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Friday, August 27, 2010

Foreclosures Down, Late Payments Up
The Mortgage Brokers Association is reporting that the wave of foreclosures appears to be subsiding slightly. According to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Delinquency Survey:

• The percentage of loans on which foreclosure action were started during the second quarter was 1.11 percent, down 12 basis points from last quarter and down 25 basis points from one year ago.

• The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the second quarter was 4.57 percent, a decrease of six basis points from the first quarter of 2010, but an increase of 27 basis points from one year ago.

• Loans that were 90 days or more past due or in the process of foreclosure was 9.11 percent, a decrease of 43 basis points from first quarter, but an increase of 114 basis points compared to the second quarter of last year.

“The good news is that foreclosure starts are down, and the inventory of homes anywhere in the process of foreclosure fell for the first time since 2006 and had the largest drop since 2005,” says Jay Brinkmann, MBA’s chief economist.

The bad news is that the percent of loans one payment behind had peaked in the first quarter of 2009 at 3.77 percent and fell to 3.31 percent by the end of 2009. Now that rate has risen to 3.51 percent.

“Only when we see a consistent increase in employment will we see an increase in sales and starts, and a sustained improvement in the delinquency numbers,” Brinkmann adds.

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association (08/26/2010)
12:40 pm cdt 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicago Existing Homes Sales Plunge in July

The Chicago Tribune reports today that Chicago existing homes sales plunged over 25 percent in July, the worst performance for the month of July since the Illinois Association of Realtors, which issued its report Tuesday, began tracking home sales in 2000. The results marked an abrupt end to the 12 months of consecutive year-over-year sales volume gains for the local market

"After June 30 it was like 'Hello, is anyone out there?'" said Mala Gandhi, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Downers Grove. "The only thing that sustained (real estate agents) June 30 to now is the rental market. I haven't had anyone throw their hands in the air and say forget it. But in 45 to 50 days, we'll see frost and that's not a comforting feeling, especially if things are still sitting on the market."

A federal homebuyer tax credit jump-started home sales last fall and again this spring, particularly among first-time homebuyers, and there were expectations that demand would trickle up to repeat buyers. Record low mortgage rates also were expected to propel buyers into the market. And indeed, local monthly sales volumes — but certainly not sales prices — have notched healthy year-over-year gains for the past year.

But the end of the tax credit, job worries and general discomfort over the economy's direction caused a greater-than-expected fall in existing home sales in July. For the Chicago area as a whole, 5,561 single-family homes and condos were sold in July, at a median price of $193,000. That compares with 7,427 homes sold in July 2009 at a median price of $213,500, 9.6 percent higher.

In the city of Chicago, sales of condos dropped 21.2 percent, to 950 units sold, and the median sales price fell 12.9 percent from the same month a year ago, to $257,000. July's sales volume for single-family homes within the city fell 16.9 percent, to 639 homes sold, but the median sales price fell 26.8 percent, from $164,000 in July 2009 to $120,000 a month ago.

The median price is the price at which half the homes are sold for more and half are sold for less.

The slowdown seems to have affected most homes in the Chicago market, regardless of their location or their price point.

In Lake Forest, for example, there are almost 230 single-family homes listed for sale for $1 million or more. In the past three months, 32 homes have sold for at least $1 million, which some would say was a respectable performance. Add up the number of homes sold for $1 million or more for the past 12 months, though, and the total is 79. That means Lake Forest has an inventory of almost three years of million-dollar homes.

"We had a great spring market with a lot of sales at significantly reduced prices, but they were selling," said Lisa Trace, an agent at Griffith, Grant & Lackie Realtors in Lake Forest. "It has really slowed down."

Meanwhile, in Orland Park, 21 detached single-family homes sold in July and 32 were under contract. That compares with 43 homes sold in July 2009 and another 34 under contract. More than 700 homes are for sale in the southwest suburb, not including foreclosures, according to Web site Trulia.com.

Among the Chicago-area counties, the only one to eke out a positive sales performance was Kane County, where July sales rose 1.3 percent from a year ago. Kane County also recorded the biggest percentage drop in median sales price, 18.1 percent below a year ago, to $171,000, from $208,900 in July 2009.

July sales were down 22.9 percent in Cook County; 35.8 percent in DuPage County; 18.6 percent in Kendall County; 29.6 percent in Lake County; 19.8 percent in McHenry County; and 29.9 percent in Will County.

Real estate agents continue to tell home sellers that correct initial pricing is key, particularly with so many homes, including foreclosures, available.

Mike Stodola, an agent at Koenig & Strey Real Living in Libertyville, continues to have clients who offer paid golf club memberships and boat slips as enticements to generate showings at new listings. Meanwhile, he's advising some clients to consider renting their homes because of the number of job transferees into the Chicago area who have to rent because they can't sell their own homes elsewhere.

Stodola anticipates that sales will pick up in the fall, but if demand doesn't escalate, he still will chalk up 2010 as a good year. "If I didn't do any more business the rest of the year, it'd already be better than last year," he said.

For the entire article, click here.

11:08 am cdt 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Foreclosures in Illinois on the Rise, Despite National Trend of Decline

The Daily Herald reports today that foreclosures in Illinois soared about 35 percent higher in July compared to a year ago, keeping the state in the top 10 with the biggest monthly increase nationwide, according to a RealtyTrac Inc. report released today.

The news wasn't any better on the local front. DuPage County foreclosures soared about 54 percent in July, compared to a year ago. Lake County followed with a 47 percent increase. The state and county results defied the nationwide trend that showed a nearly 10 percent drop in foreclosures, the Irvine, Calif.-based company report showed.

Experts said continuing high unemployment has been a major culprit here. Another has been the state law, which went into effect in April 2009, that allowed those facing foreclosure to have a 90-day grace period to save their homes.

That new law delayed the inevitable for some homeowners and artificially lowered the foreclosure rate last year, so this year's comparison is unusually high, said RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist.

The 90-day grace period has turned into 3 months of not paying the mortgage for some people. If they're unemployed, can't sell their home and its value is underwater, they have little recourse but to submit to foreclosure, said Marve Stockert, executive director of Lombard-based Illinois Association of Mortgage Professionals.

"In some cases, people are just giving up," Stockert said.

Nationwide, foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were reported on 325,229 properties in July, a 10 percent decrease from July 2009, RealtyTrac said.

In Illinois, foreclosure activity were on 19,602 properties, a 35 percent jump and the largest nationwide. It was also the third largest state total, the report said.

Illinois defied the national trend, said Blomquist.

"It looks like the state is getting a second wave of foreclosures due to the underlying economic problems, including high unemployment," Blomquist said.

And the rest of the year doesn't look much better. Stockert said things could remain bad or get worse when the new FHA law goes into effect in early October. It will spike the mortgage insurance premium from 50 basis points to as high as 90 basis points. On a $100,000 loan, that would add $500 to $900 a year, all tucked into the mortgage payments. The extra fee is on all FHA mortgages.

"This new law will really hurt," Stockert said. "It will just take more people out of the market, especially those who are especially close to qualifying but won't be able to pay the extra amount."

3:34 pm cdt 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Property Tax Relief Bill Signed

The Sun-Times is reporting that Governor Quinn has signed into law a bill to provide temporary property tax relief for tens of thousands of Cook County homeowners and property assessment reform for many more Illinois residents. But the law complicates the property tax process for hundreds of thousands of Cook County senior citizens.

The new property tax law will accomplish several things immediately. It extends the Cook County alternative general homestead exemption by three years, reducing the maximum exemption from $20,000 in the first additional year to $16,000 in the second and $12,000 in the final year. The exemption and the accompanying 7 percent cap on assessment increases were both set to expire this year.

On the downside, the new law also requires Cook County's 280,000 homeowners 65 and older to apply every year for a senior citizen exemption.

"Requiring seniors to apply annually for this exemption makes no policy sense," said Eric Herman, spokesman for Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan.

In the rest of Illinois, seniors will continue to have automatic renewal after they first apply and are approved.

Quinn called the requirement for Cook County seniors an "unnecessary" part of the legislation that can be handled later. He called the Cook County property tax cap "the greater good."

The new law also authorizes Quinn to name seven people to new Taxpayer Action Boards that will be set up in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Each board will oversee implementation of another new law that requires county assessors to provide property owners with a clear explanation of how tax assessments are determined. Each board will also evaluate how its county assesses residential property and examine the accuracy of computer-assisted mass appraisal.

For veterans returning from armed conflict, the new law expands a current one-year $5,000 exemption to two years.

Quinn said the new property tax law isn't a permanent solution to the state's high property tax problem. But Quinn said he would fight for a permanent property tax structure based on people's ability to pay.

"This is what the battle is about," said Quinn. "I am committed to fundamental property tax reform."

State Rep. Gregory S. Harris (D-Chicago) compared the law Quinn signed Sunday to "putting a Band-Aid on a complicated problem."

But Ray Helm, a retired City of Chicago worker and the owner of the property where Quinn signed the bill, said he was glad the governor is doing something.

"Property taxes are too high," he said. "This has gotta help."


9:22 am cdt 

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