Bo McCarver’s weekly housing news compilation – 4/26/2009


The housing industry offers no silver linings in the gloomy clouds over the US economy. Home values continue to drop as mortgage defaults increase. Many defaulting homeowners are simply staying in their houses while banks are slowing efforts to evict them The situation creates a peculiar new tension in a bizarre market.

For a pdf version of the full articels, plus contextual sotries in environmental, social and legal areas, contact Bo McCarver at bmccarver@austin.rr.com.

For Housing Crisis, the End Probably Isn’t Near
By David Leonhardt       New York Times      April 22, 2009
The closest thing to a real estate crystal ball in the last few years has been the house auctions that are regularly held around the country.

In 2006 and early 2007, the official housing statistics were still showing that house prices were holding up. But that was largely because so many sellers were refusing to sell. The auctions, made up mostly of foreclosed homes, showed the truth: house values were starting to plummet in many places.

As Housing Market Dips, More in U.S. Are Staying Put
By Sam Roberts       New York Times      April 22, 2009
Stranded by the nationwide slump in housing and jobs, fewer Americans are moving, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.

The bureau found that the number of people who changed residences declined to 35.2 million from March 2007 to March 2008, the lowest number since 1962, when the nation had 120 million fewer people.

Mortgage defaults rise but homeowners stay put
More Californians are missing their mortgage payments — some deliberately — but fewer are having their homes repossessed.

By William Heisel       Los Angeles Times         April 23, 2009
More Californians are failing to make their mortgage payments than at any time in the last 20 years, but fewer of them are losing their homes, according to new figures.

The dip in foreclosures follows moratoriums adopted by major banks and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The increase in loan defaults, meanwhile, suggests that rising unemployment and the continuing recession are still claiming fresh victims.

Foreclosures Take Health Along With Homes, Report Says
By Chris Metinko       Oakland Tribune      April 20, 2009
Oakland – The foreclosure crisis is causing more problems than lost homes, it also is deteriorating the health of individuals and communities, according to housing advocates and East Bay officials.

“We know where people live has a lot to do with how people live and how long they live,” said Sandra Witt, deputy director of planning, policy and health equity for Alameda County’s Public Health Department.

Reported Suicide of Executive Is Latest Shock at Freddie Mac
By Charles Duhigg and Jack Healy         New York Times      April 22, 2009
The pressures were already immense when David B. Kellermann was promoted to the top financial position at the mortgage giant Freddie Mac last September.

Then they got even worse.

Mr. Kellermann’s boss and other top executives were ousted when the Treasury secretary seized Freddie Mac and its sibling company, Fannie Mae; others left on their own and were not replaced. Soon President Obama told the companies they were responsible for carrying out some of his programs to revive the economy, in addition to keeping the housing market afloat by buying and selling hundreds of thousands of mortgages a month.

Credit union group rejects mortgage relief plan
By Anne Flaherty       Associated Press      April 22, 2009
WASHINGTON – Negotiations between the banking industry and Senate Democrats on a mortgage relief plan hit a snag Wednesday after a trade association representing credit unions said it could not endorse the proposal.
Officials said the rebuff by the National Association of Federal Credit Unions was disappointing but not a deal- breaker.

Dallas area home sales, median prices tumble in first quarter
By Steve Brown      Dallas Morning News      April 24, 2009
Dallas-area neighborhoods took their biggest hit yet in the first-quarter housing market.

Sales fell more than 30 percent in a dozen residential districts. And several neighborhoods saw substantial declines in median sales prices during the first three months of 2009.

Some of the biggest price drops were in close-in areas such as North Dallas, East Dallas and Oak Cliff, where median sales prices fell by more than 30 percent from the first quarter of 2008, a study of North Texas home sales shows.

Audit again assails city housing unit
By Bradley Olson       Houston Chronicle     April 22, 2009
Houston’s Department of Housing and Community Development has come under fire for a second time in as many weeks after an audit by City Controller Annise Parker’s office found “little improvement” from a damning 2005 review.

The follow-up audit, released Wednesday, found the department may have to repay $7 million more in misspent funds to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in addition to $15.5 million the city already has agreed to refund.

Department directors did not read the previous audit report, failed to modify inspection practices that pose “legal or financial liabilities for the city” and were roundly criticized for generally poor oversight, the audit says.