foreclosure

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report predicts home prices in Detroit will continue to decline. But the report also finds Michigan home prices overall are stabilizing.   

Real estate industry analysts at Clear Capital predict nationally, average home sale prices will remain relatively unchanged in 2012. Prices nationally have been falling since the housing market crash of a few years ago.   

Detroit’s home sale prices have been declining faster than the nationally average and Clear Capital predicts another 5 percent drop this year.    

Image by John Klein Wilson / Michigan Radio

As 2011 comes to an end, we look back at some of the economic and housing stories we covered in the last year. The housing slide slowed in the last year, but Michigan was still near the top of the home foreclosure list. The decrease in home values continued to have grave implications for local governments reliant on property taxes (One caller described the fall in housing prices in his six-word story, "$80,000 to $11,000, Northwest Detroit").

In six words or less, here's how people categorized their housing experiences in Michigan:

And here's a small sampling of Michigan Radio stories about the economy and housing:

Flickr/Elvert Barnes

A newspaper says there were more than 31,000 homeless students in Michigan schools last year, an increase of more than 300 percent since 2007. Experts tell the Detroit Free Press that the reason appears to be home foreclosures across the state. In the past, schools typically heard different reasons, such as fire or domestic abuse.

Kids with no permanent address are living with relatives or friends or at shelters and motels. Nicole Larabee and her 14-year-old son have bounced from house to house in Livonia, including one with fleas. She had a $12-an-hour job but quit in 2010 for another job that fell through.

Larabee and 14-year-old son Matt are living in a friend's basement. Matt says it's hard to relax "unless you have your own place."

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit nonprofits are getting $1.1 million in grants to help improve neighborhoods, encourage small businesses and train workers.

The funding was announced Tuesday by Chase, the U.S. consumer and commercial banking brand of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Chase says the two largest grants are $245,000 to Southwest Solutions and $230,000 to Vanguard Community Development Corp.

Those grants aim to help Detroit neighborhoods and improve foreclosure counseling efforts.

via Occupy Detroit

A Metro Detroit family says they’ll stay in their home, despite threats of eviction. Their action is part of a new initiative coordinated by the national “Occupy” movement.

Rob and Debbie Henry live in the Detroit suburb of Southgate. They got a mortgage loan modification after Debbie had a stroke and lost her job.

The Henrys thought they were following the terms of that process. But a confusing series of events ensued that included their loan being sold to Fannie Mae without their knowledge.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Across Michigan and the rest of the country today, Occupy Wall Street groups plan to symbolically ‘occupy’ homes on the brink of foreclosure. Meanwhile, Occupy activists in Flint are launching a campaign they say will have lasting influence on their city.    

Occupy Flint members are organizing a campaign to put a question on the ballot next year that would start the charter revision process. Flint is under the oversight of an emergency manager. A state review panel decided the city’s multi-million dollar deficit created a ‘financial emergency’.   

Michael Burton is with the Occupy Flint group. He said residents must correct the city’s systemic problems, so Flint will be ready for life ‘after’ the emergency manager’s job is done. 

"That is just the small changes we hope…to affect in order to start making positive changes…and get the city of Flint back up to speed," said Burton.   

Burton said Occupy Flint does not have any specific changes it plans to recommend to the city charter. The group only hopes to get the conversation started.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Consumer advocates are disappointed by a Michigan Supreme Court decision.   

The high court today reversed an appeals court decision which found the mortgage industry violated state law by using a national group to file foreclosure notices in Michigan.  

The lower court found the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, didn't have an interest in the mortgage and thus was not allowed to file the foreclosure paperwork.   

Lorray Brown is with the Michigan Poverty Law Program. Brown said the Supreme Court used "tortured" legal analysis to avoid following the strict wording of the law.   

“I think this is a clear case of strict statutory construction and the statute says what it says," said Brown.   

An attorney for the Michigan Bankers Association praised the  court’s decision. Attorney James Breay said it prevents the voiding of thousands of home foreclosures in Michigan.  

This decision will avoid…the possibility of a ruling that could otherwise have created chaos in Michigan’s residential mortgage market," said Breay.    

MERS is facing other legal challenges, including a potential class action suit involving Michigan counties that accuse MERS of not paying taxes on property transfers.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

New data out this morning suggests Michigan might be feeling the start of a new wave of home foreclosures. 

It’s not like Michigan’s home foreclosure rate wasn’t already a problem. But in October, Michigan recorded a 13 percent increase in the number of new default notices. 

Daren Bloomquist is with RealtyTrac. He says it’s a nationwide trend.   

The lenders are definitely ramping back up and filing more foreclosures that maybe were delayed over the last few months," Bloomquist says.  

Kate Davidson / Changing Gears

We’re looking at the challenges of the region’s empty places this month.

For many people, the most threatening emptiness isn’t a shuttered factory.  It’s the abandoned property next door.  But in Detroit, some residents are using that emptiness to quietly reshape their neighborhoods.

They’re annexing vacant lots around them, buying them when they can or just putting up a fence.

They’re not squatters … they’re blotters.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could affect a large number of  home foreclosures.    

The Court of Appeals ruled that mortgage lenders should not have used a national industry agency to file the foreclosures. The lower court found the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, had no standing to file the foreclosure paperwork.    

“Anytime you’re going to take the fast track on foreclosing and take another person’s property…you need to be able to do it correctly…and right ….and legitimately," sais Lorray Brown, an attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program.

Detroit1701 / flickr

People interested in purchasing tax-foreclosed properties in Wayne County have until Friday to submit deposits.

The second round of this year’s auction starts the following week. The minimum bid for all properties is $500.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan home sale prices increased significantly during the past three months. But according to a new report, prices are predicted to take another tumble. 

Michigan home sale prices are down dramatically from their pre-recession highs. However, a new report from Clear Capitol says Michigan home buyers have been paying more in recent months.

“Michigan overall is actually up even more so than the Midwest region. We have them up 8.5 percent on a quarter over quarter basis.  But still down six percent from where prices were a year ago," says Alex Villacorta with Clear Capitol. 

But Villacorta says home sale prices nationally appear to have plateaued and he expects they will decline about 3 percent this winter and even more in Michigan, which he says is more volatile than the national housing market.  

Villacorta says Detroit’s housing market continues to struggle and remains one of the lowest performing home sales markets in the country. He blames this on the fact that one in every three homes on the market has been repossessed by banks that are now trying to sell them at far below market prices.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Dozens of rental property owners and housing advocates are expected at a meeting in Grand Rapids this week. The rise of foreclosures could prompt the city to change parts of its housing code.

The city inspects rental properties with two or more units. They check for fire alarms, peeling or chipping lead paint, and other safety hazards. But single family homes for rent are exempt from inspections.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 August saw a big leap in the number of new home foreclosure filings in Michigan.   

2011 was expected to be a record year for home foreclosures in Michigan, but it didn’t happen.  Foreclosure filings slowed at the beginning of the year, as banks scrambled to fix paperwork problems and respond to new government regulations.  But it appears now the tide is turning.  

New home foreclosure filings jumped 36 percent from July to August in Michigan.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan home prices are still sliding thanks to banks selling foreclosed homes and short-selling others. Realty Trac reports 40 percent of all home sales in Michigan between April and June involved banks either selling foreclosed homes or short-selling other homes that were on the verge of being repossessed. That percentage is up slightly from the beginning of the year and the same time last year. 

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says the banks sold the homes at about a 40 percent discount. 

“We’re seeing the prices come lower and the discounts go higher, which is good news for buyers.  And it does indicate that the lenders maybe more willing to take a bigger loss on these properties in order to get them sold.”

Bloomquist expects repossessed homes will continue to be a drag on Michigan’s housing market for the next few years.

Kate Davidson / Changing Gears

Foreclosure activity dropped by more than a third this past year, according to the group RealtyTrac. But despite the national slowdown, regional companies that take care of foreclosed homes are still thriving. Their job is to keep empty houses clean and safe from the forces that depress local property values: squatters, thieves and decay.

Dawn Hammontree probably never expected to see their work firsthand.

The first part of Hammontree’s story is familiar in Michigan. Her unemployment ran out in December.

flickr user Detroit1701 / flickr.com

City officials have confirmed what residents in many Detroit neighborhoods have said for several years: squatting is on the rise.

Detroit has more than 100,000 vacant properties. And with the foreclosure crisis, even the city’s most stable neighborhoods are dealing with squatters.

Michael Brady is with Community Legal Resources, a group that has helped neighborhood groups deal with vacant property issues in Detroit.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s foreclosure rate continues to fall. A new report shows another month with a sharp decline in foreclosure filings in the state. RealtyTrac reports home foreclosure filings in Michigan declined by 15% from June to July. The filings were down 42% compared to July 2010.   

A foreclosure industry analyst says one reason for the decline is banks are taking advantage of government programs designed to keep people from losing their homes. Government anti-foreclosure programs have been the target of critics who say the programs have not kept people from losing their homes.  

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says this year’s downward trend in home foreclosure filings is probably due at least in part in part to the much maligned anti-foreclosure programs.  He says banks and other lending institutions are becoming more interested in taking part in those programs. 

“A short sale…a loan modification….is looking a lot better in their eyes than it was even last year.   It’s looking like a much better alternative than foreclosure to them.”

Bloomquist says the glut of repossessed homes will continue to depress home sale prices through probably 2015. He says keeping more homes from being repossessed may help reduce the glut of homes clogging the housing market.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The number of foreclosure filings dropped significantly in cities across Michigan during the first six months of the year.   Daren Bloomquist, with Realty Trac, says this not necessarily good news.  

 “We’ve probably seen the peak of foreclosure activity in this cycle.  But it may take a while to really to clear the decks and get all the foreclosures that have built up over the last few years sold on to the market.”

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

There’s a David-and-Goliath story about to play out in federal court in Detroit.

Oakland County Treasurer Andrew Meisner says Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are illegally dodging millions of dollars in taxes. The government-backed mortgage giants were created by the federal government, but they were spun off decades ago as hybrid enterprises with a policy mission and a profit motive. 

Just where Fannie and Freddie sit on the public-private spectrum is the central issue of the court case. And the court fight could be a bellwether for similar battles in other states. 

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