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.