Friday, September 18, 2009

Housing Data Yield Mixed Results Overall

By The Wall Street Journal

Housing starts rose slightly in August, but a decline in construction of single-family homes after five months of increases highlighted the fragile state of the economy.

Meanwhile, in a positive sign, the pace of layoffs slowed as initial claims for jobless benefits dropped by 12,000 to 545,000 in the week ended Sept. 12.

Housing starts climbed 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000 in August from the previous month on an increase in multifamily home construction, the Commerce Department said Thursday. But single-family homes and kitchen remodeling Grand Rapids, which accounted for about 80% of all housing starts, fell 3% to 479,000.

Many economists expect home remodeling Grand Rapids to contribute positively to gross domestic product in the second half of the year, after dragging it down last quarter. But as the housing sector continues on its rocky path to stabilization, it might not make a strong contribution. Even with recent gains, new home starts were 29.6% lower than a year earlier, and they are expected to remain at relatively low levels while the market works through the glut of foreclosed homes and builders battle a tight credit market.

On a more positive note, Precision Remodeling building permits, a sign of future construction, increased 2.7% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 579,000.

With permit requests also rising, we should continue to see improvement in housing going forward. Just don't expect any huge increases, and don't be surprised if once in a while activity eases.

Despite the fall in single-family home remodeling Quakertown starts, they are expected to trend upward, albeit at a slow pace. They are still 21.7% lower than a year earlier.

Starts of multifamily homes with sunrooms Grand Haven, five or more units, including apartments and condominiums, tend to be more volatile. They rose 35.3% in August after falling in July. The number of starts is still off 48.2% from a year earlier.

"A modest rebound from such a depressed level of activity is not too surprising," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note to clients. "However, we do not expect to see any sustained upside in multifamily construction."

The labor market continued on its slow road to recovery as the four-week average of new claims for jobless benefits, which aims to smooth volatility, fell by 8,750 to 563,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

But continuing jobless claims, those drawn by workers for more than one week, climbed to 6.23 million in the week ended Sept. 5 -- up 129,000.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NC Gov. Perdue signs beefed up consumer protection

By The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina consumers soon will have new protections from Raleigh real estate foreclosures and intimidating debt collection practices.

Gov. Beverly Perdue on Wednesday signed into law a bill approved by the Legislature last month and backed by Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Once the new law takes effect next month, it will allow a clerk of court to postpone Raleigh real estate foreclosure hearings for up to 60 days to allow a homeowner more time to work out a payment plan with the mortgage holder and remain in their home.

During this recession, thousands of North Carolinians have lost their homes because of foreclosure. When Raleigh NC real estate is foreclosed it's bad for our Raleigh families, it's bad for our Raleigh communities, it's bad for our Raleigh businesses and it's bad for the entire state North Carolina. This bill makes it easier for homeowners to work out a deal with their lenders and avoid foreclosure.

The bill also sets out new rules for companies that attempt to collect from consumers on old debts from credit cards or other unpaid bills.

The law extends regulation to debt buyers, who Cooper said have engaged in overly aggressive debt collecting practices.

Debt buyers pay credit card companies, hospitals and others a fraction of the full amount due on unpaid accounts, then work at forcing debtors to pay up. The state law extends debt-collection regulations to cover the law firms that often file lawsuits to collect the cash. Critics say debt buyers often pursue collection even when it is barred by law, such as when the debt is discharged after bankruptcy or has lingered beyond the legal collection deadline.

Beginning next month, debt buyers who try to collect on a debt that they should reasonably know is blocked by a statute of limitations could face lawsuits and civil penalties of up to $4,000 per violation.

The state law also will require debt collectors to provide documents proving they own the accounts they're trying to collect. Taking a Raleigh NC real estate debtor to court will require records including the original account number of the debt, the name of the original creditor, and an itemization of charges and fees the current creditor claims is owed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

First Time Homebuyer Program

Raleigh Real Estate
Many Americans are about to close on the sale of their new home to officially become a homeowner for the first time.

Americans are taking advantage of the federal first time homebuyers program, before it runs out.

It definitely gives Americans the ambition to keep on everybody because buying a home is such a long process. You have to jump through so many hoops.

Ann Davis of FORHomeBuyers, Inc., says, "To meet the deadline, you must close on the sale of your home by November 30th". Ann Davis is a top buyers agent in the Raleigh real estate market.

To do that, Davis recommends that you have a contract in place by the end of September.

She says that should give you enough time and some extra, to make sure everything that leads up to the closing, gets done.

There are contingencies such as the home inspection contingency that needs to be performed and making sure you have mortgage in place which usually takes a couple of weeks.

The first time home buyer credit is available for homes bought on or after January 1st of this year.

To qualify, if you're single, you must make less than $75,000 a year.

If you're married, it's a combined income of less than $150,000.

The credit is a maximum of $8,000 or 10% of the home's purchase price.

To get the first time home buyer's tax credit, all you need to do is file for it on your federal income tax return.

FORHomeBUYERS, Inc., offers Exclusive Buyer Only Raleigh Real Estate Services.

Are you considering relocating to Raleigh NC, buying or building a new home in Raleigh-Cary-Durham-Chapel Hill NC or anywhere in the Triangle area of North Carolina? FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc., a leading Raleigh real estate agency and Exclusive Buyer Real Estate Agency in Raleigh will represent YOU 100% throughout the entire home buying or home building process.

As an 18 year old Raleigh Real Estate Agency we have Exclusive Buyer Only Real Estate Agents who serve Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Apex, Chapel Hill, Garner, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, Hillsborough, Clayton, Wake County, Durham County, Orange County, Chatham County, Johnston County, North Carolina (NC).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pending U.S. home sales jump in July

By The Charlotte Business Journal

First-time buyers of Chapel Hill homes kept pending home sales climbing for the sixth consecutive month in July, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The group’s Pending Home Sales Index jumped 3.2 percent in July to 97.6. The index is 12 percent higher than in July 2008.

The recovery is broad-based across the Raleigh real estate market and across most of North Carolina. Housing affordability has been at record highs this year with the added stimulus of a first-time-buyer tax credit.

The index was up in the South and West but declined in the Midwest and Northeast.

The NAR’s Housing Affordability Index for July was 158.5, up 36 points year over year.

Raleigh real estate sales will likely drop in next year’s first quarter if the tax credit isn’t extended.

However, the fundamentals of the housing market and the economy are trending up, and we expect home sales to generally pick up in the second quarter of 2010.

Existing-home sales figures for August will be released Sept. 24, and the Pending Homes Sales Index for the month will be released Oct. 1, the association says.

CUs Foreclosing on Fewer Homes Than Banks and Not as Quickly

By The Credit Union Times

In general, credit unions appear to be foreclosing on a smaller percentage of their mortgage loans than other financial institutions and are usually taking longer to do it, according to credit union executives and NCUA data.

An organization that bills itself as the “leading online marketplace of foreclosure properties,” reported that foreclosures nationwide rose 7% in July over the previous month and were 32% over what they had been a year before. The worse states for home foreclosures were, as they have been for months, California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada. However, Utah, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado and Oregon were also high in the firm’s rankings.

July marks the third time in the last five months where we’ve seen a new record set for foreclosure activity. Despite continued efforts by the federal government and state governments to patch together a safety net for distressed homeowners, we’re seeing significant growth in both the initial notices of default and in the bank repossessions.

Credit unions have been part of this trend, but in a more deliberate manner, according to NCUA data and credit union executives.

According to the NCUA, the ratio among all federally insured credit unions for fixed-rate and hybrid balloon first mortgages that were two months delinquent, as of March, was 0.9% and the ratio for adjustable-rate first mortgages that were more than two months delinquent was 2.18%. Both numbers suggested that the rate of credit union mortgage loans that eventually wind up in foreclosure will remain extremely low relative to the overall housing and foreclosure picture. But, credit union executives pointed out that foreclosure rates are running at historic highs for their institutions.

No doubt our foreclosures on Chapel Hill homes have been lower than that the nation overall, but certainly higher than we are used to. Part of that is because we did not make the same sorts of risky, novelty loans that got so many homeowners and their lenders in trouble, so we haven’t had as many loans go bad.

But also observed that the foreclosure spike could be seen as an overall necessary evil for the real estate market overall.

The increase on foreclosures on Winston Salem Homes is not all bad news to the extent that it represents a reviving housing market.

Lenders are slower to foreclose when housing prices are in the dumps, and they calculate they will have to hold the properties for longer. If a market starts to rise, they might foreclose faster in order to move the foreclosed property back into a more profitable situation more quickly.

With a more or less nationwide field of membership and as the largest credit union mortgage originator and servicer, Navy Federal provides a unique window on the state of credit union foreclosures, since it had borrowers in markets hard hit by the economic downturn and ones that have had it relatively easier.

According to Navy Federal’s June 2009 report to NCUA, the credit union had a delinquency rate of 0.88% for fixed-rate first mortgages and 3.08% for adjustable rate mortgages. In addition, the credit union had almost $495 million worth of foreclosed real estate on its books.

In addition to better loans to begin with,the Navy’s ability to work with borrowers on loans still on its books as helping to keep the foreclosure numbers down. The Navy Federal has about 50% of the loans it originates on its books and has sold about 50% to the secondary market.

The credit union has not yet begun to participate in the Making Home Affordable program, but they have until the end of the year to formally participate.

Instead, Navy Federal has been working one-on-one with borrowers to determine which parameters of their loans can be modified to bring them back, if possible, to a number they can afford. Nobody wants to foreclose, he observed.

According to the credit union’s June Raleigh real estate report to NCUA, SECU holds more than $366 million in foreclosed real estate, up from over $327 million in June of last year.

The SECU’s foreclosure picture is often clouded by the number of times it may be the first mortgage holder in a situation where the borrower has taken a second mortgage with another lender.

Every modification situation that succeeds is going to be different, and none of the ones that fail will fail for precisely the same reason.

Once it’s clear that SECU will foreclose on a property, the credit union moves swiftly to place it with real estate agents who know the community and have experience staging and selling foreclosed properties.

They don’t want to have to hold on to these places any longer than we have to. That’s why foreclosures are pretty much a lose-lose circumstance–because we have a property we don’t want to have and the borrower has a property that a lot of the time, they still want to have.

Somewhat surprisingly, the small measure of good news in the foreclosure situation may be coming from Florida, one of the hardest hit states.

What people forget is that the foreclosure and real estate crisis started down here faster than it did in the rest of the country, so we are pretty much burned through our problem real estate already.