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:
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.