August 18, 2015

An Itch That Won’t Go Away

CBS DFW reports from Texas. “When Erika Williamson originally moved to Downtown Dallas in the late ’90s, she was a trailblazer. Today, she’s joined poolside on the 9th floor of her Main Street loft building with others walking their dogs or improving tans. ‘This is a neighborhood now,’ proclaimed Shalissa Colwell, downtown resident and marketing director for Downtown Dallas Inc. She points to an estimated 4,000 new housing units on-line and/or planned for the Downtown sector. ‘People from California, Chicago and other locations want this lifestyle. Many are empty nesters who love to walk to the bars and restaurants.’”

“Williamson moved back to downtown last year. ‘I have everything I want here now. A grocery store would be nice, though,’ she said.”

The Register Guard in Oregon. “A flood of sales and new listings since October has pushed median prices to their highest levels since the months before the Great Recession, and the market may now have accelerated into a full-scale boom. ‘I’ve been selling homes for 23 years, and June and July were the best two months I’ve ever seen,’ said Kim Heddinger, co-owner of Golden Realty in Eugene. ‘It’s even better than the mid-2000s.’”

“The city has granted final approval since Jan. 1 for 15 new subdivisions totaling 515 single-family home lots, a review of land use records show. In the previous five years, 22 subdivisions with a total of 331 lots received city approval. The supply of residential land in Eugene and Springfield ‘is extremely low, and what’s on the market for sale right now is grossly overpriced,’ said builder Rick Sorric.”

The Star Tribune in Minnesota. “North Minneapolis residents still reeling from the Great Recession offered a surprising reaction when developers unveiled plans to build homes that would sell for up to $300,000. They won’t sell, members of a neighborhood board said. There’s no one in the area with that kind of income. The houses will sit empty. ‘I don’t know how you expect people to go spend $300,000 even for a kick-ass house,’ one unidentified community member said.”

“When neighborhood association chairwoman Ann Moe hears of people looking for $300,000 homes, her response is, ‘Why would they want to live in my neighborhood?’”

Vegas Inc. in Nevada. “Coyote Springs, launched by former powerhouse lobbyist and current prison inmate Harvey Whittemore, has a golf course and little else. But it was supposed to be a 43,000-acre community, a city built from scratch in the middle of nowhere during Southern Nevada’s go-go years. But now, years after the massive project fell by the wayside, Coyote Springs’ developers are trying to revive it. The group has approvals to build as many as 159,600 homes and more than 10,000 acres of commercial property.”

“There are no homes — dozens of empty housing pads line the golf course — and when asked whether roads have been built, general counsel Emilia Cargill said that’s ‘kind of a trick question.’ Most haven’t been paved yet. The golf shop and players’ lounge are in temporary trailers, and north of the golf course, an abandoned, partially built community center sits off U.S. 93. ‘Why would you want to live out here?’ said Manjinder Lalh, visiting from Edmonton, Alberta. ‘You’re so far from everything.’”

The Tampa Bay Times in Florida. “The chief economist of Fannie Mae, the national mortgage giant, came to town this week with a mixed bag of news about the housing market. ‘Demographics drive housing,’ Doug Duncan said. ‘What turns renters into buyers is employment and income. We’ve seen employment pick up but not yet income. This is the weakest recovery of the last eight recessions. In no previous recession until this one did people expect their incomes to fall. In this one, they expected them to fall a lot. Is that a good environment to buy a house? No.’”

“Asked if the ’shadow inventory’ of foreclosed houses could affect prices, Duncan said bank-owned homes are ‘moving through the system so slowly’ that they won’t have much of an impact.”

The New York Post. “Foreclosure cases that drag on for years without resolution, however, have become a quiet crisis in New York, particularly for homeowners who have dared to fight back against dubious foreclosure claims by banks and investors. New Yorker Ron D., who declined to give his full name out of concern for his family’s privacy, has been struggling for more than five years to sort out who owns the loan on his metro-area home. He and his wife now live with their adult child, and don’t know when they will be able to sell their former dream house and pay their debts. ‘This thing has become an itch that won’t go away,’ he said.”

“Cynthia Carssow Franklin has been battling Wells Fargo since filing for bankruptcy protection in White Plains in 2010 to avoid foreclosure on her Texas home after an unrelated investment went bad. The fight has held up Franklin’s discharge from bankruptcy, and limited her access to credit and ability to rent an apartment. She lives with her boyfriend, devoting six to 10 hours a week to her case. ‘We’re trapped,’ she told The Post.”

The Baltimore Sun in Maryland. “The four-bedroom, 2.5-bath home on Cromwell Bridge Road in Towson listed in June for $324,900. And lingered. June Piper-Brandon, a real estate agent with Century 21 New Millennium, and the seller, David Walcher, recently reduced the price by about $25,000. Even so, no one showed up at an open house this weekend. ‘We keep dropping the price and hoping,’ Piper-Brandon said.”

“So far this year, the median price has fallen about 1.6 percent and remains about 10 percent off the 2007 peak. The disconnect between local and national prices coupled with the increased demand may be causing pricing confusion in the Baltimore market. Piper-Brandon said some homeowners have gotten encouraged to sell as more emerge from being underwater. But many prospective buyers are still backing away and opting to rent. ‘We’re certainly seeing people going back to work, but they’re not making as much money as they used to make,’ she said.”

“The region’s stagnant prices also reflect a continued churn of distressed properties, which drag down prices while feeding supply. Foreclosures and short sales increased 43.5 percent year-over-year in July, to 673, or 18.5 percent of all transactions. Many of the distressed properties date to delinquencies that started in the recession, and are just now appearing as the market adjusts to regulatory changes. ‘It’s that lingering overhang,’ said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. ‘The serious delinquency rate has come down a great deal in the Baltimore market. It’s still really high.’”

“After dropping the price on his home, Walche said his family is in no rush — they just found a bigger home with a pool they liked more. They bought the property from a bank after a foreclosure, so there’s some wiggle room. ‘I think this may be an opportunity for somebody to take advantage of the situation we’re in and get a good deal that might not be available at other times,’ said Walcher, an insurance agent. ‘If it doesn’t sell, OK, I had planned to live here for 20 years anyway.”

Bits Bucket for August 18, 2015

Post off-topic ideas, links, and Craigslist finds here.