News Column

Foreclosures down, home sales up slightly in June

July 21, 2014

By Ed Waters Jr., The Frederick News-Post, Md.

July 21--Foreclosures nationwide are at the lowest point for many areas since the housing bubble burst in August 2006.

But, as Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, stated in the monthly distressed property report, the housing industry isn't out of the woods yet. The foreclosure picture is brightening, but local markets still have concerning trends, Blomquist stated.

In Frederick County in June, foreclosures were down and home sales up, drawing optimistic comments from local housing professionals.

There were slight changes in the number of foreclosures and home sales from May to June in Frederick County, with foreclosures down by two to 109, and sales up two as well to 314.

Patrick McLister, a Frederick attorney whose firm works with consumers on short sales, said short sales and loan modifications are the key to avoiding foreclosure.

While sales are picking up, McLister said tighter borrowing trends make it difficult for first-time buyers. Many banks are requiring more money down for a mortgage and higher monthly payments.

As home prices begin to rebound, borrowers who were "underwater" (owed more than the value of the house) are less underwater, said Wayne Six, an appraiser and owner of Six and Associates. The number of foreclosures and short sales should slow down as homeowners see more equity in their properties, Six said.

Freddie Mac reported the rates for the week, released on Thursday, of 4.13 percent for a 30-year fixed loan and 3.23 percent for a 15-year fixed loan, both rates down slightly from the previous week.

Michael Kurtainyk, president of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, said he has seen increased buying activity this summer as families want to move into homes before the school year begins.

"We anticipate that this trend will continue through the Labor Day weekend," Kurtainyk said.

In the past few months, Realtors said homes in the $250,000 or less range were selling well. Comments from Realtors this month pushed the strong market to homes in the $400,000 to $500,000 range or less.

Maryland remains the second-highest state in foreclosure activity on RealtyTrac's report, which compares the number of distressed properties in a state with the total number of households.

Maryland's ranking is one distressed property out of every 107 homes, second only to Florida with one in every 74 homes. Maryland, with 4,114 foreclosures in June, was also second, to New Jersey, in the percentage of increase (18 percent in Maryland, 54 percent in New Jersey) from May to June.

There were 484 residential building permits approved from January through June for Frederick City and 284 for the county, according to John Lynn Shanton, owner of Strategic Marketing Group in Ijamsville, which tracks area real estate data.


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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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