(Video) House of the Day: A Caribbean Getaway

Today’s House of the Day is a St. Lucia compound, overlooking a World Heritage site, that serves as a vacation escape for its owner. This compound, named Caille Blanc Villa, is comprised of five free-standing suites in Soufrière, St. Lucia. The suites converge in a common courtyard, with access to an infinity pool. It’s listed for $10 million, with quarter shares available for $2.5 million. (Slide show.)

Hot and Smart Home Products

Hanging fireplaces and smart thermostats are among the products that will be featured at the upcoming International Builders Show. Our columnist takes a look.

LPS: Mortgage Originations Among Highest Quality Ever in 2010-2011

The Lender Processing Services (LPS) Mortgage Monitor Report for December show
improvement in a number of the metrics it tracks. Many measures of delinquency
rates are down, inventories are clearing in some states, and recent loan
originations are “among the best quality on record.”

The overall delinquency rate did not
change from November, remaining at 8.15 percent but is down 7.7 percent since
December 2010.  Seriously delinquent
loans, those 90 or more days overdue or in foreclosure decreased 0.6 percent to
7.67 percent, a -5.9 percent change from one year earlier.

The foreclosure rate which was 4.16
percent in November fell to 4.11 percent in December and is down 1.0 percent
year-over-year.  Foreclosure starts
showed the most dramatic change.  There
were 159,092 starts in December compared to 165,205 in November, a -3.7 percent
change and starts were 38.7 percent below the level in December 2010.   This is the lowest level of foreclosure starts
since at least 2008.

While 90+ day delinquencies are about
the same in judicial and non-judicial states there remains a large distinction between
these states in other measures of foreclosure activity.  LPS found that half of all loans in
foreclosure in judicial states have not made a payment in more than two years
as the foreclosure process drags on.  The
foreclosure sales rate in non-judicial states is four times that in judicial
states (6.8 percent vs. 1.6 percent). 
Foreclosure inventories stand at about 3.5 percent nationwide; in
non-judicial states those inventories are about 2 percent while in judicial
states they are 2.5 times greater – over 6 percent.  Still, pipeline ratios (the time it would
take to clear through the inventory of loans either seriously delinquent or in
foreclosure at the current rate of foreclosure sales) has declined
significantly from earlier this year in judicial states while remaining flat in
non-judicial states.


Loan
originations
(month ending November 11) numbered 537,720 compared to 597,888 in
October, a decline of 10.1 percent and 29.3 percent below originations one year
earlier.  The loans originated over the
last two years
, however, are among the best quality on record according to
LPS.  2010-11 vintage originations showed
90-day default rates below those of all other years, going back to 2005.
December origination data also shows that recent prepayment activity – a key
indicator of mortgage refinances – has remained strong, with 2008-09
originations, high credit score borrowers and government-backed loans having
benefited the most from recent, historically low interest rates.

…(read more)

Forward this article via email:  Send a copy of this story to someone you know that may want to read it.

HUD CHARGES MASSACHUSETTS APARTMENT BUILDING OWNER WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the owner of a 24-unit apartment building in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with housing discrimination for denying units to families that have children. HUD’s charge alleges that Nilma Fichera, who owns and manages New York-based N.A.G. Realty, LLC, violated the Fair Housing Act when she refused to show or rent apartments to families with children because she could not certify that the building was free of lead-based paint.

The ‘New American Home’ Continues Shrinking

Timberlake Cabinetry
This year’s selection for the ‘New American Home.’ It will be featured at the annual builders’ show in Orlando.

The “New American Home” is shrinking.

Every year at its convention, the National Association of Home Builders highlights the New American Home, a high-end model designed and built to capture emerging trends in residential building and the shifting lifestyles of Americans.

This year’s showpiece, which measures 4,181 square feet and is one of the smallest in the popular program’s 29-year history, shows that the love affair with McMansions seems to be waning.

Indeed, last year’s featured home sprawled over 6,800 square feet. The nation’s average home size, which peaked just above 2,500 square feet in 2007, is expected to shrink to 2,152 square feet by 2015.

Of course, even the downsized New American Home remains above average. It was built in an infill Orlando location within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Many Americans, builders have learned, are fed up with pricey gas and lengthy commutes.

The showpiece, described as a modern take on the classic “boxes” of the 1960s and ’70s, has two bedrooms, and features additional rooms that could house parents or boomerang kids — those moving back home because of the weak economy. It also boasts energy-efficient features such solar panels to run the HVAC system and to heat hot water.

This year’s New American Home will be displayed between Feb. 8 and 11, when thousands of builders and suppliers head to the International Builders’ Show, the nation’s largest gathering of such professionals. (The NAHB, the builders’ main trade group, declined to give attendance projections.) The home is usually the site of several soirees and receives lots of press. The caterer might want to stock extra bubbly – industry watchers say the hard-hit sector has finally struck the long-awaited bottom.

But being chosen for this honor doesn’t guarantee success. Two years ago, the 6,800-square-foot, five bedroom Las Vegas showpiece fell into foreclosure after a private investor pulled out.

Last year, foreclosure wasn’t an issue because the Orlando home, measuring 9,689 square feet with three bedrooms and an in-law suite, was sold before the show started. (View previous New American homes.)

This year’s builder decided to keep the house as a showcase for clients, said Tucker Bernard, who helps oversee the New American Home program for the NAHB.