Sunday, April 30, 2006

Expensive zip codes

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

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%. 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: 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

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

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

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mortgage rates rise. Will it continue? reports at the end of last week, mortgage rates were on the upswing. With the Feds meeting next on May 10, 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: 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.