May 2013 RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows Strength For The US Housing MarketRealtyTrac recently reported that national foreclosure filings are down while foreclosure filings are seeing marked increases in some states.

There are two systems for foreclosing residential real estate in the United States; judicial and non-judicial foreclosure. The states individually decide which foreclosure process will be followed in their state.

Click Here To Download An Overview Of The Foreclosure Process

Judicial foreclosure requires action by the courts because the mortgage is not written including a “power of sale clause”. Judicial foreclosure proceedings generally take longer than non-judicial processes due to this court involvement.

A log-jam of delayed judicial foreclosures are beginning to move through backlogged courts with the result of higher numbers of foreclosures started, foreclosure auctions scheduled, and properties either sold to third parties at foreclosure auctions or repossessed by mortgage lenders.

In states allowing non-judicial foreclosure, the matter may be handled outside of the judicial system as the mortgage is written with the power of sale clause which allows the lender to take control of the mortgaged property to satisfy the outstanding lien.

Here are highlights of April’s foreclosure report:

Nationally, 144,790 foreclosure filings were made in April, a decrease of 5 percent compared to March and representing an annual decrease of 23 percent year-over-year. 

Overall, April’s residential foreclosure activity was at its lowest since February 2007. About one of every 905 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing during April.

Due to the aforementioned backlog of judicial foreclosures, scheduled foreclosure auctions hit a 30-month high in April rising by 22 percent between March and April.

Some states had markedly higher rates of foreclosure sales scheduled in April 2013 as compared to April 2012. Examples include Maryland (+199 percent), New Jersey (+91 percent), Ohio (+73 percent), Oklahoma (+57 percent), and Florida (+55 percent)

Foreclosure auctions scheduled in non-judicial states were 7 percent lower in April as compared to March, and were an encouraging 43 percent lower in April 2013 as compared to April 2012; this was the lowest reading for non-judicial foreclosure sales scheduled since December of 2005.

Non-judicial foreclosure sales were impacted in some states as the result of legislation affecting foreclosure procedures. Affected states included Arkansas, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

70,133 U.S. homes went into foreclosure in April 2013, which is 40 percent lower than for March 2013 and 28 percent lower than during April 2012.

With home values increasing and large numbers of delayed foreclosures clearing the books, this data offers further evidence that the U.S. real estate market is steadily improving.  As more foreclosures are removed from the housing inventory, home prices should continue to stabilize and increase in the Midlothian area.

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April 2013 Jobs Report Shows Strength For Housing SectorThe Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly Non-farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Rate for April last Friday. These two reports are collectively called the Jobs Report.

165,000 jobs were added in April, while the unemployment rate dropped from 7.60 percent in March to 7.50 percent in April. 673,000 jobs have been added since January. Jobs were added in employment sectors including business and professional, health care and eating and drinking establishments.

The main impact of the jobs report on home sales and mortgage lending is the ability of would-be home buyers to qualify for mortgage loans.

Long term unemployment and under-employment has worked against consumers wanting to buy homes when interest rates and home prices hit significant lows.

 Falling Long Term Unemployment Numbers Help New Home Buyers Buy Homes

Long-term unemployment (workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more) fell by 258,000 workers to 4.4 million in April. The share of long term workers among all unemployed fell by 2.2 percent to 37.4 percent of unemployed workers.

Since January, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 687,000 workers and 3.1 percent. Gaining employment is a plus for the economy and for households facing financial stress due to unemployment.

Another significant data set in terms of U.S. jobs measures workers who are working part-time, but who want to work full time. This sector increased by 278,000 in April to 7.9 million.

February and March 2013 Non-farm Payrolls numbers were revised upward. In February, jobs added were changed from 268,000 to 332,000. In March, jobs added were revised from 88,000 to 138,000. This adjusts the number of jobs added for February to March by an additional 114,000 new jobs.

Federal Reserve Bond Purchase Point To Continued Low Mortgage Rates

The Federal Reserve is continuing its program of quantitative easing (QE) by buying $85 billion in bonds and mortgage backed securities (MBS) monthly.

Reducing or eliminating QE would lessen the demand for bonds and MBS; when bond and MBS prices fall, mortgage rates usually rise. Lower mortgage rates can help offset rising home prices and allow more consumers to buy homes.

While home prices are gradually increasing, mortgage rates are still low. This helps moderate-income home buyers with affordability, but these conditions won’t last indefinitely.

In some regions, such as the West, available homes and land are in short supply, which is driving up home prices. This trend is helping home owners, and potentially home sellers, gain higher sales prices for their real estate. Overall, increasing the number of jobs is positive for the economy.

Contact your trusted mortgage lender for a personalized mortgage interest rate quote and to learn more about affordable home loan options.

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Case-Shiller Posts Highest Gains Since 2006Housing markets continue to improve according to the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Indices released April 30 for February’s data.

The Indices consist of a 10-City Composite Index and a 20-City Composite Index with housing markets for each city reported based on a three-month rolling average of home prices.

Case Shiller Posts Highest Growth Rates Since 2006

The data released yesterday comprised the Indices’ highest growth rates since May 2006.

For the 12 months between February 2012 and February 2013, the 10-City Composite Index reports that average home prices posted a gain of 8.6 percent and average home prices for the 20-City Composite Index grew by 9.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. 

All 20 cities posted a year-over-year gain for at least two consecutive months.

The 10-City Composite Index grew by 0.4 percent between January and February, while the 20-City Composite Index grew by 0.3 percent for the same time period.

16 of the 20 cities reported rising annual growth rates for home sales between January and February 2013, while four cities including Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw decreases between -0.1 and -0.4 percent in annual home prices between January and February 2013 readings.

Longer-term readings provide a more positive light, as with the example for Phoenix, Arizona.

The month-to-month reading of annual home prices indicated a decrease, but the reading for Phoenix year over year indicates a + 23.0 percent increase in average home prices.

Ten Metro Areas Gain Double Digits Over Past Year

10 cities posted double-digit year-over-year growth rates; they include Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa.

San Diego and Tampa have joined the double-digit cities in February with average home prices increasing for each city of just over 10 percent.

Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta posted the highest year-over-year gains in average home prices.

Three older cities, New York, Boston and Chicago posted the lowest year-over-year rates in average home price readings.

Atlanta and Dallas achieved the highest annual growth rates since the inception of the 10-City Composite (1991) and the 20-City Composite (2001).

Improving Housing Markets Seen As Beacon Of Economic Recovery

Improving housing markets are considered a leading indicator of overall economic recovery as home ownership typically increases wealth and leads to more spending.

Economists note that while current news for housing markets is good, average home prices remain at 2003 levels, which can be very good for new home buyers.

Shortages of available homes in some areas and news that apartment construction is increasing can impact availability and ultimately, the sale of single-family homes.

 

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Existing Home Sales Show Price Gains March 2013The National Association of REALTORS® released its Existing Home Sales report for March on Monday.

Sales dipped from February’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.95 million to 4.92 million existing homes sold in March, a decrease of 0.6 percent month-to-month. 

This reading was lower than Wall Street’s consensus of 5.03 million existing homes sold, but there is also good news.

Sales of existing homes are up by 10.3 percent as compared to March 2012.

Economists note that existing home sales have performed within a narrow range of 4.90 to 4.96 million since November 2012.

This illustrates the impact of lower numbers of existing homes available for purchase in Virginia and around the country.

The National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index reports builder concerns including rising materials costs, tight construction credit and lack of available developed lots for building.

Demand for Homes, Fewer Distressed Properties Driving Median Home Price Gains

The national median price for existing homes was $184,300; this is an 11.8 percent increase over March 2012. 

This was the largest year-over-year price increase since November 2005.

Low inventories of available homes for sale and fewer distressed properties on the market are supporting rising home prices.

Distressed home represented 21 percent of existing home sales in March, which was their lowest market share since data collection started in 2008.

Distressed home sales decreased from a 29 percent market share in March 2012. 

With fewer “bargain-basement” homes on the market, homeowners waiting to sell may be more willing to list their homes which could add to the numbers of existing homes available.

Regional Median Home Prices Rise

Existing home sales declined in two of four U.S. regional markets, were unchanged in one market and rose in one market.

Sales of existing homes are calculated on an annual basis.

Northeast: Sales volume for March was unchanged at 630,000 homes sold annually. The median price is $237,000. This represents a year-over-increase of 6.8 percent since March 2012.

Midwest: Sales increased by 1.8 percent to 1.16 million homes. The median price rose to $141,800, an increase of 7.8 percent year-over-year.

South: Sales volume dropped by1.5 percent to 1.95 million homes. The median home price is $161,700. This is a 10.4 percent increase as compared to March 2012.

West: Sales volume declined by 1.7 percent to 1.18 million homes. This represents an increase of 4.4 percent in existing home sales over March 2012. The median home price in the West has risen by 26.1 percent year-over-year to $258,100. This dramatic increase is attributed by high demand for homes caused by very low home inventories.

While regional median home prices rose across the board in March, regional sales volumes were varied; this suggests that if there were more homes available, there would be more buyers.

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Home Builder Confidence Positive 6 Month Outlook April 2013The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) report for April shows that builder confidence slipped by two points to a rating of 42 from the March reading of 44.

The Housing Market Index (HMI) measures home builder confidence in market conditions for newly built single family homes.

A reading of more than 50 indicates better than average confidence, while readings below 50 indicate that home builders have concerns about current market conditions.

NAHB Housing Market Index Results For April

Home builders expressed concern over a gap between a growing demand for homes and builders’ ability to meet the demand for new homes as housing market conditions improve.

Top concerns cited by home builders surveyed include:

  • Availability of construction credit
  • Construction costs rising faster than home values
  • Restrictive mortgage lending rules impacting would-be home buyers

Supply chains for building materials and available developed lots are also impacting home builder confidence, as they have been lagging behind increasing demand for homes since the recession and will need more time to catch up.

Six Month Confidence Forecast Strongest Since February 2007

While builder confidence fell on a month-to-month basis, home builders have a more positive outlook for the next six months.

The builder confidence reading for the next six months came in at 53 for April, which is the highest reading since February 2007.

In terms of demand for newly built homes, the home builders surveyed said that a shortage of existing homes, low mortgage rates and increasing consumer confidence are expected to improve the market for existing homes.

Consumer confidence is important to all facets of the home building and mortgage lending industries.

Buying a home is typically the largest investment that consumers make, and their confidence in the economy plays a role in their decisions about when or if they buy a home.

Regional readings for housing markets are based on a three month rolling average.

Results for April were unchanged or lower in all four regions as compared to the rolling average reported in March:

  • Northeast: The reading of 38 is unchanged from March.
  • Midwest: The reading declined by two points to 45.
  • South: April’s reading declined by four points to 42
  • West: April’s reading declined by three points to 55, but remains in positive territory.

Regional readings reflect conditions impacting only a specific area of the U.S.

Recent examples include the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, and an ongoing lack of land available for home construction in the West.

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Case Shiller Index February 2013 Shows Home Prices AcceleratingLast week, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index showed home prices gaining 8.1 percent during the 12-month period ending January 2013, marking the largest year-over-year increases since the summer of 2006.

The Case-Shiller Index measures changes in home prices by tracking same-home sales throughout 20 housing markets nationwide; and the change in sales price from sale-to-sale.

Detached, single-family residences are used in the Case-Shiller Index methodology and data is for closed purchase transactions only.

All 20 Case Shiller Index Markets Show Growth

Between December 2012 and January 2013, home values rose in all 20 Case-Shiller Index markets, with previously-hard hit areas such as Phoenix, Arizona leading the national price recovery.

Another notable gainer was New York, which posted the first year-over-year increase following 28 straight months of negative annual returns.

The top three yearly “gainers” for as of January 2013 were:

  • Phoenix, Arizona : +23.2 percent
  • San Francisco, California :  +17.5 percent
  • Las Vegas, Nevada : +15.3 Percent

Other year-over-year double digit gainers in home value were Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, and Minneapolis.

Broader Numbers Support Widespread Housing Recovery

These strong annual home value increases continue to support the overall housing recovery.

There have been year-over-year double digit increases in home building permits and new housing starts as of February 2013 as well.

And foreclosure filings have fallen to only three-fourths of their previous annual levels.

It should be noted, however, that the Case-Shiller Index is an imperfect gauge of home values.

First, as mentioned, the index tracks changes in the detached, single-family housing market only. It specifically ignores sales of condominiums, co-ops and multi-unit homes. 

Second, the Case-Shiller Index data set is limited to just 20 U.S. cities. There are more than 3,000 cities nationwide, which illustrates that the Case-Shiller sample set is limited.

And, lastly, the home sale price data used for the Case-Shiller Index is nearly two months behind its release date, rendering its conclusions somewhat out-of-date.

That said, the Case-Shiller Index joins the bevy of home value trackers pointing to home price growth over the last year. 

A good next step for getting up-to-date home values in the Henrico area is to contact a qualified, licensed real estate professional.

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Existing Home Sales Up March 2013

The National Association of REALTORS® released its monthly Existing Home Sales report on March 21 and gave investors and home sellers something to cheer about. 

While February sales of existing homes didn’t meet investor forecasts of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, the actual number of existing (previously owned) homes came close at 4.98 million homes sold.

This number surpassed January’s revised reading of 4.94 million homes sold by 0.8 percent.

Sales of existing homes comprise approximately 85 to 90 percent of homes sold in the U.S.

Investors watch existing home sales for evaluating housing markets and short-term economic trends related to home purchases such as goods and services associated with home ownership.

Existing Home Sales Up For 20 Consecutive Months

Existing home sales have increased by 10.2 percent as compared to 4.52 million existing home sales for February 2012, and have increased for 20 consecutive months.

A short supply of homes available for sale and better job prospects are creating more demand for homes.

In February, available homes increased to a 4.7 month supply of homes, which is up from January’s 4.3 month supply of available homes, the lowest number since May of 2005.

With that said, current listed inventory of homes is 19.2 percent below last year’s 6.4 month supply of available homes.

Increasing demand for existing homes also suggests growing competition between buyers for available homes.

Mortgage Rates Remain Near Historic Lows Increasing Affordability For Home Buyers

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage before making an offer on a Midlothian home can help buyers, as sellers know that pre-approved buyers won’t have potential delays related to the mortgage approval process.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports that the national median selling price for existing homes of all types was $173,600, which is up 11.6 percent year-over-year.

This suggests that potential homebuyers may want to act now as mortgage rates typically increase along with home prices.

Regional Average Selling Prices Show Positive Results For February

  • Northeast: The median selling price was $238,800, 7.6 percent higher than for February 2012.
  • Midwest: The median selling price was $129,900, which is 7.7 percent above the median selling price in February 2012.
  • South: The median selling price was $150,500. This represents a 9.3 percent increase since February 2012.
  • West: The median selling price was $237,700, a substantial increase of 22.7 percent over February 2012.

Multiple buyer bidding and limited inventory choices are fueling higher prices for existing homes, particularly in the West.

This is the strongest year-to-year rate of growth since November 2005, when existing home prices had increased by 12.9 percent as compared to the previous 12 months.

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Home Builder Confidence Index March 2013The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for March on Monday.

The HMI measures builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single family homes.

A reading of 50 for the NAHB Housing Market Index (HMI) indicates that more builders are confident of housing market conditions for new single family homes than those who are not confident.

Home builder confidence fell for the third consecutive month with a two-point drop to a reading of 44 in March.

Several Factors Create New Home Bottleneck

An NAHB leader noted that several situations are causing a “bottleneck” in the supply of new homes as compared to those wanting to buy them:

  • Low supply of developed lots available for new construction
  • Rising costs for labor and materials
  • Stricter mortgage credit requirements for homebuyers and lowball home appraisals. (These circumstances are typically caused by some mortgage lenders taking a conservative attitude toward risk management by tightening credit requirements and appraisers erring on the side of caution when valuing single family homes.)

Would-be buyers may find themselves stuck between a lack of buildable lots and ready building supply chains and lenders reluctant to risk mortgage defaults caused by lenient loan approvals.

Keep in mind that this only one perspective; if you’re looking for a new home, don’t give up.

Future Sales Confidence Creates Bright Spot

The HMI also measures builder confidence in three categories including current sales conditions, sales conditions within the next six months and the amount of foot traffic in new housing developments.

Confidence in current sales conditions dropped from 51 points in February to 47 points in March, but the news is not all bad.

Confidence in sale conditions for the next six months rose by one point from 50 to 51, and builder confidence in buyer foot traffic rose by three points to 35.

Foot traffic will likely increase as warmer weather arrives and the peak home buying season gains momentum.

Housing Market Conditions Vary By Region And Community

The three-month rolling average of builder confidence in four geographic regions of the U.S. showed mixed results for March.

The index reading for the Northeast had no change and remained at 39.

Index readings for the Midwest and Southeast declined by one point each to 47 and 46 respectively.

The March index reading for the West came in gaining four points to 58.

If you’re ready to buy a home, check with a licensed real estate professional specializing in the area where you want to buy.

This is the best way to gain specific information on the Richmond area’s market conditions and home prices.

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Jobs Report In FocusLast week’s jobs report — a combination of the Department of Labor’s Non-farm Payrolls Report and Unemployment Rate — provided investors and job seekers with unexpected good news.

Job growth for February handily exceeded most economists expectations of 160,000 by adding 236,000 new jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment increased in business and professional services, construction and healthcare:

  • Business and professional services added 73,000 jobs
  • Construction added 48,000 jobs. Of these, 17,000 jobs were for residential construction.
  • Healthcare added 32,000 jobs

Since September, construction employment has risen by 151,000. This increase in construction jobs may point to a strengthening in the home building sector.

Stronger home building numbers may lead to increasing home prices for sellers and property appreciation for home owners.

Strong Jobs Numbers Help Stock Market Rally, May Spur Higher Mortgage Rates

Retail has added 252,000 jobs over the past year. Hiring in retail suggests that consumers are spending more, which is a strong indicator of economic growth.

These figures demonstrate a trend toward economic recovery and added a last-minute boost to last week’s stock market rally.

Rising stocks generally cause bond prices including MBS to fall and mortgage rates to rise.

The seasonally adjusted employee participation rate declined by 0.40 percent year over year; in February 2012, the seasonally adjusted was participation rate was 63.9 percent; in February 2012, the participation rate was 63.5 percent.

The Unemployment Rate for February came in at 7.7 percent; this was lower than Investor expectations of 7.8 percent and January’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has decreased by.60 percent from 8.3 percent in February 2012.

Unemployment Rate Lowest Since December 2008

Long-term unemployment of 27 weeks or more accounted for 40.2 percent of February’s unemployed.

8 million workers are employed part time due to scheduling cutbacks or because they could not find full time work.

The Fed has bench-marked an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent as a sign of sufficient economic recovery that could allow the Fed to curtail its monetary easing program.

Given this perspective, the Unemployment Rate remains high, but appears to be declining gradually.

Economic indicators and recently climbing interest rates suggest that mortgage borrowers may want to lock in their best mortgage rates now.

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Home Prices Improving March 2013The previous couple years’ doom and gloom outlook is looking like it is turning more upbeat and robust for the rest of 2013.

Home Prices Climb Nearly 10% Over Past Year

In fact, a recently released report by CoreLogic stated that home prices were up 9.7 percent from one year previously.

That kind of increase is a very good sign that the momentum may be building for a strong real estate market this year.

Many other economic experts are predicting that things might be improving this year, including increases in both home prices and sales.

Here are some of the ways that these positive changes may impact home buyers and sellers this year.

For Buyers:

Attractive Financing Options

Interest rates could remain at the lowest levels they have been in years, which can make purchasing a home more affordable.

Stiffer Competition

More buyers will be competing for the homes that are available which could mean bidding wars on homes with more than one interested party.

Be sure to take this into consideration before making your offer, and have a licensed real estate professional representing you in your purchase negotiations.

Great Home Prices

Housing remains affordable in many areas of the country. Although home prices are rising, the cost of real estate is well below what it was ten years ago.

And For Sellers:

Marketing Is Vital

Working with a skilled property professional is imperative to ensure the best advertising and marketing for your listing.

Real estate agents have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is where other agents and buyers look for properties that are listed and available for purchase.

Contract Negotiations Prevalent

Multiple offers will become more commonplace. Do your research on how to best handle contract negotiations.

Maximize Your Selling Price

Make sure you get the most for your home. Know what other properties are selling for in your neighborhood, and consider hiring a designer to stage your home for showing.

With the Midlothian real estate market shifting, both buyers and sellers need to be aware of how the changes could affect them.

Whether you’re looking for your dream house or wanting to get the highest return on your home for sale, a great next step would be speaking with a qualified real estate professional.

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