Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Home Loan Applications UP!

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending December 8th, "The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 721.2, an increase of 11.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 647.6 one week earlier." And, refinance loan applications also increased, reaching "...its highest level since April 2004".

To read more: Home Loan Applications as of December 8, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Slower Home Sales ... Prices Hold

DataQuick Information Systems reports that "Southern California home sales remained at their slowest pace in nine years last month ... Prices are still leveling off ..." In November, sales were down approximately 7.8% from October's levels, while there was over 26% drop from a year ago.

As for prices? "The median price paid for a Southland home was $487,000 last month, up 0.6 percent from $484,000 in October and up 1.7 percent from $479,000 for November a year ago."

To read more: Dataquick reports Home Sales Slowest Since 1997

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Federal Reserve leaves rate at 5.25%

The Federal Reserve Bank left the funds rate at 5.25%, the fourth straight meeting that has left the rate unchanged.

To read more: Federal Reserve Bank press release

Monday, December 11, 2006

California Property Taxes Due!

The first installmenet of 2006-2007 property taxes are due today.

To read more: Property Taxes

Monday, December 04, 2006

California Association of Realtors reports on October sales

The California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reports that "Home sales decreased 28.7 percent in October in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home increased 2 percent".

And what about prices? Everyone is waiting to hear if prices are going to drop. Well, CAR reports that "The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during October 2006 was $548,680, a 2 percent increase over the revised $537,930 median for October 2005, C.A.R. reported. The October 2006 median price decreased 1.5 percent compared with September’s revised $556,920 median price."

To read more: CAR reports on October 2006 home sales

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mortgage rates down!

... to a 10-month low, as reported by Bankrate.com. "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell for the fifth week in a row, this time by 5 basis points, to 6.17 percent ... The 30-year rate dropped to its lowest level since Jan. 25, when it was also 6.17 percent. One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.36 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.31 percent."

Are you thinking of buying? Yes, typically there are fewer homes on the market, but the right one may be out there for you!

To read more: Bankrate.com

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Freddie Mac Announces 2007 Loan Limits

Freddie Mac is leaving the 2007 loan limits unchanged from 2006.

For the loan limits and additional information go here: Freddie Mac 2007 Loan Limits

Saturday, November 25, 2006

National Association of Realtors Reports on 3rd Quarter Housing

The National Association of Realtors has released their report for the third quarter of 2006, and the numbers support the real estate market transition felt nationwide.

Existing home sales were down 12.7% from a year ago, yet some states experienced an increase in sales activity, with the largest sales increase occurring in North Carolina.

The median existing home price is $224,900, representing a 1.2% decrease over the same number one year ago.

To read more: NAR 3rd quarter 2006 housing report

Thursday, November 23, 2006

California Luxury Home Values Up!

The First Republic Prestige Home Index™ by First Republic Bank reports that luxury home values in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco are up slightly in the third quarter of 2006.

First Republic reports:
- "Los Angeles values rose 0.6% from the second quarter of 2006 to the third quarter and climbed 4.4% from a year ago. The average luxury home in Los Angeles is now a record $2.37 million."
- "San Diego values increased 1.9% from the second quarter of 2006 to the third quarter and gained 5.4% from a year ago. The average luxury home in San Diego is now a record $2.18 million."
- "San Francisco Bay Area values increased 1.1% from the second quarter of 2006 to the third quarter and gained 4.0% from a year ago. The average luxury home in San Francisco is now a record $2.96 million."

To read more, including a region-by-region report, go here: California Luxury Home Values Rise Modestly in Third Quarter of 2006

And, a happy Thanksgiving to you!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Affordable Housing

Where is the affordable housing in the United States? The recently released National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index says that Indianapolis, Indiana has earned "...the title of most affordable major U.S. housing market in the third quarter of 2006...just under 86 percent of homes sold in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the median household income of $65,100. The median sales price of all homes sold in the metro area during that time was $122,000 – up slightly from $120,000 in the previous quarter."

And, the lease affordable? Welcome to California! The report says that "...Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. ... was the nation’s least affordable major housing market for an eighth consecutive quarter. There, only 1.8 percent of new and existing homes sold during the third quarter were affordable to those earning the area’s median family income of $56,200. The median sales price of all homes sold in the area during the period was $523,000."

Other California areas earned distinction - "Other major metros at the bottom of the housing affordability chart were all in California, including: Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Modesto, Stockton, and San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, in that order."

To read more: National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mortgage rates at 11-month low

Bankrate.com reports that "Rates on 30-year mortgages haven't been lower since the last week of January, when the average was 6.17 percent." As of November 16th, "The benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell 8 basis points to 6.24 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.42 percent; four weeks ago, it was also 6.42 percent."

To read more: Mortgage rates 11-16-06

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NAR Marketing Campaign

Coming soon to your area ... watch out for a newspaper ad on the real estate market that encourages "... home buyers who have been waiting to buy to act now before the market changes", courtesy of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This is the first time the NAR has done such a newspaper campaign.

The ad is scheduled to run again over the weekend of November 12 in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, plus in Sunday's edition of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

To read more about this and future planned marketing: NAR Marketing Campaign

Friday, November 03, 2006

Free annual credit report

Just a reminder that you are entitled to receive a free annual credit report. And, there's only one site that you should be using: www.annualcreditreport.com

The Author recently used this service and found several inaccuracies, and used the online dispute service to "clean up" the information shown.

To read more: Free annual credit report

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mortgage rates DOWN!

Bankrate.com reports (as of November 2nd) that the "30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell 15 basis points to 6.31 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.37 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.31 percent."

Also, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports a steep drop off in mortgage applications, stating that "mortgage applications fell 3.3 percent last week and are 11.2 percent lower than the same week last year."

To read more: Mortgage rates plunge

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Complaint filed against Zillow

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) has filed a complaint against Zillow alleging that Zillow is "intentionally misleading consumers and real estate professionals to rely upon the accuracy of its valuation services despite the full knowledge of the company officials that their valuation Automated Valuation Model (AVM) mechanism is highly inaccurate and misleading to consumers ..."

To read the complaint: NCRC complaint against Zillow

To read the response from Zillow on it's blog, go here: Zillow Blog

To read more: Complaint against Zillow

Sunday, October 29, 2006

September 2006 Housing Starts

The California Building Industry Association has announced that "overall housing production dropped by over 13 percent in September when compared to August". This decline is attributed to "a stubbornly high level of new homes for sale."

Regarding permits pulled, the Association reports that September 2006 permits were "the fewest number of permits issued in a September since the 6,097 permits issued in September 1996."

To read more: September 2006 housing starts

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Feds Keep Rates Steady

At the end of their meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee kept the federal funds rate at 5-1/4%, as was widely expected.

To read more: Federal Reserve Press Release October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

2007 California Housing Market

The California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) has made it's prediction for next year's housing market. According to the CAR, "The rate of home price appreciation will post a modest decline next year following several years of steep increases, while the sales pace will decrease as the market stabilizes throughout 2007 ...The median home price in California will decline 2 percent to $550,000 in 2007 compared with a projected median of $561,000 this year, while sales for 2007 are projected to decrease 7 percent to 447,500 units, compared with 481,200 units (projected) in 2006."

To read more: 2007 California Housing Market Forecast

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mortgage Rates Stall

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged at 6.42 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.17 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.44 percent."

To read more: Confused by the economy, mortgage rates stall

Friday, October 20, 2006

Increased Foreclosures in California

Dqnews.com reports that "Residential foreclosure activity in California surged to its highest level in more than four years last quarter..." Default notices were "up 28.3 percent from 20,812 for the prior quarter, and up 111.8 percent from 12,606 for 2005's third quarter."

To read more: Steep Increase in California Foreclosure Activity

Friday, October 13, 2006

Continued news of the impending decline

No matter where we go, the discussion centers around the future - both long and short term - of real estate prices. A soft landing? Flattening out? Crash? Everyone has their own view. Of course, only time will tell!

DQNews says "Southland homes continued to sell at their slowest pace in nine years in September, the result of buyer reticence and a rebalancing of supply and demand. Prices are leveling off". You can read more here: Continued slowdown for Southland home sales

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where will housing prices go over the next year?

Businessweek.com predicts the housing market in their online article here: Where Housing Prices Will Fall the Most.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Long-term interest rates up

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 2 basis points to 6.31 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.07 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.45 percent."

And, the "refinance volume jumped 17.5 percent ... Some 46.7 percent of mortgage applicants were homeowners who wished to refinance their home loans. The refinance share hadn't been that high in 19 months."

To read more: October 5, 2006 interest rate report

Saturday, September 30, 2006

UCLA Anderson School of Management Predictions

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has issued a report titled "Soft Landing with Turbulence Ahead". The report makes predictions for both the National and California economies and real estate markets.

To read the press release: UCLA Anderson 2006 economy and real estate market predictions

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Housing Starts Down

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the seasonally adjusted annual rate for privately owned housing starts dropped in August for the 5th consecutive month to a rate of 1.67 million units. Compared to August 2005, the number of single-family housing starts decreased 20.6% and the number of building permits issued declined 21.9%.

To read more: Housing Starts August 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Open Houses - a sign of the times

If you've been out on a Sunday in our area, you've probably noticed the abundance of "open house" signs. Yes, just a "sign of the times" as the real estate market has changed, and property marketing strategies must also change. Last year, only a fraction of properties would have an open house. In fact, in our area we've also begun to see Saturday open houses, though not as popular as the traditional Sunday open house.

Look for this trend to continue, as marketing time increases and exposure in the marketplace is key to selling a property.

Friday, September 22, 2006

How low will the real estate market go?

It's impossible to predict, but several economists voice their opinion in this online article: Forbes.com - How low will real estate go?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Federal Reserve Board holds interest rates steady

The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) held the federal funds rate at 5.25% today. In the statement, the FRB wrote "The moderation in economic growth appears to be continuing, partly reflecting a cooling of the housing market."

To read the press release, go here: Federal Reserve Board 9/20/06 press release

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mortgage rates down again!

According to Bankrate.com, "The benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell 1 basis point to 6.44 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.76 percent, and four weeks ago, it was 6.51 percent. The 30-year benchmark has fallen in nine of the past 11 weeks. It was 6.93 percent June 28..."

To read more: September 13, 2006 interest rate report

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mortgage rates for the 8th time in 10 weeks in a row

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 4 basis points to 6.45 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.8 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.57 percent."

Read more here: Interest rates drop 8th time in 10 weeks in a row

Monday, September 11, 2006

Home Sales Forecast plus Prices Expected to Decline

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) predicts that "Home sales during the rest of the year will be lower than earlier projections as the market works its way through an inventory and price imbalance."

Calling it a "market correction", NAR's Chief Economist, David Lereah states "...we’ll probably see prices dip temporarily below year-ago levels as the market works through a build up in housing inventory>"

To read more: NAR Home Sales Forecast

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) says home sales decline

MSN.com reports that Home sales are down. Check out what's happening in your city here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Interest Rates

Bankrate.com reports that "Long-term mortgage rates went up for the first time in six weeks, but not by much...The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 1 basis point to 6.49 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.8 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.65 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com

Friday, September 01, 2006

Starting out September

It seems as though the trend for real estate is here:

New home construction declines in California according to the California Building Industry Association.

Consumer confidence declines according to the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index.

California existing home sales down nearly 30% in July while median home price up 5% according to the California Association of Realtors®.

Mortgage loan application volume decreases according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Interest Rates at 4-month Low

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 12 basis points to 6.65 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.91 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 6.91 percent, and it was 6.89 percent two weeks ago."

To read more: Interest rates at 4-month low

P.S. Personal time takes the Author away until the end of the month. See you in September.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Application Volume Declines in Latest Survey

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that for the week ending July 28, "The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 527.6, a decrease of 1.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 533.8 one week earlier. This is the lowest that the index has been since May 2002. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 1.4 percent compared with the previous week but was down 29.0 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

To read more: July 28 Mortgage Loan Application Volume

Monday, July 31, 2006

Condo sellers feeling the market change

Supplies are up, prices are down, more units expected to hit the market over the next two years.

From Kiplingers.com: Goodbye Condo Mania

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

National Association of Realtors expects home sales to stabilize

The National Association of Realtors is forecasting "Existing-home sales are expected to decline 6.7 percent to 6.60 million in 2006 from 7.08 million last year...The national median existing-home price for all housing types is expected to rise 5.3 percent to $231,300 in 2006. With more construction in lower cost regions as well as price incentives that are helping to clear unsold inventory, the median new-home price should increase 1.0 percent this year to $243,300."

Homes sales expected to stabilize

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pending Home Sales Indicate Stabilizing Market

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that "The index of pending home sales, a leading gauge for the housing sector, rose slightly in May ... up 1.3 percent to a level of 113.4 from an index of 111.9 in April, but was 10.1 percent lower than May 2005."

The Pending Home Sales Index,* based on contracts signed in May, was
To read more: Pending Home Sales

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mortgage Applications UP!

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that for the week ending July 7, "The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 566.8, an increase of 1.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 561.0 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 29.1 percent compared with the previous week and was down 36.3 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

Of the mortgage activity, refinances and adjustable rate mortgage activity were down slightly.

To read more: July 12, 2006 Mortgage Survey

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Second Home Owner Survey

A survey prepared by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) shows some interesting statistics:

* 21% of vacation-home owners report that they own two or more vacation homes. In addition, 34% of vacation-home owners report they own two or more investment properties.
* Minorities account for 11% of vacation home purchases between 2003 and 2005 (note these buyers were 6% of purchases in 2002 or earlier)
* 53% of investment property owners own two or more investment homes and 12% own two or more vacation homes.

For more details of this survey, go here: Vacation home owner survey

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mortgage Applications Increase

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending June 30, "The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 561.0, an increase of 5.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 529.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 5.9 percent compared with the previous week but was down 33.3 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

To read more: June 30, 2006 Mortgage Bankers Association report

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mortgage rates down!

Bankrate.com reports that for the first time in a month, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 6.91 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.7 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 6.69 percent."

Why? Bankrate.com gives us this explanation:
"Long-term mortgage rates tend to move up and down in the same direction as yields on 10-year Treasury notes because, from an investor's standpoint, they have similar time horizons. After the Federal Reserve's June 29 rate increase, yields on 10-year Treasuries fell the next couple of workdays.

"Why in the world did Treasury yields fall after a Fed rate hike? Investors read the Fed's explanation and interpreted it to mean that the central bank believes that inflation is under control. Low inflation bestows low long-term bond yields. Some investors read the statement wishfully and concluded that the Fed was hinting that it won't raise rates at its next meeting, in August. That helped to push down long-term rates, too."

To read more: July 6, 2006 interest rate report

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Housing Starts on Target for a strong 2006

The California Building Industry Association reports that "Housing starts continued to inch upwards in May compared to earlier this year, suggesting that production is firming up and that 2006 remains on track to see the fourth-highest number of housing starts in the past 17 years." May building permits increased nearly 4% over April.

More information about new home starts can be found here: California Building Industry Association

Monday, July 03, 2006

May Home Sale statistics released

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that "Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – eased 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.67 million units in May from a pace of 6.75 million in April, and were 6.6 percent below the 7.14 million-unit level in May 2005."

Further stats released are:
* National median existing-home price for all housing types was $230,000 in May, up 6.0% from May 2005 when the median was $217,000.
* Total housing inventory levels rose 5.5% at the end of May to 3.60 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.5-month supply at the current sales pace.
* Existing condominium and cooperative housing sales rose 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 852,000 units in May from a pace of 836,000 in April, but were 6.6% below the 912,000-unit pace in May 2005.
* The median existing condo price was $229,300 in May, up 1.9% from a year earlier.
* Single-family home sales slipped 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.82 million in May from 5.91 million in April, and were 6.6% below the 6.23 million-unit level in May 2005.
* The median existing single-family home price was $229,700 in May, up 6.4% from 2005.

To read more, including regional statistics, go here: May 2006 NAR report on home sales

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Mortgage Rates Follow Suit

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending June 28, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 10 basis points to 6.93 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.61 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.72 percent. The last time the mortgage index was higher was April 18, 2002, when it was 6.96 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com June 28 mortgage rate survey

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Feds raise rates for 17th straight time

As expected, the Federal Reserve Bank raised " its target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 5-1/4 percent." Now what remains to be seen is what the Federal Reserve Bank will do in the future.

To read more: Federal Reserve Bank press release

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mortgage Rates Rise Slightly

This week Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 2 basis points to 6.71 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.73 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.73 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com 6-14-06 mortgage rate survey

Note: The author will return in one week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports on Home Sales

The NAR is predicting a calmer real estate market for 2006:
"Existing-home sales are projected to drop 6.8 percent to 6.60 million this year from the record 7.08 million in 2005. New-home sales are forecast to fall 13.4 percent to 1.11 million from a record 1.28 million in 2005. Housing starts are likely to decline 6.2 percent to 1.94 million in 2006 compared with 2.07 million last year."

Stating that rising interest rates have had an impact on the market, and job growth has effected others, the most likely scenario is for "The national median existing-home price for all housing types is forecast to rise 5.3 percent this year to $231,300."

To read more: 2006 Home Sale Predictions

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Residential "Green" Building On the Increase

A recent survey by the McGraw-Hill Construction/National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates that there was a 20% increase in 2005 of "green" construction. It is expected that there will be a 30% increase in 2006.

The movement towards environmentally responsible construction is gaining more recognition in the real estate industry.

To read more: 2005 Residential Green Building Survey

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mortgage rates down a little

Up one week, down the next... Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending June 7th, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 6.69 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.61 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.67 percent."

Bankrate.com's website has a lot of information. You might want to check out their "Graph the Trend" page, where you can see how rates have changed over time, ranging from one month's time to 5 year's time.

To read more: June 7, 2006 mortgage rate report

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Tide's Changing (or Changed)

Yes, the theme in the real estate market certainly is that the market is changing, or in many markets, has changed.

An interesting article on MSN.com about the record number of condos on the market. This may spell "opportunity" for the condo buyer.

To read about it: Condo glut

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mortgage Rates Up A Little

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending May 31, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 3 basis points to 6.72 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.65 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.67 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com June 1 interest rate report

Sunday, June 04, 2006

April Pending Homes Index Slides

The National Association of Realtors® has released their Pending Home Sales Index for the month of April, and for the third consecutive month, the index has gone down. The index has fallen "3.7 percent to a level of 111.8 from an index of 116.1 in March, and is 11.7 percent below April 2005."

To read more: April 2006 Pending Homes Index

Friday, June 02, 2006

June is National Homeownership Month!

June is "National Homeownership Month", the purpose of which is "to raise awareness of homeownership and encourage more Americans to consider the benefits of owning their own home."

To read more: National Homeownership Month

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mortgage rates down after 8 weeks

Bankrate.com reports that as of May 24, 2006, "For the first time in two months, Bankrate.com's benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell. It went down 4 basis points to 6.69 percent".

And, their prediction for interest rates? "Many economists and mortgage bankers expect rates to generally rise the rest of this year, with the usual spikes and dips."

To read more: Bankrate.com May 24, 2006 interest rate report

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Home Buying in a Golf Community

Think high flying golf balls are your only consideration when buying in a golf community? Not so! Learn what you need to consider here: buying in a golf community

Thursday, May 25, 2006

On the road again ...

Traveling, in North Carolina. What a beautiful part of the country!

And, talking real estate! I'm told that there are more homes on the market this year than last year, but that good homes in desirable neighborhoods are still selling.

Getting the local perspective, the charm and the ambiance of the older construction is preferred over the newer developments. Updated older homes are even better. In many cases, the newer developments have replaced what was once farm land.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

National Association of Realtors® presents housing forecast

The National Association of Realtors® is predicting that 2006 will be the third best year on record for the housing market. Also being predicted for 2006 is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage level of 7% by summer, and a decline in the number of existing-home sales, new-home sales and housing starts.

To read more: May 2006 housing forecast

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Remodeling on the rise

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that their Remodeling Market Index (RMI) shows a growth in remodeling activity for the first quarter of 2006. "The current market conditions index increased from 46.6 to 48.1 and future expectations moved from 47.5 to 48.9." Further, Baby Boomers (ages 46 to 64) are doing most of the remodeling.

And, how were the results all around the country?
"Regionally, there was strong growth throughout the country except the West, though that area still remains well within the positive range. The Northeast’s current conditions increased by nearly 10 points from 41.6 to 51.1 and the future index jumped from 41.0 to 47.3. Current conditions increased in the Midwest from 41.1 to 44.3 with the future expectations increasing by .4 to 46.6."

To read more: NAHB remodeling report

Thursday, May 18, 2006

California foreclosures on the rise

Yet another sign of a changing/changed real estate market? DataQuick reports that "First-quarter foreclosure activity in California increased to the highest level in more than two years, the result of slower home price increases".

Having kept statistics since 1992, DataQuick notes that
* The lowest number of default notices were recorded in the third quarter of 2004
* The hightest number of default notices were recorded in the first quarter of 1996

To read more: California foreclosures

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Housing Starts

First on the subject of housing starts, the U.S. Census Bureau has released numbers showing privately-owned housing starts for April 2006 were down approximately 11% from the same time last year. The Census Bureau has additional April 2006 statistics available.

To read the press release: April 2006 residential construction U.S. Census Bureau. (Note that this is a pdf document and you will need Adobe Acrobat to open.)

Second, the National Association of Home Builders is forecasting a decline in housing starts for 2006.

To read more: NAHB housing starts

Sunday, May 14, 2006

California Housing Starts up in March

The California Building Industry Association reports that "single-family housing starts statewide climbed 15.3 percent in March compared to February's totals."

In a related statistic, it is reported that "builders pulled permits for 16,119 homes and apartments, up 0.6 percent from February and down 19.5 percent from March 2005."

To read more: California Building Industry Association March housing starts

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mortgage rates on hold

Bankrate.com reports that as of their May 10 survey, "For the first time since March 22, the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage did not rise. Instead, it held steady at 6.67 percent...One year ago the mortgage index was 5.84 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.56 percent."

Does this mean mortgage rates will not be affected by the recent action of the Federal Reserve? Bankrate.com states "The Fed's decision Wednesday afternoon doubtless will affect mortgage rates, but is not reflected in this week's Bankrate.com national survey. The poll of large lenders is conducted every Wednesday, starting in the morning and continuing until early afternoon. Most of this week's data were collected before the Fed announced its decision at 2:20 p.m. Eastern."

To read more: Bankrate.com

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Feds raise rates

For the 16th consecutive time, the Federal Reserve has raised rates. In their press release, the Federal Reserve states "The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to raise its target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 5 percent...The Committee sees growth as likely to moderate to a more sustainable pace, partly reflecting a gradual cooling of the housing market and the lagged effects of increases in interest rates and energy prices."

This move was widely expected. We will be closely watching mortgage interest rates in the coming weeks.

To read more: press release of the FRB

Monday, May 08, 2006

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) predicts "soft landing"

Citing "rising interest rates, affordability issues and a reduced role for investors/speculators", the NAHB is predicting a softening in the demand for housing.

As you may know, Wednesday is the day that the Federal Reserve meeting. The NAHB is predicting "Economists agreed that the Fed will raise its benchmark short-term rate to 5 percent at its May 10 meeting, which would be the 16th consecutive quarter-percentage point increase since the Fed started lifting it from 1 percent in June of 2004."

To read more: NAHB predicts soft landing

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mortgage Rates Increase Slightly

Bankrate.com reports that for the sixth consecutive week "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 3 basis points to 6.67 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.81 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.51 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pending Home Sales Down

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that "The Pending Home Sales Index,* based on contracts signed in March, eased 1.2 percent to a level of 116.2 from an index of 117.6 in February, and is 6.0 percent below March 2005."

The chief economist for the NAR attributes the decline to rising mortgage interest rates.

To read more: March 2006 Pending Home Sales

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mortgage Application Volume Declines

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending April 21, "The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 548.6, a decrease of 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 569.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 3.2 percent compared with the previous week and was down 22.4 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

"The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 36.7 percent of total applications from 36.4 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 28.2 percent of total applications from 28.9 percent the previous week."

To read more: Mortgage Application Volume week ending April 21, 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Expensive zip codes

Where does it cost the most for housing? expensive zip codes, as ranked by Forbes.com.

Friday, April 28, 2006

New! A 50-year mortgage!

Yes, a 50-year mortgage is now available in California. Statewide Bancorp of Rancho Cucamonga is offering a 5/1 hybrid loan (fixed for 5 years, then converts to an adjustable rate loan), offering the 50-year mortgage as an alternative to an interest-only or payment-option adjustable-rate mortgage ("negative amortization" loan).

As an example, "For a 30-year loan of $300,000 at 6.5 percent, principal and interest cost $1,896.20 per month. A 50-year loan for the same amount and at the same rate costs $1,691.15 per month in principal and interest. The 50-year loan costs $205 less per month, but the payments stretch out for 20 years longer and will cost a total of $332,058 more. An interest-only loan at 6.5 percent would cost $1,625 per month for the first 10 or 15 years, and then the payment would jump."

With home prices these days, consumers may turn to the 50-year mortgage to help them get into a home.

To read more: 50-year mortgage

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Prices up, sales down in March!

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reports that "The median price of an existing home in California increased 13 percent in March and sales decreased 15.1 percent compared with the same period a year ago."

And, the numbers keep on going up. Now, "The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during March 2006 was $561,350, a 13 percent increase over the revised $496,890 median for March 2005, C.A.R. reported. The March 2006 median price increased 4.8 percent compared with February’s revised $535,480 median price."

Those waiting for a bubble, may have to keep on waiting. At least in California, at least for now.

To read more details: March home sales in California

Sunday, April 23, 2006

No surprise - gas prices and real estate are related!

As gas prices rise, we are hearing more comments about rising gas prices, and real estate.

First, we're hearing from other realtors that they are spending more time working from their home - on the computer and telephone, rather than driving into their office to perform these tasks.

Then, buyers who are considering a home purchase are also considering the commute time, plus the cost of their commute in relation to their home purchase.

Yes, the cost of gas does have an affect on other aspects of our life. Has the cost of gas affected your real estate decision? We'd like to hear from you!

Friday, April 21, 2006

30 year mortgage rate UP!

Inflation is cited as the reason that the 30 year fixed mortgage rate went up this week for the fourth straight week in a row, to 6.57%. Bankrate.com reports that "One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.86 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.39 percent. The last time the 30-year fixed rate was this high was June 26, 2002, when it also was 6.57 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com 4-19-06 interest rate report

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Looking for real estate statistics?

We suggest DataQuick. Often when we are trying to help someone understand prices, we suggest they look at the zip code charts (along the left side of the page), which show prices by city/zip code for single family homes and condos, plus a comparison of prices this year to last year. There's also California Home Sale Price Medians by City.

There are more statistics on this site, and many news sources quote information from this site. Give it a look!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Homebuilder Confidence Declines

Citing "Rising mortgage rates, continued affordability issues and subsiding demand from investors/speculators", the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released information today that indicates a decline in builder confidence for new single family homes.

This confidence is measured in their National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) that "gauges builder perceptions of current single-"family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as either "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor."

"Regionally, only builders in the West registered greater confidence in market conditions in April than in the previous month; there, a four-point gain to 70 partially offset a significant decline in March. Meanwhile, the HMI for the Northeast posted a seven-point decline to 49, the HMI for the South recorded a four-point decline to 55, and the HMI for the Midwest showed continued weakness in that region with a five-point decline to 32."

To read more: NAHB home builder confidence

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another rise in interest rates!

At nearly a 4 year high, mortgage interest rates reflect the state of the economy. "The last time the 30-year fixed was higher was the week of June 26, 2002, when the benchmark rate weighed in at 6.57 percent. About a year after that, it bottomed out at 5.28 percent. It then took almost three years for the 30-year fixed to regain that one-year plunge," according to Bankrate.com.

As many have predicted, interest rates on loans are going up, and up. Will we see 7% soon?

"The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 5 basis points to 6.56 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.95 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.43 percent," reports Bankrate.com.

To read more: Bankrate.com 4-13-06 interest rate report

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On the road again ...

Just returned from traveling, and we must report that real estate is still the "hot topic" of conversation! Prices, continued development and construction, and ... gas prices! That's right - gas and real estate.

Think about it. Not only is the price of gas affecting the cost of commuting, but also the dollars spent on housing. By taking precious dollars out of one's wallet to pay for gas, there is less money left in the budget for housing.

Affordable housing and availability of jobs are still the main concerns when talking with people who have moved across state lines. Taxes follow shortly thereafter, with quality of life factoring in the equation as well.
 

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pending Home Sales Level Off

The National Association of Realtors® reports that their Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) for February "slipped 0.8 percent to a level of 117.7 ... and is 5.2 percent below February 2005."

How did different parts of the country do? "Regionally, the PHSI in the Northeast jumped 6.8 percent in February to 107.9 but was 1.2 percent below February 2005. In the Midwest, the index held even at 114.3 and was 6.0 percent below a year ago. The index in the South slipped 0.1 percent to 129.3 in February and was also 0.1 percent lower than February 2005. The index in the West fell 7.6 percent to a level of 110.9 in February and was 14.8 percent below a year ago."

You can view the data here: February PHSI data (this is a pdf document and you will need Adobe to open it).  

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mortgage interest rates at 4 year high!

This week's look at mortgage interest rates hold no surprise. Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 7 basis points to 6.51 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.02 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.45 percent."

And, we've been finding that the gap between ARM and fixed rate loans is narrow.

To read more: Bankrate.com 4-5-06 interest rate survey
 

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mortgage rates rise. Will it continue?

Bankrate.com reports at the end of last week, mortgage rates were on the upswing. With the Feds meeting next on May 10, Bankrate.com predicts that mortgage rates will increase again by that date.

"The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 5 basis points to 6.44 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.13 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.27 percent."

Balancing the slowing real estate market, inflation and consumer confidence is truly a juggling act!

To read more: Bankrate.com March 29 interest rate survey
 

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Deciding where to live? Consider the tax burden.

When deciding where to live, or possibly where to retire, you might want to look at the tax burden.

First, the U.S. Census Bureau has recently published an interesting chart: States Ranked by Total Taxes and Per Capita Amount: 2005. The chart considers only state taxes. The highest tax per capita? Vermont, followed by Hawaii and Wyoming. The lowest? South Dakota, followed by Texas and New Hampshire.

The Tax Foundation publishes an interesting study, ranking states by the amount of taxes one pays in that state: State and Local Tax Burdens Compared to Other U.S. States, 1970-2005.

Certainly property taxes are of concern. In California, for example, there is Proposition 13 that has provisions in place for determining property taxes on purchase and for increases. Many states do not have restraints on property taxes, making it much harder to budget.
 

Friday, March 31, 2006

April is Earthquake Preparedness Month

April 18 is the 100th anniversary of the "The Great San Francisco Earthquake", which was "estimated at 8.25 on the Richter scale and lasted about one minute. Conservative estimates have put the quake’s death toll at more than 3,000 — with some estimates as high as 6,000 — mostly in the city of San Francisco. Between 225,000 and 300,000 people were left homeless with property damage estimated then at $400 million (about $8.2 billion in today’s dollars)." *

And, April is designated as National Earthquake Preparedness Month. We have gathered information and tips about Earthquake Preparedness for you.

*source: U.S. Census Bureau

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Feds raise Funds Rate

As expected, the Federal Reserve Board raised the funds rate one-quarter percent, to 4.75%. Constituting the 15th consecutive increase, most analysists feel that the Feds also hinted that another rate hike is possible.

To read more: Federal Reserve Board March 28, 2006 press release
 
Realty Blogging

Thank you to Chris Bubny of Realty Blogging for the kind words about our Blog! The feature article will be available on our homepage, on the right side under "Press on The Real Estate Blog".
 

Monday, March 27, 2006

Pricing strategies

Today's comments come straight from the files in our office.

Are you trying to determine a price for your property? If you are a seller, pricing your home in today's changing real estate climate can be a challenge. Do you price it above the last sold comparable property? Maybe a little over? A lot over? Or, maybe your strategy is to offer it at such an attractive price as to hope for multiple offers, thinking that perhaps a "bidding war" will push the price higher.

We are asked all the time about pricing. There are so many factors that go into pricing a property. Time is one important factor. Do you want a fast sale? Or are you willing to wait? Of course, comparable sales of similar properties is key. Remember ... the buyers will be looking at comparable sales when they are formulating their offer.

One thing is certain. If you price your home too high, you/your realtor can spend a good deal of time, energy and money promoting it at the wrong price.

We recommend a pricing strategy meeting with your realtor. Discuss the different scenarios, and take a close, objective look at your competition. What other properties will be the buyers be looking at and considering at the same time that they are looking at your property? You want your property to compare favorably in the buyer's eyes.

And while your property is on the market and unsold, continue to monitor your position in the marketplace. Make sure your property is priced competitively.

What's the right price? In our opinion, it's that price that allows you to accomplish your goals.
 

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mortgage rates down, delinquencies rise

Bankrate.com reports that as of their March 22 survey, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 4 basis points to 6.39 percent . . . One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.15 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.34 percent."

However, along with the indicators of a changing real estate market, it is also reported that "Every three months, the Mortgage Bankers Association calculates the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate -- the percentage of home loans in which the payments are at least 30 days past due. In the final quarter of 2005, 4.7 percent of mortgages were delinquent, compared to a 4.38 percent delinquency rate a year before. That's a 7.3 percent increase in late payments in a year . . . But when the MBA performs statistical magic to remove the effects of Hurricane Katrina on mortgages in Louisiana and Mississippi, the national delinquency rate is 4.55 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, not 4.7 percent. Still, it means delinquencies went up 3.9 percent in a year, and they'll continue to climb."

To read more: Bankrate.com March 22, 2006 report
 

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some housing stats up, some down

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development report that for February 2006, the number of privately-owned housing starts declined 4.8% percent from one year ago (using seasonally adjusted numbers). "Privately-owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of ... 5.2 percent above the February 2005 rate." Further, the number of building permits issued was up a little last month.

To read the press release to here: New Residential Construction in February 2006 (note: this is a pdf document)
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mortgage Rates Down Slightly

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending March 15 "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 6.43 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.37 percent."

You can read more about interest rates, including theory behind the market, here: Bankrate.com interest rate survey March 15, 2006

Remember that the Federal Reserve meeting is March 26/27. You can view a calendar of the meetings here: Federal Reserve meeting calendar
 

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mortgage Delinquencies UP!

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that "The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties was 4.70 percent at the end of the fourth quarter, up from 4.38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004 and 4.44 percent in the third quarter of 2005."

The MBA's chief economist said that this upswing was expected.

To read more: MBA mortgage delinquency report
 

Friday, March 17, 2006

Does your (Los Angeles) kitchen make the grade?

If you live or dine in Los Angeles County, you are aware that our "retail food establishments" (most notably, restaurants) are given a letter "grade" by the Health Department (read about it here: inspection of retail food establishments).

And for those of us who dine out, believe me ... we notice the grades that are usualloy posted in the front window!

Did you know that your home kitchen can get graded also? It's true! Take the test and see what grade you earn. Then, you can request they send the grade to you to display for your family and guests!

To take the test: Los Angeles home kitchen self-inspection
 

Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Credit Scoring System

The three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian jointly unveiled a new credit score - the VantageScore system.

According to their press release, it is "designed to simplify and enhance the credit process for both consumers and credit grantors...Under the new scoring system, credit score variance between credit reporting companies will be attributed to data differences within each of the three consumer credit files and not to the structure of the scoring model or data interpretation."

Using a rating ranging from 501 to 900, VantageScore claims that it "will provide consumers and businesses with a highly predictive, consistent score that is easy to understand and apply."

Expect to hear more about this in the coming weeks!

To read more: VantageScore.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

February Southland homes reach record prices, but fewer homes sell

DataQuick Information Systems reports that "The median price paid for a home in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties was $480,000 last month. That was up 2.3 percent from $469,000 in January and up 12.9 percent from $425,000 for February a year ago."

But, then it goes on to report that "The number of homes sold was the lowest in five years."

So what's the story with the real estate market? From our vantage point, it's still a little early to tell. Historically it's slower in January and February. We are looking to the spring market to be a better indicator.

To read more: DQNews.com March 14, 2006 Southern California home prices

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Best and the Worst Neighborhoods - by price appreciation

Forbes Magazine has listed the U.S. cities with the greatest and least amount of appreciation by zip code in the 20 largest metro areas.

At the top of the list? Chicago zip code 60602 with total price appreciation from 2003 to 2005 of 206.7%, followed by Miami and Dallas.

At the bottom? St. Louis, Missouri, followed by Phoenix and Chicago zip code 60611.

To read more: Best and Worst Neighborhoods

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mortgage rates jump!

Mortgage interest rates have made their biggest jump in 22 months. Bankrate.com reports that as of March 8, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 18 basis points to 6.45 percent. It was the biggest one-week rise since May 2004. It is also the highest rate since Sept. 3, 2003, when the 30-year fixed rate was 6.47 percent."

Bankrate.com cites anticipation that the the Feds will raise short-term interest rates when the Federal Reserve meets at the end of the month, plus other factors in Japan and the European Central Bank, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.

To read more: March 8 mortgage interest rate report

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Study Examines Tax Burden in US

Runzheimer International has released a study showing the tax burden around the United States. Residents of Philadelphia have the highest tax burden as "a family of four with an annual income of $75,000 can expect to bequeath an average of $19,992, or 26.7% of total income, annually toward taxes after all personal exemptions and allowable deductions have been considered." Following Philadelphia are: Cleveland with taxes amounting to 26.1% of income; New York with 25.1%; and Chicago close behind at 25%.

And where was the lowest tax burden found? Honolulu, Hawaii with a tax burden of 16%; followed by Casper, Wyoming with 17.4%; and Anchorage, Alaska taxed at a rate of 17.9% of total income. (The study notes that both Wyoming and Alaska have no state income tax.)

To read more, including a chart listing 50 cities, go here: Runzheimer tax burden analysis

Monday, March 06, 2006

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index

The NAR reports that "A slide in pending home sales is beginning to level out, an indication of a more sustainable level of home sales in the months ahead."

The NAR uses their "Pending Home Sales Index" to measure homes that are pending sales, typically due to transfer title within 30 to 60 days. The Index was 4.8% lower than January 2005. The Index reached a record high in August of 2005.

To read more: January Pending Home Sales Index


and


New York Times Real Estate Issue

Some interesting articles in the New York Times Real Estate Issue. You'll have to register to get access to this special edition, that appeared on Sunday.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Mortgage rates fall - condo market cools

Our weekly tap on mortgage rates gives us further indication of a slowing real estate market. Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 7 basis points to 6.27 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.87 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.28 percent."

And, while sales numbers are off, prices are not going down. But, rather, they are holding steady or increasing slightly. As house prices and interest rates continue to rise, the number of people able to afford to buy will decrease. Hence a slowing of the market.

To read more: March 2 mortgage rate report

Thursday, March 02, 2006

California Luxury Home Sales up!

As further evidence of the 2005 real estate market in California, First Republic Bank reports that "Luxury home values rose to all-time highs in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco in 2005 on the strength of double-digit gains, but appreciation slowed significantly in the fourth quarter." First Republic has tracked luxury home sales for 20 years with their Prestige Home Index™, used to measure changes in homes valued over $1 million in key market areas. The homes in the Index are generally 3,000 to 6,000 square feet, have three to six bedrooms, and boast three to six bathrooms.

For additional information, including an analysis region by region: California 2005 luxury home sales

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

January Home Sales Down

The California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) reports that "The median price of an existing home in California in January increased 13.8 percent and sales decreased 24.1 percent compared with the same period a year ago".

While the market is slowing, the CAR is predicting an increase in sales as we head into the historically more active spring market.

To read more: January 2006 home sales in California.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Zillow.com - property valuation website

A new website has gone online in February ... zillow.com. Finding the value of a home is simply found by entering the address of a property. It's free, and you don't need to "register" to use the website. In addition to the valuation of a property, there is additional information available on the website.

In our test, we can tell you that we had surprisingly results for some addresses, while other properties did not. The website states it is a beta site. The website states that "We have lots of data in some areas, but little to no data in others."

Test it out and see!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Long term mortgage rates down - for the first time in 5 weeks

But, short term mortgage rates are up. According to Bankrate.com, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 6.34 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.72 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.17 percent...The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 5.99 percent. The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose 3 basis points to 6.08 percent."

To read more: February 22 mortgage rates report

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Homeowner Tax Credit

Have you heard of it? The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT).

The U.S. Department of Energy website says it "offers consumers and businesses federal tax credits beginning in January 2006 for purchasing fuel-efficient hybrid-electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances and products. Most of these tax credits remain in effect through 2007."

More specifically, with regard to the "Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credits" available:

"Consumers who purchase and install specific products, such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in the home can receive a tax credit of up to $500 beginning in January 2006.

"The EPACT also provides a credit equal to 30% of qualifying expenditures for purchase for qualified photovoltaic property and for solar water heating property used exclusively for purposes other than heating swimming pools and hot tubs. The credit shall not exceed $2000.

"Improvements must be installed in or on the taxpayer’s principal residence in the United States. Home improvement tax credits apply for improvements made between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007."

The U.S. Department of Energy also goes further to advise that "Some consumers will also be eligible for utility or state rebates, as well as state tax incentives for energy-efficient homes, vehicles and equipment. Each state’s energy office web site may have more information on specific state tax information."

To read more: The Energy Policy Act of 2005

As always, check with your tax advisor/financial advisor.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mortgage interest deduction appears safe

As we reported on in our October 16, 2005 post, one of the possible tax provisions that might be amended as part of proposed reforms being studied is the mortgage interest deduction, including the possible limination of the deduction.

Well, President Bush's addressed the issue this week in his comment, "I don't think you have to worry about the mortgage deduction not being a part of the income tax law."

We note that in our opinion, this still raises the possibility that the mortgage interest deduction might be adjusted in some fashion.

Further, President Bush did sound a warning about interest rates continuing to increase.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Foreclosures Increasing in Califoria

DataQuick News reports that the number of foreclosures in California increased in the last quarter of 2005. Attributing this to lower appreciation rates, DataQuick reports that "Lending institutions sent 14,999 default notices to California homeowners during the October-to-December period. That was up 19.0 percent from 12,606 for the third quarter, and up 15.6 percent from 12,978 for 2004's fourth quarter...Foreclosure activity hit a low during the third quarter of 2004 when 12,145 default notices were recorded. Defaults peaked in 1996's first quarter at 59,897. DataQuick's default statistics go back to 1992."

To read more, go here: Increasing foreclosures in California

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Home sales at lowest level in five years

DataQuick Information Systems reports that "The number of Southern California homes sold in January edged down to the lowest level in five years as many potential buyers decided to sit on the fence during the real estate market's off-season."

Just how far off are sales? DataQuick says 30% from December's sales levels, and down 7.4% from last January's numbers.

Noting that this is typical for December to January sales, the 30% decline may be an indication of what is to come this year.

To read more: January sales from DataQuick

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mortgage rates on the rise ... again

Our weekly check-in with Bankrate.com shows that for the week ending February 8th, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 4 basis points to 6.32 percent...One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.59 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.22 percent. And on June 30, 2004, it was 6.3 percent."

The online article also states cash-out refinances are popular right now, being used to consolidate loans and put money in the pocket of the borrower. "Some analysts believe that the Fed is leaning toward another hike at the end of March, an action that would boost rates on credit lines even more. That would give homeowners more reason to do cash-out refinances and pay off their credit lines."

To read more: February 8 mortgage rates

Saturday, February 11, 2006

December Housing Index shows declining affordability

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) reports that "The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home stood at 14 percent in December, compared with 19 percent for the same period a year ago."

"At 24 percent, the High Desert region was the most affordable C.A.R. region in the state, followed by the Sacramento region at 19 percent. Santa Barbara County was the least affordable region in the state at 6 percent, followed by the Northern Wine Country region at 7 percent."

If interest rates continue to climb, we may see a bigger gap in the number of Californians able to afford a home.

To read more: December 2005 housing affordability index

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mortgage Applications down slightly

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) announced for the week ending February 3, "The Market Composite Index — a measure of mortgage loan application volume was 619.3 – a decrease of 1.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 626.8 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 2.2 percent compared with the previous week, but was down 16.4 percent compared with the same week one year earlier."

The MBA goes on to say that "The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 42.1 percent of total applications from 43.0 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 29.8 percent of total applications from 30.5 percent the previous week."

To read more: Mortgage Application Volume February report.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who do you trust?

A Gallup Poll measuring honesty and ethics in different professions shows that real estate agents are #11 on the list of 21 professions measured. Nurses top the list, followed by pharmacists, medical doctors, high school teachers, policemen, and clergy. And, those professions below realtors? That would be building contractors, lawyers, labor union leaders, senators, business executives, stock brokers, congressmen, advertising executives, and car salesmen. At the bottom: telemarketers.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mortgage rates rise

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending February 1, mortgage rates have risen sharply. "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped 11 basis points to an average of 6.28 percent ... It had not been that high since the last week of 2005, when it also was 6.28 percent."

Is this a result of the recent rate hike by the Feds? Bankrate.com says it isn't: "The Federal Reserve's rate hike Tuesday was so widely anticipated that it didn't affect mortgage rates. The bond and mortgage markets already had factored it in."

Possible inflation worries might be contributing to the mortgage rate rise.

To read more: February 1, 2006 mortgage ratesa

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pending Home Sales Index Down

The Pending Home Sales Index of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) for the month of December, 2005 was down 3% from November. This index measures the number of pending sales for existing homes (not new homes). The trend over the past year has been steading down since the high in August. The NAR cites rising interest rates as having an affect on the market.

To read more: Pending Home Sales Index

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Federal Reserve raises rate

For the 14th straight time (the longest run in 25 years), the Federal Reserve has raised the federal funds rate to 4-1/2%. This was the final meeting chaired by Alan Greenspan. The next meeting is March 28th.

We will watch the mortgage interest rate reports to see what happens on the "home front."

To read more: Federal Reserve press release

Monday, January 30, 2006

Do you have an inventory of your home?

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, columnist Kathy M. Kristof relays her personal experience when a recent fire threatened her home. You can read her article here: Home Inventory

She references a program from the Insurance Information Institute. They offer home inventory software that can be accessed directly here: www.knowyourstuff.org.

Good information for us all!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

More indicators point to slowing real estate market

Last year, it seemed like all news was good news for the housing market. All indicators, surveys, indexes and news reports had a favorable "spin" on them ... at least through the summer.

Then came the beginning of the "questioning" of the staying power of the current double-digit upswing in home prices. Was it going to last? Was the housing bubble going to burst? Serious consideration was being given to a possible housing bust.

Well, it doesn't appear to be so gloomy, but it does seem to this author that the trend is towards a slowing market. Now, this doesn't mean that prices will go down fifty cents on the dollar. (We know that's what the buyers would like to hear.) It may just mean that prices may soften a little, and the double-digit annual appreciation may give way to single-digit price rises this year.

As such, another leading indicator, the Pending Home Sales Index, has slowed down for the third consecutive month according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The chief economist for the NAR says that "We are clearly experiencing a market transition, moving from a prolonged boom to a more balanced period of sustainable sales."

If you would like to read more: pending home sales

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mortgage Applications reported up ... and down

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that for the week ending January 13, mortgage purchase applications were down, while mortgage refinance applications were up. Another signal to a slowing real estate market? An indication that people are refinancing in anticipation of higher interest rates? Of course, time will tell!

To read more: mortgage refinance applications

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January 2006 housing forecast from the National Association of Realtors

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is predicting that the housing market will "return to a more normal rate of price growth" in 2006.

First, the NAR forecasts that "After setting a fifth consecutive annual record ... existing-home sales are forecast to ease by 4.4 percent to 6.79 million this year." This will still be the second highest level on record.

As for new home sales, NAR is predicting that they "are expected to decline 6.0 percent to 1.21 million in 2006 – that also would be the second best year in history."

And, as for housing starts (the third segment of the real estate market), "Total housing starts for 2005 are seen at 2.07 million units – the highest since setting a record 1972 – with a 6.6 percent slowing to 1.94 million this year."

To read more: January 2006 NAR Forecast

Sunday, January 22, 2006

California Housing Affordability ... down

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reports that approximately 14% of California households can afford a median-priced home in our state. Last year, this percentage stood at 19%. The C.A.R.'s Housing Affordability Index shows that the High Desert is the most affordable region in California, with a 24% Housing Affordability Index. The least affordable areas in our state? With a Housing Affordability Index of 7% (ykes!), the areas of the Northern Wine Country, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara took top honors.

To read more: Housing affordability index

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mortgage rates plunge!

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending January 18th, mortgage rates are down!

"The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 10 basis points to 6.12 percent, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.71 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.33 percent."

Citing inflation pressures, including likely rises in workers' wages and benefits, the article anticipates rising mortgage rates.

To read more: January 18, 2006 interest rate report.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Builder confidence survey

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), a monthly survey done for approximately twenty years by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), "A drop in mortgage rates and a rise in consumer confidence helped to stabilize the confidence and market expectations of single-family home builders...The index held steady at 57 for the second month in a row following a six-month slide from peak levels in mid-2005. The January level, comfortably above the midpoint, indicates that the majority of builders still see conditions as positive in their markets."

Regionally, "Builder confidence was down across three regions of the country", with drops in the West, South and Northeast.

To read more: home builder confidence

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Calculators

We're asked all the time ... How much will my mortgage payment be? What's the difference in cost if I buy or if I rent? These questions and others can be explored on our website, through our loan and mortgage calculators.

We think you'll find them helpful to plan and budget!

Go here: loan and mortgage calculators

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mortgage rates fall!

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending January 11, "The average rate for the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dropped this week to its lowest level since October, while the popular 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage went up...The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 5 basis points to 6.22 percent."

To read more, and see current mortgage interest rates, go here: mortgage interest rates.

For those of you thinking about buying or refinancing, there may still be opportunities for you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Are you using realtor.com?

Realtor.com is more than just a site to search for properties. Upon closer inspection, you will find many resources!

For the renter, you can search for a rental home.

Home buyers have many tools at their disposal including a section on financing.

Buyers and sellers will take advantage of the moving information. There also is a section called "Real Estate 101" with a lot of information for buyers and sellers.

So, check it out!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Existing home sales indicate slowing

The National Association of Realtors® reports that "Pending home sales, a leading indicator for the housing sector, slowed for the third consecutive month and demonstrates that a market transition is firmly in place".

This recently released data covers existing home sales (as opposed to sales of new homes) that occurred in November of 2005. It will be very interesting to see what happens when the numbers are released for December, which is typically a slower month for housing activity. The NAR reports that August was the peak of the 2005 market.

To read more: Pending home sales

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Steady interest rates start off 2006

With the start of the new year, many people watch the indicators during the first few days in hopes of a peek into 2006. For mortgage interest rate watchers, the first indicators didn't give much of a hint.

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending January 4, 2006, the mortgage interest rates were essentially steady. No great moves.

"The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 1 basis point to 6.27 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.81 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.39 percent."

To read more go here: Mortgage interest rates January 2006

So, it looks like we'll have to keep watching over the next few weeks to see if there's a trend in interest rates developing, either up or down. Remember that the Federal Reserve Board meets again on January 31st.

For those of you who are interested, a calendar of the 2006 meetings of the FRB is available online here: Federal Reserve Board 2006 meeting schedule

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

CAR predicts 2005 a record year for California home sales

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) reports that "2005 will be a record year for home prices. The median price of a single-family home in California crossed the $500,000 threshold for the first time in April 2005. The annual median is expected to reach $523,150 in 2005 and increase 10 percent to $573,500 in 2006."

Further, "The median price of a single-family home increased by double-digits for the fourth consecutive year in 2005, though the pace of price appreciation slowed from the 18 to 21 percent annual gains of the previous three years to 16 percent in 2005."

To read more: 2005 California home sales

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

May all your real estate dreams come true in 2006!