Nationwide January Home sales dropped 9.2 per cent

Nationwide January Home sales dropped 9.2 per cent

Americans stepped back from buying new homes in January, as purchases plunged sharply in western states where prices are typically higher. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new home sales fell 9.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 494,000. Most of the decline stemmed for a 32.1 drop in sales in the West. Sales also slipped in the Midwest, while edging up in the Northeast and South.New Construction Loans in MN, Wi, SD

There was a sharp fall in sales of newly-built single-family homes in January. The 9.2 per cent drop took sales to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 494,000 units according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The National Association of Home Builders says that the dip follows a stronger-than-usual December and the underlying trend is positive that after an unusually high December reading, some pullback is to be expected.

The inventory of new homes for sale rose to 238,000 in January, which is a 5.8-month supply at the current sales pace and the highest level since October

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Side note: I always chuckle at these monthly reports.  They really have little meaning on a monthly basis.  The long-term trend is the more important view.

CFPB cracks down on builder kickbacks

Minneapolis, MN: Have you bought a new construction home and been “forced” or offered an incentive to use the builders lender and title company? It is a big problem that has been round for a long time, that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is finally getting around to look at.

Many builders offer “incentives” if you use their affiliated companies for mortgage and title senewconrvices. While this is technically legal – the promises they make, or how the incentives they offer are structured to consumers in order to close a deal and make a profit are generally not legal.

Builders can give you a discount or an incentive to a home buyer provided you don’t make it up anywhere else in the transaction.  But that is the issue. They are always making it up somewhere else. The incentives are rarely “real”.

One example of how this plays out is that when a new home buyer is looking around at other mortgage company or title company options, the builder says he will give you a $4,000 appliance allowance, or $4,000 off closing costs, and their rate today is 3.50% if you use their affiliated company. If you use someone else, they won’t give you the allowance or pay some of your closing costs. Pretty compelling reason to use them.

If you still want to use someone else, it can sometimes get pretty ugly. I’ve heard many customers talk about threats, and even the builder refusing to build the home at all if you use someone other providers.

Once you sign the contract, you are bound to use their affiliated companies.

When the time comes to actually lock the loan 3 to 4 months later, their rate is no longer competitive. I’ve seen the initial offer, which was equal to mind, now be as much as 1/2% higher. By providing the higher rate, they have easily paid for the incentive, and a whole lot more.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) last week required that a Texas homebuilder, Paul Taylor, deposit over $100,000 he received in kickbacks from his jointly owned mortgage company into the Treasury. The homebuilder is now banned from future real estate settlement services, including mortgage origination.

The settlement resolves violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), enforced by the CFPB, which prohibits giving and receiving kickbacks for services, and specifies detailed guidelines for affiliated companies.

Dishonest affiliated business arrangements and kickbacks harm consumers by hampering fair market competition and by unnecessarily increasing the costs of getting a mortgage. The CFPB said they will continue to take action against schemes designed to let service providers profit through unscrupulous and illegal business practices.

Builders beware… The CFPB has you on their radar.

Twin Cities home prices rise again

St Paul, MN: The most recent reports and data for the Minneapolis St Paul real estate market shows continuing signs of rebound with both increased home prices and increased building permits for new construction.

newconThe University of St Thomas’ monthly residential real estate price report index shows that the mediam sales price was up 6% over March of 2012, with the current average now 209,900.

Improvements to the housing market are attributed to an

New construction builders are also complaining about a lack of quality lots within the metro area that have current access to utilities. This forces builders to pay premium prices for prime lots, which of course increases the price of the new home.