Archives for October 2011

Housing starts increased in September

Nationally, housing starts were up 15 percent in September over the previous month.According to new data, housing starts rose in the month of September, says a report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.Nationally, housing starts were up 15 percent in September over the previous month, and are up 10.2 percent over September 2010. This accounts for a seasonally adjusted rate of 658,000 units.Single-family homes, which make up 70 percent of all starts, rose 1.7 percent to a rate of 425,000 units.”The September starts report shows new housing activity to be stronger than expected,” according to analysts with Econoday. “The big question is whether the demand exists to absorb added supply.”This data comes a day after the National Association of Home Builders confidence index rose four points for the month of October.The growing number of home starts directly impacts Houston real estate. The Houston Association of Realtors announced in its September report that Houston-area home sales have increased for the fourth straight month, performing better than the national average. This growing trend might mean it's a good time to look at Houston listings for a new home. Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

New bill may have lenders eyeing energy bills

The sensible sccounting to value energy act would have lenders for fannie mae freddie mac and the federal housing administration examine a borrowers electricity and gas paymentsA new piece of legislation may force lenders to factor in a borrower’s anticipated energy costs when underwriting a government-backed mortgage, says the Institute for Market Transformations.The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act, co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet and Johnny Isakson, if enacted, would have lenders for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration examine a borrowers electricity and gas payments to determine if they would still be able to meet their monthly mortgage payment afterwards.”The SAVE act would address this blind spot, giving a more complete picture of the costs of homeownership and borrowers’ capacity to service debt,” said a statement from the senators.Annually, many homeowners spend more on energy expenses than either real estate taxes and home insurance. The Senators say the SAVE Act would open doors for homeowners to make energy upgrades a part of their mortgage.This bill would affect homeowners nationally, but Houston homes are generally subject to higher energy costs, especially during the summer season. But there are options for making a home more energy efficient. Fixing leaks, installing insulation, upgrading the A/C and going solar are all viable options to keep utility costs down.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Houston housing market shows promising increases

The Houston real estate market has risen for the fourth consecutive month.Data from a recent report shows sales in the Houston real estate market have risen for the fourth consecutive month, finds the Houston Association of Realtors.The sales of single-family homes has risen 16.9 percent from September 2010. The price of Houston homes has also increased to an all time high, while the month's inventory fell to its lowest level since May 2010. Pending sales rates rose and the number of active listings in the market place declined.Houston's overall housing market yielded positive results in all sales categories compared to September 2010. In past months, data was skewed by the expiration of a 2010 tax credit that caused a major drop in home sales.”The combination of increased closed and pending sales, fewer active listings and strong pricing suggests that we are entering the fall home buying season on strong footing,” said HAR chairman Carlos P. Bujosa. “HAR's September report shows rebalanced supply and demand throughout the Houston housing market with diminishing traces of the distortions caused by last year's federal home buyer tax credit.”The average price for a Houston home marginally increased by 0.4 percent from a year ago to $213,334 – the highest September level ever recorded. The median price increased by 1.6 percent to $157,500 also breaking records. Total Houston residential property sales increased 15.9 percent totalling 5,469 transactions. The total dollar value of these transactions equaled approximately $1.1 billion.Total sales of homes in every price range showed gains in September. Homes priced less than $80,000 rose 11.4 percent while homes between $80,000 and $150,000 increased 21.8 percent. Sales on homes between $150,000 and $250,000 were up 18.7 percent while homes between $250,000 and $500,000 increased 26.8 percent. Overall sales in the luxury market also increased, recording a 2.3 percent increase.Houston's housing market was hit hard with foreclosures in recent years. Foreclosure property sales increased 2.4 percent and made up 19.4 percent of all property sales. According to RealtyTrac, in the month of September Harris County had 2,466 foreclosures.Total active listings declined 11.5 percent to 48,752. The housing supply also decreased to 7.1 months, compared to a 9.4 month national average, reported the National Association of Realtors.??Courtesy of 2M Realty News? ?

New foreclosure regulations to keep Houston homeowners informed

The new standards are known as the servicer alignment initiative and will be applicable to all government-backed mortgages.New mortgage standards for major lenders are due to take effect starting January 2012, Marketwatch reports.The new rules have been in effect for months, but only on a voluntary basis. Starting in 2012, these regulations will be mandatory.The new standards are known as the servicer alignment initiative and will be applicable to all mortgages backed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration, reports the news source.Under the new rules and regulations, servicers will be required to provide guidance on foreclosure alternatives for borrowers who are 30 days delinquent. The alternative measures include loan reinstatement, eliminating delinquency through repayment programs, government modification programs or a private short-sale process.”In that 30-day time period the borrower is going to be evaluated for the best alternative,” Freddie Mac servicing director Robert Kimble told the source.According to RealtyTrac, Houston has been hit hard with foreclosures and short-sales in past years. This new program will ensure owners of Houston homes are well informed on the foreclosure process and given a chance to look for alternatives. Courtesy of 2M Realty News? ?

Key indicators may mean it’s time to buy

The Houston real estate market has seen ups and downs in recent years, but home prices have been stabilizing.Home prices have declined more than 30 percent in the past five years, but two key indicators might be saying its a good time to buy again, reports The Wall Street Journal.The first indicator is the restoration of the Price-to-Rent ratio. This measures the median price of a home and divides it by its potential rental value. According to the WSJ, the ratio has been restored to its pre-bubble average. The second indicator is low mortgage rates making homes the most affordable they've been in years.As a result, monthly house payments could the cheapest they've been for borrowers in four decades. Buyers today will be able to get more house for their dollar, but conservative buyers who opt for a moderate house will have smaller payments.The Houston real estate market has seen ups and downs in recent years, but home prices have been stabilizing. According to Zillow, Houston home prices in September averaged $164,000 – a 0.5 percent decrease from September 2010. Taking these trends into account, consumers may want to start looking into purchasing a new home. Courtesy of 2M Realty News? ? ? ??

Houston’s best community recognized

This year Houston's Best Community award from the Greater Houston Builders Association went to The Falls at Imperial Oaks.This year Houston's Best Community award from the Greater Houston Builders Association went to The Falls at Imperial Oaks, reports The Woodlands Villager.The award, designed to recognize Houston's best residential master-planned community, uses a panel of judges from outside the industry to judge the communities based on master plan, amenities, landscaping, product variety and success in the marketplace.Falls at Imperial Oaks was recognized for its outstanding amenities like The Lake Club, which won a “Houston's Best” award in 2010 for best reception center. Other emphasis from the judges was on tree preservation and natural landscaping, along with a strong feeling of resident involvement, according to the paper. The community's continued commitment to environmental friendliness was also recognized since many of its homes now have solar panels.”We are very grateful to the Houston's Best judges for recognizing the many attributes that make The Falls at Imperial Oaks ‘Houston's Best’ community, We are thrilled to receive this award, which comes near the end of a very successful year that includes our major expansion and the announcement of ExxonMobil’s new campus only minutes away from us,” Jim Holcomb, president of the developing company, Holcomb Properties told the news source. Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

Harris County preparing to file suit against major lenders

The major settlement between major banks and many of the state attorneys general may not absolve banks of all liability over problems with the mortgage process, Bloomberg reports.Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is leading a settlement with the lenders that is getting closer to finalization. However, he pointed out that the settlement would not prevent towns or individual states from suing lenders that allegedly cut them out of millions of dollars through filing fees, said the news source.Harris County is one such municipality that may pursue the matter.Houston Homes were hit especially hard in recent years, accounting for 2,466 foreclosures in September alone, according to RealtyTrac.. Lawyers for Harris Country said last week that they would were pursuing talks with county government officials to file claims against lenders. The request will likely be heard on October 25 by the Harris County Commissioners Court.”This is a local issue. The county attorneys want a seat at the table and to be part of any discussion,” assistant Harris County attorney John Odam, told the source. Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Foreclosure rates are slowly stabilizing

Zandi told industry leaders that a few minor tweaks, instead of a major industry overhaul, should be enough to stabilize the housing market.The nation's fragile housing market may start to stabilize after another year or two, reports the Wall Street Journal.While gathered at the Mortgage Banker Associations annual conference, chief economist at Moody's Analytics Mark Zandi told industry leaders that a few minor tweaks, instead of a major industry overhaul, should be enough to stabilize the housing market.”The key to home prices is the share of home sales that are distressed. A year, year-and-a-half down the road that share will start coming down (and) you get price stability and then price growth,” Zandi said, according to the Journal.Foreclosures are a major concern for the market's stability. Foreclosures can depress prices in the near term, but shrinking discounts for these distressed properties is a positive sign that housing demand may be improving, the paper says Zandi observed.Texas currently has 10,148 foreclosure properties, the seventh highest in the country, reports RealtyTrac. The Houston real estate market has been hit especially hard with foreclosures. Harris County currently has 2,485 active foreclosures, which is one in every 794 housing units. Courtesy of 2M Realty News? ? ??

Jeb Bush offers advice on housing market

Bush examined how the heavy-handed regulatory environment of the housing market will hinder long-term solutions.Former Florida Governor and Texas native Jeb Bush has recently shown doubt that President Barack Obama will take a firm stance on the country's current housing crisis, HousingWire reports.Bush is currently the head of his own consulting firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, and spoke to the Mortgage bankers Association at their 98th Annual Convention and Expo in Chicago.”The hope and feeling of optimism (has been) replaced with despair. All the polling numbers have been so bad as to the pessimism of the country, so that 70 percent feel we are heading to recession,” Bush said.Bush continued by examining how the heavy-handed regulatory environment of the housing market will hinder long-term solutions.The Houston real estate market could benefit if Bush's words were taken into consideration. At present, older more established neighborhoods with home prices over $200,000 have done well despite the weak market. However, newer neighborhoods with home prices below $200,000 have been affected by foreclosures and short sales, according to the most recent report from the Houston Association of Realtors.Currently, the average price of a home in the Houston area is $185,182, according to the report. Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Former senior advisor Axelrod calls for mortgage finance fix

Calling for a more transparent financial system, Axelrod examined how putting subprime mortgages into securities was the key factor in the economic downturn.Creating a fairer mortgage system and repairing the housing market will ease the frustration the country has with Wall Street, former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod told the Mortgage Bankers Association, according to HousingWire.Calling for a more transparent financial system, Axelrod examined how putting subprime mortgages into securities was the key factor in the economic downturn and should have been prevented. “Loans need to be given on terms borrowers can understand and afford. Some borrowers share the blame for agreeing to these problematic mortgages,” he said, according to the report.Axelrod believes such mortgages will never return, but called for a necessary fair lending standard. A clearly thought-out reduction in government regulation to promote business in the Houston real estate market and others nationwide is also necessary, he argued, such as bringing an end to the government-sponsored enterprises.”We have to end Fannie and Freddie as we know them,” Axelrod said, according to HousingWire. “There is no reason Fannie and Freddie should own 300,000 homes.”He continued by calling for the immediate appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to get the process going. Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

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