Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix’

Foreclosures Decline, But Expect a Spike Thanks to Banks Settlement

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Foreclosure filings declined eight percent in February, the smallest year-over-year decrease since October 2010, as lenders began working through a backlog of seized properties, according to RealtyTrac Inc. A total of 206,900 homes received notices of default, auction or repossession last month, down two percent from January, according to the data firm, which noted that one in every 637 households received a filing.  Those numbers could rise sharply in coming months.

Banks slowed foreclosures for more than a year as attorneys general in every state investigated charges of shoddy and incomplete paperwork.  A $25 billion settlement with the five largest lenders removed some roadblocks to property seizures and gave the go-ahead for future actions, Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac’s chief executive officer, said.  “February’s numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide.  That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months.”

“The pig is starting to move through the python,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s director of marketing.  The banks “have already adjusted their foreclosure practices to fit the terms of the settlement.  We expect that to continue as (the settlement) gets finalized,” Blomquist said.

The settlement clarifies the way in which foreclosures must be handled.  That is expected to let banks speed up their processing, putting many delinquent homeowners into the foreclosure process.  Cases could move forward after being on hold for months — even years — with their delinquent owners still living illegally in the properties.

“The foreclosure and mortgage settlement filed in court earlier this week will help pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process by providing a clear roadmap for necessary foreclosures,” Moore continued.  “That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months.  Not surprisingly, many of the biggest annual increases in February were in states with the more bureaucratic judicial foreclosure process, which resulted in a larger backlog of foreclosures built up over the last 18 months in those states.”

Cities with the highest foreclosure rates were Riverside-San Bernardino in California (one in 166 housing units); Atlanta (one in 244); Phoenix (one in 259); Miami (one in 264); and Chicago (one in 302).

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of the Inspector General’s report found that several banks violated servicing standards and foreclosure procedures and engaged in extensive robo signing.  The banks agreed to follow new servicing standards and offer relief to borrowers by providing $10 billion in principal reductions, $3 billion in refinancing loans and $7 billion in alternatives to foreclosure.  Foreclosures in the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process rose 24 percent over last year, while activity in the 24 states that follow a non-judicial foreclosure process fell by 23 percent

Default notices, the initial step in the foreclosure process increased more than 20 percent in 12 states, including Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, South Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida.  State attorneys general have filed lawsuits against major lenders in New York, California and Nevada in recent months, further slowing the pace of foreclosures in those states.

Arizona Ponders Sale/Leaseback of Some State Buildings to Cover $3.4 Billion Deficit

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Arizona looking to do sale/leasebacks on some state buildings to raise fast cash.  The cash-strapped State of Arizona may sell the identical House and Senate buildings where legislative business has been conducted for 50 years. A total of 32 properties within the Capitol complex, valued in excess of $1 billion, may be sold and leased for several years prior to assuming ownership again.  Investors would benefit from long-term lease payments from a stable tenant.  According to projections, the sale/leaseback arrangement would infuse as much as $735 million into the state’s coffers.  The plan, which has bipartisan support, isn’t popular with Arizona’s taxpayers, who once owned the buildings free and clear.

Although Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a sale/leaseback proposal during the summer, the provision is expected to return as a solution to the state’s $3.4 billion deficit.  The list of properties targeted for possible sale and leaseback encompasses buildings that provide necessary government services.  Included are the House and Senate buildings, the Phoenix and Tucson headquarters of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the State Hospital, state fairgrounds and several prisons.  The properties were selected based on their appeal to potential investors.

“We’ve mortgaged the legislative halls,” said Representative Steve Yarbrough.  “That just tells you how extraordinary the times are.  To me, it’s something we’re going to have to do no matter how much we find it undesirable.”

The 1900 State Capitol building, now a museum, is not up for sale.

House Sales, Prices on the Upswing

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Home prices nationally are on the rise again, according to a new report issued by the Standard &Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The average sale price rose 3.1 percent during the third quarter of 2009, the same percent increase reported during the second quarter.  On the downside, that statistic is still nine percent lower than the number reported one year ago.

In Chicago, prices rose 1.1 percent from August on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Local prices were still 10.6 percent below the level reported for September of 2008, the fifth consecutive month to report an increase.  At the same time, Chicago-area home sales jumped by one-third in October, compared to a year ago, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.   The group cited lower home prices, affordable mortgage rates and the federal tax credit for first-time buyers as reasons for the rise.

According to David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, “We have seen broad improvement in home prices for most of the past six months.”  Case-Shiller’s 20-City Composite index rose 0.3 percent compared with the August numbers.  The city with the worst-performing market is Las Vegas, where prices have fallen for 37 months in a row and now are 55.4 percent off their highs.  Chicago home prices rose 1.2 percent during the third quarter.

In another snapshot of the housing market, a report from First American CoreLogic revealed that nearly 25 percent of all mortgage borrowers are underwater.  This condition, as well as the high number of foreclosures, raise doubts about the staying power of the recent upward price trend.

Obama’s Housing Plan Seeks to Help Homeowners in Trouble

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Residential, Financing

Nine million homeowners can breathe a preliminary sigh of relief.  They may get to keep their homes now that President Obama has unveiled his ambitious – and larger than expected — $75 billion mortgage relief plan.  At the same time, the Treasury Department will double the size of its support of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The government, which seized the mortgage finance companies last fall, will absorb up to $200 billion in losses at each company.

The massive Homeowner Stability Initiative is intended to help the five million borrowers who are said to be “under water” to refinance their home loans.  Additionally, it provides incentive payments to mortgage lenders to assist as many as four million families who are either already in or on the verge of foreclosure.

Obama chose the Phoenix area as the venue for his announcement because it has been hit hard by foreclosures.  He believes that putting a halt to foreclosures is key to turning around the economy.  The plan is sound and proof that Geithner can deliver specifics and bold initiatives when he needs to. bittinger_sinking_house1

It will be interesting to see if the President gets the bipartisan support that he wants from Congress to pass this vital legislation.  Obama, who likes to strike a fine balance between hope and skepticism, describes himself as an eternal optimist – though anything but a “sap”.  The Democratic majority in the House is comfortable enough that this legislation will ease through that chamber.  When the bill moves to the Senate, however, Obama may once again need to twist a few Republican arms to avoid a filibuster.

Housing Prices Decline Sharply During July

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Housing prices in the United States plunged a record 16.3 percent during July, compared with the previous year.  According to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, this indicates an ongoing home-price decline now in its second year.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.9 percent in July, when compared with June.  That represents a 19.5 percent decline since the housing boom peaked in July of 2006.  According to S&P, the composite index of 10 metropolitan areas fell 1.1 percent in July, representing a 17.5 percent year-over-year decline.  Compared with 2006, the index is down 21.1 percent.

“There are signs of a slowdown in the rate of decline across the metro areas, but no evidence of a bottom,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee.  Economists see declining home prices -as a result of foreclosures – as one of the biggest threats to America’s financial system and economic growth.

Declines on Las Vegas – the nation’s weakest housing market – hit 29.9 percent compared with last year, and 34.3 percent when compared with its August of 2006 peak, according to S&P.  Yearly declines for Phoenix and Miami were 29.3 percent and 28.2 percent in July, respectively.