Friday, April 29, 2005

Real Estate tops Feds List

The National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.) reports that "The U.S. tax code has a huge number of deductions and credits, and real estate-related ones top the list in lost revenue to the federal government, says President Bush's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform."

To read more, go here.

and ... Home Buyers want Smaller Homes!

The N.A.R. also reports that builders are finding more requests for smaller homes. That's right ... smaller! The average size home has 2,330 square feet. Now, developers are finding that buyers want smaller homes, "either because they don't want or can't afford a big house."

To read more about it, go here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

California Department of Real Estate (DRE) provides info on licensees

Did you know that you can look up the license status of a realtor? Simply go here: http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp
and you can locate the license information for any realtor.

Why would you want to do this? The DRE records will shows how long the realtor has had the license, and if there are any disciplinary actions against the realtor. You might want to verify this information before selecting a realtor.

By the way, the DRE website (http://www.dre.ca.gov/) has a lot of information online, including the real estate Reference Book.

Monday, April 25, 2005

U.S. Census Bureau reports on population growth

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "Flagler, Fla., located along the Atlantic coast between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, was the nation’s fastest-growing county between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2004."

Locally, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that "Los Angeles, Calif., continued to be the most populous county in the nation, with 9.9 million residents on July 1, 2004."

This is interesting data, particularly as it relates to the real estate market. Continued strong demand in some areas of the country have fueled prices. On the other hand, we do hear reports that some areas have "cooled" and demand is leveling off, or even declining. It would seem that population patterns would influence this as well.

To read about it, go here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

National Association of Home Builders says March housing starts slow

The NAHB tracks the level of building of new homes. The latest report states "Starts were down 17.6 percent to a still-solid seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.84 million units in March. Single-family starts declined 14.4 percent to a 1.54 million-unit rate. Meanwhile, multifamily starts, which tend to fluctuate more significantly from month to month, declined 31 percent in the latest report following exceptionally high activity in both January and February."

Some of the decline can be attributed to the bad weather, according to the NAHB.

To read more online, go here.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mortgage Bankers Association reports slight decrease in mortgage loan applications

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that for the week ending April 15, "The Market Composite Index - a measure of mortgage loan application volume - was 672.6, a decrease of 1.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 683.6 one week earlier."

To read more online, go here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The California Association of Realtors® reports on Condo sales

With the prices of real estate in California reaching record levels, the condo market has remained strong. As an alternative to single family residences, condos have represented affordable housing to many.

This new CAR report states "Condominiums represented 16 percent of sales in 2004, about the same share as in recent years, according to C.A.R. research. As with detached homes, condominium sales have trended upwards in recent years: Annual sales of condominiums were 20 percent higher in 2004 compared to the 2000, not nearly the 32 percent increase in detached home sales over the same period, but nonetheless an impressive gain. Moreover, annual price appreciation of condominiums surpassed that of detached homes in all but one of the past five years."

To read more, go here.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mortgage rates down ... again!

Freddie Mac reports that for the week ending April 14, "the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.91 percent, with an average 0.7 points, for the week ending April 14, 2005, down from last week when it averaged 5.93 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.89 percent."

To read more, go here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The National Association of Realtors® (N.A.R.) makes 2005 housing forecast

The National Association of Realtors® (N.A.R.) is predicting that across the United States, home sales will soften, yet prices will continue to rise. Currently the economic law of supply and demand is still showing more buyers than homes. N.A.R. is expecting this to come to a more equal level by the end of the year.

N.A.R.'s chief economist is also prediction interest rates will rise this year, and that home prices will continue to appreciate, yet at a slower rate than in past years.


To read more online, go here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

California's Housing Affordability Index down in February

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reports that "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 19 percent in February, a 6 percentage-point decrease compared with the same period a year ago when the Index was at 25 percent (revised)."

Where is the most and least affordable areas in California? The report states it is the High Desert. The Santa Barbara region is identified as the least affordable.

To read the entire online article, go here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Mortgage rates go ... down!

Freddie Mac reports that for the week ending April 7, the average interest rate on a 30 year fixed rate loan was "...5.93 percent, with an average 0.7 points.." The week before the average was 6.04%. Freddie Mac's chief economist attributes this to "...news that job creation in March came out much lower than had been expected..." which indicates "...there is less money being spent and therefore, less inflationary pressure on the economy."

For more information, please go here.
Our Blog is in the California Association of Realtors magazine

... and you can read the online story here (scroll down to read, under "Cyber Sightings" heading).

We're happy to know our Blog is a resource for real estate information!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The National Association of Realtors® releases home sale predictions

The National Association of Realtors® uses their PHSI indicator (Pending Home Sales Index) to predict that home sales will remain strong. NAR states that "...based on data collected for February, [the PHSI] stands at 123.2, which was 2.2 percent above January and 10.4 percent above February 2004. The index is based on pending sales of existing homes, including single-family and condo. A home sale is pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. Pending sales typically close within one or two months of signing."

To read more, go here.

Friday, April 08, 2005

What's your commute time? How do you compare?

The US Census Bureau reports that "Americans spend more than 100 hours commuting to work each year, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data...". But, it looks like this is a 2003 study just now being released. We wonder how these times have changed, with the rapid population growth in many areas?

What are the states with those commute times?
"Based on a ranking of states with the longest average commute-to-work times, the ACS showed that New York (30.4 minutes) and Maryland (30.2 minutes) residents spent the most time traveling to their jobs. New Jersey (28.5 minutes), Illinois (27.0 minutes) and California (26.5 minutes) were also among states with some of the longest one-way commute times. States with some of the lowest average commute times included South Dakota (15.2 minutes), North Dakota (15.4 minutes), Nebraska (16.5 minutes) and Montana (16.9 minutes)."

And, now more about the short commutes:
"In contrast, workers in several cities are fortunate enough to experience relatively short commute times, including Corpus Christi, Texas (16.1 minutes); Wichita, Kan. (16.3 minutes); Tulsa, Okla. (17.1 minutes); and Omaha, Neb. (17.3 minutes)."

This is interesting as it relates to real estate and housing. Many times our buyers are considering the trade off between housing prices and commmute time.

To read more, including state rankings in a pdf file, go here.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

California Association of REALTORS®’ "2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyers Survey" released

If you're reading this real estate blog, you are an internet surfer!

Now, the CAR has studied the use of the internet by home buyers. The survey found that "...homebuyers who used the Internet as an integral part of the homebuying process increased to 62 percent in 2005 compared with 56 percent the previous year."

Not much of a surprise to us. In our business we find that most buyers have looked on line at one point in their home search. We feel it helps buyers be better educated.

To read more of this interesting study, go here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Real Estate Blog

You may note our name has changed. We are now simply called The Real Estate Blog, as this blog contains information beyond Southern California.

We welcome your comments!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Mortgages - ARMs versus fixed-rate mortgages

Over one-third of mortgage applicants last week were using ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages), according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. "That was a record high ARM share, both in the number of loans and in dollar volume," says Mike Cevarr, the association's director of industry surveys.

And, what is happening with interest rates on mortgages? Actually, Barnkrate.com reports that "the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 6.13%. The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.31 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.60%."

To read more, go here.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Will California Real Estate decline in value?

We're starting to see predictions that real estate in Southern California may decline.

A study by PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. predicts the top areas in the United States where housing prices may decline in the next two years. According to the study, "the San Jose metropolitan area a 53 percent probability that residential property owners will see price depreciation in the San Jose metropolitan area. That placed San Jose second nationwide, behind Boston's 53.3 percent probability for declines."

The study goes on further to state "Other California metropolitan areas most likely to experience housing depreciation include San Francisco at 47.9 percent, San Diego at 43.3 percent, Sacramento at 36.9 percent, Los Angeles at 35.9 percent, and Riverside at 31.6 percent."

To read more, go here.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Homes sales slip nationwide - a sign of the times to come?

The National Association of Realtors® reports that February 2005 sales remain strong, but the numbers have slowed down. NAR's economist goes on record as stating that he feels this may be a sign of a turn in the market from a seller's market to a more balanced market.

"Total existing-home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were down 0.4 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate* of 6.79 million from an upwardly revised pace of 6.82 million in January. Last month's sales activity was 6.1 percent above the 6.40 million-unit pace in February 2004."

To read more, go here.