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Weekly Scorecard 4-11-11

By George Thurtle on April 16th, 2011 at 9:01 AM · No Comments

Finally a SMALL uptick in inventory however the sales continue to march along. Both the closed sales and the pending sales. There is one very important trend developing in the numbers. The average per sq. ft. price of the pending sales is significantly higher than sales of the closed prices. This trend is now clearly established. The reason this is significant is that it indicates a market that has bottomed and actually is starting some mild appreciation. In some cases the spreads are pretty big. South Bellevue which has a lot homes and can have more reliable averages, shows this week an average pending for sale per sq. ft. price of $227.33 per sq. ft. and an average sold per sq. ft. price of $210.98. The week before it was $257.12 and $197.19 respectively. as an example this time of year two years ago in 2009 the numbers would have been reversed with the pending per sq. ft. sale prices lower than the closed home sale prices. That trend was a reliable indicator of the market’s downward trend then. The question now is how much of a bounce or is this a blip in the downward trend. I don’t think so. The local economy is doing too good. Buyers are flowing in from the major tech players Microsoft, Google and Amazon and formed the floor for our local market.¬† Many of the new buyers are VERY frustrated seeing the overall poor selection of inventory and are really surprised when they see a home come that is a half decent come on the market and then have three or four offers on it. That is not what the national perception is when they enter the market locally.¬† The question though is no matter how good our local economy is there is some very heavy anchors to drag that any market needs to carry with it to make a climb and that is the overwhelming excess debt both public and private that really keeps a lid on things and also the lack of overall job formation. Looks like locally this year will be the tug of war between a glowing local economy and a miserable national economy.

The spreadsheet is here: Weekly scorecard 4-11-11

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Distressed Inventory Report 4-9-11

By George Thurtle on April 13th, 2011 at 12:06 PM · No Comments

There is definitely a trend developing. There are very few foreclosed homes; just a net gain¬†of one from the week before. But the number of homes posted with a Notice of Trustee Sale (NTS)¬†is where all the action is and if you take a look at the numbers for West Bellevue you can see there was 10 new properties which went¬†NTS but only a total increase of 4 homes. There is a LOT of churning in the Preforeclosure activity and it looks¬†like lenders are gearing up and getting more proactive to make the short sales happen. ¬†¬†Last year you can see the NTS homes pile up and then go to foreclosure; not this year. There is a couple of reasons for this. The conventional one is that lenders are preferring short sales to foreclosure because they do not need to prove ownership of the note in order to have the ability to foreclose. Faulty documentation as noted in a 60 Minutes Documentary is very problematic in the mortgage banking industry.¬† Without proof of ownership of both the Note and Deed of Trust in Washington State the lender has no legal right to foreclose.¬† Some borrowers are becoming savvy to this requirement and are taking advantage of it. Also second lien holders who get wiped out in foreclosure are being much more aggressive in challenging the ability of first lien lenders to foreclose. As a matter of fact there is a home in Lakemont with a Chase first that is having to settle out with a second lien lender because of their challenge regarding Chase’s ability to foreclose. This is being done after the fact after the foreclosure has happened. The result of these requirements is that it is much easier to “release” their interest in title than to prove ownership of the loan documents in order to acquire title through foreclosure. That is the explanation everyone is putting forward for the increased short sale activity.

There is another reason in my opinion and that is monetary. I know of no case where a lender has done better going to foreclosure than doing a short sale. In the early stages of this foreclosure mess the lenders thought they should be “tough” and often turned down short sales at “ridiculous” prices only to take the home back and 18 months to 24 months later finally sell and close the home and receive as much as 50% less. In the meantime they had the cost of ownership and their own internal administration needed to take care of the property etc. so when all was said and done they might have received much less than the net proposed on a short sale. I think this is the real reason. The top managements at these bank tend to be driven by money and see the law and other requirements as not really applying to them and that has not changed. That is why there was an initial movement by the lending community to go to Congress and actually propose legislation which relieved them of their legal obligations to show ownership of the loan. Paper work is something for the “little people”, i.e. the borrower.¬† so expect more short sales but don’t count on the lenders to get those right. In general if you are the third buyer in after two failed attempts on a Chase short sale you will probably get it.

The spreadsheet is here: Bellevue Foreclosure Report 4-9-11

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Weekly Scorecard 4-4-11

By George Thurtle on April 9th, 2011 at 6:40 PM · No Comments

The inventories have ticked up by a hair but the big story this week is the closed sales. West Bellevue had 18 alone. This is a record for an area which does only two to three. Many of those sales looked to be potential tear downs but that number is very high for any market. In Bellevue market area this week there was 46 closed sales in total. I believe this number is not sustainable but given the reduced inventories and these sales volumes you see why there has been an uptick values as noted on the Altos graphs. However I don’t see prices rising high enough to bring more new construction or some of the better inventory to the market. It appears that many of these sales were pending short sales that finally came together. some of these sales were in progress for six months or more and I think some of the banks wised up and decided to move on. The other notable aspect of the sales when viewing them individually was the number of the sales that the home was on the market three days or less. It was evident that when a very nice new home came on the market that was competitively priced it¬†sold quickly and in some situations had multiple offers. In the monthly graphs that are out you can see the lines of the decreasing inventories and increasing sales. What I am seeing at the street level is that the better inventory has gotten picked off and what is remaining is stale or over priced and when a new home comes on that is very nice it looks like there are now a number of buyers willing to pounce on it quickly.

The spreadsheet is here: Weekly scorecard 4-4-11

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Distressed Inventory Report 4-2-11

By George Thurtle on April 9th, 2011 at 3:07 PM · No Comments

Well the trend of the amount of distressed inventory appearing to be peaking was broken this weak.¬†¬†This week the amount of distressed inventory jumped 15 homes from ¬†311 to 326. However the most notable feature is that there were not many new foreclosed homes but a ton of homes that went Notice of Trustee Sale (NTS).¬† If there was not the present higher sales volumes these numbers would be a lot higher.¬† As an example in zip code 98004 there were 8 new NTS homes but the overall inventory went from 42 to 43. This means a lot of these homes are selling having¬†or having their loans modified and I don’t see much of that happening. The other alternative¬†for the NTS homes to be taken off of the list is foreclosure but those numbers do not appear to be spiking like the NTS numbers although it can take up to two weeks to record the Trustee’s Deed after a foreclosure. The other alternative is that more of these homes are being picked up at foreclosure.¬†The Altos graphs show a small bump in median prices and I suspect we will see that bump level out or cycle on a bottom¬†if the amount of the distressed inventory continues.

The spreadsheedt is here: Bellevue Foreclosure Report 4-2-11

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Weekly Scorecard 3-28-11

By George Thurtle on April 6th, 2011 at 10:09 AM · No Comments

The same story. Inventories remain low but sales remain strong. The pending sales numbers are surprislingly strong with South Be;;evue havong 14 pending sales. The extreme upper end also shows stregth with one waterfront home closing and one for $7,500,000 going pending. The inventory numbers are not bumping as they should this time of year and in fact each of the areas were down agian slightly. If you check out the weekly Altos graphs on the Blog you will see that values are starting to bump.¬†It looks like in this area there will be no “double dip” for this year any way of these numbers keep up. With the distressed inventory being a smaller percentage of the market ¬†prices will need to move up to give non-distressed sellers enough incentive to enter the market.

The spreadsheet is here: Weekly scorecard 3-28-11

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Distressed Inventory Report 3-26-11

By George Thurtle on April 4th, 2011 at 7:39 AM · No Comments

It looks like the numbers are peaking. Down slightly this week. Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, the new inventory coming on is mostly junk. If you want a great deal on a fixer in Lake Hills then you have bank inventory to look at but if you want a nicer newer home then you are out of luck. Your best shot at that type of home is a short sale. The lack of better bank inventory and reduced inventory overall has caused a little bump in values if you look at the weekly Altos graphs. The local economy is good and combined with reduced inventories overall and fewer distressed sellers it looks like a solid bottom is forming until the government screws something up again.

The spreadsheet is here: Bellevue Foreclosure Report 3-26-11

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