Tag Archives: realtors


Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

By: Krista Franks Brock, DSNews.com

Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.

The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago. Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters. However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.

Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings. Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.” In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV.

While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan.

Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generate actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability.


Spring Outlook: Reports From the Field Suggest Better Days Ahead

By: Carrie Bay, DSNews.com

Despite the fact that key market indicators released in recent weeks have shown declines in home sales, anecdotal reports from real estate agents in the field suggest “better days are ahead for the industry,” according to commentary released Monday by the economic team at Wells Fargo Securities, LLC.

Even builders – who’ve endured possibly the steepest drop-off in business over this downturn – are optimistic heading into the spring, the economists note.

As a result, Wells’ economic team has nudged its forecast for home sales slightly higher, as the spring selling season appears to have gotten off to a strong start. They are now expecting sales of existing homes to top out at 4.50 million in 2012 and rise to 4.65 million in 2013. These annual projections compare to 4.26 million existing homes sold in 2011.

“While employment conditions have clearly improved and consumer confidence and spending have risen, we remain concerned about the lack of real after-tax income growth.

That said, the anecdotal evidence is hard to dismiss,” the economists write. 

Most real estate agents are reporting “significant gains in buyer interest and sales,” and these gains are organic rather than incentive induced, according to the Wells Fargo economic team. 

Unfortunately, they note that conservative appraisals and tight mortgage underwriting continue to undermine a large number of deals, however, they “suspect that the undertow from these two hindrances will subside over the course of this year, as the fog surrounding shadow inventories lightens up a bit and more lenders come back to the market.”

Unseasonably warm weather led to upticks in existing-home sales in December and January. Those gains were paid back with a 0.9 percent decline in February, but the economic group at Wells says the underlying trend remains positive and they expect to see further improvements as the spring homebuying season kicks off.

Distressed transactions still make up a considerable portion of overall sales activity and will continue to pressure prices through at least the first half of 2012, they note in the report. Real home prices are now back down to 1999 levels, as are price-to-rent ratios, according to the economists.

“We expect home prices to definitively bottom by the middle of this year, as the backlog of foreclosures finally begins [to] clear,” writes Wells Fargo’s economic team. “For properties not in foreclosure, prices have probably already bottomed, but should remain relatively low” given the competition from foreclosures.

 

 

Home Prices Have Been Rising for Three Months: Report

By: Carrie Bay, DSnews.com

Standard & Poor’s reported Tuesday that it’s closely watched Case-Shiller index declined in January for the fifth straight month, with both the 10-city and 20-city composite readings slipping 0.8 percent from December.

But according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting (JBREC), that’s stale news and doesn’t reflect what’s actually happening in the market right now. In fact, the independent research company says home prices are rising.

JBREC conducted its own analysis of home prices in 97 markets and found that over the January-to-March period prices are up in 90 of them. The average price increase over the last three months is 1.1 percent, or a 4.5 percent annual rate, according to data issued by JBREC just before S&P’s Case-Shiller release.

The company also found that home prices have been trending up nationally since January, and even more markets have turned positive recently, with 93 of the 97 markets it analyzed showing appreciation over the last month.

So why are other industry indices still painting a picture of the doom and gloom of freefalling home prices? Wayne Yamano, VP and director of research for JBREC, says it’s because most price indices are on a three-month lag.

Yamano explains that after hundreds of hours of research vetting 23 data sources and running calculation after calculation, JBREC developed the Burns Home Value Index (BHVI), which calculates home values based on prices that are set at the time purchase contracts are negotiated and signed.

Nearly all other indices are based on when the purchase transaction closes, he says, which is typically two months after the purchase contracts were negotiated. Then, it takes one to two months for the closing price data to be compiled and reported, according to Yamano.

He contends that the BHVI is a better assessment of current changes in home prices and precedes median price data from the National Association of Realtors by three months and the S&P/Case-Shiller index by four to six months.

“It is current because it uses what is happening in MLS databases all over the country, as well as some leading indicators we have determined are reliable,” Yamano explained. “We call it a Home Value index because it is partially based on an ‘electronic appraisal’ of every home in the market, rather than just the small sample of homes that are actually transacting.”

JBREC has calculated BHVI index values for the United States and 97 major metro areas, with history going back to January 2000.

“The slow housing market recovery is underway, and it can accelerate or turn down quickly,” said Yamano. “The future is uncertain, and it is even more uncertain when you are using data that is three months old.”


Radar Logic: 2011 Home Bargains May Continue This Year

By: Krista Franks Brock, DSnews.com

Last year was a good year for home bargain-hunters, according to the latest data from Radar Logic. The firm’s January report revealed a 5.42 percent decline in prices from January 2011 to January 2012 and a simultaneous 7.7 percent increase in transactions.

Radar Logic surveys 25 metropolitan statistical areas on a monthly basis.

However, despite the year-over-year increase, home sales decreased 23.5 percent in the month ending January 19. The decline was greater among traditional sales, which fell 25.9 percent, than distressed sales, which declined 15 percent.

The discrepancy between traditional and distressed sales enhanced the overall price decline, according to the Radar Logic report, which stated, “the relative increase in distressed sales weighed on the RPX Composite, exacerbating its decline.”

The 5.42 percent price decline over the year brought Radar Logic’s composite to its lowest rate since July 2002.

However, the rate of decline did slow toward the end of 2011, but Radar Logic nonetheless suggests the market has not yet reached bottom.

“Frankly, I don’t think we’ve reached the bottom in housing prices,” said Quinn Eddins, director of research at Radar Logic.

Supply continues to outpace demand “particularly if you consider homes in the foreclosure process and those under water,” according to Eddins.

“At very least the excess supply will delay the recovery in housing prices, and could well push prices lower,” Eddins said.

Radar Logic predicts prices will remain flat this year and next before increasing “at an accelerating pace” in 2014 and 2015.


Capital Economics Expects Recovery to Continue Even with Higher Rates

By: Esther Cho, DSnews.com

Even with recent reports of rising mortgage rates and falling home prices, Capital Economics stated it still expects the housing recovery to be underway. The research firm cites two reasons in a report on why mortgage rates won’t threaten recovery: rates can only rise so far when tighter monetary policy is still years away, and homes will still be affordable even if mortgage rates were to rise back to normal levels. Last week ending March 15, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed rate at 3.92 percent, an increase from the 3.88 percent reported the prior week, but still below 4 percent for 15 consecutive weeks.

“We doubt that higher mortgage rates will derail a housing recovery that in the last six months has seen total home sales rise by 13 percent and the NAHB homebuilder activity index more than double to 28,” the research firm stated.

In addition to those recent reports, home prices are still dropping, with data from Zillow showing prices declined 4.6 percent from January 2011 to January 2012. “Also, the fall in house prices over the last five years has been so large that even more normal mortgage rates would leave housing looking very affordable. And with housing appearing undervalued relative to disposable incomes per capita, valuations are also very favorable,” Capital Economics stated.

An economic outlook report from Fannie Mae echoed a similar sentiment about the direction of the housing market in a report Monday and stated, “GDP revisions for the fourth quarter of 2011 indicated a stronger underlying pace of demand with higher consumer spending and business investment.” After four months of private sector payroll growth, the GSE named employment growth as an important factor in housing recovery.

Even with declining home prices, Capital Economics explained it can take up to six months for changes in demand and supply to have their full impact on house prices because even with attractive asking prices, it can still take a few months to find a buyer and another month or so before the contract is closed.


Home Affordability Index Reaches Record-High Level

Reprinted from DSnews.com
Written by Esther Cho

Home affordability has reached the highest peak since 1970, which is when the data was first recorded, according to National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) housing affordability index. The index rose to 206.1 in January, and an index of 100 is defined as the point where a median-income household has exactly enough income to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced single-family home, assuming a 20 percent down payment and 25 percent of gross income for mortgage principal and interest payments.

“This is the first time the housing affordability index has broken the two hundred mark, meaning the typical family has roughly double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home,” said Moe Veissi, NAR president.

While projections about future mortgage rates and home prices have been mixed, NAR expects little change and anticipates affordability levels will stay high through 2012.

“Housing inventory levels have declined to a point where conditions are becoming much more balanced in much of the country,” Veissi said. “If access to credit improves, we could see a much more meaningful increase in home sales and broader stabilization in home prices with modest gains in areas with stronger job growth.”

The index is based on the relationship between median home price, median family income, and the average mortgage interest rate.


Pending Home Sales Index Up in January, Reaching 20-Month High

By: Mark Lieberman, Five Star Institute Economist     Reprinted from DSNews.com

The pending home sales index (PHSI) rose in January to 97.0 from a downwardly revised 95.1 in December. At 97.0, the index is at its highest level since April 2011, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

The index rose for the third time in the last four months and the January reading was 8 percent above January 2011 levels, but 26.5 percent below the April 2005 peak. The index began in January 2005.

Pending home sales are counted when sales contracts are signed and are viewed as a leading indicator of existing home sales; recent reports suggest that home re-sales should be a bit stronger over the next couple of months, but at a level that is still fairly subdued.

The PHSI has been trending upward, albeit modestly for most of the past two years. Despite the 20-month high, the index is relatively subdued. At the same time, a substantial number of sales contracts are failing to meet underwriting standards and/or other loan criterion as sales contract cancellations remain elevated.

Although a hopeful trend, home sales still appear to be searching for their fundamentally determined level – a level that is likely to be relatively subdued.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 7.6 percent to 78.2 in January and is 9.8 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index declined 3.8 percent to 88.1 but is 10.8 percent higher than January 2011. Pending home sales in the South increased 7.7 percent to an index of 109.1 in January and are 10.5 percent above a year ago. In the West, the index fell 4.4 percent in January to 101.9, but is 0.7 percent above January 2011.

The PHSI is based on data from Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and large brokers.

According to the NAR, the index provides advance information on future home-sales activity and offers more solid information on changes in the direction of the market than any of the indicators currently available. Generally, pending home sales become existing-home sales one-to-two months later suggesting it can be used to predict both mortgage demand and sales activity.

While the volume of mortgage purchase applications edged down in January, suggesting sluggish activity, the purchase index collapsed in February.

Realtors are reporting more contract cancellations, which would cause the pending home sales index (based on initial signings) to overstate existing home sales (based on contract closings).

According to the NAR, 33 percent of existing contracts were cancelled in January – unchanged from December but up from only 9 percent in January 2011. The rise in cancellations reflected declining mortgage applications and failures in loan underwriting from appraisals coming in below the negotiated price.


Short Sales Bring 24% Greater Returns than Foreclosures

By: Krista Franks Brock, DSNews.com

The real estate professionals at Massachusetts-based McGeough Lamacchia Realty have been proponents of short sales for quite some time, insisting that everyone comes out ahead when a short sale is achieved as opposed to a foreclosure. Now they’re sharing the facts that back up their claim.

On average a home sold through short sale brings a 24 percent greater return than a foreclosed property, according to recent findings from McGeough Lamacchia Realty.

“This means the banks are losing an average of $43,000 for every foreclosure sale compared to what they would have made in a short sale,” said a blog post on the company’s website.

The firm reviewed prices for short sale and foreclosure sale properties in 2010 and 2011 in Boston, Phoenix, Tuscon, Southern California, and Southwest Florida.

While banks often offer incentives to homeowners who pursue a short sale, “more needs to be done to promote short sales,” McGeough Lamacchia said.

Specifically, the firm points out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not offering the cash incentives for short sales that are now standard through the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to do more to promote short sales and make it easier for distressed homeowners to do a short sale and avoid foreclosure,” McGeough Lamacchia said in their blog post.


Hillsborough Title – Your Official GTAR Satellite Store!

The Store is OPEN! Come on in!

We KNOW Realtors are very busy people! At Hillsborough Title, our primary goal is to make your life easier and less stressful! One way we are doing this is by serving as your Official GTAR Satellite Store!  We keep a fully stocked area in four of our offices filled with signs and riders! So, instead of going all the way to GTAR you can just pop into one our offices, pick up what you need, and you’re done.

Currently four of our Hillsborough Title offices are serving as Official GTAR Satellite Stores:

Brandon – 350 E. Bloomingdale Ave, Brandon 33511 (813) 655-4000

New Tampa – 2306 Ashley Oaks Circle Suite 102, Wesley Chapel, 33544 (813) 750-1001

Plant City – 1605 S. Alexander Street Suite 102, Plant City 33563 – (813) 754-4440

South Shore – 833 Cypress Village Blvd., Sun City Center, 33573 (813) 634-8866

At Hillsborough Title, we are your partner and will work closely with you to ensure that a property transaction goes smoothly from start to finish. And, it all begins with the signs! So, come on in today! Our store is OPEN and we are ready to serve you!