March 2009

There are 18 blog entries for March 2009.

In a survey of 1,000 prospective first-time home buyers, 78 percent of the respondents said now is a good time to buy a home despite widespread concern about the economy, Daily Real Estate News reported on March 26. Also, 68 percent said now is a better time to buy than six months ago. The survey was conducted in early March for the CENTURY 21 First-Time Home Buyer Survey.  

Prices are the driving motivation for potential first-time home buyers. Eighty-five percent consider current home prices affordable. Most respondents are in the market for single family homes.

More than half of potential first-time home buyers are considering purchasing a foreclosed or short sale home, and 63 percent are open to purchasing either a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home.…
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The Federal Housing Finance Agency today reported that the average interest rate on conventional 30-year, fixed-rate, mortgage loans of $417,000 or less decreased 6 basis points to 5.03 percent in February. The average interest rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans of $417,000 or less decreased 19 basis points to 4.92 percent in February. The reported rates depict market conditions prevailing in mid- to late January.

The agency report also included the following statistics:
  • Initial fees and charges were 0.57 percent of the loan balance in February, down 0.07 percent from 0.64 in January.
  • 47 percent of the purchase-money mortgage loans originated in February were "no-point" mortgages, up from 41 percent in January.
  • The average term was 28.1 years in
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The Denver Business Journal reported that February new-home sales increased 6.6 percent in western states, including Colorado, compared to the national sales increase of 4.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Some 65,000 new, one-family homes were sold in the West in February, up from 61,000 in January. This sales figure, however, is substantially lower than the sales in February 2008 of 142,000 homes. The pace of February new-home sales in the West was also less than any month of 2008.

The U.S. Census Bureau also reported that the seasonally adjusted estimate of 330,000 new houses for sale at the end of February represents a supply of 12.2 months at the current sales rate.
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Existing-home sales rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February, up from 4.49 million units in January, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported. Existing-home units include single-family houses, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. The February 2009 unit sales figure is 4.6 percent below February 2008.

First-time buyers accounted for half of all home sales in February with activity concentrated in the lower price ranges, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. He added that distressed sales accounted for 40 to 45 percent of transactions because entry level buyers are shopping for bargains.  

Distressed homes typically sell for 20 percent less than the normal market price, which lowers the overall…
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Several lifestyle qualities make mid-size metropolitan cities an attractive alternative to living in a big city. Mid-size metro areas have between 250,000 and 1 million people and account for only 20 percent of the U.S. population.  

A new bizjournals quality-of-life study ranked 124 mid-size metropolitan cities. Those with the highest scores had healthy economies, light traffic, moderate costs of living, impressive housing stocks and strong educational systems, reported G. Scott Thomas of bizjournals.

Provo, Utah, topped the list. Boulder, Colorado, came in second and Madison, Wisconsin, third.  Provo scored high its impressive inventory of big homes. It also has steady population growth, an unemployment rate typically two to three points below the…
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Market watchers expect the Federal Reserve's decision to buy U.S. Treasuries will drive down mortgage rates in coming weeks, the Denver Business Journal reports, but rates are already falling both nationally and in Colorado.

Freddie Mac's weekly nationwide rate report says 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to an average of 4.98 percent this week, just shy of the all-time low 4.96 percent in mid-January.  In comparison, a year ago, 30-year mortgages were averaging 5.87 percent.

Existing homeowners appear to be lining up to lock in new mortgages at lower rates. Fannie Mae’s refinancing volume surged to $41 billion last month. The Mortgage Bankers Association said applications to refinance existing mortgages jumped 30 percent last week.

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“The National Association of Realtors® applauds the Federal Reserve announcement today that it would purchase an additional $750 billion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities and up to $300 billion in longer term Treasury securities,” National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan stated on March 18. “This is great news for American home buyers and homeowners because mortgage interest rates will continue to remain at historic lows.”

Greater numbers of home buyers will be able to purchase a home, he adds, and homeowners facing challenges will be able to refinance into better terms. The Federal Reserve’s move will push affordability conditions to the best levels in 40 years.

Continued low rates will also lessen foreclosure…
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“Greener Denver is a triple win for our community, benefiting our businesses, our environment and our economy,” Mayor John Hickenlooper said March 17 in a Denver Office of Economic Development press release.  “It will help local businesses save money, grow the demand for green products and services and train the green workforce of the future.”

Greener Denver, a strategic initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand economic opportunities for local businesses. Denver is one of eight cities selected last fall by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to participate in its Climate Prosperity Project. The city’s initiative is designed to transform the economy, achieve climate goals and ensure social equity in a sustainable future. It builds on Mayor…
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Builders are creating a variety of incentives to get buyers into a home, reports One of trends is a "buy back guarantee."  Several developments in Denver offer this incentive to take away a buyer’s fear of making a big financial mistake. For example, the builder of the Vallagio community says if in three years a buyer no longer wants the loft, the company will buy it back at the original purchase price.

The buy back offer seems to be working. "Since January our traffic has been substantially up and our sales have tripled," general partner Peter Kudla said.
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The home building recession has not hit the Denver market as hard as other Western markets, reports Boyce Thompson in Builder, the Information Source for the Building Industry. The Denver market has benefited from several factors, among them:

The median price of an existing home was still an affordable $219,300 last year, down only 10.6 percent in the last year.

The Denver population growth rates is one of the highest in the country – 2 percent annually each of the last five years.

Builders pulled 8,800 permits last year, down from more than 20,000 in 2005 but a percentage decline close to the national average.

According to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, the busiest builders in the Denver market are: D.R. Horton, Richmond American Homes, Standard Pacific

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