Foreclosure Sales Hit Three Year High

Foreclosure sales and short sales made up approximately 16.2% of residential sales in the United States last year, according to RealtyTrac’s 2013 U.S. Residential and Foreclosure Sales Report. That percentage is up 14.5% from 2012, and up 15.2% from what was reported in 2011. Foreclosure activity has been decreasing, falling to a seven-year low last year. Experts say that these sales are due to foreclosures during the recession that are just now getting off of the market. Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac Vice President said, “it may surprise some to see distressed sales rising in 2013, given that new foreclosure activity dropped to a seven-year low, Why? Most of the increases in 2013 are recession-era foreclosures still in the system. Banks are repossessing more homes as higher prices are making it easier for them to sell, he says, but the recovery has strengthened most local markets enough to withstand blows from these nagging foreclosures.” More here

ARMs Gain In Popularity

According to the 30th annual ARM Survey released by Freddie Mac, ARM initial-period rates have jumped from the previous year but are still considered historically low. Adjustable-rate mortgages have grown more popular as rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have become higher. The Vice President of Freddie Mac, Frank Nothaft said, “homebuyers have preferred fixed-rate mortgages the past few years because of the low interest rates and the certainty of the monthly principal and interest payment.” More here

Average Home Prices Jump $18,000

According to newly released data, U.S. home prices increased from November to December by 0.3% and 8.5% from one year prior. The average November home price was up approximately $18,000 from November 2012, averaging $232,000. The state of Florida led the U.S. in monthly home price increases while Las Vegas home prices jumped almost 24% from the end of 2012. Colorado and Texas also showed annual home price gains. Additionally, national U.S. home prices averaged 13.9%. More here

Previously Owned Home Sales Soar

Previously owned home sales jumped last month for the first time in approximately five months, making 2013 the best year for home sales since 2006. Data suggests that the housing market is beginning to adjust to higher borrowing costs. According to the National Association of Realtors, purchases increased 1%, averaging a 4.87 million annual pace. Employment growth is also on the rise giving more buyers confidence to buy a home. More here

Many Older Americans In Mortgage Debt

Boston College for Retirement Research found through a recent study that many older Americans are deciding to work longer and put off retirement due to large debt, particularly caused by mortgages. For those Americans who cannot continue to work because of disability or health problems, experts say that reverse mortgages may be a financial lifesaver. Researchers, Barbara Butrica and Nadia Karamcheva said, “Americans’ indebtedness has increased dramatically since the 1980s—a trend likely to have important implications for retirement security, not only does the presence of debt influence older adults’ behavior, but so do the amount and type of debt—particularly outstanding mortgages.” According to experts the three main options senior Americans have to help decrease debt by mortgage are to sell the home, declare bankruptcy or apply for a reverse mortgage. More here

Labor Market Showing Signs Of Growth

American unemployment benefit claims increased marginally last week, but experts say that the labor market is continuing to improve. According to the Labor Department, initial state claims slightly increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 326,000. The claims report covered the January payroll period excluding farm payroll, and found that claims decreased 12,250 between the months of December and January. Experts say this data suggests job creation and growth will accelerate throughout the remainder of the month. More here

Mortgage Rates Fall While Applications Grow

Mortgage applications have increased according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly report while mortgage rates continue to fall. The (MBA) stated that the seasonally adjusted composite index increased 4.7%, and the seasonally adjusted purchase index grew by 4.00% from last week. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to the lowest rate seen since November of last year, averaging 4.58% while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also decreased 0.4%, averaging 3.68%. Experts suggest that the growth in mortgage applications and decrease in rates could be an indicator for a strong spring housing market. More here

More People Turning To Multifamily Housing Units

New research shows that single-family housing may be decreasing while the rental market continues to grow. Many reports in the U.S. have shown that the rental market is increasing. A large amount of investors are betting on multifamily housing as many younger adults are choosing to rent due to job constraints and other financial factors. Chris Flanagan, MBS/ABS Strategist with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and MBS Strategist Justin Borst said in their Securitization Weekly Overview, “the December housing starts report provided some confirmation of the theme we discussed last week, which was that it appears as if a structural shift away from getting a mortgage and buying a single-family home to just being a renter is underway.” More here

Reverse Mortgages Gain Positive Attention

In the past, reverse mortgages may not have been considered a good idea by many, but as the program grows and continues to improve, the option of a reverse mortgage is becoming more appealing. Amy Hoak, a MarketWatch columnist said, “as people live longer due to medical advances, more of them may need to get at their home equity to pay for their medical costs. Also relevant is that many Americans near retirement age have a considerable amount of wealth in housing equity; 25% of all wealth was held in the form of home equity in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”  The program has helped many struggling seniors stay in their homes through financial hardship. Experts advise that all seniors who are considering a reverse mortgage be educated on the program. More here

Foreclosure Rates Fall To Six Year Low

According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures in the U.S. last year fell 26% from 2012. 2013 saw the lowest level of foreclosures in six years. The total number of foreclosures, scheduled auctions, notices of default and bank repossessions fell to 1.36 million last year, helping the national foreclosure rate decrease to approximately 1.04%. The vice president at RealtyTrac, Daren Blomquist said, “millions of homeowners are still living in the shadow of the massive foreclosure crisis, but the shadow cast by the foreclosure crisis is shrinking as fewer distressed properties enter foreclosure and properties already in foreclosure are poised to exit in greater numbers in 2014.” More here