Real Estate Roundup: Inventory Up, Foreclosures Down, Agents Happy

Toy housesHere’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious:

San Francisco’s inventory of available homes for sale jumped 14 percent from February to March — the biggest increase among major U.S. cities — but that welcome news is tempered by the fact that inventory was still down 38 percent from a year ago.

The difference was even more stark in Oakland, according to data compiled by the website Available homes in Oakland were 7 percent higher in March than in February but were still down 54 percent from a year earlier.

Housing inventories typically rise in the spring with the advent of the peak home-selling season. Across the United States, the number of homes for sale in March was 2.4 percent higher than in February but remained 15 percent below last year’s level.

U.S. foreclosure filings in March were down 23 percent from a year earlier, helping to drop first-quarter foreclosure numbers to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007, according to research firm RealtyTrac.

“Although the overall national foreclosure trend continues to head lower, late-blooming foreclosures are bolting higher in some local markets where aggressive foreclosure prevention efforts in previous years are wearing off,” RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said. “Meanwhile, more recent foreclosure prevention efforts in other states have drastically increased the average time to foreclose, which could result in a similar outbreak of delayed foreclosures down the road in those states.”

Florida led the nation in first-quarter foreclosure filings, with one in every 104 housing units. California was 10th on the list with one foreclosure filing in every 266 housing units.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program, designed to help underwater homeowners obtain mortgage aid, will be expanded for another two years, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced.

HARP was originally set to expire Dec. 31, 2013, but will now run to the end of 2015.

“More than 2 million home owners have refinanced through HARP, proving it a useful tool for reducing risk,” FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco said.

Homeowners eligible to apply for refinancing under HARP must have a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage guaranteed on or before May 31, 2009, be current on their loan, and have a current loan-to-value ratio of more than 80 percent.

Real estate agents have the happiest job in America, according to a new ranking of job satisfaction by the website CareerBliss.

Real estate agents ranked higher than senior QA engineers, senior sales representatives, construction superintendents, and senior application developers on CareerBliss’ annual list, scoring 4.26 out of a possible 5.

CareerBliss based the ranking on analysis of more than 65,000 employee-generated reviews in 2012. The website asked employees all over the country to evaluate 10 factors that affect workplace happiness, including their relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work done on a daily basis.

Real estate agents said they are more than satisfied with the control they have over the work they do on a daily basis. They’re also fairly content with their bosses.

(Photo courtesy of Woodleywonderworks, via Flickr.)

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