2011 Real Estate Winners and Losers
By MSNBC and in no particular order:
Here’s one thing that almost everyone in the real-estate business seems to agree on: 2011 was the year of the investor. With a flood of bank-owned properties on the market and prices rolled back to 2003 levels, investors who had cash or access to credit were eagerly scooping up properties.
One thing’s for sure: The housing bust made it great to be a landlord again. Occupancy and rents continued to climb, as more strapped owners were thrust back into the rental market, along with those who were unable or unwilling to buy in a real-estate market still looking for bottom.
Sure, this group of buyers missed the tax credit last year, but many of them purchased their homes at even bigger discounts. Existing-home prices in October were down 4.7% from October 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors, which means the median home — at $162,500 —was $8,000 cheaper than a year ago. Check out out My1stHomeRebate.com!
Owners who refinanced
For those who had enough equity, there was no better time to refinance a home. Interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate loans started the year at an already low 5%, and marched progressively lower all year. On Dec. 15, they tied a record low at 3.94%, according to Freddie Mac.
The number of short sales spiked this year as more banks and homeowners looked for a way out of their underwater assets. This surge was welcome news for many people in real estate — aside from the homeowners losing their biggest investment. It was also a boon for short-sale negotiators, individuals who negotiate with banks on behalf of homeowners and agents, says Kim Drusch of Century 21 Award in San Diego.
Las Vegas sellers
Let’s face it: This was a horrible year for most sellers, whatever their location. With prices down to 2003 levels, according to data from Case-Shiller, there wasn’t much money — if any — to be made on a sale.
This is the biggest group of unhappy people on our list and the group that had the fewest options in 2011. For many — except those who qualify for the new version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program now being adopted by lenders — negative equity meant no refinancing, no sale other than a short sale, and a long road to recovery. Many people simply walked away.
Many troubled borrowers got a reprieve from a foreclosure sale for much of 2011 as the robo-signing scandal slowed down the processing of delinquencies. But the pipeline opened up again later in the year, with foreclosure auctions swelling in November, according to foreclosure data firm RealtyTrac.The sad part was that many borrowers who were told that they qualified for a modification never stood a chance and missed an opportunity to do a short sale while servicers collected whatever payments they could get on the property.San Diego short-sale negotiator Shannon Noble says she had an unemployed client who was trying to arrange a short sale of her home. She canceled the sale because one of the major banks told her that she qualified for a modification despite not having a job.”You are lying to my client,” was Noble’s first thought when she heard this. Last month, she says, that home was foreclosed on.Worse off still were those borrowers whose homes were foreclosed on and who were later sued by the bank for the debt still owed after a foreclosure sale. Banks are allowed to pursue these “deficiency judgments” in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
‘Double losers’ and their lenders
One measure of just how broken the loan-modification process was: the huge number of re-defaults, or mortgages that had been modified only to be defaulted on again. These so-called “double losers” made up 45% of the 232,865 foreclosure starts in October, according to a report by Lender Processing Services. They come at an especially bad time, when foreclosure inventory is at an all-time high and foreclosure starts outpace sales 3 to 1.
Mortgage investors, Fannie and Freddie, taxpayers
It may be hard for many of us to summon sympathy for the big investors who were sold a bad bill of goods by the banks. After all, at the outset of the foreclosure crisis, many investors were reluctant to agree to loan modifications or short sales, leading many troubled borrowers to lose their homes and investors to lose even more money as the value of their collateral slid.
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