NAR Affirms Housing Recovery Begins
Existing-home sales rose again in September, affirming that a sales recovery has begun, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing-home sales jumped 10 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million in September from a downwardly revised 4.12 million in August, but remain almost 20 percent below the 5.6 million-unit pace in September, 2009 when first-time buyers were ramping up in advance of the initial deadline for the tax credit last November. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing market is in the early stages of recovery. “A housing recovery is taking place, but will be choppy at times depending on the duration and impact of a foreclosure moratorium. But the overall direction should be a gradual rising trend in home sales with buyers responding to historically low mortgage interest rates and very favorable affordability conditions.” According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.35 percent in September from 4.43 percent in August; the rate was 5.06 percent in September, 2009. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $171,700 in September, which is 2.4 percent below a year ago. A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 32 percent of homes in September, almost unchanged from 31 percent in August.
Bernanke Says Fed Looking Into Improper Foreclosures
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke commented on the efforts by state attorney generals to investigate whether banks have been using proper procedures in regards to foreclosures. During welcome remarks at the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Conference on Mortgage Foreclosures and the Future of Housing in Arlington, Virginia, Bernanke notes the Fed has been concerned about reported irregularities in foreclosure practices at a number of large financial institutions. “The federal banking agencies are working together to complete an in-depth review of practices at the largest mortgage servicing operations,” he said. “We are looking intensively at the firms’ policies, procedures, and internal controls related to foreclosures and seeking to determine whether systematic weaknesses are leading to improper foreclosures. We take violations of proper procedures seriously.” Preliminary results of the investigation are expected next month.
Freddie Says Foreclosures Taking Longer
CNBC reports that the foreclosure process is taking longer because of an increasing need of owner evictions. Freddie Mac reports that homes are taking as long as eight months to work their way through its foreclosure pipeline, two months longer than was typical before the housing crisis began. The report notes the delay is the result of more borrowers staying in their homes for months after foreclosure proceedings have begun, requiring Freddie Mac to evict them before it can put those homes back on the market.
Mortgage Bankers Outline Two Steps to Rebound
Also from CNBC come comments by the chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association on the prospect for a housing rebound. Chairman Michael Berman told CNBC Monday that two changes need to take place before that happens. The first is clarity about the foreclosure process and the second is clarity about the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
PA Prepares for Sprinkler Mandate, MH Industry Exempt
From Pennsylvania the Altoona Mirror reports on a debate on the costs of a sprinkler mandate. The latest state building codes will require that all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses have fire sprinkler systems installed starting in 2011. Manufactured housing is exempt from the requirement. The code, which will go into effect Jan. 1, has been challenged by groups such as the Pennsylvania Builders Association which says the systems could increase the cost of a new home by as much as $10,000. The state Senate has passed a bill that would delay the sprinkler requirement on new construction until Dec. 16, 2011.
Minnesota Candidate Knows Manufactured Housing
From Minneapolis the Star-Tribune reports one candidate for the chief attorney of Washington County has manufactured homes in his background. Candidate Kevin Shoeberg is a private attorney and city prosecutor for Landfall, a manufactured home community next to Oakdale. He’s running against Peter Orput, a Hennepin County prosecutor.
“Trailer” Watch: Word Repeated in AP, NPR Stories of California MH Residents Uniting to Improve Community Conditions
The word “trailer” surfaced again recently in an Associated Press story that was featured on National Public Radio. The headline “Migrants Unite for Better Trailer Park Living” concerns several manufactured home communities south of Los Angeles. According to the article, hundreds of hidden and largely unplanned communities provide housing to migrant workers. Residents there are fighting to improve conditions and are suing their landlords in state court. A judge in Riverside recently ordered one owner to restore power, maintain sewage and electrical systems and refrain from evicting tenants or raising rent in retaliation. The article further states the recent victory marks the first time an entire community has organized itself and represents a turning point in a decades-long debate about how to address an affordable housing crisis that has plagued the eastern Coachella Valley. “Trailer” is, of course, not the correct word to be used. We will be sending along our manufactured housing guide for reporters.
All Eyes on Modular Building Event in MA
Sterling Homes Development Corporation announced the company will host an exclusive press event today, October 26, in Wellesley, Massachusetts to demonstrate the real-time construction of a modular home piece by piece. “Most people don’t realize that modular building is happening in affluent towns like Wellesley, Weston and Concord,” explains Russell D. Busa, president of Sterling Homes. “Modular construction is still largely misunderstood in the marketplace, but this is changing. Well-educated homeowners are beginning to realize the benefits of modular construction such as design flexibility, energy efficiency, and shorter construction times.”
Winalta Emerges from Bankruptcy
From Canada the Winnipeg Free Press reports that Winalta has received court and creditor approval for its plan of arrangement and will emerge from bankruptcy protection. The new Winalta will rent, deliver, install, maintain and dismantle modular camp units, sleepers, well site trailers and portable power, water and waste treatment system rentals to the oil and gas, construction, mining and forest industries in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It intends to have the units manufactured by third-party vendors.
Blu Homes Hires Consultant
Green home builder Blu Homes announced Monday they have hired Michael Harris as a consultant and appointed him to its board of advisors. Harris has been a career-long innovator in the modular housing industry. Most recently, he served as president and CEO of Lindal Cedar Homes since 2006. Prior to that, Harris was President and CEO of Deck House, Inc. of Acton, Mass. where he worked for 31 years.
Dow Closes Up
The Dow closed up 31 points for the day. The manufactured housing composite index moved ahead .30. Most manufactured housing and related stocks experienced modest gains or losses.