Highfields owner sets sights on pavilion to bring in multi-use events in Aiken

Building a pavilion on the nearly 60 acres of the Highfields Event Center would be the first step for owner Rick Cram in making the grounds a non-equestrian use facility.

“I want to try and make it (Highfields) a little bit more available; have an amenity that’s appealing to non-equestrian activity,” Cram said. “I’ve gotten a lot of requests over the years saying how pretty this place is; they want a wedding out here or any kind of small business gathering, reception, convention – but we need a facility to do that and house that many people.”

Highfields holds more than 30 events every year, which include the annual Aiken Spring Classic, and just last year, the first Aiken Music Fest. Read More….

NAR Study: Accelerating Housing Costs Have Renters Feeling the Squeeze

WASHINGTON (March 16, 2015) – The gap between rental costs and household income is widening to unsustainable levels in many parts of the country, and the situation could worsen unless new home construction meaningfully rises, according to new research by the National Association of Realtors®.

NAR reviewed data on income growth, housing costs and changes in the share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas1 across the U.S. The findings reveal that renters are being squeezed in many metro areas throughout the country due to the disproportionate growth in rental costs to incomes. New York, Seattle and San Jose, Calif. are among the cities where combined rent growth is far exceeding wages. Read More….

Realtors® Applaud FAA’s Proposed Rule to Allow Commercial Drone Use for Real Estate

NAR issued the following statement about new proposed rules for unmanned aircraft systems issued today by the Federal Aviation Administration:
“The proposed rules announced today for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles are good news for property owners and Realtors® who desire to embrace cutting-edge technology to enhance the process of buying and selling real estate with images gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Realtors® support the proposed federal regulation, which would allow for safe commercial use of UAV technology by the real estate industry for the purposes of marketing real estate. Read More…

Carriage driving growing in popularity in Aiken SC

Carriage driving is growing in popularity as a sport for horse lovers in Aiken, and there are several different ways to enjoy it.

Some people get a kick out of competing in combined driving events that consist of three contests: dressage, marathon and cones.

Some people prefer pleasure driving, which involves show ring competition in various classes.

And some people are more interested in participating in recreational driving, so they can guide their carriages on trails through peaceful forests and down streets in beautiful neighborhoods. Read More….

Spring Steeplechase

The Aiken Spring Steeplechase will be held Saturday, March 21, at Aiken Horse Park, 931 Powderhouse Road. Gates open at 9:30 a.m., and post time is 1 p.m. Infield tailgate spaces are $30, and will be sold starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 4. These spaces will only be available online at www.aikensteeplechase.com. Races run rain or shine.

Aiken Attractions: other things to do after the races are over

Railroad history, exotic trees and one of America’s largest urban forests are all elements open for exploration in Aiken, along with the traditional assortment of equestrian events offered as part of the Aiken Triple Crown. Read more...

Aiken’s Triple Crown has been around since 1971

The inspiration for the Aiken Triple Crown’s name was Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

The three events in the Sport of Kings’ version are the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The three in Aiken’s version are the Aiken Trials, the Aiken Spring Steeplechase and Pacers & Polo.

The late Sam Cothran, a former Aiken Standard publisher, came up with concept of tying several local horse competitions together more than 40 years ago, according to Charles “Chuck” Armour. Read more….

KemperSports to manage Mount Vintage golf club in North Augusta

There could be brighter days ahead for Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club.

KemperSports will assume management of the facility in North Augusta after the group was hired by The Bank of Camden, of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Bank of Camden has owned the club since it closed last February after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In April, the course reopened for play.

KemperSports specializes in private clubs, golf resorts, public golf courses and municipal golf courses, and recently expanded its management to include conference centers, lodging operations and recreational facilities, according to its biography,

Thoroughbred induction

The 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Steeplechase horse Demonstrative and 2014 Aiken Trained Horse of the Year Palace Malice will be inducted as members of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15, at the hall of fame, 133 Dupree St. S.W.
For more information, call 803-643-2121 or visit www.aikenracinghalloffame.com.

Juilliard in Aiken Showcase Concert

The Allant Trio, Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, Juilliard Jazz, Pre-College Artists, Vocalists and Collaborative Pianist and Special Guest Artist Elliott Carlton Hines will perform as part of the Juilliard in Aiken Festival Showcase

Concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 13, at the USC Aiken Etherredge Center, 471 University Parkway. Tickets are $40, $65 and $10 for students. For more information, call 803-641-3305.

Breakfast at the Gallops

Breakfast at the Gallops will be held Friday, March 13, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Aiken Training Track, 538 Two Notch Road S.E. Tickets are $20 per person in advance and $25 per person at the gate. The event will be held rain or shine, and there are no refunds. Tickets are available at the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, Aiken Training Track Office, the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center, Folly, and Meybohm Realtors in downtown. For more information, call 803-642-7631 or visit www.aikentrainingtrack.com.

Aiken Lobster Races canceled with plans to return in 2016

One of Aiken County’s most unusual annual traditions has been canceled this year.
It is on track to return “bigger and better,” in 2016, said Todd Stilp, a co-founder of the Great American Lobster Race.
The downtown Aiken street party, traditionally held on the first Friday in May, dates back to 1985 and is sometimes described as a spoof of the Kentucky Derby, held on May’s first Saturday. Plans are for the 2016 event to be held on a Saturday – May 7, to coincide directly with the Bluegrass State’s signature horse race. Read more….

Thoroughbred Racing 101

10:00 AM | Tuesday Mar 10, 2015
Thoroughbred Racing 101

Thoroughbred Racing 101 will be held at the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame in Hopelands Gardens from 10:30 a.m. to noon Tuesday, March 10, and Thursday, March 12. Barry Doss, a retired horseman, will speak on The Thoroughbred Horse from Birth to the First Race on March 10 and A Day at the Races; How to Read a Race Program on March 12. The program is free, but preregistration is required. For more information, call 803-642-7631.

USC Aiken Scholarship Golf Tournament

All day on Monday Mar 9, 2015

The 10th annual USC Aiken Golf Fundraising Classic to raise money for student scholarships will be on March 9th, and include include range balls, cart and green fees, goody bags, door prizes, closet to the hole, longest drive and team prizes. Pre-round lunch and awards ceremony buffet are also included. Entry fees are $115 per person or $400 for a foursome.

The Reserve Club at Woodside Plantation
3000 Reserve Club Drive
Aiken, SC 29803
For more information contact Randy Duckett @ 803-641-3480 or visit www.usca.edu/alumni
Price: $115 – $400
$115 for individuals; $400 for team of 4

Meet a Master Gardener

8:00 AM on Saturday Mar 7, 2015

The Aiken Master Gardener Association will kick-off its 2015 Meet A Master Gardener Season from 8 a.m. to noon at the Aiken Farmers Market, 115 Williamsburg St. Master gradeners will be at the farmers market each Saturday from March through October to answer home lawn and garden questions.

Historic Tour Of Aiken SC

10:00 AM ON Saturday Mar 7, 2015

The City of Aiken offers a historic tour on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. The tour leaves from the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum, 406 Park Ave. S.E., and costs $15. Reservations are recommended. For more information or to make a reservation, call 803-644-1907.
Price: $15

USDA Grant Workshop

9:30 AM | Thursday Mar 5, 2015
USDA Grant Workshop

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office will hold a workshop to discuss the Rural Energy for America Program grant from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Aiken Electric Co-op Community Room, 2790 Wagener Road. REAP grants can pay for up to 25 percent of the cost of doing energy efficiency improvements to a facility, building or a process within the agricultural operation. Applications can be filed at any time, but awardees are not usually selected until September. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/sc. To register, email bryan.jorddan@sc.usda.gov.

Commercial Markets Poised for Growth Despite Weaker Global Economy

WASHINGTON (February, 2015) – A stronger labor market and stable U.S. economy should keep commercial real estate demand on the rise, but the pace of growth will likely be hindered by overseas weakness, according to the National Association of Realtors® quarterly commercial real estate forecast.

National office vacancy rates are forecast to slightly decrease 0.1 percent over the coming year as improved hiring increases the demand for office space. The vacancy rate for industrial space is expected to decline 0.4 percent and retail space 0.3 percent as manufacturers boost production for goods and services and consumers slightly accelerate their spending. A swath of new apartment construction coming onto the market is forecast to lead to an uptick (0.1 percent) in the multifamily vacancy rate. Read More….

Aiken Stitchin’ Belles Meeting

The Aiken Stitchin’ Belles Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America will meet at 10 a.m. Monday, March 2, on the second floor of the Aiken County Public Library, 314 Chesterfield St. S.W. Members will arrange stitched pieces in the glass cases for an exhibit that will be on view through the month of March.

Sporting Days Farm Horse Trials II

Sunday Mar 1, 2015
Benefits Montmorenci Volunteer Fire Department

Free food

Pre-Olympic horses and riders compete in 4 different levels

Admission is free but a donation to the fireman’s boot will be greatly appreciated
Sporting Days Farm
3549 Charleston Hwy (Hwy 78)
Aiken, SC 29801

Existing-Home Sales Cool in January As Available Inventory Remains Subdued

WASHINGTON (February 23, 2015) – Existing-home sales declined in January to their lowest rate in nine months, but the pace was higher than a year ago for the fourth straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions experienced declines in January, with the Northeast and West seeing the largest.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 4.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million in January (lowest since last April at 4.75 million) from an upwardly-revised 5.07 million in December. Despite January’s decline, sales are higher by 3.2 percent than a year ago. Read More…..

Glorious South Boundary Avenue

Glorious South Boundary Avenue
Glorious South Boundary Avenue
Located in the historic area of of downtown Aiken. This is the first time this property has ever been offered for sale.This home has an enormous kitchen / family room with wood burning fireplace, a large Living/ Dining room combination, three bedrooms and two large bathrooms.The roof is only six years old and the 2 new hvac systems are 1 1/2 years old. You wont beat this location ! Call Susan Hook at 803-645-8881 for more details.

Seasonal Pool house Rental

Seasonal pool house for rent
Seasonal pool house for rent
Fantastic new pool house available for short or long term lease. Situated on the grounds of a pristine farm located just minutes from downtown.Stalls and paddocks available for an additional fee.Pets may be allowed with owners approval, just Call Susan Hook at 803-645-8881 for more details.

Downtown Building lot

Downtown Building lot in Aiken SC
Downtown Building lot in Aiken SC
Residential building lot located between Citizens Park and McGees Mile training track. There are three cottages presently on the lot being sold As Is. Property is located in the County and is zoned RC.In the past the property had access to city water. A perc test was completed and approved for septic.Call Susan Hook at 803-645-8881 for more details.

Adorable Downtown Cottage

Adorable Downtown Cottage in aiken SC
Adorable Downtown Cottage in aiken SC
Adorable downtown cottage with updated kitchen, bathroom , hvac and windows.Large fenced yard offers privacy and the den would make a wonderful Master bedroom. Fantastic long term tenant would like to continue renting.Owner is very motivated to sell. Call Susan Hook at 803-645-8881 for more details.

Destination: Aiken, South Carolina The equestrian epicenter kicks off the spring season with the Aiken Triple Crown

The sport of kings at Aiken Polo Club

Photograph courtesy of Edward Buggs

Unbridled equine excitement permeates the air in this charming 1,000-horse town. Journey east on U.S. 78 a half hour past Augusta, and you’ll find yourself clopping through the Carolinas’ equestrian epicenter. This is primo sandy-soiled horse country, where sheikhs with dreams of Derby glory train their prized ponies, and the hottest to-dos are typically thrown in an infield under a tent. The spring season starts next month with the Aiken Triple Crown, three consecutive Saturdays of racing, steeplechase, and polo action; the galloping zeal continues through June. Read more…

The Artside: Artists partner with animals to create ‘Sheltered’ exhibit

Art created on behalf of animals is among several new exhibits opening Thursday, Feb. 19, at Aiken Center for the Arts. “Sheltered” represents a collaborative venture among the ACA, the Aiken Artists Guild, Friends of the Animal Shelter and the SPCA Albrecht Center. Read more…..

Aiken-area farmers support bipartisan water bill

Questions of irrigation, conservation and legislation are getting attention this week from dozens of farmers, outdoorsmen and other “friends” of the Edisto River and other waterways around South Carolina, with some claiming that “weak” laws are putting the state’s rivers and small farming operations at risk. Read more….

Aiken County’s Animal shelter group FOTAS: Larger dogs are just as lovable

“He’s a beautiful dog,” she said. “He’s big and happy and gorgeous, and we knew he would be great for our family when we saw him.”

Volunteers and members from Friends of the Animal Shelter, or FOTAS, were relieved to see him find a home. For years, they’ve been advocating for dogs such as Angus because of a stereotype they’ve noticed that labels bigger dogs as aggressive. Read more…

History comes alive during Battle of Aiken sesquicentennial celebration

Want to go? Battle of Aiken

What: The Battle of Aiken

When: Feb. 21 and 22

Where: 1210 Powell Pond Road

Cost: $10 for ages 13 and older, $5 for ages 6 to 12, and no charge for children 5 and younger

For more information: Visit www.battleofaiken.com

Home Staging Can Help Sell Home for More, Realtors® Say

Most homeowners know it is important to keep a home clean, bright and free from clutter while it is on the market for sale. But sometimes, Realtors® say, taking the extra step to stage a home can make a difference in how a buyer values it and the price a seller might get for it, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Staging. Read more…

Aiken City Council finds middle ground on bike lane debate

Aiken City Council reached a compromise to make the Hayne Avenue bike lanes a shared lane; a vote that followed months of discussion, meetings and a two-hour contentious debate Monday.

Council agreed 6-1 to Council member Lessie Price’s motion, modifying the road’s bike lanes by removing the bicycle symbols, leaving the white lines and installing “share the road” signs and road markings. Read more…

Home-Price Growth Slightly Accelerates in Fourth Quarter of 2014

WASHINGTON (February 11, 2015) – The majority of metropolitan areas experienced steady but slightly stronger price growth in the fourth quarter of 2014, behind a decline in housing supply and an uptick in demand fueled by lower interest rates and a stronger job market, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®.

The median existing single-family home price increased in 86 percent of measured markets, with 150 out of 1751 metropolitan statistical areas2 (MSAs) showing gains based on closings in the fourth quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2013. Twenty-four areas (14 percent) recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.

There were more rising markets in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, when price increases were recorded in 73 percent of metro areas. Twenty-four areas in the fourth quarter (14 percent) had double-digit increases – a rise from 16 metro areas in the third quarter of 2014. Forty-two metro areas (26 percent) experienced double-digit increases in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Meet your Valentine at FOTAS yard sale

S.O.S … S.O.S … S.O.S — NEED DONATIONS FOR VALENTINE’S YARD SALE (Sat., 2/14)– desperate need of items to sell. If you have already donated something THANK YOU If you have not, PLEASE look through your closet, garage, attic, basement, barn for pet items, household items, children’s toys, games, lawn and garden, etc. that we could add to our sales items. We will be collecting tomorrow and Friday at the Shelter, 333 Wire Road.Read more…

Realtors® Support Safe Entry to Housing Market with More Affordable FHA-Backed Loans

For first-time buyers in particular, the premium reduction could not have come at a better time. As the cost of FHA premiums increased, the percent share of first-time buyers using FHA-backed loans shrank from 56 percent to 39 percent. Meanwhile, an NAR survey released in late 2014 revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers fell to its lowest level in nearly three decades. Read More….

Palace Malice’s last Aiken gallop is Thursday morning,

At 5 p.m., Palace Malice will leave Legacy Stable for Florida on a van to rejoin the stable of his trainer, Todd Pletcher. The two-time Aiken-trained Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award finalist has been in Aiken since November preparing for a 2015 racing campaign.

When Palace Malice is retired from competition, he will stand in Kentucky at Three Chimneys Farm, which owns him in partnership with Dogwood. An earner of $2.676,135, Palace Malice won the Grade I Belmont Stakes in 2013 and the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap in 2014.

USC Aiken women’s polo team ready to play Emory twice

Polo, as a club sport, isn’t new at USC Aiken. But it has become more competitive and more organized since last year.

The women’s team has a coach and has been practicing two or three times a week. Its members now want to step up and participate in the United States Polo Association’s intercollegiate tournament. Read more….

Bella Vista Farm – SOLD

View of front of barn from the Northwest- apartment is on the right — at Bella Vista Farm, Aiken, SC.
View of front of barn from the Northwest- apartment is on the right — at Bella Vista Farm, Aiken, SC.

Bella Vista Farm is absolutely stunning and you wont find a better location or a prettier piece of property in Aiken County. The custom 6 stall barn is a show place.Constructed with only the finest materials and attention to every detail this facility has climate controlled office,tack and laundry rooms a 90 x 220 riding arena separate storage building run in sheds AND an attached luxury owners residence with 10 foot ceilings, custom kitchen and a beautiful open floor plan.The 67 acres is all in grass and has the most beautiful surrounding views.Price reflects an extremely motivated seller !

11 acres Camp Rawls/Little Rock AIKEN, SC 29805

Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $3900 per acre.The acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881
Dynamic location in horse country.This 11 acre parcel has panoramic views over an exquisite 500 acre farm.Massive trees and frontage on two roads. Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

68 acres Flowing Well Road AIKEN, SC 29805

Panoramic views, Pastures,Build your home overlooking a sparkling blue pond !!!Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $4200 per acre.The 68 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881
Panoramic views, Pastures,Build your home overlooking a sparkling blue pond !!!Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $4200 per acre.The 68 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

64 acres Flowing Well Road AIKEN, SC 29805

Panoramic views with Pastures overlooking a sparkling blue pond !!!Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $4900 per acre.The 64 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881
Panoramic views with Pastures overlooking a sparkling blue pond !!!Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $4900 per acre.The 64 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

54 acres Flowing Well Road AIKEN, SC 29805

Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $2800 per acre.The acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881
Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $2800 per acre.The 54 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

43 acres Flowing Well Road AIKEN, SC 29805

Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $2800 per acre.The 43 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881
Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $2800 per acre.The 43 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting season. Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

25 acres Jade Lane AIKEN, SC 29805

Pastures and beautiful areas to build under enormous trees.Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $3900 per acre.The 31 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881
Pastures and beautiful areas to build under enormous trees.Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $3900 per acre.The 31 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting Season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

77 acres Camp Rawls/Jade Lane AIKEN, SC 29805

Pastures and beautiful areas to build under enormous trees.Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $3600 per acre.The 71 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey.
Hunting season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing.Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

57 acres Camp Rawls AIKEN, SC 29805

Pastures and beautiful areas to build under enormous trees.Located in the desirable equestrian corridor this land is the best buy in Aiken County only $3700 per acre.The 57 acres offered is a suggested way to divide a portion from the larger parcel that contains a total of 449 acres.Deed restrictions. Buyer to survey. Hunting season.Mandatory to have an appointment prior to showing. Call susan for more details, 803 645 8881

More Housing Markets Added to ‘Improving’ List

More real estate markets are showing signs of strength in its recovery, as the total number of metros on the most recent Improving Markets Index moves up to 103. That marks the largest number of metros on the list since the index’s creation one year ago.

Last month, 99 markets were on the improving market list.

The monthly index — created by the National Association of Home Builders and First American — identifies metro areas that have shown improvement in housing permits, employment, and home prices for at least six consecutive months.

“This is an encouraging sign that the housing recovery is proceeding at a steady pace as firming prices and employment help spur new building activity, which in turn generates new jobs and more home sales,” says Barry Rutenberg, NAHB chairman.

Metro areas added to the list in October include Santa Cruz, Calif.; Pocatello, Idaho; Abilene, Texas; and Savannah, Ga. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia are represented on the October list, according to NAHB.

“The fact that most markets are maintaining their spots on the improving list from month to month is an important indication that the recovery trend is solidifying,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “At the same time, overly tight credit conditions are certainly constraining consumers’ ability to purchase homes as well as builders’ ability to construct them.”

View a complete list of the metro areas making the list in October at www.nahb.org/imi.

Falling Foreclosures Mark Big Step in Recovery

Foreclosures continue to show signs of dropping across the country. In August, there were 57,000 foreclosures completed nationwide, down from 75,000 one year ago, according to CoreLogic’s National Foreclosure Report for that month .

As of August, about 1.3 million homes — or 3.2 percent of all homes with a mortgage — were in the national foreclosure inventory or in some stage of foreclosure. In August 2011, that number stood at 1.4 million.

“The continuing downward trend in foreclosures and a gradual clearing of the shadow inventory are important signals that the recovery in housing is gaining traction,” says Anand Nallathambi, CEO of CoreLogic. “The reduction in foreclosure volumes is to some degree being facilitated by the rising popularity of alternative resolution methods, such as short sales and loan modifications.”

August marked the fourth consecutive month of fewer foreclosures nationwide. Still, some housing markets are facing higher concentrations of foreclosures than others.

In particular, five states — California, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and Georgia — account for nearly half of all completed foreclosures nationwide in the past year, says Mark Fleming, CoreLogic’s chief economist.

The states with the highest percentages of foreclosure inventories are Florida (11 percent), New Jersey (6.5 percent), New York (5.2 percent), Illinois (4.8 percent), and Nevada (4.6 percent).

Meanwhile, the states boasting the lowest number of completed foreclosures in the last year are: South Dakota, District of Columbia, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Maine.

Source: CoreLogic

Mortgage Rates Reach New Record

Fixed-rate mortgages set new all-time lows for the second consecutive week, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“Fixed mortgage rates fell again this week to all-time record lows due to the mortgage securities purchases by the Federal Reserve and indicators of a weakening economy,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The Federal Reserve’s move recently to buy up $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month until the job market improves is causing mortgage rates to fall.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 4:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged a new record of 3.36 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s previous record of 3.40 percent. A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 3.94 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged a new record low of 2.69 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s previous record, 2.73 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.26 percent.
5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.72 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising slightly from last week’s 2.71 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.96 percent.
1-year ARMs: averaged 2.57 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.60 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.95 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Fannie, Freddie’s Wooing of Investors Hits Snag

New regulations governing interest-rate swaps have become an unexpected roadblock for federal officials looking to bring private money back into the U.S. mortgage market. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac missed a goal of issuing a new class of mortgage securities by the end of September, partly because the new regulations complicated the debt offering.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission could gain oversight of the risk-sharing bonds under the Dodd-Frank financial law, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could face additional compliance responsibilities and costs.

Source: “Fannie’s, Freddie’s Wooing of Private Investors Hits Delay,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 4, 2012)

Some Markets See Inventories Cut Nearly in Half

The number of homes for sale in the last year is falling the most in California, with eight of the top 10 biggest drops in inventories in the last year from metro areas in the Golden State. Many California metros are also seeing asking prices on the rise in the last year, too.

Nationwide, inventories of for-sale homes continues to remain at historic lows with 1.84 million units for sale in August, which is down from 18.68 percent compared to a year ago, Realtor.com reports in its August housing data report.

“Low inventories, combined with stable list prices, suggest that the overall market may be poised for additional growth,” according to a Realtor.com release of the August housing data on 146 markets.

The following markets have seen the largest decreases to their inventories in the last year:

1. Oakland, Calif.: -58.35%

2. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: -45.03%

3. Fresno, Calif.: -43.13%

4. Sacramento, Calif.: -42.24%

5. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.: -41.75%

6. Bakersfield, Calif.: -41.36%

7. San Jose, Calif.: -41.10%

8. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.: -41.07%

9. San Francisco: -40.15%

10. Atlanta: -37.02%

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News