End of January real estate report

At the end of each month on the LowellDeeds blog I do a post that compares that month’s recording statistics with the same month a year earlier. Today’s post shows that January 2011 was a better month than January 2012 for deeds, mortgages and foreclosures. But today I also looked at the figures in a slightly different way: I combined the last three month’s statistics and compared them to the three prior months, reasoning that this might identify trends over time. Here’s an exerpt of what appeared on LowellDeeds on this topic:

Now for the three month comparison. I took the same document types for the last three months (January 2012, December 2011 and November 2011) and compared their totals to the totals for the prior three months (October, September and August of 2011). Here’s what I found:

The number of deeds recorded in the last three months was down 6% from the prior three months (1354 to 1273); the number of mortgages recorded was up 20% (3129 to 3753); the number of foreclosure deeds was up 5% (111 to 117); and the number of orders of notice was up 8% (154 to 167). The total number of documents recorded rose 12% (15015 to 16742).

While deeds are down and foreclosures are up, those changes are only slight. The positive number that jumped out at me was the 20% increase in the number of mortgages recorded. This suggests that more homeowners are refinancing which would be a huge benefit to the economy. Interest rates are so low that anyone who can refinance now will probably save herself a couple of hundred dollars each month in lower mortgage payments. That money will almost all be injected right back into the economy in a type of non-governmentally funded stimulus program. Because interest rates have been low for a while, this recent increase suggests either that prices are starting to rise somewhat, thereby allowing previously underwater homeowners to now qualify for loans. It could also mean that lenders are becoming more liberal about who they’ll loan money to. Either way, it’s a positive development.