Monday, February 27, 2012

Housing News Digest, February 27

U.S. housing market still dragging but landlords are sitting pretty (New York Times)
Rent increases are greatest in places like San Francisco; Austin, Texas; and Boston, where technology companies in particular are hiring, as well as in New York and Washington, D.C. But cities like Chicago and Seattle, where house prices are still declining quite sharply, have had rental increases too.

Metro Denver's vacancy rate was 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the Colorado Division of Housing.

"We are more of a renter nation than we have been for a while," said Christopher J. Mayer, a professor of real estate at the Columbia University Business School.

New-home sales dip after four straight monthly gains
WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes dipped in January but the final quarter of 2011 was stronger than first estimated.

The Commerce Department said Friday that new-home sales fell 0.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000 homes. That followed four straight months of gains in which home sales rose 10 percent.

Home sweet home? Not so fast
How tough? A $26 billion civil settlement with five banks over foreclosure abuses, announced a few short weeks ago, is one of the largest agreements of its kind in U.S. history. And, judging by the headlines, it looks like a big deal. But in actuality, it pales in comparison with the $7 trillion in wealth lost by American households in the housing collapse.

Short Sales Bring 24% Greater Returns than Foreclosures
The real estate professionals at Massachusetts-based McGeough Lamacchia Realty have been proponents of short sales for quite some time, insisting that everyone comes out ahead when a short sale is achieved as opposed to a foreclosure. Now they’re sharing the facts that back up their claim.

Joint federal-state lawsuit accuses company of foreclosure rescue scam

Bella Homes LLC, a real estate investment company, and its principals are being sued by the federal government and the state of Colorado for allegedly preying on homeowners in foreclosure.

Bella Homes LLC, is a limited liability company organized in Delaware. According to the lawsuit, the company operates from the principals' private residences in Arizona and Georgia, and maintains "virtual offices" in Atlanta and Scottsdale, Arizona.