Bo’s housing clips: “The ones that do have cars are talking about sleeping in their cars.”

The plight of mortgage holders appears to have improved somewhat as delinquency rates decline. The priorities of those who overspend their budgets have not changed, however, and auto and credit card payments are paid before mortgages. Meanwhile, home prices are up in cities hardest hit by the recession and discounts are vanishing as the market improves.

For a pdf version of the full stories, plus contextual articles in social, environmental and legal areas, contact Bo McCarver at

US homeowner late-payment rate on mortgages decline

By Alex Veiga       Associated Press      November 13, 2012

U.S. homeowners are doing a better job of keeping up with their mortgage payments, aided by an improving housing market and low interest rates that are making it easier to refinance.

The percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the third quarter to 5.41 percent, the lowest point in more than three years, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday.

The rate was down from 5.49 percent in the second quarter and was nearly 8 percent below the 5.88 percent rate in the third quarter last year, the company said.

The mortgage delinquency rate hasn’t been this low since the first quarter of 2009. Still, it remains well above the 1 percent to 2 percent average historical range, an indication that many homeowners still are struggling to make their payments.

Many homeowners changed the way they prioritize their financial obligations after the value of their homes plummeted with the housing crash. That has yet to change.

“People used to pay their mortgage first, and now they pay their auto and their credit cards before their mortgage,” said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing for TransUnion. “We think that’s probably still in place.”

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Home prices up in 81 U.S. cities

San Francisco Chronicle       November 7, 2012

Prices for single-family homes rose in 81 percent of U.S. cities as the property market extends a recovery from the worst crash since the 1930s, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

Values are climbing after a six-year slump as buyers compete for a shrinking supply of properties listed for sale. U.S. home prices jumped 5 percent in September from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month increase since July 2006, CoreLogic Inc., an Irvine real estate data provider, said this week.

The national median price for an existing single-family home was $186,100 in the third quarter, up 7.6 percent from the same period last year, the Realtors said. Foreclosures and short sales, in which the price is less than the mortgage balance, accounted for 23 percent of third-quarter deals, down from 30 percent a year earlier.

The best-performing metro area was Phoenix, where prices increased 35 percent from a year earlier. The Raleigh, N.C., area had the biggest decline, with the median selling price falling 16 percent in the quarter.

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Deep discounts on foreclosed homes disappearing

By Brady Dennis       Washington Post        November 12, 2012

News flash for anyone looking for a house on the cheap: Foreclosed homes probably aren’t the bargain you’re expecting, and certainly not the bargain they were several years ago.

Nationally, the average discount on a foreclosure in September was only about 8 percent below market value, according to an analysis by Zillow. That’s a significant change from the 24 percent average markdown in 2009, during the depths of the housing bust, and another signal that the country’s housing market is inching toward recovery.

“There’s no such thing as a fire sale on a foreclosure right now,” said Marc Joseph, a real estate agent in Fort Myers, Fla., who has carved a profitable niche in recent years selling foreclosures in the Sunshine State. “We’re getting back to that point where if something good hits the markets, we’re getting multiple offers again. That’s been happening the past six months.”

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Downtown apartment residents given 1 month to find new homes

Midland Reporter-News       November 8, 2012

Residents at an apartment complex in Midland have recently found themselves scrambling to put a new roof over their heads as the holiday season nears.

Tenants at Ocotillo Apartments received notices to vacate Tuesday after owners of the property made a deal to sell it to a large corporation in Midland, though representatives declined to say who the buyers were because a confidentiality agreement. The residents, who have been paying between $400 and $500 in rent per month for a one-bedroom apartment, have until Dec. 7 to find a new housing situation.

“Rent was cheap enough for people to pay for if they were on social security or disability,” said Timothy Stirle Sr., who has lived at the complex for five years and now also lives with his fiancee. “None of them have got a place to rent in Midland. The ones that do have cars are talking about sleeping in their cars.”

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Neighbors, environmental groups intend to sue Hartman

By Colin McDonald and John Tedesco     San Antonio Express-News      November 8, 2012

Gordon Hartman is back in the development business, and his latest project would turn a 527-acre ranch into a 1,493-house subdivision on the far Northeast Side is causing problems with the neighbors who claim he is violating the Endangered Species Act and threatening San Antonio’s water supply.

After attempts to meet with Hartman and city officials about the subdivision failed, the neighbors announced Thursday their intention to sue Hartman, the city, the San Antonio Water System and the Judson Independent School District in federal court for not doing their part to protect the land and the Edwards Aquifer.

Two advocacy groups, the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance and the Aquifer Guardians of Urban Areas, are allied with the neighbors.

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Property owners want to secede from district

HYPERLINK By Christopher Smith Gonzalez     Galveston County Daily News       November 13, 2012

LEAGUE CITY — Four more property owners are looking to secede from the city’s historic district only six months after a group of homeowners along the district’s northern edge were successful in their request.

Three homeowners and a business owner have turned in petitions to the city arguing they do not belong in the historical district and should be let out from under the authority of the Historical District Commission.

The commission oversees development in the district using the regulations outlined in the district’s preservation plan. Earlier this year, the city council allowed properties along Seventh Street and in the Township development to leave the district.

Tonight, the council will consider the two separate petitions. One petition was filed by two homeowners on Coryell Street and another on Iowa Avenue. A separate petition was filed by Mar Edelman, who owns a retail building at 603 Main St.

“I certainly see the reason for historic conservation,” Edelman said.

But Edelman’s building is not historic, he said. It was built in the 1980s, has no historic significance and is on the south side of Main Street, across from the bulk of the historic district, Edelman said.

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Housing advocates surprised, puzzled at rejection of bond proposal

By Andrea Ball and Marty Toohey        Austin American-Statesman       November 11, 2012

Devastating. Depressing. Shocking. Bizarre.

Austin’s homeless advocates had no shortage of reactions to voters’ rejection of a $78.3 million affordable housing bond proposal, which would have funded 3,500 additional apartments, condos and single-family homes for low-income and homeless people, through both construction dollars and rent subsidies.

The measure lost by a margin of 2 percentage points, with about 49 percent voting for it and 51 percent voting against. Of the 18 city bond proposals on the ballot, Proposition 15 was the only one voters shot down.

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