The U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs have teamed up to provide housing for about 9,000 homeless veterans nationwide who live on the streets or in shelters.
HUD and the VA will provide $60 million to local public housing agencies to distribute the grants to homeless vets that will provide rental assistance. The vets participating will be able to rent privately owned housing and will contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.
“Our veterans have answered the call of duty,” says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “That’s why our nation has its own duty — to help homeless servicemen and women rejoin the very communities they have given so much to protect. These grants make it possible to help more veterans obtain housing, bringing us steps closer to our goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.”
According to data by HUD and VA, a single night in January 2012 showed that 62,619 veterans were homeless.
Source: “HUD and VA Team up: Provide Homes to 9,000 Homeless Vets,” RISMedia (June 1, 2013)
Investors are picking up shares of appliances, building materials, and even pickup trucks in betting on a widening housing recovery, The Wall Street Journal reports. Investors say the increase in residential construction and home renovation represents opportunity.
The recovery is in “the very early innings,” Russell Croft, a portfolio manager at Croft Leominster Inc., told The Wall Street Journal. “[I’m trying] to find the secondary or tertiary stocks that might be influenced by housing.”
Following a run-up in shares of home builder stocks — like Lennar, KB Home, and Toll Brothers — investors are now diversifying, looking at such companies like appliance maker Whirlpool (which has surged more than 170 percent since the end of 2011) and Ford Motor Co. for pickup trucks. Investors are looking for anything housing-related.
Home improvement retailers Lowe’s and Home Depot have each soared by about 60 percent over the last 12 months.
With home prices still below about 28 percent from their 2006 peak, investors are seeing plenty of opportunity ahead for the housing market.
“The housing market is one of the best investible themes out there for 2013 and for 2014 as well,” says analyst Kevin O’Keefe with Brown Advisory. Comments on your market?
Source: “Investors Spread Their Housing Bets,” The Wall Street Journal (May 27, 2013)
Wells Fargo and Citigroup have temporarily halted foreclosure sales in several states, taking precautions after a federal regulator released new guidance on minimum standards for foreclosure sales.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) recently released the new standards. The OCC’s directive mostly consists of 13 questions banks need to ask themselves before selling a home in foreclosure, such as whether the borrower is protected from foreclosure by bankruptcy or if the borrower is in an active loan modification plan.
JPMorgan had also mostly stopped its foreclosure sales after the OCC’s standards were released, but has since resumed sales.
Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage originator, has seen a dramatic drop in foreclosure sales while significantly decreasing the number of sales it’s processing. For example, foreclosure sales by Wells Fargo in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington plummeted from 349 a day in April to less than 10 a day, according to Foreclosure Radar, a real estate monitoring firm based in California.
“Wells Fargo has temporarily postponed certain foreclosure sales while we study the revised guidance from the OCC,” a Wells Fargo spokeswoman confirmed for American Banker. Citibank officials also confirmed the reason behind their halt in sales was to carefully review the new guidance.
“The OCC did not direct a slowdown or pausing,” says OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard. “However, if servicers are not certain they are meeting these standards, pausing foreclosures is a responsible and productive step.”
Source: “Wells, Citi Halt Most Foreclosure Sales as OCC Ratchets Up Scrutiny,” American Banker (May 17, 2013)
Individual home buyers comprised a quarter of all house purchases last year, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. Single women purchase homes at double the rate of single men, according to the data.
However, solo buyers can face particular challenges in qualifying for a mortgage. During and following the recession, banks tightened their underwriting standards, which also made it more difficult for single home buyers without dual incomes to qualify for a loan.
Between 2010 and 2012, home purchases made by singles dropped 7 percent — unprecedented, according to NAR. Low mortgage rates and high home affordability have drawn more singles back to home buying.
Home purchases are often a means of self-expression for singles, Jennifer De Vivo, a real estate professional, told MSN Real Estate. “It’s a way for singles to express their lifestyles and values,” De Vivo says. “They are able to focus on the exact communities, home styles, and features that cater to their individuality with much less compromise.”
“I always counsel them to try to keep their current home as an investment property and rent it out. It’s a big step toward helping create long-term financial security,” De Vivo says.
Source: “Solo Homebuyer? You’re not Alone,” MSN Real Estate (May 2013)
The number of homes for sale is at the lowest point in more than 10 years, but with buyer demand still high, many markets are seeing bidding wars. A TIME magazine article recently asked: “Are buyers being manipulated into overbidding for the relatively few attractive homes on the market?” Some real estate professionals say that homes are being underpriced in order to ignite a bidding war.
“Most people are not pricing at market value,” a real estate professional told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Even in this market, you don’t want to overprice.”
Bidding wars have become commonplace in markets like Denver, where half of the new homes on the market are selling in less than 30 days. In Northern and Southern California nine in 10 homes are attracting bidding wars, as well as two-thirds of the homes for sale in Boston, New York City, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., the TIME magazine article notes.
“The only question is not whether a new listing will get multiple bids but how many it will get,” says a Sacramento, Calif.-based real estate professional. Your comments!?!
Source: “Forget Lowballing: Bidding Wars Return in Hot Housing Markets,” TIME (April 30, 2013)
Fixed-rate mortgages pushed lower for the fifth-consecutive week, with low mortgage rates further driving the housing recovery over the near term, says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered near its all-time record low, while 15-year rates set a new record.
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending May 2, 2013:
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.35 percent, with an average 0.7 point, just shy of its 3.31 percent record set during the week of Nov. 21, 2012. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.84 percent.
- 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: sank to an all-time record low of 2.56 percent, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s previous record of 2.61 percent. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.07 percent.
- 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.56 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.58 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.85 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac
Mortgage applications climbed 2 percent last week as several key interest rates dropped, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.
Mortgage applications for refinancing, which make up the biggest bulk of MBA’s index, rose 3 percent for the week ending April 26, reaching its highest level since January. Meanwhile, mortgage applications for home purchases fell last week by 1.4 percent compared to a week earlier.
“Low interest rates have attracted new buyers and persuaded many home owners to refinance their mortgages,” Dow Jones reports. “However, tightened credit restrictions still bar many borrowers from filing loan applications.”
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.6 percent last week, its lowest rate since December, MBA reports.
Source: “U.S. Mortgage Applications Up 2%,” Dow Jones Newswires (May 1, 2013)
Sixty-five percent of the millennial generation, ranging in age roughly from 18 to 34, say that their intention to purchase a house has significantly increased in the past year, according to a survey from PulteGroup.
“As the economy continues to stabilize, more young adults will wean off of mom and dad and start to live on their own, spurring added economic growth,” HousingWire reports.
Nearly 20 percent of men ages 25 to 34 reportedly live with their parents, while 9.7 percent of women that age still live at home.
As this generation gains greater financial security, more millennials will begin to embark on their own.
A recent article from Barron’s notes that Generation Y could surprise the nation in upcoming years with their spending power and economic growth. The generation is 7 percent larger than the baby boom generation.
“Millennials have witnessed the housing boom and bust, but still believe home ownership is a good investment,” says Fred Ehle, vice president for PulteGroup.
Source: “Millennials Rightly Positioned to Boost Economy,” HousingWire (April 29, 2013)
Home prices will likely climb 10 percent in 2013 and 8 percent in 2014, according to Barclays analyst Stephen Kim, who recently upgraded his view of the housing market from neutral to positive.
Kim told The Wall Street Journal recently that low mortgage rates are helping to make buying more affordable than renting in many markets.
About “18 months ago, the industry was nothing much to look at: dilapidated foreclosures were flooding the market, home equity had suffered the worst retrenchment in a generation, and housing starts and sentiment were far below historic troughs levels,” Kim notes. “But after stabilizing in 2012, both new and existing home prices are now accelerating much more rapidly than in the 1990s cycle.”
Source: “The Housing Market: Not Your Analyst’s Oldsmobile?” The Wall Street Journal (April 23, 2013)