Thursday, April 16, 2009

California Weak and High

Two new reports on the California Real Estate market came out today that details that the market as still very tenuous. New home sales suffered a sharp decline from the prior year and foreclosure filings hit new highs

According to the California Building Industry Association, February sales of new homes in California were down 54 percent from a year ago. This is a modest improvement from the prior month but still a very weak. Sales of single-family homes and townhomes were both down 55 percent from a year ago, while sales of condominiums were off 51 percent.

Not only are sales down but the median base price was also down 15 percent from a year ago and 6 percent from January.

News regarding distressed properties was no better. According to RealtyTrac foreclosure-related filings on U.S. homes during the first three months of the year were up 9 percent from the previous quarter and 24 percent from a year ago, surpassing previous highs for the current downturn.

The 803,489 properties subject to some kind of foreclosure filing during the first quarter -- including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions -- marked a record high since RealtyTrac began reporting in January 2005.

The increase in filings can be attributed to legislative action. Many Banks/Lenders have been holding off on foreclosures because of moratoria and legislative delays. With these programs coming to an end these initiate new foreclosure proceedings.

In Alameda, foreclosures that have reach the MLS have been relatively very few. In fact we peaked in November of last year and have reached a 21 week low for foreclosed homes for sale. That number appears to be understated, according to RealtyTrac Alameda has 92 properties in Pre-Foreclosure, 37 Trustee Sales and 73 Bank Owned.

The 73 Banked owned is troublesome, it means that they, the Banks, are sitting on inventory and the 92 properties that have now entered some face of the foreclosure process means that the Island could see it own wave of distressed properties hit the market in the near future.

Demand for distressed properties by first-time homebuyers and investors has picked up in some hard-hit markets, locally in East Contra Costa County, but given the new news there is a new swell of properties entering the pipeline.

California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois accounted for nearly 60 percent of properties subject to foreclosure-related filings during the first quarter, RealtyTrac said. California alone accounted for 29 percent of the properties in some stage of foreclosure -- 230,915 -- a 35 percent increase from the previous quarter, and the highest total seen in the four years RealtyTrac has been issuing reports.

The California State tax credit for new homes purchases in demand with first time homebuyers flocking to the program. The California Franchise Tax Board
said it had received more than 3,100 applications for the tax credit, which is available to qualified buyers making purchases during the year beginning March 1, 2009, or until the $100 million allocated for the program runs out. Applications for $30.6 million in tax credits, or nearly one-third of the program's capacity, have been received so far.

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