April 29, 2014

It’s Never Going To End

The Boston Globe reports on Massachusetts. “The success of shows like ‘Flipping Boston’ has been one factor contributing to the boom in house-flipping since the economic downturn began in 2008. Kerry Sullivan, a Wellesley-based real estate agent, and Lenny Rowe, a member South Shore Association of Realtors, haven’t seen much flipping activity at all. Peter Souhleris, when not on TV, runs Peabody-based CityLight Homes, speculated that his and other flipping TV shows could be creating more competition. ‘Are we shooting ourselves in the foot? I don’t care. We know the market so [well]. . . I think there is so much out there that it’s never going to end,’ he said.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer in Pennsylvania. “The city’s for-sale housing market is experiencing fits and starts on a seemingly unending road to recovery. The luxury rental market, on the other hand, remains hot. Economist Kevin Gillen, who tracks real estate in the region, said, ‘I can’t help but have the same feeling about the rental market today that I had about the housing market back in 2005. I don’t know exactly when the market will rebalance itself between renters and owners,’ Gillen said, ‘but I do know that if something can’t go on indefinitely, it won’t.’”

Foster in New Hampshire. “A large part of the population is still choosing to rent rather than buy, even though rent can cost up to 30 percent of their income. ‘Over the past 5-10 years, we’ve seen a decline in the number of homeowners in the age group from 25-34. What’s happening is that particular age group is putting off home purchase,’ Dan Smith, the director of Housing Research at the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, said.”

“Pat Beaver, who has been selling homes in Strafford County area for more than 15 years, agrees the economy has had a negative effect on the number of young homeowners. Beaver explained that many people refuse to sell unless they can get back what they owe on the house. ‘A lot of people put their houses on the market expecting to cover what they owe against them. During 2003, 2004 and 2008, a lot of those homes were overvalued. A home could be worth $200,000 on paper and actually be worth only $175,000. If you have an overinflated price to begin with, you’re not going to get it back unless the market goes up again and that’s not happening.’”

Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey. “Home sales dropped nationally and in South Jersey in March during the early portion of the spring buying season, according to data from national and state Realtor associations. Some of the inventory includes distressed properties that may be in inferior condition and unappealing to house hunters discouraged by lengthy and uncertain settlement periods.”

“In the first quarter of 2014, foreclosure activity in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties increased faster than the state average of 66 percent from the year before, according to RealtyTrac. In Atlantic County, year-over-year filings — including pre-foreclosures, notices and banks taking ownership of properties — were up 116 percent in the first quarter; 127 percent in Cumberland; 71 percent in Ocean; and 90 percent in Cape May County, RealtyTrac said.”

“‘The only downside we’re having right now is there’s not a lot of quality inventory — a great percentage of the inventory is still distressed sales,’ said Brenda Lawn, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach in Northfield.”

The Lohud Journal News in New York. “In Westchester, foreclosure judgments this first quarter nearly tripled to 180 from 62 in the first quarter of 2013. Rockland County had 46 judgments in the quarter, compared with 18 in first-quarter 2013. ‘The number of foreclosure judgments in the first quarter of 2014 is almost three times the number from the first quarter of 2013,’ Westchester County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni said. ‘But rather than a rash of all new filings, we are seeing a cleanup of situations where homeowners have been in trouble for a long time.’”

“James Passabet Jr., a 27-year mortgage loan professional now with PNC Bank, says he isn’t shocked by a flurry of judgments this first quarter. ‘A lot of these are coming home to roost. It is a function of the system saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ I have known people where it has taken three to four years with reviews, modifications and more paperwork,’ Passabet said. ‘It has finally come to the point where the court is asking if borrowers want to keep the property or walk away.’”

“Putnam had 81 judgments distributed among its six towns, said Michael Bartolotti, first deputy county clerk. The numbers range from 19 in Carmel and 16 in Southeast to four in Philipstown. Rockland had 84 judgments for 2013, with no town immune. An analysis shows there were 26 in Ramapo, 17 in Haverstraw and five in Stony Point, for example. ‘Foreclosures are in every community and (it) causes a certain amount of shell shock in buyers,’ said Bartolotti. ‘People looking to buy are concerned when they see these numbers, and they don’t want this to happen to them.’”

The New York Post. “A Queens man convicted of defrauding distressed homeowners in a mortgage scam is seeing his own Howard Beach home overrun by squatters while he’s sitting in the clink. Neighbors of the two-story house worth $562,000 on 90th Street say the brazen interlopers have been bounced and arrested — but they keep coming back. ‘Who are they, and where did they come from?’ fumed one resident, adding that one squatter laughed when police cuffed him last week. ‘When the cops came, he had no shame.’”

“The house’s owner, Isaak Khafizov, 27, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison last month for bilking people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars after promising to get their mortgages modified and lower their monthly payments. Vicki Tepper, a victim of the scheme, said that with his new home woes, Khafizov was getting ‘what he deserves.’ ‘He messed with a bunch of people’s lives,’ said Tepper, who owns a pet shop in New Jersey. ‘He took our money, and he tricked us into believing things that weren’t true.’”

“Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said a bank has repossessed the home and plans to take legal action to remove the squatters. ‘The most ironic part is the guy went to prison for mortgage fraud, and now his home has been a hub for criminal activity,’ Goldfeder told The Post.”

Bits Bucket for April 29, 2014

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