The late comedian Henny Youngman was known for his rapid-fire, one-liners – and is probably best know for this one in particular: “Take my wife … please!”
That’s also the line a lot of folks were saying at the height of the real estate crisis, except they replaced “wife” with “house.” Unless of course they were divorcing, then ex-husbands might be heard to say: “Take both my wife and my house … please!”
But today, we are starting to see people looking for ways to keep their homes; a sure sign that the housing market, and the economy in general, are making a comeback.
RealtyTrac just reported that fewer U.S. homes entered the foreclosure process or were repossessed by banks in June, suggesting that fewer homeowners are having trouble staying current on their mortgage payments.
Even in Florida, one of the top foreclosure states in the nation, foreclosures are tumbling and filings were down more than 20 percent from a year ago. That doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet, but we are moving in the right direction.
And CoreLogic just reported that fewer foreclosures were completed in May compared to a year ago, meaning that bad loans are working their way through the system and borrowers who are better able to pay are replacing them.
Bidding wars break out
This decline in new foreclosure filings and completed foreclosures is having a domino effect in that, with fewer available homes on the market, bidding wars are starting to breakout on those homes that are for sale.
That’s great news for sellers, but not so much for buyers, who also are seeing interest rates rise. In fact, mortgage interest rates have crept up in the last few weeks to their highest level in nearly two years.
Short sale turnaround
Another unforeseen benefit: Those who thought they would have to engage in a short sale are finding that home prices have gone up enough to sell their homes without the need to get their lender’s permission. For years these folks struggled as they watched their home’s value sink – eventually owing more than they paid. But now, as home values have risen, they have enough equity to sell, pay off the bank and move on with their lives.
And what does that mean to the divorcing couple and the future of their marital home? There’s a pretty good chance that it will become just one more asset to fight over, but now no one will be saying “Take my home … please!”
Real estate attorney and foreclosure defense attorney, Roy Oppenheim left Wall Street for Main Street, founding Oppenheim Law along with his wife Ellen in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is vice president of Weston Title and creator of the South Florida Law Blog, named the best business and technology blog by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Follow Roy on Twitter at @OpLaw or like Oppenheim Law on Facebook .