An affordable place in NJ?

From the Press of Atlantic City:

Lower cost of living may be driving population migration to Cumberland County

Robert Bruni’s dream of buying a house and owning a burger joint or deli fell victim to what he said was the high cost of real estate in Gloucester County.

So Bruni left Franklin Township and crossed the border into Cumberland County, where he bought a building on High Street in downtown Millville.

The first floor of the building, for which Bruni wouldn’t supply a price, is now Bruni’s Breakfast & Burgers. The upper floors contain his two-bedroom residence.

“It was much more affordable,” the 28-year-old Bruni said of property in Cumberland County, adding the real estate costs in Gloucester County were so high that “I just stopped looking at the prices.”

Real estate and economic experts say Bruni’s search for a less expensive place to live in a still-troubled South Jersey economy may be one indicator of why U.S. Census Bureau numbers show a population migration to Cumberland County from nearby counties.

Those county-to-county numbers indicate 1,435 more people moved into Cumberland County than moved out from 2010 to 2014. Many of those new residents came from Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Cape May counties.

The census numbers show an opposite trend in Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean counties.

“My guess would be that the rentals are cheaper,” said Richard Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College. “In Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May, the rents have remained relatively high in relation to income.”

That could be especially true for some of the 571 Atlantic County residents who moved to Cumberland County from 2010 to 2014, Pernicaro said. Some of those residents were likely stung by an Atlantic County economy hurt by the Atlantic City casino industry’s decline, he said.

“If you are uncertain about your future, you might as well be where you can live the cheapest,” he said.

Census figures put the median monthly gross rent in Cumberland County at $978. That’s less than the rents in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties and the state.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, South Jersey Real Estate | 33 Comments

NYC Over-Gentrified?

From Business Insider:

The Fed confirmed some of the most troubling trends in Manhattan real estate

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday supported recent data showing some worrying trends in parts of Manhattan’s real-estate market.

The Beige Book compiled anecdotes from contacts of the 12 regional banks, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It is not a hard data release.

“New York City’s rental market has been mostly steady, except at the high end, where the inventory has risen and rents have drifted down,” according to the Beige Book.

There are too many luxury apartments in the city, with more developments still rising from the ground. A report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate released last month showed that new development inventory surged in the third quarter after four straight periods of declines. Inventory had been falling because developers were moving their properties from active to shadow status to avoid extended marketing periods, the company said.

But this glut has given buyers more options and some more bargaining power to push back against prices they think are unfair. If prices continue to fall, the balance of power in the market could shift so that it becomes a buyers’ market.

“Prices have declined at the high end of the market but remained steady for more moderately priced units; bidding wars have become noticeably less prevalent,” the Beige Book said.

“Landlord concessions have grown increasingly prevalent, especially in Manhattan and Brooklyn,” according to the Beige Book. Concessions, which include things like a month of free rent and high-end appliances, are part of landlords’ efforts to make renters more willing to pay their asking prices.

The Fed noted that rental vacancy rates in northern New Jersey and upstate New York remained near multiyear lows, while rents rose by about 4% year-on-year.

Posted in Economics, NYC | 84 Comments

Pending Home Sales slow in October

From the WSJ:

U.S. Pending Home Sales Edged Higher in October

The number of homes that went under contract inched higher in October, a sign the housing market could be plateauing in the final months of the year.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its pending home sales index, which tracks contract signings for previously owned homes, edged up 0.1% from a downwardly revised September reading to a seasonally adjusted 110.0. Sales typically close within a month or two of signing.

“Home sales likely have peaked,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. He said buyers have been trying to lock in low mortgage rates in recent weeks before they head higher, but that pattern won’t hold for long.

“We expect home sales clearly to fall in the first quarter,” Mr. Shepherdson said.

October’s reading was 1.8% above where the index stood in October a year ago, and the highest since July.

But the housing market is facing a number of headwinds, including rising mortgage rates, home price appreciation that has outpaced most workers’ wage gains, and limited inventory. In September, U.S. home prices climbed back above the record reached more than a decade ago, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index released Tuesday.

Borrowing costs were still low in October. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in October was 3.47%, below the October 2015 average of 3.80%, according to Freddie Mac. But the average rate on a 30-year fixed conforming mortgage has risen to 4.16%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, up from post-Brexit lows around 3.6%.

Daniel Silver, an economist at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., said the key question “is what will happen to the housing market following the increase in rates that occurred since early in November.”

The pending-home sales report showed the index rose in all four regions of the country since October 2015, with the strongest annual growth in the Northeast. Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, said 40% of October’s sales were at or above their listed price, a rise from 33% last October.

Posted in Economics, National Real Estate | 129 Comments

What bust?

What now, shut down the blog? From the WSJ:

Home Prices Recover Ground Lost During Bust

U.S. home prices have climbed back above the record reached more than a decade ago, bringing to a close the worst period for the housing market since the Great Depression and stoking optimism for a more sustainable expansion.

The average home price for September was 0.1% above the July 2006 peak, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index released Tuesday. As of the previous month’s reading of the Case-Shiller index, a widely used benchmark for U.S. housing, prices remained 0.1% below the July 2006 record.

Adjusted for inflation, the index still is about 16% below the 2006 high. Home prices jumped 5.5% over the past year.

The record caps a four-year recovery from the trough of 2012, when prices sat 27% below the peak after a crash that caused more than nine million American families to lose their homes.

“It’s good news for homeowners out there, especially ones who were able to cling on to their homes,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, a real-estate research firm. “They saw one of the biggest assets that they had lose a ton of savings.”

While prices have recovered, the market is flashing caution signs. The country is building far fewer homes than normal, the homeownership rate is near a five-decade low, and mortgages remain difficult to come by, especially for less-affluent buyers. Rising mortgage rates could also begin to pose headwinds to further price growth.

Home-price growth has also outpaced income gains, making it more likely that the current rate of appreciation is unsustainable. Home prices have grown at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of 5.9% since 2012, while incomes have grown by just 1.3%, according to Case-Shiller. By contrast, from 1975 until the present, prices grew at a rate of 1.1% a year, while per-capita incomes grew 1.9%.

Still, while housing has lagged behind some sectors of the economy in recent years, there are signs of gaining strength: Single-family housing starts rose 11% in October, according to the Commerce Department, and the number of starts remains well below the historical average, suggesting there is room for acceleration.

Likewise, the share of first-time buyers rose to 33% in October from 31% a year earlier, inching closer to the historical average of 40%. The lack of first-time buyers had been a drag on the market.

Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale University who co-developed the index, said the record provides a significant psychological boost for homeowners, some of whom are finally seeing their homes above water after four years of recovery. About 12% of homeowners who have a mortgage now owe more than their home is worth, down from more than 30% at the bottom of the market, according to Zillow.

Posted in Housing Bubble, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 90 Comments

Can Newark be the next hot spot?

From the Star Ledger:

Why a tech millionaire built his incubator in Newark

If Gerard Adams didn’t exist, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka might have to invent him.

Adams is a 31-year-old Belleville High School grad and Caldwell University dropout, whose father grew up in Newark and worked as a manager at Prudential. He made his name by cofounding EliteDaily.com, the self-described “Voice of Generation Y,” then selling it to the Daily Mail last year for $50 million.

Adams, who recently moved back to New Jersey from Manhattan, used part of the sales’ proceeds to launch Fownders, a tech incubator, training and mentorship center, cafe, and all-purpose gathering place for aspiring young entrepreneurs in his father’s home town.

Described on its website as a “Seed2Scale Accellerator,” Fownders opened last Spring at the base of a 20,000-square-foot building on Norfolk Street in Newark’s University Heights section.

The building, which has 17 market-rate apartments upstairs, was built by Adams and his longtime friend and collaborator, Pedro Gomes, a young real estate developer and Ironbound native. The two are already planning another building a block away with more apartments and additional Fownders space.

Adams, whose father is European-American and mother is of Colombian descent, is precisely the kind of private-sector ally Baraka looks to cultivate in his “Newark 3.0” campaign to transform Brick City into a technology mecca. Along those lines, Fownders is pushing the name “Silicon City” to place Newark among the established “Valley” and “Alley” tech centers in California and New York.

Posted in Economics, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 132 Comments

10 years later, conforming loan limits finally increase

A couple of days old, but it’s big news and I missed it. From HousingWire:

FHFA increases conforming loan limits for first time since 2006

For the first time since the housing crisis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is increasing the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017.

For much of the country, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limit remained at $417,000 for one-unit properties (or single-family homes) in 2016, just as it had for the previous 10 years.

The FHFA announced Wednesday that for 2017, it is increasing the loan limit from $417,000 to $424,100 for single-family homes.

The conforming loan limits for Fannie and Freddie are determined by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which established the baseline loan limit at $417,000 and mandated that, after a period of price declines, the baseline loan limit cannot rise again until home prices return to pre-decline levels.

The FHFA noted that until this year, the average U.S. home price remained below the level achieved in the third quarter of 2007, which it designates as the pre-decline price level, and therefore the baseline loan limit had not been increased.

But as the FHFA noted earlier Wednesday, its Home Price Index for the third quarter of 2016 makes it “clear” that average home prices are now above the level of the third quarter of 2007, which means that the conforming loan limits can be increased.

Loan limits will also be increasing in what the FHFA calls “high-cost areas,” where 115% of the local median home value exceeds the baseline loan limit.

As the FHFA notes, median home values generally rose in high-cost areas during this year.

According to the FHFA, the new ceiling loan limit, which applies in areas with the most expensive homes, will be $636,150 (which is 150% of $424,100) for one-unit properties in the contiguous U.S.

Posted in Mortgages, National Real Estate | 53 Comments

Shop NJ Small Business

From NJTV:

Communities Give Back for Small Business Saturday

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday when local retailers and business owners band together to get customers shopping in their communities.

“It shouldn’t be about getting up at 5 a.m. and running through a door and getting trampled — it’s not the spirit of Christmas. When you come here, you’re important to us,” said Elaine Moffett, owner of Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts. “You’re an individual and you’re treated very kindly year round by us.”

The movement was started in 2010 by American Express as a way to help small businesses rebound from the recession. The incentive: a statement credit on cardholders’ bills. Now, it’s a holiday weekend mainstay with the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. SBA Regional Administrator Kellie LeDet says it can make or break a small business.

“Look at the small businesses. Look at what they do. They hire our locals, they stabilize our communities and our economy and are destination spots,” LeDet said.

There are nearly 800,000 small businesses in New Jersey. They employ almost two million people in the Garden State, according to the National Retail Federation. The SBA says more than half the population nationwide owns or works for a small business.

“Two of the three new net jobs in this country will be in small business so we have to make sure that we support these efforts moving forward,” said Congressman Donald Payne, Jr.

“It’s not easy. It’s hard. I come to work at 6 in the morning, I go home at 10 o’clock at night,” said restaurant owner Marcos Quijada. “When I wake up, I wake up with energy because we have a business.”

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 30 Comments

DoJ fails, BoA walks

From the Wall Street Journal:

Justice Department ‘Hustle’ Case Against Bank of America Dies

The government’s Hustle case against Bank of America Corp. is finally dead.

The case, in which the government accused the bank’s Countrywide Financial Corp. unit of churning out shoddy mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, already was thrown out by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which had first brought the case in 2012, then asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision, a request the appeals court denied.

The U.S. attorney’s office could have asked the Supreme Court to take up the matter, but Monday was the government’s deadline to do so. The appellate court also threw out a fraud verdict against former Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone, who now goes by Rebecca Steele and was one of the few individuals prosecuted for the financial crisis.

“We won. It’s over. Justice is done,” said Marc Mukasey, Ms. Steele’s lawyer.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office also declined to comment.

The Hustle case had been a landmark in the Obama administration’s efforts to hold banks accountable for the financial crisis. The Second Circuit ruled the government hadn’t proven that the bank’s actions amounted to fraud.

Posted in Foreclosures, Housing Bubble | 29 Comments

Don’t get it, we don’t need the $180 million?

From the Star Ledger:

Christie keeping income tax agreement with Pennsylvania

Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday he will keep in place a decades-old agreement that allows New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents who work across state lines to pay income taxes where they live rather than where they work.

Christie had originally put the tax reciprocity agreement on the chopping block in September.

The governor credited finding $200 million in savings in a public worker union-backed health care bill that Christie signed into law on Monday. The legislation adjusts the process in which public workers receive their prescriptions by modifying the state’s pharmacy benefits system.

“This action will save state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in health care benefit costs, and I’m proud my administration was again able to work with elected officials from both sides of the aisle and many labor union representatives to achieve these savings,” Christie said in a statement.

More than 120,000 New Jerseyans commute across the river, and a similar number of Pennsylvanians work here, according to the U.S. census.

Under the 4-decade agreement, a resident of New Jersey who works in Pennsylvania need only file a tax return in New Jersey. The same is true for a Pennsylvania resident working in New Jersey.

As a result, New Jersey hasn’t collected income taxes from people living in Pennsylvania and working in New Jersey. Christie’s former treasurer had estimated the Garden State would reap $180 million in revenue from Pennsylvania residents forced to pay taxes here.

Posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 100 Comments

Sorry NJ…

From NJ1015:

Forecast calls for a braking of New Jersey’s economy

While the U.S. economy seems to be moving ahead moderately, New Jersey’s economy is stuck in “slow,” according to the latest Rutgers University economic forecast.

The Rutgers RECON forecast predicts a “dampening” of Jersey’s gross domestic product. Rutgers economist James Hughes says for the foreseeable future, it certainly is not going to be “boom times” in New Jersey.

The state enjoyed a good economic year in 2015. But it slowed in 2016. Hughes says New Jersey job growth will be about half the pace of the rest of the nation.

“We are just about back to where we were before the recession began. But the nation recovered all of its jobs 30 months ago.”

They make the point in the report that after falling rather rapidly in 2015, the state’s unemployment rate reached 4.3 percent in February 2016, but it has risen somewhat since, hitting 5.3 percent in August. They also predict the jobless rate will average 4.9 percent this year, then rise to 5.4 percent in 2017.

New Jersey consumer prices rose almost imperceptibly in 2015, held back by falling gas prices. The RECON forecast says prices will rise 0.7 percent in 2016, but bounce back up to the long-run average of about 2.6 percent per year through 2026.

“Our labor force is growing slower. Our population is growing slower. And those factors really point to the economic output, or gross domestic product, of the state really moderating going forward,” Hughes says.

Hughes also says 400,000 New Jerseyans work in New York City. A lot of those New York City jobs are high-paying and New Jerseyans get a share of New York’s growth.

“We in New Jersey are heavily dependent on suburban offices to shelter our economy, but that is not a hot sector elsewhere. The income growth looks better than simply the state itself because that represents dollar flows into the state.”

Posted in Economics, Employment, New Jersey Real Estate | 107 Comments

You better learn to drive a forklift

From the WSJ:

In New Jersey and Long Island, Developers Eye Office-to-Warehouse Conversions

Peter Sudler didn’t make the decision to demolish one of his top-end suburban office buildings lightly. But he knew better than to fight the market.

“Rather than sit there with an empty office building I am repositioning it to warehouse distribution,” the developer said.

Sudler Cos. is tearing down a 25-year-old, 500,000-square-foot office building in Cranbury, N.J., to clear the way for 800,000 square feet of industrial space.

Not so long ago, replacing an office building with a warehouse wouldn’t have crossed the minds of many developers. Office space, after all, costs more to build and usually generates higher rents.

A red-hot warehouse market driven by the rise of e-commerce has changed that. Though the numbers are small, several suburban office properties in or near New Jersey and Long Island industrial neighborhoods have been redeveloped as warehouses.

“It was always the reverse, and we used to convert from industrial to office,” said Thomas DiMicelli, an executive vice president with brokerage firm JLL who works in the Long Island market. “Industrial values have gone up enough, it can make converting office buildings worthwhile.”

The sites also were in office markets that have been soft, brokers said. The vacancy rate for Long Island stood at 14.3% in the third quarter; New Jersey’s vacancy rate was 24%, according to JLL.

By comparison, the vacancy rates for Industrial space are 1.8% on Long Island and 4.6% in northern and central New Jersey.

Prices for industrial space are soaring. The average sale price on Long Island is $96.80 a square foot, compared with $62.50 three years ago. In New Jersey, warehouses are going for an average of for $74.84 a square foot, compared with $63.78 in 2013.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, NYC | 117 Comments

NJ jobs growth bleak

From the Record:

New Jersey lost 5,600 jobs in October

In what several experts said showed a loss of momentum in the state’s economy, New Jersey lost 5,600 jobs in October, as its unemployment rate dipped to 5.2 percent, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New Jersey private employers shed 4,600 jobs and 1,000 public jobs were lost.

“What I really see looking at the broader trends is there’s not a lot of vigor in the state economy,” said Charles Steindel, who was state economist under Governor Christie and is now a resident scholar at the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College of New Jersey. “I would view this as a pretty lackluster report.”

Sectors that experienced contraction were trade, transportation and utilities (5,700), manufacturing (1,900), leisure and hospitality (1,200), financial activities (700), information (500) and construction (200). The public sector recorded a loss of 1,000 jobs.

Industries that had employment gains in October included professional and business services (4,400), other services (1,000) and education and health services (plus 200).

Based on more complete reporting from employers, September preliminary estimates were revised up by 2,200 jobs, including 1,800 in the private sector to show an over-the-month private-sector employment gain of 5,100 jobs instead of the 3,300 initially reported.

“The results of this preliminary BLS report may be mixed, but the overall labor market picture remains unchanged with continued growth in payroll employment in 2016,” James Wooster, chief economist for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, said in a statement.

“The New Jersey economic recovery is expected to continue into the near future fueled by further gains in both the labor market and the housing market,” he said. “Private-sector payroll employment has fully recovered from the last recession, with 28,100 more people employed than during the pre-recession peak.”

Steindel and Joel Naroff, president and chief economist of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. of Holland, Pa., said the numbers, particularly the trend now for the past 12 months, paint the state’s employment picture as rather stagnant.

“It’s not as if the state’s economy is weak,” Naroff said. “It’s just that it’s not strong. Every once in awhile you get teased into thinking that it’s starting to pick up steam, and then the acceleration fizzles out. And then it picks up steam again. It’s what the state is … When you average it out it’s mediocre.”

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 135 Comments

The elusive millennial buyer

From the Record:

Millennials boost numbers of first-time homebuyers

After two years of renting an $1,800-a-month studio apartment in Harlem, Sarah and Micaiah Fitzgerald decided it was time to buy a home.

“We just felt we were throwing money away by renting,” said Sarah Fitzgerald, a 35-year-old psychiatrist. “It became very clear that the way to keep a lot of that money in your pocket was owning your own space.” After just a few weeks of looking, she and her husband, a 44-year-old software engineer, recently bought a three-bedroom house in Teaneck for $380,000.

The Fitzgeralds are among a growing number of first-time buyers venturing into the housing market, as the more than 75 million members of the millennial generation — the most populous in U.S. history —start families and find brighter job prospects than in the years following the recession. East Brunswick appraiser Jeffrey Otteau, who tracks the housing market statewide, has estimated that 325,000 millennial buyers — those born starting in the early 1980s — will enter New Jersey’s housing market over the next decade.

Many young households delayed buying homes after the 2007-09 recession, which sent unemployment skyrocketing to 10 percent. Moreover, the accompanying housing crash dragged down home values, making houses seem like a risky investment.

Other people held off buying homes as they completed their educations and struggled to save for down payments in the face of student debt and high rents. Those delays may be one reason the median age of first-time buyers surveyed this year by the NAR rose to 32, up from 31 in the past five years.

Andrew and Kerribeth McKenna, who now live in Hoboken, love the easy commute to their financial-services jobs in New York City, but their two-bedroom rental is starting to feel a little crowded now that they are parents of a 1-year-old. So they’ve been looking for a house – first in the lake communities of Wayne, and more recently in Ridgewood.

“It’s a matter of space, and the cost of that space” in different places, said Andrew McKenna. “We could get a 1½- or 2-bedroom apartment in Hoboken for the cost of a whole house in Ridgewood.”

Posted in Demographics, New Jersey Real Estate | 91 Comments

The Trump Housing Market – Up or Down?

From Forbes:

How President Trump Could Affect The Value Of Your Home

In July the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the homeownership rate in this country had hit its lowest level since the government began measuring the stat in 1965. Then candidate Donald Trump jumped on the news with a tweet suggesting the figure proved his most consistent message: the economy is failing you.

In a nation in which homeownership is largely seen as synonymous with the American dream, it’s easy to see why a change candidate would highlight the record low rate. But at the time economists urged Americans–and candidates–to look beyond the eye-popping headline number. It turned out the decline in the rate had not been due to fewer people owning homes, but to more people forming households in rental properties. In other words, the dip may actually be a (good) sign that more young people are striking out on their own. Trump, a billionaire by way of real estate development, should understand this.

Demand: There are numerous ways Trump’s election could shake up Americans’ desire for housing. In the short term consumer confidence could track political party lines, which–probably not coincidentally–may mean a home sales slowdown in economically healthy blue-states and a sales pick up in red-states where growth has been slow. Notes Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at real estate listing site Trulia: “These geographically polarized effects may help housing markets converge between the Costly Coasts and the Bargain Belt. The net effect on U.S. consumer demand for homes will remain unclear.”

Other Trump priorities could further complicate the picture long term. Trump’s tax plan, for example, would give the most substantial cuts to high earners. Oren Jacobson, an analyst at New Home Star, which works with builders to manage home sales, notes the extra cash should increase upper income spending but it may not lead to greater consumption of housing nationwide since the wealthy tend to live in areas where home prices are already bolstered by scarcity.

If the president-elect’s $550 billion transportation and infrastructure plan creates jobs and boosts wages it should lead to greater housing demand and prices. Meanwhile, Trump’s controversial immigration stance could limit foreign investment in U.S. real estate, as well as the number of people who move here (legally or not), limiting price growth and household formation. This could boost the homeownership rate, since immigrants tend to rent rather than buy, but not for the reasons economists like to see.

Supply: A lack of inventory is widely considered the biggest current drag on the housing market. In an August speech to the National Association of Home Builders, Trump suggested he will encourage builders to build. He called the home building industry one of the most regulated in the country and estimated that 25% of the cost of a home is due to regulation. “I think we should get that down to about 2%,” he said. Further emphasizing his support for the industry, he added: “There is no greater thing you can do. If you can build a home, you can build anything.”

Mortgage rates: Mortgage rates have already begun rising post-election. Investors are responding to new uncertainty by pulling their money out of U.S. Treasury Bonds, which serve as a benchmark for mortgage rates, in favor of Japanese and European bonds. As a result the interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has soared to 4% from as low as 3.34% in the past 12 months, according to MortgageNewsDaily.com. Expect a rocky rate road at least until inauguration day.

Credit availability: The Trump transition team has made it clear they plan to undo many banking regulations put in place following the financial crisis via Dodd-Frank Act. The sweeping law both created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and imposed limits on how much money big banks could lend out. “The Dodd-Frank economy does not work for working people,” notes the transition website. “The Financial Services Policy Implementation team will be working to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act and replace it with new policies to encourage economic growth and job creation.” If this dismantling makes it easier for banks to lend to average Americans this could increase the buyer pool and increase home prices. The danger, notes Jacobson, is that regulations are loosened too far and lead to another housing bubble.

Posted in National Real Estate, Politics | 71 Comments

Will ending HAMP shorten the foreclosure timeline?

From HousingWire:

Saying goodbye to HAMP isn’t the end for struggling homeowners

Dec. 31, 2016 marks the end of a seven-year government program designed to save struggling homeowners who are behind on their mortgage, or in danger of imminent default due to financial hardship.

The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program also came with incentives for servicers and investor, which worked to help unify the industry after the financial crisis.

HAMP’s sibling, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which was created at the same time, was extended in August until Sept. 30, 2017 in order to create a smoother transition period for a new refinance product. HAMP, on the other hand, is still slated to end at the end of this year.

Borrowers aren’t out of luck though. A new report from Fitch Ratings explains that 2017 brings the start of a new system that can still be beneficial for all parties involved. There are just a few wrinkles that the system would need to be ironed out.

Up until this point, Fitch stated that HAMP loan modifications have accounted for approximately 50% of all loan modifications completed this year, and this number is dropping. HAMP monthly applications are now approximately 70% below the monthly average at the start of the program.

The main benefit Fitch outlines is that modification decision timelines will shorten.

“Currently servicers first perform full reviews of applications for acceptability to HAMP guidelines; ineligible candidates are usually subsequently screened for acceptability under proprietary modification programs,” the report stated.

With HAMP ending, this initial step is removed and servicers will likely be able to make faster modification decisions.

This is likely to then translate into shorter liquidation timelines for the portion of loans that do not qualify for proprietary modifications.

Posted in Foreclosures, National Real Estate | 85 Comments