Saturday, January 31, 2004

National Association of Realtors Reports on Real Estate in December

According to the N.A.R. "Existing single-family home sales jumped from November to December while overall sales in 2003 easily surpassed the previous record in 2002."
Existing-home sales in 2003 were up 9.6% from the previous record year of 2002.

The N.A.R. also reports "Housing inventory levels fell 7.3 percent at the end of December with 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace. However, inventories were 8.0 percent higher than December 2002 when there were 2.13 million homes available.
The national median existing-home price was $173,200 in December, up 6.7 percent from December 2002 when the median price was $162,400. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less."

See the full press release here.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

California Association of Realtors Reports on Real Estate in December

The C.A.R. reports that the median price of an existing home (not new construction) in California in December increased 19.4% and sales increased 11% compared to the same period a year ago. "The median price of a home in California topped $400,000 for the second time in 2003, hitting a record $404,520 last month," said C.A.R. President Ann Pettijohn. "Demand for homes continued unabated, propelled by mortgage rates that remained below 6 percent and an extremely low inventory of homes for sale."

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during December 2003 was $404,520, a 19.4% increase over the revised $338,840 median for December 2002, C.A.R. reported. The December 2003 median price increased 5.1% compared to a revised $384,930 median price in November.

Wow! Even in December the numbers are rising. Another indication of our "seller's market."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Loan Limits increased

Effective January 1, 2004 the conforming loan limits for single-family loans have been increased for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to $333,700. (This represents an increase from $322,700.) Due to the value of property in many California locations, these loan limits have a substantial effect on home buyers.

If you want to know more about these loans, visit the websites:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In addition, we have information about special home buyer programs, including low down payment and no down payments, at La Canada Real Estate-Los Angeles Real Estate.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Real estate contracts . . .

. . .are legal documents! It is our advice that home buyers and sellers ask their real estate professional for an advance copy of the contracts that they will be asked to sign. Read these contracts and ask questions!

Many real estate companies have their own "addendums" which are in addition to the California Association of Realtors forms that are commonly used. Ask to read these as well.

In order to be an informed buyer or seller, you should become familiar with these many forms. For most people, buying a home is the single largest investment they will make. It is worth the time and effort!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Real Estate Activity in our area

Noting that there are fewer than thirty active residential listings in the community of La Canada, the term "sellers market" is in play. Buyers are frustrated in multiple offers, watching properties sell for more than asking price. Many times, successful buyers remove many contract contingencies to make their offer better than others. In our opinion, this is only to be done with complete understanding of the risks involved!

Other Los Angeles suburb - Southern California communities are experiencing the same market conditions, per our realtor friends.

If you have an experience - either as a buyer or a seller - please email us and we will share it in our blog.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Real Estate Market Updates today!

The Californial Association of Realtors reports:

New home construction increased over 8% in 2003, as compared with 2002. This represents the highest level in 25 years, per the Department of Commerce. Wow!

Mortgage applications increased in December for purchases and refinancing for the week ending January 16 as compared to the previous week, per the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). In our opinion, it is obvious that low interest rates contributed to this continuing loan frenzy!

Consumer price index up in December (on a seasonally adjusted basis) according to a recent U.S. Dept. of Labor report.

Real estate Mortgage rates are still averaging under 6% for single family residences, 30 year loans.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Easy fix-ups for your home - prepare your home for sale

As part of the marketing strategy for a home, home sellers may want to do easy fix-ups to get their home ready to sell. Now is a great time to do those repairs, as it is an easier time to get assistance (repair people/contractors are not as busy) and you will beat the spring rush!

Simple repairs are:
. touch up paint on trim around doors, in high traffic areas
. replace broken windows
. repair leaking plumbing
. have heater and air conditioning units cleaned and serviced
. do early spring cleaning - donate unused/unwanted items, organize
. rearrange furniture to make rooms more spacious
. remove debris from basement, around yard, garage, etc.
. repair broken knobs, latches, hinges, etc.

If you work a little at a time, your property will be ready to sell soon!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Real estate still holding strong

With the first half of January behind us, we are asked what we expect in the upcoming year for real estate.

If our business is any indication, we are being contacted by many people who are thinking that this may be the year they will sell or buy. Interest rates are still very low. Since this is an election year, it is our opinion that interest rates will not make a big move, at least through the election.

Those who wait to buy, hoping to save more money, often times find themselves priced out of the market. Their savings simply can't keep up with the rising home prices. 10% of your income can't keep up with a rise of 10% of a home value.

Those who are thinking of selling may reap the rewards of a high real estate market when they sell their property, but unless they are relocating to an area that hasn't had the same appreciation as ours, they are also finding that they are having to pay the rising home prices when they become a buyer.

We urge you to consult with a financial advisor/planner to consider your personal situation.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Southern California Real Estate Blog gets attention

Thank you for your kind e-mails regarding our real estate blog. Most people are reaching this online real estate journal via links from our real estate websites. And, most people have never heard of a blog before!

FYI: Blog is a shortened term of "web log".

We will continue to post information and interesting tips for home buyers and home sellers as we find them. Check back often, as our goal is to bring useful, informative real estate news/thoughts/tips/advice/trends, etc. to you on an every-other-day basis.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The California Association of Realtors® announces real estate statistics for November 2003

The California Association of Realtors® ( reports that as of November 2003 (these statistics take a while to compile), the minimum household income needed to buy a median-priced California home ($386,760) was $90,800. In November 2002, the comparable income needed was $78,663, when the median priced home was $328,440 for the state of California. The interest rate, however, has gone down slightly in that year's time.

To compare with the numbers for the entire United States, the median-priced home is $170,900 and comparable income needed to buy is $40,120 as of November 2003.

This directly correlates to the experiences that many of our buyers have when they are transferring here from out-of-state. They spend lots more money for real estate in California, and get substantially less property and house. This can be a significant issue in job transfers.

In addition, many of our clients who sell their California real estate, move out-of-state, then try to move back only to find the home prices have gone up so much that they have a hard time re-buying in California as well.

Monday, January 12, 2004

New real estate home listing!

We are pleased to let you know about our new real estate listing at 2845 El Caminito Street in La Crescenta. This adorable country-style two bedroom home features hardwood floors, sunlit living room with corner wood stove, dining area, galley kitchen and bath wtih newer flooring and light yellow motif. There's a two car detached garage with laundry facilities.

The backyard features deck/patio and grassy yard with mountain vistas. Enjoy relaxing with family and friends!

This home is nestled in the foothills of La Crescenta, within walking distance to award-winning schools. Don't miss this one!

Offered at $419,000.

For additional information, please contact us at (818) 952-0077 or e-mail us at:

Saturday, January 10, 2004

FHA Announces increased single-family home mortgage limits

The Federal Housing Administration announced that it is now insuring single-family home mortgages up to $160,176 in low cost areas and up to $290,319 in high cost areas. This represents an increase of more than three percent. The loan limits for two, three and four unit dwellings also increased.

FHA-insured loans require only a 3% down payment. HUD adjusts the loan limits annually to account for rising home prices.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Real estate market expected to be a little softer in 2004

The National Association of Realtors has announced that they expect the real estate activity for 2004 will not match the record activity of 2003. In their press release, the National Association of Realtors also states that it expects the 30 year fixed-rate mortgage to average 6.5% in 2004, which is a slight raise over the low of 5.8% in 2003. There have been three record years for real estate home sales up until now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Seniors Real Estate Specialist

As a designated Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), we want to keep you informed about opportunities for seniors.

The AARP has compiled a list of over 500 of the best websites for people over age 50. This is a great resource list for seniors, and we recommend you browse the list.
You will the list, organized by categories and also alphabetically by site, on the AARP website (

The list has websites on many topics that would be of interest to seniors but also to their friends and families. In addition, there are valuable state and area agencies on aging sites, that you can search by state.

Let us know your favorites!

Sunday, January 04, 2004

January is a great time to organize your home

With these cold winter days, many people stay inside more than normal. Take this opportunity to clean out, and fix up!

Clean out closets, etc. and donate unused items.
Clean/replace filters in heating and air conditioning units.
Change batteries in smoke detectors.
Make sure insulation and caulking is secure.
Make sure emergency supplies are stocked.
Trim in garden as necessary.
Schedule spring cleaning now ... and avoid the rush. Schedule tree trimmers, painter, etc.

Friday, January 02, 2004

California Real estate finishes 2003 with a bang!

Real estate and housing in California is probably going to finish 2003 by setting new records for the second consecutive year, according to the recently released California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) "State of the Housing Market 2003" report.

The Report states low interest rates and demand outpacing supply have contributed to this strong market. The population of California continues to grow by 600,000 people per year, and new home production is not keeping up.

70% of home sales were to repeat homebuyers and 30% of home sales were to first-time homebuyers. (In the mid-1990s, repeat homebuyers and first-time homebuyers were equal at 50% of the real estate market.)

We can attribute this growth in repeat homebuyers to rising real estate values, and people wanting to sell, then use their gain to buy a more expensive piece of real estate - or maybe more than one.

The median home purchase for first-time buyers is $307,500 compared to $375,000 for repeat homebuyers. Approximately 44% of condominium purchases are made by first-time buyers.