November 3, 2014

Buyers Are Starting To Get A Bit Spooked

The Los Angeles Times reports from California. “Alisha Chen is part of a growing cottage industry of real estate agents, bankers and attorneys who specialize in helping wealthy foreigners buy a little patch of Southern California. She started asking her local clients — many Chinese American immigrants themselves — if they knew anyone back home who might be interested in buying a house here. ‘At first, they were a little leery,’ she recalled. ‘They’d say, ‘OK. I’ll buy one property as an investment.’ Six months later they were amazed at how much they were getting back. They call and say, ‘I want to buy more.’”

“But even she’s starting to wonder how much longer this influx of cash from across the Pacific will last. The Chinese government keeps making noise about clamping down on currency leaving the country. The U.S. government is talking about taxes on foreign investors, which could make buying here a little less attractive. Buyers are starting to get a bit spooked. ‘I think I’m not going to be putting as much energy into this,’ she said. ‘I think the next few years are going to be a good time for first-time buyers.’”

The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. “Home sales in Salt Lake County slipped 3 percent lower for the third quarter, according to data released by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. That represents a decline of almost 9 percent within county boundaries for the nine months ending in September compared with the same period in 2013, a trend market watchers say is linked to higher prices and, possibly, a lack of new homes. ‘We’re just coming off the peak,’ said Angie Domichel Nelden, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, who noted that 2013 marked Utah’s strongest housing market in seven years. ‘This is a little bit of a correction.’”

The Oregonian. “Oregon had the nation’s highest percentage of vacant homes going through the foreclosure process, according to RealtyTrac. About 18 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process nationally had been vacated, the firm says. Within that subset, Oregon had relatively more of these so-called ‘zombie’ foreclosures than any other state. This may herald a new wave of foreclosure proceedings in Oregon.”

“John Helmich, chief executive of Eugene’s Gorilla Capital, which tracks foreclosure filings in most of Oregon, said this month ‘we see zombies in nearly every neighborhood and all have been empty for months or years. We expect more zombies to pass through foreclosure and back into the market over the next few months.’ RealtyTrac said 1,091 — or 36 percent of Oregon’s properties in foreclosure in the third quarter — had been vacated.”

The Times Dispatch in Virginia. “‘Zombie foreclosures are still a problem in some areas and a rising problem in some areas, such as Washington, particularly the Maryland part of D.C., and in New York and New Jersey,’ said Daren Blomquist, VP of RealtyTrac. The report shows that zombie foreclosures rose 40 percent in the Washington area in the third quarter from a year ago and 30 percent and 75 percent, respectively, in New York and New Jersey.”

“‘Virginia has a relatively fast and efficient foreclosure process that doesn’t allow for zombie foreclosures to develop,’ Blomquist said. ‘When you have a foreclosure process that takes three to four years, it opens the door to more vacated and abandoned properties.’ The average amount of time to foreclosure on a house in Virginia was 232 days in the third quarter, he said. The national average was 615 days.”

The Leader Post in Canada. “With more than 400 unsold new housing units on the market, Regina’s housing construction activity is expected to slow by 25 per cent in 2014, followed by an 8.5 per cent reduction in 2015 and a 2.3 per cent decline in 2016, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. fall housing market forecast. Stu Niebergall, CEO of the Regina Region Home Builders’ Association, said the CMHC forecast seems reasonable and agreed that the unsold inventory of new housing units is holding the Regina market back somewhat. He added that Regina still has a ‘reasonably healthy market.’ ‘We’re at very low risk of seeing a big housing price correction. But I don’t think we’ll see price escalation for quite a period of time.’”

From News 10 in New York. “Foreclosures have become a major problem in areas all over the country, including the Capital Region. According to Realtytrac, 2,416 Capital Region homes fell into some form of foreclosure in 2008 - a 152% jump over 2007. There’s a common misconception that foreclosures are only happening in lower-income neighborhoods such as Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill, but that’s just not the case. ‘Because they were first-time home buyers and they were buying in a specific neighborhood and they were lower income potential buyers,’ explained counselor Patricia Hall-Murray.”

“She told NEWS10 that there are communities in Rotterdam or Bellevue that have as many as eight or nine houses for sale within a block or two. ‘There’s just so many people that are in trouble, and it’s just not one segment of people or not one income level of people, it’s really across the board,’ she said. ‘You have people that are overwhelmed, frustrated, angry.’”

Bits Bucket for November 3, 2014

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