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!