Home Sales Continue to Rise

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California pending home sales post monthly, annual gains in October
California pending home sales rose both from the previous month and year in October for the first time in seven months, while the share of equity sales grew slightly, marking a four-year high, C.A.R. recently reported.

C.A.R.’s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) rose 4.3 percent from a revised 115.2 in September to 120.2 in October, based on signed contracts.  Pending sales were up 3.6 percent from the 116.1 index recorded in October 2011.  Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, providing information on the future direction of the market.

“The strong pace of pending sales in October is a continuation of what we’ve experienced for most of 2012, with demand remaining robust across all parts of the state,” said 2013 C.A.R. President Don Faught.  “Non-distressed sales – which are up nearly 50 percent from a year ago – are especially strong, while REO sales are down more than 51 percent, primarily due to a short supply of REOs.  The significant increase in non-distressed sales has driven the share of equity sales to its highest level in more than four years.”

 

FHA announces revised loss mitigation home retention options
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently announced changes to its loss mitigation program which are intended to allow more borrowers to take advantage of opportunities that enable them to keep their homes.   Through revisions made to FHA’s Loss Mitigation Home Retention Options, a greater number of distressed borrowers will be able to qualify for FHA loss mitigation interventions, and the level of assistance available to them will be larger than under previous guidelines.  These changes will not only assist families in keeping their homes, but will also reduce the number of full claims against the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund.

Included among the changes being announced to FHA’s existing Loss Mitigation options are the following:

  • Streamlining FHA’s Loss Mitigation Home Retention Option priority order to a new 3-tier incentive structure, consisting of Special Forbearance, Loan Modification, and FHA-HAMP.
  • Redefining “Special Forbearance” to apply only in cases where the mortgagors are unemployed;
  • Eliminating some requirements which limited lenders’ ability to provide the assistance borrowers needed.
  • And expanding the FHA-HAMP program so that greater numbers of borrowers find sustainable long term assistance through FHA-HAMP modifications.

The entire list of changes can be found in FHA’s Mortgagee Letter 2012 – 22.

FHA lender/servicers have no longer than 90 days after issuance of this Mortgagee Letter to begin assessing delinquent borrowers under these new guidelines.

 

Consumer confidence continues to improve
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in October, posted a moderate increase in November. The Index now stands at 73.7 (1985=100), up from 73.1 in October. The Present Situation Index was virtually unchanged at 56.6 versus 56.7 last month. The Expectations Index rose to 85.1 from 84 last month.

“The Consumer Confidence Index increased in November and is now at its highest level in more than four and a half years,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.  “This month’s moderate improvement was the result of an uptick in expectations, while consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions continues to hold steady.  Over the past few months, consumers have grown increasingly more upbeat about the current and expected state of the job market, and this turnaround in sentiment is helping to boost confidence.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was relatively unchanged in November, with those saying business conditions are “good” declining to 14.4 percent from 16.5 percent, and those saying business conditions are “bad” decreasing to 31.5 percent from 33 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market improved. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased to 11.2 percent from 10.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” held steady at 38.8 percent.

 

Calif. median home price: October 2012: $341,370 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. highest median home price by region/county October 2012: San Mateo, $819,000 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. lowest median home price by region/county October 2012: Lake County, $111,430 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. Pending Home Sales Index: October 2012: 120.2, up 4.3 percent from September’s 115.2.

Calif. Traditional Housing Affordability Index: Third quarter 2012: 49 percent (Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates: Week ending 11/21/2012 30-yr. fixed: 3.31% fees/points: 0.7% 15-yr. fixed: 2.63 fees/points: 0.6% 1-yr. adjustable: 2.56% Fees/points: 0.4% (Source: Freddie Mac)

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