October Real Estate News Recap

It would be far too easy to sum up the housing market by saying that it is still hobbling along, prices are still very depressed, foreclosures are still flooding the market and causing a backlog of inventory. While all those things are true, let’s take a look at some of the other real estate news from October.

Here are five of the top stories for October 2011 to give you a survey of the housing market.

1. Mortgage Rates Plunge to Historic Lows

30-year fixed mortgage rates fell below 4% during the first week of the month, according to Freddie Mac. Although there were some fluctuations during the month, rates are hovering around the 4% mark again and flirting with the record low as we open November.

Then again, despite these ultra-low rates, lots of hopeful homebuyers are still being turned down by lenders.

2. As Seasons Turn, So Do October Home Prices

Following a three-month growth spurt wherein home prices rose 3.5% nationally compared to the previous quarter, October fell flat.

According to Clear Capital’s Home Data Index™ (HDI) Market Report, home prices slogged along during the month of October, rising only 0.6%. For more information on specific markets, check out the report.

3. White House Proposes Overhaul of Refinancing Regulations

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been around for a few years, but the government has proposed some updates to the program:

·         No matter how underwater the borrower, he or she would be eligible (formerly, there was a cap on the underwater amount) for the program.

·         Some refinancing fees would be eliminated.

·         Warranties on old loans would be eliminated.

·         Mortgage insurers would transfer insurance to the refinanced loan automatically.

·         Secondary loans would be subordinated behind the refinanced loan.

There has already been a flurry of commentary about whether these are the right measures to take or whether they are going to do enough to help struggling homeowners.

We'll be staying tuned to see what happens with this initiative in the Senate.

4. Home Builders Are Feeling Better. Sort Of.

The National Association of Home Builders partners with Wells Fargo to grade “home builder confidence.” In October, builder confidence rose 4 points to “fair”.

While this was reported as the largest monthly gain since the home buyer tax credit, the sentiment still falls short of being rated as “good”.

5. Want a Visa? Buy a Home.

Two Senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would “give residence visas to foreigners who spend at least $500,000 to buy houses in the U.S.” (Wall Street Journal)

Yet another piece of legislation that we hope to follow.


That wraps up our monthly real estate news recap. There are always plenty of stories to follow, so let us know if there is anything you would like to hear about.


Sources: MarketWatch, Washington Post, HousingWire, Clear Capital, Forbes, National Association of Home Builders, Wall Street Journal