Headlines – Week of July 17, 2011

July 25, 2011

New York Closing Costs Highest In Nation

According to Bankrate.com’s 2011 Closing Costs Survey, the average origination and title fees on a $200,000 mortgage total $4,070, 8.8 percent higher than a year ago, New York leads the nation with an average fee of $6,183. Texas, Utah, San Francisco and Idaho round out the five most expensive areas. Arkansas is the least expensive area, with an average fee of $3,378.

In the survey, Florida ranked 12th nationally in 2011 – the same rank it held in Bankrate.com’s 2010 survey. On average, origination costs $1,445, and title and closing costs run $2,973 for a total of $4,418.

According to Bankrate.com, most of the closing cost increases are tied to fees charged directly by lenders. On average, lenders charged about $1,614 in origination fees this year, up 10.3 percent from last year. Origination fees include lender charges for services such as underwriting and processing. Costs include fees charged by lenders, as well as third-party fees for services such as appraisals and title insurance. The survey excludes taxes, property insurance, association fees, interest and other prepaid items.

10 most expensive states for closing costs
1. New York, $6,183
2. Texas, $4,944
3. Utah, $4,906
4. California/San Francisco, $4,832
5. Idaho, $4,643
6. California/Los Angeles, $4,624
7/8. Oklahoma, $4,589
7/8. New Jersey, $4,589
9. Pennsylvania, $4,522
10. Hawaii, $4,521

10 states with least expensive closing costs
43. South Dakota, $3,682
44. Montana, $3,657
45. Kentucky, $3,627
46. New Hampshire, $3,591
47. Missouri, $3,524
48. Alabama, $3,501
49. Iowa, $3,474
50. Indiana, $3,430
51. North Carolina, $3,410
52. Arkansas, $3,378

Full Survey

Bank Failures Will Likely Increase in Southeast U.S.

According to Trepp, LLC, a New York-based real estate research firm that tracks loan delinquencies in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market, the Southeast continues to be plagued by a rash of bank failures caused by an excessive exposure to commercial real estate.  Their analysts say the trend isn’t expected to dissipate anytime soon. Of the four banks that closed in June, two were in Georgia, one was in South Carolina, and the other was in Florida.

Georgia continues to lead the country in bank failures with 14 through the first half of 2011 and 66 since the cycle began in 2007. Nationally, the news is more encouraging as the pace of bank closures continues to moderate. There were 48 bank failures during the first six months of this year compared with 86 during the same period a year ago.

The four banks closed in June mark the second-lowest monthly total since July 2010, according to Trepp.

However, a significant number of banks remain at elevated risk levels, and the company expects to see more closures in the months ahead.

The highest concentration of banks with an elevated risk of failure is in Georgia (53 banks), followed by Florida (38), Illinois (23), Minnesota (15) and North Carolina (13).

All totaled, more than 200 banks on the Trepp Watch List are considered to be at a high risk for failure. Nearly all (91%) of these banks have been on the watch list for a year or more. These banks are predominantly smaller, with a median asset size of $198 million. Only 16 of the highest risk banks have total assets in excess of $1 billion.

Commercial real estate loans accounted for $91 million (or 77%) of the total $119 million in nonperforming loans at the four failed banks. Construction and land loans made up $57 million, or 48% of the total. Commercial mortgages accounted for $34 million (29%) of the total nonperforming pool.

The residential real estate loan sector posted $25.2 million in nonperforming loans, or 21% of the total nonperforming balance. The remainder included commercial and industrial loans totaling $1.6 million, and $900,000 in consumer and other loans.

Three of the four bank failures in June involved loss-sharing agreements with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), with 60% of the assets acquired being covered by loss sharing. The proportion of loss-share assets is down from 73% in May and 67% in April.

Trepp’s watch list of troubled financial institutions has successfully identified 96% of the banks that have failed in the cycle that began in September 2007. Banks on the watch list are nearly 200 times more likely to fail than banks not on the list.

Foreign Buyers Drawn to Florida

Based on figures released last month by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the U.S., and Florida in particular, remain highly desirable to international buyers. Real estate purchases by foreigners surged by $16 billion for the year ending March 2011, one of the largest increases in recent years.

The NAR’s 2011 Profile of International Home Buying Activity reports that residential international sales totaled $82 billion last year, up from $66 billion in 2010.

The sales were split evenly between recent immigrants and non-resident foreigners. International sales comprised nearly 8 percent of the combined total for international and domestic purchases of $1.07 trillion.

Florida accounted for 31 percent of the international transactions last year, the highest of any state. That figure is all the more notable given that Florida generated 10 percent of the total in 2007 and 9 percent in 2008.

Historically, foreign buyers have been attracted to U.S. property ownership for a variety of reasons, including relative value and investment potential. The combined weakening of the U.S. dollar and the real estate market has enhanced that desirability.

Nationwide, international buyers came from 70 countries, with Canada ranked first (23 percent), followed by China (9 percent). Mexico, the U.K. and India tied for third. The average price paid by international purchasers was $315,000, compared with a U.S. average of $218,000.

Florida was most popular among Canadians, Europeans and South Americans.

According to NAR data, 62 percent of the international purchases were paid for in cash, significantly higher than all-cash purchases by domestic buyers.

Foreign buyers do face challenges in financing purchases, with NAR figures showing that 32 percent encountered hurdles that killed the transaction.

Full Report

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Headlines – Week of July 10, 2011

July 19, 2011

Top 10 Housing Markets for Investors

HomeVestors of America, Inc., known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” company, and Local Market Monitor, a leading forecaster of real estate markets, recently unveiled the “HomeVestors-Local Market Monitor Best Markets to Invest in Rental Property” ranking.

According to the report, Rochester, N.Y., and the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa are ranked in the top 10 best housing markets for investors in rental property,. The winners are generally in markets where home prices have fallen substantially, including Las Vegas, Detroit, Tampa and Phoenix.

Las Vegas, where home prices are down by more than 50 percent from their market peak, topped the list, offering the best returns on homes maintained as rental properties.  The report main consideration was potential home price appreciation and gross rents.

Predominantly a retirement market, home prices fell 10 percent in Tampa in the last 12 months due to over-supply of investment properties built during the boom.

Although extra risks in the top markets, home prices are below-average, so empty homes are easily turned into competitive rental properties.

HomeVestors and Local Market Monitor estimate that approximately 14% of single-family homes in the U.S. are maintained as rental properties.

The HomeVestors ranking forecasts the expected performance of rental real estate properties, specifically single-family homes maintained as rental properties. The rankings show the extra return, or risk-return premium, that an investor must demand from rental property in a local market. The risk-return premium can be added to the regular capitalization rate to produce a risk-adjusted cap rate at full occupancy for a local market.

The ranking is calculated based on three-year forecasts of home prices (reflecting underlying home-price appreciation potential) and gross rents (as a proxy for potential investor cash flow).

The Top 10 markets in the new ranking are:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Warren, Michigan
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Bakersfield, California
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Rochester, New York
  • Stockton, California

Current rental vacancy rates are 12 percent in Las Vegas, 19 percent in Detroit, 9 percent in Tampa, and 13 percent in Phoenix.

Las Vegas – Jobs are still being lost and home prices are down 45 percent since the peak in 2006. Rents have dropped 10 percent. Much of the large workforce in the casino industry consists of renters; the homeownership rate is a low 55 percent. The current unemployment rate is 12 percent.

Detroit – Although the recession bottomed out a year ago, the unemployment rate is still high at 11 percent. The population shrank 4 percent since 2006.

Tampa – Largely a retirement market, home prices fell 10 percent in the last year due to the over-supply of investment properties built during the boom. Jobs are growing again in the service industries. Homeownership dropped a sharp 5 percent since 2007.

Phoenix – Jobs are growing again after a very deep recession. Home prices dropped 40 percent since 2006, with rents decreasing just 8 percent. Population growth since 2006 is a strong 8 percent.

6 Best Places for Business, Careers

According to Forbes 13th annual Best Places of Business list, eighty percent of the top 25 regions on Forbes’ list this year are from the center of the United States.

Forbes’ rankings evaluate 200 metro areas, factoring in job growth (past and projected), costs (business and living), income growth, projected economic growth, and educational attainment.

The heartland’s success is largely due to its “extractive industries,” such as oil, gas, and mining and record-high crop prices that have added jobs.

Many of the cities topping the list also have at least one strong university and strong entrepreneurial activity.

Here are the top six cities to make Forbes’ list:

  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Provo, Utah
  • Lexington, Ky.
  • Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Nashville, Tenn.

Full Article

U.S. Office Vacancy Rate Dips to 16.2% in Second Quarter

According to CBRE Econometric Advisors (CBRE-EA), the national office vacancy rate continued to decline in the second quarter of 2011, dropping 20 basis points to 16.2%.  This was the fourth consecutive quarterly decline for the national office vacancy rate since it peaked at 16.8%.

The national industrial availability rate dropped 10 basis points to 13.9% in the second quarter, reports CBRE-EA. This marks the fourth consecutive quarterly decline in industrial availability.

However, there was more bad news on the retail front. The availability rate for retail in the second quarter rose to 13.3%, 10 basis points higher than in the first quarter.

U.S. apartment demand continues to expand at a steady pace. In the second quarter, the vacancy rate for the CBRE-EA nationwide sample of 4.2 million professionally managed apartment units declined to 5.4% in the second quarter, moving the four-quarter trailing average down 20 basis points.

Full Article

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Headlines – Week of July 3, 2011

July 15, 2011

Many Forecasters Predict a 2011 Turning Point for U.S. Housing

A recent survey published by MacroMarkets LLC compiled from 108 responses of a diverse group of economists, real estate experts, investment and market strategists. The survey, the June 2011 Home Price Expectations Survey is based upon the projected path of the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index over the coming five years.

The June survey reveals that a significant majority of our panelists believe that the bottom for home prices arrived in the first quarter or will arrive sometime before year-end. Almost two-thirds of the panelists see the U.S. residential real estate market as at an historic turning point. However, the group of 69 panelists who are currently forecasting a 2011 turning point predict less than two percent average annual growth in nominal home prices over the five-year period ending December 2015.

Looking at expected housing market performance through the five year period ending 2015, the most optimistic quartile of panelists projects 15.3% average price growth, while the most pessimistic quartile of panelists projects 6.0% average price erosion from Q4 2010 levels.

With the prevalence of foreclosures across the county, analysts at the research firm Capital Economics are convinced that the double dip in home prices will continue throughout this year. And, as a result of certain structural factors that are constraining demand, such as higher down payment requirements, prices won’t rise consistently until 2014.

An easing in the flow of foreclosed homes may allow prices to fall at a more moderate pace and even stabilize next year at a level 35 percent below the 2006 peak. And, while prices tend to rise rapidly in the years after downturns, a “chronic lack of demand” means that home prices will probably be unchanged in both 2012 and 2013.

The proposed risk retention rules are being blamed for much of the loan demand, resulting in more lenders requiring a 20 percent down payment.  This will lock more first-time buyers out of the market.

Also, at least half of all repeat buyers won’t be able to use their home equity to raise a 20 percent down payment since a quarter of them are in negative equity and another quarter have less than 20 percent positive equity.  As a result, it doesn’t matter how attractive or affordable housing is with today’s low prices and low rates.

Adding to the supply side problem over the next few years up to three million foreclosed homes may come onto the market, adding to the current excess housing inventory of around two million homes and keeping supply higher than demand, further depressing property values.

Add this to the homes currently in the foreclosure pipeline and there may still be a “shadow inventory” of up to five million homes, according to Capital Economics’ calculations.

10 Best-Rated States for Retirement

Money-Rates.com recently published a list of the best and worst state for retirement.

The finance website looked at a number of factors to come up with a list of the 10 best states for retirement. The criteria include climate, crime rate, life expectancy and economic conditions such as cost of living, job opportunities and taxes.

The No. 1 state on the list might come as a surprise to many considering that it’s a long way away from the Sun Belt. Despite its climate challenges, New Hampshire is the best-rated state to retire to because of its super-low crime rate, modest living costs and reasonable tax burden. Hawaii came in second, thanks to gorgeous weather and long life expectancy, followed by South Dakota, which is both safe and affordable.

Here are all 10 best states for retirement according to Money-Rates.com:

1. New Hampshire
2. Hawaii
3. South Dakota
4. North Dakota
5. Iowa
6. Virginia
7. Utah
8. Connecticut
9. Vermont
10. Idaho

Here are the 10 worst states for retirement, with No. 1 being the lowest-ranked, according to Money-Rates.com:

10. Arkansas
9. Missouri
8. North Carolina
7. Ohio
6. Tennessee
5. Maryland
4. South Carolina
3. Alaska
2. Michigan
1. Nevada

Where Is Foreclosure Inventory the Highest?

When you think of the cities with the highest rates of foreclosures most people would first think of an area in Nevada, Arizona, Florida or California.

But, according to RealtyTrac, Chicago has now suddenly claimed the title as No. 1.

Housing experts say it’s from several factors, including foreclosure backlogs in courts and some have even blamed it on the stubbornness of banks there to lower prices far below the value of mortgage loans, which are causing homes to sit empty and linger on the market.

Foreclosed properties are selling at a much slower pace in Chicago than other metro areas too (except for New York). In the first five months of the year, 4,004 foreclosed homes in Phoenix were sold each month. However, for comparison, in Chicago, there were only 1,697 foreclosed home sales during that time, and 762 in New York.

According to RealtyTrac May 2011 data, here are the top three cities with the highest foreclosure inventories (homes owned by bank or were in the process foreclosure):

1. Chicago: 118,776
2. Los Angeles: 86,745
3. New York City: 84,600

Full Article

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Headlines – Week of June 26, 2011

July 5, 2011

Census Figures Show Florida Growth to Keep Lagging

According to a new study by the University of Florida, the State of Florida was again one of the country’s leaders in population growth in the last decade, but the growth rates over the past few years have been among the lowest in the state’s history.

Florida’s permanent resident population increased by more than 2.8 million between 2000 and 2010 – an increase of 17.6 percent – to 18,801,310. It was the third-largest numeric increase and the eighth-largest percentage increase in the country. However, the growth rate lagged behind previous periods for the state, and is expected to decline steadily through 2040.

In the decades from 1970 to 2010, Florida saw annual population increases that averaged between 280,000 and 320,000. The projected annual growth is 252,000 for 2010 to 2020 and 255,000 for 2020 to 2030. The projection drops considerably for 2030 to 2040 with an annual growth of 220,000.

Florida lost about 1 million jobs from 2007 to 2010 and jobs are a major reason people come to Florida.

Growth should return to levels more in line with historic patterns by the middle of this decade, but it is not expected to be uniform across the state.

Sixty-five of Florida’s 67 counties gained population during this past decade. Four counties grew by more than 50 percent, and 20 grew by more than 20 percent. The largest numerical increases over the past decade occurred in Orange County (up 249,612 to 1,145,956), Miami-Dade County (up 242,656 to 2,496,435) and Hillsborough County (up 230,278 to 1,229,226).

Flagler and Sumter counties experienced the fastest growth in the state. In 2000, Flagler County’s population was 49,832. According to 2010 Census data, that number grew to 95,696. Sumter County’s population in 2000 was 53,345 and rose to 93,420 by 2010. Flagler’s growth is attributed to the popularity of the area’s Palm Coast development and Sumter’s growth to the establishment of The Villages, a popular and growing retirement community.

The only two counties to lose population were Monroe (down 6,499 to 73,090) and Pinellas (down 4,953 to 916,542). A large portion of Monroe County is not developable because of marshlands, while Pinellas County is already densely populated and has little room to grow.

Press Release

Which housing values have dropped most?

According to a recent article in USA Today, lower priced homes have been harder hit than higher priced homes in the sluggish housing market.  The article quotes research conducted by Zillow.com and a study on the state of the U.S. housing market by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

High-priced homes have lost 38 percent of their value since values peaked in 2006. Lower priced homes, on the other hand, have dropped 63 percent since peaking in 2007.

The report concludes that because lower priced homes appreciated much more before reaching its peak, they had further to drop than higher priced homes.

As an example, in San Francisco, lower end homes nearly tripled in price before peaking and high-end homes did not even double before reaching its peak. The study attributes this partially to lenders making more loans available to lower income households during the housing peak days, which increased demand and prices.

Foreclosures have also plagued low-income areas, more so than higher income areas, according to the study. Foreclosures in low-income neighborhoods are more than double that of high-income neighborhoods.

Prices range drastically among major housing market so what’s considered “high-priced” and “low-priced” in the study varies greatly from market to market. For example, in Atlanta low-tier homes were considered under $122,533 and high-tier homes above $221,679; in San Francisco, low-tier homes were considered $312,546 and high-tier homes over $573,577.

Full Article

Top 5 cities for investors

According to a study by Move Inc., investors have accounted for a greater bulk of real estate transactions in recent months as they’ve looked to purchase the ultra-low priced distressed properties.  In the next two years, investors are expected to outnumber traditional homebuyers three to one.

In another study, Inman News recently conducted an analysis of hundreds of real estate markets to determine the top markets for real estate investors, taking into account such factors as the median sales price, loan data, foreclosure sales and discount statistics, population, and unemployment data.

Here are the top five cities that Inman News found as the best real estate markets for investors:

  1. Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.
  2. Winchester, Va.-W.Va.
  3. Gainesville, Fla.
  4. Tucson, Ariz.
  5. Tallahassee, Fla.

Other cities rounding out the top 10: Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md.-W.Va.; Salt Lake City; Richmond, Va.; Gainesville, Ga.; and Winston-Salem, N.C.

Full Article

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

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