Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Another real estate record broken in California in April!

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) reports that for the first time, the average price of a home in California exceeds $500,000.

CAR states "The median price of an existing home in California in April increased 12.5 percent and sales increased 2.7 percent compared with the same period a year ago."

Once again, the economic law of supply and demand has pushed prices to new highs!

To read more, go here.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Remembering on Memorial Day

Remembering those who have served our nation.

Encyclopedia information on Memorial Day here.

Read about the History of Memorial Day here.

With Gratitude.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

California Luxury Homes pass new mark!

Luxury home prices set all time highs in the first quarter of 2005, compared to one year ago. According to the First Republic Prestige Home Index™ these record prices were set in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The Index tracks homes over one million dollars.

Low inventory and strong demand has pressed prices to new limits. The article sites the entertainment industry as one of the driving economic forces.

"In Los Angeles, average luxury home values topped $2 million for the first time. The 23.1% gain from the first quarter of 2004 to the first quarter of 2005 was the ninth consecutive quarter of double-digit gains on a year-over-year basis."

To read more, go here.

Friday, May 27, 2005

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says April record home sales month

Continuing to set new records, sales of existing homes in April climbed to new heights. The NAR states "Single-family home sales rose 4.5 percent in April to a record seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.28 million from a level of 6.01 million in March."

Why? The article says continued low mortgage rates and low inventory are contributing to this growth.

To read more, go here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Brick house?

The Brick Industry Association has a website - http://www.bia.org/ - with a special section for homeowners and homebuyers here. There is a wealth of information on this website!

And, are you a recycler?

The Environmental Protection Agency gives lots of helpful tips on their website here. And, there is information about the three R's: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Monday, May 23, 2005

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) agrees to continue discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

In an effort to resolve a dispute with the DOJ that has gone on for over a year and a half, the NAR will look into developing a single policy regarding the way property listings are displayed on the internet. Among the antitrust issues from the DOJ's standpoing has been whether or not agents could withhold their listings from some online websites.

The NAR will try to develop a policy that is acceptable to both the NAR and the DOJ. The NAR has long held that "...real estate professionals should retain the right to control whether and how their own listings may be used or displayed by other real estate professionals." [source]

The implelmentation of the NAR's Virtual Office Web site (VOW) policy has been postponed to January 1, 2006, in hopes that the two sides could reach an agreement on this issue.

To read more, go here.

We thank our friends at "The Week Magazine" for their contribution to this blog post.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Home buyers prefer high-quality features over space

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has done a study about what home buyers want in their new homes. Among the desired features are:
- a preference for quality in features and construction over house size
- kitchen preferences include a walk-in pantry, island work area, built-in microwave
- desired bathroom features are a linen closet, exhaust fan and separate shower enclosure

The average home size now stands at 2,340 square feet.

To read more, go here.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

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

The N.A.R. is predicting home sales will benefit from a slower than anticipated rise in mortgage interest rates. The chief economist for the N.A.R. projects that 30 year fixed interest rates will go up this year to 6.4%, and continue to rise in 2006. In our opinion, that's still a great rate!

Other predictions are:
* "The national median existing-home price for all housing types is forecast to rise 7.1 percent this year to $198,400"
* "The median new-home price is expected to increase 5.1 percent in 2005 to $232,300."
* "Sales of existing-homes, including single-family and condo, will be close to last year’s record, slipping only 1.2 percent to a total of 6.70 million in 2005."
* New home sales - "...a decline of 2.5 percent to 1.17 million this year."

To read more online, go here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Housing Affordability Down

The California Association of Realtors® reports that the Housing Affordability Index was down in March. The report states that "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 18 percent in March, a 3 percentage-point decrease compared with the same period a year ago when the Index was at 21 percent."

As we have seen in prior reports, the least affordable areas in the state of California are Northern Wine Country and Santa Barbara regions. The most affordable area are the High desert and Sacramento regions.

To read more, including a list of California regions and housing affordability factors and median prices, go here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Study shows that more of your budget spent on housing

The Center for Housing Policy has released a study titled "The Housing Landscape for America’s Working Families 2005". This study finds that "In just over half a decade the number of America’s working families paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing has grown 76 percent." This study was funded by Freddie Mac. (What is Freddie Mac? Read more here.)

In an interesting statistic, this comprehensive study shows "... in 1997 2.4 million working families spent more than half their income on housing, but by 2003 this number had grown dramatically to 4.2 million."

This study shows the difficulty that working families are having meeting their housing needs. This study also shows that this problem extends beyond the typically expensive West and East coasts.

To read online about the study, go here.

To read the actual 60 page study, go here.(pdf file, requires Adobe to open)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Loan Applications Increase

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending May 6, "The Market Composite Index - a measure of mortgage loan application volume - was 781.0, an increase of 9.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 714.1 one week earlier."

Good weather to hunt for houses, a strong jobs market and favorable interest rates are credited with the increased activity. Refinance activity remained steady, the report states.

To read more about this online, go here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

IMPORTANT! Emergency Preparedness Guide

The National Association of Realtors® has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Homeownership Alliance to prepare the "Emergency Preparedness Guide: Protecting Your Family and Your Home". With steps you can take to safeguard your home and family, plus helpful resources, you will surely want to print it out, and tell your family and friends!

The guide is available online here. (note: this is a pdf file. You will need Adobe to open the file.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

California Association of Realtors updates forms ... some new ones too!

The California Association of Realtors has recently updated several forms, and also released some new ones too. Among the most interesting of the new forms is the Seller Property Questionnaire. At a recent Board of Realtors meeting we attended this form drew quite a bit of discussion. While not required by law, it is available and may provide the buyer with a better understanding of the property. Buyers - you may want to request that the seller complete this form on your transaction.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Interest rates rise slightly

The benchmark 30 year fixed rate is up slightly to 5.33%, up from 5.31% last week. The rate for a 15 year fixed mortgage is down slightly, from 4.91% last week to 4.89% this week. To read more, go here.

Where are rates headed? Bankrate.com predicts where the rates will go in the next 20 to 45 days. According to the website, their "Mortgage Rate Trend Index" predicts that "It looks like mortgage rates will remain about the same, although they could drop more."

Good news if you're in the home buying market!

To read more, go here.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reports fewer able to afford houses in our state

C.A.R. has released the March housing report. Their Housing Affordability Index is the index they use to express how many can afford the California median priced home. Not a big surprise that it states "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 18 percent in March, a 3 percentage-point decrease compared with the same period a year ago when the Index was at 21 percent."

How much income do you have to make? Well, the report goes on to state "The minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $495,400 in California in March was $115,910, based on an average effective mortgage interest rate of 5.81 percent and assuming a 20 percent downpayment." This is compared to U.S. stats with the median priced home at $195,000 and income needed of $45,620.

No wonder so many people can't afford to live here!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mortgage rates drop slightly

According to Bankrate.com, mortgage rates dropped this week for the sixth straight week, in spite of the Fed's move to raise short term interest rates this week. They report that the 30 year fixed rate stands at 5.81% where one year ago it was 6.18%.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Feds raise interest rate for 8th straight time

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by one quarter of a point today, as expected. The short term interest rate is now 3%.

To read the press release, go here.

And, home sales remain high ...

The National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.) reports that pending home sales remain at a steady high level. N.A.R. states that "The Pending Home Sales Index, based on data collected for March, stands at 122.8, which is 0.3 percent below February but 1.7 percent above March 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."

In our region, N.A.R.'s stats show that "The index in the West edged up 0.6 percent in March to 129.1 and was 10.5 percent above March 2004."

To read the entire online article, go here.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Homeowner's insurance an important part of home buying

We advise our buyers to investigate homeowner's insurance as soon as they purchase a home. There are many options available, and the cost varies. As a home buyer, you will want to become knowledgable on homeowner's insurance coverage and verify that you can obtain satisfactory insurance for the property you are buying.

and, the Feds meet Tuesday
We're watching to see if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, as many predict. We will keep you posted!