California Homeowners

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Billions of federal program dollars available for California homeowners

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently signed up for the principal reduction program or PRP to help distressed borrowers with home retention options and short sales in California.  To date, almost $1.5 billion of the $2 billion in funding is available for Californians in the federal Hardest Hit programs.

 

Home prices increase in July

Data through July 2012, released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed average home prices increased by 1.5 percent for the 10-City Composite and by 1.6 percent for the 20-City Composite in July versus June 2012. For the third consecutive month, all 20 cities and both Composites recorded positive monthly changes.

The 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual returns of 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent in July, up from their annual rates posted the month prior. Fifteen of the 20 MSAs and both Composites posted better annual returns in July as compared with the previous month.

 

New home sales rise in August

Sales of new single-family houses rose 27.7 percent in August 2012 compared with August 2011 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau HUD.  Although new home sales rose on a year-over-year basis, in a month-over-month comparison new home sales declined 0.3 percent.

The median sales price of new houses sold in August 2012 was $256,900; the average sales price was $295,300. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of August was 141,000, representing a supply of 4.5 months at the current sales rate.

 

FHFA House Price Index rises in July

U.S. house prices rose 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in July compared with June, according to the FHFA’s monthly House Price Index. The previously reported 0.7 percent increase in June was revised downward to a 0.6 percent increase. For the 12 months ending in July, U.S. prices rose 3.7 percent. The U.S. index is 16.4 percent below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the June 2004 index level. FHFA uses the purchase price of houses with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to calculate the monthly index.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from June to July ranged from -0.8 percent in the East South Central division to +1.3 percent in the Mountain division, while the 12-month changes ranged from -1.4 percent in the Middle Atlantic division to +11.9 percent in the Mountain division.

 

Consumer confidence increases in September

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index improved in September and now stands at 70.3 (1985=100), up from 61.3 in August. The Expectations Index increased to 83.7 from 71.1, while the Present Situation Index rose to 50.2 from 46.5 last month.

Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved in September, with those claiming business conditions are “good” edging up to 15.5 percent from 15.3 percent, and those saying business conditions are “bad” declining to 33.3 percent from 34.3 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also more upbeat. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” rose to 8.3 percent from 7.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged down to 39.9 percent from 40.6 percent.

Consumers were also more optimistic about the short-term outlook in September. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.2 percent from 16.7 percent, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 13.8 percent from 17.6 percent. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more favorable. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 18.5 percent from 15.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 18.5 percent from 23.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes edged up to 16.3 percent from 16.0 percent.

 

Housing experts see stronger recovery on horizon

Economists expect home prices to rise by a total 2.3 percent during 2012, and overall have become more bullish on home prices than they were in the second quarter, according to the September 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, compiled from 113 responses from a diverse group of economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists.

The survey is based on the projected path of the S&P/Case-Shiller® U.S. National Home Price Index during the coming five years.

Survey respondents revised their forecasts for 2013-2016, predicting steadily increasing home values in each year.

“This is further evidence that we’re seeing a true recovery in the housing market,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “Not since mid-2010 – in the midst of the homebuyer tax credits – have we seen this group so bullish on housing. It’s refreshing to see this optimism at a time when the market seems to be making an organic recovery, in the absence of an artificial stimulant like the tax credits.”

The most optimistic quartile of panelists predicts a 4.4 percent increase in 2012, on average, while the most pessimistic predict an average increase of 0.3 percent.

 

Tip of the Week: Misleading email on 3.8 percent tax

Misinformation about the 3.8 percent Medicare tax continues to be circulated.

Here are the correct facts about the Medicare tax:

Beginning in 2013, the much-publicized and often misunderstood 3.8 percent Medicare tax on unearned-taxable income will go into effect. While the application of this tax will utilize a complex formula, what is important to remember is:

  • It is applicable to households in the top two tax brackets (individuals with an income above $200,000 or $250,000 for married couples),
  • Applicable only on taxable unearned income, such as capital gains, interest, dividends and rents,
  • Capital gains exemption for principal residences ($250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for married couples) is not affected, and
  • Real estate agents should have their clients contact their tax professional if they believe the new tax will impact them.

Category : Blog

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