ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL – 11/21/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL – 11/21/2012

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U.S. housing starts in October were up 3.6 percent from September and 41.9 percent from October a year ago to reach heights they haven’t seen since 2008, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Builders started construction on new homes and apartment units during October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000, up from a downwardly revised rate of 863,000 in September and last year’s rate of 630,000.

Single-family housing starts dropped 0.2 percent from September to October, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 594,000, which represented a 35.3 percent increase from last October and a 68.3 percent jump from a March 2009 bottom of 353,000.

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Single-family housing starts are not rising as they often do coming out of a downturn, wrote Bill McBride, author of the blog, Calculated Risk. “Usually single-family starts bounce back quickly after a recession, but not this time because of the large overhang of existing housing units

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

Housing starts have been rising on an annual basis every month since September 2011 and are up 87 percent from their April 2009 bottom of 478,000, according to census records dating back to January 1959.

Builder confidence is up again, for the seventh month in a row in October, reaching its highest level since May 2006, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported this week.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN BIRMINGHAM AL

NAHB attributes the growing confidence to a rise in buyer demand.  In view of the tightening supply and other improving conditions, many potential buyers who were on the fence are now motivated to move forward with a purchase in order to take advantage of today’s favorable prices and interest rates

More builders still think the market is poor than those who think it’s good, however, noted NAHB. Tight lending conditions and “difficult” appraisals are “limiting factors for the burgeoning housing recovery, along with shortages of buildable lots that have begun popping up in certain markets,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/16/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/16/2012

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It’s the eternal question in real estate: Should I buy or rent? The answer has never been clearer: Buy.  In 98 of the top 100 housing markets, buying a home is more affordable than renting. There are several reasons. Home prices are falling. Mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels. And rents are on the rise.  Of course, many renters are not in a position to buy. For one, it’s hard to get a mortgage these days, despite low rates. And paying rent can push them further away from being able to afford to buy.

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“Rising rents make it harder for people to save for a down payment, which is the biggest barrier to buying a home that aspiring homeowners face,” Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. Housing markets, even within a single metro area, typically have local submarkets. Take New York City, for example. Renting in Manhattan is more affordable than buying. But in suburban Westchester County just miles to the north, buying is the more affordable option.

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The size of the home can also make a difference. In some markets, renting can be a better deal on larger homes, according to Trulia. In San Francisco, for example, studio and one-bedroom apartments sell for 13.1 times rent, while three bedrooms or larger sell for more than 18 times rent. The Trulia survey does not take into account home price trends, which are another factor for individuals choosing whether to buy or rent.

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Kolko pointed out that places like Honolulu, San Francisco and Boston have strong long-term growth prospects. They also have little physical space to grow, a factor that tends to keep prices strong.

On the other hand, old areas that aren’t growing much — while cheap — may not return much in the long run. “Buying is much cheaper than renting in slow-growing places with high vacancy rates and land to spare, like Detroit and Cleveland, where prices are unlikely to improve much in the future,” he said.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/15/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/15/2012

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Bank of America offers relo assistance to short-sellers Delinquent borrowers must obtain preapproved short-sale price from bank.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL

Bank of America says it will provide up to $30,000 in relocation assistance to delinquent borrowers who work with the bank to obtain a preapproved short-sale price before submitting purchase offers. Short sales must be initiated by the end of this year and close by Sept. 26, 2013, to be eligible for the payments, which will range from $2,500 to $30,000 at the completion of a qualifying short sale. Payments will be determined on a case-by-case basis using a calculation that includes the value of the home, amount owed and other considerations, Bank of America said in announcing the program.

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The program — based on a similar incentive offer Bank of America tested last year in Florida — will be available nationally. But Bank of America anticipates the greatest response will come from borrowers in California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and other states hit hardest by the economic downturn and falling property values.

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Customers who believe they may be eligible for Bank of America’s short-sale relocation assistance program may contact program specialists at (877) 459-2852. Qualifying short sales that have already started but have not closed may be eligible for the program.

Bank of America says its short-sale initiatives have generated 200,000 short sales in the last two years and another 30,000 in the first three months of this year. Last month, Bank of America announced it was shortening decision times on short-sale offers to 20 days, down from 45 days or longer.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/11/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/11/2012

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will require loan servicers who need more than 30 days to make a decision on a short-sale offer to provide weekly status updates and give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down no later than 60 days after receiving an offer.

The new short-sale timelines, announced this week by Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, take effect in June as the first step in a broader effort to “develop enhanced and aligned strategies for facilitating short sales, deeds-in-lieu and deeds-for-lease in order to help more homeowners avoid foreclosure.” FHFA said it expects additional changes to be in place by the end of the year that address borrower eligibility and evaluation, documentation simplification, property valuation, fraud mitigation, payments to subordinate lien holders, and mortgage insurance.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL

Freddie Mac issued more specifics on its new short-sale timeline, which applies not only to offers on properties in Freddie Mac’s traditional short-sale program, but to requests from borrowers to be considered for a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure under the Home Affordable Foreclosures Alternatives (HAFA) program.

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Although Freddie Mac expects loan servicers to make a decision within 30 days, it recognizes that servicers may need more time to obtain a broker price opinion or approval from a private mortgage insurer before accepting a short-sale offer or approving a HAFA borrower response package (BRP).

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If a loan servicer makes a counteroffer, the borrower is expected to respond within five business days. The servicer must then respond within 10 business days of receiving the borrower’s response.

Freddie Mac, which completed 45,623 short sales last year, said the new requirements are the latest step to comply with direction from the FHFA to set consistent servicing and delinquency management requirements.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL 05/11/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/09/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/09/2012

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President Barack Obama said Wednesday he supports same-sex marriage, raising the political stakes on an issue over which Americans are evenly split.

The announcement was the first by a sitting president and put Obama squarely at odds with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News.

Obama once opposed same-sex marriage. He later indicated his views were “evolving.”

“I had hesitated on gay marriage, in part, because I thought civil unions would be sufficient,” the president said. “I was sensitive to the fact that — for a lot of people — that the word marriage is something that provokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”

But, Obama said, his thinking shifted as he witnessed committed same-sex marriages and thought about U.S. service personnel who were “not able to commit themselves in a marriage.”

It was not immediately clear how the development might play out at the voting booth.

A Gallup Poll released Tuesday indicated 50% of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be recognized by law as valid, with 48% saying such marriages should not be legal.

But a CNN/ORC poll, taken in late March, indicated policies towards gays and lesbians were tied for last in the most-important issues facing the country.

Obama was “disappointed” by Tuesday’s vote on the issue in North Carolina, which he described as discriminatory against gays and lesbians, a spokesman said earlier Wednesday.

North Carolina voted to implement a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which was already prohibited by state law. Supporters of the measure pushed for the constitutional amendment, arguing that it was needed to ward off future legal challenges.

The president said he supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own, ABC News reported.

Obama said his daughters, Malia and Sasha, have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. “It wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

What’s next for North Carolina?

Obama spoke Wednesday with ABC’s Robin Roberts. The interview will appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday. Excerpts aired Wednesday evening on “World News With Diane Sawyer.”

The president’s stance will be among many key differences with Romney, but it is not expected to be a key talking point in his campaign.

In comments Wednesday to CNN Denver affiliate KDVR, Romney reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“And I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” Romney said during a visit to Fort Lupton. “My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not.”

The Family Research Council criticized Obama, and its president said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” that the decision will aid Romney.

“The president, I think, has handed to Mitt Romney the one missing piece in his campaign,” said Tony Perkins. “That is the intensity and motivation that Mitt Romney needs among social conservatives to win this election.”

An expert on religion and politics said the move will make “an already close election even closer.”

“It cuts both ways — it activates both Democratic and Republican base voters,” said John Green of the University of Akron.

Obama told ABC that some opinions on the issue are “generational.”

“When I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same-sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation, that they believe in equality,” he said.

First lady Michelle Obama was involved in the president’s decision.

“This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do,” Obama said.

Reaction to Obama’s same-sex marriage announcement

The new president of the Human Rights Campaign lauded the development.

“President Obama’s words today will be celebrated by generations to come,” Chad Griffin said. “For the millions of young gay and lesbian Americans across this nation, their president’s words provide genuine hope that they will be first generation to grow up with the freedom to fully pursue the American dream.”

Obama’s interview followed recent comments by other key administration figures.

Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday on NBC he was “absolutely comfortable” with couples of the same gender marrying, leading observers to wonder when Obama would again address the issue.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday also made headlines when he openly backed same-sex marriage rights. Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” if he supports allowing individuals of the same gender to legally wed, Duncan replied: “Yes, I do.”

Before Tuesday, 30 states had voted in favor of constitutional amendments that seek to defend traditional definitions of marriage as a heterosexual union.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In February, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage beginning in June, but opponents there have pledged to block the bill and called for voters to decide the issue.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that permits the state’s same-sex couples to wed as of January 1, and state residents may vote to affirm such a law. Minnesota will vote on a state constitutional amendment similar to the one in North Carolina. Maine will have a referendum on allowing same-sex marriage.

In 2011, the Pentagon stopped enforcement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals serving in the military. That change played a part in Obama’s announced stance on same-sex marriage.

“When I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” he told ABC News.

Legal challenges over same-sex marriage could reach the U.S. Supreme Court in coming months, but it seems unlikely justices would hear arguments before Election Day 2012.

The issue is on two legal tracks.

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will decide the constitutionality of California Proposition 8, a voter-approved measure that would recognize marriage only between one man and one woman. A federal judge earlier struck down the law as a violation of equal protection, prompting the current appeal.

The Obama administration announced last year it believed the Defense of Marriage Act, often referred to as DOMA, to be unconstitutional. The law defines marriage for federal purposes as unions only between a man and woman.

A federal appeals court in Boston last month heard a DOMA lawsuit by a same-sex couple in Massachusetts. At issue is whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can marry.

That federal law is being officially defended in court by House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who stepped in after the Justice Department refused to participate.

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ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/08/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/08/2012

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The record-making $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement Agreement that was signed earlier this year involved five major lenders, like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Ally Financial. According to officials, the eight firms that will be recommended for fines due to irregularities in the foreclosure process include HSBC, SunTrust Bank, MetLife, EverBank, Goldman Sachs, OneWest, U.S. Bancorp, and PNC Financial Services.

The addition of Goldman Sachs is a bit surprising to some for several reasons. For starters, Goldman Sachs was never a major player in the mortgage processing industry like the original Big Five in the settlement and some of the newer additions. In fact, Goldman Sachs sold its loan processing unit to Ocwen Financial Corp in 2011 for roughly $264 million.

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Perhaps the biggest reason, though, is because Goldman Sachs has largely survived the near-collapse of the U.S. financial system and foreclosure crisis relatively unscathed. Where other instigators of the crash have either disappeared altogether or have been penalized, Goldman Sachs continues to turn in staggering profits with a minimum of legal troubles from the feds or state governments.

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Goldman Sachs did agree, however, to leave itself open to future penalties and fines due to its role in creating wrongful foreclosure properties across the country when it sold Litton Loan Servicing in 2011. This agreement leaves the case open for penalties that could come close to – but probably not meet or exceed – the fines levied on JPMorgan Chase, et al., in the original agreement.

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The previous five owed $5 billion each, on average, but these eight lenders are much smaller, so the amount of money they would owe would similarly be less. Plus, the percentage of wrongful foreclosure homes caused by these lenders across the nation is less than those caused by the Big Five, which is why these eight lenders were not previously targeted in the first round of allegations and charges.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/07/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/07/2012

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ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL

While sales of new homes slowed in March, government figures for the previous two months were revised sharply higher Tuesday, pointing to a solid winter rebound in the housing market.  The Census Bureau reported that sales of new homes in the month came in at an annual pace of 328,000 when adjusted for the season. That was down 7.1% from the 353,000 sales pace in February — but that February figure was revised up by 40,000 from the reading issued last month.

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The improvement was reflected by the year-over-year data, which showed a 7.5% increase in March.January new-home sales were also revised higher by 11,000, to a 329,000 annual rate.  The long-battered housing market has been showing signs of recovery so far this year, helped by low prices, record low mortgage rates and some pick-up in hiring that has lowered the unemployment rate. It is now cheaper to buy a home than rent in much of the country.

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Home building also has picked up, with home builders taking out many more permits to start new homes. Despite the increase in building, the inventory of new homes for sale fell to 144,000, the lowest reading ever on records that go back to 1963. But Tuesday’s report, as well as earlier readings on sales of existing homes, shows a housing market that is still much less active than historical averages, let alone compared to the housing boom of the last decade.

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A significant portion of the sales and home listings are either short sales for less than is owed on a mortgage or foreclosures, both of which depress home values and can keep nervous buyers on the sidelines.

A separate report Tuesday showed home prices at a new post-bubble low. The median price of a new home sold in March was $234,500, according to Tuesday’s report, down $2,400 from February’s reading, but up $14,000 from a year before.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/04/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/04/2012

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ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL

Buying a home may never get any cheaper than this. Several housing experts are predicting that this year will be the last chance for bargain hunters to cash in on the best deals of the weak housing market. With home prices down 34% nationally since 2006 and mortgage rates at historic lows, homes have never been more affordable — but it won’t stay this way for much longer.

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Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services (PNC, Fortune 500), said he expects home prices to flatten out by the third quarter and start climbing by next year.  A number of factors will help bolster the housing market, he said, including a decline in the number of foreclosures and continued job growth. In addition, homebuyers will have better access to mortgages as they get their finances in order and improve their credit scores.

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Some economists, like Trulia’s Jed Kolko, expect home prices to pick up even more quickly. Trulia’s data shows that the national average for asking prices already increased 1.4% in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the last three months of 2011.

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Prospective homebuyers who’ve been sitting on the fence shouldn’t worry if they aren’t quite ready to make the leap. Analysts are predicting that the initial price gains will be modest, at least, in most markets. Hoffman, for example, is forecasting a 2% increase in 2013 compared with 2012. Meanwhile David Stiff, chief economist for Fiserv, predicts that prices will turn in the last quarter of 2012 and will rise 4.2% for the 12 months through September 2013.

One major factor that will drive the trend is the cooling of the foreclosure crisis. That percentage dropped 15% year-over-year to 3.1% through the end of 2011, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And the decline is accelerating: More than 70% of the decline came in the last three months of the year.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL 05/04/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/03/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/03/2012

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Trends in serious delinquencies and foreclosures continue to be a tale of two legal systems. According to loan data aggregator CoreLogic, in the 24 states where courts handle the foreclosure process, 13 saw foreclosure inventory rates increase in March when compared to a year ago.

In contrast, the percentage of homes in the foreclosure process during March posted annual increases in only three of 26 nonjudicial foreclosure states.

The picture was much the same for serious delinquencies of 90 days or more — 15 of 24 judicial foreclosure states saw an annual increase in serious delinquency rates during March, compared with just five of 26 nonjudicial foreclosure states.

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“Nonjudicial foreclosure markets like Nevada, Arizona and California are experiencing significant improvements in their shares of delinquent borrowers,” said CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming in a statement. “Some judicial foreclosure states are also improving, like Florida, but not to the extent of nonjudicial markets.”

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Nine out of 10 states with the highest foreclosure inventory rates were judicial foreclosure states: Florida (12.1 percent), New Jersey (6.6 percent), Illinois (5.4 percent), New York (4.9 percent), Connecticut (4.5 percent), Maine (4.4 percent), Hawaii (4.3 percent), South Carolina (3.8 percent) and Indiana (3.5 percent).

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The exception was Nevada, a nonjudicial foreclosure state with a 4.9 percent foreclosure inventory rate, the fourth highest in the nation. The three nonjudicial foreclosure states that saw increases in foreclosure inventory rates were Oregon (up 0.4 percent, to 3.1 percent), Mississippi (up 0.2 percent, to 2.8 percent), and North Carolina (up 0.4 percent, to 2.6 percent). Washington D.C., also saw foreclosure inventory rates climb by 0.2 percent, to 2.5 percent.

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/01/2012

ACTIVE REAL ESTATE FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN MOBILE AL – 05/01/2012

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Mortgage rates eased slightly this week, staying near record lows amid uncertainty about the strength of the economic recovery. The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee said Wednesday that it expects to maintain “a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy” to support a stronger economic recovery, but announced no changes to existing policies.

Labor market conditions have improved in recent months, the committee noted, but the unemployment remains elevated.  Despite some signs of improvement, the housing sector “remains depressed,” the committee noted. Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 3.88 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending April 26, down from 3.9 percent last week and 4.78 percent a year ago. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages hit an all-time low in records dating to 1971 of 3.87 percent during the first three weeks of February.

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For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, rates averaged 3.12 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 3.13 percent last week and 3.97 percent a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages hit an all-time low in records dating to 1991 of 3.11 percent during the week ending April 12.

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Rates on five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 2.85 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from 2.78 percent last week but down from 3.51 percent a year ago. Last week’s rates for five-year ARMs were at an all-time low in records dating to 2005.

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For one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs, rates averaged 2.74 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 2.81 percent last week and 3.15 percent a year ago. Rates on one-year ARMs hit an all-time low in records dating to 1984 of 2.72 percent during the week ending March 1.

Looking back a week, a separate survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed demand for purchase mortgages during the week ending April 20 was up a seasonally adjusted 2.7 percent from the week before, to a level essentially unchanged from a year ago.