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Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says a quarter of Michigan homeowners are underwater on their mortgages – and that’s a big improvement.

Back in 2012, roughly half of Michigan homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth.

Daren Bloomquist of Realty Trac says Michigan, like the rest of the nation, has seen steady improvement in home values since the end of the recession.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure crisis of a few years ago can still be felt by the state’s real estate industry.

In February, 2011, 35.3% of the homes sold in Michigan were distressed homes: formerly foreclosed on or being sold short for a loss.

In May of this year, 18.6% of home sales involved distressed homes.

Realty Trac reports Michigan home prices continue to improve, claiming the median sale price for a Michigan home last month was $100,000, that’s up 18% in the past year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is helping provide lower interest rates to first-time homebuyers in eight cities.

About 300 individual or families in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, and Jackson can take advantage of a program announced Friday.

First-time homebuyers who meet eligibility requirements can get a 3.125% mortgage interest rate without down payment assistance. If they need help with their down payment, the interest rate is 3.625%.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants to increase home sales in five cities hit hard by blight and three other cities needing a boost.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley says most of Michigan's real estate market has bounced back, but some areas are still experiencing significant sales declines.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The number of homes in Michigan in foreclosure has dropped to its lowest level since 2005.

Foreclosure filings in Michigan have been steadily declining for the past three and a half years.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says banks are now dealing with the problem of getting former owners or tenants to move out of their foreclosed homes.

“One of the questions we get a lot is ‘why (are) these properties not selling?’” says Bloomquist. “One of the major answers to that is because the former occupants are still living there … nationwide 50% of the time.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Realty Trac is out with a report on home affordability.

The report shows that rising home prices and interest rates are translating into higher monthly mortgage payments for home buyers.

The report focused on three bedroom, single-family homes.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.

He says Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have seen a 40% to 50% increase in monthly mortgage payments on home sales in the past year.

Bloomquist says home prices in the Detroit metro market are still very low.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Realty Trac reports nearly a third of Michigan homeowners owe 25 percent or more on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth.   

In December, 31% of Michigan homeowners were deeply underwater on their mortgages.  That’s down from 37% in January of 2013.

Nationally, 19% of homeowners are deeply underwater on their mortgages.

Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says many homeowners have been waiting a long time for their house to gain value.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan is starting 2014 with its housing market in better shape than it’s been in in years.

The number of new home foreclosures is actually smaller than it was in 2006, before the recession began. Home prices are also improving.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says there are still many Michigan homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. He says 2014 may finally turn that around.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan has seen a sharp spike in the number of people paying cash for homes.

Last month, cash sales represented 49% of the home sales in Michigan.  

Nationwide, 42% of home sales in November were all cash.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says investors are trying to gobble up a lot of newer, starter homes

“These investors are seeing a window of opportunity when home prices in many markets have been undervalued, especially compared to rent,” says Bloomquist.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Critics say proposed legislation in Congress could hurt many home buyers in Michigan and the nation.

The bills would allow exceptions to new limits on bank fees for mortgages. And it would become easier to give borrowers loans they can't afford.

Gary Kalman is with the Center for Responsible Lending.

He says the so-called "Mortgage Choice Act" would undermine what he calls a fair and balanced compromise.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

House flippers in Michigan are having a tough time making money these days.

Before the recession, house flipping was a small, but very active part of Michigan’s real estate industry.

House flipping is where a person buys a home and quickly puts it back on the market, hoping to make a profit on the sale. Many homes resell within six months.  Flipping flopped during the recession as plunging home prices took the profit away.

But a large stock of foreclosed homes and rising home prices has once again spurred interest in flipping in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The federal government shutdown could soon start affecting Michigan’s real estate industry.

The problem is government agencies that verify the identities and tax returns of people taking out mortgages are closed by the shutdown. That means banks and mortgage companies are unable to finish their paperwork on home loans.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan home sale prices have made a major recovery from the bottom of the recession.

But home prices are still far below their peak eight years ago.

Michigan’s median home price reached its peak in September, 2005 at about $150 thousand.

After the bubble burst, home prices fell dramatically, tumbling to just $51 thousand dollars.

Median home prices bottomed out in June of 2009 and have been climbing slowly since.

Realty Trac’s Daren Bloomquist says Michigan’s median home price last month was $97 thousand dollars.

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Michigan homeowners continue to struggle with underwater mortgages.

Realty Trac reports today that 38% of Michigan homeowners owe at least 25% more on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth.

Michigan trails only Nevada, Illinois and Florida for the percentage of home mortgages that are deeply underwater.

Realty Trac’s Daren Bloomquist says more homeowners in those states may be underwater on their mortgages, but home values are also rising faster than in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report lists Flint as one of the nation’s fastest recovering housing markets.

Realty Trac is out with a list of the best and worst recovering housing markets in the country.   And for a change, Flint is not on the worst list.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says the nation’s housing industry has clearly shifted into recovery mode during the past 18 months. Bloomquist says one of the best recovering housing markets is in Flint.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate is tumbling. The rate of home foreclosure filings in Michigan is half of what it was six months ago. 

June marked the 32nd consecutive month of “year-over-year” declines in the number of home foreclosure filings in Michigan.

Daren Blomquist is with RealtyTrac.  He expects that trend will continue.

“We’ll see the declines continue at least through the end of this year,” says Blomquist, “But then I would expect in 2014 that’s probably when we’ll see the numbers flatten out.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law changes in Michigan's home foreclosure rules but is calling on lawmakers to swiftly enact more legislation to clarify some issues.

Bills signed Wednesday keep intact the redemption period when homeowners can challenge a foreclosure's legality. An earlier version of the legislation would have reduced the period from 6 months to 60 days.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Here's a bullish sign: The number of people getting a Michigan license to buy or sell homes is up.

The Detroit News reports that real estate agencies are adding more people as home prices rise and the state's economy improves. Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel in Troy says it recently hired 14 agents.

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A major union is disputing claims by Michigan’s home builders that there are not enough skilled workers to fill all the jobs in the state’s resurgent construction industry.

New home prices are up in Michigan this year. Building permits are also up.

But the Home Builders Association of Michigan released a survey last month claiming a deep gap between the number of skilled trades workers and the jobs available.

That’s not true, according to Mike Jackson.   He’s the Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Potential home buyers looking for a fixer-upper may want to look in Detroit or Lansing.

Realty Trac is out with a list of the 15 cities with the largest number of bank-owned homes on the market that were built before 1960 and valued at under $100 thousand.

Detroit tops the list, with nearly four thousand older homes with an average estimated value of just over $40 thousand. Lansing comes in 15th, with more than 500 pre-1960 homes with an average estimated value of $56 thousand.

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Building permits are up by more than a third this year in Michigan.  Home prices are also rising.

These should be great days for Michigan’s homebuilding industry, which nearly ground to a halt during the recession.

But there’s a problem: not enough workers.

A survey finds a third of Michigan homebuilding contractors are having trouble finding enough workers to do the job. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fraudulent loan activity declined slightly in Michigan at the end of last year.

Kroll Factual Data checks loan applications for phony buyers, attempts to misrepresent the value of homes and other fraudulent information.

Kroll president Rod Bazzani says there's been a surge in home loan refinancing, which may explain the decline.   He says refinancing more than doubled last year.

“When you understand that statistic, you realize you’re going to have much less fraud in a refinance environment than you would in a purchase loan environment,” says Bazzani.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate is no longer among the nation’s worst.

Realty Trac reports Michigan ranked 16th in the nation in home foreclosures in March.  That is a far cry from a few years ago when the state had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate.

Mary Townley is with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.  She credits the authority’s “Step Forward” program for providing assistance to people at risk of losing their homes…

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home builders are optimistic about the year ahead.

The recession walloped Michigan’s home building industry. Many builders went out of business. Others merged and focused on home remodeling.

But a new survey shows Michigan’s home builders are optimistic about getting back into the business of building new homes. They say pent up consumer demand, especially for more expensive homes ($200,000 to $800,000), is pushing up the Michigan Housing Index.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report finds three regional cities are good places to buy and rent out single family homes.

A new Realty Trac survey lists Detroit, Saginaw and Toledo among the 20 best markets in the country to own and rent single family homes. Florida cities dominate the rest of the list.

The top 20 are based on the markets with the most potential cash flow and capitalization rates on a 3-bedroom home.

Saginaw ranked second on the survey.  Toledo came in third.  Detroit ranked 15th on the list.  Memphis, Tennessee topped the Realty Trac ranking. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit’s real estate market posted some of the strongest price gains in the nation in 2012.

The just released S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index charts home sale prices in the nation’s twenty largest cities.

Detroit home sale prices rose more than 13 percent last year, the third highest percentage increase in the survey.

Craig Lazzara is the head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices. He compiled the report. Lazzara says, despite the rise in prices, homes in Detroit are still selling for about what they did in 1997. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate has "plummeted" during the past 24 months, according to a new report.

According to Realty Trac, home foreclosure activity in Michigan dropped about 23 percent last year compared to 2011  and 43 percent compared to 2010.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.  He says Michigan still has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - With just three months remaining before winter tax payments are due and with about 8,000 parcels rolling toward tax foreclosure in April, Genesee County treasury officials are ramping up programs aimed at keeping people in their homes.

The county Land Bank already has 9,500 parcels of land to maintain after three straight years of at least 2,300 foreclosures. That's after selling 500 foreclosed parcels earlier this year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home builders are more optimistic now than they’ve been in several years.

A new survey by the Home Builders Association of Michigan shows improving housing starts and other trends give home builders and remodelers hope that they're emerging from the recession.    He says some markets, like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, are already seeing an increase.

“Trends are all trending upward,” says Robert Filka, the association’s CEO, “We’re very optimistic about the outlook for the industry.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit’s home foreclosure rates are dropping.

Realty Trac reports Detroit now has the 39th highest home foreclosure rate in the country. That's a big change from a few years ago, when Detroit routinely ranked in the top ten.

In September,  Detroit’s home foreclosure rate was at its lowest point since September, 2006. 

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.    He says Detroit’s foreclosure numbers are improving, but he says more than half of Wayne County homeowners are ‘underwater” on their mortgages.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate could soon reach a milestone.

A few years ago the state's foreclosure rate was near the top of the fifty state list.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says the latest data shows Michigan is poised to drop out of the top ten, possibly by the end of the year.

"It’s still in that top ten…but it’s moving down," says Bloomquist,  "(Michigan) had often been showing up in the top five over the last few years….now it’s moved down to number nine in September.”

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