Home equity loans blamed for underwater mortgages
A study released today by CoreLogic, a real estate data and analysis firm, indicates that 38% of homeowners who took out home equity loans on their houses were “underwater” at the end of the first quarter of 2011, compared with 18% of borrowers with no home equity loans. More than 40% (4.5 million) of all negative equity borrowers have home equity loans.
In total, 10.9 million, or 22.7%, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the first quarter of 2011, down slightly from 11.1 million, or 23.1%, in the fourth quarter.
Las Vegas led the nation with a 66% negative equity share, followed by Stockton (56%), Phoenix (55%), Modesto (55%) and Reno (54%). Outside metropolitan areas in the top five negative equity states, the metropolitan markets with the highest negative equity shares include Greeley, Colo. (38%), Boise (36%) and Atlanta (35%).
While the average negative equity borrower was upside down by $65,000, there were wide disparities by state. New York borrowers were upside down by an average of $129,000, the highest average in the nation, followed by other high housing cost states: Massachusetts ($120,000), Connecticut ($111,000), Hawaii ($98,000) and California ($93,000). Ohio’s negative equity borrowers were upside down by $31,000, the lowest average in the nation, followed by Indiana ($34,000) and Minnesota ($38,000).
"Many borrowers in negative equity are still able and willing to make their mortgage payments,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic. “Those in negative equity and impacted by an income shock of some kind, such as a job loss, divorce or death, are much more likely to be at risk of foreclosure or a short sale. The current economic indicators point to slow yet positive economic growth, which will slowly reduce the risk of borrowers experiencing income shocks. Yet the existence of negative equity for the foreseeable future will weigh on the housing market recovery by holding back sale and refinance activity."
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BuildFax partners with Equifax
BuildFax, the national database of building permit activity and creator of the BuildFax Remodeling Index, has joined forces with Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit monitoring firms. The new partnership will give property and casualty insurance carriers immediate access to property history information, improving the accuracy of their underwriting to develop better pricing strategies and reduce the potential for fraud.
Insurance carriers can incorporate building permit data into their business decisions and more accurately identify over-valuations, under-valuations and everything in-between, thus accurately pricing home insurance for both new business opportunities and renewals, according to the announcement.
"We focus on documenting and updating a structure’s ‘life story’ by collecting and providing detailed information for all U.S. residential and commercial property related decisions," said Holly Tachovsky, president of BuildFax. "We’re very pleased to be joining forces with a recognized industry leader like Equifax, as this relationship will allow us to quickly introduce our unique dataset to the insurance industry. Equifax is known for bringing powerful intelligence to this vertical, and we are confident that our offering will strengthen its service and provide a level of transparency to building permit data not yet seen in the industry."
Based in Austin, Texas, and Asheville, N.C., BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 4,000-plus cities and counties across the United States.
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New Product Showcase: Golden Hammers in action
From hand tools to home security, the following new products represent companies that brought home the hardware during the 2011 Golden Hammer Awards ceremony in Las Vegas. The eight products collected here reflect the diversity of the 32 Golden Hammer vendor companies, and the innovation of the winners.
Quikrete HardScapes Polymeric Jointing Sand
Quikrete HardScapes Polymeric Jointing Sand is a polymeric jointing, non-staining sand graded for sweeping into paving stone joints, including interlocking concrete and brick pavers and natural stone up to 2 ins. wide. The sand hardens to lock pavers in place when dampened, providing a stable surface that is resistant to erosion, weed growth and insects, while staying pliable for naturally occurring freeze-thaw cycles. (quikrete.com)
Clopay Canyon Ridge Collection
Clopay is introducing a factory-painted white finish option — which includes two coats of white paint followed by a top coat — to its Canyon Ridge Collection garage door line. The doors are constructed from a durable, low-maintenance material that looks like real wood, offering a rustic appearance, design flexibility and customization. The cladding is UV- and moisture-resistant. In addition, the doors are well insulated with a 19.2 R-value. Windows and an expanded line of decorative hardware options are also available. (clopaydoor.com)
Kohler Numi Toilet
Kohler’s Numi toilet combines design, technology and water efficiency to offer what the company calls “a new standard of excellence in the bathroom.” Front sensors react to the user’s movement when entering the room to perform hands-free opening and closing of the cover. Floor-level motion engages sensors that raise and lower the seat. A touch-screen remote, which is charged and stored in a magnetic docking station, fine-tunes the user’s options, although basic functionality can be controlled on the toilet without the remote. In addition, an automatic flush system offers water savings and power. (kohler.com)
Purdy Colossus Roller Cover
The 18-in. Colossus roller cover from Purdy is double the length of the original 9-in. Colossus cover thecompany introduced in 2007. This new model enables users to complete their rolling in half the time, finishing up two rooms in the same time it takes to roll out a single room, according to the company. (purdy.com)
Irwin Universal Handsaw
Irwin’s Universal Handsaw features patented universal tooth grind, which rapidly removes material with a fine finish. The blade profile has a tapered-pitch nose for improved clearance through materials and stability. The thick body saw blade is .85 mm thick with a water-based lacquer coating. The 90-degree and the 45-degree angle markings provide a straight edge for marking surfaces. The patent-pending handle-to-blade design, combined with the universal triple-ground teeth, eliminates binding and cuts three times faster than traditional handsaws, according to the company. (irwin.com)
DeWalt Short Tape
DeWalt launched the 1.25-in., 25-ft. Short Tape as part of its new industrial hand tools lineup. It features an oversized end hook for high-grabbing capability and 13 ft. of blade standout, allowing one person to get most jobs done. A 3M Thermoplastic film adhered to the first 6 ins. of the blade extends the life of the tape measure. It also includes a high-visibility blade for easy reading, even in poor light. (dewalt.com)
Ames True Temper ReelEasy
The ReelEasy decorative metal hose cart from Ames True Temper features Ames NeverLeak aluminum water system and holds up to 100 ft. of 5/8-in. hose. It also includes rubber tread wheels and leader hose. The cart is 18.3 ft. long and 21.1 in. wide. (ames.com)
First Alert Voice Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Studies have shown that voice alarms are more effective than standard beeping alarms at waking children, ages 6 to 10. These brand-new alarms combine a loud voice and high-decibel beeps. (firstalert.com)
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