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Bank of America is offering some struggling homeowners payments of up to $30,000 if they sell their homes in a short sale and avoid ending up in foreclosure.
Under the plan, Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) will offer homeowners so-called relocation payments of between $2,500 and $30,000 if they sell their home in a short sale. In short sale deals, the sale price of the home is less than what the seller owes the bank.
The bank first tested the payments in a pilot program in Florida last fall. Under that initiative, Bank of America paid up to $20,000 to borrowers who sold their homes in short sales.
“This program can help customers make a planned transition from ownership when home retention options have been exhausted or they have made a decision not to keep the home,” said Bob Hora, an executive for the bank.
Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) started a similar initiative in late 2010 that pays as much as $35,000 to short sellers. Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) has also paid five-figure incentives to short sellers or to owners who turned over their deeds to the bank.
BofA said it has completed 200,000 short sales over the past two years. These sales are generally more cost effective for banks than foreclosures. By avoiding foreclosure, the lenders get distressed properties back from delinquent borrowers more quickly, which helps them to avoid property tax payments, maintenance expenses and legal fees that can build up for months, even years, as foreclosures work through the system.
Salt Lake City and Provo have been added to the Improving Housing Markets (IHM) list maintained by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Since December the list has added 57 metro areas around the U.S., signaling at least a stabilization, if not a recovery, of the housing market in America.
Building permits for the Salt Lake City metropolitan area have increased 2.3% since it’s lowest point in March 2009, home prices are up 0.4% from it’s lowest point in March 2011 and employment is up 3.6% since February 2010.
Building Permits for the Provo metropolitan area are up 2.7% from it’s low in February 2009, home prices are up 1.1% since March 2011 and employment is up 4.6% since December 2009.
The Improving Housing Markets list identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvements in employment, housing permits and home prices for at least six consecutive months. To measure market performance, the National Association of Builders gathers information from Freddie Mac, U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to Campbell Surveys, 47 percent of all home sales currently are on distressed properties. A distressed property is one that is either in the foreclosure process or has been foreclosed on. Homeowners executing a pre-foreclosure sale and banks prefer the quick cash of an investor to waiting 30 to 45 days (or longer if the borrower applied for a loan through a bank) for a buyer using financing to buy the home. Investors bought 23% of all homes sold in the past year, 3 out of 4 of them paying cash. This is causing downward pressure on home prices since investors with cash are typically paying 10 to 20 percent less than someone who would by the house as a primary residence, and cash-in-hand right now speaks loud to someone facing foreclosure.
Is this a concern? I think it is right now, but, those homes being bought by investors now will be resold at or near market price, usually within 6 months of being bought by the investor. So the market will correct itself, it will just take a bit longer. And being full-value sales home values may increase faster than we think.
If this shows anything, it’s if you are looking to take advantage of a foreclosed home, or one in foreclosure or being sold as a short-sale, have your ducks in a row and have your financing in place before you place an offer. If everything except the appraisal and title work has been done a purchase loan can usually be closed in 14 days or less.