LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Fewer homes nationwide were put on a foreclosure track last month than in August last year, when they hit a 17-year high, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac said Thursday.
So-called foreclosure starts increased almost exclusively in states like Florida and New York, where courts must sign off on foreclosures, the firm said.
Conversely, in many so-called non-judicial states, like California and Arizona, the number of foreclosure starts declined vs, August last year.
The pace of homes entering the foreclosure process is expected to decline gradually, barring another severe economic shock that sends the slowly rebounding housing market into a tailspin, experts say. But that decline is likely to continue playing out unevenly, in part because of the differing approaches to handling foreclosures from state to state.
Some states have passed laws that slow the process, creating a backlog of foreclosure cases that will take longer to wade through.
BY: TORY BARRINGER
Stalled confidence in the economy and personal finances apparently hasn’t brought down optimism in the housing market.
Fannie Mae released its July 2012 National Housing Survey Tuesday, showing that consumer optimism regarding the slowly recovering housing market remained strong during the month.
Survey respondents said they expect home prices to increase 1.7 percent in the next year, slightly down from the 2.0 percent survey high recorded in June. Eleven percent of respondents believe home prices will drop, the lowest level recorded since the survey began in June 2010.
In the highest level seen since the survey began, 16 percent of consumers say now is a good time to sell, while a steady 73 percent said it is a good time to buy.
The California Association of Realtors says inventory shortages dented pending home sales in June, as lenders signed off on more short sales but had fewer "real estate owned" properties, or REOs, to market.
CAR's Pending Home Sales Index was down 3.8 percent from May to June, but at 121.4 was up 4.7 percent from a year ago. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008.
REO's accounted for 20.2 percent of pending sales in June, down from 29.2 percent a year ago. Short sales were up, but only slightly, accounting for 21.4 percent of sales statewide, compared with 20 percent a year ago.
All told, distressed properties (short sales, REOs and others) accounted for 42 percent of pending sales, down from 49.5 percent a year ago.
"Pending sales declined in June, partly due to a lack of housing supply -- especially in REO properties," CAR President LeFrancis Arnold said in a statement.
"The shortage of REO inventory is also putting upward pressure on bank-owned home prices, with the median price of REO properties showing a double-digit year-over-year gain of 11 percent in June."
A key gauge of Southern California home prices is on the rise because of a significant drop in foreclosed properties on the market and increased sales in more expensive coastal areas.
The Southland's median home price was up 5.3% in June from a year earlier, hitting $300,000 for the first time in two years, real estate firm DataQuick reported Tuesday. The median is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less. June sales rose 7.5% compared with a year earlier, another sign of increased strength in the housing market.
Helping drive the region's home price gain was a dwindling foreclosure market.
Foreclosures made up about 1 in 4 sales last month, compared with 1 in 3 in June 2011. Last month's foreclosure figure was the lowest since December 2007, at just 24.5% of all resale homes, DataQuick said. Foreclosures tend to concentrate in cheaper, less desirable neighborhoods, and they also sell at a discount, dragging down overall prices.
By: Tory Barringer
The California Homeowner Bill of Rights is one step closer to becoming law as the Legislature sends some of its key provisions to the governor, state attorney general Kamala Harris announced Monday.
AB 278 and SB 900 provide protection for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction of dual-track foreclosures (in which a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions to try and save the home). They also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers. In addition, the bills impose civil penalties for the practice of robosigning.
The bills passed 53-25 in the Assembly and 25-13 in the Senate. They will be sent to the desk of governor Jerry Brown for consideration.
Inland Valley Daily Bullentin
By: Andrew Edwards
The Inland Empire's housing prices climbed a bit last month, but the region also has the most foreclosure activity of any major metropolitan area in the United States. Taken together, numbers and analysis from two Southern California companies that examine the housing suggest it may be resonable to expect a gradual recovery but not a rapid improvement in market conditions. "The market is being slowly nursed back to health by low interest rates, a modestly improved economy and, we suspect, a widening sense that the housing sector is at or near bottom," DataQuick Information Services president John Walsh said in a statement. DataQuick, based in San Diego, reported Wednesday that Southern California median house and condo prices reached $295,000 in May. That level is 5.4 percent above the prices from one year ago.
San Bernardino County prices rose 5.7 percent to $158,000, while Riverside County proces climed 4.1 percent to $205,000. Los Angeles County prices fell 1.6 percent to $315,000. The seeming strengthening of housing prices happened while foreclosure activity remained high. One in every 179 homes in San Bernardino and Riverside counties was at some point in the foreclosure process last month, according to numbers that Irvine-based RealtyTrac released today.
By: Tory Barringer
Attorney General Kamala Harris’ “Homeowner Bill of Rights” continues to work through the California Legislature as two more bills pass, the Office of the Attorney General announced Thursday.
AB 2610 and SB 1473 will require buyers of foreclosed homes to allow tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. Under the bills, if the tenant has a fixed-term lease, the new owner must honor it unless they can demonstrate that certain exceptions apply. The bills are intended to correct incongruities within California law and between state and federal law.
“Tenants are unsuspecting victims in the mortgage and financial crisis,” said Harris. “They can rent on time but may suddenly find themselves forced to move. These bills will give tenants important rights and fair treatment when they live in a rental that is under threat of foreclosure.”
SB 1473 passed out of the Senate in a 25-13 vote. AB 2610 passed the Assembly in a 54-13 vote.
The Homeowner Bill of Rights, introduced by Harris in February following the National Mortgage Settlement, has been a topic of much debate on both a state and national level.
San Diego County pending home sales rose 12.3 percent in April from year-ago levels as completed sales nationally increased nearly as much.
The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, interpreted the results as indicative of demand extending beyond the investor community looking for bargains in the still-depressed housing market.
"A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices," Yun said.
The San Diego Association of Realtors said there were 5,697 pending sales as of Tuesday, up slightly from 5,654 a month ago and up 12.3 percent from 5,075 a year ago.
That varied slightly from the statewide pending-sales index trend in April. The index declined from 138.9 in March to 128 in April but still was ahead of the year-ago figure of 114.4.
"Inventory constraints could be a contributing factor to lower pending sales," said LeFrancis Arnold, president of the California Association of Realtors.
"The tight inventory we've been experiencing in the distressed market over the past several months is now spreading to equity properties, essentially affecting the supply conditions of both the distressed and nondistressed markets."
California may have some rough patches in it, but overall, with the worst part of the housing crises appearing to be over, the state is seeing fewer delinquencies and losing a smaller number of homes to foreclosure, according to a San Diego-based real estate data provider.
A total of 56,258 Notices of Default (NODs) were recorded at county recorders offices in California during the first quarter of 2012, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007 when 53,943 NODs were recorded, according to DataQuick.
NOD filings peaked in the first quarter of 2009 at 135,431.