Saturday, August 27, 2011

The week in summary

On Monday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage delinquencies are rising again:
In another hit to the beleaguered housing market, a report out Monday found that the number of delinquent mortgage borrowers -- those who have missed at least one payment -- rose during the second quarter.

The delinquency rate grew only slightly, up 0.12 percentage points to 8.44%, but that reverses the steady improvement of the past two years.

The increase, as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), may not sound like much, but it could mean that the recovery in the housing market will take even longer than thought.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported declining new home sales for the third month in a row:
U.S. sales of new homes declined in July for the third straight month, a sign of continued woes in the housing market.

Sales fell 0.7% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000, the slowest pace since February, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Sales had reached 316,000 in April before slipping.
New home sales were still up 6.8% year-over-year.

On Wednesday, the FHFA reported that home prices fell 5.9% year-over-year:
Home prices in the U.S. fell 5.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the biggest decline since 2009, as foreclosures added to the inventory of properties for sale.

Prices dropped 0.6 percent from the prior three months, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said today in a report from Washington.

Also on Wednesday came news that Australia's housing bubble may be popping:
One of the few bright spots in real estate amid a three-year global slump, Australia now faces falling home prices and fears of overbuilding.

A downturn in Australia's real estate market will add to concerns of a two-speed economy in the resource-rich nation. Mining profits are surging due to heavy demand from China and other fast-growing Asian countries, but consumer businesses and manufacturing have faltered under the weight of the swollen Australian dollar, which is trading near 30-year highs to the U.S. currency.

On Thursday, RealtyTrac reported that 31% of homes sold were in some stage of foreclosure:
Nearly one-third of all U.S. homes sold in the second quarter of 2011 were in some stage of the foreclosure process or had been repossessed by a lender, according to numbers released today by RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based real estate data provider.

Also on Thursday, the National Association of Realtors says it's really a landlord's market:
NAR expects vacancy rates in multifamily housing will drop from 5.5% to 4.6% in the third quarter of 2012. Vacancies below 5% generally are considered a landlord’s market, the trade group noted.

On Friday, another reason not to be a homeowner: Hurricanes
As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, many Americans are preparing for the worst. But whether they are covered for the ensuing damage is another matter entirely.

Between Wilmington N.C. and Boston, there are nearly 1.9 million residences and businesses that are at risk of storm surge flooding, according to CoreLogic, the financial analytics company. And nearly half of those properties lie outside of a designated flood zone and are likely to lack flood insurance.

Mortgage lenders require homes that lie within designated flood zones to be covered by flood insurance. This low-cost coverage — which runs as low as $129 a year — is provided by the federal government and purchased through insurers like Allstate Insurance and Farmers Insurance Group.

But homes outside of flood zones often go uncovered, mainly because homeowners don't realize that their existing policies don't cover floods or because they don't feel their home are at risk.
If you rent and your place gets flooded, you may lose your belongings, but the landlord takes the expensive structural damage losses.

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