Homes Still Selling Fast Heading Into Fall

With home buyer demand starting to slow along seasonal trends, properties for sale are staying on the market slightly longer. For transactions that closed in July, the homes were typically on the market for 42 days, according to the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index. NAR notes that the number of days on market typically rises after June because of seasonal changes and an overall slowdown in the housing market heading into fall.

But with inventory still tight, properties are moving faster than they did a year ago — when they averaged 48 days on the market, according to NAR. In July, 43 percent of sold properties spent less than a month on the market.

Short sales are on the market for the longest time, at 135 days, while foreclosed properties are staying on the market an average of 49 days. Non-distressed properties averaged 41 days, according to NAR.

Source: “In What States Did Properties Sell Quickly in May-July 2015?” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (Sept. 1, 2015)

Home Buyers Facing Less Competition From Cash Buyers

The percentage of cash sales fell to 33 percent of total home sales in June, marking the lowest share since September 2008, CoreLogic reports. A year ago, cash sales stood at 36.3 percent of the market; they have been falling steadily since January 2013.

Historically, cash sales make up about 25 percent of total home sales, according to data prior to the housing crisis. In 2011, cash sales peaked at 46.2 percent of sales nationwide, CoreLogic reports.

Buyers are using cash mostly to purchase real estate–owned properties, or REOs. Fifty-five percent of REOs are all-cash transactions, followed by nearly 33 percent of resales, about 32 percent of short sales, and 16 percent of newly built homes.

Source: “Cash Sales Accounted for One in Three Home Sales in June,” HousingWire (Sept. 9, 2014)

Authorities Uncover Growing ‘Mortgage-Relief Scams’

Federal and state officials have filed dozens of lawsuits against companies they say have been duping a growing number of home owners who are facing foreclosure with big promises to lower their mortgage payments or rescue them from foreclosure while collecting millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees from home owners.

Dubbed Operation Mis-Modification, federal and state officials are uncovering pockets of law firms and counseling services that they say are falsely offering assistance to modify mortgage terms or payments for struggling home owners.

Officials say it’s against federal law for companies to collect fees from home owners until they have received a written modification offer from their lender or mortgage servicer.

In a crackdown on such cases, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently filed three lawsuits against eight companies. The agency alleges that the companies collected more than $25 million in illegal upfront fees for services like modifying a mortgage or trying to prevent a foreclosure. The agency has issued warnings to consumers to be cautious about such mortgage-related scams, looking for such red flags like companies that demand upfront payments and guarantees that a modification or other assistance can be obtained.

Source: “Authorities Crack Down on Mortgage-Relief Scams Nationwide,” Los Angeles Times (July 23, 2014)

Foreclosures Jump in Northeast, West Coast

Nationwide, foreclosures dropped 26 percent in May compared to year-ago levels, reaching the lowest monthly level since December 2006. However, that does not reflect the recent foreclosure activity in Northeastern and West Coast markets, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.

“It’s not surprising that some of the states with the longest foreclosure timelines are those with markets still dealing with increasing foreclosure activity even as the country as a whole continues to hit new lows,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “On the other hand, the increase in bank repossessions in some states with shorter foreclosure timelines like California and Oregon demonstrates there is still some pent-up foreclosure activity in those states as well.”

Bank repossessions were up by the largest amounts year-over-year in New York (up 117 percent), New Jersey (up 96 percent), Connecticut (up 85 percent), Maryland (up 40 percent), Oregon (up 29 percent), and California (up 26 percent).

Source: “Foreclosures Skyrocket in Northeast, West Coast,” HousingWire (June 10, 2014)

Fannie Mae Announces Expansion of HomePath for Short Sales Website

Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) today announced the expansion of the HomePath® for Short Sales website, a communication tool created to help real estate professionals efficiently complete short sales and resolve challenges directly with Fannie Mae.  The new functionality will allow agents to contact Fannie Mae sooner in the short sale process and preempt potential challenges, decreasing the need to escalate concerns further down the road. The website is open to any real estate professional working on a short sale involving a Fannie Mae-owned loan.

Through the expanded HomePath Short Sale Portal, listing agents can work directly with Fannie Mae to:

  • Request list price guidance prior to listing a property
  • View the status of submitted cases
  • Negotiate and receive first lien approval on a short sale directly from Fannie Mae (This feature will be rolled out over the next few months through individual servicers.)

“This is an important step in continuing to build a strong relationship with the real estate community, which will ultimately contribute to the stabilization of neighborhoods,” said Tim McCallum, Vice President for Short Sales, Fannie Mae. “Allowing real estate professionals to negotiate an offer directly with Fannie Mae is the next step in streamlining the short sale process. Our goal is to provide transparency throughout these transactions and arrive at an agreement that benefits all parties involved.”

Source http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-us/media/corporate-news/2014/6126.html

‘Built-to-Rent Homes’ Come Down Off Highs

The market for single-family homes that are built to be rentals is showing signs of declining from its post-recession highs, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

The market share for built-to-rent single-family homes stood at 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2014. That remains higher than historical averages of 2.8 percent but has dropped from its 5.8 percent share a year ago, NAHB’s analysis shows.

During the recession, the share of built-to-rent homes soared while the foreclosure and financial crises forced more Americans to become renters.

But “it appears the market is returning to historical averages after recent peaks in this form of construction,” according to NAHB’s Eye on Housing blog.

About 20,000 built-to-rent homes were started nationwide in the last four quarters.

Source: “Single-Family Built for Rent Market Remains Off Recent Market Highs,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing Blog (May 26, 2014)

Spring Fling? Faster Sales, More Buyer Traffic

Properties sold faster in March — at a median of 55 days — due to low inventories of homes for sale nationwide, according to the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index. The index is based on a survey of more than 3,800 REALTORS® about their transactions in March.

About 37 percent of real estate professionals report that properties sold in March had been on the market for less than a month. In February, 34 percent of practitioners reported the same.

Buyer traffic was also up in March, although demand was softer than a year ago, according to the report.

Still, REALTOR® confidence about current market conditions ticked up in March, reflecting a typical seasonal increase. Their confidence about the outlook for the next six months also improved but is lower than what it was a year ago, according to the report. The biggest concerns among REALTORS® remain low levels of inventories, tight credit conditions, and uncertainty about flood insurance regulation, according to the REALTORS® Confidence Index.

REALTORS® continue to be confident that prices will increase over the next 12 months but at a “modest pace.” They expect prices to increase at a median of about 4 percent over the next 12 months. The states that have the most optimism about price increases — expecting increases of about 5 percent to 7 percent over the next 12 months — are California, Oregon, Nevada, Georgia, Florida, and Hawaii. States that expect a 3 percent to 5 percent price increase are Washington, North Dakota, Texas, Michigan, New York, and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“Low inventory compared to demand is expected to continue to buttress prices, as well as the declining share of distressed sales in the market,” the report notes.

Source: “Properties Sold Faster in March, Typically at 55 Days in March 2014,” National Association of REALTORS®’ Economists’ Outlook Blog (May 5, 2014) and REALTORS® Confidence Index for March

Foreclosures Reverse Downward Trend

Completed foreclosures ticked up 11.8 percent in January compared to December 2013, but remained 19 percent below year-ago levels, CoreLogic reports in its latest National Foreclosure Report.

Completed foreclosures in January stood at 43,000. That remain elevated by historical standards: Completed foreclosures, which reflects the total number of homes that are lost to foreclosure, averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006.

Since September 2008 — when the financial crisis began — about 4.9 million completed foreclosures have occurred across the country, according to CoreLogic.

In January, about 794,000 homes in the U.S. were in some state of foreclosure, down from 1.2 million a year ago. January marked the 27th consecutive month for year-over-year declines, CoreLogic notes.

“We are recovering, but we’re not there yet,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “For every completed foreclosure, there are 954 mortgaged homes in non-judicial foreclosure states and 896 mortgaged homes in judicial foreclosure states. Although this is a big improvement relative to the height of the foreclosure crisis, a healthier ratio would be one for every 2,000.”

Source: CoreLogic

‘Short Sales Fall Sharply’ as Home Prices Rise!

Short sales are on the decline, as home prices inch up and more home owners stay current on their mortgages. Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, says short sales started to trend lower in the second half of 2013.

Four percent of December sales were short sales, selling for an average discount of 13 percent below market value, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest existing-home sales report.

Overall, distressed homes — which includes both foreclosures and short sales — accounted for 14 percent of sales in December, unchanged from November but down from 24 percent from December 2012, NAR’s data shows.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine.   More at:www.houselogic.com and http://retradio.com

Foreclosure Pipeline Gradually Being Cleared

As the foreclosure crisis continues to recede, some parts of the country remain at elevated levels. Five states now account for nearly half of all the completed foreclosures in the nation —Florida, Michigan, California, Texas, and Georgia, according to CoreLogic’s latest foreclosure report.

Foreclosures made up 10 percent of sales in December, while short sales comprised 4 percent of sales, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ existing-home sales report for December

On average, foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in December, while short sales were discounted 13 percent, NAR reports.

CoreLogic reported this week that completed foreclosures fell 14 percent in December year-over-year.

Inventories are also falling. About 837,000 homes in the United States in December were in some state of foreclosure or known as foreclosure inventory, compared with 1.2 million in December 2012 – a 31 percent year-over-year decrease, CoreLogic notes.

“Clearly, 2013 was a transitional year for residential property in the United States,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Higher home prices and lower shadow inventory levels, together with a slowly improving economy, are hopeful signals that we are turning a long-awaited corner. The housing market should continue to heal in 2014, but we expect progress to remain very slow.”

By REALTOR® Magazine Daily News