Friday, December 31, 2004

Record nationwide home sales in November!

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), "Existing-home sales increased 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.94 million units in November from an upwardly revised pace of 6.76 million units in October. Last month's sales activity was 13.2 percent above the 6.13-million unit level in November 2003. The previous record was 6.92 million in June 2004.".

Low interest rates are still fueling the housing market.

To read more about it, including regional statistics, go here.

And, best wishes for 2005!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Deciding where to locate? Are schools important to you?

For many buyers, schools are an important part of the decision when deciding where to live. To that end, the California Department of Education has valuable resources online for you!

On the California Department of Education website (http://www.cde.gov) you may want to look at:
Data and Statistics - http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/ - which has "Data and statistics collected from California schools and learning support resources to identify trends and educational needs and to measure performance."
School Performance - http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sp/ - which has "Data pertaining to school performance or ranking, such as the Academic Performance Index (API) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)."
Testing and Accountability - http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ - which has "Provides information on student academic achievement and program requirements."

There's much more information available online to you at the CDE website.

And even if you are not interested in the schools from a personal point of view, you should be considering their effect on the resale value of the home you are considering.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Moving ... it's not all about the home prices!

When you think of moving, do you also take into account the change in the cost of goods and services? You should!

There's a handy online calculator that gives you a salary cost comparison between two cities here. Try it! You might be surprised at the results.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Megan's Law website online

A new website from the California Department of Justice lists registered sex offenders in the state.

This site has "access to information on more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500 offenders in the California communities; as to these persons, the site displays the last registered address reported by the offender. An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with listing by ZIP Code, city, and county. Information on approximately 22,000 other offenders is not included on this site, but is known to law enforcement personnel."

Go to the website here.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy holidays

We wish you and your family a happy holiday and best wishes for 2005.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Holiday slow down?

'Tis the season and yes, the real estate market is slower. Sellers typically would prefer to have their home on the market after the new year, and not worry about their home being in "showing condition" through the holidays. Buyers have their focus elsewhere.

Having said that, this may be a good opportunity for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, fewer people competing for homes. For sellers, fewer listings competing for the buyer's attention.

We wish you all the best this holiday season!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Buy now or rent?

We are often asked that question. It is not an easy decision. Will rising interest rates cause home prices to soften? And, if the interest rates go up, will you still be able to afford the home of your dreams ... even if the price is less than you expect to pay today?

Maybe you'd like to check with this handy "Rent vs buy Calculator" here. Use a few different assumptions ... lower price, higher interest rate for example. See what happens!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Fire safety in the home during the holidays

An important consideration during the holiday season, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has issued important information to safeguard your family and home during the holidays. Utilitizing common sense, plus precautionary efforts, can make the difference.

The NFPA estimates that "In 2002, there were 241 Christmas tree fires in U.S. homes, resulting in 23 deaths, 12 injuries and $11.4 million in direct property damage."

READ THE IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION HERE.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fannie Mae has announced new higher loan limit

For 2005, Fannie Mae has set the single family mortgage loan limit to $359,650.

This will help more families be able to afford housing through Fannie Mae's program. In fact, they predict "As a result of the new loan limit, Fannie Mae estimates that in 2005, as many as an additional 271,524 homeowners would be eligible for a conforming loan."

To read the Fannie Mae press release, go here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) revises end of year housing prediction upward

A strong real estate market has NAR saying "Existing-home sales are expected to jump 7.9 percent to 6.58 million in 2004, well above last year's record." In addition, for 2005, NAR says "For 2005, NAR projects 6.38 million sales, which would be the second highest level on record."

Further, NAR has made it's forecast for additional influences on the real estate market, including home prices and interest rates. To read more, go here.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Remodeling homes strong in 2004

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAHB), remodeling remains strong based on the third quarter of 2004. This is attributed to low interest rates and good consumer confidence.

The NAHB's Remodeling Market Index (RMI) also gives an indication by region:
"...the Southern part of the country remained virtually the same in current activity...the Western section posted the highest growth in both current and future expectations...the Midwest posted a mixed bag as it showed a minor slow down in current activity ... and a minor rebound in future expectations...the Northeast saw the biggest fall..."

To read more about this, go here.

Friday, December 10, 2004

New housing starts in California down in October

The California Building Industry Association reports that "New housing units as measured by permits issued for October 2004 totaled 16,738, down 3.3 percent from the previous month and 17.9 percent below October of last year."

However, when measured region by region, not every area of California went down. The California Building Industry Association further reports that "Among the state's five major regions, housing starts were higher in October than in September in Southern California (up 10 percent), the San Joaquin Valley (up 7.6 percent) and the Sacramento-Sacramento Valley (up 2.4 percent). Declines were registered in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast regions, down 3.5 percent and 7.4 percent respectively."

Once again, the economic law of supply and demand is at play.

To read the online article, go here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Mortgage rates rise slightly

The economic news is good ... mortgage rates have gone up slightly.

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 10 basis points to 5.82 percent, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point. The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.35 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.07 percent."

Take heart ... these are still good rates!

To read about current interest rates, go here.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Study shows real estate prices in the West are leading US

It has been reported that "For the sixth quarter in a row, the Pacific states – which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington – lead the nation in annual house-price appreciation, growing at 20.9 percent, according to Freddie Mac's Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index."

Yykes! The report also states "During the last five years, home values have increased 76.8 percent."

No wonder so many people consider their home an investment, not just a place to live!

To read about it, go here.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

More on your free credit report

As reported in an earlier blog entry, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act contains a provision that requires the national credit reporting bureaus (there are three - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to allow consumers to obtain one free copy of each of their three credit reports once every year. It started December 1, and is being phased in over ten months from the western part of the US to the eastern.

The website to visit is annualcreditreport.com. You can get your credit report online, or there is a toll free number - (877) 322-8228, or you can fill our the online request form and mail it in. Visit the website for further details.

Why would you want to get your credit report?

First and foremost would be to review it and correct errors. As a practical application, if you are planning to apply for credit (say, to get a home loan), if would be a good idea to check your credit report BEFORE applying for a loan. In that way, you can make sure it accurately reflects your credit.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Mortgage Activity Slows During Thanksgiving Week

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending November 26. It reveals a slight decrease in mortgage activity as follows:

"The Market Composite Index - a measure of mortgage loan application volume - was 673.3, a decrease of 5.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 715.0 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 36.0 percent compared with last week and was down 1.9 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Certainly no surprise during the Thanksgiving (or any) holiday time.

To read the entire article, go here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Study compares housing wealth to stock wealth

Can you guess the result? That's right, housing outshines stocks in this study!

To read the online article, go here.


And, October home sales remain strong!

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that October sales of existing single family homes was the forth highest on record.

NAR reports that "The national median existing-home price was $187,000 in October, up 8.8 percent from October 2003 when the median price was $171,800. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less."

To read about the details, go here.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

FREE CREDIT REPORT!

Beginning in December of 2004, "...all U.S. residents will be permitted a single free credit report under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Also known as the FACT Act, the measure phases in the one free report per year across the country, starting on Dec. 1 in 13 mostly Western states and spreading to the rest of the nation by Sept. 1, 2005."

To read about this online, go here.

Friday, November 26, 2004

California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) predicts record year in 2005

Think housing prices are high? Well, if you believe the CAR, then housing prices will get higher in 2005. In fact, the CAR predicts that California housing will experience a 15% gain in 2005. The CAR attributes this "to low mortgage interest rates, an awakening economy, and a severe shortage of housing."

To read the online article, please read here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Strong resale housing market continues!

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® reports that "Total state existing-home sales activity in the third quarter was at the second-highest pace on record, with 36 states posting increases from a year ago."

This nationwide survey indicates that the top three markets are (in order) Arizona, West Virginia and North Carolina. First-time buyers are still a strong force in the market.

To read the online press release, please go here.

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J.D. Power rates Home Mortgage Providers

An interesting study is online from J.D. Power titled "J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Home Mortgage Study". This Study "is based on responses from more than 11,000 home mortgage customers" and ranks companies based from the viewpoint of the consumer. If you are considering a home loan, you might want to look at the survey first!

To see the ratings, go here.

**************************************************

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says housing starts rebound in October

The National Association of Home Builders reports that the month of October saw the housing market play a little game of "catch up" after September's wet weather. The government reports that housing "...starts rose 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.03 million units in October, more than offsetting the weather-related dip recorded in the previous month."

Regionally, the NAHB reports that "... starts posted the biggest gain, of 20 percent, in the Northeast, followed by an 8.6 percent boost in the Midwest, a 5.0 percent lift in the West and a 4.0 percent improvement in the South."

To read the press release, please go here.


We now continue our blogging after taking a short break. Check back for our every-other-day updates and thank you all for your kind comments in our absense!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Housing starts predicted to decline in 2005

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is predicting that housing starts will decline in 2005. While this Association feels that the housing market will remain strong, their prediction of NAHB Chief Economist David Seidersis is "With activity “flattening in 2005,” Seiders is forecasting a decline in housing starts next year of about 4.2% to 1.85 million units, down from the 1.935 million starts projected for this year. Sales of new single-family homes are forecast to drop 5.2% from a record of more than 1.16 million this year to about 1.1 million."

Remember, we are talking about NEW homes, not resale homes.

To read the entire press release, go here.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association reports increase in loan applications

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports for the week ending October 29, "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications - a measure of mortgage loan applications - was 761.7, an increase of 8.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 703.9 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 7.5 percent compared with last week and was up 11.0 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."


To view the entire online press release, go here.

Friday, November 05, 2004

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports strong condo sales

The NAR reports that condo sales remain strong, and are possibly headed toward a 9th record year! The NAR states "The median existing condo price was $197,000 in the third quarter, which is 18.0 percent higher than the same quarter in 2003. The median is a typical market price where half of the units sold for more and half sold for less. By comparison, the median-priced existing single-family home was $188,500 in the third quarter, up 7.7 percent from a year ago."

To read the entire article, go here.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Are you attracting thieves?

As a homeseller, you open your home. Many people come through your home. Are you at risk for crime?

The best policy is to play it safe! When your home is on the market, remove all valuables. Do not leave valuables or money in sight, or in a jewelry box that can be removed or opened. Even stashing everything into the top dresser drawer is too obvious. Furthermore, remove or hide prescriptions drugs. You probably hadn't thought of prescription drugs as a possible stolen item. Play it safe!

The National Association of REALTORS® has an article online with valuable information. To read the entire article, go here.

Friday, October 29, 2004

What buyers prefer

The National Association of REALTORS® has released a study that indicates what buyers in different "stages" of life prefer when looking for a home to buy.

The study results are published in the first-ever "2004 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Profile of Buyer's Home Feature Preferences".

Some of the interesting results:
"Although most buyers choose homes located in suburbs or subdivisions, homes purchased by first-time buyers are more likely to be older and located in a central city, while repeat buyers are more likely to select a new home. Older buyers are more inclined to purchase in a small town."

Regionally there are differences too! "Nearly 90 percent of buyers in the South rate central air conditioning as a very important feature, compared to only 37 percent in the Northeast. Buyers in the West are more likely to desire a patio or fencing, while buyers in the Northeast and Midwest are more interested in a finished basement."

You'll want to read this very interesting survey! Do you know what the #1 desired amenity is for a homebuyer? Then read more about the entire survey here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reports on September home sales

The California Association of REALTORS® reports that "The median price of an existing home in California in September increased 21 percent and sales decreased 0.9 percent compared with the same period a year ago."

The actual dollar figures were revealed: "The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during September 2004 was $465,540, a 21 percent increase over the revised $384,690 median for September 2003. The September 2004 median price decreased 1.7 percent compared with a revised $473,360 median price in August."

These are impressive numbers for the state as a whole. We are asked daily what our predictions are for the future. It's just too hard to tell! There are so many factors that can affect our real estate market. Right now, interest rates are certainly favorable!

To read the article, please go here.

Monday, October 25, 2004

National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.) reports September home sales up!

Attributing the rise in home sales to favorable interest rates, the N.A.R. reports "Existing-home sales rose 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.75 million units in September from a pace of 6.55 million units in August. Last month's sales activity was 1.0 percent above the 6.68-million unit pace in September 2003 and is the third-highest pace on record."

And what about the price of homes? The same article reports that "The national median existing-home price was $186,600 in September, up 8.6 percent from September 2003 when the median price was $171,800. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less."

The West saw the stongest activity.

To read the online article, go here.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Oil prices up, interest rates down!

Well, who would ever think that rising oil prices would have an effect on interest rates? Bankrate.com reports that "Long-term mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction as yields on 10-year Treasury notes, and those yields fell when oil flirted with $55 a barrel late last week."

And the rationale for this? The article goes on to explain "Higher energy prices could add fuel to inflation, too -- and rising prices would put upward pressure on interest rates. But right now, bond investors are more worried about the effects of rising oil prices on economic growth than on inflation."

Interest rates are down slightly this week from last week, with a 30 year fixed rate at 5.70% (down 0.05%). Our home buyers have been very happy with the interest rates they have been getting. Make sure you shop around for a loan, as there are many loan programs to choose from!

To read more, go here.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Is the real estate market influenced by politics?

According to Nathan Kelly, an assistant professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, YES! He says buyers are influenced by the political signs they see in a neighborhood, feeling that political views are a sign of similar values.

An article in CNN online details how signs posted in a neighborhood have had an affect on buyer's decisions. Of course, other buyers don't care. But it is an interesting premise, none the less.

It is our feeling that the election has contributed to the slow down in our market. Consciously or not, buyers may be waiting to see the outcome of the election, then will use their judgment to guess what that affect that outcome will have on interest rates and the housing market. Then, a buyer will either jump back in and buy, or may decide that they should wait based on who is elected.

To read the online article, go here.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Los Angeles Times report on no-down buyers

Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Real Estate Section, featured an article about buyers who are using 100% financing, as they are not able to save fast enough to keep pace with the real estate market.

If you are considering becoming a "zero down" buyer, you should know that most lenders would require that you have excellent credit. Some lenders charge a higher rate of interest for 100% financing. Plus, it doesn't mean you don't need any cash ... you may still need to come up with some money for closing costs.

There are other issues involved with 100% financing which we will not go into here. But from a buyer's point of view one of the most significant considerations is ... what happens if the market goes down? Then you may end up owing more than the property is worth.

We have had several buyers get 100% financing, but their lender structures it as two loans ... one for 80% of the value, and one for 20% of the value. In this way, the borrower does not have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance).

As always, if you are interested in further details about 100% financing, we would recommend you speak with your lender. Ask questions, and make sure you understand the ramifications of whatever financing you are considering.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

And, what has been happening to interest rates?

We've mentioned how the real estate market appears to be slowing ... but, what has happened to interest rates? Are interest rates a factor in the current market?

Freddie Mac recently reported that actually interest rates declined slightly this week over last week ... "30-year mortgage rates fell to 5.74 percent following a rise to 5.82 percent last week". The high so far this year was 6.34 for the week of May 12, it is reported.

Freddie Mac's chief economist predicts interest rates no great movement in interest rates for the next few months.

So, it would appear that interest rates are not a major factor in the slowing of our real estate market. In fact, with interest rates so favorable, one would expect that buyers would still be anxious to get into the market. Again, perhaps the slowing market is a sign of buyer caution on where the real estate market is headed. Many buyers have expressed to us that they feel the market has peaked, and that prices may decline. That remains to be seen ...

To read the entire press release, go here.


Register to vote ONLINE!

If you will allow us a slight departure from real estate ... did you know you can register online to vote in California? The deadline to register to vote for an election is 15 days before each local and statewide election day. Yykes ... that looks like October 18 is the deadline for our November elections!

California's online voter registration website is here.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

An online real estate resource for you!

As you are probably aware, there is a lot of information available on the internet. The same pertains to real estate.

One of the more useful sites is http://www.dqnews.com - DataQuick Real Estate News. This site compiles monthly housing statistics. Check out the "zip code charts" with links along the left side of the homepage. Those charts provide valuable insight into what has gone on for the previous month, with single family home and condo statistics indicating units sold, median price and the percent change in median price over the same month last year. These statistics are listed by city/zip code.

We refer many inquiries to this site to help to get an understanding of prices in the Southern California market.

Of course there are many great web sites related to real estate. Send us an email and let us know about your favorite(s). We'll publish the information here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Do gas prices affect real estate?

As you are probably aware, record-high crude oil prices are now pushing gas prices upward. With higher gas prices comes the obvious rise in commuting cost (for those of you driving to your destination).

Let's see how this affects your housing situation.

Let's say you are getting a $300,000 loan at 6% interest for 30 years. The principal and interest payment would be approximately $1800 per month.

Now let's say that your commuting cost has gone up $100 per month due to the rise in gas prices.

If you had taken that extra $100 and put it into your mortgage payment, you would have been able to afford a loan of approximately $320,000.

If you knew that it would cost you more to commute from your home, would that have made a difference in WHERE you would buy a home? Would you have bought a home closer to your work with that extra $20,000?

Perhaps in the future the cost of commuting will be a more important factor in the selection of a community to call home.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Observations from the east coast

Having just returned from the east coast (visiting child at college), I must report about my conversations about real estate along the way.

While at breakfast this morning, a couple from New Jersey shared their tale of a real estate market that has gone flat.

Another from Arizona lamented to me that he was not able to return to his Southern California roots because of skyrocketing prices here.

And all wanted to hear about our Southern California real estate market from someone actively involved in it (me!). Their perception was that home prices were "out of sight" and that people were lining up to buy homes. In talking with them, I sensed a bit of envy over the money part of the market, but each person I talked with was happy living in the community that they were living in. In fact, they raved about their towns!

It's not always about the money. Quality of life, family, and other factors can influence where you choose to live ... and how happy you are living there!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

California Association of Realtors® releases it's forecast for the 2005 real estate market!

With everyone wondering what will happen in 2005, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) has now made their predictions for next year's real estate market. According to C.A.R., "The median price of a single-family home in California will again increase by double-digits next year, reaching $522,930, while sales will decrease slightly from this year's pace to the second best year on record in 2005".

And what about their projections for interest rates?? Read what C.A.R. President Ann Pettijohn says:
"Homebuyers next year will face slightly higher mortgage interest rates, approaching 7 percent by year's end, which will make it more difficult for many families in California to be able to afford a home. Coupled with rising home prices, affordability in California will fall to an all-time annual low of 16 percent next year."

Which areas of the state will fare well?? According to C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young:
"Regionally, the areas with the greatest potential for home sales growth are the inland regions of the state -- the Central Valley and the Inland Empire region in Southern California, which have experienced significant population gains in recent years as well as robust new home-building activity."

To read the press release from the California Association of Realtors, go here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sample 24 hour market watch in our area

Our multiple listing service provides interesting statistics for us. Among those are the "24-hour Market Watch" statistics.

For example, for the past 24 hours, our multiple listing service reports the following:
New Listings 71
Solds 39
Pendings 43
Price Increases 2
Price Reductions 27


Interesting! We're noting more price reductions than we've seen in a long time. It may be a trend. Sellers who were "testing the waters" with a list price, now have to bring the list price closer to the market value. The buyers appear to be putting a cautious tone on their offers, many times worrying that the value may be going down. We are also noticing that appraisers are being more careful with their appraisal values.

Let us know what you are experiencing in the real estate market where you are. Send us an email!


Sunday, October 03, 2004

L.A. Times article --- comments!

Well, as you might suspect, there were letters in today's Sunday L.A. Times regarding last Sunday's L.A. Times article about rebates from agents to buyers and sellers. (Please see our blog post of Monday, September 27.)

The title of the letters section (page E7 of today's L.A. Times) is "Rebates from agents debated." One letter makes the point that a rebate is a return on funds spent. The buyer does not pay the commission, so how is the agent giving the buyer a rebate of the commission? In addition, many buyers do not buy. Yet, realtors are not paid unless the buyer actually buys a property and closes escrow. The realtor has worked for free until that point.

Another letter from a realtor feels the rebate idea cheapens the job done by a realtor, considering the initial realtor exam and required continuing eduation, plus providing the "most conscientious service" to a buyer or seller.

No doubt this subject will come up in years to come. Our only advice would be NOT to pick your realtor by whether or not you are going to get a rebate. You cannot put a (rebate) price on working with an experienced, dedicated, professional Realtor® who has your best interests in mind.

Friday, October 01, 2004

To fix or not to fix ...

When you think of selling your home, it may be useful to equate it to selling a car. First of all, you would have your car detailed before selling it. Wash, wax, remove dents, touch up paint, clean the interior, etc. So, why not "detail your home" before selling it? Makes sense!

Many homeowners have seen the benefit of sprucing up their property before selling. Buyers have an easier time of mentally placing themselves in the home if they are also not trying to remodel the home.

Sometimes it is less clear, however, if the effort to fix up a home before selling will truly pay off. That's where a real estate professional may be able to help you. We are often consulted to help a homeowner analyze just how far they should or should not go to get their home ready to sell. Every seller's situation is different.

It also depends on the current real estate market. In some markets, fixing up is not necessary for a home to sell for top dollar. In other real estate market climates, making a home in "move in" condition would be necessary to obtain a sale.

When you are wrestling with this tough decision, do not hesitate to call your local realtor and ask for help. Their opinion and comments may save you money fixing up your home, and make you money in selling your home!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

California housing market report for August is in!

Recently we reported on the national housing market for August home sales. Now the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reports that "The median price of an existing home in California in August increased 16.8 percent and sales declined 8.5 percent compared to the same period a year ago."

As far as the actual numbers are concerned, C.A.R. states "The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during August 2004 was $474,370, a 16.8 percent increase over the revised $406,140 median for August 2003, C.A.R. reported. The August 2004 median price increased 2.6 percent compared with a revised $462,140 median price in July."

Wow! What prices! People who are moving into the state are still suffering from "sticker shock", wondering if it can possibly continue. People moving out of state are wondering if they will be able to afford to return.

To read the article by the C.A.R., please go here.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Thoughts on L.A. Times article

Sunday's L.A. Times Real Estate section featured a front page article titled "Like it? It's from my agent". The article details alternative compensation to real estate agents from sellers AND buyers.

The article describes rebates from agents to sellers and buyers, as well as compensation to real estate agents on other than a commission basis. The article contends "But an increasing number of agents and brokers are competing with one another by experimenting with rebates, hourly rates and flat fees as alternatives to the 5% to 6% commission typically charged."

It's quite an interesting concept, from a realtor's point of view as well as from the client's point of view.

Several issues to consider:
1. Amount of legwork performed by client and agent
2. Amount of paperwork performed by client and agent
3. Negotiating of contract and contingencies
4. Legal liability of client and agent
5. Amount of money paid for services rendered
6. Marketing
7. Multiple Listing Service listing
8. Experience of agent and client

While we will not debate the issue in this forum, we would be happy to post your comments and feelings. Let us know what you think, and we will post comments on our blog. Send us an email. We will post your comment, first name and city.

To read the article online, go here. It's online now, but may go in the "archives" soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Report on August housing market

The National Association of REALTORS® reports that August home sales were off slightly, but still remain at record levels.

The report states "Existing-home sales declined 2.7 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million units from a level of 6.72 million units in July. Last month's sales activity was 2.3 percent above the 6.39-million unit pace in August 2003."

It is our opinion that the national market closely mirrors what is happening in the Los Angeles market as well. Historically, fewer homes are on the market in August than in July. Also, buyers who are trying to move before the school year starts would ideally purchase in rather than in August.

To read the entire press release, go here.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports on loan applications

For the week ending September 17, the MBA reports that loan applications are up slightly.

"The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications - a measure of mortgage loan applications - was 690.7, an increase of 1.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 678.2 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased by 26.4 percent compared with last week but was down 1.5 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Federal Reserve raises interest rate

The Federal Reserve raised its "target for the federal funds rate" by 25 basis points to 1.75%. It is the third time the Federal Reserve has raised rates since June of this year.

To read the press release, please go here.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

How is the housing market where you are?

Our market is in it's usual September slowdown. The rush to get settled before school starts has ended, and now it's 'back to school'! While this is typical for the season, what remains to be seen is what will happen in the coming months. Will the "hot" LA housing market continue to rise in value, or will decreased demand force a correction of prices?

What's your opinion? Send us an email!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mortgage volume down slightly

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications - a measure of mortgage loan applications - was 678.2, a decrease of 2.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 692.0 one week earlier." The was for the week that included Labor Day, ending September 10, so there was one less business day.

To read the online article, go here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Housing Affordability in California is down from last year

According to the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.), "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 18 percent in July, a 9 percentage-point decrease compared to the same period a year ago when the Index was at 27 percent."

Where were the affordable areas in California? C.A.R. reports "At 42 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable C.A.R. region in the state, followed by the Sacramento and Central Valley regions at 26 percent. The San Diego region was the least affordable in the state at 10 percent, followed by the Orange County and Monterey regions at 11 percent."

To read the article, go here.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Luxury Homes Values Set Records in California

Home prices are reaching new highs! According to the Prestige Home Index™ by First Republic Bank, "Luxury home values in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco set new highs in the second quarter of 2004 growing by double-digit appreciation over the past 12 months."

In Los Angeles, the report states "Los Angeles values rose 17.5%, or $256,000, year over year and 3.7% from the first quarter of 2004. Average luxury home values in Los Angeles jumped to $1.72 million."

The Prestige Home Index™ is used to "measure changes in homes valued at more than $1 million in key California urban markets."

To read the article, go here.

Friday, September 10, 2004

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) predicts record home sales

"Greater than expected sales of existing homes in the first seven months of the year will help set a record for annual existing-home sales in 2004, according to the National Association of Realtors®."

With regard to new home sales, the NAR predicts "New-home sales also are expected to rise to a record level this year, to 1.16 million, up 7.1 percent. Housing starts are forecast to increase 4.8 percent to 1.94 million in 2004, the strongest pace since 1978 when baby boomers were entering the market en masse."

"David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said a continued decline in mortgage interest rates is creating favorable market conditions at a time when household formation is rising. Though NAR projects the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to slowly rise to 6.0 percent in the fourth quarter, the average rate for the entire year should be 5.9 percent, the second-lowest annual average since the mid 1960s. The lowest rate in recent years was 5.8 percent in 2003."

"Price appreciation is projected to be only slightly higher than historic norms next year, as supply levels come closer to market demand. Although we expect the number of home buyers to continue to exceed the number of sellers, the situation should improve in 2005," Lereah said."

To read the online news release, go here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Real estate property taxes on the rise

While property values have increased, so have property taxes. Property owners have been able to keep their monthly mortgage payments in control through the lower interest rates.

According to an online article in CNN/Money, "homeowners in some cities have seen increases of 20 percent to 50 percent over the last few years."

In California, property taxes are guided by Proposition 13. If you feel your property value is overassessed, there is an appeals process that you can follow. This may be significant IF real estate prices fall.

To read more, please go here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association reports mortgage applications virtually unchanged

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports for the week ending August 27, "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications - a measure of mortgage loan applications - was 642.7, a decrease of 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 646.3 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased by 1.9 percent compared with last week but was up 2.6 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

To read the entire article online, go here.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

National Association of Realtors® reports home inventory increasing

According to the National Association of Realtors®, "the U.S. housing inventory is still tight, at 4.3 months, down from 4.7 months a year earlier, but some markets have seen a noticeable boost in supply."

"The inventory of homes for sale in Orange County, Calif., for instance, rose from 1.4 months in April to 7.5 months in July; and year-over-year gains have hit the double digits in more than a dozen New Jersey counties as well as in Boston."

"What University of California at Los Angeles economist Edward Leamer calls "a day of reckoning" is expected to arrive slowly, mainly because homeowners would simply stay put if prices dramatically fell."

"While some experts worry about appreciation outpacing incomes and rents, NAR chief economist David Lereah and other industry insiders believe that low interest rates will continue to fuel the housing boom."

To read the entire article, go here.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Housing market slowing down?

Holiday week? Back to school? Election concerns? Whatever the reason, our real estate market is slower this week. Calls into our office have decreased, and the number of showings on our listings is also decreased. Buyers are taking longer to make a decision on a property, and seem to have less motivation.

We will watch this over the next few weeks and continue to monitor the pulse of the market.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Home Builder Confidence in Market due to Lower Interest Rates

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that "Declining mortgage interest rates helped boost builders’ confidence in the market for new single-family homes this month."

To read the article, go here.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The California Association of Realtors reports record home sale increases.

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reports that "The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California set a new record during the second quarter of 2004 rising 25.3 percent to $461,730."

Further, "Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California amounted to 635,580 for the second quarter of 2004 at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, a 10.4 percent increase from 575,910 in the second quarter of 2003."

The real estate market continues here in Southern California!

To read the article, go here.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Condo/Co-Op Sales Set Record in Second Quarter

The National Association of Realtors® reports that the "sales of existing condominium and cooperative sales set a record in the second quarter, marking the first time this market segment has ever approached the 1-million sales level".

This is in keeping with the real estate market in our area. Houses are so expensive that buyers turn to townhouses or condominiums to find something more affordable. The condo/townhouse market in our area is booming, with prices reaching new levels every month.

To read the entire article of the National Association of Realtors® , please go here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Mortgage loan applications decrease ... a trend?

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) announced that for the week ending August 6, mortgage loan applications decreased slightly over the prior week and also decreased about 24% when compared to the same week last year.

Just one more indicator that the real estate market is cooling, in our opinion.

For more information, read here.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

California's Housing Affordability Index falls

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) announced that "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 18 percent in June, a 9 percentage-point decrease compared to the same period a year ago when the Index was at 27 percent, according to a report released today by the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.). The June Housing Affordability Index (HAI) declined one point compared to May, when it stood at 19 points."

"C.A.R.’s monthly housing affordability index measures the percentage of households that can afford to purchase a median-priced home in California. C.A.R. also reports housing affordability indexes for regions and select counties within the state. The index is the most fundamental measure of housing well-being in the state."

To read more, go here.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Women dominate in real estate!

According to the National Association of Realtors®, "Women accounted for 61 percent of part-time and full-time real estate practitioners in 2003, up from 36 percent in 1978. What's more, the number of female practitioners surged from 21 percent to 52 percent over the same 25-year period."

In addition, "Most women practitioners say their listening and nurturing skills, as well as their multi-tasking abilities, help them excel in real estate. The excitement of helping to create homeowners is cited by most women as the main reason they love their real estate careers. Reasonable income, flexible hours that allow them to balance work and family, and the ability to work from home or in the field also make real estate a good career choice, according to many women practitioners."

To read the press release go here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Housing starts still strong in July

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that housing starts in July were still strong, signaling continued market confidence by home builders.

“Builders remain confident about the market and expect to maintain a healthy pace through the coming months as we strive to keep up with strong demand for single-family homes and condominiums” said Bobby Rayburn, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home and apartment builder from Jackson, Mississippi.

As far as statistics, the NAHB reports "For the month, single-family housing starts increased 8.5 percent to a pace of 1.651 million. This was a 7.5 percent increase over the July 2003 pace."

To read the entire article online, go here.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Lack of building supplies threatens housing market

The National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey that indicates "A shortage of cement and other key building materials looms as the biggest threat to the dynamic housing market that has produced record levels of new home construction in the U.S., according to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)."

This survey was completed in July indicates shortages in cement, bricks and insulation. Lumber supplies are adequate, but there is concern as to the fluctuating cost. Many blame the government for the shortages, with high duties.

To read the entire article, go here.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Should you pay off your mortgage?

The National Association of Realtors has an interesting article about paying off your mortgage. No doubt many people consider this option at one point or another. Certainly many of our clients tell us that they are making extra payments to help pay down the principal balance.


The National Association of Realtors reports that "...most financial planners recommend prepayment only if the borrowers cannot earn more by investing the extra money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds."

You will want to verify with the lender that you have no prepayment penalty, and make sure that when you pay extra funds that the lender applies those funds to pay down the principal balance.

You should check with your financial planner, tax or other financial advisor before making a decision about paying off your mortgage. Every person's situation is different.

To read the entire article, go here.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

National Association of Realtors® reports on second quarter home sales

The National Association of Realtors® reports that homes sales reached "... the highest pace on record in the second quarter..." In addition, "Sales rose by double-digit rates in 34 states and the District of Columbia compared to the same quarter in 2003, and no state recorded a decline. Complete data for two states was not available."

"The NAR survey showed that nationwide, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing single-family, apartment condominium and co-operative home sales totaled 7.79 million units in the second quarter, up 16.0 percent from the 6.72 million-unit pace in the second quarter of 2003. The previous record was a sales rate of 7.36 million in the third quarter of 2003."

To read the complete article, go here.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Are interest rates going to rise?

The interest rate watch is on, as the Federal Reserve meets tomorrow. Market influences have been mixed ... the jobs report was not a positive note, yet auto sales were up in July. Many economists expect the interest rate will move upward at the end of the meeting on Tuesday.

What will happen? Let's see!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Baby Boomers interested in adult communities

RISMedia reports that there is "...a nationwide trend of baby boomers (those who are now 40 to 58 years old) and older adults who are buying into active-adult communities even though many of them aren't ready to hang up their business suits for good."

Tired of paying for and maintaining their current residence, or desperate to escape from cold climates, these baby boomers are turning to the next phase of their real estate life! Many baby boomers have significant appreciation in their current residence, which they can turn into money to purchase a very nice home in an adult community. There are not "retirement" communities, but rather communities that afford an easier lifestyle (as far as maintaining the home) and an active lifestyle with a concentration of people in a similar situation.

To read the entire story, go here.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association reports on loan applications

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports for the week ending July 30, "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications - a measure of mortgage loan applications - was 620.4, a decrease of 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 621.4 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased by 0.3 percent compared with last week and was down 35.6 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

The full press release is here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association reports mortgage apps up slightly

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports for the week ending July 23, mortgage loan applications increased 0.6% (on a seasonally adjusted basis)from one week earlier.
Refinances declined slightly during the same period.
For the complete press release, please go here.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

California Association of Realtors reports on June 2004 home prices

The CAR reports that the "Median price of a home in California increase(d) 25.3 percent in June to new record..." and that closed sales werea up 10.8% over June 2003.

According to CAR President Ann Pettijohn, "The real estate market in June experienced the confluence of what is traditionally the peak selling season and consumers' responses to a changing interest rate climate. As mortgage rates began to increase, consumers' expectations of even higher rates in the future pushed many off the fence and into the market."

To read the press release, go here.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Seniors find California is expensive!

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that "California remains among the most expensive states for homeowners aged 55 to 74..." with "Eleven of the top 25 most expensive counties in the country were in California, led by Marin in fourth place (22,212 homes, $616,915 average home value) and San Mateo in fifth (49,245 homes, $570,032 average home value). Other California counties included Santa Clara, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, Contra Costa and Alameda."

To read the article online, go here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Should you buy now?

Bankrate.com has an interesting article for home buyers and predictions for the future of the real estate market. It references the Federal Reserve economic experts. These experts declare that "the housing bubble will not burst, because there is no bubble, and that the acceleration of home prices is losing velocity."

According to the Bankrate article, the study says that "...homes are now more affordable than they were in the 1970s and '80s."

The report concludes that their "... it appears that home prices have risen in line with increases in personal income and declines in nominal interest rates."

The report, titled "Are Home Prices the next "Bubble"?" is available here (you will need Adobe Acrobat to view the report, that is a pdf file).

To read the Bankrate.com article, go here.



Monday, July 26, 2004

Southern California Real Estate - still strong?

With interest rates still at low levels, we are still seeing strong demand in the real estate market. It's not super-strong, mind you, as it has been in the past. Yet, multiple offers continue. Maybe it's not ten multiple offers, but three. And maybe the buyers don't offer tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price, but rather a few thousands.

We have been reading/hearing that interest rates are expected to rise through 2005.

Thinking of waiting for the market to turn? Well, think again. Consider this:
If you make $60,000 a year and plan to save 10%, you will save $6,000 in the next year.
But, if the home you want to buy (let's say it's $300,000 in today's market) appreciates 10% over the next year, at the end of that same year it will be worth $330,000. Can you save fast enough to buy at the end of the one year? You do the math.

And, let us know what you think!


Saturday, July 24, 2004

What's better - real estate or stock?

Found an interesting article on that burning question. Please read here.


Mortgage Bankers report on loan applications for week ending July 16

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending July 16, loan applications decreased approximately 4% (on a seasonally adjusted basis) over applications made the previous week. The additional stats are that "On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased by 19.9 percent compared with last week but was down 50.5 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Interesting! Let's see if the downward trend continues.

For the entire press release, please read here.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Is this the trend? Housing starts decline.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that housing starts for the month of June declined - down a little over 8% over May. The spring months were especially busy, due in part to the low interest rates. And, as interest rates began to climb, many buyers decided to get into the market before the rates went higher!

However, the NAHB reports that it is still expected to be a record year for home starts.

To read the entire press release, please go here.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mortgage rates rise

Bankrate.com reports that mortgage rates have gone up slightly. The 30 year fixed rate loan is now at 6.11%, compared to 5.83% a year ago.

There is still strong activity in the loan market. Bankrate.com reports that the loan lock in period is important, and many people are opting for a longer rate lock in period. You may have to pay money to have your interest rate locked in for a longer period than the lender is normally offering. You will want to figure out just how much that rate lock in is going to cost you, and if it's worth it!

The article at Bankrate.com explains how to look at this:
"Start out by doing some math, then exercise judgment. Let's say you want to borrow $200,000. You can pay one point for a 90-day lock at a rate of 6.25 percent. You're betting $2,000 that the rate will rise substantially.

"If rates don't rise, you lost a $2,000 wager. Your monthly principal and interest payment on a 30-year fixed-rate loan are $1,231.43.

"But what if rates do rise, to 6.5 percent? If you hadn't paid the rate-lock fee, your monthly payment would have risen $32.71. But you paid the two grand, saving yourself from that $32.71 extra in monthly payments. You would break even on your 62nd monthly payment -- five years later.

"If rates rose to 6.75 percent, your $2,000 rate-lock fee would save you $65.77 a month in house payments. You would break even in 31 months.

"This is where your judgment comes in: How fast do you fear that rates will rise, and how long are you willing to wait to break even on your rate-lock fee?"

The article goes on to give the opinion that it may not be worth locking in your interest rate, as the rate tends to go up slowly.

Well, you certainly will want to do your own calculation, and rely on the advice of your tax advisor, loan consultant or other financial advisor in this decision. But, it's something to think about!

To read the entire press release, go here.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

And, then the Federal Reserve gives their "crystal ball" report
 
According to the Federal Reserve,  "U.S. house prices are likely to grow at the slowest pace in more than three decades as interest rates climb and land prices take a tumble over the next three years".
 
This study appears to agree with many who feel that home prices have taken such a large jump in recent years, that the housing market simply can't continue to grow in such leaps and bounds.  With the almost certain rise in interest rates (predicted to happen through 2005), many feel that the housing market is sure to cool off. 
 
Many people are wondering if there is a chance of a market correction, as we saw in the early 1990's, with house prices dropping in a considerable amount.   Remember, however, that while the prices declined, they also rebounded and grew even more!
 
To read the entire story, please go here.

 
 

Friday, July 16, 2004

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), home buyers ranging in age from 55 to 74 prefer to live in suburban areas near metropolitan markets.

The top growth areas are: Sumter County, Florida; Nye County, Nevada; Washington County, Utah; Pinal County, Arizona; Beaufort County, S.C.; and Archuleta County, Colorado.

The data is from 2000, but the NAHB states "Although the data is from 2000, it’s the most up-to-date information available on the active adult market."

To read the entire press release, go here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

California home affordability factor down

If you've been out looking for a home in Southern California, you probably already know this!

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) reports that "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 19 percent in May, an 8 percentage-point decrease compared to the same period a year ago when the Index was at 27 percent".

In the United States, CAR reports that you need to have income of $42,810 in order to buy a median-priced home priced at $183,600.

Now the stats go up in California - naturally! CAR calculates that you need to have income of $108,450 in order to buy a median-priced home priced at $465,160.

To read the entire press release, please go here.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Baby Boom Report

In a report prepared by Del Webb Corp. about baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1960) many interesting statistics are shown.

First, baby boomers currently comprise about 28% of the American population. After the baby boomers is GenerationX (born between 1968 and 1979).

19% of the baby boomers surveyed said that parenting was harder than they expected it would be.

36% of baby boomers expect to move when their kids leave home.

This report states "The Baby Boomer Survey, conducted in April and May 2004, reveals Boomers are embracing the idea of Empty Nesting, the stage in life when children move out of their parent's home for good. While Boomers have an array of emotions about the situation, most look forward to getting back to what they were always accused of being - the "me generation."

For more interesting reading about the baby boomer survey, please go
here.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Yet ... mortgage rates actually go down!

The National Association of Realtors reports that mortage rates have actually gone down. Lenders had been raising interest rates in anticipation of the raise by the Federal Reserve Board. But, since economic indicators were less than expected, long term (housing) interest rates were lowered slightly.


To read the press release, go here.

Friday, July 09, 2004

National Association of Realtors® predicts strong real estate market - even with interest rates going up

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) states that "Interest rates are rising due to healthy economic growth and they won't dampen the general strength of the nation's housing market."

The NAR is predicting record home sales this year.

To read the press release, go here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Mortgage Bankers report on home loan applications

In their weekly report on loan applications, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending July 2, mortgage loan applications were up about 19% over the prior week.

However, when compared to the same week last year, mortgage loan applications were down over 30%.

Refinances were up slightly over the previous week.

To read the entire press release, go here.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Remodeling? Be a good neighbor!

Interesting article online at the National Association of Home Builders site titled "Homeowner Remodeling Etiquette". Having recently had several neighbors involved in remodeling jobs ... ranging from a total tear down and rebuild of a home to a room addition ... some of the ideas shared in this article hit home!

For example, the article starts with a simple one:
"Before starting the home of their dreams, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelors™ Council advises home owners to inform the neighborhood of their plans, length of construction time and who will be doing the remodeling job."

That makes sense! It's certainly easier to "tolerate" something that you are informed about. What if the job goes on for months and months? If you know that's the anticipated time frame, you will be able to understand and accept (in my opinion).

There are other tips in the article - mainly reminding us to be considerate of our neighbors.

To read the entire article, please go here.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

happy 4th!
We will be back in the office on Monday!


Friday, July 02, 2004

The internet plays a strong role in home buying!

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) has released a study titled "2004 Internet Versus Traditional Buyer Study". In that study, the CAR reports that the number of home buyers using the internet in 2004 is 56%, up from 28% in 2000 (the first year this study was performed).

Other statistics from the study are:

Time spent considering a home purchase before contacting a realtor:
Internet buyer: 5.9 weeks
Traditional buyer: 2.1 weeks

Time spent researching homes before contacting a realtor:
Internet Buyer: 4.8 weeks
Traditional Buyer: 1.6 weeks

Time spent looking for a home with realtor:
Internet Buyer: 1.9 weeks
Traditional Buyer: 7.1 weeks

These statistics make sense. Our internet buyers are more informed about the market, and have done more "homework" than "traditional" buyers. Therefore, it takes them a shorter period of time to make a decision on buying a home.

To read the press release with even more statistics, go here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

No surprises here!

... Fed's increase short term interest rates for the first time in four years by 1/4% - a move that is expected to continue into 2005.


And, California home prices continue to soar!

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) reports that "The median price of an existing home in California in May increased 26.5 percent and sales increased 10.5 percent compared to the same period a year ago."

The median price increase is the greatest percentage increase on record. The median home price set a new high at $465,160. This represents "a 26.5 percent increase over the revised $367,630 median for May 2003" per CAR.

To read the entire press release, go here.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Mortgage rates soften

The Federal Reserve Board is meeting later this week. In advance of that meeting, mortgage rates have actually declined slightly.

According to Inman News:
"Long-term mortgage rates fell slightly this week in anticipation of the Federal Reserve's upcoming meeting, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

"In Freddie Mac's weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.25 percent for the week ended today, down from last week when it averaged 6.32 percent.

"The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 5.64 percent, also down from last week when it averaged 5.7 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15 year averaged 0.6."

We will see what happens to interest rates when the Federal Reserve Board meets!

To read the press release, go here.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports record home sales!

"Existing single-family home sales rose in May to the highest monthly pace on record, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Existing-home sales increased 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.80 million units in May from a level of 6.63 million units in April."

"Last month's sales activity was 15.8 percent above the 5.87-million unit pace in May 2003; the previous record was 6.68 million in September 2003."

"David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, expected the strong performance. "Fundamentals are still very favorable for a vibrant market," he says. "In part, the record results from a natural 'fence-jumping' by buyers getting into the market after mortgage interest rates began to rise at a sharper clip in April. This may be the last peak in home sales for a while and existing-home sales are likely to be slower during the second half of the year. Even so, they will remain at strong levels and 2004 is on track to be a record." "

To read the press release, go here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Neighborhood websites

Do you have a neighborhood website? Please let us know about it, and we will post it on our website.

We have many neighborhood websites listed. They are a good source of information for local events and items of interest.

In our area, we have neighorhood websites in the following communities:
Pasadena
Glendale
Altadena
Sunland and Tujunga

If you know of any others, please email us!
House loan applications are steady

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports on mortgage applications for the week ending June 18. Essentially, the indicators were steady as the MBA reports: "The MBA seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased by 1.1 percent to 454.5 from 449.5 the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Refinance Index decreased by 1.7 percent to 1454.6 from 1479.4 one week earlier."

To read the entire press release, please go here.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Want to buy a house? Hopefully you make over $100,000 a year!

The California Assocation of Realtors (C.A.R.) reports that for the first time, the minimum household income that you would need to purchase a median-priced home in California tops $100,000.

According to C.A.R.:
"The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $453,590 in California in April was $102,550, based on a typical 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 5.42 percent and assuming a 20 percent downpayment. The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home was up from $84,510 in April 2003, when the median price of a home was $364,040 and the prevailing interest rate was 5.72 percent."

C.A.R. goes on to describe the U.S. market:

"The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $176,000 in the U.S. in April 2004 was $39,790."

To read the entire press release, go here. There are some interesting charts in the press release regarding affordability throughout the state of California.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Mortgage Bankers report on home loan activity

The Mortgage Bankers Assocation (M.B.A.) reports that for the week ending June 11, "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications-a measure of mortgage loan applications for purchases and refinancings-increased by 5.6 percent to 600.6 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 568.8 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased by 16.3 percent compared with last week and was down 63.1 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

An increase in refinance activity was also reported:
"The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 33.8 percent of total applications from 32.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 34.7 percent of total applications from 34.6 percent the previous week."

To read the press release, go here.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Builder confidence slips

The National Association of Home Builders announced that "Builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes edged downward this month but remained well above where it was this time last year when mortgage interest rates were at their lowest point in nearly half a century."

The National Association of Home Builders’ measure the Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI is "... derived from a monthly survey of builders that NAHB has been conducting for nearly 20 years. Home builders are asked to rate current sales of single-family homes as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” They are also asked to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for responses to each component are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index, where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor."

The HMI went down 2 points in June to 67. This is 5 points ahead of where it was in June of 2003.

To read the entire press release, go here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Condominium/Townhouse or House?

Many people are turning to condominiums/townhouses as affordable alternatives to a single family residence. The price of homes has risen so much that in order to be able to afford to get in the real estate market, buyers are opting for condos and townhouses.

If you are considering a condo or townhouse, consider some of these factors:
1. Homeowner's association dues and what the dues cover
2. Your feeling about living close to other people
3. Your feeling about having a governing body (homeowner's association) with rules and regulations
4. Amenities of the association
5. Association-provided maintenance
6. Is there a yard - patio - balcony?
7. Parking - including guest parking
8. Security
9. How many units in the complex are owner-occupied and how many are rented?

Certainly there are more considerations for your personal situation, but this list may give you a beginning!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Compare the cost of living

Thinking of moving to another area? Not sure what the cost of living will be in your new city, compared to the one you are leaving? That may be an important factor in your decision.

There are online tools for you to use to compare such costs as taxes, housing, food, and other living expenses. Even if you're not moving, you might find the data interesting!

For a comparison of the cost of living in two cities, go here.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) announces mortgage applications lower during week ending June 4

Affected by Memorial Day, and a shortened week, the MBA announced mortgage applications were down during the week ending June 4. On a seasonally adjusted basis, applications were down over 8% over the prior week.

To read the press release, go here.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

And, a word about open houses...

We have seen an increasing number of open houses in our area recently. Have you? It seems that on Sunday afternoon you can find realtor directional signs on nearly every corner.

And should you do an open house? Perhaps. If your home has been on the market with no interestd buyers, having an open house is one more tool for your realtor to use to market your property.

What? Your realtor doesn't do open houses? Nonsense! If your realtor won't, ask them to have another agent in their company host the Sunday open house. And, make sure the open house is advertised! Also, have your realtor put a "sign rider" on the for sale sign in front of your house advertising the Sunday open house. In that way, people driving by are encouraged to attend!

An increase of open houses seems to be one more sign that the real estate market may be changing. Homes are not selling as quickly, and the number of available properties is growing.

How's the market in your area? Let us know!



Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The National Association of Realtors® predicts record home sales in 2004 and interest rates expected to rise

Even with the looming expected rise in interest rates, the National Association of Realtors® (N.A.R.) states that "Unexpectedly strong job growth will buffet the impact of higher interest rates and help to push existing-home sales to a record in 2004."

Further, David Lereah, N.A.R.'s chief economist, says "The economy is moving quickly now and the Fed is likely to raise short-term interest rates on June 30. The market appears to have anticipated the move and has priced it into 30-year mortgage rates, but the cost of financing remains historically low and strong demand will push home sales to a record this year."

N.A.R. is estimating that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are expected to reach 6.9 percent by the fourth quarter. Mr. Lereah states that he expects housing to be strong because "At the same time, unemployment should drop to 5.3 percent, so we continue to have a very favorable backdrop for housing."

Since our crystal ball broke ..... we will just have to wait and see! In December we will take a look back at the year and see if these predictions did come true!

To read the entire press release, please go here.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Product recalls available

Have a spa, swing or portable generator? How about a hedge trimmer or fireplace remote?

Then you may have a recalled product! The Consumer Product Safety Commission lists recalled products on their website. To check the recalls, please go here and search!

Friday, June 04, 2004

June is National Homeownership Month

Statistics show that more Americans than ever are homeowners. The "First-quarter numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that America's homeownership rate is at an all-time high of 68.6 percent." (source: RisMedia article)

The 2004 Housing Pulse Survey shows that Americans are concerned about housing. According to the National Association of Realtors:
"Families rank the cost and availability of health insurance, job security and housing costs and availability (in that order) as their three greatest concerns. Two-thirds of the respondents said they were concerned about the cost of housing in their communities. Seven out of ten want government to make affordable housing a higher priority, and two-thirds include affordable housing opportunities as a factor in their decisions about voting for a candidate."

To read the entire press release, go here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Real estate statistics released

First, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports on new home sales. According to the NAHB, "Three regions registered sales decreases for the month. The South posted the largest decline, down 22.0 percent from March. The Northeast dipped 2.5 percent, and sales in the West declined 9.4 percent. The West posted a 10.8 percent increase for the month."
To read the complete press release, go here.

Then, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported today that for the week ending May 28, 2004, "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications-a measure of mortgage loan applications for purchases and refinancings-decreased by 1.2 percent to 624.6 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 632.4 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased by 1.5 percent compared with last week and was down 55.6 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."
To read the complete press release, go here.


Monday, May 31, 2004

A departure from real estate

Our thoughts are with those who are serving, and have served, our country.

The new World War II Memorial can be seen here.

U.S. Memorial Day History and Information can be read here.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) announces decrease in loan applications

The MBA reports that for the week ending May 21, loan applications for purchases and refinances were down slightly from the prior week. The MBA reports that the applications decreased a little over 3%.

Is this another indicator that the market is slowing?

To read the press release of the Mortgage Bankers Association, please go here.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

California Association of Realtors (CAR) announces increased median home prices and increased home sales (is this a surprise?)

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) reports that "The median price of an existing home in California in April increased 24.6 percent and sales increased 9.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago."

The CAR attributes this increase to buyers wanting to get in the real estate market before interest rates go up, and the traditional activity usually seen in spring.

Another interesting statistic released by the CAR is that "C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in April 2004 was 1.7 months, compared to a revised 2.6 months for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate."

And, where are the expensive places to live in California?
CAR reports that "Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during April 2004 were: Malibu, $1,547,500; Beverly Hills, $1,420,000; Los Altos, $1,350,000; Laguna Beach, $1,314,500; Manhattan Beach, $1,265,000; Saratoga, $1,236,000; Calabasas, $1,160,000; Burlingame, $1,100,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,012,500; Newport Beach, $990,000."

Note all of the beach communities in that list!

To read the press release of the CAR, please go here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Useful real estate site provides statistics!

We notice that people contacting us about real estate often do not have an idea about home/condo prices in our area.

We would like to share a very valuable website with you - http://www.dqnews.com. DataQuick Real Estate News provides statistics on home sales. Along the left side of their website are links to charts ("Zip Code Charts") that show home sales during the prior month by city name and zip code. This can be a great way to learn more about home prices in the area.

They also have regional charts, covering many U.S. areas.

Their real estate articles are timely and informative.

So, surf over to DataQuick Real Estate News. We think you'll like it!

Monday, May 24, 2004

Is blogging a trend in real estate?

Today's Inman Real Estate News has a feature article on real estate agents who "blog". We are honored to be included in the article, and hope you will enjoy reading it.

To read the text of this article by Jessica Swesey, please go here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Are you leaving your home for a summer vacation?

... then you should read the information put out by the Institute for Business and Home Safety website for valuable information! They have a new guide, Is Your Home Alone?, that is designed to help you when you leave your home for an extended period of time.

According to the website of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, this guide "... includes information for homes left unattended in all parts of the country, with custom tips for cold and warm climates.

"The guide will also help homeowners choose whether to turn the water off or leave it on, protect active water service, plan for high wind and make the house look lived in.

"Also included are simple steps for routine maintenance that will help protect the home year round, and a section by the Insurance Information Institute about obtaining proper insurance for homes that are left alone."

Visit their website here to read the guide and get the checklist!

Friday, May 21, 2004

Interest rates on the rise?

The Mortgage Bankers Association is predicting that interest rates will continue their upward trend.

MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Doug Duncan said, "because of strong employment growth in March and April, rising inflation pressures and solid production growth, the Federal Reserve is likely to begin raising rates in June. Our forecast has for some time anticipated that the Fed would wait until late this year before starting to raise short-term interest rates, but the growth of the economy has accelerated and raised the likelihood of a near-term rate increase."

The Mortgage Bankers Association further predicts "While higher interest rates are expected to cause a slight moderation in overall home sales and residential building in the months ahead. MBA is forecasting a record number of new-home sales and only a slight decline in existing-home sales."

For a complete view of the press release, please go here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The National Association of Home Builders reports on Residential Remodeling

The National Association of Home Builders says that their Remodeling Market Index (RMI) has hit a new high in the first quarter of 2004. The RMI rated a 59, which is taken as a positive indicator. In the first quarter of 2003, the RMI was 46.4.

NAHB Remodelors Council Chairman Douglas Sutton, Sr., CGR, CAPS, a remodeler in Springfield, Illinois states "When the RMI moves above 50, it tells you that the industry is very healthy, and right now we are at 59, not only have we recorded the strongest first-quarter index rating in four years, but across the country we are also seeing record numbers of calls for bids and reports of backlogs that will keep us busy throughout the year."

We have been experiencing this in our own business. We are often consulted before remodeling begins --- the question being "remodel or move"? And, when plans are being drawn for possible additions/remodels, we are consulted to strategize for the most effective use of space and money! Does a fourth bedroom make more sense to add than a home office? Which will make us more money if we sell? People are considering these factors, even if they have no plans to sell in the near future. Plus, having seen so many houses over the course of our career, we are consulted to examine floor plans and traffic patterns. We are happy to give our opinion!

To read the entire press release from The National Association of Home Builders, please go here.