" " " Maine's Waterfront Real Estate News: November 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Home Prices Climb for 2nd Straight Quarter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Home prices rose for the second consecutive quarter but remained nearly 9% lower than a year earlier, according to a housing market report issued Tuesday.

Prices nationwide rose 3.1% in the three months ended Sept. 30, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a closely watched gauge of housing market direction. That followed a similar 3.1% rise during the second quarter of the year.

Prices were still below a year ago, however, down 8.9% compared with the third quarter of 2008. Nevertheless, that's an improvement from the double-digit price decreases the index had been reporting; the second quarter year-over-year decline was 14.7%. Prices had dropped 19% year-over-year during the first quarter of 2009.
0:00 /2:49Economic progress really a bust

"We have seen broad improvement in home prices for most of the past six months," says David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Composite index posted its fifth monthly increase in a row in September, rising 0.3% from August levels.

The worst performing market continued to be Las Vegas, where prices have dropped for 37 consecutive months. They're now 55.4% off their highs.

Midwestern cities staged a comeback in September, with Minneapolis and Detroit prices each gaining 1.8%, the most of any of the 20-cities covered. Chicago prices jumped 1.2%; San Francisco climbed 1.3%; and Los Angeles and Phoenix both rose 0.8%.

Stopping the home price slide is an important factor in any economic recovery. Falling prices increase the number of "underwater" homeowners, those who owe more on their mortgage balances than their homes are worth.

Underwater mortgage borrowers are much more likely to lose their homes to foreclosure. Indeed, it's a crucial factor in whether people lose their homes or not, as Mark Goldman, a San Diego State University real estate professor pointed out.

"If they have a home worth $300,000 and they owe $250,000 and can't pay their mortgage, they'll just sell the house," he said.

It's when they have a house worth $200,000 and they owe $250,000 that these people default, because the sale of the house would not pay their whole debt.

A report from First American CoreLogic released Tuesday, revealed that nearly a quarter of all mortgage borrowers are underwater. That, as well as the ongoing foreclosure problem, has contributed to doubt about the staying power of the recent price trend.

"I think it's temporary," said Pat Newport, a real estate analyst with IHS Global Insight. "I can't see home prices stabilizing as long as we have that problem."

According to Newport, foreclosures could worsen over the next several months as many toxic loans go through resets, making them much less affordable for their borrowers.

A significant contributor to the improvements in the housing markets have been programs such as the tax credit for first-time homebuyers, according to Bob Walters, the chief economist for Quicken Loans.

"[But] the real driver in all of this -- from home sales to home pricing appreciation -- has been the protracted run of favorable mortgage rates," he said. "It will be interesting to see how home prices react when we see rates begin to increase, as they are sure to do over time." To top of page

Monday, November 23, 2009

Maine Real Estate Sales up 39%

SOUTH PORTLAND (November 23, 2009) — For a fifth consecutive month, sales of singlefamilyexisting homes increased dramatically in the state of Maine. Realtors sold 1,247 homesacross Maine’s 16 counties – a jump of 39.02 percent since last October. According to theMaine Real Estate Information System, the median sales price dipped 3.51 percent in the past12 months to $165,000. The median sales price indicates that half of the homes sold for moreand half sold for less.
The National Association of Realtors today reports a nationwide home sales increase of 21.4percent since October 2008. The national median existing sales price of $173,100 reflects adip of 6.8 percent. In the regional Northeast, sales rose 27.7 percent. The regional mediansales price declined 2.6 percent to $235,400.
REALTOR Sharon Millett of Coldwell Banker Millett Realty in Auburn says, “It's very
encouraging to see strong continued growth in sales for the past five months in Maine. Buyersare responding positively to the first time homebuyer tax credit of $8,000 and now that it hasjust been expanded to $6,500 for all buyers, we expect this trend to continue and grow.”
With the current uptick in activity, Millett says, “Buyers really want to find a home now,which makes it the perfect time for sellers to list their property for sale.”