Archives for July 2011

Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates fluctuate during most recent week

Mortgage rates showed movement in all directions recently.According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the nation's mortgages experienced fluctuating intertest rates for the week ending July 28.The company's report revealed rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.55 percent, up from 4.52 percent the previous week and 4.54 last year. However, the rate for 15-year FRMs stayed at 3.66 percent for the second consecutive week, which is still down from 4 percent last year.”Macroeconomic data released this week were a mixed bag,” said Freddie Mac chief economist and vice president Frank Nothaft. “On the positive side, the index of leading indicators in June rose for the second consecutive month, beating the market consensus forecast. Partly offsetting this, orders for durable goods were weaker than market expectations for the same month. The net effect on mortgage interest rates was very little change from the prior week.”The rates for Treasury-indexed mortgages both declined, Freddie Mac reported. Rates for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.25 percent, down from 3.27 percent last week and 3.76 percent last year. One-year ARMs settled at an average rate of 2.95 percent, falling from 2.97 percent last week and from 3.64 percent the previous year.With an improving job market and more potential buyers interested, the Houston real estate market could record a significant number of transactions soon before rates climb any higher.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Mortgage volume decreases during most recent week

Mortgage volumes were down recently.According to the most recent data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association, home loan activity was down during the most recent week after spiking the previous period.Overall, the number of mortgage applications filed during the period ending July 26 was down 5 percent. For the week ending July 19, activity had increased 16 percent from the previous week. During the most recent time span, however, refinancing activity was down 5.5 percent, while purchase activity fell 3.8 percent.The previous week's increased volume was a result of the continued low interest rate for mortgages. According to Freddie Mac's most recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage settled at 4.57 percent, while the 15-year rate was 3.67 percent.The MBA report also showed a decline in the four-week moving average for mortgage applications, as it fell 0.3 percent.Regardless of the national trend, the Houston real estate market has remained strong recently, as the city's job sector continues to create jobs and spur interest in available properties.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Moody’s: Commercial real estate sector experiencing improvements

The national commercial real estate sector is improving.According to a recent report from Moody's, the national commercial real estate sector continues to show progress, leading to an optimistic forecast for the market.The company's latest report regarding the market during the first quarter of the year showed improvement. Moody's ranks markets' health on a scale between 0 and 100 and gave the commercial sector an average score of 67.The commercial real estate market is typically divided into five categories – office, industrial, retail, hospitality and apartments. The apartment sector recorded a score of 88, which was the highest score in the company's first quarter report. Markets in Newark, New Jersey, Portland, Oregon, and Ventura County, California, all registered scores of 94 or better.”Scores for the central business district and suburban office markets rose moderately, while those for the multi-family, retail and industrial markets were consistent with the previous quarter,” said Keith Banhazl, a senior credit officer at Moody's.In terms of office markets, Forth Worth, Texas, and New York shared the highest score at 87, followed by Washington, D.C. at 81.Office space is a valuable a commodity in Texas, as the state is home to 51 of the country's Fortune 500 companies. Thus, commercial sales of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston properties are often significant.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

New residential sales decline during June

New residential sales were down during June.According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, new residential sales were up throughout the country during June.Overall, sales of new single-family homes settled at a seasonally adjusted rate of 312,000 during the month, according to the agency's estimates. This total rate is 1 percent lower than the revised rate recorded in May of 315,000 units, but 1.6 percent higher than the estimate for June 2010, which was 307,000.The lower number of sales during the month came as a surprise to many economists, many of whom point to the wavering confidence of homebuilders, as they continue to compete with the low prices of foreclosed properties on the market.”You're still dealing with a supply-demand imbalance that suggests home prices will remain under pressure,” Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York, who forecast June sales at a 310,000 pace, told Bloomberg. “As unemployment stays high, it will be difficult to generate meaningful gains in home sales.”Median sales prices for these new units settled at $235,200, while the average sales price was $269,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of June totaled 164,000, which represents a supply of 6.3 months at the current sales rate. This level of supply is the lowest on record, according to Bloomberg.The Houston real estate market has remained successful of the region's steady job market. A recent report from the Houston Association of Realtors revealed continued increases in sales activity during June.Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

Home prices show monthly increase during May

National home prices were up slightly on a seasonally adjusted basis during May.According to the most recent Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index, property values nationwide grew for the second consecutive month during May.Overall, the company's 20-city composite index showed a 1 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted basis. Boston led the country with a 2.7 percent jump from April to May, followed closely by Minneapolis at 2.6 percent and Washington, D.C. at 2.4 percent.In fact, 16 of the 20 cities analyzed posted gains, with Detroit, Las Vegas and Tampa, Florida recording declines and Phoenix's market remaining steady.”We see some seasonal improvements with May's data,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “This is a seasonal period of stronger demand for houses, so monthly price increases are to be expected and were seen in 16 of the 20 cities.”On an unadjusted basis, 11 cities had lower property values in May, lead by Detroit at 3.4 percent and Tampa at 1.5 percent.A previous report from the Houston Association of Realtors showed inclines for the region's real estate sector during May. Overall, the average price for single-family Houston properties increased to $220,210 during the month – 6.5 percent higher than May 2010.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Israelis investing in U.S. real estate, Houston most popular

Israelis are investing in Houston commercial properties.According to a recent survey conducted by Bregman Baraz Real Estate regarding overseas investments made between July 2010 and June 2011, Israelis purchased $1.15 billion worth of U.S. properties.This amount was spent on 36 properties, which placed Israelis second on the company's list, behind only Canadians. Overall, foreign investors accounted for 7.5 percent of all real estate purchases in U.S. incoming-producing real estate during the period. Israelis represented one-tenth of these investments, which was 0.75 percent of the total.Houston properties received the most attention from Israelis, accounting for 60 percent of their investments in office space during the first half of 2011.While the real estate market in Washington, D.C. attracted one-third of foreign investors during the year's first six months, Israelis were mainly absent from its commercial sector.Houston's placement atop the list is intriguing, as Texas was recently found to have the second-greatest average closing costs for mortgages, according to Bankrate.com.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Buyers, sellers becoming frustrated with short sales

Short sales are frustrating to all involved.According to a recent article in USA Today, short sales are quickly becoming among the most frustrating real estate experiences for both buyers and sellers.The average amount of time associated with the short sale process has increased, with some taking longer than six months, while others are not completed at all, the paper reports.Short sales occur when lenders agree to accept an amount worth less than what a property's current homeowner owes. This type of transaction requires homeowners to have endured a financial hardship.According to Ellen Mahoney, president of a title services company in Michigan, homes with multiple mortgages often take the longest to process. Many short sales fall through, or take increased amounts of time, when mortgage insurance is bought after the homeowner closes on the deal and the loan is later sold to other lenders and investors.While sellers who are unable to make a down payment of at least 20 percent must buy private mortgage insurance, lenders buy insurance to minimize their risks associated with the transaction. This proces can be time consuming.Within the Houston real estate market, foreclosures fell by 3.2 percent during June, compared to the previous year, a recent report from the Houston Association of Realtors revealed.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Houston well behind country’s leader in terms of walkability

Houston did not rank highly on a recent list of the country's most walkable cities.A recent report conducted by Walk Score determined the most walkable cities in the country, based upon a number of factors.New York was deemed the best in class, receiving a score of 85 percent, followed by San Francisco at 84 percent. Of the 50 cities surveyed, Houston ranked 23rd with a score of 50 percent.A recent article from 88.7 KUHF-FM News explained that weather could have been a factor regarding Houston's walkability rating. However, one official close to the report stated that weather had little to do with the survey's results. “You know it’s funny, weather matters less than people think,” said Matt Lerner, CTO at Walk Score. “For example, you have cities like Minneapolis, which is a very cold city, but yet you see a lot of people walking and biking. What we've found at walk score is that the most important determining factor in terms of whether people walk, is whether you're close to the kinds of things that people want to walk to on a daily basis.”Lerner further relayed that a good Walk Score result can boost a region's real estate sales. In fact, he told the news source that one point of the score can be worth up to $3,000. Thus, the Houston real estate sector could improve if the city makes changes to make the area more walkable.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

BP Solar closings in Maryland county could mean more jobs in Houston

BP is closing a post in Maryland and potentially moving workers to Houston, where the company is headquartered.Recently, BP Solar announced that it plans to close its offices in Frederick County, Maryland, which could put as many as 80 workers out of jobs.BP Solar spokesperson Peter Resler announced that the company will end its operations in the region by early 2012. The move is part of the company's restructuring in the country as well as its adjustment for its alternative energy operations.While a significant number of workers may lose their jobs, some may be moved to the company's headquarters in Houston. The number of those potentially moving to the region has not been relayed, however.This announcement continues a previous trend set by BP Solar, as it eliminated 320 jobs at the Frederick County location in March when it relocated its manufacturing operations to other countries.Despite the cuts, the Houston real estate market could experience a boost in activity if workers are indeed shifted to the region.Houston's job sector has experienced it own cuts lately, as NASA is currently shutting down its shuttle program, which could eliminate as many as 1,000 positions.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Freddie Mac: Interest rates for home loans inch up during most recent week

Mortgage rates inched upward during the most recent week.After experiencing a slight decline recently, interest rates for home loans inched upward during the most recent week, Freddie Mac revealed.For the week ending July 21, interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages settled at 4.52 percent. This average is up from 4.51 percent from last week, but down from 4.56 percent last year. The rate for 15-year FRMs also increased slightly to 3.66 percent from 3.65 percent last week. Compared to last year though, the rate is also down, falling from 4.03 percent.”Mortgage rates were virtually unchanged this week amid mixed economic data reports,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. “Although both the overall producer price index and consumer price index fell moderately in June on lower energy costs, the core price indexes inched up. In addition, consumer sentiment sank to the lowest reading since March 2009, based on figures from the University of Michigan.”Adjustable-rate mortgages experienced fluctuations, according to Freddie Mac's data. Rates for five-year ARMs decreased to 3.27 percent from 3.29 percent last week and 3.79 percent last year. One-year ARMs, however, increased to 2.97 percent from 2.95 percent last week. Compared to last year though, the rate is down from 3.70 percent.As these rates inch forward, more consumers may start shopping for homes to take advantage of the low rates. Thus, in areas with strong job sectors, such as Houston, real estate market activity could increase soon.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

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