Home prices drop in February

Pasadena Star News  – Following three months of sales gains, California home sales posted a weaker-than-expected performance and declined in February, according to data from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California also declined in February.

MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY

  • Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 497,660 in February, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide.
  • February’s sales were down 9 percent from January’s revised pace of 547,080 units, and down 4 percent from the 518,390 sales pace recorded in February 2010. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2011 if sales maintained the February pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
  • The median price of an existing, single-family detached home sold in California in February declined 2.8 percent to $271,320, from a revised $279,140 in January, and was down 2.5 percent from the $278,190 median price recorded for February 2010. The February 2011 median price was the lowest since May 2009, when it was $263,440.
  • “The market pulled back in February, following three months of sales gains, when the ramifications of the robo-signing delays from last fall pushed sales into the period from November of last year to January,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “February’s sales drop indicates the effects of the foreclosure freeze are diminishing, and the market is returning to a more moderate sales pace.”
  • C.A.R. has posted median prices, unsold inventory stats, sales figures, time on market data, and more by county and region. To view this information, Click Here.  

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Average rate on 15-year mortgage dips below 4 percent

San Francisco Chronicle – Fixed mortgage rates tumbled this week and the 15-year loan dipped below 4 percent for the first time in three months. Read the full story

A red flag on reverse mortgages

The New York Times – It is the saddest of paradoxes: A government-backed financial maneuver intended to free up extra money for struggling older people turns out to have left some widows and widowers on the brink of foreclosure. Read the full story

Home improvements can be funded but options are limited

 Los Angeles Times – The home-improvement sector, already benefiting from spending on rehabilitating foreclosed properties, can be expected to get an even larger boost in the coming months from owners who have deferred maintenance during the recession, and newly minted empty nesters who want to turn bedrooms into home offices. Read the full story

More loan-modification options for the “underwater”

The New York Times – Struggling homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth have had few options to restructure their loans, but that may soon be changing for a few of them. Read the full story

Passing the test on canceled mortgage debt has tax rewards

Los Angeles Times – With hundreds of thousands of homeowners having negotiated loan modifications or short sales or been foreclosed upon during the past year, the Internal Revenue Service has issued fresh guidance on how to handle canceled mortgage debt in the upcoming tax season. Read the full story

A swift deal may not be a sound one

The New York Times – One crucial reason the nation’s mortgage industry ran itself – and the entire nation – off the rails was its obsession with speed. Mortgage had to be approved chop-chop, loans pooled instantly. When it came to foreclosure, well, the quicker the better. So it is disturbing that the same need for speed is at work in the bank settlement being devised by state attorneys general relating to improper loan-servicing and foreclosure practices. Read the full story 

Bank of America offers mortgage relief for military

Los Angeles Times – Bank of America, the nation’s largest bank, announced new initiatives intended to keep military families from losing their homes to foreclosure. Read the full story

How the market is affecting the rental market

  • As home prices decline, mortgage rates rise, and more uncertainty about the housing market abounds, more would-be home buyers are opting for rentals. However, new costs associated with renting – not to mention the increase in rents – is making renting less than the bargain it appears.
  • For former homeowners, renting often means living in a smaller space – which means larger furniture and non-essential items often end up in storage. At one popular storage facility, the popular 100-square foot unit can cost up to $270 per month, depending on location.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that more landlords are requiring tenants to sign up for renter’s insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A typical policy covers a tenant’s possessions and pays for hotel stays and additional living expenses in the event a rental is destroyed or seriously damaged. Premiums usually range between $100 and $300 per year, and vary based on location and amount of coverage.
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