Friday, August 17, 2007

Top 10 Foreclosure Cities

Top 10 Foreclosure Cities
By Les Christie, staff writer
August 14, 2007

NEW YORK ( -- The binge that many housing markets went on in the early- to mid-2000s is over, and some of the hottest markets like California are now experiencing the worst hangovers.

But other areas, especially many that recorded slower home price growth earlier this decade, have seen little increase in foreclosure rates, according to the latest data released Tuesday from RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosure properties.
Most Ruthless Foreclosure States

"While foreclosure activity has skyrocketed over the past year in many cities, particularly in California, Ohio and the Northeast," James Saccaccio, RealtyTrac's chief executive, said in a statement, "foreclosure activity seems to be subsiding in parts of Texas, South Carolina and other states."

"Still," he said, "the overall trend is toward escalating foreclosure rates, with 82 of the top 100 metro areas reporting year-over-year increases in the number of homes affected by foreclosure."

Stockton, California now leads the nation in foreclosures. Of RealtyTrac's top 10 metro areas for foreclosures, four are in Central California.

Coastal California cities are doing relatively well, although foreclosures are up there too. San Francisco had one foreclosure for every 263 households, a fairly low rate, but up 83 percent from the first six months of 2006.

Stockton city drew thousands of home buyers to the Central Valley area from the prohibitively expensive Bay-area markets during the housing boom and saw home prices nearly double in the four years ended December 31, 2005, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Seven of the nation's top 10 metro areas are in the Sun Belt. Only three are in economically hard-hit areas, historically the kinds of places that once produced the highest rates of foreclosure filings.

Stockton recorded one foreclosure filing for every 27 households during the six months ended June 30, a 256 percent increase compared with the first six months of 2006.

Number two in the nation was Detroit, where job losses in the auto industry drove foreclosures higher. One of every 29 households recorded a foreclosure filing there, almost double the rate of a year ago. Las Vegas (one of 31, up 142 percent) was third.

The other California cities in the top 10 were Riverside/ San Bernardino (one in 33, up 198 percent), Sacramento (one in 36, up 231 percent) and Bakersfield (one in 47, up 222 percent). Rounding out the top 10 were Denver at No. 6, Miami at No. 7, Memphis at No. 9 and Cleveland ranked 10th.

The lowest foreclosure rate recorded by RealtyTrac among the 100 metro areas surveyed was in Richmond, Virginia. It had just one for every 2,319 households, about the same as a year ago and a rate barely more than 1 percent of Stockton's.

Other low foreclosure metro areas included Greenville, South Carolina (one in 1,721, down 66 percent), McAllen, Texas (one in 1,494, down 35 percent) and Honolulu (one in 1,151, up 68 percent).

Home Prices

According to Associationi of Realtors ( research, the most expensive home in the US is in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, where the median price was $865,000.

Well, certainly one should not be surprise - that's where all the good steady JOBS are.

The second
most expensive area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, at $846,800, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area (Orange County, Calif.), at $727,000.

Well again, NO SURPRISE there... JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! Steady 9 to 5 GOOD PAYING jobs.

Sales Pace Down 11% Nationally

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.91 million units in the second quarter, down 10.8 percent from a 6.63 million-unit pace in the second quarter of 2006.

Six states showed increases in the sales pace from a year ago; one was unchanged and complete data for two states were not available.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 6.37 percent in the second quarter, up from 6.22 percent in the first quarter; the rate was 6.6 percent in the second quarter of 2006.

Most, Least Affordable Areas in the U.S.

During the second quarter, median single-family home prices ranged from a very affordable $71,700 in Elmira, N.Y., to 12 times that amount in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, where the median price was $865,000.

The second most expensive area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, at $846,800, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area (Orange County, Calif.), at $727,000.

In addition to Elmira, other affordable markets include the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area of Ohio and Pennsylvania, at $76,700, and the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North area of Michigan, with a second-quarter median price of $86,900.

The biggest price gains were found in the Salt Lake City area, where the median price of $233,100 rose 21.9 percent from a year ago. Next was Binghamton, N.Y., at $111,200, up 19.8 percent from the second quarter of 2006, followed by Salem, Ore., where the second quarter median price rose 16.7 percent to $227,900. Most of the metros with price declines were modest, although four areas experienced double-digit drops.

What’s Happening With Condos?

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 55 metro areas – show the national median existing condo price was $226,800 in the second quarter, up 1 percent from $224,500 in the second quarter of 2006. Thirty-seven metros showed annual increases in the median condo price, including seven areas with double-digit gains; one was unchanged and 17 areas had price declines.

The strongest condo price gains were in the Salt Lake City area, where the second quarter price of $162,200 rose 25.2 percent from a year earlier, followed by Reno-Sparks, Nev., at $220,500, up 17 percent, and the Austin-Round Rock area of Texas, where the median condo price of $172,100 rose 14.9 percent from the second quarter of 2006.

Metro area median existing-condo prices in the second quarter ranged from $116,400 in Greensboro-High Point, N.C., to $608,700 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area. The second most expensive condo market reported was Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, at $413,400, followed by the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos area at $368,600.

Read the whole research here on Realtor.org

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

20 Things That Can Alter the Value of Your Home
by Dana DratchThursday, August 9, 2007provided by

Here are 10 features that can add value to your home, and another 10 that could reduce the sales price.
Increase home's value
1. An updated kitchen
2. Modern bathrooms
3. A well-appointed master suite
4. Natural materials
5. Curb appeal
6. A light, airy spacious feel
7. Good windows
8. Landscaping
9. Lots of storage
10. Basement

Expecting to plant a "For Sale" sign in the front yard any time soon? Whether the target date for listing your home on the market is a few months or a few years away -- or whether you simply like to make decisions with an eye toward the future -- you may well be wondering how putting some money into the house now will pay off later.

Thanks to research from Remodeling magazine, homeowners can take some of the guesswork out of project decision-making. The publication's "Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2006," which offers national averages as well as regional and city breakdowns of 25 common home improvement projects and their effects on resale value, shows that exterior siding replacement, wood window replacement and minor kitchen and bathroom remodels are tops in the national average of job cost recouped.

Here's the lowdown on the top 10 home improvement projects by resale value from this 19th annual report, which is based on e-mail surveys returned from 2,188 members of the National Association of Realtors. In calculating costs, the report authors considered complete cost-to-construct figures (including labor, material, subtrade contractors and gross profit).

Reports for each of the 60 cities surveyed, as well as a complete printed report, are available for purchase and immediate download from Remodeling magazine

Here are the top 10:
Top 10 remodeling projects
1. Replace siding -- fiber cement.
2.Replace siding -- vinyl
3.Mid-range window replacement (wood)
4.Minor kitchen remodel
5.Bathroom remodel
6.Upscale window replacement -- vinyl
7.Mid-range window replacement -- vinyl
8.Two-story addition
9.Siding replacement -- foam-backed vinyl
10.Upscale window replacement -- wood



Mortgage loan applications increased 3.4 percent to 687.7 for the week ending Aug. 10 compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) most recent survey.

"Recent upheavals in the mortgage industry may be temporarily increasing the level of retail application activity at the large lenders that participate in the MBA survey rather than representing a system-wide increase," said Doug Duncan, MBA's chief economist.

The refinancing sector claimed 39.9 percent share of all mortgage activity, while adjustable rate-mortgage (ARM) products saw a dip in volume to 21 percent from 22.5 percent of total applications for the week ending Aug. 10. compared with week before.