September, 2011
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Housing Market

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

A Good Bounce off the Bottom for U.S. Housing Prices
Market According to IAS360 HPI


Gains across the nation push index into positive territory for second quarter

Denver, Colo. – August 9, 2011 – Integrated Asset Services®, LLC (IAS) (www.iasreo.com), a leader in default management and residential collateral valuations, today released the latest IAS360® House Price Index (HPI). Based on the most granular data available in the industry, the index jumped 2 percent across the second quarter of 2011.

In a complete reversal of the first quarter, all four of the nation's census regions registered gains for the three-month period. The IAS360 HPI, which uses proprietary trending methodology to identify market trends earlier than any other HPI, reported a 3.1 percent rise in the South, with the Northeast and the Midwest each gaining 2.5 percent. The hard-hit West, meanwhile, managed a 0.1 percent rise according to IAS data.

U.S. house prices as measured by the IAS360 are now down 0.6 percent for 2011 and 1.3 percent for the last 12 months. Despite the second-quarter turn to the positive, ongoing uncertainty about the nation's economy, not least of which tight credit, stubbornly high unemployment and a glut of foreclosures, continues to weigh on the housing market.

So, too, does so-called 'foreclosure-gate' — the legal squabbling about the process used to repossess many homes — which has delayed the sale of many foreclosed properties in the pipeline. In the meantime, the number of foreclosures and short sales, which reportedly accounted for about one-third of home sales in 2010, is expected to rise. The fear that prices will fall further, coupled with stricter lending rules, could keep pressure on prices for some time.



Homeownership Tax Benefits Must be Preserved, Say Realtors®

Any changes to the mortgage interest deduction now or in the future could threaten recent progress toward stabilizing the housing market, critically erode home prices and values, destroy middle-class wealth accumulation and hurt economic growth.

That was the message delivered by National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun during Rethinking the Mortgage Interest Deduction forum, where he joined a panel of experts to debate the future of the MID. The event was hosted by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institute, and the Reason Foundation.

During the debate, Yun challenged recent proposals calling for changes to the tax code, stating that it's a misplaced argument to say the MID was a cause of the housing market bubble and is suddenly part of the deficit problem, when it's been part of the federal tax code for more than 100 years.

The event was moderated by Edmund Andrews, managing editor for economics, taxes and budget at the National Journal. Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section.


Disaster Preparedness

Don't Wait Until it's Too Late: Make a Business Plan to be Prepared, Says IBHS


During the first half of 2011, the United States experienced some of the worst tornadoes, wildfires and flooding in its history demonstrating the importance of a business continuity plan, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Before April's disasters struck, between 6,000 and 8,000 small businesses in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia were expected to close in 2011, according to a report by Dun & Bradstreet. After the tornadoes, the research company increased its forecast to at least 10,000 small businesses.

One in four small businesses that is forced to close because of a disaster never reopens. Businesses that have a business continuity plan in place — and use it during and after disaster strikes — typically experience less damage, loss and downtime than businesses without a plan.

A business continuity plan should at a minimum include the following measures:

  • A pre-identified site where the business can temporarily relocate

  • Means to retrieve data, including employee, customer and vendor records

  • A process for operating effectively with a smaller staff of key individuals

IBHS offers Open for Business®, a free, easy-to-use program that provides small to mid-sized business owners with a tool to create a comprehensive business continuity plan. The toolkit includes valuable planning worksheets, business continuity and disaster recovery tips, and risk-specific property protection information. To learn more, go to www.disastersafety.org and look under Initiatives.