Monday, April 14, 2014

Home Foreclosure Activity In State Shows Signs Of Improvement In March

By Kenneth R. Gosselin, The Hartford Courant, click here to view online

Home foreclosure activity in Connecticut rose again in March, but there were more signs that the state's foreclosure troubles are beginning to moderate, a report released Thursday shows.

One component of overall foreclosure activity — first-time notices — fell 16 percent in March, the first year-over-year decrease after a string of 13 months of increases, according to the monthly report from RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure filings nationally and by state. RealtyTrac also markets foreclosed properties.

First-time notices totaled 1,022 in March, down from 1,221 a year ago, the report showed.

"This could signify a turning point for the recent rebound in foreclosure activity in Connecticut, indicating that lenders and the court system are beginning to catch up with the backlog of delayed foreclosures in the state," Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said.

He added, "The latter two stages of foreclosure activity — scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions — continued to trend higher in March, but the decrease on the front end of the foreclosure process is a good sign."

Foreclosure auction notices rose 75 percent, to 156, and bank repossessions rose 65 percent, to 717.

Residential properties in some stage of foreclosure rose nearly 9 percent in March, to 1,895, from 1,742 for the same month a year ago. While an increase was still registered in March, it was in the single-digits, far below the 40 percent, year-over-year increase in the previous month.

The nation as a whole saw overall foreclosure activity decline by nearly 23 percent.

Experts say recovery in Connecticut was slowed by the robo-signing scandal in 2010. The scandal involved major mortgage lenders and servicers signing off on foreclosure documents without verifying their accuracy. The controversy touched off far-reaching federal investigations that led to paperwork reforms and hefty monetary settlements — and also delayed lenders pursuing foreclosures.

That, some experts have said, led to the spike in activity in Connecticut and a backlog in the state's courts. Not all states process foreclosures in the courts, so the fall-out varied from state to state.

In March, one in every 784 residential properties in Connecticut had a foreclosure filing, compared with one in 854 for the same month a year ago. Connecticut ranked the seventh highest among all states in this measure, compared with sixth highest in February and 13th highest in March, 2013.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring is Here!

After a very long, very cold, very harsh winter, there is a great deal of pent-up supply and demand in the real estate market.  Now spring is here at last--let the buying and selling begin! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Recent Statistics

There have been new indications that shed some light on what we may expect for a spring market in residential real estate.  It's been a brutal winter, but the February job numbers, which just came out, were not as bad as they might have been, and put Connecticut at 50% of its jobs regained from the lowest recessionary level.  This, of course, compares with 92% of jobs regained nationwide, after awful weather everywhere, but we welcome any good news.

Other recent studies predict that the Northeast is the likeliest region to see multiple bids on property this spring, suggesting that demand has been postponed due to winter storms, and will "pop" when spring arrives (will it ever come??).  Rates are edging up, which is another indication that time is of the essence for buyers, since monthly payments matter more than total cost for most people.

Another report from Zillow suggests that the West Coast is best for sellers, and the East Coast for buyers.  That's not surprising, since prices in Connecticut are still 23% below their peak in June of 2006.  It is yet another indication that our region will see strong buyer demand.  Since the listing inventory is delayed, again by weather, supply may be tight.

In our office, we've been getting reports of greatly increased web traffic to our site, with strong demand for certain types of searches by buyers.  Again, that would seem to indicate pent-up demand.

My crystal ball is a little cloudy, but my outlook, based on all of the above, is positive!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Not Enough to Sell

This week, we've spent some time at every office meeting, going over our list of active listings.  It looks like a list done in a poor market, in the dead of winter.  There aren't enough new listings, not enough listings in towns and neighborhoods where we are getting calls, not enough listings in certain price ranges, and way too many listings with a "story" of some kind attached to them.  The stories can range from something badly wrong with the house, a bad location, a short sale with bank approval needed and seemingly withheld for no reason, or the most popular--overpriced.  We have taken listings all over the place, as agents tend to do when listings are thin on the ground, and we've let sellers dictate prices. 

Now we are entering the traditional time for the spring market, when typical buyers look for homes on which they can go into contract in the spring, and move into in the summer.  We simply don't have the inventory to show all the buyers stacked up (waiting for the snow to stop) what they want to see.  Some sellers are paralyzed by weather, and this is somewhere we can all empathize. This is particularly true of older owners, who may be fearful of trying to clear their walkways and driveways for showings.  It also tends to be true of owners who are out of town, as it can be harder, and more expensive, for them to keep pathways clear.  In some cases, people may feel that their houses won't show as well with muddy floors, or ice dams (true).  It may be hard to get necessary repairs made in cold and snowy weather. 

All of this needs to be weighed against the need to give buyers what they want, when they want it.  Suppose you were selling Christmas candy, but thought that your product would look or taste more attractive in January?  Or you grew flowers for Valentine's Day, but got them ready in March?  It behooves sellers to get their homes prepared for sale right away, and to anticipate that all kinds of issues can slow that process down.  It's not so easy to call a repair or landscaping service on the first nice day, and go right to the top of the list.  Even if you have to go back and do some cleanup work in the springtime, it's still better to get the bulk of the work done now.  Also, it's important to remember that your chances of selling are greater when the supply of available properties is smaller. We have more than forty relocation buyers from other places, just waiting for homes they can view. Act now!  Get your homes ready, and get a jump on the spring market!  Buyers are waiting!
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