Luxury Real Estate TV

From CurbedLA:

General Hospital” heartthrob-turned-real estate agent Stuart Damon will be returning to the small screen with the show “Luxury Lifestyles TV,” which’ll air on Fox 11 starting March 6 (in the odd 11 am time slot). The show features Stuart and his son Christopher cracking wise as they tour local high-end real estate, including downtown’s Watermarke and the Ed Niles-designed salad spinner in Beverly Hills.

Encouraging Strategic Defaults?

From HW:

Servicers are moving toward a proactive approach in pursuing short sales as an alternative to foreclosure, servicers on a Mortgage Bankers Association panel said Wednesday.

A component and specialty servicer, meanwhile, predicted that short sales could increase 50% industrywide this year. Buffalo, N.Y.-based AMS Servicing told HousingWire that the projected increase is due largely to changes in the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, or HAFA, program that opens up eligibility to a larger group of homeowners. AMS has determined through analysis of its 2010 short sale metrics that as many as 91% of previously ineligible borrowers might now be eligible for the HAFA short sale program.

“Power of denial is very sharp for someone losing their home,” said David Sunlin, senior vice president at Bank of America. Borrowers want to do the right thing, Sunlin said, and it’s important for servicers to guide the borrower through to the end, whether it’s a short sale or a deed in lieu.

“We need to get these short sales done in a timely fashion. A short sale today is a lot better than it was six months ago,” said Abel Fregoso, vice president and national field short sale manager for Wells Fargo.

The Treasury Department took action in December eliminating some rules it said have held back short sales through the HAFA program. HAFA no longer asks for income verification, unless the borrower is less than 60 days overdue on the mortgage. This means that borrowers who previously were deemed ineligible because their income was too high, may now qualify for a HAFA short sale, said Jim DePalma, executive vice president, default management at AMS Servicing, in an interview after the panel concluded.

David Sunlin said changes to the program are seen as positive by servicers. It works best, he said, when used pro-actively, by helping the borrower market the property instead of having the borrower come to the servicer with a buyer in hand.

Servicers on the panel said they expect the changes in HAFA to encourage more participation in the program.

But the incentive for borrowers to short sell their home can be challenging when it can take up to two years or more to complete a foreclosure. The ability to stay in the home without paying the mortgage may lessen the incentive to participate, panelists said.

As for deeds in lieu of foreclosure, Fannie Mae has looked at them with some sort of incentive at the end of it, such as a few months with reduced rent or no rent, said Beverly Wilbourn, vice president of preferred loss mitigation strategies for Fannie Mae. The key is to engage the borrower earlier and keep them engaged in order to avoid a foreclosure, she said.

“Offer them a way to transition from a very difficult financial circumstance,” she said. “Get to the homeowner and talk them through to life after this horrific situation.”

But, Wilbourn added, “You don’t want to go out and tell everyone to go do a short sale or do a deed in lieu.” The GSE wants to be sure that it is a viable option and the right alternative to foreclosure.

Short sales that have either second liens or mortgage insurance can be more challenging, said Leo Esposito, first vice president of loss mitigation and asset disposition services at ServiceLink, a unit of Fidelity National Financial. But that’s not to say they can’t be done, he said.

The seller may have to make a contribution or sign a note for a short sale with a second lien or with mortgage insurance for the sale to go through, said Wells’ Fregoso.

Pricing a Modular

How do you price a modular?

Are they nice enough that they deserve a new-house premium, or should there be a discount for being “not-stick-built”.  I think the price that buyers would be willing to pay depends mostly on what’s happening around the immediate neighborhood – here’s a tour around the one on Magnolia:

More Mumbo-Jumbo

From HW:

House prices in the S&P/Case Shiller index fell 5.3% over the last two quarters of 2010, wiping out the 4.9% growth seen in the previous year and a half and sending the housing market into a double-dip, analysts at Capital Economics said Tuesday.

Not everyone is so pessimistic however. Anthony Sanders, a real estate finance professor at George Mason University said underwhelming home sales, at least in the later months of 2010, should have been expected.

“It’s important to remember that this is winter and it’s normal for sales to be lower,” Sanders said. “The real test is when spring comes in April. That’s when we’ll know if we have a recovery occurring.”

Still, Capital Economics said further price declines are ahead, just how steep remains in question.

“We expect they will slide by a further 5% this year,” analysts said. “The danger, however, is that a vicious circle of falling prices and rising foreclosures pushes prices even lower.”

Distressed home sales, with an estimated market share at between 36% to 47% are a key contributor to the sharp decline as home prices fell in 18 out of the 20 MSAs, according to Scott Buchta, head of investment strategy at Braver Stern Securities.

Buchta said that the downward trending is not likely to end soon.

“We expect to see home prices continue to fall throughout 2011 as the housing market continues to struggle under the weight of high unemployment, growing inventories of distressed properties and rising interest rates,” he said. “Year-over-year comparisons will be difficult as the impact of the 2009/2010 home buyer tax credits will continue to skew the data for the next several reports.”

Flat City

Today’s quotes on the Case-Shiller Index report:

National home prices fell 4.1% during the last three months of 2010, compared with 12 months earlier, according to the latest report from the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a closely watched indicator of market trends. They were down 1.9% compared with three months earlier.  The decline was widespread, with 18 of the 20 large cities covered in a separate S&P/Case-Shiller index recording losses for the year. The only gains were posted by Washington, which was up 4.1%, and San Diego, which saw prices climb 1.7%.

“Despite improvements in the overall economy, housing continues to drift lower and weaker,” said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P.

“We’re really close to being at the bottom again,” said S&P’s Maureen Maitland. “Last years’s gains came courtesy of the tax incentives and the market is not holding up on its own.”

 “I think the price may go down substantially,” Robert Shiller, Yale University professor of economics who helps formulate the study, said on CNBC.

“The more accurate picture might be that we got down to the bottom in mid-2009 and we stopped there and we’re still there,” Blitzer said in a CNBC interview. “Maybe we’ll still be there for quite some time.”


It seems like pricing has been flat around here, so the +1.7% number for San Diego over the last 12 months sounds about right – though how they compute the index is still suspect.  They compared the fourth quarters too; the seasonally-adjusted change between 4Q09 and 4Q10 was 0.0%.

Here’s are the MLS detached home sales for the latest fourth quarters, and first eighths:

San Diego County, Fourth Quarter

Year # of Sales $-per-sf %REO/SS
2009 5,841 $243 40%
2010 4,965 $243 37%

San Diego County, Jan 1 to Feb 15

Year # of Sales $-per-sf %REOSS
2010 1,884 $234 44%
2011 1,818 $234 45%

North SD County Coastal, Fourth Quarter

Year # of Sales $-per-sf %REO/SS
$408 17%
$381 18%

North SD County Coastal, Jan 1 to Feb 15

Year # of Sales $-per-sf %REOSS
$378 22%
$378 24%

So far this year, there have been 10% more sellers around North SD County Coastal who have been willing to sell for what the market will bear. Those buyers have been willing to pay about the same, on average, as in the beginning of 2010.

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