Well it looks like old man winter showed up a little earlier than usual this year. The unusually large snow was a welcome sight for the local ski areas and the school kids who got to miss a couple of days of school. We are looking forward to a snow-packed, fun filled, water producing year.
A smaller percentage of mortgages were delinquent and the rate of those entering the foreclosure process slowed in the fourth quarter of 2009, possible signs that the foreclosure crisis that has gripped many of the nation’s housing markets is finally starting to ease, a trade group has reported.
“We are likely seeing the beginning of the end of the unprecedented wave of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures that started with the subprime defaults in early 2007,” said Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association, in a written statement.
The delinquency rate for mortgages on one- to four-unit residential properties was a seasonally adjusted 9.47% of all mortgages outstanding in the fourth quarter, down from 9.64% in the third quarter and up from 7.88% in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the MBA’s quarterly delinquency survey.
Delinquencies include mortgages that are at least one payment or more past due but not yet in foreclosure.
Meanwhile, 1.2% of outstanding mortgages entered the foreclosure process in the fourth quarter, down from 1.42% in the third quarter and up from 1.08% in the fourth quarter of 2008. The percentage of mortgages at some point in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 4.58%, up from 4.47% in the third quarter and 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The MBA survey covers about 44.4 million loans on one- to four-unit residential properties, or about 85% of all first-lien residential mortgage loans that are outstanding in the country. No doubt, the foreclosure nightmare isn’t over yet.
The percentages of loans 90 days or more past due and loans in foreclosure process set record highs in the fourth quarter, according to the report. Many of those loans more than 90 days past due are in loan modification programs, and some of them have been seriously delinquent for months waiting for modifications to get finalized.
But the good news is there are fewer problem loans actually entering delinquency—likely a result of fewer layoffs, Brinkmann said. “We normally see a large spike in short-term mortgage delinquencies at the end of the year due to heating bills, Christmas expenditures and other seasonal factors. Not only did we not see that spike but the 30-day delinquencies actually fell by 16 basis points from 3.79% to 3.63%,” he said. He added that the non-seasonally adjusted 30-day delinquency rate has only dropped three times in the past between the third and fourth quarter—”and never by this magnitude.”
Depending on the fate of seriously delinquent mortgages—whether they are cured with modifications or ultimately enter foreclosure—the percentage of mortgages somewhere in the foreclosure process could start to see a gradual decline in the second half of the year, he said during a conference call with reporters.
If normal seasonal patterns hold, there could be a bigger drop in the 30-day delinquency rate in the first quarter of 2010, Brinkmann said. That would be a positive sign for the months and years ahead. “The continued and sizable drop in the 30-day delinquency rate is a concrete sign that the end may be in sight,” he said. “With fewer new loans going bad, the pool of seriously delinquent loans and foreclosures will eventually begin to shrink once the rate at which these problems are resolved exceeds the rate at which new problems come in. “It also gives us growing confidence that the size of the problem now is about as bad as it will get,” he said.
According to the MBA data, Florida was the most problematic state, in terms of delinquencies. Twenty-six percent of Florida mortgages were one payment or more past due at the end of the year, and 20.4% of mortgages in the state were 90 days or more past due or already in the foreclosure process.
National average mortgage rates declined from the previous week to 4.72% in the latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey released weekly by Freddie Mac on June 10th. Rates have recorded weekly declines in seven out of the past nine weeks. Fixed mortgage rates are now just slightly higher than the all-time low of 4.71% set in December 2009.
Studies have shown that may times putting money into the outside of your home produces a greater return than investing inside.
The following popular outside improvement projects will increase the curb appeal or value of a home:
Adirondack chairs—Uniquely-American classic outdoor furniture is made entirely of wood and has a straight back and seat, which are set at a slant to sit comfortably on a hillside or mountain incline, but still be comfortable at any angle.
Gazebo—A gazebo can be freestanding or attached to a garden wall, roofed and open on all sizes to provide shade or shelter.
Planters and window boxes—Planters have become popular because they are both functional and ornamental. Additionally, some can be moved frequently to account for seasonal weather or just to create a change in scenery.
Picnic table—Picnic tables go well on a patio or a deck, but equally as well on the grass or under a tree in the yard. A traditional picnic table is all in one piece so that it wears well without a lot of maintenance.
Trellis—A trellis can function as a unique sun screen or it can be the framework for an outdoor hanging garden. Building it with pressure treated lumber can add life by minimizing rotting and other threats.
Trash can corral or compost bin—While many outdoor projects tend to be cosmetic in nature, here are two ideas that are both practical and pretty. With a trash can corral, you can hide unsightly trash cans and with a compost bin, you can reduce your own carbon footprint in a way that doesn’t take away from the visual appeal of the place.
The following is insite to what a majority of people think about buying a foreclosure and what is actually true. I hope it helps.
Trulia.com and RealtyTrac recently surveyed US adults to get some insight into what people *think* is involved with buying a foreclosure. Here are the Top 10 Myths that came up, and the facts to set the record straight:
1. Foreclosures need a huge amount of work. 92 percent of consumers expressed that if they bought a foreclosure, they would be willing to make home improvements after they closed the deal, with 65 percent being willing to invest 20 percent or less of the purchase price. Although stories of foreclosures missing plumbing and every electrical fixture are very memorable, many foreclosed homes need only the (relatively inexpensive) cosmetics that many new homeowners want to customize no matter what kind of home they’re buying: paint, carpet, etc.
2. Foreclosures sell at massive discounts, compared to other homes. Almost every member – 95 percent – of the surveyed group expected to pay less for a foreclosed home than for a similar, non-foreclosed home; 18 percent had realistic expectations of less than a 25 percent discount. However, 36 percent expected to receive a bargain basement discount of 50 percent or more off the value of a similar non-foreclosure. Reality check: while foreclosures might be discounted massively from what the former owner paid or owed, their discounts are much more modest when compared to their value on today’s market and the prices of similar homes.
3. Buying a foreclosure is risky. 49% of respondents said they perceived buying a foreclosure as risky. And yes – buying a foreclosure at the auction on the county courthouse steps can have risks, including the risk the new owner will take on the former’s owner’s liens and other loans. But most buyers looking for foreclosures are looking at bank-owned properties, which are listed on the open market with other, ‘regular’ homes. Buying these homes is really no more risky than buying a non-foreclosed home.
4. You can’t get inspections on the property when you buy a foreclosed home. County auction foreclosures don’t often offer the ability for buyers to have the homes inspected. But virtually all bank-owned properties for sale on the open market not only allow, but encourage buyers to obtain every inspection they deem necessary. This is because almost every bank sells their foreclosed homes as-is, and they want to avoid later liability. It’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure that the buyer has full information about the property’s condition before they close the deal.
5. There are hidden costs to watch out for when buying a foreclosed home. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents who felt there is a negative stigma to buying a foreclosure expressed the concern that buying a foreclosure poses the danger of hidden costs. At some foreclosure auctions, there are buyer’s premiums and other hefty fees that can really add up and take a chunk out of the effective savings the buyer stood to realize. However, when you buy a bank-owned property that is listed for sale with a real estate agent, the closing costs are the same as they would be if you bought a non-foreclosed home. Overdue property taxes, HOA dues and other bills left behind by the defaulting homeowner are cleared by the bank that owns a foreclosed home before it is sold on the market, though these items should be watched out for if you buy a home at the county foreclosure auction.
6. Foreclosures are more likely to lose their value than “regular” homes. Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults who believed there are downsides to buying foreclosed properties believed this myth. In fact, because foreclosures often offer a discount from the home’s current market value, they may offer some degree of insulation from further depreciation. Whether a home loses its value or not has to do with the dynamics of the local market, including the area’s supply of homes, demand for homes, interest rates and the health of the employment market – not with whether the home was or was not a foreclosure at the time it was purchased.
7. Most foreclosures happen when homeowners just walk away. Out of homeowners with a mortgage, only 1 percent said walking away from their home would be their first choice if they were unable to pay their mortgage. And a whopping 59 percent of mortgage-holders said they wouldn’t walk away from their home – no matter how upside down they were on their mortgage. Most foreclosures happen when the owners lose their jobs or their mortgage adjusts to the point where they absolutely cannot pay the mortgage, no matter how hard they try. Voluntary ‘walk-away’s are simply not as popular as many people think.
8. When you buy a foreclosure, you should lowball the bank – they are desperate to get these homes off their books. Stories about in the press abound about the large numbers of foreclosed homes the banks have on their books. We’ve all heard the adage that banks have no interest in owning these properties. But the real deal is that they’re simply not desperate enough to give these places away. Also, the banks mostly service the defaulted loans – they don’t own them. Various groups of investors do, and they hold the banks accountable to selling the bank-owned property at as high a price as possible, helping them cut their losses. Many banks won’t even consider lowball offers, and many bank-owned properties actually sell for above the asking price. Before a bank will take a lowball offer, they will almost always reduce the list price first, and see if that attracts a higher offer than the lowball one they have in hand.
9. You need to be able to pay in cash in order to buy a foreclosure. Again, if you buy a foreclosed home on the county courthouse steps, you might need to bring a cashier’s check and be ready to pay for the place on the spot. By contrast, bank-owned homes are bought through a more normal real estate transaction, which means buyers can obtain a mortgage to finance the home just like they would if the home weren’t a foreclosure. It is true, though, that in some markets, banks prefer offers from cash buyers, but this tends to be in situations where the property’s condition is pretty dire, and the bank knows this may make it hard for a buyer to obtain financing.
10. It’s easier to buy a foreclosure with bad credit if you get a mortgage with the same bank that owns the property. Think about it: why would the bank want to end up with the same property as a foreclosure, again? Well, that’s what would happen if they allowed buyers with low credit scores to buy their foreclosures just to earn the interest on the mortgage. In reality, many banks do offer incentives like lower fees or closing cost credits for buyers who use their bank for their mortgage. But the buyers must meet the same credit, income and other qualification standards as anyone else would to seal the deal.
Jazzercise instructors and students from South Lake Tahoe will perform in a half time routine during the Sacramento Kings basketball game at the ARCO Arena on Saturday. The group of 25 women will join 100 other Jazzercise enthusiasts during the performance to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Instructor Sherry Baiocchi said each performer was required to raise at least $100 for Make-A-Wish.
“Everyone has been working hard to get as many sponsors as possible,” Baiocchi said. “The donation from everyone participating will be substantial.”
Baiocchi said Jazzercise has been in South Lake Tahoe for more than 30 years, with classes at Kahle Community Center and the South Lake Tahoe
St. Theresa Catholic School is hosting its 16th annual “Claws for Cause” crab dinner and auction at 6 p.m. Friday in Grace Hall, 1041 Lyons Ave.
Proceeds from the event benefit the private school. The event is for adults 21 and over. Childcare is available for $15 per child in the social hall.
No-host cocktails begin at 6 p.m., the crab dinner is at 7 p.m., followed by the live auction at 8:30 p.m.
Every class, from preschool to eighth grade, will sponsor a gift basket for the silent auction.
Volunteers are still needed.
Tickets are $40 per person in advance, $45 at the door.
For information, visit www.stslaketahoe.org/crabdinner10.html or call (530) 544-8944.
Better Homes and Gardens recently revealed proprietary research and insights on what consumers are looking for in their next home and overall priorities guiding current and future home improvement projects.
In a speech at the NAHB International Builders Show, Eliot Nusbaum, Better Homes and Gardens Executive Editor Home Design, presented the results of the Next Home Survey along with reported trends from a nationwide network of field editors, the magazine’s Home Improvement Challenge and editorial coverage.
The survey of nationwide potential new home buyers and existing home owners who are planning improvements in the next few months found top priorities to include price, energy-efficiency, organization and comfort.
“Not surprisingly, we continue to see a ‘cents and sensibility’ approach when it comes to buying or improving a home, with practicality and price being top priorities,” said Nusbaum. “Today’s homeowner is also looking for a home that fits the entire family–from a multi-tasking home office, to expanding storage space needs, to a living room that can adapt to advancements in home entertainment and technology.”
Future Home Buyers
A Smaller and More Energy-Efficient Home
Continuing the “downsizing” trend, more consumers (36% in 2009; 32% in 2008) expect their next home to be “somewhat smaller” or “much smaller.”
A greener home will be a priority, with 87% planning to have high-efficiency heating/cooling in their next home and 86% planning to have high-efficiency appliances; 24.9% will have geo-thermal heat.
When asked how today’s housing market and economic turmoil have impacted priorities for their next home, 76% said energy-efficient heating and cooling systems will be “more important” and for 70%, Energy Star appliances will be “more important.”
Almost half (48%) say green building practices/materials will be “more important” when purchasing their next home.
An Organized, Multi-Tasking Home with No Wasted Space
The home office is a priority as 59% of consumers plan to have one in the home. Of those, only 28% want a separate dedicated home office space (compared to 64% in 2008), with one-third (33%) now wanting a more multi-purposed space, such as combined office/computer/hobby/craft/art room.
A well organized home is key, with 66% of respondents listing “no-space-wasted” design and 62% listing ample storage space as attributes that will take on more importance.
Also on the ‘wish list’ for the next home is: a separate laundry room (85%); an outdoor grilling and living area (68%); a kitchen with eating area (67%); and an extra bedroom with bath (65%).
America’s love affair with the large garage continues to flourish with 37% of consumers now wanting a 3-car or larger garage compared to 29% in 2008.
A Family-Friendly Home
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers consider a comfortable family gathering space to be top priority in their next home.
Of lesser interest this year is a kitchen, family and everyday eating area combined in one space (49% vs 56% in 2008) replaced by significantly greater interest in a family room partially separated from the kitchen (42% vs 27% in 2008).
There is also an increased desire (51% vs 44% in 2008) for a wall-mounted flat screen TV in the main family living area and for networked computers/home entertainment center (48% vs 43% in 2008).
“With the economy still a major concern, right now it’s more about the ‘got to’ improvements than the ‘want to’ improvements,” said Nusbaum. “The focus is now on low-cost improvements that will pack a big punch.”
With only 16% feeling “now is the right time to spend” on home improvements vs 38% saying “now is not the right time to spend,” 52% are focusing their efforts on needed repairs and maintenance.
Three-quarters (76%) say the economy has had an impact on their home improvement plans, with half (50%) having changed their home improvement plans during the last year.
Smaller projects prove to be the most popular, such as painting a room (54%), replacing/adding flooring or carpeting (38%), decorating/redecorating a room (35%) and landscaping the yard (30%).
Energy-efficiency is also a focus of future home projects, with respondents placing importance on installation of Energy Star windows/doors (34%), high-efficiency heating/cooling (31%) and Energy Star appliances (31%).
Widespread teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and increased economic hardship for children are among the impacts California’s budget crisis and the recession have had on public schools and students, according to a report released Thursday.
Researchers at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access interviewed 87 elementary, middle and high principals across California to gauge the impact of the recession and budget cuts on student welfare and school learning environments.
Before the recession began, California K-12 public schools, which were among the nation’s best in the 1960s, already ranked near the bottom nationally in many measures of academic achievement and school quality.
The economic downturn and state budget crisis has undermined recent academic gains and widened the disparity between schools in rich and poor communities, said John Rogers, the institute’s director.
“It’s taken California several steps backward on the road to improvement,” Rogers said. “It’s also harmed the long-term prospects for California to rebuild a quality education system.”
The report, called “Educational Opportunities in Hard Times,” found that:
— 62 percent of principals reported that teachers in their schools had been laid off, threatened with layoffs or reassigned to other schools. The number of actual layoffs was four times greater at schools in poorer communities than wealthier communities.
— 67 percent reported that class sizes had increased, with 74 percent of elementary school principals reporting larger class sizes.
— 75 percent reported that summer school had been reduced or eliminated.
— 75 percent reported reductions in instructional materials and supplies.
— 70 percent reported cuts to professional development programs.
— 67 percent reported growing housing insecurity, which includes homelessness, families moving in together and families moving away for economic reasons.
— 51 percent reported an increase in the health, psychological or social service needs of their students.
Many principals are seeing the impact on rising unemployment and poverty on their students as parents lose their jobs and homes, according to the report. About two-thirds said their schools have referred students and families to health and social service providers.
If your idea of a dream retirement home is a luxury contemporary overlooking a championship golf course in the desert, you better be prepared for some mighty small block parties: When it comes to retirement living, golf courses are out.
And Arizona and Florida aren’t the only retirement-relocation hot spots these days. In fact, North and South Carolina now top the preferences of baby boomers who will be retiring in the next decade, according to a survey to be released from home builder Del Webb. “How times have changed when it comes to the golf course,” said Paul Cardis, chief executive of AVID Ratings Co., a survey research firm. His recommendation to builders: Eliminate it. Bike paths and walking trails are the new greens and fairways.
Blame it all on the economy. The recession has taken its toll not only on nest eggs but also on the traditional concept of a retirement home. That’s the message that attendees at the International Builders Show received in a number of presentations and seminars.
Downsizing is a trend that is taking hold among all housing consumers, but it is particularly evident among the 55-plus crowd that includes the older baby boomers. And that downsizing includes housing aspirations in retirement. While “warmer climate” was the reigning factor in choosing where to retire in the first boomer survey Del Webb conducted in 1996, today “cost of living” is the most important consideration on where to locate. Although Florida, Arizona and California remain Top 10 retirement destinations, the trend is giving other states a chance to draw even more retirees.
Despite the broadening of potential destinations, baby boomers’ desire to move in retirement has remained relatively stable over the years. Between 30-40% plan to move to a new home in retirement, about the same as in 1996, and half of those plan on moving to a new state.
What older buyers want in homes
What kind of houses will be in demand among those 55 and older? According to a consumer survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, the most important design features that 55-plus buyers want in their homes center on the practical:
-Washers and dryers in their units
-Windows that open easily
-First-floor master bedrooms
A lot of the more popular features in new homes these days don’t appeal all that much to older buyers:
-Island work areas
-Private toilet compartments
But a number of items that home buyers don’t find to be of much interest are much more popular with older buyers:
-Bathroom aids such as grab bars
-Light home-repair services
-Outdoor maintenance services
-An entrance without steps
-Accessible public transportation
Among technology features, older home buyers tend to act like younger buyers when it comes to the basics: Both groups have a preference for security systems, energy management, structured wiring and lighting controls. But older buyers had little use for home theaters, distributed audio or home automation, more-expensive items that younger buyers do like. “These older buyers are frugal, probably on a fixed income and so expensive tech items are not that big on their lists,” said Rose Quint, the NAHB assistant vice president for survey research.
The emphasis on services related to home and community is an important one that cuts across many age groups, said John Migliaccio, director of research at MetLife’s Mature Market Institute, which surveys consumers and builders on retirement issues. “Very telling is that the younger group of mature consumers reported enthusiastically that they want services like home maintenance and repair as part of their next home purchase, along with services usually connected to older householders, such as housekeeping, onsite health care and transportation,” he said.
According to Migliaccio, all of those items were ranked higher than the desire for social activities by this group—a surprise given that social activities and amenities have been thought to be valued highly by this group. He said the data support an emerging trend among builders to look for ways to partner with providers of such services to the residents of their active adult/lifestyle communities.
Migliaccio also predicted that universal design—which includes features such as wider hallways, lever-handled doors, roll-in showers and no-stair entries—will catch on as baby boomers watch their own parents age. “The boomers are going to see their own parents age without it and they won’t like what they see,” he said.
The 55-plus age group represents 38% of all U.S. households and is projected to rise every year to be almost 45% of households by 2019. And that group has high homeownership rates: while the U.S. as a whole has about a 67% ownership rate, those 55 to 74 own homes at an 80% clip. “Most buyers in this market are looking for an easy-living lifestyle. They would like easy access to services that will free up their time from maintenance both inside and outside their homes,” said Mike McGowan, a 50-plus builder from Binghamton, N.Y. and chairman of the National Association of Home Builder’s 50-Plus Housing Council. “This data tells builders that the homes they build for older active adults will remain attractive to the consumers who will be entering that market for the foreseeable future.”