Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mortgages — The Rental Alternative to Foreclosure -

Mortgages — The Rental Alternative to Foreclosure -
Deed for lease programs:
The main problem, as with all foreclosure alternatives, is whether an applicant qualifies. As acknowledged by Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Fannie Mae, the agency’s “Deed-for-Lease,” or D4L, option has not been widely utilized.

Applicants may not be more than 11 payments past due on their mortgage, and must be able to pay fair-market rent without spending more than 31 percent of their gross income. Properties with second mortgages are ineligible, as are properties in areas where zoning or homeowners’ associations prohibit rentals. The condition of the property is also a factor.

“I’m surprised they didn’t include a requirement that you give your firstborn,” said John Taylor, the president and chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “They should come back with something that’s not as restrictive.”
It is interesting that the federal government was so quick and generous with relief for the banks when their own crazy investment practices crashed the financial sector, the housing sector, and the economy, but when it is the banks' turn to extend some relief to homeowners. In this case, it is just a matter of the owner handing over the keys and becoming a renter for a few years. But even here the banks have to make people jump through all sorts of hoops:  "Bank of America is offering its “Mortgage to Lease” option to only about 2,500 preselected borrowers in New York, Nevada, Arizona and California. A company spokesman would not comment on how many customers had taken part in the program. Citi’s “Home Rental Program,” announced just last month, applies to only 500 homeowners in Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia."

Friday, September 28, 2012

New FHA rules loosen association requirements -

New FHA rules loosen association requirements -
Perhaps the most significant change is a liberalized policy on delinquencies: No more than 15 percent of the total units can be more than 60 days past due on assessment payments, not including fees and fines. The previous threshold was 30 days past due."The delinquency rate was the biggest hurdle holding back many associations from qualifying for approval," said Anderson. "Thirty days is not a lot of time. When market conditions are good, people usually pay their assessments on time. But in this economy, it's a fact of life that people are paying later and later....Another major change permits greater investor ownership. In existing associations or nongut rehabilitation conversions, an investor may own up to 50 percent of the total units if at least 50 percent of the total units have been sold or are under contract. Unoccupied and unsold units owned by a developer are not counted as investor owned unless the units are currently rented or were previously occupied.Previously, no single entity could own more than 10 percent of the units or one unit, whichever was greater."
Pamela McKuen writes about the increased leniency from FHA. They have swung from ridiculously lax pre-2008 to insanely restrictive, and now they are easing back again. And they are facing some unpleasant facts: high delinquency rates are the new normal, and investors are a huge percentage of the market for condos. Owner-occupants are not so easy to find in some situations.

Judge: Money lost to Vegas HOA fraud likely gone - San Jose Mercury News

Judge: Money lost to Vegas HOA fraud likely gone - San Jose Mercury News:
During the court proceeding, a retired Air Force colonel hailed by La Bella as one of two honest board members at the Vistana development in 2007 said none of the more than $8 million the board received in a construction defect lawsuit settlement went for needed repairs at the 732-home community southwest of Las Vegas.
"Within six months that money was gone," Bruce "Wiley" Wallace told the judge. "It was all a matter of $300,000 here and $300,000 there. The swimming pool was not fixed—one of 100 things not done. By the end of 2008, there was $450,000 left in the construction defect account."
Two other board members withdrew the remaining money in December 2008 and disappeared, Wallace said.
Virtually nobody who buys into an HOA or condo association considers how vulnerable they are to economic mismanagement, garden variety embezzlement, or, as in the Las Vegas situation, outright fraud.  At the end of the Las Vegas saga, no matter who goes to jail or commits suicide, here is the bottom line: the money is gone. And yet it seems that local governments can't be bothered to do anything by way of protecting or even warning people.  Some state legislatures have tried to reform the internal procedures of these private governments, but what we never seem to see is a serious look at the structure of this whole institution. There is too much reliance placed on the resources of individual owners--their money, time, energy, knowledge, ability to make collective decisions, and loyalty--and too little institutional support.  And the practice of mandating this form of housing, which has been going on in the Las Vegas area for almost twenty years, guarantees that many people will be virtually conscripted into a complex form of common ownership that they do not actually want or understand. Taken together, these public policies must inevitably lead to problems.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Better times mean bigger homes for Sacramento-area buyers - Real Estate - The Sacramento Bee

Better times mean bigger homes for Sacramento-area buyers - Real Estate - The Sacramento Bee: For years now, urban planners have predicted that homebuyers would opt for smaller houses in more urban-style neighborhoods when the real estate market recovers.

That's true for some. But with housing the cheapest it has been in decades, some buyers are returning to the large suburban tract homes that were hallmarks of the housing boom.

Homebuilders and housing experts say sales of larger homes have picked up in recent months, driven by customer demand.
Urban planning seems to assume the housing market aspires to urban living.  Not necessarily.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

North Naples community on edge after a string of burglaries

North Naples community on edge after a string of burglaries: COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - A North Naples community is on edge after string of burglaries stole their sense of security.

The gated community of Cypress Trace is in Cypress Woods just off Immokalee Road. Now neighbors are demanding their home owners association do more to restore safety.

Cypress Trace is gated, but residents say it failed to keep trouble out Sunday night. They say there are several open areas where thieves can walk right in and with no security guard at night and high HOA fees, neighbors say more protection is a must.
As the perfessor has noted, gates are no guarantee of security.

There's Been a Dictatorial Coup -- Koch Bros. Have a Bunch of Czars Running Cities Across Michigan | Alternet

There's Been a Dictatorial Coup -- Koch Bros. Have a Bunch of Czars Running Cities Across Michigan | Alternet:
"It only took two weeks in March of 2011 for the ponderously titled� "Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act" �to be rushed through both houses of the legislature and signed by Snyder. Before the public knew it--BAM! --the governor was authorized to establish his own autocratic republic: Michiganistan. At bottom, the LGSDFA Act is a doozy of autocratic mischief-making. It lets the governor seize control of any local government he deems to be in fiscal trouble, suspend the people's democratic authority, impose a corporatized version of martial law, and install his own "emergency financial manager" to govern by diktat..."
I don't think there is any way, only a year and a half in, to judge the success or failure of this radical approach to local government fiscal crisis.  I know there has been a great outcry from the local officials who are involved, and the left seems to view it as a corporate takeover.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Home prices back to '03 levels - Sep. 25, 2012

Home prices back to '03 levels - Sep. 25, 2012: NEW YORK (CNNMoney) --
In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago.
According to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index, which covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, the typical home price in July rose 1.6% compared to the previous month.
About time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Copper embezzler sentenced | Sonora / Tuolumne News, Sports, & Weather, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, Jamestown | Union Democrat

Copper embezzler sentenced | Sonora / Tuolumne News, Sports, & Weather, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, Jamestown | Union Democrat: The saga was another bruise for the association, which has been stung by a series of controversies over the past decade.

The association gained national notoriety in 2003 when Thomas and Anita Radcliff had their home seized and resold for failing to pay $120 in annual dues. The couple was able to settle out of court and repurchase their home, appraised at $289,000, from an Alameda man who bought it for only $70,000 at a foreclosure auction.

The scandal prompted a law to be passed in 2005 preventing homeowners associations from foreclosing on a member’s home when that member owes less than $1,800.

The Gray Tsunami | Aging | DISCOVER Magazine

The Gray Tsunami | Aging | DISCOVER Magazine:
"Sun City’s radical idea—to restrict home ownership to people 55 and older—effectively excluded families and children from the development. But recently the policy was updated. Now only one owner has to be over 55, this to accommodate residents with younger spouses. Getting back in the van and touring the quiet, curving streets, with their neat plantings and pink-tinted gravel, the ASU group sees no pregnant women or kids, no young people whatsoever. Sun City has a fertility rate of zero."
And of course this exclusion of the young was accomplished by private restrictive covenant, made possible by laws that granted the elderly an exception from anti-discrimination statutes.  HOAs were set up in large part to enforce such restrictions.  Before that, covenants were used to exclude African-Americans,  Jews, Asians, and the Irish, and HOAs enforced those.  Now we have all these gated communities that keep everybody out except the burglars disguised as joggers.

Mitt Romney's Housing Market Plan Has Got to Be a Joke -- Business Insider

Mitt Romney's Housing Market Plan - Business Insider:
"Yesterday evening (a Friday evening!) the campaign revealed a white paper titled Securing the American Dream and The Future of Housing Policy that's so unsubstantial, we half-suspect the timing was done so that nobody would see it amid the release of the 2011 tax documents, which came out about 20 minutes earlier."
So not only are seniors booing the Republican VP candidate--now the business press is panning Romney's non-plan to "fix" the housing sector.  I think the focus will be on accelerating the foreclosure process.  Next up: bum-proof park benches so the deadbeats who got foreclosed on can't sleep on them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tiny homes hit the big city -

Tiny homes hit the big city -
"The Berzins are part of a small contingent of homeowners who have found solace living in less than 500 square feet. Many of them live in homes built on trailers so they can move around; others, like the Berzins, live on property they own. Others live in Cob homes built of clay and mica. Some are motivated by a desire to lessen their carbon footprint while others want to own a home without worrying about property taxes.Small homes aren't for everybody, but those who embrace the lifestyle tend to become their most enthusiastic boosters. Most of the iReporters who shared their stories of living small with also build tiny homes or run businesses dedicated to helping others build their own.The small home movement has been around for years in small cities and rural areas, but this summer, it made a big incursion into one of the country's largest and most densely populated urban centers."
And no HOA dues.