Essex County “8th healthiest housing market in country for 2013”

The healthy markets that made the list have strong job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), which bodes well for housing demand; low vacancy rates (U.S. Postal Service)–low enough to encourage new construction, but not so low that inventory and sales are restrained; and low foreclosure inventory (RealtyTrac), since foreclosures tend to hold back recovery.
Jed Kolko, Chief Economist, Trulia December 21, 2012

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Improving Housing Trends likely to continue into 2013.

A combination of factors, including declining time-on-market, a drop in distressed properties and rising average home prices, are all pointing to a strengthening housing market in the months ahead.
Campbell/InsideMortgage Housing Pulse, December 21, 2012
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Foreclosures drop 28% in year, lowest since December 2006

The latest data offers “more evidence that we are past the worst of the foreclosure problem brought about by the housing bubble bursting six years ago,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac
National Association of Realtors, December 13, 2012
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Housing starts decline slightly in November because of Sandy, but rise 21.6% from year ago.

November starts were 861,000. The recession low was 478,000 in April 2009, but the current level is still well below the 1.5 million considered to reflect a healthy market.
89.3 KPCC December 19,2012
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MA pending home sales up in November for 19th straight month

MA pending home sales up in November for 19th straight month according to Massachusetts Association of Realtors
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Property Tax Rates for 2013 in Marblehead and the North Shore

Often lost in the shuffle in the hecticness of the holiday season is the announcement of the new property tax rate, which actually becomes effective from July 1, 2012. What this means is that most of us have been paying less than we owe during the first half of the year, which is why our bills will go up for the second half of the year. (more…)

Foreclosure crisis finally appears to be ebbing

Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Globe, December 1
As a result of an improving economy and successful loan modification programs, the foreclosure crisis both in MA and nationally finally seems to be ebbing.
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Condo sales: bumping along the bottom?

Unlike the SFH market, sales of condos remain well below the levels of the early years of this century, as the following table shows:


©Oliver Reports
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SFH sales on track for best year since 2005

November saw 14 sales of SFHs, taking the YTD total to 211. This makes 2012 already the largest sales year since 2005. The moving average in the chart clearly shows the recovery to more normal sales levels. (more…)

Why it pays to bank locally

Here are three stories about National Grand Bank (NGB):

1.On the Monday that Hurricane Sandy was blowing into town, Harborside Realty had a closing scheduled where the buyer was getting a mortgage from a “big box” bank. Said bank decided not to open that day, but did not feel it was necessary to inform their customers. What to do? (more…)

“Every Single Thing About Housing Is Flashing Green”

These were the words used by J.P.Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, in a recent interview with CNBC. Dimon pointed out that housing formation was up, inventory down and housing affordability was at an all-time high.

In my mid-year 2011 Marblehead Reporter review I wrote: The biggest restraining factor today is probably confidence, or the lack thereof.”

The following news items indicate that confidence is returning to the real estate market across the country. (more…)

Housing starts unexpectedly increase to 4 year high

Shobhana Chandra, Bloomberg, November 20,2012
New-home construction unexpectedly climbed to a four-year high in October, more evidence of a revival in the industry that’s helping propel the U.S. economy.

Housing starts rose 3.6 percent to a 894,000 annual rate, the fastest since July 2008 and exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg survey, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 82 economists called for an 840,000 pace.

Permits for the construction of single-family homes also advanced to the highest in four years. Full Story

First Fannie and Freddie: next up FHA?

The Editors, Bloomberg View, November 18,2012 The Federal Housing Administration may report this week that it could exhaust its reserves because of rising mortgage delinquencies, a development that could result in the agency needing to draw on taxpayer funding for the first time in its 78-year history. This would follow the $137 billion spent on bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Just like Fannie and Freddie, the FHA has played an important role in stabilizing the housing market, but the three agencies are now backing almost 90% of new mortgages. As my daughter would say, it’s complicated. Read Bloomberg View article

Refinancing – don’t make just the minimum payment

You’ve heard the ads: refinance now and save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year.

And it’s true. Let’s take as an example somebody who took out a $300,000 mortgage in the summer of 2009 at 5%. Principal and Interest (P&I) payments would be $1,610 per month. Suppose she now refis at 3.75% with no costs. The monthly payment would drop to $1,315, a saving of $295 per month, over $3,500 a year. Yippee!

The reason my website includes a mortgage calculator that shows the amortization table is to demonstrate just how expensive it is to borrow money over 30 years. It is rather like paying only the minimum on a credit card. In fact, a 30 year mortgage pays down just 3% of the principal in the first year. (more…)

Single Family Home Prices – are they up or down?

Sales are up and returning to normal levels (see last 2 blogs).
But what about prices?

The median price of SFHs in Marblehead bottomed in the first half of 2009. Since then the median price for each 6 month period has gone up compared with the same period the year before – until 2012. In the first half of this year the median price declined 11%. 11%!!!!

How can this be when almost daily we hear reports that prices have shown year on year increases across the country, while in Massachusetts areas such as Brookline and Weston (quite nice, but where’s the ocean?) have reached all-time highs. (more…)