Stacie Hartman

The Mortgage Blog of Stacie Hartman

Housing Starts, Permits Up In March

The Department of Commerce’s residential-construction statistics for March show building permits and housing starts both up from February. Building permits were 7.5 above February’s rate and 34.1 percent above March 2009. Housing starts were up 1.6 percent from the previous month and 20.2 percent above last year. Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics said the rebound is a sign that stronger home sales have spurred builders to start construction again. More here, here, and here.

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Fannie Mae: Americans Say It’s Time To Buy

According to a national survey conducted by Fannie Mae, 64 percent of Americans think now is a good time to buy a house. The survey, designed to gauge the public’s confidence in homeownership, their household finances, the U.S. housing finance system, and the economy, polled 3,000 homeowners and renters between December 2009 and January 2010. Some key findings below …

– 80 percent believe homeownership is important to the economy, but feel it has become more difficult to buy a home

– Nearly two-thirds think owning is preferable to renting

– A majority of mortgage borrowers are satisfied with their current mortgage, but those with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are more satisfied than those with other types of mortgages

– 75 percent of renters believe owning makes more sense and is a good investment over the long term

– 88 percent believe it isn’t acceptable for people to stop paying on an underwater mortgage

– 44 percent expect their financial situation to improve in the next year

The full survey here. Fact sheet here. More here, here, and here.

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Pending Home Sales Jump Unexpectedly

Pending home sales rose 8.2 percent in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said the improvement was a hopeful sign and may signal the early stages of a second surge of home sales this spring, adding that March’s data may demonstrate additional improvement because of the home-buyer tax credit’s April 30 expiration date. Anecdotal evidence suggests the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers has been more successful than the $6,500 credit offered to repeat buyers. More here and here.

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Home Price Report Paints Mixed Picture

According to Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home-price index, prices gained 0.3 percent in January, with year-over-year numbers showing the smallest decline in nearly three years. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P said, though there is continued improvement in year-over-year data, the rebound in prices seen last fall is fading, noting that fewer cities experienced month-to-month gains in January than in December 2009. More here and here.

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Fannie, Freddie, And The Role Of Government in Housing

Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities, says the government isn’t likely to propose any major housing industry reform this year because of continued uncertainty in the market.

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Housing Starts, Permits Fall in February

Both housing starts and building permits fell in February, reversing gains made in January. According to The Commerce Department, groundbreaking activity fell 5.9 percent, while permits dropped 1.6 percent. Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said severe winter weather may have contributed to the drop but, because the market is saturated with excess supply and millions of potential foreclosures, new homes will continue to face competition from distressed properties on the market at bargain prices. More here, here, and here.

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Zuckerman On Housing And The Economy

Mort Zuckerman, chairman of Boston Properties Inc., argues that the government should buy foreclosed mortgages from the banks as a way to keep people in their homes and avoid another major downturn in housing.

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Government Debates Next Step For Housing

After announcing an additional $1.5 billion in federal funding aimed at helping struggling homeowners in states where housing prices have fallen more than 20 percent, the government is signaling that there’s more housing help on the way. Michael Barr, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial institutions, said that, although the administration’s housing policies have kept mortgage rates low and reduced the rate of price declines, there’s more work to be done. And while Barr didn’t announce any new programs, legislators, such as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank have suggested focusing on principal reduction as a way to create sustainable mortgages. More here and here.

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Fewer Sellers Reduce Asking Price In February

According to real-estate site Zillow.com, the number of sellers cutting their asking price fell slightly in February from 19.8 percent in January to 19.5. At the same time last year, more than a third of the homes on the market had a price reduction. Also, the median list price fell 1.4 percent in February, down 6.8 percent since last year, according to the report. More here.

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Fed Extends Refinance Program

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has extended the deadline on the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The program, administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was set to expire on June 10 of this year and has now been extended through June 30, 2011. The effort is aimed to help homeowners who owe up to 25 percent more than their home’s value refinance to lower interest rates. About 190,180 mortgages have been refinanced since it was launched, far fewer than the 4 to 5 million originally projected. More here and here.

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About Me:

Stacie Hartman is a wholesale mortgage Account Executive working with loan officers in Oregon and SW Washington. She has 18 years in the mortgage industry, an extensive knowledge of financing options, and a commitment to open communication and client service that make her stand out in her field. Her goals begin with uncompromising service and end with excellent results and repeat business.

Contact:

Stacie Hartman
360 Mortgage Group
Account Executive
Oregon and SW Washington
Phone: 503.757.9565
Email: shartman@360mortgagegroup.com
website: www.360mortgagegroup.com

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