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 Santa Claus, Ind., is on the list

From Zillow blog

By Inman News

The average American city jump-starts the holiday season with the usual kind of merrymaking activities: tree-lighting festivals, the opening of ice skating rinks, and holiday concerts beckoning celebrants to get in the spirit.

But then there are cities and towns where the very name of the place conjures visions of sugar plum fairies, elves and reindeer 365 days a year. From Christmas Cove, Maine, to Saint Nicholas, Pa., and, of course, North Pole, Alaska, it’s hard not to adopt the yuletide glow.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most seasonally themed community names, and a sampling of their respective real estate.

North Pole, Alaska

Source: Wikipedia.com.

History: The naming of this northern town was no accident. According to a National Geographic profile on the tiny city, the town council renamed it North Pole in 1952 (from “Davis Homestead”), “hoping that toy manufacturers would come for the “Made in North Pole” bragging rights despite its inconvenience … as a manufacturing site.” No companies came for the manufacturing rights, so North Pole remains a bedroom community for nearby Fairbanks, which is located 14 miles away.

Holiday tradition: The North Pole’s claim to fame, of course, is its responsibility regarding children’s letters to Santa. Every year, North Pole middle and high school students respond to the letters that pour in.

North Pole home for sale:
Nhn Aaron Ave, North Pole, Alaska (below)
List price: $219,900

This recently constructed home sits in a newer North Pole subdivision with quick access to schools and shopping. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has 1,196 square feet of living space on nearly an acre-sized plot.

 

 

Rudolph, Wis.

Source: visitrudolphwi.org.

History: Although this Wisconsin dairy community was not inspired by the red-nosed reindeer, it has incorporated the fictional sleigh-leader in many seasonal festivities. The small town was actually named for the first male born in the community: Rudolph Hecox.

Holiday tradition: Like North Pole, Alaska, thousands of Christmas letters are sent to Rudolph each year. Other letters are directed through the village post office just to get the village’s sought-after Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer postmark. The town also features an illustration of Rudolph on all of its street signs.

Rudolph, Wis., home for sale:
5150 Stoney Brook Road, Rudolph, Wis. (below)
List price: $369,900

How about a Rudolph, Wis., home with a lot big enough to host a team of reindeer? This four-bedroom, three-bath home sits on an acre of lakefront land. The 4,400-square-foot home features a custom kitchen with granite countertops and high-end appliances, stone fireplaces, media room and sauna.

 

 

Santa Claus, Ind.

Source: virtualtourist.com.

 

History: The birthplace of good ol’ St. Nick? According to RoadsideAmerica.com, Santa Claus, Ind., was originally named Santa Fe and was asked by the postmaster in 1856 to change the name. At the time, the community apparently couldn’t think of anything other than Santa Claus. Today, the town completely capitalizes on its moniker with holiday-themed streets and St. Nick statues.

Holiday tradition: The post office is busy here, too, postmarking over a half-million holiday cards and processing about 10,000 letters from children.

Santa Claus home for sale:
918 S December 25, Santa Claus, Ind. (below)
For sale: $131,900

The newer-built home on the Santa Claus real estate market has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,445 square feet of living space on a large, level lot. The one-story house has an open floor plan and spacious master bedroom with walk-in closet and attached bath.

 

 

Christmas, Fla.

Source: postcardfile.blogspot.com.

History: It’s an unusual community name, but this town’s history is rather basic. On Dec. 25, 1837, at the height of the Second Seminole Indian War, American troops built a fort 20 miles east of Orlando. They named it Fort Christmas, which was later adapted into the small town’s name.

Holiday tradition: The city celebrates all year long with an enormous lighted and decorated tree display. The town’s postal staff also works overtime each season postmarking holiday cards.
Christmas home for sale:

23524 Seneca Ridge Ct, Christmas, Fla. (below)
List price: $319,000

The four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home is a spacious ranch that sits on five acres and is a few miles southeast of nearby towns Chuluota and Oviedo. Built in 1988, the house has a large wraparound front porch, mudroom, and updated solar-heated pool.

 

 

Snowflake, Ariz.

Source: ci.snowflake.az.us.

History: You may not think snow when you picture Arizona, but this small town is nestled just north of the White Mountains and gets an occasional dusting. The town wasn’t named for the winter weather, but rather for its two founders: Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake.

Holiday tradition: Twelve Days of Christmas that culminates in a grand parade where the city serves up to 1,000 cups of hot cocoa.

Snowflake home for sale
28 County Road 8572, Snowflake, Ariz. (below)
List price: $250,000

This brick colonial-style home is situated on a “mini ranch” with solar power and battery backup. Built in 1995, the home has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and 3,367 square feet of living space.

 

 

Bethlehem, Pa.

Source: travel.webshots.com.

History: Bethlehem, Pa., is by no means the only Bethlehem in the U.S. There are several scattered throughout the states, and nearly all are named for the ancient city in the Middle East.

Holiday tradition: The city wraps its downtown in 5,500 strands of lights every year — not as many as Clark Griswold (the lights-happy father portrayed by Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”) but long enough to stretch two miles.

Bethlehem, Pa., house for sale:
1015 Stone Stack Dr., Bethlehem, Pa. (below)

Located in the “prestigious Saucon Fields” neighborhood, this Bethlehem home is a far cry from a hay-strewn manger. The stone and stucco home has three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2,562 square feet of living space and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.

 

 

Evergreen, Ala.

Source: Flickr/jimmywayne.

History: Like Evergreen, Colo.; Evergreen, Ala., was named for its greenery. The small town is located in central Alabama, about midway between Montgomery and Mobile.

Holiday tradition: In honor of the town’s name, Evergreen residents line their main street with more than 30 decorated trees for the duration of the season.

Evergreen house for sale:
10951 U.S. Hwy 31, Evergreen, Ala. (below)
List price: $122,000

Built in 1935, this three-bedroom, two-bath home has been remodeled and features refinished hardwood floors, crown moldings, and gas-log fireplace. A rear, screened-in porch looks out over a backyard pond.


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REO, preforeclosure properties selling at a larger discount

RealtyTrac: Share of distressed real estate sales dips in Q2
By Inman News
Inman News™

The share of bank-owned homes and homes in some stage of foreclosure dropped 5 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter, falling from 36 percent to 31 percent, but was up from 24 percent in second-quarter 2010, according to a report released today by foreclosure data provider RealtyTrac.

And distressed properties are selling at a larger discount these days, RealtyTrac reported:

The average sales price of a bank-owned (also known as real estate owned or REO) home was $145,211 in the second quarter, which was about 40 percent below the average sales price of a nonforeclosure home. That compares with a 36 percent discount in first-quarter 2011 and a 34 percent discount in second-quarter 2010.

The average sales price of a preforeclosure home (preforeclosures, which are homes in default or scheduled for sale at public auction, are often sold in a short-sale process) was $192,129 in the second quarter, which is 21 percent below the average sales price of a nonforeclosure home. That compares with a 17 percent discount in first-quarter 2011 and a 14 percent discount in second-quarter 2010.

There were 162,680 sales of bank-owned homes to third parties in the second quarter, RealtyTrac also reported, roughly flat compared with the 162,900 reported in the first quarter and down 10 percent from second-quarter 2010. REO sales accounted for 19 percent of home sales in the second quarter, compared with 23 percent in the first quarter and 15 percent in second-quarter 2010.

There were 102,407 sales of preforeclosure homes to third parties in the second quarter of this year, up 19 percent from the first quarter but down 12 percent compared to second-quarter 2010. These sales accounted for 12 percent of sales in the second quarter of this year, flat with the first quarter and up 10 percent compared to second-quarter 2010.

“The jump in preforeclosure sales volume, coupled with bigger discounts on preforeclosures and a shorter average time to sell preforeclosures, all point to a housing market that is starting to focus on more efficiently clearing distressed inventory through more streamlined short sales — at least in some areas,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, in a statement.

“This gives distressed homeowners who do not qualify for loan modification or refinancing — or who are not interested in those options and want to sell — a better chance of completing a short sale to avoid foreclosure.” Expedited short sales, he added, “also give lenders the opportunity to more pre-emptively purge nonperforming loans from their portfolios,” and avoid a lengthy foreclosure and REO process.

Among those metro areas with at least 100 foreclosure-related sales in the second quarter, Louisville, Ky., had the largest average foreclosure discount — 54 percent below the average sales price of nonforeclosure homes. Florida’s Sebastian-Vero Beach metro area was second on the list with an average foreclosure discount of 53 percent, followed by Milwaukee (51 percent), Pittsburgh (51 percent), and Kalamazoo, Mich. (50 percent), RealtyTrac reported.

Top 10 States with Largest Volume of Foreclosure Sales in Q2 2011

California 69,897
Florida 34,558
Arizona 25,756
Nevada 15,685
Michigan 11,668
Texas 11,517
Georgia 10,485
Illinois 9,355
Colorado 8,044
Ohio 6,868

Top 10 States with Largest Share of Foreclosure Sales in Q2 2011 (as a percentage of total sales)

Nevada 65.43%
Arizona 56.64%
California 51.31%
Michigan 40.61%
Georgia 38.42%
Colorado 35.90%
Florida 35.06%
Illinois 34.01%
Oregon 33.41%
Idaho 29.59%
Utah 26.85%

Top 10 States with Highest Average REO Discount

New Jersey 53.53%
New York 52.99%
Kentucky 51.58%
Illinois 49.89%
California 49.64%
Ohio 49.04%
Maryland 48.48%
Wisconsin 46.69%
Michigan 45.95%
Virginia 45.38%

Top 10 States with Highest Average Preforeclosure Discount

Missouri 43.19%
Tennessee 39.24%
Mississippi 39.22%
Indiana 36.93%
Maryland 36.11%
California 35.95%
Texas 35.03%
Delaware 33.84%
Georgia 33.03%
Kentucky 32.76%

9 States with Rise in Share of Foreclosure Sales (Q2 2010-Q2 2011)

Wyoming 96.63%
Nevada 30.71%
Montana 25.59%
Delaware 24.93%
Washington 22.61%
Iowa 21.13%
Arizona 16.07%
Colorado 5.23%
Hawaii 4.21%

Top 10 States with Largest Decline in Share of Foreclosure Sales (Q2 2010-Q2 2011)

New Hampshire -50.38%
Indiana -48.76%
Maine -47.40%
New Jersey -46.42%
New York -42.65%
Nebraska -42.33%
Mississippi -41.76%
Utah -34.79%
North Carolina -32.11%
Kentucky -30.82%

Copyright 2011 Inman News

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http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/01/a-mortgage-backed-security-map-the-fantastic-fate-of-one-mans-loan-1.html.

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http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/01/a-mortgage-backed-security-map-the-fantastic-fate-of-one-mans-loan-1.html.

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Calif. median home price: November 2010: $296,820 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. highest median home price by C.A.R. region November 2010: Santa Barbara So. Coast $874,500 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. lowest median home price by C.A.R. region November 2010: High Desert $124,580 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. First-time Buyer Affordability Index – Third quarter 2010: 64 percent (Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates: Week ending 12/23/2010 30-yr. fixed: 4.81 Fees/points: 0.7% 15-yr. fixed: 4.15% Fees/points: 0.7% 1-yr. adjustable: 3.40% Fees/points: 0.7% (Source: Freddie Mac)  

   

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