Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2009. May your real estate dreams come true!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

IRS to Subordinate Federal Tax Liens

If you are refinancing or selling your home, and have a federal tax lien against your property, the Internal Revenue Service is offering help to you. The IRS has announced that they will subordinate the tax lien.

This new program should help what IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman calls "financially distressed homeowners". It does not forgive the taxes due, however.

To read the IRS tax briefing, and to get more information, go here

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mortgage Rates Cause Refinances

Mortgage rates went up slightly this week according to Bankrate.com's weekly survey. But, rates are better than last year.

As of December, 24th, Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 42 basis points, to 5.84 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.31 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.97 percent."

The favorable mortgage rates have spurred an increase in refinances. Bankrate.com also references the Mortgage Bankers Association, stating "Almost no one is getting an ARM nowadays. Adjustable-rate mortgages accounted for 1 in 125 loan applications last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association."

So - we went to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) website and found their press release here. The MBA reports that "The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 83.2 percent of total applications from 76.9 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 0.8 percent from 1.1 percent of total applications from the previous week."

To read the Bankrate.com article, go here

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

National Real Estate - Home Sales

Yesterday we commented about California home sales.

Today we get a report from the National Association of Realtors® (N.A.R.) regarding existing home sales for November, 2008 across the United States. Not surprisingly, NAR reports that the number of existing (not new) home sales has declined "... 8.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate¹ of 4.49 million units in November from a downwardly revised level of 4.91 million in October, and are 10.6 percent below the 5.02 million-unit pace in November 2007."

As for prices, the National Association of Realtors reports that "The national median existing-home price³ for all housing types was $181,300 in November, down 13.2 percent from November 2007 when the median was $208,800."

To read the entire press release, go here

Monday, December 22, 2008

California Real Estate - Home Sales Report

The 2008 California real estate market had it's share of ups and downs. The California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) has released it's "State of the California Housing Market 2008-2009".

The report cites an increase in the number of sales,a decrease in prices and a statistic that one out of five escrows cancelled during the year.

The C.A.R. is predicting that the median home price in California will decline in 2009, and that the California real estate market will level off in 2009.

We think you will find the report very interesting. To read the press release: C.A.R. 2008-2009 Housing Market report.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So Calif Real Estate-Nov Home Sales

Southern California real estate is selling! Dataquick reports that November home sale numbers actually exceeded those of November, 2007. This is the fifth consecutive month that the 2008 home sale numbers exceeded the 2007 home sale numbers.

According to Dataquick, the median sale price of a Southern California home " ... was $285,000, down 5 percent from October and down a record 34.5 percent from November 2007. Last month's median was the lowest since it was $298,000 in April 2003, which was the last time the median was below $300,000. November's median stood 43.6 percent below the peak $505,000 median reached in spring and summer of last year."

What's moving the Southern California real estate market? Foreclosures, which accounted for over half of November's sales. The greatest concentration of foreclosures in Southern California is in Riverside County and San Bernardino County.

To read the press release, go here DQNews.com December 16, 2008 press release

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fed Lowers Federal Funds Rate!

"The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to establish a target range for the federal funds rate of 0 to 1/4 percent." In addition, the statement says " ...the Committee anticipates that weak economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for some time."

Have they ever announced a "target range"?

Read the press release here: Dec 16, 2008 press release

Friday, December 12, 2008

Real Estate - Mortgage Rates Drop

Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 12 basis points, to 5.8 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.17 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.39 percent." It is also reported that refinance applications have increased. To read the press release, go here

Remember that as you apply for a refinance of your current mortgage, you will have to qualify for the new loan, and the property will likely have to be appraised. You may want to have your local realtor review the market value comparables with you so that you understand the current market value of your property in preparation for the refinance application. We do know of people who are trying to refinance their loan, only to have a problem because the property did not appraise at the value necessary for the refinance loan.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Property Taxes due

If you live in Los Angeles County, the first installment of 2008-2009 property taxes are due and must be received or postmarked on or before tomorrow, December 10, 2008 to avoid penalty.

For more information: Los Angeles County Tax Assessor

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Real Estate Blog - mobile version

The Real Estate Blog has a mobile subscription. Simply click on the "Mobile Version" icon in the right-hand column, and have updates sent to your mobile device.

The mobile version of The Real Estate Blog is very readible, and loads quickly on your mobile device. It's familiar - you'll recognize the color scheme!

Would you like to get mobile updates? Then, click here: The Real Estate Blog - mobile version

Friday, December 05, 2008

Use Smudging to sell real estate?

Selling real estate? Have you tried "smudging"?

What's "smudging" you ask? It's a Native American ritual used to cleanse spaces, clear the "energy".

There are many reference to smudging online.

About.com
calls it "spiritual house cleaning".

In today's real estate market, home sellers and real estate agents are looking for new ways to market a home, and for ways to "re-energize" their marketing efforts.

While not a traditional marketing method, perhaps "old ways are best" applies in this case, and you might want to try smudging to give your home a fresh energy and spirit.

Have you tried smudging or any other interesting way to market a home? Let us know! Send us an email with your experience, and we will post the responses on our Blog.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

La Canada Flintridge Open House

4318 Bel Aire Drive, La Canada Flintridge

Open Sunday,December 7 from 2 to 4 pm

Offered for sale at $1,495,000

This four bedroom home has been remodeled, with gourmet kitchen, hardwood floors, and amenities galore! Great yard with pool and spa. Prepare to fall in love!

For additional information, including photos and a virtual tour, please go here

For further information, feel free to call us at (818) 952-0077

Monday, December 01, 2008

California Home Sales UP in October

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) released home sale statistics for the month of October.

The numbers show that sales of "existing, single-family detached homes" in the state of California were up in October by 117.1% over last year. Sales were up 9.5% over September.

However, the median price of an existing home in California over last year was down over 39%. The median price was down 1.9% from September.

Attributing the increased sales numbers to areas with "distressed sales" (our translation: foreclosures and lender short sales), the Association also states that "C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in October 2008 was 5.9 months, compared with 15.2 months (revised) for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. "

So --- some good news in the numbers. We have noticed that our Sunday open houses have been busier lately with potential buyers seemingly a little more willing to discuss home buying. At least, that's our opinion.

You can read the press release here.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

California Realtors Support "Green" Movement

Our California Association of Realtors® has started a website - At home with green™

The homepage states "Our goal of this Web site is to provide information to homeowners, REALTORS® and the general public on how to green their living spaces. Our sections provide insight into how to green your home, your office and your life...The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is doing its part to become a more environmentally friendly organization and will lead the way toward a greener world."


Check it out ... and let us know if other Realtor groups have a green program/website! If not, let them know about this one and get them started!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

California October Home Sales Up and Prices Down



DQNews.com has reported that the number of sales of new and existing homes in California during the month of October, 2008 was up from September, but the median price was down for the same period.

Home and condo sales of 42,293 were up " ...4.9 percent from 40,371 in September and up 63.7 percent from 25,832 for October last year."

As for prices, "The median price paid for a home last month was $278,000, down 1.8 percent from $283,000 for the month before, and down 34.4 percent from $424,000 for October a year ago. Around half the drop in median is due to depreciation, the other half due to shifts in the types of homes selling, and how those homes are financed."

DQNews is a good reference source, and it posts a monthly chart of home sale averages, listed by city.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Altadena Golf Course


If you golf and you are in the Los Angeles area, you might want to check out the Altadena Golf Course. It's a 9-hole public course. Green fees are very reasonable, and the course has wide fairways, some trees ... it's not too tough. You can play it as 9 holes, or 18.

The facilities include a pro shop, practice putting green, chipping area, driving range and a great "coffee shop - diner". There are indoor and outdoor dining tables. There are lovely mountain views, nice people. There is additional information on the web here.

If you live in Los Angeles, and are looking to discover a new community, check out Altadena (the Altadena Chamber of Commerce website is here) . The "bedroom" community offers hiking trails, a quaint atmosphere and is adjacent to Pasadena - all-in-all, a very convenient location. We think it is one of the undiscovered treasures of Los Angeles.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Southern California Fires - Insurance

If you need contact and claims information for insurance carriers, the Insurance Information Network of California has the information here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

September 2008 Home Sales

The September 2008 numbers for Southern California show that foreclosures are up, prices down ... but buyers are buying!

Read more here: DQNews.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

National Recycling Day


Did you know that November 15 is America Recycles Day? The official website is here

Looking for a recycling center? Use this online tool - to find a recycling center for many different items. Find a recycling center

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New listing La Canada Flintridge


4318 Bel Aire Drive - Offered at $1,595,000

This is a beautifully remodeled four bedroom home. It's open this Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 pm. Stop by and say "Hi!"

More details:
virtual tour
listing details

We think you'll like it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

GMAC Home Services Reports Sale


Well, previously we told you that GMAC was scaling down it's residential lending division.

Now, the news is that GMAC Home Services has been sold to Brookfield Residential Property Services. Read the press release here.

The sign of things to come? Yes. We've seen offices close or combine offices, long-time family real estate offices sell to larger firms --- all just to stay in business.

It's not yesterday's real estate business ... it's how we do business in the future.

At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

August New Housing Starts Decline

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that new housing starts for the month of August were down 6.2% over July. In short, building permits, new housing starts and housing completion numbers were down.

Good news - bad news? Perhaps. The bad news is that the numbers are down. Builders are hurting. The good news is that the resale market may benefit since fewer new homes are being built.

The U. S. Census Bureau and H.U.D. press release is here: press release.

At least, that's our opinion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Federal Reserve Leaves Rate Steady


The Federal Reserve announced that it is keeping the federal funds rate steady at 2%. Actually, many were expecting/hoping for a rate cut.

To read the press release, go here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mortgage Lending Times Are Changing


If you are in the market for a real estate loan, you know ... times are changing.

In a meeting today, a lender shared with us the all-too-real reality that lenders are in a state of flux. And this can severely affect both home buyers and home sellers.

What are we seeing? Lenders making changes to the rates and terms, requiring more down payment, additional documentation, etc. Changes that affect a buyer's loan during the transaction and the buyer's ability to complete a purchase.

Buyers and sellers be alert to the financing in your purchase or sale. Communication is key - with the lender and with your agent. Perhaps it would be prudent to apply for a loan with more than one lender. Get advice from your accountant or other financial advisor.

At least, that's our opinion.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mortgage Interest Rates Downward


Bankrate.com reports that for the week 9/11 to 9/17, mortgage interest rates are dropping. Actually, Bankrate.com uses the word "plummeted" on their website.

To quote - "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 40 basis points, to 6.15 percent..."

You can read for yourself here: Bankrate.com.

Should you think about refinancing? Perhaps. Many predict that mortgage interest rates may go lower. Maybe you should start your refinance application and make sure you ask your lender the question - "If rates go lower before my refinance is completed, will I get the lower rate?".

It's hard to "time the market" with respect to when will the interest rate be at it's lowest. You may want to consult with your accountant or financial advisor about refinancing.

At least, that's our opinion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Home Foreclosure Process Explained


While the process is different throughout the United States, the California Association of Realtors has released an online primer on "Analyzing the Steps of Foreclosure" in the state of California. You might want to read about it here.

You should be able to find similar information online or through your real estate professional in your area.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

National Association Predicts 2008


The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) predicts that for the rest of 2008, there will be little movement in home sales. The NAR has an index that measures what has happened in the recent past to predict the future. At this time, the NAR's chief economist,Lawrence Yun, is quoted as saying "...the long-term trend essentially flat..."

Read the press release here: here

Well, who knows what will happen in the future. You know what they say ... Hindsight is 20/20. At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Record Foreclosure Numbers Reached


The Mortgage Bankers Association announced record foreclosure statistics and increased loan delinquency rates as of the end of June, 2008.

The survey reports "...the rate of foreclosure starts and the percentage of loans in the process of foreclosure set new records." Plus the delinquency rate on residential 1 to 4 unit property loans was up from the first quarter, and also was up year-over-year.

Read more at the Mortgage Bankers Association press release

Not much of a surprise. If you're in the real estate market, you've probably seen an increased number of foreclosure homes offered for sale. We've certainly noticed it. At least, that's our opinion.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fannie Mae - Freddie Mac, and you


By now you've probably heard that the U.S. Government is going to bailout these two lending "powerhouses" (read U.S. Treasury press release. The announcement was made yesterday, but rumors had been swirling for days.

Analysts believe this move should ease tension in the lending market, and look for lower home loan interest rates in the weeks to come.

The stock market agreed with this move, moving in the positive direction.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Social Networking and Social Bookmarking


Geeze! This is really growing! The more I read online, the more I discover how powerful social bookmarking and social networking can be! But, having a real presence on these sites takes time.

Are you using it in your business? For your personal use? Share your stories with us!




Would you like to see where we are? Take a look!

Fran and Rowena on ActiveRain

Fran and Rowena on Delicious

Fran and Rowena on Digg

Fran and Rowena on LinkedIn

Fran and Rowena on My Agent Book

Fran and Rowena on My Deal Book

Fran and Rowena on Naymz.com

Fran and Rowena on Propeller

Fran and Rowena on RealtyWorld

Fran and Rowena on StumbleUpon

Fran and Rowena on WannaNetwork

Real Estate Blogger

GMAC Financial - pulling out


Call it "streamlining" (as their press release does), call it "quits" ... just call it what it is --- a sign of the times.

GMAC Financial Services has announced (press release) that the company is "... closing all 200 GMAC Mortgage retail offices, ceasing originations through the Homecomings wholesale broker channel, further curtailing business lending and international business activities, and right-sizing functional staff support. In addition, the company is evaluating strategic alternatives for the GMAC Home Services business and the non-core servicing business. These collective actions will reduce the ResCap workforce by approximately 5,000 employees, or 60 percent. Approximately 3,000 employees will receive notification this month with the majority of the remaining 2,000 reductions expected to occur by year-end."

More to come ... this is not the last of the shake-up/shake-down in the real estate-related companies.

At least, that's our opinion.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The face of real estate is changing

Is it happening in your neighborhood?

In our area, prominent real estate companies are closing or consolidating offices, small family-owned companies are closing or joining with other firms.

Who knew?

The gossip on the street is that these offices not only are not profitable today, but they have not been profitable for several years.

More support to our theory that the downturn may have started earlier than we all think.

At least, that's our opinion.

Friday, September 05, 2008

What do YOU want from your realtor?

In the study by J.D. Power and Associates (the first one done by this company), home buyers and home sellers were asked to rate their satisfaction based on three aspects of the real estate transaction - the agent, the office and the services.

According to the results, J.D. Power states "The study finds that despite the popularity of home-buying and -selling resources on the Internet, real estate agents are key to customer satisfaction with real estate companies. A large proportion of both home buyers and sellers rely on the Internet to facilitate the buying or selling process, with 68 percent of buyers saying that they used Internet tools to help them in the purchase process and 61 percent of sellers reporting that they used a Web site listing to market their home. In addition, among home sellers, online methods are the most important aspect of marketing. However, the agent factor carries the greatest importance among the factors that comprise overall satisfaction among both home buyers and sellers"

Read more in the J.D. Power and Associates press release here: J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Home Buyer/Seller StudySM

It's an interesting study, but we wonder if smaller/other companies might be disappointed that they were not included in the survey, as it is not clear from the J.D. Power press release which companies were included. On the "Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking" graphs, only larger companies are listed.

At least, that's our opinion.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Interest rates - a history

If you are watching mortgage interest rates, you might want to take a look at the history of 30 year fixed rate mortgages - Freddie Mac mortgage rate history since 1971.

If you are interested, the Freddie Mac website also has historical data for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, plus 5 and 1-year adjustable rate mortgages (look at the links at the bottom of the linked page above).

It's interesting information.

At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Interest Rates - on the move?

While buyers are contemplating their next move, mortgage rates are up (adjustable rates) and down (fixed rates). A recent Bankrate.com survey shows fixed rate 30 year mortgages around 6.6% and adjustable rate mortgages starting around 6.28%.

Read more at Bankrate.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Foreclosures - a primer

What's in the spotlight? Foreclosure listings.

Foreclosures are still growing in most areas. If you are looking for these properties, may we suggest you check out RealtyTrac.

You can search for listings, and also learn more about the foreclosure process.

We are getting several calls and emails asking about foreclosure properties. Unfortunately, most people do not understand the process and the risks involved in buying a foreclosure property.

Our advice is to be informed. Read on the internet, and whenever possible, use an experienced real estate professional to assist and advise you.

At least, that's our opinion.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Loans and Mortgages - a primer

The FDIC has information on "Loans and Mortgages", under the heading of "Consumer Protection.

Some of you with IndyMac loans may want to check out information on the FDIC website here

It's your responsibility to be an informed borrower.

At least, that's our opinion.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Tax Credit for Home Buyers

Of course it's controversial, but the tax credit for first time homebuyers has been approved. There are "strings" attached, however. The money must be repaid, starting within two years.

Read more about it here: MSN Money

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Holidays and Real Estate

It's quiet out there.

A holiday has a way of slowing the real estate market to a halt.

Plus, we have the double-whammy of back-to-school.

Right now people are focusing on those two events, and leaving the real estate market on the back burner.

Sellers - buyers - don't be surprised. Real estate will be slower this weekend - agents out of town, clients not around, fewer open houses ... less real estate activity.

But, look for another "push" after everyone gets settled after back-to-school, and before the holiday season starts.

At least, that's our opinion.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Realtors on the Go

There have been numerous articles/studies/statistics indicating that many realtors are leaving the business. Another biproduct of the housing market. Others are taking on a second job (or maybe real estate is now their second job).

Today's MSN homepage had a link to a U.S. News & World Report article - "6 signs of a crummy real-estate agent" (note: there's no hyphen in the words real estate). And, the article lists the fourth "sign" as being that the agent works part time.

Sellers - Buyers - is your realtor working full time? Take note. The realtors who are in it as a business, are still working full time. If they aren't working with clients, then they are working on the business aspect of real estate.

At least, that's our opinion.

Read the article here: MSN real estate

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Did the Olympics affect Real Estate?

We were talking about that very topic in our office. Our conclusion? Yes, it did!

With the market doing it's typical August slowdown as people take their last opportunity for a summer vacation, realtors were watching the Olympic coverage. Many late nights were spent in front of the TV. With no "sense of urgency" to be in the office, realtors were also taking their last opportunity for a summer break --- from work.

And, with the kids going back to school, buyers, sellers, and realtors can all refocus on the business at hand --- real estate!

At least, that's our opinion.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bound for a Rebound?

The California Association of Realtors reports that sales of existing homes grew over 43% in July over last year's sales for the same month. Yes, that's 43%!

Of course, it's too early to call this a "trend", but for those sellers out there who are thinking that there's no market ... yes there is!

To read more: California Association of Realtors

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Staging

Home staging is not new. We've all done it to some degree to get a property sold.

But, now it's big business! Home stagers are busy helping to prepare homes to look their best. It's the "WOW" factor that a home seller wants so that their home stands out from the next.

If you are thinking of selling your home, consider a home stager as part of your team. You may need a house full of help, or just some ideas to make what you already have come together. That is to say, home stagers can help on a small or grand scale.

We found an excellent home staging blog - Home Staging. It has a lot of free advice including information you can print.

You can find a home stager in your area by asking your real estate professional for a reference, or searching various organizations for Home Stagers (this is not a complete list of home staging organizations, but it gives you a start):
International Association of Home Staging Professionals
Real Estate Staging Association



A consultation with a professional home stager can make the difference in your home selling!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Real Estate Networking Sites

We've joined some of the popular real estate networking websites.

Check us out!

ActiveRain

My Agent Book

RealtyWorld

LinkedIn

WannaNetwork

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Existing Home Sales Down in March

the National Association of Realtors reports that "The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March, edged down 1.0 percent to 83.0 from a downwardly revised level of 83.8 in February, and was 20.1 percent lower than the March 2007 index of 103.9."

To read more, including opinions on the future of the real estate market, go here: National Association of Realtors

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feds lower its key interest rate by 1/4%

The Federal Open Market Committee cut the federal funds rate by 25 basis points It now stands at 2%. The last time it was at this level was 2004*.

To read the press release: Federal Reserve Board Press Release

What is the Fed funds rate? Read here


*To see what has happened to the Fed funds rate since 1990, go here

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Foreclosures UP in First Quarter of 2008

RealtyTrac® reports that "...foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 649,917 properties during the first quarter, a 23 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 112 percent increase from the first quarter of 2007. The report also shows that one in every 194 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing during the quarter."

To read more: RealtyTrac®

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Existing Home Sales Down

The National Association of Realtors® reports that "Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – were down 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (1) of 4.93 million units in March from a level of 5.03 million in February, and remain 19.3 percent below the 6.11 million-unit pace in March 2007. A rise in condo sales in March was offset by a drop in single-family sales. Regionally, sales rose in the Northeast and West but fell in the Midwest and South."

To read more: National Association of Realtors®

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home Starts Fall in March

The Commerce Department reports that home starts were down in March. "The home starts pace was the lowest since a 921,000 rate set in March 1991."

To read more: Home Starts March

Friday, April 11, 2008

Green real estate

Our interest in "green" real estate will lead us to bring you information on the environmental side of real estate.

Today's information is a database:

Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency that describes itself as "DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

National Association of Realtors Predicts

The National Association of Realtors ("NAR") forecasts that "Little change is expected in existing-home sales over the next few months, before improving notably during the second half of the year."

Further, "The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, slipped 1.9 percent to 84.6 from an upwardly revised reading of 86.2 in January, and was 21.4 percent lower than the February 2007 index of 107.6."

To read more: National Association of Realtors

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Southern California Homebuyers Fair

April 12 and 13, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center

For information: Southern California Homebuyers Fair
Nationwide New Home Sales Slow

With numbers that exceed expectations, the Commerce Department reports that February sales of new single family homes were slower than last year. More signs of trouble in the housing market.

Read more here: Reuters

Monday, March 24, 2008

Existing Home Sales UP, prices DOWN

The National Association of Realtors reports that "Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (1) of 5.03 million units in February from a pace of 4.89 million in January, but remain 23.8 percent below the 6.60 million-unit level in February 2007."

"The national median existing-home price ... for all housing types was $195,900 in February, down 8.2 percent from a year earlier when the median was $213,500. Because the slowdown in sales from a year ago is greater in high-cost areas, there is a downward pull to the national median with relatively fewer sales in higher priced markets."

To read more: National Association of Realtors

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Federal Reserve lowers rate

Today (Sunday) "...the Federal Reserve Board unanimously approved a request by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to decrease the primary credit rate from 3-1/2 percent to 3-1/4 percent, effective immediately. This step lowers the spread of the primary credit rate over the Federal Open Market Committee’s target federal funds rate to 1/4 percentage point. The Board also approved an increase in the maximum maturity of primary credit loans to 90 days from 30 days."

To read more: Federal Reserve press release

Friday, March 14, 2008

National Commercial Real Estate Market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that "Commercial real estate market fundamentals are fairly stable, although investment is waning following a record year in 2007."

To read more: Commercial real estate

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Southern California Home Sales Slow - Median Price Drops

DataQuick reports that "Southern California home sales limped along last month at the slowest pace ever for a February, the result of a market crippled by uncertainty and credit constraints. The median sale price dropped by a record 17.6 percent from a year ago."

What's the trend? Read what DataQuick says: "Last month's sales total was the second-lowest for any month in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. The prior month's total of 9,983 was the lowest ever. Since September, sales each month have been a record low for that particular month."

The entire store is here: DQNews.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Conforming Loan Limits Announced

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) has announced the "temporary jumbo conforming loan limits".

To read the press release: OFHEO

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mortgage Rates Drop

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending March 6, their survey of national mortgage interest rates shows that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 9 basis points, to 6.32 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.19 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.78 percent."

But note - "The rate on the 30-year fixed made a startling jump Wednesday. It went up a quarter of a percentage point or more in the afternoon -- after Bankrate's research department had gathered the bulk of the day's rate information."

To read more: Bankrate.com

Thursday, March 06, 2008

California New Home Construction Slows Down

The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) reports that "According to housing permit data supplied by the Construction Industry Research Board, total housing starts in California, as measured by building permits issued, dropped 53 percent in January when compared to the same month a year ago to 4,700 units. Production of single-family homes fell 62 percent while construction of multifamily units decreased 34 percent when compared to January of 2007."

To read more: CBIA

Thursday, February 28, 2008

2007 California Home Sales

The California Association of Realtors® has released their 2007 survey of California home sales indicating that "Home sales decreased 26 percent in California in 2007 compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home increased 0.3 percent".

To read more: CAR 2007 home sales report

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Housing Crunch

Did you see the headline article on msn.com? Check it out:
The Housing Crunch

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mortgage rates UP!

For the week ending February 20, Bankrate.com reports that "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 41 basis points, to 6.37 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.29 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.57 percent. The 30-year fixed hasn't been this high since the middle of October, when it was near 6.5 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com mortgage analysis

Friday, February 22, 2008

IRS Changes Rules on Personal Residence Debt Relief

If you lost your home due to foreclosure or had during 2007, there are new IRS rules that may apply.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), "The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualify for this relief."

Further, the IRS explains "This provision applies to debt forgiven in 2007, 2008 or 2009. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion doesn’t apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition."

To read more from the IRS: IRS questions and answers on Home Foreclosure and Debt Cancellation

Note: We advise you to check with your tax advisor, financial advisor or other appropriate professional(s) to see how this may affect you and your personal situation. We are not qualified to, or to we mean to, give tax advice.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mortgage Applications Down

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that for the week ending February 15 " The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 822.8, a decrease of 22.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 1063.5 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 21.2 percent compared with the previous week and was up 33.9 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.'

As for refinances, the MBA reports that "The Refinance Index decreased 27.9 percent to 3533.8 from 4901.5 the previous week and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 11.5 percent to 357.6 from 403.9 one week earlier."

To read more: Mortgage Bankers Association

Saturday, February 16, 2008

January Southern California Home Sales Slowest in 20 Years

DataQuick reports that "Southern California home sales dipped below 10,000 transactions for the first time in more than 20 years last month as most potential buyers and sellers appear to be waiting out market turbulence... Last month's sales total was the lowest for any month in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. Since September, sales for each calendar month were a record low for that particular month."

To read more: DQNews.com

Thursday, February 14, 2008

NAR Releases 4th Quarter Home Price Survey Results

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of it's home price survey for the 4th quarter of 2007. The survey shows that half the metropolitan areas experienced an increase in value, while half did not.

The survey of home prices identifies several segments, including top and bottom-range prices for single family homes and condos.

More info:
NAR Metro Area Price Charts
NAR Press Release

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bush Signs Stimulus Package

Including the raise in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac limits.

Read more here: MSNBC.com

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

Mortgage Interest Rates Down

Bankrate.com reports that for the week ending February 6, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 10 basis points, to 5.78 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.31 percent; four weeks ago, it was 5.88 percent."

To read more: Bankrate.com

AND ...

Purchase Applications Up

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that for the week ending February 1, mortgage applications were up for purchases, down for refinances.

To read more: Mortgage Bankers Association

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Consumer Information - Real Estate related

The Federal Reserve Board has interesting information available online. Information includes: Consumer Handbook on Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM), Foreclosure Resources for Consumers, and more!

To obtain more information: Federal Reserve Board Consumer Information

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Condo Market Confidence Down

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that "Builder confidence in the condominium housing market eroded in the third quarter of 2007, according to the latest results of the Multifamily Condo Market Index (MCMI)".

To read more: NAHB

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mortgage Interest Rates UP!

Bankrate.com reports that mortgage rates were up for the week ending January 30, "The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 31 basis points, to 5.88 percent ... One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.42 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.14 percent."

Why up? Bankrate.com says "Depending on whom you ask, you'll get a number of explanations of why mortgage rates are going up while the overnight rate is going down. One reason might be that investors are reacting to the Fed's rate moves by selling bonds and buying stocks. The reduced demand for bonds makes their yields go up, and mortgage rates follow."

To read more: Bankrate.com mortgage rates

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Feds cut rate again!

The Federal Open Market Committee acted again! It lowered the federal funds rate 50 basis points. It now stands at 3 percent.

To read the press release, go here: Federal Open Market Committee

A history of the Fed Funds rate is here: History of Federal Funds rate

To read more details on how this affects the consumer and mortgage rates: Bankrate.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

2007 a year for Record Foreclosures

RealtyTrak reports that nationwide foreclosures in 2007 were up 75% over 2006. There are many more interesting statistics, and foreclosure information on their website.

To read more: RealtyTrac

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Home Sales Weak

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that " ... New single-family home sales fell 4.7 percent in December ... ". The NAHB reports on how this points to the need for actions from lawmakers to stimulate the market.

To read more: NAHB

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Economic Stimulus Package Includes Increasing Loan Limits

The proposed package includes an increase in the loan limit from $417,000 to a maximum of $725,000. Read more about it here: California Association of Realtors

Friday, January 25, 2008

Interest Rates Fall

Freddie Mac reports that "...the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.48 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending January 24, 2008, down from last week when it averaged 5.69 percent as well. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.25 percent. The 30-year FRM has not been lower since the week ending March 25, 2004 when it averaged 5.40 percent."

To read more: Freddie Mac

Thursday, January 24, 2008

December 2007 California Home Sales

DataQuick reports that California home sales for December 2007 were similar to November's numbers, but down slightly more than 41% from last year. DataQuick reports that "Last month's sales made for the slowest December in DataQuick's records, which go back to 1988. On a year-over-year basis, sales have declined the last 27 months."

To read more: DQNews.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Feds Cut Rates

Surprise! The Feds cut rates by 75 basis points. Read more here: Bankrate.com