December 16, 2014

Where Did All The Investors Go?

The Orlando Sentinel reports from Florida. “Orlando-area home sales have slowed, the inventory of house listings is up, houses are taking longer to sell and sellers have less negotiating power than they did a year ago, according to a report. Orlando Regional Realtor Association Chairman Zola Szerencses, said the market conditions should appeal to buyers. ‘With the average interest rate at its lowest point in 18 months — 4.01 percent — plus an inventory plumped up with new foreclosures, our winter housing market has many gifts to offer buyers,’ he said.”

From Boston Curbed in Massachusetts. “Everyone knows that the Luxury Glutpocalypse has hit Greater Boston: too many new higher-end apartments, too few tenants for them, and a lot of gobsmacking incentives to try and right the market ship. You can see that the decreases have been steepest in areas that have seen some of the briskest development of luxury apartments (Back Bay, downtown Boston, Chinatown). Let’s not kid ourselves, however: The rent decreases in these areas throughout the year have been relatively slight (no greater than 5 percent in downtown, for instance) and rents overall were up a little more than 2 percent. But it’s interesting to note that some of the biggest drops—and the slightest increases, for that matter—came in areas where big luxury complexes have recently opened.”

The Northwest Herald in Illinois. “Sure, it’s December and that often brings a slowdown in the real estate market. Regardless of the holiday season, it seems that even November was down a little, too. In fact, all of 2014 has been a tad off from what we saw in 2013. So what’s going on? Where did all the investors go? Agents tell me that many of their investors have pulled out of the market, thereby, cooling the market after the 2013 rally in McHenry County.”

“But why aren’t people buying? Interest rates remain incredible at historic lows. Shouldn’t that drive the market to buy? Maybe it will take a significant rise in rates to get people buying. The old timers tell me that in the 1980s – when interest rates were 16 percent to 18 percent – people were in fear of rates going higher so they frantically applied for loans. Yet, here we are on the other end and banks can’t give money away.”

The Los Angeles Times in California. “As the year draws to a close, Southern California’s housing market remains stuck in low gear. The number of homes sold in the six-county Southland dipped 9.5% in November, compared with the same month last year. The median price climbed to $412,000, up 7% from November 2013 but basically unchanged from recent months, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. ‘Southern California home sales are closing on a low note in 2014,’ said Andrew LePage, a data analyst for CoreLogic DataQuick. ‘Inventory still lags demand in many markets and traditional buyers haven’t filled the void left by the investors who’ve pulled out.’”

The Pacific Business News on Hawaii. “Foreclosures rose 40 percent statewide in Hawaii last month and more than doubled on the Big Island in , according to RealtyTrac. The newest numbers reflect the fact that mediation didn’t work for some homeowners, said Darin Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. Anders Hostelley, president of Honolulu HomeLoans, pointed to a Hawaii law that requires attorneys to file documents affirming that lenders have the legal right to foreclose before they can start foreclosure proceedings, something that they were previously allowed to do later.”

“‘Attorneys needed to change their procedure and timing in filing foreclosure actions, which they have most likely been able to catch up on,’ Hostelley said. ‘This could be part of the reason for the recent spike in foreclosures.’”

The New York Post. “Real estate brokers Carol E. Levy and Chris Lipman have the kind of apartment most New Yorkers can only dream of. But now, the custom-made winding entrance steps serves as a border between hostile camps. The duo divorced in 2012, and though the split was far from amicable, Lipman lives on the 17th floor in the guest bedroom, surrounded by a media room and the sole kitchen, while Levy lives upstairs in the 18th-floor master suite with her new husband. Levy and Lipman’s two teenage daughters also share the upper floor. The exes intend to stay in this unorthodox situation until the sale of their marital home, which came onto the market for $24 million, and has been reduced to $18 million to speed the sale.”

“Levy and Lipman are just one of many couples in the city who are living together after their romantic relationships expire, mostly due to financial situations and the high cost of New York housing. ‘The current scarcity of real estate options in New York City for people going through a litigated divorce often makes co-habitating the only viable option,’ says Todd Spodek, divorce attorney and partner at Spodek Law Group in Tribeca. ‘Plus, if you voluntarily move out and can support yourself, your claim for [spousal] support is diminished.’”

Bits Bucket for December 16, 2014

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