U.S. Foreclosure Activity Declines in January

Foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were reported on 315,716 U.S. properties during January, a 10 percent decrease from December but still 15 percent higher than January 2009, according to the latest RealtyTrac figures released today. One in every 409 U.S. homes received a foreclosure filing during the month.

REO activity fell 5 percent from the previous month, but was up 31 percent from a year ago. Default notices were down 12 percent in January, but were up 4 percent from January 2009, while scheduled auctions were down 11 percent for the month but were 15 percent higher than a year ago.

RealtyTrac’s CEO James J. Saccacio says the January foreclosure data is similar to a year ago, when a double-digit jump in foreclosure activity in December 2008 was followed by a 10 percent drop in January 2009. “If history repeats itself, we will see a surge in the numbers over the next few months as lenders foreclose on delinquent loans where neither the existing loan modification programs or the new short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure alternatives works,” Saccacio says.

Nevada continues to lead the country in foreclosure activity with one in every 95 households receiving a foreclosure filing during January, more than four times the national average. Arizona was second with one in every 129 households receiving a foreclosure filing.

Las Vegas had the highest metro foreclosure rate in the country, with one in every 82 households receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, despite a decrease of 2 percent in foreclosure activity from the previous month and 21 percent drop in activity from a year ago. Phoenix was the only metro area among the top 10 to post a month-over-month increase (4 percent) in foreclosure activity.

Brian Ripp, CRS

info from; CRS connect e-mail update

2010 C.A.R. financing guide for California home buyers

Today’s market holds tremendous opportunities for first-time buyers and the REALTORS® dedicated to assisting them in their first home purchase. Housing affordability is at historic highs in many areas as low mortgage rates, government tax credits, and lower home prices have continued to make the goal of homeownership within reach for every California household−but they can’t do it alone. They need you, the California REALTOR® , with the skills and market knowledge to navigate through this often difficult process of buying a home. While these transactions do take a little more effort and preparation on the part of the REALTOR® and the home buyer, there is no greater reward than getting that family into their first home.

The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® continues to be a strong advocate for programs that will assist home buyers in these difficult economic times. We have developed this guide as an introduction to the programs currently available to potential California home buyers from federal, state, and local agencies. Because these programs do evolve over time, always contact the relevant agency to verify program availability and eligibility before you begin. If working with first-time home buyers is your calling, you will need to invest in learning about the various programs that are offered in your community.

With this guide, you’ll learn the basics of working with these programs and some practical tips to help you avoid the common pitfalls.

2010 C.A.R. Financing Guide for California Home Buyers

from CAR’s website

Cutting Utility Costs

Did you know that heating and cooling account for 44 percent of the average home’s energy use?

Insulating your home is your best protection against high heating and cooling bills.  It’s also the best way to keep your home comfortable in very season.

Start by adding insulation to any unfinished attics and crawl spaces.  Then consider insulating the ceilings and walls between your living space and an unheated basement or garage.

Finally, don’t forget that windows and doors can be some of your home’s biggest energy wasters.   Make sure the weather-stripping is in good condition at all times.  Install storm windows and doors to help keep your home draft-free.

With these quick measures, you can increase your energy-efficiency and keep your home comfortable and climate-controlled for less.

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Sales Stay Solid But Will Slow

The pace of existing-home sales in November rose a substantial 7.4 percent, cintinuing a string of solid increases in the closing months of 2009.  Looking ahead, sales are expected to ease, with households, no longer concerned about the popular home buyer tax credit immediately expiring, taking longer to buy.  NAR’s forward-looking pending home sales idex shows a 16 percent drop in closings in November.  Sales should pick up again as the tax credit wids down in mid 2010.

information from NAR’s Realtor magazine -Feb. 2010

Moving with Children

For America’s youngest movers, moving to a new home can be an unsettling experience.  The excitement of meeting new friends or meeting new friends or decorating a new room is often outweighed by fears of losing touch with old friends or fitting in at a new school.

Here are some tips to help ease the anxiety children may feel when changing addresses:

*Include your children in decorating decisions for the new room.

*Assign your children a box to pack, or glassware to wrap, so they feel involved.

*Familiarize them with your new neighborhood, and locate some of your family’s favorite restaurants and stores.  This will help your children feel more at home.

*Introduce yourself to your new neighbors before moving, and invite them and their children over to get acquainted.

Newark seeks input on Southwest Specific Plan

The City of Newark is holding public meetings about a new residential community in southwest Newark. The meetings are the latest step in a 3 year process to develop a specific plan for the neighborhood. Preliminary plans call for up to 1,260 new homes; a neighborhood park near Cherry Street and Stevenson Boulevard; a school site; trails; open space and a golf course or other recreation facility. According to Newark staff, actual construction will begin no earlier than 2011.
The City Council will be holding a work session about environmental impacts and potential mitigation measures on Thursday February 25. Another meeting on Thursday March 11 will focus on financial issues related to the planned development including expected City revenues versus and the cost of providing services.
These meetings will be held at 5:30 pm in the Newark City Council Chambers: 37101 Newark Boulevard. For more information, please contact Terrence Grindall, City of Newark Community Development Director, at (510) 578-4208 or terrence.grindall@newark.org.

Homeowner Remodeling Upturn Expected in 2010

Home improvement spending is projected to reach a cyclical bottom in the first quarter of this year and steadily increase throughout the year, according to the latest Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Home improvement spending is projected to ease from the current rate of 12.0 percent to 3.1 percent in the third quarter.

Kermit Baker, director at the Joint Center for Housing Studies says several remodeling industry fundamentals are beginning to turn positive. “Sales of existing homes are on the rise and home price declines are moderating in most markets across the country,” Baker says. “Financing costs are also favorable, although credit availability remains tight for many households.”

from: CRS Member Connect e-mail update

2010 Census ~ Do Your Part

This month, 2010 Census forms will be mailed to every resident in the United States and Puerto Rico. Under the U.S. Constitution, a national census must be completed every 10 years in order to get a clear picture of changes in the nation’s population and demographics. The goal is to count everyone residing in the United States, including both citizens and non-citizens, and every household is required to account for everyone living there as of April 1, 2010.
Census data is used to determine the number of seats each state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives. It also helps to determine how $400 billion in federal funding will be allocated each year for infrastructure and services, such as hospitals, schools, emergency services, roads and bridges, and job training centers. For businesses, census data is critical to help companies make strategically and fiscally sound decisions that spur economic growth.

The Census Bureau says small businesses can help local residents understand why the census is important for their communities and to encourage them to participate in the count. The Bureau’s toolkit for businesses provides tips and resources for helping them promote the census in their own communities. You can download a toolkit and other promotional documents, such as newsletter templates, brochure templates and Web site copy, here, and a sample Census questionnaire is available here.

Key Dates: 2010 Census
March 2010 – Census questionnaires are mailed or delivered to households.
April 1, 2010 – Census Day
May – July 2010 – Census takers visit households that did not return a questionnaire.
December 2010 – By law, the Census Bureau delivers population counts to the president for apportionment.
March 2011 – By law, the Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting data to states.

from:  CRS-Member Connect news update

Inspect, then List Your Property

Today’s real estate market isn’t what it used to be.  If you want to sell your house, you may be thinking of ways to set your home apart from others.  How can you make the decision easier for you the buyer and help yourself as well?  On way is by doing a pre-sale inspection.

A pre-sale inspection can benefit both the seller and the buyer.  With a pre-sale inspection, you’ll know what condition your house is in before it goes on the market.  This information allows you to have a better idea of what your house’s listing price should be, and it avoids surprises that might arise after it goes into escrow.  Discovering conditions early in the sales process allows the seller to decide how to handle the conditions when they aren’t under the additional pressure of already being in contract.  It also helps avoid a possible disclosure lawsuit.  With a pre-sale inspections, the buyer also benefits by knowing the condition of the property before making an offer, which can mean a quicker and easier sale.

At this inspection may look at your home’s roof, structural, plumbing fireplace, and heater.  Inspection prices range from $300 – $500.

Pending Sales Leveling Off

Pending home sales rose slightly in December, increasing 1.0 percent from the previous month, according to NAR. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) was 10.9 percent above December 2008. In November, the index had fallen 16.4 percent after several months of surging activity.

The index in the Northeast rose 2.3 percent in December and was 14.9 percent higher than December 2008. In the Midwest, the index increased 5.2 percent and was 8.7 percent higher than a year ago. In the South, pending home sales rose 2.2 percent and were 5.5 percent higher than December 2008. In the West, the index fell 3.8 percent but was 18.6 percent above a year ago.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says it’s important to recognize how the tax credit is skewing market data. “There are easily understood swings in contact activity as buyers respond to a tax credit that was expiring and was then extended and expanded. These swings are masking the underlying trend, which is a broad improvement over year-ago levels. December activity was the fifth highest monthly tally in two years,” Yun says.

from CRS Member Connect newsletter

for additional information go to my Real Estate Market Weekly Update Webcast: http://realtytimes.com/REUv/BrianRipp