Up For Air: Big Decline In Underwater Mortgages


The home mortgage market received some good news recently with reports that underwater mortgages have been drying up fast, putting the U.S. housing market on firmer, higher ground.

According to CoreLogic, 2.5 million U.S. home properties in the second quarter of 2013 emerged from being in negative equity (meaning their mortgage balance was higher than their home’s value)—a state commonly referred to as being underwater. The real estate data service found that 7.1 million homes, or 14.5 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity at the end of the second quarter, down from 9.6 million homes at the end of the first quarter. The total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity currently stands at 41.5 million.

CoreLogic reported that the problem is consolidating, with 35 percent of all negative equity mortgages in five states — Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia.

What’s led to the significant turnaround reflected in the data?

“The U.S., and more specifically the Georgia market, have been in a recovery period for about 18 months now,” said Cal Haupt, chief executive officer at Georgia-based Southeast Mortgage. “Valuations are returning to normal valuations, and in some cases appreciating beyond what was expected.”

Mark Twerdok, head of KPMG’s credit risk practice, agreed.

“Seeing fewer underwater mortgages is no mystery, given the continued rise in home values over the last 12 months,” Twerdok said. “Investor buying has been the initial driver of the appreciation in areas with the most underwater homes. Now, investor buying has widened to include the owner-occupied market [buyers who intend to live in the homes they purchase]. This is good news since these more-traditional buyers will ensure the appreciation trend will continue over the near future.”

In addition, as long as new construction does not change the supply/demand balance in favor of excess supply, appreciation should persist until most of the underwater loans are gone,” Twerdok said.

However, he warned about the potential impacts of continued shifts in the housing market down the road of the economy’s recovery from the Great Recession.

“Areas that have benefited from the price bounce may have trouble once investors exit the market because increased interest rates will potentially sap buying power,” Twerdok said. “There is also the unresolved issue of easier credit underwriting and the emergence of a private securitization market,” which might drive up demand and cause home values to rise.

“Without certainty, there will likely be more headwinds in the path of rising home values,” Twerdok said.

A reduction in home foreclosures has also helped reduce the number of underwater mortgages. The vast majority of foreclosures over the past five years involved homes that were underwater, and they have since been sold or rented under new terms with new borrowers, said Tim Coyle, a senior director with the financial services arm of LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

“In addition,” Coyle said,  ”loss-mitigation departments have been working with borrowers to do work-outs for things like short sales, loan modifications, and deed in lieu of foreclosures.”

(Source: Realtor.com)

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Home prices continue to climb

Home prices posted the largest annual gain since housing bubble days in August, although the month-over-month gain slowed for the fourth straight month.

The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price index increased 12.8% from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month gain since February 2006.

But with mortgage rates significantly higher in recent months, the pace of increases is slowing. The 1.3% rise compared to July is only half the monthly increase posted in April when mortgage rates were near arecord low.

Still, the recovery in the housing market continues to be strong, helped by a drop in foreclosures that were weighing on overall prices. A drop in the unemployment rate is also helping to support the housing recovery.

131029083622-august-home-prices-102913-data-620xaExperts said the slowing of the monthly increase is not necessarily a bad thing, as it will reduce the chance of another bubble in home prices.

“It’s good to see the pace of home value appreciation moderate, allowing the market to get back into a more sustainable balance and not topple over,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist of home price tracker Zillow.com. “Home value appreciation is better when it’s boring, and we expect to see continued moderation.”

Despite the rebound in prices, overall prices remain about 20% below the July 2006 peak. But prices in Dallas and Denver once again hit record highs. And markets, including Boston and Charlotte, are now less than 10% below their peak prices.

The markets that rose fastest during the bubble — Las Vegas, Miami, Tampa and Phoenix — remain more than 35% below their peak valuations. But those markets are also among those with the most rapid price increases compared to a year ago. The fastest growth has been in Las Vegas, where prices are up 29%.

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Neighborhood Sales Data Comparison Charts


We provide statistics pulled directly from the MLS for all of the official 77 Chicago Neighborhoods. Chicago real estate properties map to the official Chicago community names rather than the Chicago neighborhoods, so if you select a neighborhood name for your search, you will likely get data for the broader community of which it is a part.

Midwest Real Estate Data, our MLS, is the premier source for accuracy based on all MLS sales. Using this data, our MLS source compiles a comparison chart for the last month of the current year with the same month from one year prior, i.e., September 2013 compared to September 2012. In addition to comparing one month to the other it also compares year-to-date date from the current year with the prior year, i.e., YTD September 2013 to YTD September 2012. This is conducive to showing if there is a continuum of the monthly trend.

The following data is compared for all Single Family Homes (Detached Single-Family) and all condominiums and townhomes (Attached Single-Family): New Listings, Closed Sales, Median Sales Price, Percentage of the Original List Priced Received, Market Time, and Inventory of Homes for Sale.

These charts are phenomenally useful in determining a number of factors before buying:  Is the Neighborhood a good investment, are values going up or down, has this neighborhood hit the bottom,  is this neighborhood reaching another bubble, would this be a solid investment?

A perfect example is the Loop. Comparing the month of September 2013 to September 2012, for example, shows that the median sales price of condos and townhomes rose +22.1%. The data also shows the YTD change in median sales price is +7.3%. One would interpret that as a steady rise with current quickening in the rise. This would be a solid investment now while median sales prices are starting to climb aggressively. You would be riding the rapidly appreciating roller coaster while it was in its upward trend.

Our clients like hard facts, and we provide the best. Just click on the neighborhood you are considering and find out the hard true facts related to it…statistic more accurate than any other source on the Internet.

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Mortgage Rates Fall to 4-Month Low


Key fixed-mortgage rates fell to their lowest levels in four months this week, with further declines predicted in the short term.

The federal government’s shutdown and ongoing concerns with the economy’s recovery, particularly the Federal Reserve’s decision to continue its bond-buying stimulus program, were cited as factors in the declines of the key mortgage rates.

The drop in rates comes after the federal government shutdown drew to a close last week. Averages on fixed-rate mortgage previously spiked by more than a percentage point since early May; however, both the 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate loans are now trending at their lowest levels since June 20.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage saw a 0.15 percentage point decrease over the last week, according to the latest survey by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The rate is currently trending at 4.13 percent, down from last week’s 4.28 percent. A year ago, the average on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.41 percent.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan saw a decrease of 0.09 percentage point, dropping from 3.33 percent to 3.24 percent week over week. Compared to a year ago, the 15-year fixed has gained 0.52 percentage point. It previously peaked in August, hitting a high of 3.6 percent, and has remained above the 3.00 percent mark since early June.

“Mortgage rates slid this week as the partial government shutdown led to market speculation that the Federal Reserve will not alter its bond purchases this year,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

Following a 0.02 percentage point increase a week ago, the average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage saw a slight drop. Previously at 3.07 percent, the five-year ARM settled at 3.00 percent this week. The one-year ARM also registered a decline, falling 0.03 percentage point from 2.63 percent to 2.60 percent this week.

Sales of existing homes saw a 2 percent decline in September from the previous month, according to October datareleased by the National Association of Realtors. However, sales of existing homes have increased 11 percent year-over-year. First-time homebuyers represented 28 percent of the real estate purchases while 39 percent of the homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.

Looking ahead, homebuyers hoping to lock in a lower rate may want to hold off for a week or two. In the latestMortgage Rate Trend Index, 77 percent of the analysts and loan experts polled believe that mortgage rates will continue to trend downward.

“Mortgages have improved greatly over the last week. Bond-market participants now think any tapering by the [Federal Reserve] has been pushed back to well into 2014,” opined WCS Funding Group mortgage banker Michael Becker. “I think the weak employment report of this week only reinforced that sentiment. Because of this, I expect bonds to rally and mortgage rates to improve slightly in the coming week.”

(Source: Realto

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How Unpaid Taxes Can Keep You From Buying a Home


For mortgage lenders, your debt is not a deal-breaker – up to a certain point. Even the nasty stuff like judgments and collections won’t necessarily keep you from getting a mortgage.

But life can get a bit more complicated when it’s Uncle Sam you owe.

Failing to pay your federal income taxes can lead to theInternal Revenue Service placing a lien on your property or your assets. These legal tools protect the government’s ability to get its money. They also set off alarm bells for lenders.

The good news is that the presence of a federal tax lien doesn’t automatically ruin your home-buying chances. It’s almost always more a matter of what you’re doing to make the lien go away.

Loan Complications

Federal tax liens hit a peak of 1.1 million in the 2010 fiscal year, according to the IRS taxpayer advocate service. New initiatives meant to help delinquent taxpayers avoid liens have since cut into that peak considerably.

But hundreds of thousands of Americans are still hit with one each year. Once you’ve received official notice, you have 10 days to pay before the IRS can file for a lien.

These public records also find their way to your credit report. Tax liens can make it tough to secure many types of credit and even linger after a bankruptcy discharge. Federal debt can be especially problematic when you’re seeking a government-backed mortgage like an FHA or VA loan.

The best solution is to pay off the lien before you fill out a loan application. But if that’s not something you’re able to do, you still might be able to forge ahead, provided you’ve actually tried to make a dent in that debt.

Lenders can view liens differently depending on the loan type and other factors. But in general, military borrowers with a tax lien, for example, may be able to obtain VA mortgage preapproval if:

  • They have an acceptable repayment plan with the IRS and have made on-time payments for at least the last 12 consecutive months.
  • They can satisfy all debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirements with that monthly tax repayment included.
  • They note their outstanding tax lien on the standard loan application.

Even with all of those conditions, consumers with tax liens may have some additional hurdles to clear to satisfy underwriters.

Additional Requirements

A tax lien can make it difficult for lenders to process a loan file using an automated underwriting system. The alternative is what’s known as a “manual underwrite,” which can involve a closer look at your financials and tighter requirements, such as a lower allowable DTI ratio.

So, if you’re a prospective homebuyer with a tax lien, a good first step is making sure your track record shows at least a year’s worth of on-time payments. Pay it off in full if possible, but if that’s a tall order, know that you might have diminished purchasing power and a rockier road until the slate is clean.

In the meantime, you should also be keeping tabs on your progress by checking your credit reports regularly (which you can get for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies), and monitoring your credit scores for increases — or drops.  Taking an active role in your credit can help you get on track to buy a home, especially when you’re facing certain financial hurdles.

(Source: Realto

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