Monday, March 19, 2012

Housing News Digest, March 19

Editorial: Mortgage windfall is being well spent
Colorado's plans for distributing $51 million in mortgage settlement money will help struggling homeowners stay in their homes, support affordable housing expansion, and will breathe new life into the small town of Fort Lyon with a center for homeless veterans.

There's a lot to like about the ways in which the money from this national settlement will be divvied up.

Rents rise in all metro Denver counties
Average rents for condos and single family homes rose year-over-year in every metro Denver county, according to a report Thursday from the Colorado Division of Housing.

For the entire five-county area — which includes Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties — average rents rose to $1,062 in the fourth quarter. That’s up 3.2 percent from the $1,029 average rent posted in the fourth quarter of 2010, and also up from the $1,049 posted in the third quarter of 2011.

Vacancies scarce in rental houses in metro area, rents rise
The vacancy rate varied among different types of properties, though only triplexes reported vacancy rates above three percent. The vacancy rate for detached houses was 1.6 percent, and it was 2.0 percent in rental townhouses.

At the county level, the lowest vacancy rates were found in Douglas and Jefferson counties. The vacancy rate was 1.5 percent in both counties.

Mortgage funds help keep Fort Lyon open
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Gov. John Hickenlooper Friday announced that $5.1 million in seed money will kick-start Fort Lyon’s new mission as a housing and treatment center for homeless military veterans.

“We know that we have a need for greater housing and treatment options for returning veterans, services, help that stabilize and prevent relapse and really allow them to rebuild their lives on a long-term basis,” Hickenlooper said.

Affordable-housing programs in the state will get $18.2 million via the Colorado Division of Housing. About $13.2 million of that will support a revolving loan pool to stimulate affordable-housing construction, while $5 million will fund a residential treatment center at Fort Lyon in Bent County for veterans struggling with mental illness and substance-abuse problems.

Housing to benefit as Colorado details plans to divvy up $51 million foreclosure settlement
Another $5.6 million will support a housing-counseling program, with an additional $600,000 for the Colorado Foreclosure hotline and $500,000 for marketing and outreach. Disbursements will be tied to the number of people helped.

More churches face foreclosure with debts that fall beyond banks' graces

A congregation losing its house of worship, once a rare event, is now common in Colorado — part of a national trend of record foreclosures on churches.

The real-estate information company CoStar Group looked at five years of distressed church sales and found only a handful of foreclosures nationwide prior to 2008, when the number jumped to 24. In 2009, the figure was 67.

Distressed commercial real estate continues retreat
The amount of commercial real estate backed by troubled loans in the United States continues to fall from a high of $191.5 billion set in March 2010.

So-called distressed real estate, which included properties in default or foreclosure and real estate taken over by lenders, totaled $166.9 billion in January 2012, down $4.7 billion since October 2011, according to data from Real Capital Analytics.