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Negative equity still preventing the full recovery of the US housing market

Despite improvements in the negative equity rate, underwater mortgages are holding back the housing market in the United States from full recovery, especially in hard hit areas, a new report suggests. The rate of negative equity among home owners dropped a full percentage point in the third quarter of 2015, from 14.4% to 13.4%, and down 16.9% from a year ago, according to the latest research from real estate firm Zillow. It said that declining negative equity will allow almost a million newly freed home owners who have not yet refinanced or have been waiting to sell to do so before mortgage rates rise, which will likely happen in coming weeks. It also pointed out that negative equity affects not just the home owners who are underwater, but entire markets where high rates of negative equity are slowing recovery. Negative equity is one of the most persistent reminders of the housing market crash. Home owners who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth cannot sell, which holds back markets from recovering. So, some eight years after the housing crash, it remains a major barrier to a full recovery in certain markets. In Las Vegas, for example, 22% of home owners remain underwater, and another 19% are effectively underwater, meaning they have less than 20% equity in their home and therefore can't cover the cost of selling their home and buying another. Las Vegas has had the highest negative equity rate in the country for the past four and a half years, and Kansas City and Cleveland, with 16.6% and 16.8% negative equity respectively, are not far behind. San Francisco and San Jose are the only large markets where less than 5% of home owners are underwater. Almost a million home owners were freed from negative equity in the third quarter of 2015. The improving rate means those people may be able to sell or refinance their homes before mortgage interest rates rise, as they are expected to do in the coming weeks. ‘Negative equity has become almost an afterthought in a handful of the nation's hottest markets, but is holding back the recovery in dozens of large markets nationwide,’ said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. ‘Despite steady declines in negative equity, many cities are still facing tight inventory, especially among entry level homes. Those homes that are available are often not in demand and stay on the market for a long time. This can be extremely frustrating for buyers and sellers alike, as they come face to face with the difficult side effects of negative equity,’ she explained. She also pointed out that negative equity affects individual home owners, but markets with high negative equity rates tend to have fewer homes for sale, especially lower priced homes favoured by first time home buyers. In markets with a lot of negative equity, homes generally take longer to sell than in other places. The top five large metros with the smallest share of underwater… Continue reading

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Foreclosure and distressed property sales in the US fall considerably year on year

There are fewer homes in the United States being sold which are in foreclosure as the real estate market continues its recovery. The national foreclosure inventory fell by 33% year on year in August 2014 to approximately 629,000 properties, or 1.6% of all homes with a mortgage, down from 936,000, or 2.4% in August 2013. According to the data from CoreLogic this marks 34 months of continuous year on year declines in the inventory of foreclosed homes, including 19 straight months of declines greater than 20%. Also in August, the 12 month sum of completed foreclosures continued to decline, dropping 20% from a year ago to 576,000. The seriously delinquent inventory fell to 1.6 million loans, a 21.7% decline from August 2013. The five states with the largest year on year drop in the foreclosure inventory were Utah which was down 46%, Idaho down 45.6%, Arizona down 44.5%, Florida down 43.6% and Iowa down 42.6. The data also shows that 49 states posted declines in the foreclosure inventory from a year ago, with 44 states showing decreases of more than 20%. Only the District of Columbia and Wyoming saw year on year increases in foreclosure inventory. Florida has seen the biggest improvement, falling 7.3% from its February 2011 peak level of 12.5% to its August rate of 5.2%. The foreclosure rate in New Jersey peaked in March 2013, much later than in Florida and the state has a 1.6% improvement in the foreclosure rate from its peak rate. Both New York and Hawaii experienced peak foreclosure rates in September 2012, and have experienced similar declines in foreclosure rates, with New York falling 0.9% from its peak and Hawaii falling 1.1% from its peak. Distressed sales (Real Estate Owned and short sales) accounted for 11.1% of total home sales in July 2014, the lowest share since December 2007 and a strong improvement from the same time a year ago when this category made up 15.5% of total sales. Within this category, REO sales made up 7.1% of total home sales, and short sales made up 4% of total sales in July. At its peak, the distressed sales share totalled 32.5% of all sales in January 2009, with REO sales making up 28% of that share. CoreLogic says in its report that the ongoing shift away from REO sales is a driver of improving home prices, as REOs typically sell at a larger discount than do short sales. There will always be some amount of distress in the housing market, so one would never expect a 0% distressed sales share, and by comparison, the pre-crisis share of distressed sales was traditionally about 2%. Michigan had the largest share of distressed sales of any state at 26.3% in July, followed by Florida at 23.3%, Illinois at 23.3%, Nevada at 21.9% and Georgia at 19.8%. California experienced a 13.7% drop in the distressed sales share from a year earlier, the largest of any state. California also saw the largest improvement from peak distressed… Continue reading

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Throw litter from cars and pay through your nose

Throw litter from cars and pay through your nose Staff Reporter / 25 March 2014 The Dubai Municipality has enabled the public along with officials to report littering and other cleanliness-related offences through the iDubai app. Irresponsible drivers beware! Hundreds of municipal officials and thousands of residents with sound civic sense are watching if you or passengers in your vehicle are throwing out cigarette butts or any other waste. With just a click on a smart app, they can book you for the offence that attracts Dh500 in fines. The Dubai Municipality, which has enabled the public along with officials to report littering and other cleanliness-related offences through the iDubai app, has intensified monitoring the wrong practices of drivers and passengers. “Some of drivers are not bothered about littering or spitting on the road while driving,” said Director Abdul Majeed Al Saifaie. “This phenomenon is more common among drivers of commercial vehicles than private and family vehicles. Hundreds of municipality officials are assigned to report this type of violations in additions to thousands of people who can voluntarily report any cleanliness issues via iDubai app from their smart phones” he said in a media statement issued on Monday. “As all of us are happy to join the ‘Smart Government’ initiative of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. This is a golden chance for all to contribute in keeping our city clean,” he said. “Hence, everyone should be careful. The driver will be responsible for anything thrown out of his car. A fine starting from Dh500 will be charged for each offence. It is the duty of parents and teachers to educate children about the healthy and eco-friendly practices,” he explained. “We recommend everyone to keep a small waste bag inside the vehicle to put small waste during the drive and properly dispose it after parking the car,’ he further said. Cigarette butts, paper wraps, tissue paper and bottles are generally the items thrown out of cars. “We want to make Dubai one of the most comfortable places to live and do business. Everyone, regardless of their nationality, should learn best practices and cooperate with the civic body to keep our city clean and beautiful and thus protect the environment,” he added. sajila@khaleejtimes.com For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/khaleejtimes , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading

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