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Real Estate Outlook: Indicators of Recovery

by Mark Rieger, Duke Warner Realty

Real Estate Outlook: Indicators of Recovery

You may not be quite ready to accept the idea that housing on a national basis has moved beyond bottoming out and is now in slow recovery mode.

But think about this: Even if you're bearish on the market, you've got to notice that some extraordinarily positive signs are popping up that point to recovery.

New mortgage applications last week for home purchases and refinancings were up 77 percent from the same week in April 2008, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That's a statistic that's hard to ignore!

Mortgage rates continue to average well below 5 percent -- 4.7 percent last week on average for 30-year fixed-rate loans and 4.5 percent for 15 year loans. Rates like these are a major factor pushing applications way up, no question, but sharply lower housing prices in many markets are an important part of the equation as well.

Nearly 600,000 homebuyers have already claimed either the $7,500 tax credit from last year, or the $8,000 credit for this year, according to IRS data cited by the National Association of Home Builders.

Many of these buyers are true first timers, but plenty of others are people who are now jumping back into real estate after not owning for a few years, drawn in by today's much more affordable prices and financing.

California offers a separate $10,000 tax credit for buyers of new (never occupied) homes.  These buyers do not need to be 1st time buyers and this tax credit is helping to move excess inventory in California.

The rebound underway in mortgages is even creating a mini hiring boom! The Bank of America has just announced that it will be adding 5,000 new positions around the country -- just to deal with its red hot mortgage business, which closed nearly 400,000 new loans during the first quarter. Other big lenders are hiring loan officers and processors again too.

Hard-hit local housing markets continue to roar back with sales gains. On Florida's west coast, in the Sarasota and Bradenton areas, sales were up 28 percent in March over last year, and pending sales -- pointing to more purchases in the pipeline but not yet closed -- were up 27 percent.

Inventories of unsold houses in the Sarasota-Bradenton area are down 31 percent, to the lowest level since December 2005, according to a report from Trendgrafix.

Nationally, house prices have begun moving up again after many months of declines. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, prices rose by seven tenths of a percent on average last month - after falling by six and a half percent during the previous 12 months.

Kenneth R. Harney writes an award-winning, nationally-syndicated column on housing and real estate from Washington, D.C. He is also managing director of the National Real Estate Development Center, a professional education company. He is a past member of the Federal Reserve Board's Consumer Advisory Council, a committee that by federal statute reviews all Fed actions on home mortgage, consumer credit and banking industry regulation.

If you have any questions, or if you or someone you know is looking to either Buy or Sell Real Estate in Central Oregon, please let me know. I'm here to help!

More HUD help on loan modification & foreclosure scams

by Mark Rieger, Duke Warner Realty

From HUD today:

Federal, State Partners Announce Multi Agency Crackdown Targeting Foreclosure Rescue Scams, & Loan Modification Fraud:

As homeowners & communities throughout the country continue to face devastating consequences from the deep contraction in the economy & the housing market, the Obama Administration announced on 04/06/09 a new coordinated effort across federal & state government and the private sector to target mortgage loan modification fraud & foreclosure rescue scams that threaten to hurt American homeowners & prevent them from getting the help they need during these challenging times… Read the entire press release, at: http://www.hud.gov/news/release.cfm?content=pr09-033.cfm & Visit: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/ , Download the new brochure at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/mha.pdf

As always, let me know if you have any questions or need any assistance. I'm here to help!!

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