Reasons to Buy Real Estate Now

The “Three Reasons” below is a repost from the pages of REALTOR Magazine online, but essentially is what I’ve been saying for weeks, nay months!

The tax credits expired and everyone climbed under a rock! For a measly $8 to $18K in conditional tax credits buyers were jumping through hoops like they were handing out bars of gold. Do the math on 4% interest over 30 years on a distressed property that you bought for 10% below market. . .

So STOP listening to all the fearmongers and their media puppets screaming that the sky is falling. They’ve all got agendas. Be smart, do your homework and if it makes sense buy a home.

As a point of reference, interest rates on 30-year fixed conventional mortgages went to double digits in late 1978 and peaked at nearly 19% in late 1981. It wasn’t until early 1986 that rates dipped (briefly) below 10% again and were not permanently in single numbers until late 1990. In November of last year (2009) they were right at or just below 5%.

Three Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Stocks are up 50 percent from the March 2009 bottom. Some commodities have risen dramatically. The only asset class left in the cellar is real estate, says Michael Murphy, editor of the New World Investor stock newsletter.

As a result, Murphy is advising investors to buy now for these three reasons:

Desperate sellers: Both home owners and lenders are eager to unload a flood of foreclosed and underwater properties. Buyers with the patience to push through these complex deals can save a bundle.

Little competition: Because most people don’t have what it takes to negotiate their way through short sales and REOs, patient investors are winners.

Low rates: Mortgage rates are at their lowest level in 40 years. If you believe inflation is inevitable, lock in now.

Source: MarketWatch, Michael Murphy (08/19/2010)

Posted at REALTOR Magazine online

For more information regarding this post or other real estate information visit LARealEstateINFO.net or contact Robert Dixon at RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty, Telephone (310) 703-1848 or email info@robertdixon.net. Content of this or any other post is presumed to be accurate but not guaranteed. DRE License #01828273

Serving the Palos Verdes Peninsula & South Bay Beach Cities, Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, Silver Lake, Echo Park – Angelino Heights, Los Feliz, the Greater Los Angeles area and Palm Springs.

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Silver Lake Home Sales, July 2010

Inventory, in general continues to climb; sales are down or flat June to July depending on the area.  Continued drops in interest rates are fueling some sales but not as much as some “experts” assume they should. The arguement: There are some fantastic buys out there right now and the historically low interest rates should out weigh the spector of  a double dip in property value as the savings (over 15 to 30 years) are significant.

Sold in Silver Lake/Echo Park 7/2010 –  22 units. Pending and Listed during the month 14/25

If you’re looking for more specific information on Silver Lake or other areas please contact me with the details. Also be sure to become a fan of Silver Lake Real Estate and Echo Park Real Estate on Facebook!

Source: MRMLS

For more information regarding this post or other real estate information contact Robert Dixon at RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty (310) 703-1848 or email info@robertdixon.net. Content of this or any other post is presumed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Homebuyer Tax Credits Extended to Sept. 30th

The Senate on Wednesday approved a plan to give homebuyers an extra three months to finish qualifying for federal tax incentives that boosted home sales this spring.

The move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would give buyers until Sept. 30 to complete their purchases and qualify for tax credits of up to $8,000. Under the current terms, buyers had until April 30 to get a signed sales contract and until June 30 to complete the sale.

The proposal, approved by a 60-37 vote, would only allow people who already have signed contracts to finish at the later date. About 180,000 homebuyers who already signed purchase agreements would otherwise miss the deadline.

Reid, D-Nev., added the proposal to a bill extending jobless benefits through the end of November. Nevada has the nation’s highest foreclosure rate, and Reid is facing a tough re-election campaign.

The Realtors group has been pushing hard in Congress for the extension. Mortgage lenders, the trade group says, have been swamped with borrowers trying to get approved by the end of the month. Many potential borrowers are unlikely to make the deadline.

“If Congress fails to act promptly, then prospective homebuyers might not get the benefit of the homebuyer tax credit, even though they have completed contracts,” the Realtors said a a letter to lawmakers.

First-time buyers were eligible for a tax credit of up to $8,000. Current owners who bought and moved into another home could qualify for a credit of up to $6,500.

The $140 million cost of the measure would be financed by denying businesses the ability to deduct from their taxes punitive damages paid when losing lawsuits or judgments.

For more information regarding this post or other real estate information contact Robert Dixon at RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty (310) 703-1848 or email info@robertdixon.net. Content of this or any other post is presumed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

Big Banks want MORE!!!

Big Banks and Financial Companies, the same institutions that set the stage for our current downturn, got billions in tax-payer bail-outs and are already becoming profitable (while many American’s continue to struggle or worry) would like yet another pound of flesh from those caught in the cross-fire.


It’s important to note that most of the recent and pending foreclosure activity IS NOT subprime, but prime loans and mortgages. These are A-paper borrowers succumbing to extreme economic challenges.


The piece below, from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® provides information and background.

When is Enough, Enough?
The Big Banks are Opposing C.A.R.’s Bill to Protect Borrowers

C.A.R. is sponsoring SB 1178 (Corbett) to extend anti-deficiency protections to homeowners who have refinanced “purchase money” loans and are now facing foreclosure. Most homeowners didn’t even know that when they refinanced they lost their legal protections, and now may be personally liable for the difference between the value of the foreclosed property and the amount owed to the lender. SB 1178 will be voted on soon by the entire Senate.

One can’t help but think, “when is enough, enough?” Banks have already foreclosed upon a family’s home and now lenders can continue to hound them for additional payment. How much more money can today’s families afford to pay when they’ve already lost their homes and most likely their jobs? Are they never to have the opportunity to begin again?

Action Item
Call Senator Rod Wright Today at 1-800-672-3135
Urge him to vote “Yes” on SB 1178.
Non-C.A.R. members enter PIN number — 182003468

Background

California has protected borrowers from so called “deficiency” liability on their home mortgages since the 1930s, but the evolution of mortgage finance requires the statute to be updated.

Current law says that if a homeowner defaults on a mortgage used to purchase his or her home, the homeowner’s liability on the mortgage is limited to the property itself. The law has worked well since the 1930s to protect borrowers, ensure the quality of loan underwriting and allow borrowers who are brought down by financial crisis to get back on their feet.

Unfortunately, the 1930s law does not extend the protection for purchase money mortgages to loans that re-finance the original purchase debt — even if the re-finance was only to gain a lower interest rate. Recent years of low interest rates have induced tens of thousands of homeowners to re-finance their mortgages, yet almost no one realized that by re-financing their mortgages to obtain a lower rate, they were forfeiting their protections. These borrowers became personally liable for the balance of the loan.

C.A.R. is Sponsoring SB 1178 Because:

SB 1178 is fair. Home buyers, and lenders, entered into the purchase with the idea that the mortgage would be non-recourse debt, and that the lender would look to the security (the house) itself to make good on the debt if the borrower cannot. It meets the legitimate expectation of the borrowers, who have no idea that they are losing this protection by a re-finance. Homeowners didn’t know that their re-finance exposed them to personal liability, and new tax liability, on the note. It would be unfair to allow a lender, or someone that has purchased a note from a lender, to pursue the borrower beyond the value of the agreed upon security.

SB 1178 is consistent with the intent of the orginal law and simply updates it for modern times. Current law was intended to ensure that if someone lost their home to foreclosure, they wouldn’t be liable for additional payment. Since the law was passed over 70 years ago, homeowners re-financing from the original loan to lower their interest rate has become commonplace. The 1930s legislature didn’t anticipate how mortgages would change over time.

Lenders could pursue families to collect this “deficiency” debt years down the road. Under current law, lenders have up ten years to collect on the additional debt after a judgment has been entered on the foreclosure. Years after a family has lost their home, they could find themselves in even more financial trouble. Lenders could even sell these accounts to aggressive collection agencies or even bundle them into securities. The end result would be banks who didn’t lend responsibly in the first place coming after families for even more money that they don’t have.

SB 1178 does NOT apply to “cash-out” re-finances, unless the money was used to improve the home and it doesn’t apply to HELOCs.

Southern California Home Sales for March 2010

More Incremental Gains for Southland Real Estate Market

April 13, 2010

Home sales and prices continued their steady but pokey climb up from the bottom in Southern California last month as buyers scrambled to take advantage of low prices and low mortgage interest rates. The market is still tilted toward low-cost distress sales, but not by as much as previously, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 20,476 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 33.3 percent from 15,359 in February, and up 5.0 percent from 19,506 in March 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

Sales always go up from February to March. Last month was the 21st in a row with a year-over-year sales increase. The March sales average is 24,936 going back to 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

“It’s a reflection of just how grim things got, that we’ve now had almost two years of sales gains and we’re still 18 percent below the sales average. The market won’t rebalance until mortgage lending patterns normalize, and that’s just not happening yet. Some of the best deals out there right now are happening when the buyer comes in with cash,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southland home was $285,000 last month, up 3.6 percent from $275,000 in February, and up 14.0 percent from $250,000 for March 2009.

The median peaked at $505,000 in mid 2007 and appears, so far, to have bottomed out at $247,000 in April last year. The peak-to-trough drop in the median was due to a decline in home values as well as a shift in sales toward low-cost homes, especially foreclosures.

Foreclosure resales accounted for 38.4 percent of the resale market last month, down from 42.3 percent in February, and down from 54.8 percent a year ago. The all-time high was in February 2009 at 56.7 percent.

As sales of lower-cost foreclosure properties have waned over the past year, activity has picked up from very low levels in many high-end areas. Last month sales of homes priced at $500,000 or more made up 19.4 percent of all Southland transactions, compared with 18.5 percent in February and 14.9 percent in March 2009. Over the past five years, $500,000-plus deals averaged 35 percent of monthly sales, while over the past 10 years they averaged 26 percent of all transactions.

Higher-end sales are still hampered by the troubled jumbo loan market, which has improved only modestly over the past year. Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 15.7 percent of last month’s purchase lending, up from 14.8 percent in February and from 10.5 percent in March 2009. However, before the credit crisis in the fall of 2007, jumbos accounted for 40 percent of the market.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) haven’t come close to recovering from the credit crunch, either. While 44.6 percent of all Southland purchase mortgages since 2000 have been ARMs, last month they represented just 4.8 percent, up from 4.0 percent in February and 2.1 percent in March last year.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam continues to prop up lending for many low-to mid-priced homes. Government-insured FHA loans, a popular choice among first-time buyers, accounted for 38.6 percent of all mortgages used to purchase Southland homes in March.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 21.3 percent of the homes sold in March.

Buyers who appeared to have paid all cash – meaning there was no indication that a corresponding purchase loan was recorded – accounted for 27.1 percent of March sales. In February it was a revised 30.0 percent – an all-time high. The 22-year monthly average for Southland homes purchased with cash is 13.8 percent.

The “flipping” of homes has also trended higher the past year, though it eased a bit in March. Last month the percentage of Southland homes flipped – bought and re-sold – within a three-week to six-month period was 3.2 percent of total sales, down from 3.5 percent in February but up from 1.6 percent a year ago. Last month flipping varied from as little as 2.6 percent of total sales in Riverside County to as much as 3.9 percent in Los Angeles County.

MDA DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,220 last month, up from $1,180 for February, and up from $1,074 for March a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 45.2 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They were 55.1 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity remains high by historical standards but is lower than peak levels reached over the last two years. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and non-owner occupied buying is above-average, MDA DataQuick reported.

Source: DQNews.com (DataQuick Information Systems)

Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion

“After 2 Years of Losses, Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion. Losses in Citigroup’s domestic mortgages and credit units however continued to mount — Citigroup Holding, which contains the bulk of most-troubled mortgage and credit card assets along with businesses marked for sale, lost $876 million.”

The piece goes on to say that the government may soon be selling it’s ownership in the company, some 7.7 billion shares…

After 2 Years of Losses, Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion
New York Times by ERIC DASH
April 19, 2010

After nearly two years of being drenched in red ink, Citigroup provided the strongest signs yet that the troubled bank is beginning to recover as it reported a $4.4 billion profit in the first quarter.

The earnings, which handily beat analyst expectations and were the bank’s best since the financial crisis began, were the result of the resurgence in the bond market and improvements in the economy, particularly overseas. Both play to Citigroup’s strengths as a major player in fixed income and emerging markets, and come as some of its rivals benefited from similar trends. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both reported big first-quarter earnings from hefty trading profits and from adding less money to their loan loss reserves.

Full article at NYTimes.com

Realty Check: Televison Hit Show ‘Extreme Makeover’ Downsizes

Interesting, mostly due to the television aspect… In my mind dealing with smaller homes should have broader appeal.

Realty Check: ‘Extreme Makeover’ Downsizes Its Dream Homes
Producers of Hit TV Show See Bad Loans, Dashed Dreams, Default
The Wall Street Journal
April 6, 2010

The house at 10512 Baldy Mountain Rd. in Sandpoint, Idaho, looks like just another vacant foreclosed home. Some appliances, a bathroom mirror and even the hot tub are missing. The dining room of the three-bedroom house has water damage.

But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill problem house. Call it an Extreme Foreclosure. The 3,678-square-foot McMansion is a product of the popular “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” reality television show. It isn’t the only “Extreme” home to fall on hard times.

Each week, an average 9.4 million viewers tune in to ABC-TV for what, over seven seasons, has become a classic formula: Find a struggling family with a heart-tugging story and send them on vacation as an army of volunteers work frantically to replace an existing home with a much nicer and bigger one in just 106 hours. Each episode ends with a dramatic tear-filled tour of the new home, packed with donated furnishings, and outsize extras like a carousel or bowling lanes.

But after the cameras have gone, another trend has been developing: Homeowners struggle to keep up with their expensive new digs. In many cases, the bigger, more lavish homes have come with bigger, more lavish utility bills. And bigger tax assessments. Some homeowners have tapped the equity of their super-sized homes only to fall behind on the higher mortgage payments.

The show’s producers say they are aware of the problem and are making changes appropriate to current economic reality: downsizing.

Back in the boom, the makeovers got a little out of hand because of competition among home builders aware of the free publicity that came with the show and who tried to outdo previous projects. These days, the show is backing away from the boom-era showpieces. We “scaled back,” says Conrad Ricketts, an executive producer for the show created and produced by Endemol USA.

The average size of current makeovers is 2,800 to 3,000 square feet. A 2005 episode featured a house in Lake City, Ga., that became a 5,300-square-foot English castle boasting five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, five fireplaces and an outdoor kitchen. These days, the houses appear more subdued, eschewing over-the-top amenities.

A swimming pool is no longer a must, unless it could be used for therapy. When pools are built, the show explores a well system to help reduce water usage and costs. Lavish landscaping is out, working with the local environment is in. “We’re not going to New Mexico, the desert, and trying to put sod down,” Mr. Ricketts says.

Tracy Hutson, an interior designer who has been with “Extreme Makeover” since the beginning, says homes are receiving more earth-friendly products, such as low water-flow toilets and solar panels, curbing the giant electricity bills that caused a hardship for some families. “I think our hearts were in the right place, but we just got carried way,” says Ms. Hutson. “It can be extreme without being the biggest house you’ve ever seen.”

Back in 2003, the 59-year-old Mr. Ricketts, who has worked in movies and TV for nearly three decades, was looking to develop a home-remodeling series. As he traveled down a “nice street” in Santa Clarita, Calif., he came upon a broken-down house that didn’t seem to fit in. He learned the family had a child battling leukemia, leaving little money for maintenance. “I knew at that moment it was the soul of the TV show,” Mr. Ricketts recalls.

The California family’s home was remodeled for the first episode airing later that year. But soon, remodeling gave way to razing and rebuilding houses, making for more dramatic television during the housing boom. As the show became more popular, donations flowed and builders got more and more ambitious.

It has since become part of pop culture, and, while plenty of makeover shows have come and gone, it remains the most ambitious, well-known and generous of the genre.

It’s also important to ABC when it comes to ratings and selling ads: Among broadcast networks, the show ranks second in the key female demographics and tops with children ages 2 to 11.

Huber Engineered Woods LLC has donated its premium floor, wall and roof products for 25 houses. While TV viewers don’t always see the brand, “connecting with builders and framers on job sites” has led to increased awareness and additional sales, says Matt O’Brien, vice president of commercial operations.

For many families featured on the program, the Extreme Makeover experience has been a dream come true. But for some, the experience has been financially stressful.

Several owners have sought loan modifications to reduce their payments in order to stay in their homes, lenders say. Some families seek a quick-fix by trying to sell. But because Extreme Makeovers tend to be big, fancy residences plopped into working-class or rural communities, the houses can be a hard sell.

The house in Sandpoint, which was owned by Eric Hebert, appears to be the first Extreme Makeover home to actually fall into foreclosure, in October. Mr. Hebert did not answer requests for comment. But he told a local television station last year that “the biggest mistake I think that I made was I took too much money out on the house thinking that I was going to have a job, you know, in the future.”

Source: WSJ.com