from an upwardly revised December figure.
  • Starts are important as construction is highly correlated with job creation and directly impacts housing supply.
  • Single family construction, which has lagged for several years in the wake of the subprime crisis and subsequent bloat in inventory, managed to defy the headline decline in starts with a modest 0.8% increase from December figure and is 20% higher than a year ago.
  • Permits for construction of single family units rose 1.9% from December to January and are 29.2% higher than a year earlier.
  • While housing starts are strong, they remain well below the historic average and should not pose a threat to inventories as much of the building is done in niche markets and inventories have fallen sharply in recent quarters.  Builder and lender confidence in local conditions is a positive indicator for inventories, sales volumes, and price trends in these markets.
  • Furthermore, new construction and the economic multiplier that it generates will help to spur further job creation and income growth.

Source: Economic Updates, by Ken Fears, Manager, Regional Economics – National Association of Realtors

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