Monday, September 13, 2010

Update on National First Look Program

It was announced today that there has been $1 billion earmarked by the Obama Administration to fund foreclosure torn neighborhoods.

“These grants will support local efforts to reverse the effects these foreclosed properties have on their surrounding neighborhoods,” said Donovan. “We want to make certain that we target these funds to those places with especially high foreclosure activity so we can help turn the tide in our battle against abandonment and blight. As a direct result of the leadership provided by Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, who played key roles in winning approval for these funds, we will be able to make investments that will reduce blight, bolster neighboring home values, create jobs and produce affordable housing.”

These grants can be used by state and local governments to purchase property for improvement or demolition. Additionally, low to moderate income buyers can apply for funds to use for down payment or closing cost assistance. There will be a notice published soon with guidelines for the application process and program design.

Counseling will be provided to families receiving the assistance in hopes of preventing future foreclosures. Just as importantly, the lender involved will have to adhere to ethical lending practices.

For more information, visit

Saturday, September 11, 2010

HUD Announces National First Look Program

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a new program which includes parts of California.

The National First Look Program is the first time there has been an agreement between public and private entities (HUD and the National Community Stabilization Trust). It's purpose is to give communities participating in HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program an initial opportunity (or first right of refusal) to buy properties that have been foreclosed on in designated areas so the homes can be rehabilitated, rented, resold, or demolished instead of falling into disrepair.

At first blush this seems like a great idea. I have to question where the local governments would get the money from to purchase these homes since most have had to cut way back on expenditures in the last few years. I personally would rather have Station 4 in Ventura open again...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What’s Really Happening in the Housing Market?

During the Great Depression the primary means of reporting news was simply printed news and radio. Now we’re bombarded non stop (if we allow it) with a stream of news and communication from the time we wake to the time we hit the pillow.

TV, radio, laptops, Ipads, Blackberries, Facebook, Twitter and on and on. Instant and constant input is de rigueur. Times were pretty rugged back then. One has to ponder if communications were then what they are now if the entirety of our nation would have vaporized under the pressure.

Let’s face it, bad news sells. Times are tough and “they” love to talk about it. But you can look at the glass half empty or half full. We anticipated some consequences when the tax credit expired.

Realtors’ association economist Lawrence Yun has spoken of the current downturn, but presents another viewpoint as well. “Since May, after the April 30th deadline, contract signings have been notably lower,” he said, “and a pause period for home sales is likely to last through September.”

Still, Yun said, it’s anticipated that annual sales will approach five million in 2010 due to robust sales in the first part of the year. “To place that in perspective, annual sales averaged 4.9 million in the past 20 years, and 4.4 million over the past 30 years.”

As a result of the tax credit, there has been stabilization in home values for 18 months, Yun said.

Additionally, recently released data from the S & P/ Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 3.6% increase in national home prices in the last year.
"While the numbers are upbeat, other more recent data on home sales and mortgages point to fewer gains ahead," states David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's. "Even with concerns about near term developments, we recognize that the housing market is in better shape than this time last year."

Locally, in Ventura County, we’ve experienced some slowing since the end of the tax credit. However, there was actually an increase in closed sales sales with 4871 in the last six months over 4548 in the previous six months.

Historically low interest rates and stabilized home values make a compelling case for purchasing property at this time. The window of opportunity is there. Let me know if I can help open it!