Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Housing and mortgage market study released

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has released a study on the housing and mortgage markets. "The study discusses the current state of the housing markets, the growth of innovative mortgage products, and the impact of developments in the housing and mortgage markets on households, financial institutions, the financial markets, and the economy more broadly."

Of interest is the speculation regarding a housing bubble, and the use of non-traditional mortgage products. We've all heard about the surge in use of interest only loans!

You can download the entire study from their website here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Real estate blogs growing

Our observation is that the number of real estate blogs is growing! A quick search of Google for the term "real estate blog" produces 137,000 entries (note which real estate blog is listed first ... a shameless plug).

We feel this is good news for all. A blog is a good way for a realtor to stay in touch with their clients, and provide information. And, of course the public gets the benefit of the information!

And, each blog takes on it's own life, and goes in it's own direction. Some realtors use their blog to promote their business, and their listings. Other realtors provide local information. There are some that chronicle items of general interest. There's a real estate blog for everyone!

What makes a good real estate blog? Well, that's subjective, of course, but our opinion is that a good real estate blog (or any blog, for that matter) is first and foremost, one that is maintained on a regular basis. Every day, every other day, once a week ... whatever the timing, it should be such that a reader can expect blog entries to be current. Too many real estate blogs are started, then abandoned. It's disappointing to us to revisit a real estate blog only to see that there has not been an entry for weeks, or months. Second, a good real estate blog will be focused on the subject and mindful of the readership. We feel it is important to remember that the people who read the blog are expecting some amount of consistency. Third, it is helpful if readers provide feedback to the blog author.

In that light, we would love to receive your thoughts and comments. Feel free to use our email link on the top right corner of this blog to give us your feedback. What is important to you, our most important audience? And, let us know if you would like more information on certain topics!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Long Term Mortgage rates down for second week in a row

As reported on Bankrate.com, for the week ending August 24, 2005 "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 5.86 percent ...Mortgage rates had risen six weeks in a row, from the beginning of July into mid-August. Now they have gone down for two weeks.".

For more info and more interest rates, go here here.

Greenspan sending up another caution flag

Did you read/hear the comments by Alan Greenspan today? Once again, his words are urging caution in the housing boom, in our opinion.

Read more about it on Reuters.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Not for Sale" signs

Parts of the country are reporting that residents are putting "not for sale" signs in the windows of their homes, as they are tired of being approached to sell their homes.

The New York Sun, for example, has an article (with a photo of one of the signs) here.

Home sales down, prices up!

The National Association of Realtors reports that for the month of July "Existing-home sales declined in July from a record in June, but home prices continue to rise at double-digit rates". Home sales for July 2005 were the third highest on record, still very strong even in light of the reported decline. Home sales were down a reported 2.6%. In addition, "existing condominium and cooperative housing sales declined 5.0 percent".

We will wait to see what happens over the next few months.

To read more, go here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Real estate ... and a vacation

The Author has returned from summer vacation in the northwest ... Washington, Alaska and Canada. Naturally, we had to check out housing and real estate in each location!

The Seattle area is booming! The local paper reported the growth, and expansion into the areas out of the city. In Alaska, where "remote" was the operative word, you have the "populated" tourist areas, and then the "out-of-the-way" locations. We encountered many retired people, who live there during the summer months and spend the winter months elsewhere. A seasonal living, like much of the retail sales and tourist industry in Alaska. In Canada, we found a lot of construction and growth. Plus, reports that many Americans are buying property in Canada due to the affordability of real estate.

We found local real estate magazines in Washington and Canada, but not in Alaska.

All locations offered beautiful scenery and friendly people.

Friday, August 12, 2005

August slowdown?

We're noting that there are fewer realtors attending our weekly caravan meetings, the weekly office meeting has fewer attendees and there are fewer showings on our listings. There are fewer cars on the main boulevard, fewer people in the grocery store. It appears the end of summer is upon us. It's the last push for vacation before school starts.

Yet, we are still experiencing multiple offers on properties. Well-priced properties are having, say, two or three offers rather than the ten or twelve of several months ago.

Yes, it's true ... it is this author's opinion that our market is slower. Will prices remain the same, increase ... or, maybe even go down? There's really no way to know. We're asked that on a daily basis. One thing is for sure, though, Southern California real estate has appreciated beyond our expectations.

Author's note: the Blog author will also be taking time to enjoy the summer. The author will return on August 21, complete with real estate tales from beyond Southern California.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that mortgage applications dropped for the third straight week. As interest rates climb, this is probably a trend we will see over and over again.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Least Affordable Housing Markets in the US

The Center for Housing Policy (CHP) has released a study about the least affordable cities in the US. EVERY ONE of the TOP 10 cities is in CALIFORNIA!! Wow! LA is #13. The top 10 looks like this:

1) San Francisco, CA
2) Orange County, CA
3) Santa Cruz, CA
4) San Jose, CA
5) Salinas, CA
6) Santa Barbara, CA
7) Oakland, CA
8) Santa Rosa, CA
9) San Luis Obispo, CA
10) San Diego, CA

Out of the top 20, there are 14 California cities listed! You can see the article and list of cities here.

If you go to the CHP website, there is an interesting interactive database called Paycheck to Paycheck that allows you to "See how workers in your metropolitan area are faring in the housing market; View the big picture for housing affordability for working families in various occupations across the country; and Use these analyses as a template to examine wages and housing costs in neighborhoods in your community."

Basically, you select the area you want to know about, then you can view the income for an occupation (say, school teacher, nurse, etc) and see how that income fares in comparison with the annual income needed for median-priced housing in that metropolitan area.

It's really interesting! Try it!

Oh yes ... the Feds raised interest rates yesterday
To the surprise of no one, the Feds raised interest rates for the tenth consecutive time to 3.5%. You can read the press release from the Federal Reserve Board here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Risky Business, real estate style

According to a study by PMI Mortgage Insurance Corporation predicts the markets most at risk to have prices decline over the next two years. Topping the list is Boston, MA. Several Southern California areas are on the list including San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, and Santa Ana.

To read more, including charts for each US region, go here.

And ... we're watching!
The Feds meet tomorrow, with speculation that interest rates will be raised again.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Second Home Buyers

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has issued it's "2005 Profile of Second-Home Buyers" (it can be ordered online here).

According to the report, 36% of the sales in 2004 were for second homes. That's an impressive share of the market.

Who is fueling this sector of the market? The study shows "The typical vacation-home buyer is 55 years old with a total household income of $71,000. Investment-property homebuyers have a median age of 47 years with a typical household income of $85,700."

Baby boomers play an important role in the second home market, as they are over 40% of the buyers. And, from our experience, baby boomers with college-age children are considering the purchase of a condo/townhouse/home for their children to live in while attending college. In this way, the parents can take advantage of the appreciation in a rising market.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Most Californias don't make enough to afford housing

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) reports that "California households, with a median household income of $53,840, are $70,480 short of the $124,320 qualifying income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $530,430 in California..."

This recent study, covering the second quarter of 2005 (through June), is an accumulation of the results we have been reporting on our Blog. We recently reported the data thru May 2005 on July 21.

With this trend, we wonder if it will lead to an exodus out of California for areas of less expensive housing? Will less populated areas be targets for growth? Will additional affordable housing be constructed? We will continue to watch trends as our 2005 housing market evolves.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

UP! UP! UP! California Association of Realtors reports prices and sale up!

Low interest rates and increased inventory has contributed to more sales than last year, with prices increasing over the same period last year.

"The median price of an existing home in California in June increased 16 percent and sales increased 3.6 percent compared with the same period a year ago, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.)"

Where are the high prices? C.A.R. reports "...the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during June 2005 were: Manhattan Beach, $1,570,000; Malibu, $1,550,000; Laguna Beach, $1,537,500; Los Altos, $1,424,000; La Canada Flintridge, $1,395,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,360,000; Saratoga, $1,350,000; Newport Beach, $1,300,000; Coronado, $1,275,000; Hermosa Beach, $1,249,500."

To read more, go here.