Sunday, July 31, 2005

Interest rates up for the fourth straight week

That's right! The 30 year fixed rate loan is up to 5.84%. A sign of the times? Should you panic?

Hold on here. Bankrate.com reports that "Still, rates on 30-year mortgages are about three-eighths of a percentage point lower now than they were a year ago."

And, they are still below 6%!

To read more, go here.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More talk about a "Housing Bubble"

We are noting more talk about a possible "housing bubble." And, we are seeing more about it in the media. There is an article that appeared in Kiplinger's, listing the 13 most likely markets to feel the effect of a housing bubble.

Is your city listed? Read here.

How do you feel about a possible "housing bubble"? Are you seeing any indication of a bubble in your market? Let us know! We'd be happy to report comments from around the country, and the world, here!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Trend is towards Three Car Garages

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that the trend across the country is toward three car garages. And, if there aren't enough cars to fill the garages, they are being used for storage! Citing ease of access (rather than storing something in a basement or attic), this extra space is highly desirable.

More customization of garages is happening as well:
"Additionally, builders are finding that consumers increasingly prefer 8-foot by 10-foot garage doors compared to the more standard 7-foot by 9-foot doors so that their larger garages can more readily accommodate SUVs and the other bigger vehicles that are growing in popularity.", the article states.

Plus, another interesting feature can be added by the builders - a bonus room:
"Another very appealing feature about a three-car garage is that it allow builders to offer a second floor "bonus room" that can be used for a multitude of purposes."

The article also cites the need for a larger lot to accomodate the three car garage, and the design challenge so that the garage is not the most prominent feature (which we see quite a bit...).

To read more, go here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

What does $500,000 buy in the housing market around the country?

Well, if you live in our area ... not much! MSNBC has an interesting article available online that shows what your $500,000 will buy in various U.S. cities. It shows the wide range of home sizes that your $500,000 will buy.

To read this article, go here.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mortgage rates climb ... again

"Is this a trend?" We are being asked that question more and more these days. We believe people are looking for an answer in this real estate market. Are rising interest rates going to cool this hot Southern California real estate market? Are interest rates going to go up and up ... to double digit rates? What does your crystal ball say??

Well, once again we are reporting to you that the average 30 year fixed mortgage rate has risen for the week ending July 20, as reported by Bankrate.com. The rate now stands at 5.78% (compared with 5.76% last week).

Please remember that this is still less than 6%!

To read more, go here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fewer people can afford California homes

The California Association of Realtors reports that fewer people can afford a median-priced home in California as of May on this year (compared to last year). Of course, this is no surprise to us as we are experiencing buyers who are being priced out of the market. What this means is that the buyers are able to afford less than they expected, or that they are buying in an area where they originally did not want to consider (perhaps it's farther away from their workplace, etc. than they planned to be).

C.A.R.'s May Housing Affordability Index (HAI) was at 16% in May, down 1% from April.

Where are the affordable areas? The most affordable area in California is the High Desert region, then comes the Sacramento and Riverside/San Bernardino regions. The least affordable area? The Santa Barbara region.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Home remodeling hits record pace

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that "Americans spent $198.6 billion on remodeling projects last year according to the U.S. Census Bureau, up from $176.9 in 2003 and the largest increase in more than a decade."

Rising home prices have contributed to this record pace, as home owners elect to remain in their current residence and remodel, rather than move to more expensive housing. And, favorable interest rates combined with increased equity in their homes have allowed home owners to be able to finance the improvements.

To read more, go here.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mortgage rates up ... again!

Yes, mortgage rates went up again (the second week in a row we've reported this). Attributed to investors moving money from bonds to stocks, the rate on the 30 year fixed mortgage is now at 5.76%, up from the 5.7% we reported last week.

These increases in interest rates affect both home buyers and home sellers. As interest rates rise, buyers are able to afford less, and sellers ... this means they may not be able to afford your home!

To read Bankrate.com's 7/14/05 report on interest rates, go here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

More real estate notes from a trip ...

During a layover in the Phoenix airport, the headline of The Arizona Republic of July 14 caught my eye. Of course it had to do with real estate.

The article was about the record setting resale housing market in metro Phoenix. Another milestone average price was reached in June at $249,000, up 43% from $175,000 last year.

Concern was expressed as to whether or not people would be able to afford the housing.

I guess the story is the same ... here as in Phoenix ... and in many other real estate markets nationwide. Front page news. Record prices. Fears that potential buyers are being priced out of the market.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Californians affect the rest of the U.S. housing market

I'm on a trip to North Carolina right now. I had an interesting talk with a native resident today. Once he found out that I am a real estate agent in California, well... let's just say he had plenty to say.

First of all, he said Californians are moving here and raising the property taxes. Why? Well, there's no Prop 13 taxes here. Property taxes are raised to pay for what is needed. He said there is a need to build many more schools now, due to the influx of people.

There is SO much construction around what was once open land. He said if you are in construction, you are now "filthy rich" from working here.

A sign of the times ... I went to a car dealer in what is going to be an autopark mall with seven dealers. He said what's happening now is that literally, they are selling the family farm. By that, he used the autopark as an example. It was owned by a family, the parents died, and the children sold the land that is now being developed for the autopark mall. The sadness set in when we drove by a little grove area in the middle of the autopark mall, and he pointed to an area that had gravestones that were the family's graveyard. The graveyard is all that remains of the family's history with the land, and it soon will be covered by the lush greenery. Not to be seen by anyone driving by.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Going on vacation? Prepare for "Home Alone".

Are you leaving on a summer vacation? Making plans to get away should include preparations for leaving your home. There are steps you can take to minimize your chance of coming home to a rude awakening such as a plumbing leak.

Some ideas are common sense ... making your home look lived in, for example. To help you prepare for periods where you may not be living in your home (including a vacant rental), the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) offers information and tips.

To read more helpful hints, go here. And, they have an online guide called "Is Your Home Alone?" that is available through their website.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Interest rates rise

Bankrate.com reports that mortgage interest rates went up for the week ending 7/7. "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 9 basis points to 5.7 percent..."

This comes on the heels of the short-term interest rate hike by the Fed. Is this the start of the up-swing in interest rates? We will see!

To read more about interest rates, go here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Another record in the California housing market (ho, hum)

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) released data indicating 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." The median price for May was $522,590. This is a record high number!

But, sales of resale homes (not new homes) decreased 2.1% this May as compared to May 2004 - from 632,380 to 618,920 (seasonally adjusted annualized rate).

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Practice making those house payments!

Home buyers ... we suggest you "practice" making house payments. That’s right. Pretend you already own the property and see how it feels on your pocketbook. If you already have a monthly housing cost, then put into your savings account the difference between the housing cost you currently pay and the increased cost you will be paying if you make that comtemplated purchase.

After a few months, you'll be able to find out if that proposed housing cost is something you can live with, or if it's just too much.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

U.S. Census identifies fastest growing cities ... which means housing is growing too!

The U.S. Census Bureau announced the fastest growing large cities (100,000 or more) between 7-1-03 and 7-1-04 (we guess it takes them a year to compile the data).

Port St. Lucie, Florida was #1. However, many California cities made the TOP TEN list! Elk Grove (#2), Moreno Valley (#6), Rancho Cucamonga (#9) and Roseville (#10).

And, in the top 10 large cities, San Jose has replaced Detroit as #10.

With record growth, does this translate to a housing shortage in these cities?

To read more, go here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Homeownership for All

The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released videos for home buyers and home sellers.

The topics are:
ABC's of Homebuying (18 minutes)
Elevate Your Credit (13 minutes)
Where to Find the Homeownership Money You Need (10 minutes)
Ten Homeownership Facts That Will Save You Thousands (12 minutes)
Easy to Understand Mortgage Programs (14 minutes)

This video series is available FREE, online at:
http://www.hud.gov/webcasts/archives/homeforall.cfm.