Thursday, March 22, 2012

NAR says February Home Sales Are Big Improvement From 2011

The National Association of Realtors noted that residential existing-home sales may have declined during February, but they are still higher than they were in 2011.

Existing-home sales dropped 0.9 percent during the month of February, according to the report. However, numbers were also up almost 9 percent from the same point in 2011. Low prices are bringing people into the market.

"The market is trending up unevenly, with record high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence they need to get into the market," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. "Although relatively unusual, there will be rising demand for both rental space and homeownership this year."

The median price for these homes was $156,600 during February, which was an increase of 0.3 percent year-over-year, the report said. When examining sales, distressed properties made up 34 percent of all homes sold during the month. This was lower than both January's and February 2011's figures.

The report echoes sentiments laid out in the most recent Housing Scorecard from the federal government. It noted that the market is making gradual improvements, overall. In addition, more refinance activity is occurring, which could help stop any increases in inventory.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow and with it will come food, drink and merriment!  We are spreading the luck of the Irish with a few fun facts you may not have known.  No blarney-just the facts!  You're sure to impress everyone at the pub with these little treasures!

  • The very first St. Patrick's Day parade was not in Ireland. It was in Boston in 1737.
  • The actual color of St. Patrick is blue. Green became associated with St. Patrick's Day during the 19th century. Green, in Irish legends, was worn by fairies and immortals, and also by people to encourage their crops to grow.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14.
  • One estimate suggests that there are about 10,000 regular three-leaf clovers for every lucky four-leaf clover.
  • Chicago is famous for dyeing the Chicago River green on St. Patrick's Day. The tradition began in 1962, when a pipe fitters union—with the permission of the mayor—poured a hundred pounds (45 kilograms) of green vegetable dye into the river.
  • In Seattle, there is a ceremony where a green stripe is painted down the roads.
  • At one time, there were more Irish living in New York City, than in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Over 94 million people plan to wear green on St. Patrick's Day.
  • The original Guinness Brewery in Dublin has a 9,000 year lease.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34 million United States residents claim Irish ancestry, or nearly ten times the entire population of Ireland today, which stands at 3.9 million.
 We would like to wish you all a shamrockin day!  However you choose to spend it, remember to celebrate responsibly, be safe, and don’t drink and drive!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Residential Housing Market Improving Across U.S.

The housing situation in the
United States is making steady improvements, according to a report from CoreLogic.

The firm's MarketPulse report for March showed that the market is getting stronger due to increased in sales and smooth declines in residential housing inventory. In addition, the mortgage market is gaining traction, and much of it is due to more consumers taking advantage of refinancing offers. However, this type of activity may drop as the year goes on, but will be counteracted by continued home sales and more consumers taking out purchase mortgages.

Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, noted in the report that the continued improvements in the market's housing inventory can only help improve the home price situation.

Furthermore, the inventory situation is improving specifically because it has been able to clear-out distressed properties at a faster rate than before, the report said. Home prices are showing signs of improvement across the nation due to this situation, except for the Northeast. That area is struggling still due to continued foreclosure issues.

The housing market may be attractive to many consumers due to continued affordability. A report from the National Association of Realtors showed that since the organization began keeping track in 1970, housing affordability reached its highest-ever point in January

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NAHB suggests plan to fix housing market

A recent announcement from the National Association of Home Builders laid out a new plan to fix the residential housing finance system, in order to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while maintaining stability.

The plan would involve capital from both public and private sources, and replace the government-sponsored enterprises in favor of a new system, according to the report. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae would be removed gradually, and continue to work until they can be properly phased out. In their place would be multiple private entities which would have the job of purchasing mortgages for both single-family and multifamily properties and selling them to investors. The government would only guarantee the securities, not the loans themselves.

"Our plan seeks to overhaul the housing finance system to ensure that housing credit is available and affordable in the future and is delivered through a competitive, efficient, sound, safe and stable system," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of NAHB.

The housing situation for the aforementioned GSEs may be on its way to improving. Fannie Mae recently announced that it sold more foreclosed homes than it took on in 2011, disposing of the highest number of properties in its history.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rental prices could increase home sales

Continued increased in rental rates may force consumers into purchasing a residential home, according to HousingWire.
Rentals were of increasing importance during the housing crisis because of affordability, and this forced homeownership to lows not seen in more than a decade. However, the Mortgage Bankers Association projects that home sales may spike year-over-year during the second quarter. The MBA thinks that 4.39 million home sales will be sold during the second quarter, a jump from 4.17 million during the same point in 2011.

"This means we might see a spring season better than the numbers are predicting," said                Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the MBA at the organization's mortgage servicing conference in Orlando, according to the news source. "Everything is going to be based overall where the economy goes. This is going to be a slow year. There are a number of headwinds we're facing in terms of economic growth."

In addition, the continued low residential mortgage rates may help encourage further improvements in the housing market. A report from Freddie Mac showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is still near record low levels, and is below 4 percent.