February 14, 2014

Pushing The Sell Button

It’s Friday desk clearing time for this blogger. “There were 2,411 foreclosure notices filed in a 13-county metro Atlanta area in February, according to data from Kennesaw-based Equity Depot. That’s about even with January’s number, which was the lowest seen since June 2003. Barry Bramlett, whose firm compiles the numbers, said the improvement is ‘just an illusion.’ The default rate is still high, he said. ‘It looks like a strong economy,’ he said. ‘It’s not.’”

“Home foreclosure activity in Connecticut showed no signs of improvement in January, as the number of properties with a foreclosure filing surged by nearly 90 percent compared with a year ago. ‘We expected to see this rebound ever since the foreclosure numbers dropped artificially after the robo-signing controversy hit in late 2010,’ said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. ‘This means the housing market in Connecticut might have looked better than it actually was in 2011 and 2012 because of artificially low foreclosure activity.’”

“In the Baltimore-Towson area, about 2,300 properties had foreclosure filings in January, up almost 120 percent from last year, according to RealtyTrac. Experts said the gains reflected banks starting to move more aggressively through a backlog of loans. ‘We’re not seeing a new wave of people who are unable to afford it suddenly. This is a backlog issue,’ said Jonathan Benya, an Annapolis-based real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty.”

“Banks would be forced to more quickly address the upkeep of homes in foreclosure in New York under a measure proposed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Buffalo has about 7,000 vacant homes, and Rochester has roughly 2,200. In Newburgh, 10 percent of its housing stock is vacant, about 600 homes in a four-square-mile area. ‘The big issue really is that nobody seems to have any responsibility for them,’ said Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy. ‘So then what happens is you have the squatters, you have the people who come and strip them out of copper—and it just breeds crime.’”

“Lord Turner has warned that the UK has failed to rebalance its economy and is simply repeating the errors made in the run-up to the 2007/8 financial crisis. The self-styled technocrat, who was chairman of the City regulator until last April, likened the domestic economy over the last five years to Japan in the 1990s. ‘The concerning thing about the UK economy is that from 2009 until early last year, a lot of the debate was around the need to rebalance, from being over focused on financial services and the housing market,’ Lord Turner told The Telegraph. ‘In the last year we’ve started to grow again, but it’s all down to consumer expenditure and real estate again.’”

“Hong Kong’s housing market faces a key test of price sustainability and the strength of demand as a flood of new units are set to be launched by developers. ‘A falling trend in prices can now be expected,’ said Simon Lo Wing-fai, an executive director at property consultancy Colliers International. The latest prices are far below the average price of HK$12,268 per sq ft achieved by the Riva project last March. ‘The pricing is lower than expected, aimed at luring potential buyers into the market,’ said Lo.”

“The number of properties sold across New Zealand fell by 17 per cent last month, with prices also falling from December. Auckland sales volumes plunged 21 per cent from December, with prices down 5.2 per cent. Auckland wasn’t the only city to see double digit falls in the number of properties sold, with the number down 24 per cent in Wellington and 25 per cent in Christchurch when compared to December sales. ‘The evidence suggests that annual price gains in Auckland peaked in late 2013,’ said ASB economist Daniel Smith. Smith said that with growth and inflation picking up, an OCR hike in March looked ‘a near certainty.’ ‘The question is how rapidly rates will rise from there.’”

“After the housing market bubble burst in the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia, which led to the liquidation of many of the city’s residents’ financial assets, people who funded the construction of the city have begun demanding a refund for their money from fundraisers, the Chinese-language Securities Times reports. ‘The fundraisers invested the capital in the real-estate market and now the houses are unsellable. We bought a house at 6,000 yuan (US$990) per square meter but now its selling price is 4,300 yuan (US$709) per square meter,’ said a resident surnamed Wu.”

“Economists and housing experts are concerned. In a survey of these experts, Zillow found that 79 percent believe that if investors pulled out of the housing market this year, then there would be a ’significant’ or ’somewhat significant’ impact on the markets where that demand had been highest. Investor purchases already have slowed in markets like Phoenix and Las Vegas. That has pushed sales down and inventories up dramatically.”

“‘If I were a Phoenix real estate ‘investor’ sitting on a lot of house-price upside—or in the long process of readying dozens, hundreds, or thousands of houses for rent into a market about to get pounded for years with single-family rental and for-sale supply coming to market—I would push the ’sell button’ on everything I could, immediately, on data such as these,’ housing analyst Mark Hanson said in a note to clients.”

“Sales of existing single family homes across the nine-county Bay Area fell 28.5 percent from December and were off by 16.1 percent from January 2013, DataQuick reported. While the inventory of homes listed for sale is down from December in all parts of the Bay Area, it’s up 13.5 percent from a year ago in Alameda County and up 34.8 percent in Contra Costa County. That might have helped Greyson Mitchem and Raul Monares find a home to buy in Pleasant Hill. They snared a 4 bedroom, 2 and 1/2 bath single family home for $825,000 that had been on the market for 45 days. They’re paying less than the asking price for it.”

“‘It’s a flip,’ Mitchem said. ‘The investors want to get the most out of it they can, but I think they overpriced it.’”

“Mitchem’s agent, Sherie Corsello of Redfin, said her clients made the only offer. ‘Before, everyone was experiencing multiple offers, and it was scaring buyers off. That’s not so much the case any more,’ Corsello said, except in the market for homes over $1 million. ‘Maybe that’s staying crazy,’ she said.”

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