Sunday, February 29, 2004

Is your realtor a REALTOR®?

Do you know the difference?

A REALTOR® holds a real estate license from the state and is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the California Association of Realtors®, a local board or association, and has pledged to abide by NAR's Code of Ethics.

Is this important to you? Yes! The National Association of REALTORS® has excellent information on their site.
Read HERE.

Friday, February 27, 2004

And, on a national level the National Association of Realtors® reports on January sales

The National Association of Realtors® has reported that:

"Sales of existing single-family homes were down in January from near-record highs but remain exceptionally strong"

Additional statistics reported are:
"The national median existing-home price was $168,700 in January, up 5.4 percent from January 2003 when the median price was $160,000. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Housing inventory levels declined 4.3 percent at the end of January with 2.20 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace."

To read the complete report on January home sales across the nation, please go here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

California Association of Realtors reports on January sales

According to the California Association of Realtors:

"The median price of an existing home in California in January increased 20.7 percent and sales increased 5.3 percent compared to the same period a year ago, C.A.R. reported today. "The inventory of homes for sale is nearing a critical juncture," said C.A.R. President Ann Pettijohn. "In a more balanced market, there is a seven- to 10-month supply of homes for sale. In January, it was just two months. As a result, constraints on supply continue to impact both the availability and affordability of housing options for California families."

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 615,660 in January at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 5.3 percent from the 584,600 sales pace recorded in January 2003. The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2004 would be if sales maintained the January pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during January 2004 was $405,720, a 20.7 percent increase over the revised $336,210 median for January 2003, C.A.R. reported. The January 2004 median price increased 0.5 percent compared to a revised $403,570 median price in December."

Monday, February 23, 2004

Do not call list

As you are aware, the Federal Do Not Call Registry has been established. This has affected realtors, whose phone solicitations are subject to those rules. There are exceptions to the rules.

For an article about the Do Not Call list and how it affects California realtors, please read the California Association of Realtors website here.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

HUD offers real estate by auction

HUD is taking the unusual step of offering properties for sale by an auction.

Here's the announcement
"In an effort to reduce inventory, HUD has announced that it will conduct an electronic auction of a designated group of properties nationwide. The auction will begin at 10:00 AM EST on February 27, 2004. All bids must be submitted not later than 11:59 PM EST on February 28, 2004. HUD expects up to 4,000 properties to be included in this auction nationwide. We expect to have up to 1,000 homes available in the auction from Golden Feather areas. All listings subject to removal prior to the commencement of bidding."

You can read more about it here:

Friday, February 20, 2004

100% financing makes a comeback in real estate offers

As listing agents, we see the terms and conditions that buyers are offering when they make an offer to buy a piece of property. One trend we have noticed is that many buyers are electing to do 100% financing. Usually the first trust deed is in the amount of 80% of the value, and there is a second trust deed for 20% of the value. As for the terms of the second, the interest rate and terms would not be as favorable as for the first.

Why is this happening? Our thoughts are that perhaps due to the low interest rates the buyers are leveraging themselves to the maximum amount possible. In addition, buyers are wanting to keep cash in their pocket for property repairs. Whatever the reason, make sure you fully understand the consequences of 100% financing, and its terms. This can be an "iffy" situation in the event of a downturn in the real estate market.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

HUD to sell houses in special auction

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will sell up to 4,000 homes acquired through foreclosure in the continental United States. This special auction will take place on February 27-28.

Properties are now listed on the HUD website. Auction bids are submitted on February 27-28.

To participate in the auction, go to the HUD website ( and search by state.

The auction begins on February 27 at 10 am (Eastern time) and ends on February 28 at 11:59 pm. Bid results will be announced on February 29, on the websites where the properties were listed.

All properties will be sold on an "as is" basis, without warrantee or guarantee. These properties were previously sold with FHA insurance and received by HUD as a result of foreclosure by a lender and payment of the related FHA insurance claim to the foreclosing lender.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Virtual real estate

Have you seen a virtual tour? Many people have not. It's a slow movie that shows the home.

We have had a few comments from clients that they would like a virtual tour of their home, and others who say their computer cannot handle that technology.

How do you feel? Email us your comments and thoughts.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

The gift of real estate

Did you know that you can gift real estate? In our area you can make a gift of real estate to a local community foundation. The gift qualifies for a tax deduction, without capital gains that you would pay if you sold the property. You can be involved in the recommended uses of the funds.

Please check with your tax advisor and financial advisor. But, if you are thinking about ways you can donate to your favorite charity or charities, the gift of real estate may be an option.

For information from our local board of realtors, go here.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

California Association of Realtors (CAR) reports on housing

The C.A.R. reports that "The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $404,520 in California in December was $94,730, based on a typical 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 5.82 percent and assuming a 20 percent downpayment."

And, housing affordability dropped a little:
The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 23 percent in December, a 5 percentage-point decrease compared to the same period a year ago when the Index was at 28 percent, according to a recent C.A.R. report. "

The demand for condominiums and townhouses is increasing, probably due to the high price of houses. Buyers turn to condominiums and townhouses as affordable alternatives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Real estate is strong in our area

We're still experiencing multiple offers, and it is a seller's market in our area. Buyers are making offers without loan and appraisal contingencies. Offers over asking are the norm.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Realtor - counselor - trusted advisor

Have you ever stopped to think what your realtor can do for you? It's not all about buying and selling real estate! Sometimes we wear the 'hat' of a realtor. Other times, we are counseling our clients towards intelligent real estate decisions. And then, there's the listener. We feel honored to be entrusted with such a major financial decision.

So, the next time you talk with your "realtor" remember ... that person is actually many people rolled into one!

Friday, February 06, 2004

New home sales push real estate to a third record year

The National Association of Home Builders reports that the "Commerce Department reported today that sales of new single-family homes topped one million units in 2003, establishing a new record high for the third consecutive year."

Remember, this refers to "new" homes - that means new construction.

It appears that the government, and other entities, keep statistics for "new" and "existing" homes separate.

Full text of the press release can be found here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

New California real estate law regarding airport noise disclosure

As of January 1, 2004, home sellers in California must disclose to buyers whether or not the property is located within an "Airport Influence Area". Basically, it is a property within the vicinity of an airport. That property is subject to airport noise and other factors.

Another disclosure to add to the list!

Monday, February 02, 2004

New FHA loan limits. This also benefits seniors in real estate.

Effective January 1, 2004, FHA will insure single-family home mortgages up to $160,176 in low cost areas and up to $290,319 in high cost areas.

These increases will also benefit senior citizens who qualify for FHA-insured reverse mortgages. Reverse mortgages allow senior home owners (age 62 and older) to borrow against the value of their homes without selling them. Homeowners can select a lump-sum payment, monthly payments or a line of credit. A reverse mortgage requires no repayment on the loan as long as the owner lives in the home. When the senior home owner sells the home or dies, the reverse mortgage is repaid, with interest. A very interesting option for seniors.

For the full article on the FHA real estate loan limit increases go HERE.

For independent information on reverse real estate mortgages, go HERE.