Headlines – Week of January 8, 2012

January 20, 2012

Frommer Selects Sanibel Island as No. 1 Favorite Travel Destination

Sanibel Island is the number one travel destination in the world, according to travel guru Arthur Frommer, the mastermind behind Frommer’s guidebooks and budget travel magazine.

Frommer recently ranked his ten favorite places to visit and listed Sanibel first above destinations like Bali and Paris.

Sanibel Island residents are celebrating the top honors from such a respected travel writer.

The island has won many travel awards and high rankings, but this carries special weight because it is Frommer’s personal favorite.

On the web site Frommer noted, “Off the west coast of the Sunshine State, a few miles from Fort Myers, is this idyllic haven of white-sand beaches, condos whose seafront apartments are available for weekly rentals, excellent restaurants, good shopping and most important, the Ding Darling Nature Preserve, visited by thousands of birds of every species, who bask in the sun after diving for fish, and are one of the great natural sights of wildlife in America.”

The other destinations in the top 10 list include:

  1.  The Island of Bali, in Indonesia
  2.  Paris, France
  3.  St. John in the U. S. Virgin Islands
  4.  Cairo, Egypt
  5.  Bonaire, one of the “ABC” islands of the southern Caribbean
  6.  Yachats, the Oregon Coast
  7.  Chiang Rai, Thailand
  8.  New York City’s Greenwich Village (and its Off-Broadway theaters)
  9.  Kenya

Click HERE to see link to NBC2 news video.

Click HERE to see the full article and list.

Foreclosures Take Twice As Long To Process Now As They Did In 2007

A recent article in the The Huffington Post it is taking twice as long for foreclosures to work their way through the process of selling or auctioning than it did in 2007.

In 2007, the average foreclosure process in America, from beginning to end, took 253 days, or about eight months. Today, according to LPS Applied Analytics, the average foreclosure takes 674 days. That’s a year and ten months, almost triple what it was four years ago.

The foreclosure epidemic is one of the main factors inflicting damage on the housing market, which has still not made up for the losses it suffered a few years ago when the real estate bubble burst. In neighborhoods across the country, foreclosed or vacant properties are distorting their local markets, dragging down the values of the surrounding houses and wiping out vast sums in homeowner wealth.

The ubiquity of foreclosures, and their depressing effect on housing prices, has been cited as both a symptom and a cause of the country’s persistent unemployment problem. Many homeowners enter default after losing their jobs — and on the flip side, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, plummeting home values tend to trap people where they are, making it harder for them to move to other towns where employment opportunities might be more plentiful.

The conundrum is expected to get worse in 2012. New foreclosures climbed by about 21 percent in the third quarter of 2011, with a total of almost 1.33 million foreclosures underway by the end of September.

Analysts believe the volume of foreclosures will grow much greater this year as banks begin re-submitting documents that had to be discounted in the wake of the robo-signing scandal, when some of the country’s biggest lenders were found to have approved reams of mortgage paperwork without reading it first.

Experts have offered a range of predictions for when the market might touch bottom and housing prices will begin to rise again. Even the most optimistic forecasts don’t see a recovery happening until late 2012 or early 2013.

Full Article

Ten U.S. Metros with Largest Drops in Real Estate Values

According to data from online real estate site Zillow, the top 10 U.S. metro areas with the greatest year-over-year median home-value declines, by percentage, from October 2010 to October 2011, were clustered in two regions.

The 10 metro areas, clumped in the Southeast and the far West, declined an average of 13.4 percent, from No. 1 Gainesville, Fla.’s 17.2 percent drop to an 11.8 percent decline for No. 10 Reno, Nev.

The chart-topping Gainesville, Fla., metro area’s 17.2 percent decline settled the area’s median home value to $111,300 in that time span.

Just 40 miles away, the Ocala, Fla., metro area, No. 7 on the top 10 list, showed a 12.7 percent decline in median home value, to $85,200. Nearby, Atlanta and Mobile, Ala., rounded out the Southeast metros on the list at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively.

The far West portion of the top 10 features six metros in a Pacific-leaning band that curves from No. 3 Medford, Ore., in the Northwest to No. 6 Tucson, Ariz., in the Southeast.

The Mobile, Ala., metro area, at No. 5, has the lowest median home value on the list at $78,200, and is counterbalanced by No. 9 Santa Barbara, Calif.’s highest median home value of $371,200. After Santa Barbara, Calif., the next highest median home value on the list takes a steep drop to No. 4 Chico, Calif., metro area’s $169,300.

U.S. metro areas clustered in the Southeast and in the far West experienced the greatest 2011 year-over-year declines in median home value, by percentage, according to Zillow data.

Full Article

Ten States in the U.S. with the Highest Foreclosure Rates

A related article from Realtor Magazine ranks the ten states in the U.S. with the highest foreclosure rates in 2011. Most of the results weren’t a surprise, as the states that began showing signs of heavy foreclosures years ago continue to lead the pack.

As whole, U.S. foreclosure filings actually dropped from 2.23 percent in 2010 to 1.4 percent in 2011.

Nevada came in first again with 6 percent of its homes in some state of foreclosure during 2011. One out of every 16 homes in Nevada received a foreclosure filing. While down somewhat, this puts Nevada at the top of the list for the fifth consecutive year.

Arizona came in second, with 4.14 percent of its homes receiving a foreclosure notice, or one out of every 15 homes. In third was California, at 3.19 percent.

Michigan, Florida, and a number of other states still have significant foreclosure percentages, but AZ, CA, and NV are ahead by a large gap. These states fell victim to “building out in the sand”. The warm climates attracted many second-home and vacation-home buyers with new construction, high value appreciation, and seemingly close proximity to large urban areas.

The full list of the top 10 state with the highest foreclosure rates:

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”

Full Article

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

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