The following are brief summaries of the latest real estate news in Massachusetts and around the United States to keep home buyers informed.
U.S. Foreclosures at Lowest Level in More Than 7 Years
U.S. lenders initiated 57,286 foreclosures in June 2013, marking the lowest level for any month in 7.5 years, RealtyTrac, a publisher of foreclosure data, reported July 11, 2013. Foreclosure starts are at an 800,000 pace for this year, down from 1.1 million last year.
Massachusetts foreclosure petitions declined 86 percent in May 2013. Foreclosures continue to out pace the national average in some states, such as Florida, Nevada, Illinois and Ohio. Lenders repossessed 35,507 homes in June in the U.S., down 35 percent from June 2013
As of June, mortgages that were originated between 2004 and 2008 made up about 75 percent of homes in the foreclosure process.
Nation's Largest Investor Isn't Done Buying
Blackstone Real Estate, the nation’s largest owner of single-family homes, isn't done buying homes yet, CNBC reported. Jonathan Gray, Blackstone’s global head of real estate, says that prices are still low in many areas, and it’s still a good opportunity for real estate investors.
Gray told CNBC that places like California have become more difficult to invest in, but Atlanta, Chicago and Northern Florida are still good values. He said that he expects to remain bullish on the single-family housing market for the next two to four years.
Blackstone Real Estate’s single-family portfolio is made up of about 31,000 homes in 13 housing markets across the country. The company renovates the homes and leases them. The company has about a 94 percent occupancy rate on the homes it owns.
Homeowners With Negative Equity Declines
Rising home prices have pushed the number of homeowners with negative equity down in the first quarter of 2013, CoreLogic, Inc reported in June. The number of homes underwater dipped below 20 percent.
Around 850,000 homes returned to positive equity during the first quarter. The number of underwater homes stood at 9.7 million or 19.8 percent of all homes in the United States with mortgages. The number of homes with negative equity was down from 21.7 percent at the end of 2012.
Buyers Using Larger Down Payments Due to Rising Rates
In an effort to offset rising mortgage interest rates and keep monthly mortgage payments more affordable, more home buyers are reaching deeper into their pockets to make larger down payments, according to a recent survey by LendingTree of 600 home buyers.
Sixty-four percent of prospective home buyers say they expect mortgage rates to rise, and 68 percent say they expect home prices to rise in the next 12 months. That belief prompted 57 percent of respondents to plan to make a down payment of 15 percent or more on their home purchase. Meanwhile, 44 percent say they will have a down payment of less than 15 percent.
Energy Costs Added to Chicago Home Listings
How much are utility costs? It's a common question, one that home buyers in Chicago will know the answer to more readily.
Chicago will reportedly become the first city in the United States to include energy costs on homes for sale. Homes listed on the Multiple Listing Service in Chicago will display annual and monthly energy costs, including gas and electric service to the home.
Initially, only real estate agents will have access to the information and then will be able to share it with their clients.
Homeowners in the city will provide agents with account numbers for electrical and natural gas companies. A computer program will then be used to automatically pull the monthly and annual energy cost information. Those energy estimates will be included on the home listing.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel believes providing the energy cost information about a home to home buyers will increase the value of homes that are more energy efficient. He also hopes the move will prompt more homeowners to make energy-saving upgrades to their homes.