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.

North Redondo Beach, CA – Home Sales July 2010

As mentioned in an earlier post, SOCAL Sales Up 08 to 09, while Prices Level or Fall Off – July 31, 2010 inventory is up, sales are down. As you will see in the graph below however, the number of properties “pending” (e.g. in escrow) has continuted to climb. This is, no doubt mostly due to continued drops in interest rates. There are some fantastic buys out there right now and with historically low interest the savings, over 15 to 30 years are significant!
Source: Trendgraphix, Inc.
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.

SOCAL Sales Up 08 to 09, while Prices Level or Fall Off

With the Federal Tax Credit deadline passing, April 30th there has been a very noticeable slow down. For example combined South Bay properties pending (reported start of Escrow April vs. May) were down to 799 in May compared to 1009 in April. Inventory, however has continued to climb from 2674 listed in April, 2845 in May and 3084 reported listed in June. Average price per square foot for South Bay, as a whole is at the lowest level since February however that covers a wide range of prices and demographics. As I continue to say, interest rates (whether buying or refinancing) are the highlight. Falling or level pricing and increased inventory is another.

Please contact me for numbers and prices on specific areas, if you’re considering buying, selling or leasing and especially if you believe you’re upside-down on your loan and fear you may lose your home as there are alternatives to foreclosure.

Southland home sales edge up, prices level off

July 13, 2010

Southern California’s housing market continued its slow crawl toward normalcy in June as sales volume rose and the median price slipped back a notch from May, but remained 13 percent higher than a year ago. Red-hot, fire-sale deals continued to give way to mere bargains in the lower- cost inland markets where first-time buyers and investors have competed fiercely, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 23,871 new and resale homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 7.2 percent from 22,270 in May, and up 2.6 percent from 23,262 for June 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

The sales count was the highest since July last year when 24,104 homes were sold. It was the strongest month of June since 2006 when 31,602 homes sold. The average June since 1988 has had 28,086 sales.

“The market was wildly out of kilter a year ago, now it’s just somewhat out of kilter. We’re still seeing lots of bargain hunting, and we’re not seeing much discretionary buying. The single-biggest issue is still mortgage financing. Rates may be at record lows, but that doesn’t mean much if the lender won’t qualify you,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

“Still, more money was spent last month buying homes in Southern California than in the past two years, and more money was loaned. The tax credits had something to do with that, though it’s not clear exactly how much. With the impact of the credits fading fast, the next few months will tell us a lot.”

The median price paid for a Southland home was $300,000 last month. That was down 1.6 percent from $305,000 in May, and up 13.2 percent from $265,000 for June 2009. The low point of the current cycle was $247,000 in April 2009, the high point was $505,000 in mid 2007. The median’s peak-to-trough drop 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 33.0 percent of the resale market last month, down from 33.9 percent in May, and down from 45.3 percent a year ago. The all-time high was February 2009 at 56.7 percent, DataQuick reported.

Government-insured FHA loans, a popular choice among first-time buyers, accounted for 39.0 percent of all mortgages used to purchase homes in June.

Last month 20.8 percent of all sales were for $500,000 or more, compared with 22.2 percent in May and 19.3 percent a year ago. Zip codes in the top one-third of the Southland housing market, based on historical prices, accounted for 29.6 percent of existing single-family house sales last month, down from 31.0 percent in May but up from 27.8 percent a year ago. Over the last decade those high-end areas have contributed a monthly average of 33.3 percent of regional sales. Their contribution to overall sales hit a low of 21.0 percent in January 2009.

High-end sales would be stronger, and the overall market recovery more robust, if adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and “jumbo” loans were more available. Both have become much more difficult to obtain since the August 2007 credit crisis.

While 43.9 percent of all Southland purchase mortgages since 2000 have been ARMs, it was 6.6 percent last month, up from 6.5 percent in May and up from 2.7 percent in June last year.

Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 17.3 percent of last month’s purchase lending, up from 17.2 percent in May and from 14.9 percent in June 2009. Before the credit crisis, jumbos accounted for 40 percent of the market.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 19.7 percent of the homes sold in June, paying a median of $220,000. Buyers who appeared to have paid all cash – meaning there was no indication that a corresponding purchase loan was recorded – accounted for 23.5 percent of June sales, paying a median $213,000. In February this year cash sales peaked at 30.1 percent. The 22-year monthly average for Southland homes purchased with cash is 14.1 percent.

The “flipping” of homes has also trended higher over the past year. Last month the percentage of Southland homes flipped – bought and re-sold – within a six-month period was 3.4 percent, while a year ago it was 1.9 percent. Last month it varied from as little as 3.0 percent in Orange and San Diego counties to as much as 3.8 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 $1,251 last month, down from $1,293 for May, and up from $1,193 for June a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 44.3 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They were 54.4 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: DataQuick

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.

SOLD June, Palos Verdes – South Bay Beach Cities

SOLD during the month of JUNE 2010

61 The number of residential properties sold on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, 90274 and 90275.

120 The number of residential properties sold in the South Bay Beach Cities, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo and Torrance Beach.

Residential properties SOLD during the month of MAY 2010
 
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.

Good Schools equal Property Value and Stability

Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified and our excellent South Bay Beach Cities school districts failed to get a shout-out in this article, but we all know the significance of good schools and their correlation to property value and stability…

Good Schools, Bad Real Estate
Despite the housing slump, house hunting in good school districts frustrates parents who often have to settle for less house.

The Wall Street Journal
June 25, 2010 by Sarah Max

Oh, the sacrifices parents make.

Kiely and John Adams began their house hunt this spring with grand plans to upgrade from their small home in Cary, N.C., to a larger, four-bedroom house—preferably with an office and a bonus room—about 25 miles away in Chapel Hill, where Kiely plans on starting a Ph.D. program next fall.

They could have gotten all that and more for their $415,000 budget if they kept their search on the outskirts of Chapel Hill. But, determined to stay within the boundaries of Chapel Hill’s highly-regarded school district, the parents of 5-year-old twins, Megan and Bevin, and 4-year-old Sean trudged ahead in what they dubbed “an exercise in compromise.” Even when they did find a house that showed promise, it was usually snapped up before they could take a closer look. “Most houses seemed to come and go, come and go,” Mr. Adams says.

It’s supposed to be a buyer’s market. Yet, for parents determined to buy in areas associated with top schools, those bargains may be harder to come by. When housing markets go south, “areas with exceptional schools tend to hold their value better than the market overall,” says Michael Sklarz, president of Collateral Analytics, a Honolulu-based firm that specializes in real estate data analysis.

In Chapel Hill, where the Adams family was looking, the average single-family home price, based on price per square foot, has declined about 4.8% since the market peaked in 2007, according to Collateral Analytics, but houses there still command about a 48% premium, per square foot, to homes in the Raleigh-Cary metro area.

In other parts the country, home prices have dropped in areas with good schools, but the declines are typically nowhere near the levels in their surrounding metro areas. In Irvine, Calif., a city that regularly gets national attention for its quality schools, average price per square foot has fallen 18% since its 2006 peak, but prices in the greater metro area surrounding Irvine fell 33%. The same goes for Edina, Minn., where prices per square foot are down about 14% since their peak, versus 27% for the greater Minneapolis area. And in the brainy town of Andover, Mass., prices are down just 4%, versus more than 16% for the Boston metro division.

There are several factors at play, says Mr. Sklarz. Areas with good schools tend to be more affluent and were less susceptible to the sub-prime mortgage debacle so saw fewer foreclosures. What’s more, homes associated with great schools generally sell faster, in good markets and bad.

All of this comes as no surprise to the real estate agents who work with education-obsessed parents. “Schools have a huge impact on home values,” says Kathy Beacham, a real estate broker in Raleigh. When schools in her own well-to-do neighborhood were redistricted three years ago, the value of her million-dollar home dropped more than $150,000. “A good education has always been important but I don’t remember looking at the numbers like parents do today,” she says.

Then again, the numbers have never been so widely available. State assessments, independent ratings from websites like GreatSchools and Education.com and annual magazine rankings of America’s top high schools have not only made it easy for parents to factor school test scores and parent-teacher ratios into their buying decisions, they’ve cemented the relationship between home prices and school quality.

When Florida rolled out its statewide grading system in 1999, the real estate market took note. According to research by David Figlio, who is now a professor of education, social policy and economics at Northwestern University, an A-rated school in Gainesville added about $10,000 to the value of a home there versus a B school.

Once a school is graded, the gap often grows. Strong ratings lead to better community support, which in turn leads to better schools. Today, the difference between an A school and B school might easily be $50,000 on a $300,000 house, he says.

That phenomenon isn’t lost on residents of Bellevue, Wash., a Seattle suburb that is home to some of the best schools in the state. “I don’t think there’s ever been a school levy on the ballot here that’s been turned down,” says broker Michael Orbino. Even residents who don’t have school-age children tend to stand behind the schools. It’s not altruism; it’s economics. All things being equal, homes in the Bellevue school district fetch as much as a 15% premium to those just outside of it, he says.

“But there’s more to it than that,” says Mr. Orbino. “Because the land is worth so much more in Bellevue, builders tend to build more expensive homes here,” making the school district that much more expensive to begin with. By Mr. Orbino’s estimate, the prices for single-family homes are down about 10% since the market peak. “But it isn’t a catch-all,” he says. Prices for ultra-luxury homes and condos, which generally aren’t influenced by schools, are down 30% to 40%, he says. So while prices per square foot in Bellevue have fallen slightly more than the Seattle market overall, prices for more family-friendly abodes haven’t necessarily seen the same declines.

The stabilizing effect of good schools is welcome news for those who already own property in school boundaries, but it makes it tough for parents to trade up to better homes. John and Kiely Adams considered themselves lucky to have found a three-bedroom home in a Chapel Hill neighborhood they liked and at a price in their budget. But, alas, they were forced to back out of the deal when their current home came up short in the appraisal. With their daughters’ first day of kindergarten fast approaching, the couple will stay put for now and start the process over again next spring. “We don’t want them to start kindergarten only to yank them out two months later,” says Mr. Adams.

Left with few other options, some parents get creative. Bellevue school administrators have seen all kinds of tactics for skirting the district’s policy that students spend at least four nights a week within boundary lines. Common ploys include using a family member’s address or taking over a resident’s utility bill, one of the documents used as proof of residency. The school district has uncovered 35 cases of enrollment fraud this year alone. Other families jump school boundaries by spending four nights a week in a small apartment and going home to a bigger house in another town for the weekends.

Two years ago, Daniel and Dee Shin used an inheritance from Mr. Shin’s father to pay $410,000 for the “cheapest house they could afford” in Bellevue for the sole purpose of securing a spot in the school district for their then 11-year-old daughter, Kayla. The 900-square-foot circa-1955 rambler is “beat up and not insulated very well,” says Mr. Shin, adding that he assumed that paying property taxes on the house would be enough to satisfy the school district’s residency requirements even if the family actually resided in a 2,326-square-foot, four-bedroom home in the nearby town of Renton. Their new neighbors in Bellevue, evidently, didn’t see it that way. They reported the Shins to the school district, and the district gave them an ultimatum: move into the Bellevue district by the time Kayla registers for high school in February, or start the following school year in another district.

The decision was clear for the Shins. They plan to spend the summer insulating the Bellevue home and doing their best to make it livable. Come January, they’ll move into that house, and their extended family will move into the house in Renton.

The Shins considered just sending Kayla to a private school, but Mr. Shins says that suggestion triggered “on demand tears” from Kayla, who doesn’t relish the idea of going to a different high school than her middle-school pals. After all the trouble the couple went through to get Kayla into Bellevue schools, they’re determined to see her graduate from Newport High School, which, Mr. Shin is quick to point out, is consistently ranked among the best in the country.

As the father of three children ages 11, 14 and 16, Northwestern’s Mr. Figlio understands the dilemma parents face. When he and his family relocated from Gainesville, Fla., to Evanston, Ill., in 2008, Mr. Figlio vetted the middle schools before making a decision about where exactly he and his family would live. For parents struggling with how to get their kids into the “best” schools at a price they can afford, he recommends considering test scores, state ratings and the like—but not getting too hung up on enrolling your child in an A+ school at all costs when a B+ school might actually be a better fit, academically and financially.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, view online at Good Schools, Bad Real Estate

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.

Rate on 5-year ARM falls to record low

Interest rates continue to be the best single reason to be in the housing market. Whether you’re buying or need to sell, historically low financing is a huge benefit…

Rate on 5-year ARM falls to record low
But mortgage rates’ weekly move proves minimal: Freddie Mac
MarketWatch June 18, 2010
By Amy Hoak , Real Estate writer

Mortgage rates changed little this week, but the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage managed to slide enough to break its record low, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released on Thursday.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs averaged 3.89% for the week ended June 17, down from 3.92% last week and 4.97% a year ago. It’s the lowest the ARM has been since Freddie Mac started tracking it in January 2005.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs also fell, averaging 3.82%, down from 3.91% last week and 4.95% a year ago. It’s the lowest that the ARM has been since the week ended May 6, 2004, when it averaged 3.76%.

But fixed-rate mortgages inched up this week, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.75%, up from 4.72% last week; it averaged 5.38% a year ago. And the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.20%, up from 4.17% last week; it averaged 4.89% a year ago.

To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages and the 5-year ARM required payment of an average 0.7 point, while the 1-year ARM required an average 0.6 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

“Mortgage rates were little changed this week amid preliminary signs that the expiration of the home-buyer tax credit in April may have led to a slowdown in new construction,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a news release.

“Starts on single-family homes fell 17% to an annualized pace of 468,000 units in May from April’s 20-month high. In addition, permits on one-unit homes fell to the slowest pace since May 2009,” he noted. Read story about housing starts.

“Finally, builders became more pessimistic in their near-term outlook in June, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing,” he said. Read about builder pessimism.

But Nothaft added that household balance sheets have been improving over the last year: “In aggregate, households gained $6.3 trillion in net worth in the first quarter from a year ago, according to the Federal Reserve.

“In addition, homeowners have regained $1.1 trillion in home equity over the same time period,” he said

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.