No End in Sight: Mortgage Loans Harder in High-Foreclosure Areas by Brian O’Connell, Mainstreet.com


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Here’s another bitter pill for homeowners to swallow: If you live in an area with a high foreclosure rate, the chances of someone getting a loan to buy your house significantly decreases.

The news comes from the Federal Reserve’s latestreport, in which it concluded that mortgage lending was dramatically lower in communities and neighborhoods where foreclosures were surging, using data from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).

“Home-purchase lending in highly distressed census tracts identified by the Neighborhood Stabilization Program was 75% lower in 2010 than it had been in these same tracts in 2005,” the report said. “This decline was notably larger than that experienced in other tracts, and appears to primarily reflect a much sharper decrease in lending to higher-income borrowers in the highly distressed neighborhoods.”

The Fed uses the term “highly distressed” in place of the word “foreclosure”, but the message is clear: Banks and mortgage lenders are taking a big step back from lending to buyers who want a home in a high-foreclosure neighborhood.

It’s the same deal for borrowers who want to actually live in a home and buyers who want to purchase the property as aninvestment, as neither party seems to be having much luck in getting a home loan in a highly distressed neighborhood, according to the Fed. The lack of credit extended to investors could really hurt neighborhoods crippled by foreclosures.

“In the current period of high foreclosures and elevated levels of short sales, investor activity helps reduce the overhang of unsold and foreclosed properties,” the Federal Reserve says.

Overall, the Fed reports that 76% fewer mortgage loans were granted to “non-owner occupant” buyers in 2010, compared to 2005.

The Fed’s report reveals some other trends in the mortgage market:

  • Mortgage originations declined from just under 9 million loans to fewer than 8 million loans between 2009 and 2010. Most significant was the decline in the number of refinance loans despite historically low baseline mortgage interest rates throughout the year.  Home-purchase loans also declined, but less so than the decline in refinance lending.
  • While loans originated under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance program and the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ (VA) loan guarantee program continue to account for a historically large proportion of loans, such lending fell more than did other types of lending.
  • In the absence of home equity problems and underwriting changes, roughly 2.3 million first-lien owner-occupant refinance loans would have been made during 2010 on top of the 4.5 million such loans that were actually originated.
  • A sharp drop in home-purchase lending activity occurred in the middle of 2010, right alongside the June closing deadline (although the deadline was retroactively extended to September). The ending of this program during 2010 may help explain the decline in the incidence of home-purchase lending to lower-income borrowers between the first and second halves of the year.

All in all, the report offers a pretty bleak – but even-handed and thorough – review of today’s home-purchase market.

Read more about the continuing effects of the housing crisis at MainStreet’s Foreclosure topic page.

U.S. Housing Market Shows Economic Divide, by Michelle Conlin , The Associated Press


In the United States, it’s starting to feel as if there are two housing markets: one for the rich and one for everyone else.

Consider foreclosure-ravaged Detroit. In the historic Green Acres district, a haven for hipsters, a pristine, three-bedroom brick Tudor recently sold for $6,000 — about what a buyer would have paid during the Great Depression.

Yet just 24 kilometres away, in the posh suburban enclave of Birmingham, bidding wars are back. Multimillion-dollar mansions are selling quickly. Sales this August were up 21 per cent from the previous year. The country club has ended its stealth discounts on new memberships. And Main Street’s retail storefronts are full.

“We’re getting more showings, more offers and more sales,” says Ronni Keating, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International.

Think of this housing market as bipolar. In the luxury sector, the recession is a memory and sales and prices are rising. But everywhere else, the market is moving sideways or getting worse.

In the housing market inhabited by most Americans, prices have fallen 30 per cent or more since the peak in 2007. That’s a steeper decline than during the Depression. Some people have had their homes on the market for a year without a single offer.

Almost a quarter of American homeowners owe more on their houses than they’re worth. Another quarter have less than 20 per cent equity. About half of homeowners couldn’t get a mortgage if they applied today, says Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics.

Then there is the other housing market, occupied by 1.5 per cent of the U.S. population, according to Zillow.com. The one with outdoor kitchens and in-home spas; with his-and-her boudoirs and closets the size of starter houses. The one that is not local but global, with international buyers bidding in all cash. And where the gyrations of the stock market are cause for conversation, not cutting expenses.

In this land of luxury properties, the Great Recession seems over. Prices of $1-million-plus properties have risen 0.7 per cent since February, according to Zillow. Prices of houses under $1 million have fallen more than 1.5 per cent.

Normally, these two segments of the housing market rise and fall together.

“Luxury is the best-performing segment of the housing market right now,” says Zillow.com chief economist Stan Humphries.

After every recession since Second World War, housing has led the economic recovery, until now. The renewed vitality in the comparatively small market for luxury homes is not enough to power a full-blown recovery. This bifurcation in the market is yet another reason Michelle Meyer, the chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says her housing outlook is “increasingly downbeat.”

The phenomenon is not limited to real estate. You can see the same split in other gauges of the economy. Sales at Saks versus Walmart. Pay on Wall Street versus Main Street. Corporate profits versus family balance sheets.

The divide is also making credit a perk of the rich. Mortgage rates are the lowest in decades, but what good are cheap rates if you can’t get a mortgage? The banks aren’t granting credit to anyone “who even has a smudge on their application,” says Jonathan Miller, founder of real estate consulting firm Miller Samuel. Applications for new mortgages are at 10-year lows.

Across the country, prices on high-end homes fell after the subprime crash in the fall of 2008. The price on the $25 million mansion became $20 million, then $15 million. Such “bargains” are pushing more luxury buyers to commit to more deals.

There are other factors, too. In Detroit, a recovering auto industry is helping propel high-end sales. All those car executives who have helped turn around the American auto industry used to rent. Now they are using their performance bonuses to buy homes.

Wall Street’s recovery has brought back the market for mansions in the Hamptons, on Long Island, where the number of closings has returned to the 2007 level, and for luxury co-ops in New York City. Because of social-network riches in Silicon Valley, twice as many homes have sold for $5 million or more this year as last.

But in the other housing market, an apartment tower built in 2007 in San Jose, Calif., recently converted to all-rental. The building had not sold a single unit. In Miami, a city that exemplifies the foreclosure epidemic, idled cranes dot the skyline. Unemployment shot up again this summer from 12 per cent to 14 per cent, a level not seen since the energy crisis in 1973. There are so many two-bedroom condos in gated communities with golf courses, private pools and rustic jogging paths that you can pick one up for $25,000, 66 per cent off the price five years ago. But luxury condos priced at $1 million or more are selling as rapidly as they did during the boom.

“In the 20 years that I have been in South Florida real estate, I have never seen a greater divide between those who have and those who have not,” says Peter Zalewski, founder of the real estate firm Condo Vultures.

One big factor in the divide is foreign cash, at least in the world of property. For international buyers, U.S. real estate is the new undervalued asset, and they are big buyers of luxury properties. International clients bought $82 billion worth of U.S. residential real estate last year, up from $66 billion in 2009. In states like Florida, international buyers account for a third of purchases, up from 10 per cent in 2007.

Coming Next: The Landlord’s Rental Market, by A.D. Pruitt, Wall Street Journal


Apartment landlords appear to be among the only commercial property owners able to sign new tenants amid the sluggish economy.

But the strength of the multifamily sector is itself related to the troubled economy. There has been an “abnormal slowdown in household formation in recent years,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says in a new report. “Many young people, who normally would have struck out on their own from 2008 to 2010, had been doubling up with roommates or moving back into their parents’ homes.”

NAR, using U.S. Census data, says that household formation was only 357,000 last year, compared with 398,000 in 2009. That’s way below 1.6 million in 2007. But Mr. Yun said young people have been entering the rental market as new households in stronger numbers this year.

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.

Minneapolis has the lowest multifamily vacancy rate at 2.5% followed by 2.8% in New York City and 2.9% in Portland, Ore.

But conditions aren’t as rosy in the rest of the commercial property market with the tepid economy poised to slow demand for space, according to the report.

For the office market, the vacancy rate is forecasted to fall from 16.6% in the third quarter of this year to 16.3% in the third quarter of 2012.  The markets with the lowest office vacancy rates include Washington, D.C. at 8.6%, New York City at 10.1% and Long Island, N.Y at 13%.

Retail vacancy rates are projected to decline from 12.9% in the third quarter this year to 12.2% in the third quarter of 2012. San Francisco led with the lowest vacancy rate of 3.8% followed by Northern New Jersey at 6.1%. Los Angeles; Long Island, N.Y.; and San Jose, Calif tied for third place at 6.4% each.

Bank-Owned Backlog Still Building, by Carole VanSickle, Bryan Ellis Real Estate News Letter


At present, banks and lenders own more than 872,000 homes in the United States today[1]. And that number, twice the number of REOs in 2007 and set to grow by around 1 million in the years ahead as current foreclosures move forward, is starting to make a lot of real estate professionals pretty nervous. Although home sales volumes are up, many experts fear that the growing backlog of foreclosures and the necessity of getting them off the balance sheets is going to create a “vicious cycle” of depressed home values that cannot make a recovery until the foreclosure backlog is reduced – and that could take many, many years as some forecasts predict that 2 million homes will be REO properties before the bottom truly hits.

Nationwide, Moody’s analytics predicts that the foreclosure backlog could take three more years to clear and that home values are likely to fall another 5 percent by the end of 2011. However, the firm predicts a “modest rise” in prices in 2012, which has some people thinking that the situation might not be quite as bleak as it seems. However, regional analysis is going to be more important than ever before for real estate investors. For example, while hardest hit areas like Phoenix and Las Vegas are finally starting to work through their backlogs as prices get so low that buyers – both investors and would-be homeowners – can no longer resist, real estate data firm RealtyTrac recently released numbers indicating that New York’s foreclosure backlog will take more than seven years to clear[2]. Currently, it takes an average of 900 days for a property to move through the state judicial system. This means that while New York City may be, as some residents and real estate agents insist, impervious to real estate woes, the state market could suffer mightily in the years to come as those foreclosures slog through the system.

Do you think that a 5 percent drop in price in the coming year followed by “modest gains” sounds terrible, or does that just get you in the mood to buy?

Bryan Ellis Real Estate Blog
http://realestate.bryanellis.com

U.S. Real Estate Delinquencies Top 10% for First Time, Morgan Stanley Says, By Sarah Mulholland , Bloomberg.com


Delinquencies on commercial mortgages packaged and sold as bonds surpassed 10 percent for the first time last month, according to Morgan Stanley.

Payments more than 30 days late jumped 26 basis points to 10.15 percent in April, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report yesterday. While the pace of increase has slowed since the middle of last year, that’s partly because delinquencies are being offset as troubled loans are resolved. The rate of borrowers missing payments for the first time has been constant for the past four months, the analysts wrote.

“The bottom line is that loan performance is not yet exhibiting significant improvement,” according to the analysts led by Richard Parkus in New York. “Many market participants have come to believe that credit deterioration is more or less over, and were caught off guard by April’s rise.”

Delinquency rates for loans bundled into securities during the bubble years, when property values peaked amid lax underwriting, have reached 10.37 percent for 2006 deals and 13.26 percent for those in 2007, according to Morgan Stanley.

Borrowers with maturing debt taken out during the boom are still struggling to retire loans, according to the report. About 63 percent of commercial mortgages in bonds scheduled to mature in April paid off on time. That rate dropped to 33 percent for loans taken out from 2005 through 2008, the analysts said.

Sales of commercial-mortgage backed securities are rising after plummeting to $3.4 billion in 2009 from a record $234 billion in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Wall Streethas sold $8.6 billion of the debt in 2011, compared with $11.5 billion in all of last year, the data show. Sales may reach $35 billion this year, according to Standard and Poor’s.

Property Values Down

New bond offerings provide financing to borrowers with maturing loans. Still, property values are down 44.6 percent from October 2007, according to Moody’s Investors Service, making it difficult for property owners to come up with the difference when repaying the debt.

Loans originated after 2005 had weaker loan characteristics,” Parkus said in a telephone interview. “On top of that, they were done at the peak of the cycle so they didn’t benefit from any price appreciation prior to the crisis.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Mulholland in New York atsmulholland3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Goldstein at agoldstein5@bloomberg.net

OregonRealEstateWanted.com: New Buyer Posting


New buyer (SG14) has been posted on the OregonRealEstateWanted.com web site. This buyer is an investor and they are looking for residential multifamily opprotunities under $200,000 in the Portland Metro area. Buyer is looking for seller financing opportunities only. To learn more about this buyer and others that may be looking for real estate you have for sale. Please visit OregonRealEstateWanted.com

Oregon Real Estate Wanted
http://oregonrealestatewanted.com

Fred Stewart
Stewart Group Realty Inc.
http://www.sgrealty.us

NECN Opposes Rose Quarter’s Inclusion in ICURA, King Neighborhood Association Blog


Reflecting the dissatisfaction many North and Northeast residents feel with the incomplete urban renewal that has resulted from the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area, the NECN Board of Directors has taken the position that the inclusion of the Rose Quarter district in the URA would siphon off remaining funds to projects that would have little benefit to N/NE residents.

“The NECN Board feels strongly that Rose Quarter projects, which are large and discontinuous with the North/Northeast community, will pull resources away from more community-based projects within the ICURA boundaries. For the first ten years of ICURA, the majority of the funding went to two large projects, the Interstate Light Rail project and the New Columbia project. Now that there is additional funding available, it should be spent on neighborhood level projects that benefit existing North and Northeast residents.”

Read the full letter here: NECN Position on ICURA-RoseQuarterJan 2011

U.S. Apartment Vacancies Decline for the First Time Since 2007, by Hui-yong Yu, Bloomberg.com


U.S. apartment vacancies dropped for the first time in almost three years in the third quarter, suggesting the trend of people moving in with family or friends might be abating, Reis Inc.said today.

The national vacancy rate fell to 7.2 percent from 7.9 percent a year earlier and 7.8 percent in the second quarter, the New York-based research firm said. It was the lowest rate since 2008’s fourth quarter, when it was 6.7 percent, and the first year-over-year drop since 2007’s fourth quarter. Vacancies reached a three-decade high of 8 percent late last year.

Rental demand usually goes up during the second and third quarters, when people tend to lease apartments, said Victor Calanog, director of research at Reis. The U.S. recession interrupted that pattern starting two years ago as widespreadjob cuts prompted many people to move in with parents or friends instead of renting their own apartments.

“Those guys are starting to move back to the rental market,” Calanog said in a telephone interview. “What we’re seeing might be these folks who realized, ‘Hey, I love my father and mother, but I don’t think I can live with them forever. I’ll take a chance on a yearlong lease and maybe I can find a job in six to nine months.’”

The change in occupied space, known as net absorption, rose by 84,382 units, a record since Reis began keeping the data in 1999, the company said. Net absorption totaled 157,788 apartments from January through September, compared with almost 21,000 units vacated a year earlier.

Concessions, Jobs

Signing of apartment leases has risen as a surge in home foreclosures forced many people to rent and landlords offered concessions amid a weak economy. Job growth will determine whether the apartment market continues to improve, Calanog said.

“If the pace of job growth is really lackluster, then I wouldn’t be shocked if vacancies suddenly rose in the fourth quarter,” Calanog.

About 90 percent of the rise in net absorption came from leasing up existing apartments, Reis said. New properties came to market almost half empty, and the total supply of new stock was the smallest since 2007’s second quarter. The 21,906 new units that came to market in the third quarter had an average vacancy rate of 60 percent, said Reis.

Landlords’ asking rents climbed to $1,037, little changed from $1,033 a year earlier and $1,032 in the second quarter, according to Reis. Actual rents paid by tenants, known as effective rents, rose to an average $980 from $971 a year earlier and $974 in the second quarter

New Haven, Connecticut, had the lowest vacancy rate in the third quarter, at 2.3 percent, followed by New York City; Long Island, New York; San Jose; and Central New Jersey, according to Reis. New Haven is home to Yale University.

The Reis survey measures about 9.1 million apartments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hui-yong Yu in Seattle at hyu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net