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.
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
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.”
After more than a year of talking about it, actual change has finally arrived for the tens of millions of Americans who rely on credit cards.
Come February 22, 2010, card lenders will be barred from raising interest rates on most borrowers’ existing balances—a practice that increasingly irked consumers over the last decade and one of several that federal regulators and lawmakers finally barred as unfair and deceptive.
But the new law already requires banks to give cardholders 45 days’ notice of any change in terms. So if your bank didn’t mail you a rate-change notice by January 7, 2010, you no longer face a doubling or tripling of your interest rate on your current balance—as long as you keep paying and don’t fall 60 days late. The Federal Reserve recently issued more than 1,100 pages of rules telling card issuers how to implement that new prohibition and other elements of the nation’s new credit card law, whose main terms take effect February 22.
If you’re a “convenience user” of credit cards—one of the four in 10 cardholders who pay off your bill each month—you’ll be less affected than those who carry a balance. But pay attention, anyway, because the new rules are forcing the card industry to reevaluate business models that for too long relied on tricks and traps to generate revenue. It isn’t yet clear how the card market will evolve, especially since this is playing out during the middle of a deep and painful recession.
Still, many of last year’s dire warnings don’t seem to be coming true. “Rewards” programs haven’t vanished, nor have annual fees suddenly become the norm. Average rates even dipped in November 2009, which the bankers called evidence that “issuers are working to keep rates down even in these tough times.”
In short, good customers still seem able to enjoy the benefits of paying with plastic without shouldering much more of the costs. And that’s unlikely to change, because of competition and also because of one of the basic dynamics of the credit card business: Since they also get lucrative fees from the companies that accept plastic payments, the last thing card issuers want is to steer you to start paying with cash or checks.
Highlights of the new rules include
-No rate increases on existing balances. The dirty little secret of what card issuers called “risk-based pricing” was that some of the best prices were offered to some of the riskiest customers. The trick was that they knew they could profit by offering lucrative deals to these customers because they could predict that some portion would soon be paying much more—often “default” or “penalty” rates topping 30%—on big balances.
Sometimes the new rate was triggered by a late payment of a few hours. Sometimes it was triggered by a late payment to another creditor. Sometimes it was caused by nothing more than a dip in a consumer’s credit score and contract terms allowing rates to be changed “at any time for any reason.”
What’s changed: Except for introductory rates, which must last at least six months, interest rates cannot be raised on existing balances except in rare situations, such as if a cardholder falls 60 days late.
-Faster payoffs for some borrowers. The new law also ends a trap sprung on cardholders who were lured by low-interest or no-interest balance-transfer offers but didn’t read the fine print. If they subsequently used the card for purchases carrying a higher rate, they soon found that they were accumulating interest no matter how much they paid each month. Card issuers would not allow them to pay off the purchases until the low-rate or interest-free balances had been fully paid. What’s changed: Starting February 22, any payment over the monthly minimum must go toward paying down the portion of the balance carrying the highest interest rate.
-No increases for the first 12 months. When it comes to new purchases, less has changed. You may still face an interest-rate increase based on triggers in your card contract- even for tardiness paying another creditor, the trap that came to be known as the “universal default.” But there are two key differences. The first is that since August 2009, you’ve been entitled to 45 days’ notice and the right to say “no, thanks” to new terms. The second is that, as of February 22, a card issuer cannot raise your rate during the first year an account is open, unless an “introductory rate” is expiring and the “go to” rate was plainly disclosed at the start. Of course, since card issuers can no longer apply new rates to old balances, opting out may no longer be the best solution, in part because the law allows the issuer to double your monthly minimum. You’d be better off if you simply quit using the card. But if the issuer imposes a new annual fee, opting out may be your only alternative.
-New billing and payment terms. Starting in February, your card company must mail or deliver your bill at least three weeks before your payment is due, and give you a consistent monthly due date. Payments must be credited if they arrive by 5 p.m. on the due date. And if that day falls on a Sunday or holiday, you’ll be entitled to an extra day.
-Over-limit charges. As of February 22, a card company has to ask whether you want it to approve charges that push you over your credit limit. If you say yes, the issuer can only charge you one over-limit fee per month. And if you opt out, it can’t charge you a fee if it allows such a purchase.
-Young borrowers. If you’re under 21 and want a credit card, you’ll now need to show that you have the financial resources to make payments, or obtain a cosigner.
-Big changes still ahead. This isn’t the last of the new credit card rules. By August 2010, the Federal Reserve has to decide how to implement two of the trickiest parts of the new law: its requirements that penalty fees be “reasonable and proportional,” and that card issuers who have raised customers’ rates since Jan. 1, 2009, reevaluate those rates to see if they should be reduced, and to do so at least every six months.
In an effort to stabilize home values and improve conditions in communities where foreclosure activity is high, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan recently announced a temporary policy that will expand access to FHA mortgage insurance and allow for the quick resale of foreclosed properties. The announcement is part of the Obama administration’s commitment to addressing foreclosure. Secretary Donovan recently announced $2 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants to local communities and nonprofit housing developers to combat the effects of vacant and abandoned homes.
“As a result of the tightened credit market, FHA-insured mortgage financing is often the only means of financing available to potential home buyers,” said Donovan. “FHA has an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill its mission by helping many home buyers find affordable housing while contributing to neighborhood stabilization.”
With certain exceptions, FHA currently prohibits insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days. This temporary waiver will give FHA borrowers access to a broader array of recently foreclosed properties.
“This change in policy is temporary and will have very strict conditions and guidelines to assure that predatory practices are not allowed,” Donovan said.
In today’s market, FHA research finds that acquiring, rehabilitating and reselling these properties to prospective homeowners often takes less than 90 days. Prohibiting the use of FHA mortgage insurance for a subsequent resale within 90 days of acquisition adversely impacts the willingness of sellers to allow contracts from potential FHA buyers because they must consider holding costs and the risk of vandalism associated with allowing a property to sit vacant over a 90-day period of time.
The policy change will permit buyers to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties, or properties resold through private sales. This will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities.
“FHA borrowers, because of the restrictions we are now lifting, have often been shut out from buying affordable properties,” said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This action will enable our borrowers, especially first-time buyers, to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The waiver will take effect on February 1, 2010 and is effective for one year, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by the FHA Commissioner. To protect FHA borrowers against predatory practices of “flipping,” where properties are quickly resold at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers, this waiver is limited to those sales meeting the following general conditions:
-All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction.
-In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20% or more above the seller’s acquisition cost, the waiver will only apply if the lender meets specific conditions.
-The waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase program.
For more information, visit www.hud.gov.
The Lake Tahoe basin remains a potential host for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
While local organizations have spearheaded efforts to bring the games to Lake Tahoe in recent years, there is reason for renewed optimism, according to Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki, chairman of Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition (RTWGC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to having Reno/Tahoe selected as the next North American region to host an Olympic Winter Games.
“The latest comments from the USOC are an absolute shot in the arm for the Lake Tahoe region’s latest bid to host the games,” he said. “This will allow us the necessary momentum to create a network and a partnership between Nevada and California that can focus on putting a package in place that makes it compelling for the USOC.”
A shakeup in the United States Olympic Committee leadership has led to a reprioritization of how the committee will approach the bidding process.
USOC Chairman Larry Probst and newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun indicated they may want to pursue a 2022 Winter Games bid.
“Nothing’s off the table at this point,” chairman Larry Probst said during an interview at Associated Press headquarters Tuesday, when asked about a possible 2022 bid.
In the past, the USOC has focused on bringing the Summer Games to a bid city, as the games are typically viewed as a stronger economic engine for the host city.
However, in wake of Chicago’s last place finish in the bidding process for the 2016 Summer Games, the USOC indicated that bringing the Winter Games to the United States could be a positive step in repairing their relationship with the International Olympic Committee.
“The idea is to face in the right direction and start walking,” Blackmun said, “and we’ll know when we get there.”
According to reports from the Associated Press, the two strongest candidates to host the 2022 Winter Games are Denver and Reno-Tahoe.
“We’re really supportive of the USOC and the Olympic movement,” KieAnn Brownell, president of the Denver Sports Commission, told the Associated Press. “We have aspirations from the standpoint of wanting to host international events of all types. We’re going to follow the USOC’s lead and see where that goes.”
Bringing the 2022 Winter Games to Lake Tahoe would give the region an opportunity to dramatically improve its infrastructure, said Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Spokesman Dennis Oliver.
“Lake Tahoe could be the first Olympic site to deliver a Green Olympics with an underlying theme of sustainability,” he said.
Oliver said preparations for hosting the games should include installing a public transportation system capable of serving residents long after the event has concluded.
Oliver also envisions the creation of new more energy efficient hotel accommodations, athletic facilities with minimal impact on the local environment, and a system of feeding the athletes with locally grown agricultural products.
“It would be an event with an underlying theme of carbon neutral and I know a lot of local leaders would be interested in pulling it off,” Oliver said.
“The 2022 Winter Games would be a spectacle and a delight for several weeks,” he said. “But the improvements made to the infrastructure of the Lake Tahoe Basin in lead-up to the games would benefit residents for decades.”