Saturday, August 1, 2009

For Sale: 3BR/1.5BA Single Family House in Farmingdale, NY, $429,000

For Sale: 3BR/1.5BA Single Family House in Farmingdale, NY, $429,000

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NAR Opposes Mortgage Interest Deduction Provision on Obama's Budget Proposal

February 26, 2009 - President Obama released his budget proposal this morning. A small section of the sweeping budget plan has the potential to become a major impediment to a recovery in real estate markets across the nation. NAR is 100% opposed to the provision that modifies the Mortgage Interest Deduction and is prepared to use its formidable array of resources against its enactment.

As currently drafted, the plan changes the Mortgage Interest Deduction by reducing the amount of mortgage deductibility on families earning over $250,000. This proposed change in the Mortgage Interest Deduction will result in further erosion of home prices and home values. If this proposal is enacted it will set of a new round of price depreciation, will cause greater distress on the balance sheets of banks as the collateral value of mortgage backed securities declines. A second credit crisis could emerge before the first one is resolved.

As you read this NAR is launching a multiphase plan of action to eliminate this provision from the budget plan. In the next 24 hours, NAR will be expressing our concerns directly to President Obama, to all members of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, placing advertisements in the publications read by Washington, DC decision makers. Additionally, NAR will be forming a coalition with other groups affected by this proposal.

View section of the budget proposal modifying the mortgage interest deduction> (PDF: 150K)

March 2009 Issue of the Eye on the Hill Newsletter>

NAR's Letter to President Obama on the Mortgage Interest Deduction Provision> (PDF: 130K)

NAR's Issue Summary: Mortgage Interest Deduction>

Downpayment, Closing Costs Still Greatest Obstacles to Homeownership, NAR Survey Shows

Washington, July 09, 2009

Most Americans still consider having enough money for downpayment and closing costs to be the biggest obstacles to buying a home. That’s according to the 2009 National Housing Pulse Survey, an annual survey released today by the National Association of Realtors®.

The survey, which measures how affordable housing issues affect consumers, also found job security concerns to be the highest in seven years of sampling. Two-thirds of Americans think job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem; eight in 10 cite these issues as a barrier to homeownership.

“Homeownership is an investment in your future; however, saving for a downpayment and closing costs is still too great of an obstacle for 82 percent of house hunters looking to take advantage of the current market,” said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Monetizing the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit for downpayment or closing costs on FHA-insured mortgages is a positive first step. Our hope is that the tax credit will be extended and expanded to all home buyers and will help bring stability to the housing market and enable more Americans to achieve the dream of homeownership."

Despite the challenges with the economy and housing market, 83 percent of Americans still believe buying a home is a good financial decision. Three-fourths of those surveyed also believe now is a good time to buy a home, a number that has increased steadily the past two years. In fact, one-third of renters are thinking more about buying a home than they were a year ago.

While Americans are seeing more stability in the real estate market, uncertainty persists. The number of those who feel buying and selling activity has stabilized or stayed nearly the same has grown significantly, from 18 percent last year to 26 percent this year. However the majority (58 percent) report that activity in their market has slowed.

Regarding home sales, nearly eight in 10 say it’s harder to sell a home in their area today than it was a year ago, despite the fact that nearly three-fourths of respondents say home prices are less expensive. Large home inventories could be to blame; 44 percent cite concerns about the high number of homes and condos for sale in their area.

While nearly three-fourths of Americans are concerned about the local drop in home values, respondents expect to see more stability in the near future. Nearly seven in 10 expect local home prices to remain about the same in the next three months; only 18 percent expect prices to further decrease. The drop in prices has improved affordability, and consequently, concerns about the lack of affordable housing are the lowest they’ve been in seven years of polling – 34 percent say it’s one of their biggest worries, down from 41 percent two years ago.

Foreclosures remain a real concern among survey respondents. Slightly more than half (51 percent) say foreclosures are a big to moderate problem in their area. However, the rate of foreclosures is generally seen as stabilizing; 41 percent say the rate of foreclosures in their area is about the same as last year.

Ninety-two percent of respondents said neither they nor members of their immediate family have experienced a foreclosure in the past year, yet it is still a personal concern for many. One in five respondents said they are very or fairly worried that they will have difficulty making their mortgage payments over the next year. Thirty-two percent say it’s a big or moderate worry that they, or a member of their family, may have their home repossessed or foreclosed because they are unable to pay rising monthly mortgage payments.

In 2008, more than half of respondents (54 percent) were open to the federal government taking a more active role in overseeing mortgage and lending practices – the number dropped this year to 47 percent. This could be because 42 percent of Americans believe the country is back on the right track, more than double the number last year (16 percent).

Regarding financing, seven in 10 Americans cite a lack of confidence in their ability to be approved for a home loan as an obstacle to homeownership. The same number also say that banks are making it too hard to qualify for a loan (71 percent) and that fewer mortgage options offered by banks have made it harder for them to buy a home (71 percent). The perception of qualifying for a loan as a huge obstacle is especially high among minorities.

“Home buyers need protection from risky lending products but also need access to mortgages at a reasonable cost. While there has been some easing of credit in the mortgage market, the availability of credit continues to be an issue for many qualified home buyers,” said McMillan.

The 2009 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey was among 1,250 adults living in the 25 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program,, was created in 2002 to encourage local Realtor® associations to create initiatives aimed directly at increasing housing opportunities available to consumers and making affordable housing more readily available in their communities.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Existing-Home Sales Up Again

Washington, July 23, 2009

Existing-home sales rose for the third consecutive month with inventory easing and home prices declining less sharply in June, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised pace of 4.72 million in May, but are 0.2 percent lower than the 4.90 million-unit level in June 2008.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, is hopeful about the gain. “The increase in existing-home sales occurred in all major regions of the country,” he said. “We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions. Despite the rise in closed transactions, many Realtors® are reporting lost sales as a result of new appraisal standards that went into effect May 1 of this year.”

A June survey of NAR members shows 37 percent experienced at least one lost sale as a result of the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, with seven out of 10 reporting an increased use of out-of-area appraisers. Seventy percent of NAR appraiser members said consumers were paying higher fees, while 85 percent report a perceived reduction in appraisal quality.

“Clearly the process needs to be revised, but the most logical approach is to use appraisers with local expertise, industry designations and access to local data, who make a physical examination of the property and use apples-to-apples comparisons with nearby home sales,” Yun said. “In many cases, normal homes are being compared with distressed homes sold at a discount, which often are in subpar condition – this is causing real harm to both buyers and sellers.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.42 percent in June from 4.86 percent in May; the rate was 6.32 percent in June 2008. Mortgage interest rates have trended lower in recent weeks.

Total housing inventory at the end of June fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.4-month supply2at the current sales pace, down from a 9.8-month supply in May. Raw inventory totals are 14.9 percent below a year ago.

“This is another hopeful sign – if we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year,” Yun said.

An NAR practitioner survey in June showed first-time buyers accounted for 29 percent of transactions, unchanged from May, and that the number of buyers looking at homes is up nearly 12 percentage points from June 2008.

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said there are very good opportunities. “Despite some of the challenges, the housing market continues to demonstrate signs of recovery,” he said. “The temporary first-time buyer tax credit is clearly helping people make a decision and is contributing to the overall stimulus impact, but since it’s taking longer to close transactions, many would-be beneficiaries may not be able to take advantage of the credit before the December 1 expiration date. As a consequence, consumers need the expertise of Realtors® more than ever to navigate both the obstacles and opportunities in today’s market.”

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $181,800 in June, which is 15.4 percent below June 2008. Distressed properties, which accounted for 31 percent of sales in June, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Single-family home sales rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.32 million in June from a level of 4.22 million in May, and are 0.2 percent higher than the 4.31 million-unit pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $181,600 in June, which is 15.0 percent below June 2008.

Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 14.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 570,000 units in June from 500,000 in May, but are 3.1 percent below the 588,000-unit level in June 2008. The median existing condo price4 was $183,300 in June, down 18.9 percent from a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.5 percent to an annual pace of 820,000 in June, but are 4.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $249,400, down 5.9 percent from June 2008.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 0.9 percent in June to a level of 1.10 million but are 1.8 percent lower than June 2008. The median price in the Midwest was $157,000, which is 9.1 percent below a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 4.0 percent to an annual pace of 1.81 million in June but are 3.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $163,200, down 11.9 percent from June 2008.

Existing-home sales in the West improved by 6.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.16 million in June, and are 11.5 percent higher than June 2008. The median price in the West was $214,800, which is 24.9 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

NOTE: Any references to performance in states or metro areas are from unpublished raw data used to analyze regional trends; please contact your local association of Realtors® for more information.

1The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings. This differs from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which generally account for 85 to 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger sample – more than 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982.

3The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to the seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.

4Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price generally is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes.

Existing-home sales for July will be released August 21. The next Pending Home Sales Index & Forecast is scheduled for August 4; release times are 10 a.m. EDT.

Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data in this release, other tables and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research

FHA Home Modification Program Will Help Thousands of Homeowners, Say Realtors®

Washington, July 30, 2009

The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan:

“NAR would like to congratulate and thank Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Dave Stevens for implementing the FHA–Making Home Affordable Loan Modification Program. This newly enhanced program will help struggling homeowners who qualify to significantly reduce their monthly mortgage payments and keep the home they worked so hard to obtain.

“As Secretary Donovan noted, this is another tool the federal government is providing to help homeowners avoid foreclosures by making mortgage payments more affordable. These changes expand the Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable Loan Modification Program to include FHA borrowers, and Realtors® are optimistic that this will have positive implications for thousands of homeowners.

“Until foreclosures have been significantly reduced and housing inventory reaches a more normal level, there can be no true housing recovery. The FHA–HAMP program will go a long way in achieving these important goals by helping FHA servicers bring mortgages current, buy down loans by up to 30 percent of the unpaid principal balance, and defer these amounts until the first mortgage is paid off.

“The actions taken over the past several months are beginning to help stabilize the housing market. Now, helping more families stay current on their mortgage and remain in their homes will reduce the impact of foreclosures on families and communities.

“Moving forward, NAR will continue to call on Congress and the Obama administration to expand the first-time home buyer tax credit to all home buyers and to continue efforts to streamline the short-sale process. Along with the expanded loan modification program, addressing these issues will help reduce foreclosures and housing inventory, and stabilize home values.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.