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.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Home buyers using internet to find houses!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that 71% of home buyers used online resources to search for homes during 2003. This percentage is up from 41% in 2001.

This is no surprise to us. We have seen a huge growth in the number of buyers (and sellers, for that matter) who have been "surfing the net" for homes before even talking with a realtor. Buyers are able to search for homes online when it is convenient (many times after hours, when real estate companies would not be open anyway). In addition, buyers can search for homes without having to commit to a real estate agent, or to an area. It allows buyers to be more informed, and to have more knowledge.

In addition to information about properties, a buyer is also able to learn more about the communities, schools, recreation, transportation and other important factors they may need in their home buying decision. Buyers can even read many local newspapers online to get a "feel" for the community they are considering.

This information and knowledge will help buyers to make an informed real estate decision. As a buyer, you will find that the internet can be a valuable tool.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Interest rates
When you are making an offer to purchase, make sure you are familiar with the rates and terms of the loan you are contemplating. Make sure you have access to your loan agent (even on the weekend!) to answer questions you might have when you sit down with your real estate agent to write an offer. In addition, make sure you know how long your quoted interest rate is good for (the "lock in"), so that you can structure your offer accordingly!

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Mortgage Bankers report on Loan Applications

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) states that for the week ending May 7, "The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications-a measure of mortgage loan applications for purchases and refinancings-decreased by 5.0 percent to 742.2 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 780.9 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased by 4.1 percent compared with last week and was down 45.2 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Further "The MBA seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased by 2.4 percent to 494.3 from 482.5 the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Refinance Index decreased by 13.2 percent to 2184.6 from 2516.0 one week earlier."

To view the entire press release, go here

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

First Quarter Home Sales Reports are in!

The California Association of REALTORS (C.A.R.) reports:
"The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California set a new record during the first quarter of 2004, rising 20.5 percent to $407,170."

In addition, the California Association of REALTORS reports that "Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California amounted to 598,370 for the first quarter of 2004 at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, a 4.4 percent increase from 573,030 in the first quarter of 2003."

And, the statistics about inventory are as expected:
"C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes for the first quarter of 2004 was 1.6 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."

As another indicator that the California real estate market was strong in the first quarter of 2004, the C.A.R. also states "The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 27 days in the first quarter of 2004, compared to a revised 30 days for the same period a year ago."

To read the complete press release, please go here.




Monday, May 10, 2004

Is the real estate market slowing down?

We're being asked that a lot. In some ways it may seem like it is. There certainly is more "inventory" in our area. But, that's normal for this time of the year. Buyers who have been frustrated by the "seller's market" may have decided to sit out the real estate market for a while. Others are jumping in to buy before the prices go up even more.

While there is no way to accurately predict what will happen in the future, we certainly want to keep an eye on the market over the next month or so. We'll let you know what's happening in a future blog entry. It will be interesting to see if the available inventory grows, or if the spring market continues to be a "seller's market".

Do you have thoughts on this, or any other real estate related topic? If so, email us!

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Mortgage Applications still increase despite rise in interest rates

For the week ending April 30, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports:

"The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications-a measure of mortgage loan applications for purchases and refinancings-increased by 4.4 percent to 780.9 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 748.0 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased by 4.8 percent compared with last week and was down 35.3 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.

The MBA seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased by 4.1 percent to 482.5 from 463.5 the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Refinance Index increased by 4.7 percent to 2516.0 from 2403.0 one week earlier. Other seasonally adjusted index activity included the Conventional Index, which increased 4.0 percent to 1134.2 from 1091.0 the previous week. The Government Index increased 8.9 percent to 191.4 from 175.7 the previous week.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 44.0 percent of total applications. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 32.1 percent of total applications from 32.7 percent the previous week."

For complete details, check out the press release of the Mortgage Bankers Association here:
http://www.mortgagebankers.org/news/index.cfm?STRING=http://www.mortgagebankers.org/news/2004/wk0505.asp

Friday, May 07, 2004

Valuable information for the first time home buyer

The department of Housing and Urban Development has a lot of information for the first time home buyer on their website. From mortgages, to homebuyer questions, to insite into the home buying process, this free resource can be a wealth of information!

We encourage you to visit the website here:
http://www.hud.gov/buying/index.cfm

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Feds leave interest rates unchanged ... for now

In their meeting on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Bank left interest rates unchanged. There is every indication, however, that interest rates will begin to rise.

Many home buyers are worried that interest rates will rise, leaving them unable to afford to buy real estate. Even a small increase in interest rates can affect the real estate market.

For a compete view of the press release, go here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Lease options?

We are being asked if there are homes being leased with the option to buy. Probably because home prices in our area are high, and the market is "hot".

No, we are not seeing lease options. Lease options are historically done in a market where it is harder to sell a house. It is done to help a buyer buy a home. Sellers are not having trouble selling homes in our market. They are structured in many different ways, to accomodate the needs of the buyer and seller.

If you have questions about lease options and how they work, please contact us!

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Interest rates rising?

Interest rate jitters seem to be causing one of two effects - either the buyers are rushing to buy before the interest rates go up, or buyers are waiting thinking that interest rates are going up which will slow down the housing market and they can get a better buy on real estate.

Which theory is right? No one knows.

The real estate activity in our area is very strong. Multiple offers and homes selling for more than the asking price. Sometimes, for more than comparable sold properties. It certainly is an interesting real estate market in our area!