Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Real Estate Recovery - St George Real Estate

Real Estate

National real estate sales showed signs of recovery from November sales. The National Association of Realtors said real estate sales rose 7.4 percent. This was more than expected. Pete Flint with Trulia.com reports, "Things are stabilizing".

Now of course, the new home buyer tax incentive that was first reported to end in November helped boost these numbers. None the less, the government initiatives, like this program that is now extended to even existing home owners who relocate, has helped to stabilize things. Even so, the high unemployment rate of 10% with employers continuing to cut jobs, is not helping, especially since 14 percent of homeowners are now struggling either to make their mortgage payments or are in foreclosure.

The Federal Reserve recently pledged to keep interest rates low so that the recovery can gain traction. President Obama, after meeting with community banks recently said that businesses will now be able to start growing and hiring again if they can get the investing credit that they need.

Homeowners who have lived in their current properties for at least five years can, now claim a tax credit of up to $6,500 if they relocate. Buyers must sign a purchase agreement by April 30 in order to qualify.

St George Real Estate

In Utah or the Salt Lake area, unemployment rates continue to be lower than the national average. The economy, for the most part, continues to be strong. The St George Real Estate Market continues to stabilize even though the inventory levels involving Short Sales and Foreclosures remains relatively high. Some consensus among Realtors and a lot of buyers seems to be that the exceptional deals are almost gone while we enter the longer phase of good deals still being available. This window may be shortened given the fact that interest rates are slowly, but recently steadily, seeming to rise.

Real estate has traditionally over time held its value, and if you are like minded in thinking that now would be a good time to get into the St George Real Estate Market, than for heavens sake, give Brian a call today at 435-634-5479.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Utah Real Estate - Home Sales, Prices & Interest Rates

Utah Home Sales

In Utah, real estate sales were up 2% for the third quarter of the year compared to the year before. Along the Wasatch front, home sales were up 25% in October over the previous years month of October. On the national level, for the last nine consecutive months pending home sales have been on the rise.

Utah Real Estate Prices

The director of the University of Utah's Bureau of Housing and Economic Development, James Wood, at a meeting of the Utah Association of REALTORS Convention, said that he believes housing prices for Utah reached their low point and bottomed in the first quarter of this year of 2009.

Nationally speaking there seems to be consensus among economists that housing sales have reached a bottom. However, the views are varied regarding the degree of stabilization with some saying that the bottom for prices may continue as long as into mid-2010. Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com who originally forecasted the bottom of prices this year and now projects them into mid-2010, says that the Obama administration's loan modification plan delayed a number of foreclosures that are likely to hit the market next spring, extending the price drops. You can read all about the Utah & St George Real Estate Neighborhood Stabilization Program Reform Act in our previous blog post. Whether this has anything to do with it or not, Zandi is pointing to the way in which we slow foreclosures happening, are of course having repercussions in extending the time it takes for home prices to completely stop declining. Most economist are connecting the bottom of house prices, as being closely tied to the share of distressed home sales declining.

St George Real Estate
Prices in Southwest Utah, namely, the St George real estate area market, has historically seen a quick spike in prices, with a drastic windfall of price depreciation. As such, many locals believe prices have reached a bottom and in some neighborhoods price appreciation, or at least rebounding of prices, has been felt. Statistics for the Washington County Utah area have shown some decrease in Notice of Defaults, which are the pending notices of buyers that are not being able to make their house payments any more- the prelude to our St George foreclosures and subsequent depreciation of home prices.

Utah Interest Rates

Utah home buyers have enjoyed low interest rates over the last year. This has been impacted largely by the Fed with their Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) purchase program... the program that has helped keep home loan rates low for much of the last year. Just this last week the Fed has announced that this program will end on March 31, 2010. What are the implications of this?

It's Economics 101... when Bond prices start to decrease from the diminishing demand of the Fed's purchases, home loan rates will naturally be likely to increase.

Bottom Line
The bottom line is that with all the tax credits available for buying, with interest rates being perhaps unsustainabley low, that buying Utah real estate now or this coming Spring of 2010 may be the very best time to buy before interest rates go up.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Utah & St George Real Estate Neighborhood Stabilization Program Reform Act

St George Utah Foreclosures - Neighborhood Stabilization

I'd like to detail how it is that an alternate view from our last blog post, where the rate or concern of St George Utah foreclosures is put forth through the Utah Neighborhood Stabilization Program of which counties are suffering the most in Utah. The allocated budget for Utah is $177,989,900 to be allocated.

The following is taken from http://www.opencongress.org/:
5/21/2009--Introduced. Neighborhood Stabilization Program Reform Act of 2009 - Amends the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, as amended by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to revise requirements for the use by state and local governments of emergency assistance provided to them for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes and residential properties.
The allocated budget for Utah is $177,989,900. The following is taken from The Utah Housing and Community Development Website at http://housing.utah.gov/documents/NSPFinalActionPlan.pdf in which they cite Utah's need and Washington Counties need:
The low number of potential buyers who can afford or qualify for home mortgages, and the high number of households losing their homes, has created pressure on the overall rental market…The decrease in affordable rental housing puts Utah’s low-income households at risk…Although the foreclosure crisis is felt statewide, the crisis is more pronounced in five of the most populous counties: Salt Lake, Weber, Washington, Davis and Utah…Emphasis will be on stabilizing neighborhoods that have been most affected by the foreclosure crisis. The majority of funding will focus on land banks/trusts and on redevelopment. A portion of NSP funds will be used to revitalize foreclosed properties and make them available to families including homeless families. It is the State of Utah’s goal to provide safe, affordable housing and improve the quality of life for low-to moderate income persons and families.
Thus, it is apparent that Utah state or the Utah Division of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has ranked Washington County Utah as one of the populas areas needing help. I do not know much on how these funds will be allocated,but it is apparent they intend to target the areas of most need or in low income housing segments. This is although many of the foreclosures have been in the higher price ranges, they still hope to affect the lower income earners segment that are being forced out of housing and with low availability of rentals, now doubling the homeless shelters numbers. HCD administers eleven community-targeted
programs and the four HUD programs.

The housing plan does say that funds will be allocated by most need and while we don't know which areas are hardest hit, they do say most emphasis will be on Salt Lake county with the most population being affected.

St George Real Estate

Here in the St George Real Estate area market, Apple Valley to be exact, I know of one rural HUD home that mysteriously was taken off the market, where in the listing agent told me, that when these homes become about half of what the appraised value was, they take them off the market to give the community or city the opportunity to buy the home first for any of their low income assistance programs. This particular home went back on at a reduced price and was immediately sold to the highest bidder. Investors had to wait 5 days before bidding on that property, as it was exclusively available to primary home owners- buyers who intended to occupy it.

Another instance here in the St George area, in Washington, Utah actually, I recently helped a younger couple put under contract a new construction build job. However, at first, the land owners and developers were challenged surpassed loan limits of the bank that also had ownership, that initially constrained that land owner/developer from getting new construction funding. During the buyer refusing to get the construction loan a change came about with the bank that reportedly loan limits of the bank that had a stake in the property, that the limits had been extended now allowing them to fund the project. This may be part of the government getting involved to help spur on development, but maybe it was just part of economics playing out.

This real estate update is part of our way of wanting to keep you informed on the market. Feel free to go to our website for more statistics for the local St George Ut Real Estate market. Fee; free to contact me, Brian, your local St George realtor anytime to help handle your real estate needs.