Monthly Archives: January 2012

Housing May Turn the Corner in 2012

CoreLogic’s chief economist Mark Fleming says housing statistics and the duration of the downturn to date indicate 2012 may be the year the housing market begins to turn the corner.

In the first release of CoreLogic’s new MarketPulse newsletter Wednesday, Fleming explained his rationale for such an assessment.

He notes that housing is an industry with long business cycles. Regional housing recessions have typically taken anywhere from three to five years to find their bottom, and Fleming says the national housing recession has behaved similarly in that it has bounced along a bottom for the past two years.

Fleming points out that housing affordability is rising dramatically due to a combination of home price deflation and rock-bottom mortgage rates. In fact, he says, after adjusting for inflation, this has been a “lost decade” for housing as prices are the same as at the beginning of the millennium.

“The time is right in 2012 for prices to begin growing again,” Fleming said, “and housing affordability will put a floor under any further significant declines.”

Fleming says he will be watching the spring and summer buying season closely for positive signs of demand.

He points out that households are paying off their debts and at the same time accessing credit more easily, with some even adding Home Equity Lines of Credit in the third quarter of last year – the first such movement for these second-lien mortgage products since the financial crisis began.

Fleming cites a quarterly survey by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, which shows total household debt continues to decline. At the same time, consumer sentiment rebounded strongly in the latter part of 2011, posting a six-month high in December – an indication that consumers’ confidence in the strength of the economy is growing, according to Fleming.

Most housing statistics basically moved sideways in the latter part of 2011, but Fleming finds several positives in the numbers. Although market indicators are coming off of very low levels, he notes that both existing-home sales and single-family housing starts have begun to increase, homebuilder confidence is improving, and affordability is at an all-time high.

Putting all of these statistics together suggests that while there is a very long way to go, the housing market is likely to sustain these upward movements in 2012, according to Fleming.

“While we cannot say with a high degree of certainty what 2012 has in store for us, indications based on the latter part of 2011 are that both the broad economy and the housing market are moving toward positive growth in 2012,” Fleming said.

He concedes that some impediments do exist, including slower global economic growth, a recession in Europe, and fiscal and political uncertainty in the United States.

But Fleming says when you look at the big picture, “we are bullish on the prospect of improving economic performance in 2012 from 2011.”


More Buyers Ready to Get Off the Sidelines?

When you compare the cost of owning a home to renting, you’ll find that buying may soon make more sense, Paul Diggle, a housing economist at Capital Economics, told 

Diggle’s analysis of the housing market showed a 33 percent drop in home prices, record-low mortgage rates (with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages available under 4 percent now), and a 15 percent rise in rents since the housing market turned sour are making more consumers take a closer look at buying.

“The median monthly mortgage payment of about $700 has fallen to about the level of a median monthly rent check,” an article at notes about Diggle’s analysis. “If mortgage rates keep falling and rents keep rising, the equation will tip even further toward owning.”

Case in point: Diggle says that a buyer who purchases a median-priced home and stays there for at least seven years would likely come out ahead  by about $9,000 than if they chose to rent for those seven years. Diggle’s calculations factor in rents continuing to rise 3 percent a year, and housing prices staying flat for the next two years before rising in 2014. 

But while more Americans may be motivated to buy, many still can’t, Diggle notes. Home owners who lost their home to foreclosure may be forced to wait on the sidelines before owning again, other Americans may not have a 20 percent down payment that more lenders are wanting, lack a high credit score to qualify for the best financing, or have steady employment. 

Source: “Home Buying Could Soon Beat Renting,” (Jan. 23, 2012)

December Existing-Home Sales Show Uptrend – Who’s Buying What

Daily Real Estate News | Friday, January 21, 2012

Existing-home sales continued on an uptrend in December, rising for three consecutive months and remaining above where they were a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The latest monthly data shows total existing-home salesrose 5.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million in December from a downwardly revised 4.39 million in November, and are 3.6 percent higher than the 4.45 million-unit level in December 2010. The estimates are based on completed transactions from multiple listing services that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said these are early signs of what may be a sustained recovery. “The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery,” he said. “Record low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices are giving more consumers the confidence they need to enter the market.”

For all of 2011, existing-home sales rose 1.7 percent to 4.26 million from 4.19 million in 2010.
Affordability Conditions

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to another record low of 3.96 percent in December from 3.99 percent in November; the rate was 4.71 percent in December 2010; recordkeeping began in 1971.

NAR President Moe Veissisaid more buyers are expected to take advantage of market conditions this year. “The American dream of homeownership is alive and well. We have a large pent-up demand, and household formation is likely to return to normal as the job market steadily improves,” he said. “More buyers coming into the market mean additional benefits for the overall economy. When people buy homes, they stimulate a lot of related goods and services.”

Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 9.2 percent to 2.38 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.2-month supply in November.

Available inventory has trended down since setting a record of 4.04 million in July 2007, and is at the lowest level since March 2005 when there were 2.30 million homes on the market.

“The inventory supply suggests many markets will see prices stabilize or grow moderately in the near future,” Yun said.
Who’s Buying What

Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 22 percent in December, up from 20 percent a year ago, while short sales closed 13 percent below market value compared with a 16 percent discount in December 2010.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,500 in December, which is 2.5 percent below December 2010. Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — accounted for 32 percent of sales in December (19 percent were foreclosures and 13 percent were short sales), up from 29 percent in November; they were 36 percent in December 2010.

All-cash sales accounted for 31 percent of purchases in December, up from 28 percent in November and 29 percent in December 2010. Investors account for the bulk of cash transactions.

Investors purchased 21 percent of homes in December, up from 19 percent in November and 20 percent in December 2010. First-time buyers fell to 31 percent of transactions in December from 35 percent in November; they were 33 percent in December 2010.

Contract failures were reported by 33 percent of NAR members in December, unchanged from November; they were 9 percent in December 2010. Although closed sales are holding up better than this finding would suggest, contract cancellations are caused largely by declined mortgage applications and failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price.

Single-family home sales increased 4.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.11 million in December from 3.93 million in November, and are 4.3 percent higher than the 3.94 million-unit pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $165,100 in December, which is 2.5 percent below December 2010.

Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 8.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 500,000 in December from 460,000 in November but are 2.0 percent below the 510,000-unit level in December 2010. The median existing condo price was $160,000 inDecember, down 3.0 percent from a year ago.
Around the Country

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 10.7 percent to an annual pace of 620,000 in December and are 3.3 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $231,300, which is 2.7 percent below December 2010.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 8.3 percent in December to a level of 1.04 million and are 9.5 percent above December 2010. The median price in the Midwest was $129,100, down 7.9 percent from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 2.9 percent to an annual level of 1.76 million in Decemberand are 3.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $146,900, down 1.1 percent from December 2010.

Existing-home sales in the West rose 2.6 percent to an annual pace of 1.19 million in December but are 0.8 percent below December 2010. The median price in the West was $205,200, up 0.3 percent from a year ago.

Source: NAR

MetLife Closes Mortgage-Origination Business

MetLife Inc., the nation’s largest insurer, announced Tuesday it is getting out of the mortgage-origination business and that it will no longer be accepting new mortgage applications as it prepares to shutter its residential mortgage unit. However, the company says MetLife Home Loans will continue to offer reverse mortgages as well as service its current mortgage customers. 

For any loan applications already in the pipeline, the company said it will continue to process those loans and expects most of the loans to close within 90 days. 

In October, MetLife had said that excessive regulations in the banking industry was prompting the company to get out of the mortgage business. Last month, General Electric agreed to buy MetLife Bank for about $7.5 billion. However, MetLife was unable to find a buyer for its mortgage business. 

The closing of the company’s home mortgage origination business is expected to cost MetLife at least $90 million, and 4,300 employees are expected to lose their jobs. 

In 2010, MetLife was the 13 largest mortgage originator in the nation, issuing more than $22 billion in home loans. 

Source: MetLife and “MetLife Exits Forward Mortgage Business,” HousingWire (Jan. 10, 2012)

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10 States With the Highest Foreclosure Rates

For the fifth consecutive year, Nevada continues to have the highest foreclosure rate in the country, despite a 31 percent drop in the state’s foreclosure activity from 2010 to 2011, RealtyTrac reports. 

Several states continue to see a large amount of foreclosures, which are putting downward pressure on overall home prices. 

The states with the highest foreclosure rates for 2011 are: 

1. Nevada: 6 percent (1 in 16 housing units received at least one foreclosure filing in 2011) 

2. Arizona: 4.14 percent (or 1 in 24)

3. California: 3.19 percent (or 1 in 31)

4. Georgia: 2.71 percent (or 1 in 37)

5. Utah: 2.32 percent (or 1 in 43)

6. Michigan: 2.21 percent

7. Florida: 2.06 percent

8. Illinois: 1.95 percent

9. Colorado: 1.78 percent

10. Idaho: 1.77 percent

Nationwide, 1 in 69 housing units or 1.45 percent of home owners received at least one foreclosure filing during 2011, which is down from 2.23 percent in 2010, RealtyTrac reports. 

Source: RealtyTrac

More Americans Are on the Move, Survey Says

More households are moving to East Coast states while leaving Rust Belt states — the area in the U.S. between the Midwest and the Northeast — where unemployment remains high, according to the latest Atlas Lines Migration Patterns study, which has tracked the nation’s moves since 1993. 

For the fifth year in a row, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of inbound moves while Ohio had the highest percentage of residents leaving, or “outbound moves.” Meanwhile, western states mostly stayed balanced in moves for the year. Several southeastern states, such as Florida and Georgia, also stayed balanced in moves despite high foreclosure rates, possibly because they also serve as retirement hot-spots, according to the survey.

The summer months continued to have the largest number of moves per season, according to the survey. 

The following is a list from the Atlas Van Lines’ 2011 Migration Patterns study showing the top outbound states for moves (in which more than 55 percent of total shipments moved out of the state) and inbound states (in which more than 55 percent of total moving shipments moved into the state). The list is in no particular order. 

Top Outbound States for Moves

  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Utah
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Louisiana
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • West Virginia
  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Hawaii 

Top Inbound States for Moves

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Maryland
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina 
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • New Mexico 
  • Alaska
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee

Source: Atlas Van Lines 2011 Migration Patterns

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