Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009


"U.S. sales of new and existing homes may increase to an annual pace of 5.1 million in the current quarter, the highest in two years, according to a forecast by Freddie Mac, the government-run mortgage buyer. That would be an 11 percent gain from the second quarter’s annual pace of 4.61 million sales, the McLean, Virginia-based company said in a report today."


"About $16 billion of office transactions will be completed by year-end, according to data compiled by Real Capital Analytics Inc., a New York research firm that has tracked deals for almost a decade. Real Capital Managing Director Dan Fasulo and Sam Chandan, chief economist of Real Estate Econometrics LLC, said that may be the lowest volume since at least 1991."

Orange County Register - "O.C. homebuying surge nears 14th month" (9-11-09)

"It looks like August will be 14th straight month of sales gains vs. the year-ago period. That follows 33 consecutive months where sales failed to beat the previous year’s pace. "

Orange County Register - "O.C. property tax fights up 23%" (9-11-09)

"With the deadline to file an appeal less than a week off, the number of Orange County property owners disputing their taxes jumped 23% this year, the county Clerk of the Board of Supervisors reports."

Orange County Register - "O.C. loan officer arrested in $30 million fraud" (9-11-09)

"Attorney General Jerry Brown said today his office arrested a Huntington Beach loan officer and two other men for allegedly placing consumers into $30 million worth of fraudulent loans and pocketing $1 million in illicit profits."

Orange County Register - "Inventory drops in south coast cities, prices come down" (9-11-09)

"68 homes priced at $1 million or higher have seen price reductions in the past two weeks in Dana Point, Laguna Beach and San Clemente combined. This is most likely due to a drop in inventory in all three beach communities, which incidentally drove the average active list price up in at least Laguna Beach, according to a recent biweekly report by Steven Thomas of Altera Real Estate."

Inman - "MSN, AOL real estate sites get traction" (9-11-09)

"MSN Real Estate leaped four positions to break into a list of the top 10 most popular real estate Web sites in August, while AOL Real Estate and mlsfinder.com climbed into the top 20.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "MBA: Don't Include Cram Down in Regulatory Reform" (9-10-09)

"
Allowing judges to retroactively modify borrowers' mortgage balances will destabilize a mortgage market that desperately needs stability right now. "

Los Angeles Times - "
Economy is stabilizing but still fragile, Fed says" (9-10-09)

"An economic recovery may well have arrived, but a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday shows just how varied it is proving to be by industry and region. The mixed picture underscores how fragile the economy remains. While growth overall may have resumed, the nation is still vulnerable to new shocks as long as there are such large pockets of weakness."

Washington Times - "Frank Bemoans Pace of Housing Help" (9-10-09)

"Unless there is significant progress under the government's Making Home Affordable program during the next few months, legislation to allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages should be revived, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said during a House subcommittee hearing. Legislation allowing 'cramdowns' narrowly passed the House earlier this year, but was rejected by the Senate."


Inman - "Homes selling for closer to list price" (9-10-09)

"U.S. homebuyers paid 3.3 percent less than listing price, on average, during July -- a smaller discount than the 3.5 percent average in June and 4.6 percent in January, listing and valuation site Zillow.com said."

USA Today - "Bankruptcy filings up 22% in August vs. last year" (9-10-09)

"
From January to August, national bankruptcy filings reached 954,911, up from 703,732 in the same period of 2008, according to Automated Access to Court Electronic Records. In August, filings were up 22% compared with August 2008."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Foreclosure Filings Top 300,000 for Sixth Straight Month" (9-10-09)

"
Foreclosure filings in the U.S. exceeded 300,000 for the sixth straight month as job losses that boosted the unemployment rate to a 26-year high left many homeowners unable to keep up with their mortgage payments. A total of 358,471 properties received a default or auction notice or were seized last month, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc. That’s up 18 percent from a year earlier, and down 0.5 percent from July, the Irvine, California-based company said in a statement. One in 357 households received a filing."

Wall Street Journal - "Mortgage-Aid Plan Gets Tepid Results" (9-10-09)

"Just 12% of eligible borrowers have started trial loan modifications under the Obama administration's $75 billion mortgage foreclosure prevention plan, according to a Treasury report released Wednesday."

Reuters - "BofA says still in talks to exit government pact" (9-10-09)

"Bank of America has been negotiating how much it must pay for an agreement -- part of a $20 billion bailout for the firm -- in which the government said it would share losses on $118 billion of toxic assets."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This is the last week this blog will be active on Blogger.com. We are moving this blog to http://www.thenorrisgroup.com/blog/

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Lower Rates Spur Mortgage Applications in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (9-9-09)

"
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 4, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 17.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 15.8 percent compared with the previous week and 64.5 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Mortggage Bankers Association - "
MBA Report Shows Commercial/Multifamily Delinquency Rates Continue to Climb in Second Quarter 2009" (9-9-09)

"
Between the first and second quarters, the 30+ day delinquency rate on loans held in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) rose 2.04 percentage points to 3.89 percent. The 60+ day delinquency rate on loans held in life company portfolios rose 0.03 percentage points to 0.15 percent. The 60+ day delinquency rate on multifamily loans held or insured by Fannie Mae rose 0.17 percentage points to 0.51 percent. The 90+ day delinquency rate on multifamily loans held or insured by Freddie Mac rose 0.02 percentage points to 0.11 percent. The 90+day delinquency rate on loans held by FDIC-insured banks and thrifts rose 0.64 percentage points to 2.92 percent."

The Washington Post - "
Another Wave of Foreclosures Looms" (9-9-09)

"The housing market faces the prospect of a new round of foreclosures as hundreds of thousands of risky home loans known as option adjustable-rate mortgages reset to significantly higher payments that could force borrowers to fall behind, according to a report released Tuesday by Fitch Ratings. About 70 percent of the $189 billion in outstanding option ARMs will reset by 2011, the report said, which would be another setback to a teetering housing market still struggling to recover from the mortgage meltdown that precipitated the financial crisis."


Bloomberg - "Banks Step Up Loan Modifications Under Obama Program" (9-9-09)

"
Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., among the worst performers of banks in the U.S. government’s main foreclosure prevention plan, stepped up their pace of mortgage modifications by at least 60 percent in August. Bank of America more than doubled its number of modifications started through the Making Home Affordable Program to 59,891 in August from July, while Wells Fargo improved by 64 percent to 33,172, the U.S. Treasury said in a report today from Washington. Overall, 47 banks have begun 360,165 modifications through the program, up from about 235,247 in July."

Bloomberg - "Wealthy Families Face Bankruptcy on Real Estate Crash" (9-9-09)

"
Wealthy individuals’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings jumped 73 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, a research firm in Burlingame, California. More individuals or families with at least $1,010,650 in secured debt and $336,900 unsecured are using Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code typically associated with business reorganizations. Falling U.S. home prices leave them unable to refinance or sell properties when they drop below the value of the mortgage, said Joseph Baldi, a Chicago bankruptcy attorney."

Bloomberg - "Fannie Mae’s Williams Still Cautious About Housing Recovery" (9-9-09)

"The U.S. housing market still has a 'long road ahead' to recovery and investors and borrowers should remain cautious as the economy regains its footing, Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Michael Williams said."


Bloomberg - "Buffett’s Berkshire Adds Coverage for Risky Homes" (9-9-09)

"
Warren Buffett’sBerkshire Hathaway Inc. is adding sales of insurance coverage on foreclosed homes and properties occupied by distressed borrowers to make money from banks burned by the mortgage-market collapse. Berkshire follows Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, and Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd. in targeting one of the few expanding U.S. insurance markets. The policies are riskier than typical home coverage because the properties are more prone to neglect or vandalism."

Wall Street Journal - "CIC Looks to Pile Cash Into U.S. Real Estate" (9-9-09)

"China's $300 billion sovereign-wealth fund is eyeing big investments in distressed U.S. real estate, according to people familiar with the matter. To finance some of the deals, China may rely on an old trading partner: the U.S. government."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Todays News Synopsis:
A recent report shows that 2 out of 5 working-age Californians are unemployed. The Treasury expects to spend over 45 billion dollars in bail out money for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by September 30th. U.S. regulations are making it considerably more difficult to obtain home loans. Aliso Viejo has been named Orange County's "hottest" home market.

New York Times - "They Left Fannie Mae, but We Got the Legal Bills" (9-5-09)

"PRECISELY one year ago, we lucky taxpayers took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants that contributed mightily to the wild and crazy home-loan-boom-turned-bust. In that rescue operation, the Treasury agreed to pony up as much as $200 billion to keep Fannie in the black, coughing up cash whenever its liabilities exceed its assets. According to the company’s most recent quarterly financial statement, the Treasury will, by Sept. 30, have handed over $45 billion to shore up the company’s net worth."

Washington Post - "Mortgage Market Bound by Major U.S. Role" (9-7-09)

"Nearly one-third of those who obtained home loans during the boom years of 2005 and 2006 couldn't get one today, according to mortgage industry analysts. Many of these borrowers were never really able to afford their homes and should not have gotten loans. But many others could, and borrowers like them are now running into tougher government standards."

Sacramento Bee - "Backlash against banks growing over mortgage modifications" (9-6-09)

"The eight-county Sacramento region has counted more than 42,000 foreclosures since the start of 2007. Many area neighborhoods are scarred by vacant repos and dead lawns that pull down property values of other homeowners. Statewide, the foreclosure tally has passed 410,000, and it's believed thousands more are inevitable."

Los Angeles Times - "We all want a deal -- that's what's scary" (9-5-09)\

"When a 20-something friend of mine recently told me she was looking for an apartment to rent in Los Angeles, I had only one bit of advice for her: Don't accept any advertised rent -- haggle with the landlord to get the price down, and demand concessions on anything and everything. The housing crash and the recession have made this a renter's market. The cost of apartments and homes for rent can only decline. Just look at the number of 'for lease' signs in every L.A. neighborhood."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Study: 2 out of 5 working-age Californians jobless" (9-6-09)

"A report released Sunday says two of five working-age Californians do not have a job, underscoring the challenges in one of the toughest job markets in decades. A new study has found that the last time employment levels among this group were this low was February 1977."

Bloomberg - "Missing Lehman Lesson of Shakeout Means Too Big Banks May Fail" (9-6-09)

"Rather than break up institutions such as Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., or limit their expansion, the U.S. has given them billions of dollars in tax incentives and loan guarantees that enabled them to grow even bigger. To protect against a bank collapse touching off another freefall, President Barack Obama has proposed regulatory changes that rely on the wisdom of bankers and government overseers -- the same people who created the conditions that led to Lehman’s bankruptcy and were unable to foresee its consequences."

Orange County Register - "Where do homes sell in less than a month?" (9-8-09)

"The hardest place in Orange County to find a home to buy — or the 'hottest' O.C. market — in terms of 'market time' (supply of homes for sale vs. new purchase deals inked in past month) is Aliso Viejo. It takes 0.9 months"

Orange County Register - "Distressed inventory slippery in south coast cities" (9-8-09)

"The number of active short sales and foreclosures has risen in two beach cities that previously saw their distressed inventory shrink, according to a biweekly report by Steven Thomas of Altera Real Estate."


Inman - "Title industry steps up lobbying" (9-8-09)

"As it steps up its lobbying efforts, the American Land Title Association has decided charge an annual licensing fee of $195 license to non-members who use the trade association's uniform title insurance policy forms to help generate revenue to cover those and other expenses. ALTA is granting free memberships for the remainder of 2009, but companies must choose to either continue their ALTA membership or pay the annual licensing fee if they want to continue using ALTA's uniform title insurance policy forms in 2010, the group said."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Bloomberg - "Capmark Distress May Signal Bank Failures Topping 100" (9-4-09)

"
Capmark Financial Group Inc.’s possible collapse may signal a new wave of real estate losses for banks -- this one tied to business property -- that could push the year’s tally of failures past 100."

Bloomberg - "Fannie, Freddie Avoid Delisting as Stocks Triple" (9-4-09)

"
The NYSE notified Freddie Mac yesterday that a review as of Aug. 31 showed its average share price for the preceding 30 trading days was above $1, meeting minimum listing requirements, according to a statement today from the McLean, Virginia-based company. Washington-based Fannie Mae said separately that it was also notified by the NYSE yesterday of its compliance."

Wall Street Journal - "Troubles For 'Prime' Borrowers Intensify" (9-4-09)

"The mortgage-delinquency rate among so-called subprime borrowers reached 25% in the first quarter but appears to be leveling off, rising only slightly in the second quarter. The pace of delinquencies for prime borrowers is accelerating. Since prime loans account for 80% of U.S. bank exposure to mortgages and credit cards, these losses could ultimately exceed those from weaker borrowers."

Inman - "Chips down, Fed plays waiting game" (9-4-09)

"The most mighty gorilla of all data, first-Friday payroll data for the prior month, arrived today right on forecast: 216,000 jobs lost in August, and 49,000 more shaved from summer estimates. The "Green Shooter" economic optimists think it's terrific news, insisting that a smaller-loss trend will cross over to job growth toward the end of this year."

Inman - "MLS must admit any licensed broker" (9-4-09)

"The Department of Justice sued Columbia, S.C.-based Consolidated Multiple Listing Service Inc. (CMLS) in May 2008. The antitrust suit alleged the broker-operated MLS's membership restrictions and rules hindered discount and 'fee-for-service' brokers from competing with traditional, full-service companies that allegedly controlled CMLS's board. At least 20 brokers testified that CMLS's rules either excluded them from the Columbia market or impeded their competition, the Justice Department said."


Inman - "APR not best gauge of mortgage costs" (9-4-09)

"Consumers shopping for a mortgage are frequently confronted with having to make a choice between complex alternatives. For example, they can select a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) on which the rate is fixed at 5 percent for 30 years, or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) on which the rate of 4.375 percent holds only for five years, after which it changes with the market."

Inman - "Jumping off the condo bandwagon" (9-4-09)

"About the only condo sales moving quickly to fruition these days are all-cash deals. Maybe that's because NAR also reports that the median existing condo price had deflated to $173,800 in May, a 21.9 percent drop from a year earlier. That means much more condo product appears to be cheap enough to self-finance from a middle-class investor perspective, i.e., a buyer with stabilized employment, savings and who didn't lose money speculating in the real estate markets between 2002 and 2007."

Orange County Register - "Construction unemployment doubles" (9-4-09)

"For August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found 16.5% of U.S. construction worker unemployed vs. 8.2% in August 2008. Slice of good news — 16.5% is lowest since December. At the building boom, construction worker unempoyment was 4.5% nationwide in October 2006."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Los Angeles Times - "Average U.S. closing costs fall; San Francisco grabs the No. 4 spot" (9-3-09)

"The average cost of getting a mortgage dropped about 12% nationwide over the last 12 months, according to a new study by Bankrate Inc. Nationwide, the average closing fees on a $200,000 mortgage, with 20% down and a 30-year fixed-rate loan, totaled $2,732, down from $3,118 in 2008, the study found. Closing costs for home buyers haven't been this low since 2007, the survey said."


Bloomberg - "Geithner Says Too Early for G-20 to Withdraw Stimulus" (9-3-09)

"
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Group of 20 nations has been 'very successful' in helping to end the global recession and cautioned that it’s too early to remove policies aimed at boosting growth."

Bloomberg - "Fed Tries to Prepare Markets for End of Securities Purchases" (9-3-09)

"
The Federal Reserve is trying to prepare investors for an end to its housing-debt purchases, while keeping interest rates near zero, reflecting an economy pulling out of a recession with little momentum. Federal Open Market Committee members discussed extending the end date of the agency and mortgage-backed bond programs, minutes of the group’s Aug. 11-12 meeting showed yesterday. The move would be aimed at avoiding disruptions in housing credit at a time when recovery prospects are clouded by rising unemployment and slowing wage gains, analysts said."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall to 5.08%, Freddie Mac Says" (9-3-09)

"
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed U.S. home loans fell this week, reducing borrowing costs for buyers amid signs the U.S. housing market is stabilizing. The average 30-year rate fell to 5.08 percent from 5.14 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac of McLean, Virginia, said today in a statement. The 15-year rate was 4.54 percent."

Orange County Register - "Somehow, O.C. is No. 2 in Calif. homebuilding" (9-3-09)

"Recent statewide building stars by Construction Industry Research Board show that every significant market tracked — minus one, Vallejo-Fairfield — has seen builders file for fewer building permits for single-family homes in 2009’s first 7 months vs. the same 2008 period."

Orange County Register - "These Irvine home are headed to the auction block" (9-3-09)

"Fourteen more Irvine homes are now in default on loans and scheduled to go to auction, according to legal notices printed Sept. 3rd."

Reuters - "WCI Communities exits Chapter 11" (9-3-09)

"Bankrupt luxury home builder WCI Communities Inc said it has emerged from Chapter 11 as a private company, eliminating more than $2 billion in debt and liabilities."

Reuters - "Annaly-backed REIT to be 1st IPO of September" (9-3-09)

"A real estate investment trust that will be managed by a unit of Annaly Capital Management Inc is set to be the first U.S. initial public offering of September, with a trading debut scheduled for the middle of the month."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "MBA Offers Proposed Framework for Government Role in Secondary Mortgage Market" (9-2-09)

"
The centerpiece of MBA’s recommendation is the creation of a new line of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Each security would have two components – a loan level guarantee provided by a privately-owned, government-chartered and regulated mortgage credit-guarantor entity (MCGE) and a security-level, federal government-guaranteed wrap."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "
Mortgage Applications Decrease in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (9-2-09)

"
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 28, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 2.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 3.1 percent compared with the previous week and increased 22.7 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Los Angeles Times - "
Fire grows to 140,000 acres, but officials report progress. Mt. Wilson danger lessens" (9-2-09)

"The biggest concern now is the eastern flank of the fire, which is moving in the mountains north of Altadena and Pasadena. Evacuation orders were lifted in La Crescenta, La CaƱada Flintridge and other foothill communities. The fire is still 22% contained and 10,000 homes remain threatened."

Inman - "Consumers can 'Ask a Realtor'" (9-2-09)

"A new 'Ask a Realtor' service from Realtor.com allows site visitors to submit questions about buying or selling a home, mortgage issues and local market trends, and receive a response from a Realtor by e-mail."

Bloomberg - "Fed Weighed Tapering MBS Purchases at August Meeting" (9-2-09)

"
Federal Reserve officials in their August meeting discussed tapering purchases of mortgage bonds to minimize any disruptions at the end of their program, and expressed concern about the pace of a likely economic recovery."

Orange County Register - "Pacific homes enjoy hottest spring" (9-2-09)

"Freddie Mac’s fresh take on home pricing trends shows that Pacific states — including California — had the strongest spring among the nine slices of the nation tracked."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

NAR - "Pending Home Sales on a Record Roll" (9-1-09)

"The Pending Home Sales Index,1 a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in July, increased 3.2 percent to 97.6 from a reading of 94.6 in June, and is 12.0 percent higher than July 2008 when it was 87.1. The index is at the highest level since June 2007 when it was 100.7."

San Francisco Chronicle - "Savvy buyers use self-directed IRA to buy homes" (9-1-09)

"With many properties at bargain-basement prices, more people have been turning to their self-directed IRAs as a ready source of capital to make real estate investments. Companies that manage self-directed IRAs say real estate investments by their clients are up as much as 30 percent over the past year."

Bloomberg - "Home Prices Rise 1.7 Percent, Gaining in All Areas" (9-1-09)

"
The average price of homes bought with mortgages funded by Freddie Mac rose 1.7 percent during the second quarter and for the first time in two years there were gains in every part of the U.S."

Bloomberg - "Housing Won’t Lead U.S. Out of Recession, Gross Says" (9-1-09)

"
Housing won’t lead the U.S. out of its recession, Bill Gross, who runs the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., wrote in his September investment outlook."

Bloomberg - "California Fire Threatens 12,000 Homes North of Los Angeles" (9-1-09)

"
A wildfire north of Los Angeles threatened more than 12,000 homes and forced the evacuation of more than 4,300 people as hot, dry weather aggravated flames that have already destroyed at least 53 buildings."

Orange County Register - "Does Warren Buffett see a housing bottom?" (9-1-09)

"Does Wall Street investing legend Warren Buffett — who owns a vacation home in Laguna Beach — think real estate’s on the mend? The conglomerate he runs — which controls SoCal real estate brokerage Prudential California — just added to its collection of home-selling shops."

Orange County Register - "Fed should buy mortgage securities into 2010" (9-1-09)

"At least one Wall Street expert wants the Federal Reserve to buy fewer mortgage-backed securities now and extend the program into next year. The Fed’s buying of MBS likely is helping to keep mortgage rates low, as is its purchases of Treasuries."

The Wall Street Journal - "Drywall Clouds on Hovnanian Horizon" (9-1-09)

"When Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. reports fiscal third-quarter results on Wednesday afternoon, industry watchers will learn the usual details about contracts, cancellations and revenue. But they also want to hear about drywall. Builders have been disclosing their exposure to allegedly defective drywall -- also known as wallboard -- imported from China during the housing boom. A growing number of homeowners complain that it generates sulfurous odors and corrosion. These complaints have led to continuing investigations by several government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, and some of their results are expected next month."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Orange County Register - "Record 8,000 mortgages face foreclosure" (8-29-09)

"There were 8,346 outstanding foreclosure auction notices in Orange County at the end of July, up 12% from June and more than double the year ago total, reports ForeclosureRadar.com."

Orange County Register - "O.C. has 6 of 100 priciest U.S. home markets" (8-31-09)

"none of the local ZIP codes that made the high-price list should be a shocker to any knowledgeable real estate watcher. But despite a tough two years for real estate in this region — a period where price drops far exceeded national trends — some of Orange County housing still ranks among the most most expensive in the country."

The Wall Street Journal - "Raft of Deals for Failed Banks Puts U.S. on Hook for Billions" (8-31-09)

"To encourage banks to pick through the wreckage of their collapsed competitors, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has agreed to assume most of the risk on $80 billion in loans and other assets. The agency expects it will eventually have to cover $14 billion in future losses on deals cut so far. The initiative amounts to a subsidy for dozens of hand-picked banks."

Orange County Register - "Irvine list price, home listings on the rise" (8-31-09)

"In a reversal from the downward trajectory of previous weeks, the average list price of homes for sale in Irvine rose in the past week. The number of home listings went up as well, following weeks of declining numbers."

Bloomberg - "Fire North of Los Angeles Doubles in Size Overnight" (8-31-09)

"
A wildfire scorching the mountains north of Los Angeles doubled in size overnight, threatening more than 10,000 homes and causing more than 2,000 people to flee as hot, dry weather and winds fan the flames."

Inman - "Realogy puts Homestore behind it" (8-31-09)

"Realogy Corp. and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Smith have extricated themselves from a legal battle over the alleged role of their former parent company in one of the most notorious episodes of the dot-com bust. Smith and Realogy's former parent company, Cendant Corp., were accused in a class-action lawsuit of concealing the reciprocal nature of deals that allegedly helped Cendant's business partner, Homestore.com, claim revenue growth that artificially inflated the company's share price."

Realty Times - "
Investor Report: Seamless Short Sales" (8-17-09)

"Real estate investors looking for steady, relatively safe returns, and who are also interested in helping financially-squeezed homeowners remain in their properties, should check out the 'seamless short sale' concept. Here's how the idea works. Rather than homeowners being forced to leave their houses after a short sale to an investor, they instead rent back the property on a triple-net basis for less than they were paying per month to the bank."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Wells Fargo/Wachovia Bank Tops U.S. Commercial/Multifamily Servicers in MBA Mid-Year Rankings Report" (8-27-09)

"
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its mid-year ranking of commercial and multifamily mortgage servicers as of June 30, 2009. On top of the list of firms is Wells Fargo/Wachovia Bank with $476.2 billion in U.S. master and primary servicing, followed by PNC Real Estate/Midland Loan Services with $308.5 billion, Capmark Finance Inc. with $248.7 billion, KeyBank Real Estate Capital with $133.1 billion, Bank of America with $132.2 billion, and GEMSA Loan Services LP with $104.8 billion."

The Automatic Earth - "
How to grow your GDP while killing jobs" (8-27-09)

"GDP growth is projected as approaching 4%, while at the same time unemployment hovers close to 10%. In fact, unemployment and GDP both rise simultaneously for a while! And when I noticed that, my first thought was: I don't think that is even possible."

Market Watch - "FDIC: Number of troubled banks rises to 416" (8-27-09)

"The FDIC said that the number of troubled banks rose to 416 at the end of June from 305 at the end of March. This is the largest number of banks on its 'problem list' since June 30, 1994, when 434 banks were on the list, which isn't disclosed by the FDIC."

Inman - "Broken ARMs hurting housing" (8-27-09)

"Between 2004 and 2007, $750 billion in adjustable-rate mortgages -- with very low payments that reset to very high payments in a few years -- were taken out by homeowners, many of whom figured they'd sell or refinance when the rates reset thanks to continually increasing home values (oops). Foreclosures are up, and some analysts see the loans as a threat to a recovery."

Inman - "Google eyes mortgage lending service" (8-27-09)

"Google is planning to launch a service in late August or early September that would provide Web surfers with loan offers from mortgage lenders, according to a lawsuit by LendingTree that seeks to stop the project in its tracks. In its complaint, LendingTree claims that Mortech agreed to make its pricing engine available for use for Google's loan aggregation service. Lending Tree said it had obtained screenshots of a trial version of the new service."

Orange County Register - "O.C. home prices at 11-month high" (8-28-09)

"The most recent median is 15% above the cyclical low hit in January 2009. Prices have been falling on a year-over-year basis since Sept. 2007 with the worst at -31.5% in August 2008."

Bloomberg - "Goldman Sachs Sued by Landlord for $75 Million in Rent Dispute" (8-28-09)

"
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was sued by a Manhattan landlord who alleged the bank violated the terms of its rental agreement by failing to share profits from a sublease of the space. The lease for 180 Maiden Lane required Goldman Sachs to share 50 percent of any profit it might make from subleasing the property to a third party, according to the complaint filed Aug. 26 in New York state court by developer Joseph Moinian’s Almah LLC, a company he controls and which owns the building."

Realty Times - "Investor Report: Bank REO" (8-28-09)

"how much of the fast-rising pace of home sales this summer is attributable to small-scale investors? You can ask Rick Weinberg of REDC's Auction.com, a company that's already sold more than 19,000 foreclosed and REO houses this year for a total of $4.3 billion, and he'll tell you point blank: Investors are HUGE; they've accounted for 48 percent of all his company's volume in 2009."

Realty Times - "Low Mortgage Rates Helping to Stabilize Housing Market" (8-28-09)

"Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.14 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending August 27, 2009, up from last week when it averaged 5.12 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.40 percent."

Realty Times - "Information to Review Before You Get a Mortgage Loan" (8-28-09)

"He says that often borrowers who simply look at the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) don’t consider all the necessary facts to make the best choice. 'The APR includes some information but it doesn’t account for the possibility that the mortgagor may refinance down the road,' says Fu. The study gives the mortgagor a deeper look at this consideration."

Realty Times - "How to Increase Your Gross Commission Income" (8-28-09)

"To really establish or increase your presences in any marketplace you have to take it from someone else. I know a lot of you are going to find that last statement uncomfortable, but it's the truth. There are only so many deals in the higher end marketplace annually. Your efforts will not substantially increase the number of transactions. You can raise awareness and selection of those people who are considering buying and selling, but your efforts have little effect on the total inventory units sold. The marketplace might go up a few transactions but not enough to help you establish a presence."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NAR - "NAR Helps Realtors® Make Short Work of Short Sales" (8-26-09)

"Nearly one-third of all existing homes sold recently were either short sales or foreclosures, according to National Association of Realtors® data. To help Realtors® meet the needs of home buyers and sellers who need these services, NAR has launched a new Short Sales and Foreclosure Certification Program (SFR)."

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Mortgage Applications Increase in Latest MBA Weekly Survey" (8-26-09)

"
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending August 21, 2009. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 7.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 6.3 percent compared with the previous week and 34.1 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

The San Diego Union Tribune - "
July new US home sales up 9.6 percent" (8-26-09)

"The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 from an upwardly revised June rate of 395,000. Sales are now up more than 30 percent from the bottom in January, but are still off nearly 70 percent from the frenzied peak four years ago."

Bloomberg - "Homebuilders Buy Land After Years of Inventory Cuts" (8-26-09)

"Signature Properties has been trying since 2005 to sell 4,000 finished lots in its Fiddyment Farm community, a former pasture and pistachio orchard northeast of Sacramento, California. The developer sold 41 sites in April to Meritage Homes Inc. for $66,000 each, and another 41 in June to Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. for $68,000 apiece. This month, they got their best offer yet -- $103,500 each for 77 sites."

Bloomberg - "U.S. Housing May Be Turning Around, Shiller Says" (8-26-09)

"
An improvement in home prices suggests the U.S. property market may be recovering, said Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut."

Inman - "Low appraisals sabotage more deals" (8-26-09)

"Real estate brokers all over the New York City area say that more and more appraisals are coming in unexpectedly low, disrupting sales that they expected to close seamlessly. The problem has spread rapidly in recent months, due in part to new guidelines known as the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), which went into effect May 1. HVCC is intended to prevent appraisal fraud by requiring appraisers to be selected by third parties who have no stake in the sale, but brokers say the code has unintended side effects that make it harder to get deals done."

Orange County Register - "O.C. offices selling at 80%-90% discounts" (8-26-09)

"Office space availability increased in the second quarter of 2009, as it has for every quarter of the last two years. However, the pace of the increase declined, a modest sign of market stabilization."

Bloomberg - "Thrifts Report First Profit Since 2007 on Fees, Lower Reserves" (8-26-09)

"
U.S. savings and loans reported the first profit in six quarters as lenders set aside less money for bad loans and collected additional fees from customers, the industry’s regulator said. Profit of $4 million in the second quarter compares with a $1.62 billion loss in January through March, the first gain since the third quarter of 2007, the Office of Thrift Supervision said today in a quarterly report."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CAR “July sales and price report” (8-25-09)


“Home sales increased 12 percent in July in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 19.6 percent, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today.”


Orange County Register“Credit unions see LA/OC home price jumping 8%” (8-25-09)


“Some stabilization in late 2009 with an increase of home sales especially in the lower priced segment of the market. Home sale increase will likely begin with the coastal regions of the state. 5% increase in state median price by 2010.”


Orange County Register“Feds find firming O.C. home values” (8-25-09)


“O.C.’s ‘seasonally-adjusted purchase-only house price index’ showed a 2nd consecutive gain in Q2! (See fever chart above!) The 0.4% gain between the spring and winter quarters followed an 0.1% advance in Q1. The last back-to-back gains were in 2005’s Q4 and 2006’s Q1. Still, this index fell at a 7.4% annual rate in Q2 and places O.C. home pricing off 29.8% from its peak in 2006 Q1.”


Orange County Register“A view of Huntington Beach’s foreclosure pipeline” (8-25-09)


“In Huntington Beach, as of Monday, there were 52 properties with estimated values of more than $1 million in preforeclosure, meaning the owners have received notices of default, according to ForeclosureRadar.com. Most of these are homes. The values range from a Huntington Harbour home at $1,016,992 to commercial land on Pacific Coast Highway valued at $4,353,702.”


Bloomberg “Home Market Shows Signs of Life as Declines Slow” (8-25-09)


“The worst may be over for the U.S. real estate market, according to two gauges of home prices. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index, which tracks 20 metropolitan areas, declined 15.4 percent in June from a year earlier, the smallest drop since April 2008, the group said today in New York. Nationally, prices fell 6.1 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the best performance in a year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.”


Bloomberg “Luxury Hotel Chains Dropping Five-Star Ratings to Conserve Cash” (8-25-09)


“Hotel operators need to reduce services to conserve cash. Occupancy rates for luxury hotels worldwide fell to 57 percent in the year through July from 71 percent in the same period a year earlier, a bigger drop than for other types of accommodation, according to Smith Travel Research. The average daily room rates at the most luxurious hotels around the world dropped 16 percent to $245.13, the Tennessee- based hotel-data company estimates. Prices for mid-range hotels fell about 13 percent to $87.12.”


Bloomberg “Citi’s Mortgage Unit Adds 1,400 to Stem Foreclosures” (8-25-09)


“Citigroup Inc. said its mortgage business has hired 1,400 employees this year to help modify delinquent loans as President Barack Obama’s administration increases pressure on banks to stem foreclosures. The hires, made in recent months, are in addition to about 2,600 employees previously dedicated to late payments, said Sanjiv Das, chief executive officer of the New York-based bank’s CitiMortgage unit. The hires brought the unit’s overall staffing back up to about 10,000, where it was before a series of job cuts that began last year, Das said in an interview.”


Bloomberg “Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank Defer IPO Fees for REITs” (8-25-09)


“Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG are deferring underwriting fees for initial public offerings by mortgage-investment companies after buyers balked at the deals. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the top underwriter of initial U.S. stock offerings this year, agreed to delay part of its fees from two recent sales until the companies, known as real estate investment trusts, generate an 8 percent return on equity for a full year. The New York-based firm will forfeit the payments if the target isn’t met within six years, according to regulatory filings. Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse have accepted similar terms to underwrite mortgage REITs”


Inman “New MLS service catches heat” (8-25-09)


“Last week, the Fresno, Madera and Merced Realtor associations in California became the first three associations to exclusively use calREDD -- a service that is building toward a statewide multiple listing service -- to view properties, place listings and access agents. While the move to utilize calREDD was supported by the presidents and boards for all three associations, the new system, which is powered by vendor Concentric Software of Rocklin, Calif., is frustrating some members and drawing criticism from other multiple listing service vendors.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

DQNews “California July Home Sales” (8-21-09)

“An estimated 45,079 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That was up 2.1 percent from 44,167 in June, and up 14.1 percent from 39,507 for July 2008. Sales have increased on a year-over-year basis the last thirteen months. California sales for the month of July have varied from a low of 30,596 in 1995 to a peak of 71,186 in 2004, the average is 47,634. MDA DataQuick's statistics go back to 1988. Last month's sales were the highest for any month since 51,054 homes were sold in August 2006.”

DQNews “Bay Area home sales hit 4-year high; median price up again” (8-21-09)

“Bay Area home sales rose last month to the highest level for a July in four years as deals above $500,000 continued to accelerate. The median sale price climbed above the prior month for the fourth consecutive month, lifted by the combination of more high-end transactions and fewer sales of lower-cost, lender-owned foreclosures, a real estate information service reported.”

Financial Oven“10 Reasons why there will be no Recovery in 2010” (8-23-09)

“Now California has taken a large brunt of the decline on the chin. The economy is stumbling trying to maintain balance, the state budget seems to be in perpetual deficit, and housing prices seem to be falling into an abyss. Yet after a statewide drop in the median price of 50 percent, it does seem that prices are stabilizing. Much of this course is due to the large number of foreclosure re-sales occurring in more depressed areas. Of the 45,000 homes sold last month in the state 43 percent were distressed properties. Even in light of this, the median price ticked up to $250,000 when in the previous month it had been $246,000. The California housing market is so enormous that to paint with a broad brush misses the nuanced complexities of the actual market.”

Orange County Register“Fed triples support of commercial lending” (8-22-09)

“The Federal Reserve accepted $2.3 billion in investor requests for financing to purchase legacy commercial mortgage-backed securities at the second TALF subscription, up from $669 million at the first subscription in July. The Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility also provides financing for newly issued CMBS but there were no takers at the Thursday (Aug. 24) subscription. It is understood that several real estate investment trusts are gearing up to sell CMBS and may participate in the September TALF subscription. At the urging of commercial real estate interests, the Federal Reserve Board recently extended the CMBS TALF program until March 31 for legacy bonds and June 30 for newly issued bonds. The TALF program was due to expire at yearend.”

Reuters “Citi faces $44 bln loan losses over 18 months” (8-24-09)

“Fox-Pitt Kelton expects Citigroup Inc (C.N) to face another $44 billion in loan losses over the next 18 months, but said the embattled bank's capital is now strong following the "painfully dilutive" preferred conversion.”

Reuters “Fannie Mae to sell $2 bln bills Wednesday” (8-24-09)

“Fannie Mae (FNM.N), the largest U.S. home funding company, said on Monday it plans to sell $1.0 billion of three-month benchmark bills due Nov. 25, 2009, and $1.0 billion of six-month bills due Feb. 24, 2010, on Wednesday in a Dutch auction.”

Orange County RegisterSurf City’s distressed housing slips — just for now?” (8-24-09)

“Distressed homes have dropped to 17.4 % of the housing market in Huntington Beach, making it one of 7 cities or communities in Orange County where fewer than 1 in 5 homes for sale are short sales or in some stage of foreclosure.”

Orange County Register“Supply of O.C. homes for sale sliced in half” (8-24-09)

“The latest O.C. home inventory report from Steve Thomas at Altera Real Estate in Aliso Viejo shows that there were 8,531 homes officially listed for sale in Orange County last week — down 150 in two weeks (2% drop) and 52% below two years ago year at this time.”

Orange County Register“1-in-4 O.C. hotel rooms go empty” (8-24-09)

“Vacancies hit 25% in Orange County in June, PKF said, with South County having the highest vacancy rate (34.6%) among Orange County areas. Empty room comes despite deep discounting. Countywide, hotel rooms averaged $136.32 a night, down 14.6% from June 2008.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

NAR “Strong Gain in Existing-Home Sales Maintains Uptrend” (8-21-09)

“Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.24 million units in July from a level of 4.89 million in June, and are 5.0 percent above the 4.99 million-unit pace in July 2008. The last time sales rose for four consecutive months was in June 2004, and the last time sales were higher than a year earlier was November 2005”

Bloomberg “Existing Home Sales in U.S. Jump to Two-Year High” (8-21-09)

“Sales of existing U.S. homes jumped more than forecast in July to the highest level in almost two years, signaling the housing crisis that crippled the world’s largest economy is easing. Purchases climbed 7.2 percent to a 5.24 million annual rate, the most since August 2007, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The gain was the biggest since records began in 1999. The median price fell 15 percent.”

Bloomberg “Bernanke Says Global Economy Beginning to Emerge From Recession” (8-21-09)

“Economists forecast the U.S. will emerge from the worst recession since the 1930s, with the economy in the third quarter expanding at a 2.2 percent annual rate, according to the median estimate in an August survey by Bloomberg News. The International Monetary Fund last month predicted the world economy will expand 2.5 percent in 2010 after contracting 1.4 percent this year.”

Orange County Register“O.C. beach homes enjoy summer sales swell” (8-21-09)

“DataQuick identified 527 homes selling in beach cities’ ZIP codes last month, +22%from a year ago — the biggest buying jump among the four slices of the county we analyzed. Median selling price? $737,000 in these 17 ZIPs. Last month’s median price change was -8.8% vs. a year ago.”

Inman “Luxury prices hold despite slowdown” (8-21-09)

“The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing reported that days on market increased from about 120 days in August 2008 to about 180 days in August 2009 for luxury homes (those priced above $500,000), based on Altos Research data from 31 major U.S. metro market areas. The institute provides training and certification for real estate professionals who work with luxury properties.”

Realty Times “Investor Report: Defaulted Mortgage Notes” (8-21-09)

“Folsom Treehouse's original developer defaulted on a $22.5 million loan in late 2008. Last March, PCCP bought a discounted note on the project from United Commercial Bank and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The size of the discount to PCCP was not made public, but in purchases of severely distressed notes, the price can go to 50 cents on the dollar -- even less, depending upon the circumstances”

Realty Times“Selling Your Home, Know Your Buyer Market” (8-21-09)

“Making your home ready for your specific buyer market will help you not waste time marketing it to uninterested buyers. For instance, if your home is a two-story home, you might find that elderly couples or people looking to ‘age in place’ might not be as attracted to it because of the steps to the second story. People seeking aging-in-place homes often want a single story so that the entire home is accessible without the difficulty or exertion of having to travel upstairs. If, your home is located in one of the best school districts, draw attention to this. Many parents will move to a neighborhood almost exclusively because of a school district’s glowing reputation. Don’t assume that the potential buyers automatically know this school district’s reputation—shout it through your marketing materials.”

Realty Times“Increasing Sales Production Through Quality of the Prospect” (8-21-09)

“The natural tendency for most salespeople is to work with leads, rather than prospect for new leads. Most sales people, in real estate especially, do primarily lead follow-up, rather than prospecting or lead creation. The problem with that approach is what happens if your leads aren’t any good. Most agents have a group of bad leads they are trying to convince to be good leads, so they don’t have to prospect. Let me give you a hint; you can be the greatest salesperson in the world, and you will rarely convince a bad lead to convert to a good lead. You are far better off investing your time to find better leads. We hold onto these marginal or bad leads, so we can avoid prospecting. We know that if we don’t have enough leads, we will be forced to prospect.”

Realty Times“Mortgage Rates Down to Lowest Level in Three Months” (8-21-09)

“Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.12 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending August 20, 2009, down from last week when it averaged 5.29 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.47 percent.”

CNN “Where does your state rank?” (8-21-09)

“Americans everywhere are feeling the recession's pain – some more than others.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mortgage Bankers Association - "Delinquencies Continue to Climb, Foreclosures Flat in Latest MBA National Delinquency Survey" (8-20-09)

"
The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of 9.24 percent of all loans outstanding as of the end of the second quarter of 2009, up 12 basis points from the first quarter of 2009, and up 283 basis points from one year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) National Delinquency Survey. The non-seasonally adjusted delinquency rate increased 64 basis points from 8.22 percent in the first quarter of 2009 to 8.86 percent this quarter."

Bloomberg - "
Worker Deaths Fall on Decline in Construction" (8-20-09)

"
U.S. workplace deaths fell 10 percent in 2008 to the lowest number in 16 years as fatalities declined in the construction industry amid a drop in housing starts."

Orange County Register - "Is a ‘man cave’ a must-have in a new home?” (8-20-09)

“70% of women made up their mind to buy the day they first saw a home for sale, vs. 62% of men. 55% of women place more importance on living closer to extended family than to their job; only 37% of men felt the same way.”

Realty Times“Turning Internet Confusion into Success” (8-20-09)

“The simple fact that the internet is a part of the returning real estate market is not big news, but with so much information coming out so fast, understanding it can be difficult. This article is the first in a series of six that decodes the basics, and even some mild intricacies, of the world of electronic marketing and will show you how to compete and succeed in an area of marketing where you might have previously feared to tread.”

Realty Times – “Market Conditions” (8-20-09)

“Zillow has reported that 18 of 142 declining markets, have seen at least three consecutive quarters of smaller year over year home value declines.”

Realty Times“Differentiate Yourself: Build With Home Gateways, Digital Possibilities in Mind” (8-20-09)

“The growing market adoption of home networking is leading to increased demand for gateways, which will only grow in the next 18 to 24 months”