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Should I Stay Or Should I Go ?

Posted on | October 14, 2010 | No Comments

“Should I stay or should I go”, classic lyrics from the band The Clash are currently what many people are singing to themselves.  Or perhaps you are asking yourself “Should I rent a home or buy a home?”  or “Should I rent instead of paying on my current mortgage?”.  You are NOT alone.  The “home ownership” picture has severely changed over the past three years and continues to change even more. The percentage of households currently headed by actual homeowners, which soared to a record 69.1 percent in 2005, fell to 67.8 percent this year, the sharpest decline in 20 years, according to census data through the end of March.  Driven largely by the surge in foreclosures and an unsettled housing market, Americans are renting apartments and houses at the highest level since President Bush started a campaign to expand home ownership in 2002. The percentage of households headed by renters increased to 32.2 percent, from 30.9 percent.

“We have seen a 95% occupancy rate in 2010 which is up by 15% from 2009”, reports White Collar Rentals (www.WhiteCollarRentals.com), a North East Florida provider of furnished and non-furnished rental housing headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.  They further report that the demand for single family homes for rentals overpowers the requests for apartments in multi-family units.  David Crowe, National Association of Home Builder’s Chief Economist remarked that “as the supply of additional units declines and pent-up household formations re-emerge when the labor markets improve, demand for traditional rental apartments and single family homes will rise. Furthermore, it is reported that the supply of new units will not arrive in time to meet the emerging demand and some shortages will occur in some markets.”

Unemployment across the nation is still affecting millions which is a leading factor in both the “renting vs. owning”
decisions as well as in the latest renting vs. “getting rid of my mortgage decisions”. The number of unemployed persons, at 14.8 million, was essentially unchanged in September, and the unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent. The first week of September saw a fall in initial jobless claims — down 27,000, the lowest level in quite some time. And experts are seeing signs of sustainable growth, even with the rate of unemployment still around 9 percent. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over), at 6.1 million, was little changed over the month but was down by 640,000 since a series high of 6.8 million in May. In September, 41.7 percent of unemployed persons had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

All of this translates into Foreclosures which are still overwhelming many markets, rising 4 percent in August. RealtyTrac® (www.realtytrac.com), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties CEO, James Saccacio reports that “the trend lines of decreasing default notices and increasing bank repossessions converged in August, with virtually the same number of new default notices and bank repossessions for the month — a clear indication that the clogged foreclosure pipeline is being carefully managed on both ends by lenders and servicers.”  But the latest disclosure in the news has to do with actual legality involved in many of the  foreclousures that have been taking place over the past two years.  Some analysts are concerned that huge pools of mortgages that are bought and sold like stocks might be defective. Court documents show that in many cases the paperwork transferring legal ownership over those loans to the pools was lost, ignored or even forged. Four lenders — JPMorgan Chase, GMAC Mortgage, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — are under the spotlight for supposed document flaws. News reports have said that the flawed foreclosure cases are in 23 states where courts oversee foreclosure. (In many states, no courts are involved and the lenders are able to repossess a home with a mortgage that’s in default without going to court.)

RealtyTrac® today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for Q3 2009, which shows that foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 937,840 properties in the third quarter, a 5 percent increase from the previous quarter and an increase of nearly 23 percent from Q3 2008. One in every 136 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the quarter — the highest quarterly foreclosure rate since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in the first quarter of 2005. “Bank repossessions, or REOs, jumped 21 percent from the second quarter to the third quarter, corresponding to jumps in defaults and scheduled auctions in the previous two quarters,” said James J. Saccacio.  The current and latest news is that, at least in some states, foreclosures are being put on hold while lenders and title companies decide if their court actions were conducted properly.  This could mean people facing foreclosure may be able to stay in their homes payment-free for a while longer while lenders figure out where things stand.

We are in strange times.  Mortgage rates are at record lows, and in most cities, home prices have plummeted. But on the other hand as outlined above, home foreclosures continue to rise, and the economy remains weak.  A growing number of Americans or certainly a new class of renters, can in many cases afford to buy a home but are renting by choice, says Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator at Trulia.com. In August, 72% of people said they feel that home ownership is part of their American dream, down from 77% in January, according to a survey by Trulia.com. One out of four renters said they never plan to own a home.

So everyone, sing along nice and loud, “Should I stay or should I go”.

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