Jim’s Soap Box
Arizona Real Estate Newsletter – July & August 08
First off, I would like to proudly announce that July was a great step in the right direction for both me and the mortgage industry here in Arizona. The amount of Purchase Contracts that crossed my desk doubled in July, and I even had a couple of refinances as well. So, for those of you who were “concerned” about the missing July edition of Jim’s Soapbox (you can stop bugging your Internet Service Provider for the lost email) because here it is!
The goal of my newsletter is to provide educational material mixed with Jim’s unsolicited yet fascinating opinion on the Arizona housing market and real estate ownership in general. If you would like me to address a specific topic in the future, please email it to me and I will respond in the following newsletter.
Tunnel Lights Approaching
There is light at the end of the housing tunnel for about 40% of the United States. And more importantly, 60% of us are unknowingly already out of the tunnel. The following is from a White Paper/RISMedia report edited by John Benson. For those of you who regularly read the Soapbox know that I have never been a fan of Big Media, thus the following article really spoke out to me.
When it comes to the national housing market, there is a lot of gloom and doom in the daily newspaper. Just look at a few recent headlines:
• “Home Builder Sentiment, So. California Home Prices Crumble” - USA Today, 7/16/08
• “Home Builders Post Steep Losses as Value of Unsold Land Slips” - New York Times, 7/27/2008
• “Home Prices In May Took A Steep Fall” - The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/2008
“Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day.” - Phil Gramm, top economic advisor to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Lost amid the uproar caused by Gramm’s proclamation that the U.S. is a “nation of whiners” was a breath of economic fresh air to Realtors nationwide.
The economic recession that the United States is facing has been portrayed in the media as being brought about by the rising cost of oil and the “burst bubble” in the housing market. There is no denying that the cost of oil continues to stand at near record levels. But while the bubble has burst on the housing market, is it really still a nationwide problem?
A recent report contributed to RISMedia, “Why 60% of the U.S. Can Stop Worrying about the Housing Market,” simply states “no.”
While home values did fall as the bubble burst, the media continues to report constant drops across the nation in national home values. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s (OFHEO) House Price Index (HPI) tells a different story than the media is reporting. Citing data from home sales and appraisals for refinancing, OFHEO reported in May that 35 states saw a positive home value price change in the first quarter of 2008. In addition, 164 MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) showed positive first quarter appreciation when compared to the same quarter of 2007…
…According to PMI Mortgage Insurance Company’s “Economic & Real Estate Trends” report for summer 2008, almost 68% of the nation’s 322 remaining MSAs experienced positive appreciation during the quarter when MSAs located in California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona are removed from PMI’s calculations.
Question – If the numbers from the end of this report excluded Arizona should it be considered good news? Heck yes!! The bubble bust over two years ago and now 63% of the nation experienced appreciation in their property from Q1 2007. That is an excellent sign that the worst is over and the remaining hard-hit areas (like AZ) are soon to follow. It is true that AZ still has a large supply of homes available, but we also have 10,000+ people (net) moving to Maricopa County every month. The end of the down cycle will be soon – even if they do not say it on TV!
Decreasing Home Values = Good News??
If your home value dropped since you last financed or purchased it, you might be able to turn it towards your advantage. Your Homeowners Insurance premiums are based primarily on the replacement value of your home. So if the replacement value of your home has dropped over the last 2 to 3 years, you should call your insurance agent to see if your Homeowners Insurance premiums should go down as well. It won’t make you rich,… but you might save a couple hundred bucks a year.
Here is the name of the Insurance Broker that I have worked with for years, and trust very highly. I suggest that you compare your current policy with what she has available using today’s property value.
Hill Insurance Services
Bank Owned Property & Short Sale Property
The majority of purchases I have seen in the last 9 months are primarily buyers who are looking at either Bank Owned properties or homes that are being sold “short” to avoid foreclosure. There are simply not that many people looking to buy from private owners these days. Rather, everyone is looking for a smoking deal!
There is no arguing the point that these types of homes will be sold under their appraised value, giving you an immediate equity position. But, like many great deals – there can be a great deal of pain in your butt to actually get the home. My advice to anyone looking to get a bank owned/short sale home is to be ready to be extremely patient.
A house that falls into foreclosure is eventually possessed by the bank in first lien position on the home’s Title. This is what we call a Bank Owned house. When you negotiate to purchase a Bank Owned home, you will be dealing with an unemotional seller who would like to recoup as much of their loss as possible, and they would like to sell the house quickly. Truth be told, banks prefer to lend money over owning & selling property.
When dealing with a Bank Owned homes (sometimes called a R.E.O.), be prepared to compete against several other buyers simultaneously. Usually the bank will price the home under its appraised value and take offers for up to 3 or 4 weeks before accepting a contract. They will then take the strongest offer. The “strength” of the offer will be a combination of how much the buyers offer, and how much of it they are financing. An all cash buyer will appear stronger than another borrower financing 97%.
Be prepared to outbid people who will offer more than the list price. If you need seller concessions to cover your closing costs, you should bid high enough above the asking price so that the bank will closely net that figure. Also, be prepared for the banks to reject your offer if you are asking too much in concessions to purchase the property.
Many REO properties will be listed and sold “as is”, meaning that they are not interested in fixing anything broken before you take possession. In the case of a government loan (especially FHA) items like the water heater, sink, and the arcadia door will all need to be fixed before your loan will go through. Be prepared to pay for the potential repairs yourself, or experience an escrow hold back during your purchase. The key is to remain patient and prepare yourself to lose negotiations on 2 or 3 houses before you actually get a contract on one you like.
If you think that buying a REO sounds aggravating – check into a Short Sale transaction. A Short Sale happens when the homeowner sells the property to a buyer at a loss to the bank. The seller usually entertains this idea before they slip into Bankruptcy or Foreclosure. This maneuver can actually be in the bank’s best interest too, if it saves them money over the alternative of the foreclosure proceedings and selling another REO. It is definitely in the seller’s best interest because a Short Sale is not nearly as bad to your credit or well being as a Foreclosure is.
So if both parties (Bank & Seller) benefit from the Short Sale what is the problem??
In my opinion - banks are great at lending money –but they are basically inept at selling houses in a timely manner. I cannot speak on behalf of any specific bank, but I would surmise that they are way too bureaucratic to do anything effectively. A bank will not identify an “acceptable” short sale value for a home until that property has actually been listed and there is a contract on the table. They will then take up to 90 days (no kidding) to give an answer. Many times that answer is no, because the offer is too low and the bank cannot justify that much loss on the current loan. The crazy part is that you can’t even ask the bank what an acceptable amount is until you have a contract in hand. You are basically throwing “manure” against the wall and seeing what sticks.
In some cases, the bank will actually respond to the original contract with a counter offer identifying the minimum value they will accept, but that is not often. In the event that you are trying to purchase a short sale property that has 2 liens against it (a 1st & 2nd Mortgage) held by separate lenders – you can double the aggravation and the headaches.
Also, the lien-holding bank reserves the right to cancel the deal any time during escrow for any reason they see fit. So, until you sign your loan docs (and it funds and records) they can cancel your purchase. DO NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH A SHORT SALE PROPERTY – it will break your heart and usually will.
However, if you have the patience and temperament for 6 months of negotiations – a short sale property can be a bargain!
*** If you know someone who would benefit from my educational newsletters, please forward their name and email address to me and I will add them to our educational circle.
Nova Home Loans
8800 E Raintree Drive #180
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
602 434-8261 cell