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Median Home Prices Reach A High

ATTOM Data Solutions (the new parent company of RealtyTrac) released its June and Q2 2016 U.S. Home Sales Report, which shows that single family homes and condos sold for a median price of $231,000 in June 2016, up 6 percent from the previous month and up 9 percent from a year ago to a new all-time high — 1 percent above the previous peak of $228,000 in July 2005.

June was the 52nd consecutive month were U.S. median home prices increased on a year-over-year basis.

The ATTOM Data Solutions home sales report is based on publicly recorded sales deeds collected and licensed by ATTOM Data Solutions in more than 900 counties nationwide accounting for more than 80 percent of the U.S. population.

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30 percent of local metro markets reach new all-time price peak in June

Out of 130 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed for the report, 39 (30 percent) reached new all-time home price peaks in June, including Dallas ($240,156), Atlanta ($192,000), Seattle ($385,000), Minneapolis ($235,950), and St. Louis ($190,209).

“Home prices in the greater Seattle area continue to appreciate above average rates. This is clearly an indication of not only continued faith in the housing market, but also the buoyancy of the regional economy,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “However, this appreciation comes at a cost.  Housing affordability in the region is getting tested — specifically in the market areas that are within easy reach of the major employment centers. This is having particularly negative effects on first-time buyers who are getting priced out of the market. Unless we see a rapid increase in the number of homes for sale, this significant demographic will continue to be left behind.”

Since the nation’s home prices bottomed out in 2012, a total of 63 of the 130 markets analyzed (48 percent) have reached new all-time home price peaks.

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“The all-time home price highs nationwide an in many local markets are being enabled by historically low mortgage rates — which are falling once again this year,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions (formerly RealtyTrac). “It is likely that some of the most interest rate sensitive local markets will see home price appreciation knocked down when the low rate rug is finally pulled out from under the housing recovery. We are seeing signs of weakening appreciation in many bellwether markets already in spite of the rock-bottom rates.”

Markets with strongest home price appreciation in June

Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year increase in median home price in June were Salisbury, Maryland (up 22 percent), Pensacola, Florida (up 21 percent), Tampa, Florida (up 20 percent), St. Louis (up 19 percent), Boulder, Colorado (up 19 percent), and Flint, Michigan (up 18 percent).

Along with Tampa and St. Louis, major metro areas with a population of at least 1 million where median home sales prices increased at least 10 percent from a year ago in June 2016 included Orlando (up 13 percent), Phoenix (up 12 percent), Austin, Texas (up 12 percent), Portland, Oregon (up 12 percent), Denver (up 11 percent), and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia (up 10 percent).

There were 16 metro areas among the 130 analyzed (12 percent) where median home prices declined from a year ago in June, including Bridgeport, Connecticut (down 6 percent), Allentown, Pennsylvania (down 4 percent), Columbus, Ohio (down 3 percent), Houston (down 2 percent), and Milwaukee (down 1 percent).

June 2016 home sellers realize highest average price gain since September 2007

Home sellers in June 2016 sold for an average of $41,000 more than they purchased for, a 22 percent gain in price on average — the highest average price gain for home sellers since September 2007.

Metro areas with the highest average price gains for home sellers in June were San Francisco (72 percent), San Jose (66 percent), Fort Collins, Colorado (59 percent), Salinas, California (53 percent), and Santa Rosa, California (52 percent).

Other major markets with a population of at least 1 million where the average price gain for home sellers in June was at least 40 percent included Denver (50 percent), Los Angeles (49 percent), Portland (49 percent), Seattle (48 percent), and San Diego (40 percent)

Pace of home price appreciation slowing in 54 percent of county housing markets

Annual home price appreciation in June 2016 slowed compared to a year ago in 189 counties out of 349 counties (54 percent) analyzed for the report.

Counties with decelerating appreciation in June 2016 compared to a year ago included Los Angeles County, California; Harris County (Houston), Texas; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; San Diego County, California; Orange County, California; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Dallas County, Texas; and Queens County, New York.

Counties with accelerating appreciation in June 2016 compared to a year ago included Kings County (Brooklyn), New York; Riverside County, California; King County (Seattle), Washington; Sacramento County, California; Hillsborough County (Tampa), Florida; Hennepin County (Minneapolis), Minnesota; and Travis County (Austin), Texas.

RealtyTrac: Midyear Foreclosures Are Down 11%

RealtyTrac has released its Midyear 2016 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows a total of 533,813 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — in the first six months of 2016, down 20 percent from the previous six months and down 11 percent from the first six months of 2015.

Counter to the national trend, 19 states posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in the first half of 2016, including Massachusetts (up 46 percent); Connecticut (up 40 percent); Virginia (up 18 percent); Alabama (up 11 percent); and New York (up 10 percent).

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Among the nation’s 20 most-populated metro areas, five posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity: Boston (up 38 percent); Philadelphia (up 7 percent); New York (up 4 percent); Washington, D.C. (up 3 percent); and Baltimore (up 1 percent).

“Although there are some local outliers, the downward foreclosure trend continued in the first half of 2016 in most markets nationwide,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “While U.S. foreclosure activity is still above its pre-recession levels, many of the states hit hardest by the housing crisis have now dropped below pre-recession foreclosure activity levels. With some exceptions, states with foreclosure activity continuing to run above pre-recession levels tend to be those with protracted foreclosure timelines still working through legacy distress from the last housing bust.”

Q2 2016 foreclosure activity below pre-recession average in 15 states

There were a total of 280,989 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in Q2 2016, down 3 percent from the previous quarter and down 18 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since Q4 2006.

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Nationwide foreclosure activity in Q2 2016 was still 21 percent above the pre-recession average of 232,082 properties with foreclosure filings per quarter in 2005, 2006 and 2007, but Q2 2016 foreclosure activity was below pre-recession averages in 15 states, including Arizona (13 percent below pre-recession averages); California (25 percent below); Colorado (72 percent below); Georgia (33 percent below); Michigan (46 percent below); Nevada (18 percent below); Ohio (9 percent below); and Texas (46 percent below).

States where Q2 2016 foreclosure activity was still above pre-recession averages included Florida (26 percent above pre-recession levels); New Jersey (215 percent above); Illinois (36 percent above); New York (127 percent above); Indiana (2 percent above); South Carolina (376 percent above); Massachusetts (127 percent above); and Washington (29 percent above).

“It is pleasing to note the 30 percent drop in foreclosure filings in the Central Puget Sound region versus the prior six-month period and the number down by over 10 percent from the same period a year ago,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “There is no reason to believe that we will see any increase in the level of foreclosure activity in the foreseeable future.  In fact, I would contend that we will see the number of foreclosures continue to contract as job growth — and home price growth — continue to outperform the nation as a whole.”

“South Florida saw a 34 percent drop in foreclosure filings year-over-year,” said Mike Pappas, president and CEO at Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market. “With strong employment, low interest rates, and with lenders continuing to carefully scrutinize borrowers — foreclosures will soon be at the lowest levels in a decade.”

June foreclosure activity drops to nearly 10-year low

There were a total of 94,469 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing in June, down 6 percent from the previous month and down 19 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since July 2006 — a nearly 10-year low.

Flipping Is On The Rise Again

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Data from RealtyTrac shows that 6.6 percent (43,740) of all single family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips, a 20 percent increase from the previous quarter and up 3 percent from a year ago to the highest rate of home flips since the first quarter of 2014.

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For the report, a home flip is defined as a property that is sold in an arms-length sale for the second time within a 12-month period based on publicly recorded sales deed data collected by RealtyTrac in more than 950 counties accounting for more than 80 percent of the U.S. population (see full methodology below).

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The 6.6 percent share of total home sales that were flips in Q1 2016 was still 26 percent below the 9.0 percent share at the peak of home flipping in Q1 2006, but was 55 percent above the recent trough in home flipping — 4.3 percent of total home sales in Q3 2014.

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“After faltering in late 2014, home flipping has been gaining steam for the last year and a half thanks to falling interest rates and a dearth of housing inventory for flippers to compete against,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “While responsible home flipping is helpful for a housing market, excessive and irresponsible flipping activity can contribute to a home price pressure cooker that overheats a housing market, and we are starting to see evidence of that pressure cooker environment in a handful of markets.

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Home flipping hits new all-time highs in 7 percent of markets

Counter to the national trend, the share of home flipping reached new all-time highs in Q1 2016 in nine of 126 metropolitan statistical analyzed (7 percent) including Baltimore, Maryland; Buffalo, New York; Huntsville, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; and York-Hanover, Pennsylvania.

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Other markets where the share of home flipping has reached new highs since home prices bottomed out in 2012 include Seattle, Washington; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Bakersfield, California; and San Diego, California.

Flipping share up from a year ago in 60 percent of local markets

Home flipping as a share of total sales increased from a year ago in 75 out of 126 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed for the report (60 percent). Among markets with a population of at least 1 million, those with the biggest increases in the rate of flipping were New Orleans (up 45 percent), San Antonio (up 34 percent), Nashville (up 26 percent), Cleveland (up 26 percent), Columbus, Ohio (up 23 percent), and Dallas (up 22 percent).

Markets with the highest share of flipping in the first quarter were Memphis, Tennessee (13.3 percent); Clarksville, Tennessee (12.5 percent); Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida (11.8 percent); Fresno, California (11.3 percent); and Visalia-Porterville, California (11.1 percent).

Downpayment Assistance Works

RealtyTrac released a joint report with Down Payment Resource analyzing the impact of down payment assistance on the cost of buying a home — including the down payment and monthly house payments for a median-priced home in 513 counties nationwide. The report was released at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 50th Annual Journalism Conference in New Orleans. Here’s what was concluded:

The report found that across all 513 counties analyzed, buyers using available down payment assistance programs can save an average of $17,766 representing 41 percent of a year’s wages compared to buyers who do not use down payment assistance.

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The total savings breaks down to an average savings of $5,965 on the down payment for a median-priced home, and an average savings of $11,801 on monthly house payments over the life of the loan for a median-priced home.

The report combined public record sales deed data for single family homes and condos collected by RealtyTrac with average down payment assistance data collected from 2,477 down payment assistance programs across the country by Down Payment Resource along with the latest average weekly wage data available at the county level from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Saving for a down payment can be difficult for prospective first-time homebuyers given the absence of substantial wage growth in recent years combined with the burden of student loan debt many are struggling under,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “Even just a 3 percent down payment requires 14 percent of annual wages on average across the 513 counties we analyzed, and in 67 counties a 3 percent down payment requires more than one-fifth of annual wages.”

“Homeownership programs not only help buyers overcome the initial cost of purchasing a home, but also produce a compounding positive impact on the homeowner’s saving and wealth-building capability,” said Rob Chrane, CEO at Down Payment Resource. “In fact, these programs are now the last frontier in the fight to preserve homeownership affordability. Rates are never going to be substantially lower, and home prices continue to trend higher.”

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Originations Are Falling

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RealtyTrac released its Q1 2016 U.S. Residential Property Loan Origination Report, which shows 1.4 million (1,415,511) loans were originated on U.S. residential properties (1 to 4 units) in the first quarter of 2016, down 12 percent from the previous quarter and down 8 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2014.

The loan origination report is derived from publicly recorded mortgages and deeds of trust collected by RealtyTrac in more than 950 counties accounting for more than 80 percent of the U.S. population.

The year-over-year decrease in total originations was driven by a 20 percent year-over-year decrease in refinance originations even while purchase originations increased 3 percent from a year ago and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) originations increased 10 percent from a year ago.

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“After a surprisingly strong 2015, the mortgage refi market started running out of steam in the first quarter of 2016 despite lower mortgage interest rates,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “Meanwhile the purchase loan market continued the pattern of slow-and-steady growth that it has been following the past two years, and HELOC originations increased on a year-over-year basis for the 16th consecutive quarter, showing that borrowers are regaining both home value and the confidence needed to increasingly leverage their home equity.”

Dallas, Louisville, Seattle, Sacramento, Columbus with biggest HELOC increase

Among 50 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 5,000 total loan originations in the first quarter, those with the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in HELOC originations were Dallas, Texas (up 35 percent); Louisville, Kentucky (up 28 percent); Seattle, Washington (up 25 percent); Sacramento, California (up 25 percent); and Columbus, Ohio (up 23 percent).

Other metro areas with a 20 percent or more increase in HELOC originations from a year ago were San Antonio, Texas (up 23 percent); Orlando, Florida (up 23 percent); Portland, Oregon (up 22 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (up 21 percent); and Tampa, Florida (up 20 percent).

“Loosening credit, low interest rates and the first time millennial buyers moving into the South Florida real estate market all add up to an 8 percent increase in purchase loan originations for the first quarter this year over last year’s first quarter,” said Mike Pappas, CEO and president at The Keyes Company, covering South Florida. “Our rising prices and increasing equity are giving confidence to homeowners as we have seen HELOCs increase 12 percent year-over-year.”

Baltimore, Tucson, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville with biggest purchase loan increase

Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in purchase originations were Baltimore, Maryland (up 26 percent); Tucson, Arizona (up 18 percent); Louisville, Kentucky (up 17 percent); Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 14 percent); and Nashville, Tennessee (up 14 percent).

Other metro areas with a more than 10 percent increase in purchase loan originations from a year ago were Washington, D.C. (up 13 percent); Cleveland, Ohio (up 13 percent); Atlanta, Georgia (up 12 percent); Indianapolis, Indiana (up 12 percent); Kansas City (up 11 percent); St. Louis (up 11 percent); and Chicago (up 11 percent).

Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Salt Lake City with biggest refi decrease

Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year percentage decrease in refinance originations were Cincinnati, Ohio (down 35 percent); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (down 32 percent); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (down 32 percent); Raleigh, North Carolina (down 31 percent); and Salt Lake City, Utah (down 29 percent).

Other metro areas with a 25 percent or bigger decrease in refinance originations from a year ago were Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California (down 28 percent); St. Louis (down 28 percent); Sacramento, California (down 28 percent); Tucson, Arizona (down 27 percent); Louisville, Kentucky (down 26 percent); Chicago, Illinois (down 26 percent); Richmond, Virginia (down 26 percent); San Diego, California (down 25 percent); and Honolulu (down 25 percent).

Loan origination dollar volume up 5 percent as HELOC dollar volume jumps 45 percent

Although the number of originations decreased from a year ago, the estimated total dollar volume of originations increased thanks to higher average loan amounts. There was an estimated $444 billion ($444,560,103,469) in total loan origination dollar volume in Q1 2016, up 5 percent from the previous quarter and up 5 percent from a year ago — the fifth consecutive quarter with a year-over-year increase in loan origination dollar volume.

The total dollar amount of purchase loans originated in the first quarter was an estimated $146 billion ($145,693,394,297), down 11 percent from the previous quarter but up 8 percent from a year ago. The total dollar amount of refinance loans originated in the first quarter was an estimated $204 billion ($203,593,423,522), up 8 percent from the previous quarter but down 9 percent from a year ago. The total dollar amount of HELOCs originated in the first quarter was an estimated $95 billion ($95,273,285,650), up 34 percent from the previous quarter and up 45 percent from a year ago.

FHA loan share increases annually for fifth consecutive quarter

Among all purchase and refinance loans, 17.5 percent were FHA loans, 8.3 percent were VA loans, 0.8 percent were construction loans, and the remaining 73.4 percent were other loan types, including conventional.

FHA loans as a share of all loan originations increased 7 percent from a year ago while the VA loan share were up 5 percent and construction loans were up 19 percent. The FHA loan share has increased for five consecutive quarters, and in 10 of the 11 last quarters.

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Originations Are Down 8%

RealtyTrac released its Q1 2016 U.S. Residential Property Loan Origination Report, which shows 1.4 million (1,415,511) loans were originated on U.S. residential properties (1 to 4 units) in the first quarter of 2016, down 12 percent from the previous quarter and down 8 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2014.

The loan origination report is derived from publicly recorded mortgages and deeds of trust collected by RealtyTrac in more than 950 counties accounting for more than 80 percent of the U.S. population.

The year-over-year decrease in total originations was driven by a 20 percent year-over-year decrease in refinance originations even while purchase originations increased 3 percent from a year ago and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) originations increased 10 percent from a year ago.

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“After a surprisingly strong 2015, the mortgage refi market started running out of steam in the first quarter of 2016 despite lower mortgage interest rates,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “Meanwhile the purchase loan market continued the pattern of slow-and-steady growth that it has been following the past two years, and HELOC originations increased on a year-over-year basis for the 16th consecutive quarter, showing that borrowers are regaining both home value and the confidence needed to increasingly leverage their home equity.”

Dallas, Louisville, Seattle, Sacramento, Columbus with biggest HELOC increase

Among 50 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 5,000 total loan originations in the first quarter, those with the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in HELOC originations were Dallas, Texas (up 35 percent); Louisville, Kentucky (up 28 percent); Seattle, Washington (up 25 percent); Sacramento, California (up 25 percent); and Columbus, Ohio (up 23 percent).

Other metro areas with a 20 percent or more increase in HELOC originations from a year ago were San Antonio, Texas (up 23 percent); Orlando, Florida (up 23 percent); Portland, Oregon (up 22 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (up 21 percent); and Tampa, Florida (up 20 percent).

“Loosening credit, low interest rates and the first time millennial buyers moving into the South Florida real estate market all add up to an 8 percent increase in purchase loan originations for the first quarter this year over last year’s first quarter,” said Mike Pappas, CEO and president at The Keyes Company, covering South Florida. “Our rising prices and increasing equity are giving confidence to homeowners as we have seen HELOCs increase 12 percent year-over-year.”

Baltimore, Tucson, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville with biggest purchase loan increase

Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in purchase originations were Baltimore, Maryland (up 26 percent); Tucson, Arizona (up 18 percent); Louisville, Kentucky (up 17 percent); Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 14 percent); and Nashville, Tennessee (up 14 percent).

Other metro areas with a more than 10 percent increase in purchase loan originations from a year ago were Washington, D.C. (up 13 percent); Cleveland, Ohio (up 13 percent); Atlanta, Georgia (up 12 percent); Indianapolis, Indiana (up 12 percent); Kansas City (up 11 percent); St. Louis (up 11 percent); and Chicago (up 11 percent).

Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Salt Lake City with biggest refi decrease

Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year percentage decrease in refinance originations were Cincinnati, Ohio (down 35 percent); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (down 32 percent); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (down 32 percent); Raleigh, North Carolina (down 31 percent); and Salt Lake City, Utah (down 29 percent).

Other metro areas with a 25 percent or bigger decrease in refinance originations from a year ago were Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California (down 28 percent); St. Louis (down 28 percent); Sacramento, California (down 28 percent); Tucson, Arizona (down 27 percent); Louisville, Kentucky (down 26 percent); Chicago, Illinois (down 26 percent); Richmond, Virginia (down 26 percent); San Diego, California (down 25 percent); and Honolulu (down 25 percent).

Loan origination dollar volume up 5 percent as HELOC dollar volume jumps 45 percent

Although the number of originations decreased from a year ago, the estimated total dollar volume of originations increased thanks to higher average loan amounts. There was an estimated $444 billion ($444,560,103,469) in total loan origination dollar volume in Q1 2016, up 5 percent from the previous quarter and up 5 percent from a year ago — the fifth consecutive quarter with a year-over-year increase in loan origination dollar volume.

The total dollar amount of purchase loans originated in the first quarter was an estimated $146 billion ($145,693,394,297), down 11 percent from the previous quarter but up 8 percent from a year ago. The total dollar amount of refinance loans originated in the first quarter was an estimated $204 billion ($203,593,423,522), up 8 percent from the previous quarter but down 9 percent from a year ago. The total dollar amount of HELOCs originated in the first quarter was an estimated $95 billion ($95,273,285,650), up 34 percent from the previous quarter and up 45 percent from a year ago.

FHA loan share increases annually for fifth consecutive quarter

Among all purchase and refinance loans, 17.5 percent were FHA loans, 8.3 percent were VA loans, 0.8 percent were construction loans, and the remaining 73.4 percent were other loan types, including conventional.

FHA loans as a share of all loan originations increased 7 percent from a year ago while the VA loan share were up 5 percent and construction loans were up 19 percent. The FHA loan share has increased for five consecutive quarters, and in 10 of the 11 last quarters.

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New Real Estate Index Emerges

RealtyTrac released its first-ever Registered Criminal Offender Risk Index, which shows that average home values and home equity were lower — while average foreclosure rates were higher — in zip codes with a higher offender index than in zip codes with a lower offender index.

The report also shows that average home price appreciation has been slightly stronger over the past year and five years in zip codes with a higher offender index than in zip codes with a lower offender index, but only zip codes with an offender index in the bottom 20th percentile have seen home prices rebound above levels from 10 years ago.

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“This new index provides concrete evidence that registered criminal offenders pose not only a potential safety risk for homeowners and their families, but also a potential financial risk for what is likely a homeowner’s biggest asset,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “This is clearly evident in the significantly lower home values and significantly higher foreclosure rates in zip codes with a higher offender index, but it may not be as evident in the home price appreciation numbers, which are actually slightly stronger over the past year and five years in zip codes with a higher offender index. However, the 10-year appreciation numbers demonstrate home values in the lowest-risk zip codes for offenders were not hit as hard during the housing downturn and have rebounded more quickly back to their previous highs – even exceeding those previous highs.”

The index is based on the number of registered criminal offenders (including sex offenders, child predators, kidnappers and violent offenders) as a percentage of total population in 10,358 U.S. zip codes. The offender data is collected from each state’s criminal offender registry online and is available on RealtyTrac subsidiary www.homedisclosure.com, where offenders living within a half-mile radius of a home can be identified.

The index ranges from 0 to 100, with a higher index indicating a higher percentage of offenders. Zip codes were placed in one of five risk categories — each representing 20 percent of all zip codes: Very High, High, Medium, Low and Very Low. Publicly recorded real estate data collected by RealtyTrac was also included for each zip code to analyze information about home values, homeowner equity, home price appreciation and foreclosure rates in each zip code.

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Home Price Gains Set Records

RealtyTrac released its March and Q1 2016 U.S. Home Sales report, which shows that U.S. home sellers in March on average sold for $30,500 more than they purchases for, a 17 percent average gain in price — the highest average price gain for home sellers in any month since December 2007 at the onset of the Great Recession.

The RealtyTrac Home Sales report is based on publicly recorded sales deeds collected and licensed by RealtyTrac in more than 900 counties nationwide accounting for more than 80 percent of the U.S. population.

Among 125 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 300 sales in March, home sellers realized the biggest average gains compared to purchase price in San Francisco (72 percent average gain); San Jose, California (60 percent); Boulder, Colorado (53 percent); Prescott, Arizona (51 percent); and Los Angeles (48 percent).

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“Home sellers in many markets are now seeing average price gains close to or above what home sellers experienced during the last housing boom,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “That should encourage more homeowners to take advantage of the prime seller’s market and list their homes for sale this year. Banks are already taking advantage of that market as evidenced by the uptick in the distressed sales share over the last two quarters.

“Given that bank-owned homes are selling at a median price that is 40 percent below the overall median sales price nationwide, the uptick in distressed sales combined with affordability constraints are contributing to faltering home price appreciation in some markets — most notably the bellwether markets of Washington, D.C. and San Francisco” Blomquist added.

Other markets with average seller gains more than twice the national average in March were Denver (42 percent); Portland (40 percent); Austin, Texas (40 percent); Seattle (38 percent); Baltimore (38 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino, California (37 percent); San Diego (36 percent); and Sacramento (35 percent).

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“Over the past year Seattle-area home prices have risen 11 percent to $360,000,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “While we’re not quite to our 2007 peak, this does officially push us into the top 10 highest median home prices in the country — a list traditionally dominated by Californian markets. Despite the pace at which home prices have been rising in Seattle, I’m not concerned about a bubble. Mortgage rates remain very favorable, and our region’s high performing economy continues to boost the local housing market.”

Sellers sold for less than purchase price in 15 percent of markets

There were still 19 markets (15 percent) where home sellers in March on average sold for less than what they purchased for, led by Rockford, Illinois (11 percent average loss compared to purchase price); Winston-Salem, North Carolina (10 percent average loss); Cleveland, Ohio (8 percent average loss); Columbia, South Carolina (7 percent average loss); and Wilmington, North Carolina (5 percent average loss).

Other markets with average seller losses in March included Memphis (4 percent average loss); Milwaukee (4 percent average loss); Chicago (3 percent average loss); Cincinnati (3 percent average loss); Birmingham, Alabama (2 percent average loss); and Flint, Michigan (1 percent average loss).

Home sellers who sold in March on average had owned for 7.67 years, up 4 percent from an average of 7.37 years for home sellers who sold in March 2015.

36 percent of markets reached all-time price peaks in last 15 months

The median sales price of single family homes and condos in March was $210,000, up 9 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from a year ago. March was the 49th consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in the U.S. median home price, which is still 8 percent below its previous peak of $228,000 in July 2005.

Among metro areas analyzed in the report, 36 percent have reached new all-time home price peaks since January 2015, including seven markets that reached new price peaks in March 2016: Boulder, Colorado; Denver; Portland; Fort Collins, Colorado; Austin, Texas; Greeley, Colorado; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

“With low available listing inventories, coupled with investors continuing to realize higher rental returns, many are anticipating continued sales price increases through the remainder of the year,” said Michael Mahon, president atHER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus markets in Ohio. “Due to this high demand, many home buyers are finding themselves in multiple-offer situations, and often times paying higher than list price.”

17 percent of markets posted year-over-year decline in home prices

Counter to the national trend, 17 percent of markets analyzed posted a year-over-year decrease in median home sales price in March, including Washington, D.C. (down 7 percent); San Francisco (down 2 percent following 47 consecutive months of increases); Baltimore, Maryland (down 6 percent); Pittsburgh (down 4 percent following 21 consecutive months of increases); Virginia Beach (down 2 percent); Birmingham, Alabama (down 5 percent); and Tulsa, Oklahoma (down 1 percent).

Markets with the biggest annual increase in median home price were Philadelphia (up 29 percent); Rockford, Illinois (up 22 percent); Jacksonville, Florida (up 22 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (up 19 percent); and Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida (up 18 percent).

Distressed sales up quarterly for second consecutive quarter, still down from year ago

Distressed sales, including bank-owned sales, in-foreclosure sales and short sales, accounted for 18.2 percent of all single family and condo sales in the first quarter, up from 17.2 percent in the previous quarter — the second consecutive quarter with an increase — but still down from 20.8 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The distressed sales share peaked nationwide at 44.0 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Among 110 metro areas with at least 1,000 single family and condo sales in the first quarter, those with the highest share of distressed sales were Chicago, Illinois (31.0 percent); Flint, Michigan (29.9 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (28.8 percent); Tallahassee, Florida (28.1 percent); and Jacksonville, Florida (27.6 percent).

Metros with the biggest year-over-year increase in share of distressed sales were Little Rock, Arkansas (up 45 percent); Buffalo, New York (up 30 percent); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (up 16 percent), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (up 14 percent); and Greeley, Colorado (up 12 percent).

Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, three reported a year-over-year increase in the share of distressed sales: New York (up 3 percent); Washington, D.C. (up 4 percent); and Boston (up 5 percent).

Bank-owned price discount increases in March

The median sales price of a bank-owned (REO) home nationwide in March was $125,000, 40 percent below the median sales price of all homes — up from a 39 percent discount in both the previous month and a year ago.

Markets with the biggest bank-owned price discount were Canton, Ohio (83 percent), Dayton, Ohio (68 percent), Little Rock, Arkansas (66 percent), Birmingham, Alabama (64 percent), and Akron, Ohio (63 percent).

Other markets with a bank-owned price discount of more than 50 percent in March included Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (61 percent discount), Cleveland, Ohio (57 percent discount), Columbus, Ohio (57 percent), Baltimore, Maryland (53 percent), and New York (53 percent).

Bank-owned homes nationwide in March sold for a median price of $81 per square foot, 34 percent below the median $123 per square foot for all homes. That was up from a price-per-square foot REO discount of 33 percent in both the previous month and a year ago.

All-cash buyer share decreases annually for 12th consecutive quarter

All-cash sales represented 31.8 percent of all U.S. single family and condo sales in the first quarter, down from 32.8 percent in the previous quarter and down from 35.4 percent a year ago — the 12th consecutive quarter with an annual decrease.

Among 110 metro areas with at least 1,000 single family and condo sales in the first quarter, those with the top five highest share of all-cash buyers were all in Florida: Naples, (57.1 percent); Miami (53.9 percent); North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton (53.4 percent); Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (52.7 percent); and Ocala (51.6 percent).

Metro areas outside of Florida with an above-average share of cash sales in the first quarter included Flint, Michigan (48.4 percent); Knoxville, Tennessee (46.2 percent); Detroit (45.2 percent); Birmingham, Alabama (45.2 percent); Memphis (44.7 percent); Raleigh, North Carolina (41.6 percent); Tulsa, Oklahoma (40.6 percent); and New York (39.6 percent).

FHA buyer share increases annually for seventh consecutive quarter

Buyers using loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)  — typically first-time buyers or boomerang buyers with a low down payment — accounted for 15.2 percent of all single family and condo sales in the first quarter, up from 14.8 percent in the previous quarter and up from 13.5 percent a year ago.

Among 110 metro areas with at least 1,000 single family and condo sales in the first quarter, those with the highest share of FHA buyers were Provo, Utah (13.8 percent); Ogden, Utah (12.4 percent); Salt Lake City (12.3 percent); Greeley, Colorado (11.9 percent); and Boise, Idaho (11.9 percent).

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Q1 Foreclosure Rate Falls To Pre-Recession Levels

RealtyTrac released its Q1 and March 2016 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows first quarter foreclosure activity was below pre-recession levels in 78 out of 216 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (36 percent) analyzed in the report.

Nationwide, the report shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 289,116 U.S. properties in the first quarter of 2016, down 4 percent from the previous quarter and down 8 percent from the first quarter of 2015 to the lowest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2006, a more than nine-year low.

Historical U.S. foreclosure activity by quarter.

“Despite a seasonal bump higher in March, foreclosure activity in most markets continues to trend lower and back toward more healthy, stable levels,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “More than one-third of the 216 local markets we analyzed were below their pre-recession foreclosure activity averages in the first quarter, and we would expect a growing number of markets to move below that milestone the rest of this year — while the number of markets with a lingering low-grade fever of foreclosure activity continues to shrink.”

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Markets below pre-recession levels in Q1 2016

Nationwide, the 289,116 properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter was still 4 percent higher than the pre-recession quarterly average of 278,912 properties with foreclosure filings from Q1 2006 through Q3 2007.

Among 216 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, a total of 78 (36 percent) posted Q1 2016 foreclosure activity below pre-recession average levels, including Los Angeles (27 percent below pre-recession average); Dallas (65 percent below pre-recession average); Houston (64 percent below pre-recession average); Miami (19 percent below pre-recession average); and Atlanta (57 percent below pre-recession average).

Interactive heat map of which markets were below and above pre-recession levels in Q1 2016.

Markets above pre-recession levels in Q1 2016

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There were still 138 of the 216 major metro areas (64 percent) with Q1 2016 foreclosure activity above pre-recession average levels, including New York (80 percent above pre-recession average); Chicago (17 percent above pre-recession average); Philadelphia (97 percent above pre-recession average); Washington, D.C. metro (134 percent above pre-recession average); and Boston (46 percent above pre-recession average).

97 percent of markets below peak foreclosure activity levels in Q1 2016

Nationwide the 289,116 properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter of 2016 was 69 percent below the quarterly peak of 937,840 properties with foreclosure filings in the second quarter of 2009.

Among the 216 major metro areas analyzed for the report, 210 (97 percent) were below peak foreclosure activity levels in the first quarter of 2016. Markets furthest below the previous peak were Merced, California (95 percent below peak), followed by six markets all with Q1 2016 foreclosure activity 93 percent below peak levels: Boulder, Colorado; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida; Stockton, California; Denver, Colorado; and Phoenix, Arizona.

“The Seattle housing market has benefitted from a robust economy, which when combined with the growth of home prices, has led to a slowdown in foreclosure activity,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market, where Q1 2016 foreclosure activity was down 14 percent year-over-year and down 74 percent from the peak in Q3 2010. “Given the stringent process to qualify for a mortgage, as well as the greater down payment requirements, there is very little risk of an increase in foreclosure activity in the near term.”

3 percent of markets reach new foreclosure activity peak in Q1 2016

Among the 216 metro areas analyzed for the report, six (3 percent) reached new foreclosure activity peak levels in the first quarter of 2016: Syracuse, New York; Kingsport, Tennessee; Utica-Rome, New York; Binghamton, New York; College Station, Texas; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada post highest state foreclosure rates in Q1 2016

One in every 459 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing in the first quarter of 2016. States with the top five highest foreclosure rates were Maryland (one in every 194 housing units with a foreclosure filing); New Jersey (one in every 216 housing units); Nevada (one in every 236 housing units); Delaware (one in every 240 housing units); and Florida (one in every 274 housing units.

Other states posting top 10 foreclosure rates in the first quarter of 2016 were Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

Atlantic City, Trenton, Baltimore post highest metro foreclosure rates in Q1 2016

Among the 216 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the five highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter of 2016 were Atlantic City, New Jersey (one in every 106 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Trenton, New Jersey (one in every 168 housing units); Baltimore, Maryland (one in every 183 housing units); Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida (one in every 196 housing units); and Rockford, Illinois (one in every 211 housing units).

Other metro areas posting top 10 foreclosure rates in the first quarter of 2016 were Las Vegas, Tampa, Fayetteville, North Carolina, Philadelphia, and Jacksonville, Florida.

48 percent of markets post annual increase in foreclosure activity in Q1 2016

Despite the nationwide decrease in foreclosure activity in the first quarter, 103 of the 216 metro areas analyzed in the report (48 percent) posted a year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity. Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, those with the biggest annual increase in foreclosure activity were Boston (up 49 percent); Philadelphia (up 18 percent); Phoenix (up 10 percent); Baltimore (up 9 percent); and New York (up 7 percent).

March foreclosure activity up month-over-month, still down from year ago

There were a total of 108,970 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in March, an 11 percent increase from February to the highest monthly level since October 2015 — but still down 11 percent from a year ago.

March foreclosure starts increase from a year ago in 20 states

The monthly increase in March was driven by a jump in pre-foreclosure notices: foreclosure starts and scheduled foreclosure auctions. Foreclosure starts — the first public notice starting the foreclosure process — increased 21 percent from the previous month but were still down 11 percent from a year ago.

March foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 20 states, including Connecticut (up 169 percent), Arizona (up 125 percent), Delaware (up 78 percent), Iowa (up 64 percent), and Massachusetts (up 51 percent).

“While overall foreclosures closed across Ohio remain on the decline, showing positive housing and job growth in the state, there was a modest increase in foreclosure starts during first quarter of 2016 that could likely relate to many homeowners not recognizing the increased value and appreciation they have earned in many communities across Ohio,” said Michael Mahon, president at HER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus markets in Ohio, where foreclosure starts increased 18 percent year-over-year statewide in March. “If a homeowner finds themselves falling behind in mortgage payments due to health, divorce, or job loss, consulting a Realtor should be their first discussion in learning options available to assist them in potentially avoiding a foreclosure action.”

Historical U.S. foreclosure starts by month.

March scheduled foreclosure auctions increase from a year ago in 23 states

Scheduled foreclosure auctions — which in some states act as the foreclosure start — increased 25 percent month-over-month nationwide, but were still down 15 percent from a year ago. Scheduled foreclosure auctions increased 18 percent month-over-month in non-judicial foreclosure states and increased 17 percent in judicial states.

March scheduled foreclosure auctions increased from a year ago in 23 states, including Massachusetts (up 211 percent), New York (up 92 percent), Pennsylvania (up 49 percent), Maryland (up 43 percent), and South Carolina (up 37 percent).

“Over the last 10 years, U.S. foreclosure activity on average has increased 6 percent from February to March, and the 11 percent increase this year was not far off that typical seasonal bump,” noted Blomquist. “February is of course a shorter month, and banks often ramp up foreclosure filings in March to take advantage of the spring selling season — which should prove particularly favorable to banks this year given low inventory levels of homes for sale and continued strong demand from buyers regaining confidence in the housing market.

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Home Price Stats See All-Time Highs

RealtyTrac released its October 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report, which shows that among 94 major metro areas analyzed for the report, 33 markets (35 percent) have now reached new all-time home price peaks in 2015.

The report also shows that the median sales price of U.S. single family homes and condos in October was$207,500, up 1 percent from the previous month and up 10 percent from a year ago — the highest year-over-year percentage increase since February 2014.

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The 10 percent increase in October 2015 came following 20 consecutive months of single-digit annual increases in median home sales prices and marked the 44th consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in median home prices. Despite nearly four years of increases, the U.S. median sales price in October was still 9 percent below the previous peak of $228,000 in July 2005.

“Home price appreciation did not go into hibernation in October even as the housing market entered the typically slower fall season,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “More than one-third of the nation’s major housing markets have now reached new home price peaks this year, and nearly 90 percent of markets posted an annual increase in home prices in October. Home sellers are sitting pretty in this market, realizing an average profit-since-purchase of 16 percent — the highest in any month since December 2007, on the cusp of the Great Recession.”

Metro areas that have reached new home price peaks in 2015 include Detroit, which hit a new peak in October with a median sales price of $155,000. Other metros that reached a new price peak in 2015 include Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Denver, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Portland, San Antonio and Columbus, Ohio.

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“While increases in pending sales indicate continued strong demand for housing into 2016, coupled with healthy increases in available housing inventory across the state, there remains concern over a decrease in overall closed volume for the fourth quarter of 2015,” said Michael Mahon, president at HER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus markets in Ohio. “This concern squarely rests on continued delays in the housing transaction cycle involving new government regulatory procedures of TRID (the new integrated loan disclosure forms required at closing). Prior to October 2015, housing transactions were normally trending in the neighborhood of 30 to 45 days to close, but new TRID regulations have pushed current housing transaction to 45 to 70 days to close. These delays are pushing October pending transactions to closings in late November, December, if not January in some instances.”

There were a total of 2,815,704 single family homes and condos sold in the first 10 months of 2015, according to public record sales deeds collected by RealtyTrac. That was a nine-year high for the first 10 months of the year and a 6 percent jump from the same time period in 2014, when there were a total of 2,667,436 single family and condos sold in the first 10 months of the year.

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