real estate

Since Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, there have been lots of stories going around about major Chinese money pouring into city real estate.The headlines tend to read something like: “China is buying up Detroit.”

In truth, there’s not much hard evidence to support that kind of dramatic claim.

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

If you’re having a hard time finding a home to buy right now, you are not alone.  The supply of houses for sale in many markets across the state are hitting near all-time lows.

Interest rates remain low, but there are not enough homes available to meet the demand.

“In most recent history I can’t recall ever being in a market like this,” said Terry Westbrook, president of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.  He’s been selling homes in Grand Rapids for 40 years.

The supply of homes in Grand Rapids hasn’t been this small in a decade.

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.

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. 

A Wayne county man is facing criminal charges for allegedly defrauding federal real estate giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Samer Salami, a real estate agent and broker for Fannie and Freddie,
is accused of obtaining properties they owned through Trademark
Assets--a shell company he secretly controlled--for an artificially
low price.

Salami would then turn around and sell the property to an actual,
higher bidder—pocketing the difference between the two sales, plus a
double commission.

Overall, it’s alleged Salami bilked the mortgage giants out of about
$488,000, through 22 such illegal housing sales in Wayne county.

Stateside: Andrew Herscher's "Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit"

Dec 10, 2012
press.umich.edu

In “The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit,” Andrew Herscher re-imagines unused city spaces as areas of possibility.

The city’s surfeit of abandoned buildings is, for some, an image of blight.

But according to Herscher, a variety of individuals are using Detroit as a site of experimental craft and commerce.

"Unreal Estate" is the term Herscher gives to urban space that has lost economic value to the point where it can support other types of development.

When land is used by homes it becomes real-estate; but when these properties fail, the buildings they occupy become available to be appropriated in other ways.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A surge in so-called ‘short sales’ is helping reduce the number of Michigan home falling into foreclosure.

It’s a trend that may eventually help Michigan’s struggling real estate industry.

Pre-foreclosure sales, also known as ‘short sales’,  are where banks agree to sell a home for less than what’s owed on its mortgage. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Home sellers in Michigan saw prices drop significantly in the last three months. And one analyst predicts it’s a trend that shows few signs of easing.

Clear Capitol reports Michigan home sale prices between October to January dropped by 5.3 percent compared to a year ago. And the overall trend is even worse.

Alex Villacorta is the director of Research and Analytics at Clear Capitol. He says home sale prices in Detroit were down nearly 12 percent. Villacorta blames the fact that half the homes sold in the Detroit during the last three months had been foreclosed. He says banks sold the repossessed home at discounted prices.

“With more than one in two homes selling as a distressed sale,  it really puts significant downward pressure on home prices," says Villacorta.

Villacorta advises people not to put their homes on the real estate market right now if they don’t have to. But if you're in the market to buy a home, Villacorta has different advice.

“For a buyer, (this is) certainty a fantastic time to buy," says Villacorta, "(With) prices at levels not seen in decades…..with mortgage rates at record low levels it’s a great time to get in.” Villacorta says other markets around the country hit hard by the foreclosure crisis are showing signs of recovery. But not Detroit.

DETROIT (AP) - Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert says his venture capital firm is buying downtown Detroit's historic Federal Reserve Building.

Gilbert said Monday that he hasn't landed a tenant for the 176,000 square-foot building but believes it's ideal for one occupant. The original building was constructed in 1927 and an eight-story annex was added in 1951.

The purchase price wasn't disclosed for the building, which has been vacant since 2004.

In the past year, Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC has bought nine buildings, three parking structures and one lot with an aim to create an entrepreneurially focused, technology district.

The Cleveland Cavaliers owner made the announcement from the M@dison Building, a five-story structure Rock Ventures bought and spent $12 million renovating. Other holdings include the Chase Tower and First National Building.

A new report says home prices in Michigan, and the rest of the country, are stabilizing.   

During the recession, home prices swung wildly.  First plunging down, then bobbing up as government incentives spurred buying.  

Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capital.   He says their data shows home prices in Michigan remained relatively flat over the past six months.   Villacorta expects 2012 will bring slight growth in Michigan home prices.  Though he cautions, in cities like Detroit, home prices are still going to be very low.   

(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.

(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.  

Flickr user pscf11

Forbes has just released a list of the ten best places to live cheaply, and mid-western cities made several appearances on the list.

Sandusky, Ohio took first place while Monroe, Michigan placed second. Bay City, Michigan placed fifth and Springfield, Ohio was eighth. Forbes looked at housing prices, the cost of living, crime rates, unemployment rates and school quality.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The number of home foreclosures tumbled in Michigan during the first half of the year. One analyst says that’s bad news.  

Realty Trac reports that home foreclosure filings dropped by about 20 percent during the first six months of 2011. One in 74 homes in Michigan received a foreclosure notice between January and June. 

Rick Sharga is with Realty Trac. He says continuing questions about problems with foreclosure paperwork has slowed down the number of properties being repossessed by banks. Federal and state regulators are expected to announce a deal soon clearing major lenders from intentional wrongdoing involving faulty paperwork that mistakenly evicted people current on their mortgages. 

Sharga says the delay in foreclosure filings has slowed the recovery in Michigan’s real estate market. 

 “What over 60% of buyers are looking for right now are bank owned properties or foreclosure properties.   So it might be a little of a ‘Catch-22’ here…where we need a higher inventory of these distressed properties to get the buyers off the sidelines.”  

Sharga says it may take until 2015 to clear the huge backlog of homes in the foreclosure process which will continue to be a drag on the home sale market.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit home prices posted sharp declines during the first 6 months of 2011, according to a new report.  And the decline is expected to continue during the next 6 months.  Clear Capital reports Detroit’s home sale prices were down 19.8% during the first half of the year compared to the first six months of 2010. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Oakland and Ingham counties are suing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over millions of dollars in disputed tax revenues.

Michigan has something called the real estate transfer tax, and it’s paid by the seller when a property changes hands.

Fannie and Freddie have been unloading many of the homes that revert to them in foreclosure sales.

Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner says the companies are trying to have it both ways – getting the benefits of private companies, and the protections of government entities.

Foreclosed homes continued to drag down Michigan home sale prices in the first quarter of the year.  Realty Trac reports nearly 32% of  homes sold in Michigan in the first three months of 2011 were repossessed homes.   

The average price for a foreclosed home was just a little more than $70 thousand.   The price is about a third less than similar homes on the market.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan mortgage lenders are taking longer to foreclose on delinquent homeowners.  In 2007, the entire foreclosure process in Michigan took on average 78 days to complete.   This year, the average foreclosure is taking 235 days to complete.  The reason is a mixture of the economy and paperwork. 

According to Realty Trac, this is not just a Michigan issue:

Bernt Rosad / creative commons

There’s another effort underway to get more people to move to the city of Detroit.

This latest one is called 11-11-11, as in: 1,100 new Detroit residents by November 11, 2011.

Foreclosed house
Damon Duncan / Flickr

Foreclosure filings in Michigan fell 20% between October and November, but most of the decline came in homes in the final stages of foreclosure according to data released by Realty Trac, a group that calls itself "the nation's leading online foreclosure marketplace."

The pace of homes entering the system remained relatively unchanged.

Michigan home prices continue their downward slide and the trend shows little sign of stopping.

Home prices in Michigan declined about 9% in the third quarter, a downward trend that started in April as government buying incentives began to dry up.