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Economic Summit 2012. Residential Real Estate in WASHINGTON COUNTY “ A Review and a Preview ” Presented by Vardell H Curtis, RCE Chief Executive Officer Washington County Board of REALTORS ®. Road Map to a Housing Rebound.

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economic summit 2012

Economic Summit 2012

Residential Real Estate in


“A Review and a Preview”

Presented by Vardell H Curtis, RCE

Chief Executive Officer

Washington County Board of REALTORS®

road map to a housing rebound
Road Map to a Housing Rebound

If you’re a homeowner these days – and almost two thirds of Americans are – the housing market generally doesn’t fall into the realm of pleasant dinner conversation. The once-booming industry has been bruised and bloodied from nearly every angle. Home prices have plunged 30% nationally over the past 5 years, millions of Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure, and millions more are on the brink with underwater mortgages. Still others are seriously delinquent on their home loans.

Still, the U.S. economy is resilient. The recovery has absorbed a debt-ceiling fiasco at home, a near financial meltdown in Europe, and political chaos in the Middle East. The job market is improving, consumers are spending more, and corporate balance sheets remain healthy, all of which are critical for the housing market to rebound.

US News – December 2011

road map to a housing rebound4
Road Map to a Housing Rebound

The situation in the housing market is tightly bound with what’s happening in the broader economy. A broader economic recovery is going to have to precede a recovery in housing. Really, job growth is so essential for housing demand. Particularly important is the unemployment rate among young Americans between 25 and 34 years old. These are the people forming households and buying their first homes. Due to the bad economy, more young Americans have been “doubling up,” moving in with friends or living at home to ride out lean times. That’s put the kibosh on demand which is part of the reason why there’s still so much housing inventory to work through.

US News – December 2011

utah s employment summary
Utah’s Employment Summary

Utah continues to be one of the nation’s leading employment growth states. Nearly all industrial sectors have added jobs over the past 12 months, and the employment rebound appears on firm footing as the economy moves into 2012. While nearly all industrial sectors are adding jobs, the lone exceptions are construction and government. Construction, an industry whose growth is important to help sustain overall long-term economic expansion, is trying to rebuild its employment foundation in Utah. It is moving forward in some regions while others are still sluggish. Construction employment is largely unchanged from last year and is an industry still waiting for a rebound to develop.

Department of Workforce Services – November 2011

utah seasonally adjusted unemployment rates
Utah Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

November October September November

2011 (p)2011 (r)2011 (r)2010 (r)

Washington 8.0 8.4 9.0 9.9

Iron 8.1 8.4 8.9 9.4

Cache 4.7 4.9 5.2 5.9

Garfield 11.5 11.9 12.8 10.1

State 6.4 7.0 7.4 7.6

United States 8.6 9.0 9.1 9.8

Department of Workforce Services – December 2011


New housing starts seem like they’re stabilizing. However, they remain well below peak levels. As that pent-up demand comes into play, we should see those housing starts start to slowly increase, and that should help boost our construction sector. We lost so many jobs in construction that any increases show up as relatively good growth. We even see in 2012 construction being the fastest-growing sector in employment at around 4 percent growth, but that’s just related to the fact we lost so many jobs there.

Utah Business Magazine – December 2011

builder confidence challenged
Builder Confidence Challenged

Builders know that many buyers have been sidelined by tightened lending standards. The uncertain economic climate and concerns about job security are discouraging many buyers from exploring a home purchase. While buying conditions are very favorable in terms of prices, interest rates and selection, consumers are worried about what the future will bring. Builders continue to confront the same major challenges they have seen over the past year, including competition from the large inventory of distressed homes on the market, inaccurate appraisal values, and issues with their buyers not being able to sell an existing home or qualify for favorable mortgage rates because of overly tight underwriting requirements.

Realty Times – August 2011

housing starts and building permits
Housing Starts and Building Permits

Most data the public sees is based on home prices, number of homes sold or foreclosures. Housing permits are a way to look ahead at what is likely to happen in the market. This indicator reports on both the number of housing units on which construction has begun, as well as the number of units for which permits have been issued. It’s generally regarded as a good indicator of future home sales and consumer spending in general. Permits typically are a good indicator of housing starts three to four months in the future. Financial Outlook – Winter 2011/2012

consumer confidence index
Consumer Confidence Index

This indicator is a summary of interviews with some 5,000 consumers nationwide on their feelings about their own financial condition, the strength of the economy, and their outlook for the next six months. Historically, changes in this index have tracked the leading edge of the business cycle well, as it indicates how willing consumers are to spend more and make big-ticket purchases (like a car or a home).

Financial Outlook – Winter 2011/2012

cci surges in december
CCI Surges in December

Americans are gaining faith that the economy is on the upswing. An improving job outlook helped the Consumer Confidence Index soar to the highest level since April and near a post-recession peak. The December surge builds on a big increase in November when the index rose almost 15 points. Economists watch confidence numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. According to the AP poll of economists, conducted December 14 through 20, the U.S. economy is expected to grow 2.4 percent in 2012. In 2011, it likely grew less than 2 percent.

The Spectrum / AP – December 2011

consumer confidence on the rise
Consumer Confidence on the Rise

In December, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased to 81.9 percent, a jump of 14.1 points compared to November 2011. The national Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) increased 9.3 points to 64.5. An index of 70 or below is indicative of slow economic growth.

Consumer confidence in stabilizing home prices increased this month as well. Seventy-three percent, compared to 69 percent in November, believe the price of homes in their community will remain unchanged during the next 12 months. Overall, consumer attitudes have taken a more positive direction.

Utah – December 2011

washington county
Washington County

Hit hard by the recession, Washington County’s meteoric population growth has moderated and the county’s construction industry has yet to make a comeback. Manufacturing was hit by the double whammy of construction-related losses, and then again by the national downturn. However, the county’s economy is in recovery – albeit a jobless recovery. Unemployment rates, while still above the state average, are moderating, initial unemployment claims are down and gross taxable sales are up slightly.

Department of Workforce Services – December 2011

10 housing markets poised for biggest price recovery
10 Housing Markets Poised for Biggest Price Recovery

The blog 24/7 Wall St. has identified the ten metropolitan areas where home prices are projected to increase the most from the second quarter of 2011 to the second quarter of 2012. Six of these ten metropolitan areas are among the top 50 areas that experienced the worst housing declines from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2011. The housing markets in these areas were badly hurt when the real estate bubble burst and were considered to have hit rock bottom. These kinds of markets draw investors, and the inflow of new money causes these markets to bounce back, driving home prices back up. – November 2011

america s ten worst housing markets poised to recover
America’s Ten Worst Housing Markets Poised to Recover

10 - Mobile, Alabama 6.2%

9 - Syracuse, New York 7.0%

8 - Las Cruces, New Mexico 7.4%

7 - Niles – Benton Harbor, Michigan 7.5%

6 - St.George, Utah 7.9%

5 - Farmington, New Mexico 8.3%

4 - Yuba City, California 9.2%

3 - Yuma, Arizona 9.5%

2 - Carson City, Nevada 15.5%

1 - Madera – Chowchilla, California 15.5%

Wall – November 2011

markets poised to recover st george
Markets Poised to Recover – St.George
  • Change in home prices (2011 Q2 to 2012 Q2): 7.9%
  • Change in home prices (2012 Q2 to 2013 Q2): 3.5%
  • Population: 138,492
  • Prices reached peak in: 2006 Q4 (-41.4%)
  • Unemployment: 9.6%

Home prices have decreased by 41.4% in St.George, Utah, since the fourth quarter of 2006. In just the last twelve months, prices have dropped 12.4% - the eighth largest drop in the country.However, from the second quarter of 2011 to the second quarter of 2012 prices are projected to increase 7.9%

Wall – November 2011

accra cost of living 2011 3q
ACCRA Cost of Living – 2011 3Q

All ItemsGroceriesHousingUtilitiesTransportHealth

Salt Lake City 94.8 92.0 90.4 80.8 95.5 93.4

Provo-Orem 90.2 87.8 84.2 82.1 95.5 88.1

Ogden 90.5 94.9 80.1 102.8 93.5 86.3

St.George 91.4 100.4 81.6 87.6 93.0 90.4

Cedar City 87.8 100.6 70.2 84.3 97.4 85.1

San Diego 130.8 106.3 189.1 112.8 107.3 111.6

San Francisco 161.3 118.8 278.2 90.4 108.8 110.7

Denver 105.3 102.6 114.2 89.5 94.0 105.4

Las Vegas 98.3 104.6 89.9 91.7 101.1 106.4

New York 223.9 148.9 426.5 131.4 127.5 127.1

Council for Community and Economic Research – November2011

mortgage rates reach new record lows
Mortgage Rates Reach New Record Lows

Just in time for the holidays: Mortgage rates reached new all-time lows this week, pushing home buyer affordability even higher, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages have been at or below 4 percent for the last eight weeks and now are almost 0.9 percentage points below where they were at the beginning of the year, which means that today’s home buyers are paying over $1,200 less per year on a $200,000 loan. This greater affordability helped push existing home sales higher for the second consecutive month in November, the most since January.

Daily REAL ESTATE NEWS – December 2011

the impact of mortgage rates
The Impact of Mortgage Rates

The low rates can translate into big savings for home buyers. Five years ago, a home buyer would have been lucky to land a 5% rate on a 15-year loan. On a $200,000 mortgage, that would have meant the borrow would have paid $1,582 a month. Should a borrower land a 3.2% rate on a $200,000 loan now, the monthly mortgage payment would come to $1,400 – a savings of $182 a month. The rock-bottom interest rates, combined with the lowest housing prices in years, have made home buying extremely affordable. – December 2011

interest rate heaven
“Interest Rate Heaven”

It seems over the past few years we have been in an eternal state of “Interest Rate Heaven.” How soon we forget what rates were just 5 to 10 years ago, and then back to the early 80’s rates of 15 to 20 percent. Can you say “perspective.” Let’s be realistic, mortgage interest rates like the ones we have experienced over the last three plus years cannot be sustained. In fact, the reason interest rates have been so low is primarily because the economy has been in the dumps. Bottom line, a mortgage will continue to be one of the cheapest forms of money that individuals will be able to get. If economic predictions hold true, the inevitable interest rate increase will come.

The Daily Spectrum – December 2011

record low financing costs
Record Low Financing Costs

Yes, obtaining credit in many cases is more difficult than a few years ago. Yes, financial issues in Europe have raised anxiety levels throughout the world. Yes, U.S. political uncertainty has done the same. However, one constant is likely to remain in place throughout 2012 and perhaps well into 2013. The Federal Reserve’s most important interest rate – the federal funds rate – has been at an all-time low target range of 0.00%-0.25% since December 2008, a period of three years. Moreover, the Fed’s Open Market Committee has noted frequently its intent to keep that rate at the current level “until at least mid-2013.” Such a statement is almost unprecedented in the Fed’s history.

Mainstreet Business Journal – December 2011

refinance applications on the rise
Refinance Applications on the Rise

Amid substantial market turmoil, mortgage rates dropped to the lowest levels of the year, and refinance applications jumped more than 30 percent to the highest levels of the year. Over the past month, refinance application volume has increased by 63 percent. Refinance applications for jumbo loans increased by almost 75 percent relative to last week. Despite these low mortgage rates, applications for home purchase have remained little changed through the summer. Realty Times – August 2011

a refinance resurgence
A Refinance Resurgence

Currently, most borrowers are looking to refinance existing loans rather than buy. Last week, mortgage applications climbed 4.1%, driven by a surge of home buyers trying to refinance to record-low rates. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest Market Composite Index, close to 80% of loan applications were to refinance existing loans. – December 2011

present market conditions
Present Market Conditions

Mortgage rates ended the year hovering near historic lows in an already affordable housing market according to Frank Northaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. The low mortgage rates also contributed to the improving environment for the housing market. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.95% with an average of .7 points. Last year at this time 30-year fixed-rates averaged 4.85%. 15-year fixed-rates averaged 3.24 % with .8 points, almost a full 1% lower than last years 4.20%.

Market Review and Mortgage Update – January 2012

what s up mortgage rates
What’s Up – Mortgage Rates?

A stronger economy will push Treasury bonds and mortgage rates up because inflation will become more likely and investors demand higher rates to hold bonds. But lots of factors can push rates up or down. For the housing market, which direction rates go is less important than why. Gradual economic recovery is good news for the housing market even if it means higher mortgage rates – because higher mortgage rates should go hand-in-hand with greater housing demand. It is predicted that mortgage interest rates will gradually rise from record 2011 lows to 4.5% by the middle of 2012.

Jed Kolko, Trulia Chief Economist – December 2011 Housing Wire – November 2011

restored higher fha loan limits
Restored Higher FHA Loan Limits

In an important victory for the housing industry and consumers, Congress approved a much-debated initiative to restore higher loan limits through 2013 for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The measure reestablished a national ceiling for FHA mortgages of $729,750, up from $625,500. The measure also restored local FHA loan ceilings to 125% of the area median home price, up from 115% which will help put a floor under falling home values in markets nationwide. Unfortunately, in the face of extreme opposition in the House, legislators were unable to restore the higher loan ceilings for government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together provide funding for about half of all U.S. mortgages.

National Association of Home Builders – December 2011

cash is king in 2011
Cash is KING in 2011

Despite record low mortgage rates, 2011 has seen a surprisingly high level of cash home purchases. Between tight lending standards and a desperate search for yield by investors, cash purchases of homes – particularly for distressed properties – became even more common in 2011. Thirty-eight percent of homes purchased in 2011 were bought with all cash. That’s up from 34% in 2010, and double the 19% rate in 2006. This trend is likely to continue in the near term as cash-paying investors are responsible for an increasing share of home purchases. – December 2011

investors stepping up
Investors Stepping Up

Here’s another sign the market is nearing the bottom:Investors have started to buy up houses and condos, in some instances paying entirely in cash. It’s a sign these investors are betting on the rebound. That’s a far cry from the heady bubble days when borrowed money seemed the key to riches. The bubble-era speculators who got burned tended to buy at the peak and borrowed too heavily to do so. When the crash came, they quickly saw their wealth erased. Investors buying at current prices are looking for deals. They typically like to pay entirely in cash (or with a relatively small loan) to speed up transactions. That can be vital for an investor wishing to lock in a deal fast.


investors back in the market
Investors Back in the Market

“There are a number of investors that are taking their money out of Wall Street and are looking for investment rental properties, because they can buy a property for $130,000 - $160,000, put 20 percent down and typically return 7 to 10 percent before the cap rate. So investors are very active in the St.George market.”

Utah Business Magazine – December 2011

decline among owner occupant reo buyers
Decline Among Owner-Occupant REO Buyers

New Vista Asset Management has published the results of a three-year study on buyers of foreclosed homes, covering 18 counties hit hardest by the mortgage crisis. The company says the percentage of REO homes sold to owner-occupant buyers has decreased in almost every market. Most markets in the study saw their share of owner-occupant REO buyers drop by double-digits over the three-year period. – December 2011

reo s short sales the new normal
REO’s & Short Sales – The New Normal?

If you even know anyone who has house-hunted in the past couple of years, you’ve likely heard tales of high drama -- super long escrows, first-time homebuyers being bested by investors’ cash offers, banks resistant to negotiating for repairs – that take place in the course of a distressed property sale.

In the coming year, distressed home saleswill continue to represent an increasing share of homes on the market. So, buyers will shift from considering whether to buy a short sale to understanding that they must be educated and prepared to do a deal with a seller, a bank (to buy a REO) or a hybrid of the two (to buy a short sale) to access the full selection of homes on the market.

Inman News – January 2012

impact of foreclosures
Impact of Foreclosures

The number of foreclosed homes on the market continues to pose major challenges, not just to builders who have to compete against that low-priced product, but also to buyers who need to sell an existing home before trading up to a new one. Price data suggests entry-level homes are generally driving the new-home market right now, and that’s because first-time buyers don’t have another home they have to sell.

Realty Times – October 2011

faster foreclosure processes reduced inventory
Faster Foreclosure Processes & Reduced Inventory

Getting homes that are likely to be foreclosed upon or homes that already are in foreclosure to the market is key to exposing the nation’s shadow inventory, which has been keeping prices depressed around the country.

Next on the to-do list is to clear out the massive housing inventory. Especially with the influx likely to come on to the market when foreclosure processes finally get ironed out. Reducing the supply of homes should help boost prices in the long run, and price appreciation is good for the housing market.

US News – December 2011

top ten foreclosure states
Top Ten Foreclosure States


Nevada 1-175 $119,180

California 1-211 $237,150

Arizona 1-256 $123,077

Utah 1-290 $166,645

Georgia 1-330 $110,121

Michigan 1-330 $ 59,079

Florida 1-358 $110,503

Illinois 1-427 $124,042

Ohio 1-500 $ 82,873

S. Carolina 1-517 $150,898

NATION 1-579 $182,489 (November 2011)

foreclosure rates decrease
Foreclosure Rates Decrease

According to recently released information from CoreLogic data, the rate of St.George area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans is 2.51 percent for the month of September 2011, a decrease of 1.75 percentage points when compared to September 2010 when the rate was 4.26 percent. Foreclosure activity in St.George is lower than the national foreclosure rate which was 3.48 percent for September 2011, representing a 0.97 percentage point difference.

Also, in St.George, the mortgage delinquency rate has decreased. According to CoreLogic data for September 2011, 6.56 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 9.73 percent for the same period last year, representing a decrease of 3.17 percentage points.

Mainstreet Business Journal – December 2011

high end properties what the experts are saying
High-End PropertiesWhat the Experts are Saying

A little over three years ago, a study of all active listings over $500K was conducted with about 500 properties identified. Today, there are 198 listings in that same price range. While it is true that many homes over $500K three years ago may now, because of market driven pressures, remain on the market but for less than the identified threshold, it is equally true that certain geographic areas and developments have now worked through their excess inventory and remain viable and healthy. Case in point, The Cliffs of Snow Canyon, the Ledges and Stone Cliff, 3+ years ago had 103 homes for sale over $500K. Today, 31. Just another indication of an upswing in the market.

Southern Utah Title Company – January 2012

outlook 2012
Outlook 2012

Utah typically grows more rapidly than the nation after recessions, and this pattern is taking hold in the current recovery. Though housing stabilized, with building permits at 8,700 in 2011, home-building is not leading the economy as it does during a typical recovery.

Economic growth in Utah is expected to accelerate during 2012. Employment is forecast to increase 2.7% for the year as a whole, with larger increases as the year progresses. Housing permits are forecast to move up slightly from historic lows. As the overall unemployment rate declines to 7.1%, the improving labor market will support increased consumer spending and a strengthening recovery.

Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget – November 2011

utah the best state for business
Utah the Best State for Business

For the second year in a row, Forbes Magazine ranks Utah as the best state in America for business, noting: “No state can match the consistent performance of Utah. It is the only state that ranks among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories we rate the states on.” Utah highlights includes energy costs 31% below the national average and employment growth that has averaged 0.6% since 2005. Utah’s 5% corporate tax rate is well below western neighbors Arizona, Idaho and New Mexico. Utah ranks sixth in a new Tax Foundation study that looks at the tax burden on business in each state across different industries.

Forbes Magazine – December 2011

positive news for utah
Positive News for Utah

Utah is #6 on Forbes’ list of “The Best States for Jobs”

Fiserv says Utah to have seventh-highest home price appreciation by summer

Utah is in the top five states for employment growth

Forbes names Utah “Best State for Business and Careers”

Utah ranked #2 on Pollina’s “Top 10 Pro-Business States” list

More Positive Utah News

utah home prices on the rise
Utah Home Prices on the Rise

Based on projections from Fiserv Case-Shiller and Moody’s Analytics, statewide prices are set to rise about 2 percent by summer 2012 and nearly 7 percent during the subsequent year. Utah home price gains will be strongestin St.George according to the report. From second quarter 2011 to second quarter 2012, home prices are expected to rise nearly 8 percent. From the same period in 2012 through 2013, home prices in St.George should increase 3.5 percent.

Utah REALTOR – Third/Fourth Quarter 2011

houses are a good deal
Houses Are a Good Deal

Housing is the most affordable it has been in decades, according to analysts at Moody’s Analytics. They don’t just look at house prices. They also look at incomes. Nationally, the cost of a house is the equivalent of about 19 months of total pay for an average family, the lowest level in 35 years. Pricing is down so much in some markets that when you analyze renting versus owning it makes much more sense to own. While the good news is that the worst of the housing crash might be over, the bad news is that the fast gains of the glory days of 2005 and 2006 won’t be back anytime soon. So to cover your costs of buying and selling, and what could be a prolonged recovery, plan to own for more than 10 years.


homeownership equity
Homeownership - Equity

When you pay rent, you never see that money again. It is in the landlord’s pocket. Yes, buying a home may come with some hefty initial costs (downpayment, closing costs, inspections), but you will make that money back over time in equity built in the home. Historically, homes appreciate by about 4 to 6 percent a year. Some areas are still experiencing normal appreciation rates. For the areas that have seen harder times since the recession, experts feel that the housing market will recover. Homeownership is about building long-term wealth.

Realty Times – November 2011

homeownership great deals
Homeownership – Great Deals

It’s a great time to buy. Interest rates are at historic lows. We’re talking 4.0 percent instead of 6.0 percent or higher. This means big savings for today’s buyers. Home prices have also taken a dip since the recession, which means homes are more affordable than ever. If you have a steady income and cash for a downpayment, then be sure to talk to your local REALTOR about what homes in your area could be a fit for you.

Homeownership can be a real joy. It’s time to get off the fence and into a home that is right for you.

Realty Times – November 2011

the economists crystal ball
The Economists Crystal Ball

My crystal ball is never as crystal-clear as I’d like, but I do think that we can expect a gradual economic recovery to move the housing market a few steps back towards normal in 2012. In fact, every single one of the fifty-ish economic forecasters surveyed by the Wall street Journal expects the economy to grow throughout 2012. However, many borrowers who fell behind on their payments during the housing crisis are still in limbo: last year’s robo-signing controversy threw a wrench in the gears of the foreclosure process. That means that some delinquent loans haven’t gone through the foreclosure process. Once an agreement is reached with banks over robo-signing, we’ll see a new wave of foreclosures and foreclosure sales.

Jed Kolko, Trulia Chief Economist– December 2011

the economists crystal ball60
The Economists Crystal Ball

Very favorable affordability conditions will dominate 2012, which will probably be the second best year on record dating back to 1970. The hope is that credit restrictions will ease and allow more homebuyers to take advantage of current opportunities. With falling inventory, the median home price should rise in 2012. Home prices have yet to show a definitive stabilization pattern in most areas. Still, given an over-correction in prices, there likely will be moderate appreciation in 2012.

Housing Wire – November 2011

the economists crystal ball61
The Economists Crystal Ball

Gradual improvement in the housing market is expected in 2012, with existing-home sales edging up 4% to 5% and new homes getting an even bigger boost off 2011’s record lows. Tight mortgage credit conditions have been holding back homebuyers, and consumer confidence has been shaky recently. Nonetheless, there is a sizeable pent-up demand based on population growth, employment levels and a doubling-up phenomenon that can’t continue indefinitely.

Housing Wire – November 2011

timing is everything
Timing is Everything

There’s a great opportunity for investment at this point. Interest rates are low, and so individuals and businesses who have good credit do have access to funds for investment. While housing prices are still stabilizing, people who are looking to buy homes right now have an opportunity to borrow at a really low rate and buy at a low price.

Utah Business Magazine – December 2011


Washington County Board of REALTORS® National Association of Home Builders

Realty Times Market Review and Mortgage Update

Utah Business Magazine

The Spectrum / AP Daily REAL ESTATE NEWS

Housing Wire Community & Economic Research

Housing US News

Trulia Department of Workforce Services

The Wall Street Journal – Wall Utah

Utah REALTOR Magazine Forbes Magazine

Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget Financial Outlook

Southern Utah Title Company

Mainstreet Business Journal Inman News