Housing Rebound Signaled as Banks Resume Foreclosures: Mortgages

The housing market’s rebound has been restrained by the so-called shadow inventory of homes with mortgages at least 90 days delinquent, in foreclosure or already owned by banks, while foreclosures had been stalled since late 2010, when state attorneys general and federal regulators began investigating abuse by banks, including lost or doctored paperwork. They started to pick up again after the nation’s five biggest banks settled the probe for $25 billion in February of this year. Per Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac, “The market has to deal with these distressed properties at some point and I believe we’ve delayed it long enough so seeing these increases isn’t necessarily a bad thing, The market has strengthened and is more equipped to absorb this additional foreclosure inventory.” Mortgage delinquencies are dropping, with the share of home loans at least 30 days late dropping to 7.4 percent in the first quarter from 7.58 percent in the prior three months, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Demand for real estate is rising amid record-low borrowing costs and tight inventories of available real estate. Contracts to buy previously owned homes rose 5.9 percent in May, matching a two-year high reached in March, the National Association of Realtors said. Read the entire Business Week article here.

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Signs of a Housing Recovery

The housing market was the first casualty in the financial crisis, and it’s been one of the last to recover.  According to this article in the Washington Post, there are a few signs that things may finally be starting to look up as home sales and housing prices have been creeping upward.

There’s been a consistent rise in the price of distressed homes since the end of 2011 which lends additional support to overall housing prices.  In addition, housing sales have also been recovering as pending homes sales have risen in all four regions of the country, with the western region leading the country with a 14+% increase in pending home sales.  Trulia’s Jed Kolko predicts that housing prices won’t fully recover until late 2015 and the article does mention that there are a lot of false bottoms in the market, so it maybe it’s too early to say we are officially on the upswing. But the trends mentioned above are all good signs pointing in the right direction.

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Mixed Messages on the Housing Market

In recent a MSNCB article , Bill Briggs brought together a number of different viewpoints to illustrate how varied the perceptions are on the state of the real estate market.  The Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller composite index has shown a 0.7 % national bump from March to April.  This slight increase was led by big increases in formally slumping markets like Miami, Tampa, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The reasons for the gains in some areas and declines in others have been pointed to various players in the real estate market.  From lenders holding back inventory to drive up prices to appraisers driving down house values, everyone has a theory on what is happening in the market.  When you throw in the uncertainty of how the futures of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Authority will play out, there seems to be more questions than answers.

Mr. Briggs article is another great reminder than the real estate market is a complex one and where you are buying or selling will have a major impact on how you view the health of the real estate market.


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Dwellworks Cross-Cultural Education for Destination Services Consultants

Dwellworks offered Cross Cultural Education courses to its network of 600+ Destination Services Consultants (DSCs). These education sessions were created in partnership with the Interchange Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the understanding and support of people and organizations in intercultural transition. The courses consisted of three one-hour modules on easily accessible, company-created online webinars. Program topics included the personal side of international relocations, the roots of current social issues and values, and cross-cultural dimensions around the world. In total, 328 DSC’s and Dwellworks associates received some level of cross cultural education from these sessions.

The first group of sessions was completed in late 2011. After much positive feedback from participating DSCs, a second session was recently added and implemented. Kelly Dorsch, Director, Supplier Network at Dwellworks said that “our team received very positive feedback from the participating DSCs. One found the sessions thought-provoking because she was encouraged to think about differences that even the most experienced consultants might take for granted. Many others also said that they look forward to incorporating this training into experiences with future clients.”

“We were excited to offer three distinct, engaging modules for our DSCs,” says Andrew Horvath, Vice President of Destination Services Operations at Dwellworks. “We feel these sessions have equipped them with the knowledge to provide culturally sensitive, high-quality services to transferees moving all over the country.”

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Preparing for the Future: Dwellworks Summer Intern Class of 2012

Internship programs are a great way to grow and retain talent in our local communities.  Dwellworks started with one intern in 2009 and has since created a full-fledged program for college students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to a real-life work environment.  This spring, the program was voted in the top 5 for “Best New Internship Program” in Northeast Ohio at the Expys award, presented by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education and Cleveland Business Connect.  This year’s 21 member class is comprised of students from colleges and universities all over the United States with majors ranging from English to Accounting.

Dwellworks starts the recruiting process every year in January by posting on local job boards and attending career fairs at local universities looking for students that are not only bright and motivated but that will also mesh well with our culture.  In addition to their daily tasks and projects, the interns take part in a company-wide, structured, internship program designed to prepare them for the business world.  Each summer, the interns from all our offices are assigned a project, to work on together, that will make an impact in the company.  The project encourages interaction with off-site team members using the latest technology while completing meaningful work.  “We feel that our interns develop their skills in an encouraging workplace setting, and we are confident that they are well prepared for long, successful careers,” says Shana Zollar, Vice President of Human Resources.

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Dwellworks Voted a 2012 “Top Workplace” in Cleveland

Dwellworks was recognized as one of the 2012 “Top Workplaces” by The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. This award distinguishes 100 organizations as the best places to work in Northeast Ohio, based on feedback from employee surveys regarding work environment, management, and corporate culture. Dwellworks was voted 30th among small business in Cleveland in a special feature of the newspaper’s Sunday, June 17th issue.

“We are honored to be named one of the top workplaces in Northeast Ohio,” said Bob Rosing, President and CEO of Dwellworks. “Our company was built on the solid foundation of our five corporate values – integrity, teamwork, performance, innovation and fun.  It’s great to work with a team that not only upholds these values but lives by them each day. Receiving this award reassures us that we are fulfilling our goals and creating a positive work environment for our associates.”

Dwellworks was chosen out of a pool of 237 Northeast Ohio organizations. The newspaper article can be read in its entirety here.

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Distressed Homeowners to Renters

We have all heard the phase “rent to own”,  but in the real estate market we are hearing about increases in number of homeowners converting back into renters.  In their recent Los Angeles Times article, E. Scott Reckard and Alejandro Lazo detail a recent mortgage-to-lease program that Bank of America is testing on a limited scale.  In this program, distressed homeowners who have tried every avenue to avoid foreclosure without success are being thrown one last lifeline to stay in their homes: as renters.  In turn, Bank of America would sell the homes to investors.

In theory this is a win-win-win situation as the bank avoids the added costs of evicting the homeowner, the homeowner gets to maintain some sense of order as they avoid moving out, and communities get to avoid vacant properties and all of the issues that go along with them.  While Bank of America’s program is very limited in scope at this point, it does demonstrate that lenders are continuing to explore options other than eviction.

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Know Your Rights as a Renter

Let’s face it: the housing market has been in a serious slump over the past few years, and consequently people are afraid to move. Fortunately, the past few seasons have seen optimistic housing trends in America. There’s more confidence in buying goods and vacationing, and the unemployment rate is steadily decreasing!

At this time, renting seems like a good option for people who were too scared to buy or sell before. But even though the market outlook is more positive, those in the pool of perspective home renters still need to do their homework so they can find just the right place for the right price. The article “Renting? Know Your Rights” highlights actions to take and things to keep in mind while searching for a rental property, such as working with a landlord. The first course of action would be to inspect the property for damages (so you will not be cited once you leave), then come to understand a renter’s rights to privacy, etc. To read the rest of these vital tips, click here.

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US Housing Starts are Rising

The Commerce Department stated the seasonally adjusted number of new housing starts (717,000) in April was up 2.6% over March’s number.  New housing starts are still lagging but the increase along with rising builder confidence is a hopeful sign that the home market may be starting to recover nearly 5 years after the housing bubble burst.

For full article, please click here.

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National Foreclosure Activity Down

 RealtyTrac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report  for April 2012 and the overall results were positive. Foreclosure filings in April were the lowest monthly total since July 2007. The 188,780 properties represented a 5%decrease from March and a 14% decrease from April 2011. While the overall results are positive, Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, noted that these results do not mean all markets are improving. He stated “rising foreclosure activity in many states and local markets in April are masked at the national level by sizable decreases in hard-hit foreclosure states like California, Arizona and Nevada”. The study found that 11 of the largest 20 metro areas in the U.S. saw annual increases in foreclosure activity. Tampa led the way with a 59% increase and Miami, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta all saw over 20% increases over the past year.

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