Housing

Meet Willow Tufano, age 14: Lady Gaga fan, animal lover, landlord.

In 2005, when Willow was 7, the housing market was booming. Home prices in some Florida neighborhoods nearly doubled from one month to the next. Her family moved into a big house; her mom became a real estate agent.

But as Willow moved from childhood to adolescence, the market turned, and the neighborhood emptied out. "Everyone is getting foreclosed on here," she says.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ibnhusin/">Mohd Hafizuddin Husin</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Joe and Carrie were out of work and had run out of money. They had been living in a motel room with their two young daughters. The Crossroads House homeless shelter has helped them get back on track.

JOE: I was teaching in Maine part-time and suddenly there was no more work. So I said to my wife “let’s see what New Hampshire has - substitute teaching and stuff like that." We lost our place where we were living and we were living in a motel.

Despite some green shoots in the economy, the housing sector remains weak. With 11 million Americans still underwater on their mortgages, some housing experts believe it's time for more dramatic solutions.

The idea of reducing the principal on the loans of underwater homeowners used to be a fringe concept, embraced by a few outliers. Today, many policymakers believe principal reduction is necessary to keep some troubled homeowners afloat.

But so far, the nation's biggest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, haven't embraced the idea.

Cash Buyers Squeezing Out Traditional Home Seekers

Feb 28, 2012

Not everyone wants to buy a mold-infested foreclosure, but Dan Grohs does.

He and his Realtor are walking through a three-bedroom house in Minneapolis. The copper pipes have been stolen by vandals and the heat doesn't work, but Grohs recently bid on the house — and he sees potential.

"It's got a nice flow to it," Grohs says as he moves through the home. "You walk in — living room, dining room, kitchen. Good spacious rooms."

With Banks As Landlords, Some Tenants Neglected

Feb 23, 2012

Across the country, big banks and other large investors are buying up tens of thousands of foreclosed rental properties. They're not always model landlords, according to tenants and regulators. Some banks are failing to follow local and state housing codes, leaving tenants to live in squalor — without even a number to call in the most dire situations.

When Pat Matthews turned 65, her declining health led her in search of a place that could offer increasing levels of care as she grew older.

And Matthews had one other requirement: She wanted to bring Carol Bosworth, her partner of nearly 20 years. At the very first place they visited, that was a problem.

"They didn't say we couldn't come. But they said that we would be best off if we were sisters," Matthews says. "We crossed them off our list, because that's not the way we want to live."

An agreement involving national banks and state attorneys general penalizes banks for improper mortgage and foreclosure practices and offers relief for homeowners. Yet some say it leaves far too many without recourse. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has another plan to offer further help. We’ll see how these initiatives might affect New Hampshire. 

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A new report released by the New Hampshire Housing and Finance Authority shows home foreclosures spiked in December 2011–up 35 percent from that November.

Jane Law of the Housing Authority says foreclosures have been declining since their peak in 2010, and December's jump might be an anomaly,

"The biggest factor is just mortgage companies are just kind of clearing out some inventory before the end of the year, which is the end of their tax year usually."

Flikr Creative Commons / Sean Dreilinger

A report shows that home foreclosures spiked at the end of last year, up 35% from November.

Jane Law of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority says foreclosures have been declining since their peak in 2010, and December’s jump might be an anomaly.

Law says, "The biggest factor is just mortgage companies are kind of clearing out some inventory before the end of the year, which is the end of their tax year usually" 

Wanted: A Clear Trend in Home Sales

Jan 19, 2012

Home sales in New Hampshire remained about even with last year. About 200 more homes changed hands in 2011 than in 2010. Prices continued to slide. The median sales price was about $201,000, or about 6 percent less than the year before. The latest numbers from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors leave it unclear where the market is headed. There are some signs of improvement. Between November and December, prices held steady and at least from one month to the next, the number of homes sold rose by about 8 percent.

A New Hampshire developer plans to renovate two mostly-abandoned apartment buildings in Franklin and turn them into affordable housing for working class families. The company, New England Family Housing, plans to buy the 30-unit building for $615,000.

Home Foreclosures Edge Down

Dec 7, 2011

Home foreclosures continued to nudge down in October and the state’s housing agency is beginning to speak of the foreclosure crisis having turned a corner.

By historic standards, the number of people losing their homes is still high.  October saw about 260 households with that problem.  But that’s about 40 less than the month before and from the start of the year, the overall trend is down.

Crosby_Allison / Flickr

If you tuned-in to NHPR’s “The Exchange” on November 21, you might have heard economist Russ Thibeault talking about an interesting (and these days, somewhat obscure) report.  We’ll get to that in a minute.  But first, a bit of background.

Home Foreclosure Trends Improving

Nov 2, 2011

It looks now as though 2010 will be the high water mark for foreclosures.  The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority predicts 2011 will see a slight improvement over last year.

 Jane Law with New Hampshire Housing says she’s truly glad the state is unlikely to match the level seen in 2010.

“When you look at the foreclosure notices, the foreclosure deeds.  All of it seems to be trending down.”

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