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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Urban Population Swells 12 Percent From 2000

Four out of every five Americans now live in urban areas, according to the 2010 U.S. census, which represents a 12.1 percent increase from the figure observed 10 years ago.

Although New York, Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas have the highest populations, California contains seven of the 10 most densely populated urban centers. Los Angeles boasts about 7,000 people per square mile, which is the highest in the country, while the average population density in urban areas is 2,534 people per square mile.

Households Saving Thousands Each Year In Lower Interest Payments

Back in 2007, the average American household brought in $1,700 more annually than it currently does. This drop may not appear to be too significant, but for homeowners on tight monthly budgets, that gap can be considerable. Fortunately, many households have found relief in the form of lower interest payments, to the tune of $3,100 saved annually, as compared with 2007 levels.

These figures were revealed recently by USA Today, which used data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to reach its conclusions. Last year, Americans spent 5.8 percent of their net income on interest for loans, credit cards and home mortgages, which is down substantially from the 9.1 percent observed in 2007. The more Americans conduct a mortgage refinance while interest rates are still near record lows, the more money they can save.

Tax Breaks Possible For Property Owners And Investors

First and foremost, prospective property owners and investors must consider the costs of a home they are considering buying. While homes and interest rates are more affordable now than they have been in decades, potential owners could find additional cost savings through the tax code.

The most common tax deductions that property owners are familiar with are related to home mortgage interest and property taxes, each of which can generally be written off. In addition to these savings, investors could be uniquely equipped to receive additional breaks through the tax code. They have the option of claiming that a property they own has depreciated and is in need of upgrading.

Buyers Should Strike When Lenders Remove Properties From Shadows

For every home that comes off the market, more properties approach foreclosure and lurk on the sidelines of the housing market waiting to be sold, thus slowing any significant recovery efforts.

Homes that make up the shadow inventory are those that owners intend to sell, but have not yet placed on the market. In many cases, these homes are either underwater, facing foreclosure or distressed in general. Lenders simply have too many properties on the market to handle selling any more. In addition, the foreclosure process, which is both lengthy and costly, could be preventing many lenders from acting.

Housing Experts Modify Expectations For Market Recovery

Economists and housing experts have spent the last few years trying to predict when the housing market would hit rock bottom. Once prices fall to their lowest point, many expect them to start to rebound, which should accelerate home sales and lead to a general recovery. Current homeowners may need to wait a few more months though, as a new report suggests prices could remain low throughout 2012.

A Zillow survey of housing experts found that home values are expected to fall 0.7 percent this year, which represents an increase over the previous expected decline of 0.2 percent. They have also tempered their expectations for 2013, as prices are expected to rise 1.39 percent next year, instead of the projected 1.75 percent predicted toward the end of 2011.

Should I Refinance Before Starting A Job Search?

American consumers who have weathered the storm of unemployment, impending foreclosure or both simultaneously understand the pressures that these dual stressors can produce. This may explain why homeowners who are finally emerging from financial difficulties may not be sure whether to launch their new job search or conduct a mortgage refinance first.

In many ways, homeowners who have yet to refinance their homes still may have time to do so while receiving maximum benefits. The newest interest rate averages on 30-year fixed-rate loans, according to Freddie Mac, have fallen yet again, providing homeowners with a clear chance to save money. Of course, finding a lender could be difficult if homeowners do not currently have stable employment.

Organizations Buying Up Investment Properties To Eventually Rent Out

Even though Fannie Mae is offering up only 2 percent of its total stock of foreclosed property, this could amount to some 2,500 properties becoming available to buyers with real estate investor loans. Some large investment firms are now jumping into this market, as they scoop up properties in droves.

Investors were initially reluctant to purchase properties in bulk and rent them out because returns would not be sufficient. But, now that rent prices have begun to spike across the nation, annual returns are commonly in the 6 to 8 percent region. While these investments will help the firms themselves, they could also take pressure off of the foreclosure inventory.

Pundits Predict Future Of Housing In United States

How permanent and lasting will be the scars be from the housing market downtown that began in 2008? While many real estate experts and observers are optimistic about a pending recovery, others think that economic conditions have forced a paradigm shift regarding homeownership in the United States.

One of these skeptics, Forbes writer Marianne Bickle, thinks that owners living in their homes longer, spiking foreclosures, young adults moving back home and more consumers choosing to rent properties could produce a market in which homeownership is not nearly as prevalent. Bickle's assessment is that many Americans simply feel thankful to have a job and are not as concerned with their specific living arrangements.

Foreign National Loans Taking Up Greater Share Of U.S. Sales

In the last two years, buyers with foreign national loans have purchased $82 billion worth of U.S. properties, compared with an estimated $66 billion in sales the previous year. According to the National Association of Realtors, even though this figure has increased, it still pales in comparison to the total value of the domestic housing market - $1.07 trillion.

Just more than half of all foreign buyers come from Canada, China, India, Mexico and Britain, respectively. Canadians alone account for about 25 percent of all international sales.

Foreclosure Backlog Continues To Find Relief

In recent months, many foreclosures have stalled midway through the process due to bureaucratic barriers and the sheer volume of affected properties. Many experts anticipate a rise in foreclosures in the coming months, which could harm individual homeowners while providing relief to the overall housing market.

RealtyTrac published a report this week that found 21 states increased their foreclosure activity in February over figures at the same point last year. In total, foreclosure filings occurred on 206,900 properties last month, which represents 2 percent decrease from January.