Wednesday, June 29, 2005

EMINENT DOMAIN

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that local governments can seize people’s homes and businesses --- even against their will --- to make way for private economic development. On the losing side of the case were homeowners in New London, Connecticut whose homes may be taken and replaced by for an office complex.

The Fifth Amendment allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use." Under the ruling, residents still will be entitled to "just compensation" for their homes as provided under the Fifth Amendment.

This controversial ruling has property owners nationwide are worried about how this new Supreme Court position will affect them … and you want to know too!

So property owners beware. There may be a new Target, Wal Mart or Home Depot coming soon to your neighborhood … in fact, it may be coming to the exact location where your property is now!

Monday, June 27, 2005

HUD releases home buyer information

HUD has released five 20-minute "modules" for homebuyers. This information is available online to increase homebuyer education. HUD states "The modules were unveiled at HUD's "Owning Your Future", a nationwide outreach effort to showcase the tools and resources families need to gain self-sufficiency and homeownership."

"The modules, which allow a self-paced learning experience, are as follow: The ABCs of Homebuying, Elevate Your Credit, Easy to Understand Mortgage Programs, Where to Find the Homeownership Money You Need, and Ten Homeownership Facts That Will Save You Thousands."

The modules are online here.

To read more, go here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mortgage Rates ... down again!

Once again, for the 11th time in the past 13 weeks, Bankrate.com reports that mortgage rates are lower.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is down .07% to 5.66%, as of June 22.

Why? The article speculates that it is because "Bill Gross, chief investment officer for PIMCO, predicted at a conference that the Fed will raise short-term rates another half-point this summer, then reduce rates late in the year." While this is the minority view, the market still reacted to these remarks.

To read more, go here.

***********
And ... House prices up again!

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) reports that "The median price of an existing home in California in May increased 12.8 percent and sales decreased 2.1 percent compared with the same period a year ago."

CAR sites continuing low inventory as a contributing factor to the increase.

To read more, go here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Waiting for foreclosures? It might be a while!

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that "The first-quarter 2005 National Delinquency Survey (NDS), released today [June 21] by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), shows that the seasonally adjusted (SA) delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties stood at 4.31 percent at the end of the first quarter, down 15 basis points from the first quarter of 2004 and down 7 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2004."

Several buyers have told us that their strategy for buying real estate is to wait for the foreclosure properties. Well, in Southern California at least, the forcelosure market has not materialized.

The Chief Economist for the MBA states "The U.S. economy grew at almost 3.5 percent in annualized real terms during the first quarter of 2005, adding 180,000 payroll jobs per month. Combined with the low interest rate environment, consumers improved their household finances and the percentage of homeowners making their mortgage payments on time increased to nearly 96 percent."

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Readers Digest" studies America's Cleanist Cities

"Reader's Digest compared data on our 50 most populous metropolitan areas to come up with a ranking of America's cleanest cities."

The top five are: #5 San Francisco; #4 Columbus, Ohio; #3 Buffalo, New York; #2 San Jose, California; and #1 Portland, Oregon.

The study says that it is because of California's strict air-quality regulations that two California cities are in the top five.

Rankings of the 50 Cleanist (and Dirtiest) Cities are here

To read more, about the study, go here.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Mortgage rates remain low

Bankrate.com reports that as of June 8, mortgage rates went down. This is attributed to a weaker employment report than expected. For a 30 year fixed rate, you can expect 5.61 percent (a 4 basis point decline - "A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point"). This is compared to a rate of 6.36% one year ago.

To read more and see more sample interest rates, go here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Driving costs - will they affect your real estate decisions?

Interesting study ... of the most and least expensive cities to drive. How are gas prices affecting your decision about buying or selling a home?

Sperling's Best Places reports that "We not only looked at the cost of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline in 84 major cities, but also factored in the number of miles driven by daily commuters, plus the effect of rush-hour congestion. What we found was that Atlanta, GA commuters can spend nearly $4,600 annually on gas for a family which includes two daily drivers, earning it the title of the most expensive city for driving."

Congrats Atlanta! How did California cities rate? Well, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana area came in at #10, with an annual expense of $4,091.

To read more, go here. And, the complete list of cities surveyed is here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

June is Homeownership Month

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has designated June as "National Homeownership Month."

To read more about it, go here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Appreciation!

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) just released data from a study that shows average U.S. home prices increased 12.5% from the first quarter of 2004 to the first quarter of 2005. In California, the average appreciation for this same period was 25.4%.

And, we’re constantly being asked … is this a housing bubble? Well, if you heard Allan Greenspan this week he stated his view that he doesn't believe there is a national housing bubble.

Is the market slowing? Well, in our area the lack of inventory means fewer homes have sold.

The same study by the OFHEO shows that California's appreciation rate during the first quarter of 2005 was 3.8%. If you annualize that number (3.8 x 4) you can project an annual appreciation rate of 15.2% for the year 2005.

So, if you owned a house in California during this past year … congratulations to you!

And, if you want to read more about the government study, it is available online at: http://www.ofheo.gov

Sunday, June 12, 2005

California Building Industry Association Announces Strong Numbers in New Construction

Even though it was a rainy first quarter in 2005, the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) reports that California housing starts are expected to reach the record levels recorded in 2004.

The article goes on to say that with the increase in California population, new construction is needed.

To read more about it, please go here.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Pending Home Sales Index Hits New Record

It seems that just about every indicator related to real estate is hitting new highs!

Now, the National Association of Realtors® reports that as of April, "The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing market, has risen to the highest level on record".

Just what is the Pending Home Sales Index? Well, read here:
"The Pending Home Sales Index*, based on data collected for April, stands at 128.2, which is 3.6 percent higher than March and 9.2 percent above April 2004. The previous record was 128.1 in October 2004. The index is based on pending sales of existing homes, including single-family and condo; a sale is pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. Pending home sales typically close within one or two months of signing."

[note: the asterick refers to this:
"* The Pending Home Sales Index is based on a large national sample, representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity from 2001 through 2004 closely parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months."

If you want to read more, go here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Who chooses the escrow and title companies?

If you are a buyer or seller, do you know who chooses the escrow and title company? YOU DO! That's right. The buyer and seller agree on what company is to handle the escrow and what company is to handle the title insurance. In reality, the real estate agents take on this task.

Just as you would want to work with a professional real estate agent of your choice, you would also want to work with an escrow and title company of your choice. We suggest you ask your realtor for three referrals, and you check them out.

So, whether you are a home buyer or home seller, be informed! And, request that you are able to use the "services" of your choice!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Real Estate Radio Show

Our weekly real estate radio show has given us a great opportunity to share our experiences and information with you!

Have you listened? We're on Sunday's at 11 am on KRLA 870 am. If you're out of our area, you can still listen in over the internet!

This past week we had a geologist on the show. What an interesting interview! And, we all learned something from him.

This coming Sunday we will have a termite inspector on the program. Among the topics will be how the heavy rains affect the termite population.

We hope you will listen! You can read more about the show here:
Fran and Rowena Talk Real Estate.

You can also go to the Archives and listen to any or all of the past shows. There's a description of what was covered on each show, as well as contact information for each week's guest. To check out the Archives, go here:
Archives of Fran and Rowena Talk Real Estate.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

California home owners "stuck"?

We're noticing a phenonemum right now in our Southern California housing market. Some sellers are "stuck" in their homes!

As a home seller, they are able to reap the benefits of the high prices in this record-setting real estate market.

Then, one or both of the following factors come into play:
(1) The amount capital gains tax that would be due on the sale; and/or
(2) Trying to find a home to buy - and having to pay the high price of whatever home they would want to buy.

The California home sellers who are able to benefit in this market seem to be those who can move to a less expensive area ... say, out of state! We've observed that those sellers are able to buy a property out of state, and actually "bank" money from the sale of their California home.

Demand in the less expensive states is rising, partly due to people who are selling their California home and looking for less expensive housing and a nice community to live in.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mortgage rates drop

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 7 basis points to 5.65 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.34 percent." Nearing a record low, Bankrate.com states "The last time the benchmark 30-year rate was this low was the week of Feb. 16, when it was 5.62 percent."

An executive from Washington Mutual is interviewed in the online article, and strongly suggests that people with variable rate mortgages may want to refinance to a fixed rate loan at this time.

To read more, go here.