The Norris Group Real Estate News Roundup 6/28/10

Today’s News Synopsis:

Statistics from the Federal Reserve show the median borrower who ‘strategically’ defaults doesn’t walk away from the mortgage until the amount owed exceeds the value of the home by 62%. McGraw-Hill Construction reports new construction starts increased 3% in April. According to CoreLogic, more than 11 million borrowers currently owe more on their mortgage than it is worth. Experian statistics show that 19 percent of all defaults in 2009 were strategic.

In The News:

Press EnterpriseCrash opens market for luxury apartments” (6-26-10)

“While homebuilders are aiming at a more frugal consumer by cutting frills, some apartment developments in San Bernardino and Riverside counties are going upscale with features like granite countertops and hardwood floors and rents comparable to a home mortgage. The Lewis Group of Cos., an Upland-based developer of master-planned communities and apartments, figures that partly because many people have been burned by the housing crash, there is demand from prospective tenants moving out of houses who want and can afford a house-like apartment experience.”

Chicago Tribune“Moral bankruptcy?” (6-27-10)

“Some have struggled unsuccessfully to keep their homes, and others have just walked away. Phillips decided he wanted revenge and was willing to ruin his credit record for it. When a short sale didn’t work out as planned, the 32-year-old Chicagoan opted for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, a move that will leave Phillips with little except for the scant possessions in his one-bedroom condo. It also will leave his lender, Chase, with little except for, eventually, a condo that has lost value. Meanwhile, Phillips continues to live there, mortgage-free.”

Los Angeles Times“Undone by their dreams” (6-26-10)

“In the last four years, according to the San Bernardino County assessor’s office, 373 of the 941 single-family homes in Mission Crest — nearly 40% — have been foreclosed on. Thirty-five have gone through foreclosure more than once. Properties that once sold for nearly $400,000 are worth less than $200,000.”

Mercury News“Santa Clara County assessor adds Web tools to help homeowners” (6-28-10)

More than 100,000 residents will be given access to a special website — tracking home sales by neighborhood — where they can see precisely why the assessor’s office decided to assign a particular home its worth.”

Wall Street JournalHow Far Underwater Do Borrowers Sink Before Walking Away?” (6-28-10)

“At what point do borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth decide to stop paying the mortgage? A new study from economists at the Federal Reserve Board aims to answer that question. The research found that the median borrower who ‘strategically’ defaults doesn’t walk away from the mortgage until the amount owed exceeds the value of the home by 62%.”

Housing Wire“Monday Morning Cup of Coffee” (6-28-10)

“The House Financial Services Committee issued a statement Sunday urging ‘bold action’ on the Dodd-Frank bill, the reconciled financial reform bill agreed to by a Congressional committee last week and named after Sen Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep Barney Frank (D-MA). The final bill now travels to separate House and Senate votes and then, upon passage by Congress, to a Presidential signature into law.”

Housing Wire“Surge in Nonresidential Building Boosts May Construction Starts” (6-28-10)

“New construction starts increased 3% from April to May, according to a monthly survey by McGraw-Hill Construction. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of total construction starts was $406.3bn in May, up 3% from $392,988bn in April. For the first five months of 2010, the unadjusted value of total construction starts was $162bn, down 2% from $165bn during the same period of 2009.”

Housing Wire“The Slippery Slope of Short Sales” (6-28-10)

“More than 11 million borrowers currently owe more on their mortgage than it is worth, according to CoreLogic (CLGX: 18.11 +0.28%)—and this group of borrowers would love nothing more than to replace their current underwater mortgage with whatever the accepted ‘short sale price’ is deemed to be. I don’t know that such a response on the part of borrowers could be deemed irrational, either. Many will ask themselves why they have a mortgage at a higher amount, especially if the bank is willing to sell the house to another buyer for less money.”

Housing Wire“G20 Applauds Dodd-Frank Bill in Pushing its own Global Financial Reform” (6-28-10)

“The meeting of G20 nations concluded this weekend in Toronto with communiqués reflecting a strong support for the US financial reform, called the Dodd-Frank bill. Indeed, information released from the summit show a mix of ambitious plans for growth, mixed with further calls to reduce spending, especially among countries with higher debt burdens.”

Housing Wire“Experian Finds 19% of Mortgage Defaults in Q209 are Strategic” (6-28-10)

“Of all mortgage delinquencies in the second quarter of 2009 (Q209), nearly one in five — or 19% — were considered strategic defaults, according to the latest study of default trends by information services firm Experian.”

Bloomberg “Commercial Mortgages Fail to Pay as Lending Increases” (6-28-10)

“Between 50 percent and 60 percent of loans on skyscrapers, hotels, shopping malls and apartment complexes failed to refinance within a few months of their maturity date this year, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a report. That compares with 15 percent to 20 percent in 2008, according to the analysts led by Roger Lehman in New York. About $11 billion in loans, or one-third of the 2010 total, had hit their expected maturity dates through late May.”

Bloomberg “Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Should ‘Unwind’ Portfolios, Pimco Says” (6-28-10)

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing-finance companies supported by U.S. taxpayers, should take advantage of demand for government-backed mortgage debt and sell their holdings, according to Pacific Investment Management Co. ‘Since the government’s going to want to unwind them at some point anyway, why not do it at the best levels ever?’ Scott Simon, the mortgage-bond head at Newport Beach, California-based Pimco, manager of the world’s biggest fixed- income fund, said in a telephone interview.”

Inman “Top 10 states for pending tax credit closings” (6-28-10)

“NAR estimates as many as 180,000 homebuyers who were under contract by April 30 may miss the June 30 closing deadline. To prod lawmakers into find a way to extend the deadline, NAR released a breakdown of how many home purchases are affected in each state.”

Looking Back:

One year ago, Freddie Mac estimated that sales of new and existing homes might increase to an annual pace of 5.1 million in the 3rd quarter. Real Capital Analytics forecasted that $16 billion of office transactions would be completed by the end of 2009. The number of Orange County property owners disputing their taxes jumped 23% near last year’s deadline.

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