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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SoCal Sales and Median Price Fall in July

July sales traditionally fall from June however a nearly perfect storm of elements combined last month to produce one of the worst Julys on record. I say “nearly” because interest rates are still fantastic and we can only imagine how ugly it may have been if the cost of money had gone up as well. 

  Sales Volume Median Price
All homes Jul-09 Jul-10 %Chng Jul-09 Jul-10 %Chng
Los Angeles    8,082 6,515 -19.4% $321,000 $339,000 5.6%
Orange         3,128 2,527 -19.2% $420,000 $450,000 7.1%
Riverside      4,699 3,529 -24.9% $185,000 $200,000 8.1%
San Bernardino 3,549 2,556 -28.0% $140,000 $155,000 10.7%
San Diego      3,809 3,070 -19.4% $320,000 $338,000 5.6%
Ventura        837 749 -10.5% $375,000 $370,000 -1.3%
SoCal          24,104 18,946 -21.4% $268,000 $295,000 10.1%

With record low interest, falling prices and an increase in inventory there is great opportunity for well qualified buyers. Even with a potential double-dip in property value, the amount saved in interest should more than balance out.  As the saying goes, you make money when you purchase real estate and with the abundance of distressed properties out there and buyers’ market environment, there is plenty of opportunity.

Cash buyers are definitely is the best position to take advantage, whether changing a primary residence or considering income properties. There’s a lot of single, multi-family and vacation homes currently on the market that have the potential to cover some or all of the cost of ownership. In the best case scenarios owners will see positive cash flow. There some situations where financed income properties can produce a profit, however these are generally larger and much more complex investment s than say 3 to 10 unit properties.

Whether buying and especially if selling, know you market. Be patient and understand what constitutes the best value in your chosen area. The most important thing for a seller now is to be realistic and understand that their home may be worth much more to them than the market will bear.

My job as is to educated my clients so that they know the right deal when it comes along.

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.

Southern California Home Sales and Median Price Dip in July

August 17, 2010

La Jolla, CA—Southland home sales saw their biggest year-over-year drop in more than two years last month as the market lost most of the boost from the federal home buyer tax credits. The median sale price dipped for the second month in a row, the result of a shaky economic recovery, continued uncertainty about jobs, and the expiring tax breaks, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 18,946 new and resale homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in July. That was down 20.6 percent from 23,871 in June, and down 21.4 percent from 24,104 for July 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

This was the slowest July since 2007, when 17,867 homes were sold, and the second-slowest since July 1995, when 16,225 sold. Last month’s sales were 27.4 percent lower than the July average of 26,085 sales since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. The average change in sales between June and July is a 6.7 percent decline – about one-third the drop seen this year.

Last month’s 21.4 percent sales drop from a year ago marked the steepest year-over-year decline for Southland sales since March 2008, when sales fell 41.4 percent.

“It appears some of the sales that normally would have occurred in July were instead tugged into June or even May as buyers tried to take advantage of the expiring tax credits. Some of last month’s underlying technical numbers were largely flat, indicating that the market is treading water,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

“We do expect some sideways buying and selling to kick in, especially among homeowners who have owned for more than seven years and didn’t take out equity during the frenzy. You may have to ‘discount’ your self-perceived home value, but if the person you’re buying from has to do the same thing, it doesn’t matter. And you may get a spectacularly low mortgage rate.”

The median price paid for a Southland home was $295,000 last month. That was down 1.7 percent from $300,000 in June, and up 10.1 percent from $268,000 for July 2009. The low point of the current cycle was $247,000 in April 2009, while 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 34.2 percent of the resale market last month, up from 32.8 percent in June but down from 43.4 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 36.0 percent of all mortgages used to purchase homes in July, down from 38.8 percent in June and 39.2 percent in July 2009.

Last month 21.9 percent of all sales were for $500,000 or more, compared with 21.6 percent in June and 19.2 percent a year ago. The low point for $500,000-plus sales was in February 2009, when 13.6 percent of sales crossed that threshold. Over the past decade, a monthly average of 25.4 percent of homes sold for $500,000 or more.

Viewed a different way, Southland zip codes in the top one-third of the housing market, based on historical prices, accounted for 30.8 percent of existing single-family house sales last month, up from 30.4 percent in June and 27.7 percent a year ago. Over the last decade those higher-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 if adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and “jumbo” loans were easier to obtain. Both have become much more difficult to get since the credit crunch hit three years ago.

Last month ARMs represented 6.1 percent of all purchase loans, down from 6.7 percent in June but up from 3.4 percent in July 2009. Over the past decade, a monthly average of nearly 40 percent of all home purchase loans have been ARMs.

Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 18.4 percent of last month’s purchase lending, up from 17.6 percent in June and from 15.2 percent in July 2009. Last month’s figure was the highest since January 2008, when it was 18.7 percent. Before the August 2007 credit crisis, jumbos accounted for 40 percent of the market.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 21.9 percent of the homes sold in July, 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 26.7 percent of July sales, paying a median $218,250. In February this year cash sales peaked at 30.1 percent. The 22-year monthly average for Southland homes purchased with cash is 14.2 percent.

The “flipping” of homes has trended higher over the past year. Last month the percentage of Southland homes flipped – bought and re-sold – within a six-month period was 3.7 percent, while in June it was 3.4 percent and a year ago it was 2.0 percent. Last month flipping varied from as little as 2.8 percent in Orange County to as much as 4.4 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 $1,204 last month, down from $1,251 in June, and up from $1,180 in July 2009. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 46.4 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They were 56.1 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

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.

Home prices rise for 4th month in a row

Although this is great news, it does not give a complete picture. Most current sellers need to sell or the property being marketed is bank owned (REO). For those in a position to buy, this is a great opportunity and there certainly will be no shortage of inventory (Short Sales and REOs) during the coming year… Plus the value of standard sales is influenced by the distressed market.

A piece today in the WSJ “One in Four Borrowers Is Underwater“ states that nearly 10.7 million households , or about 23% of homeowners with mortgages had negative equity in the third quarter. It is estimated that more than 520,000 of these borrowers have received a notice of default.

On the bright side, the article goes on to say “Most U.S. homeowners still have some equity, and nearly 24 million owner-occupied homes don’t have any mortgage…” Some experts expect values to drop again in the coming year and it’s likely they will. We should definitely see values flat-line or drop over the next month and into Q-1 of 2010 due to the holidays and extension of tax credits to April 30th. My guidance is, if you’re buying a home and you plan to live there for 5 years or more, it’s hard to go wrong at 5% interest. If you don’t need to sell, don’t. Or consider leasing the property if you can. Speculators’ (flippers’) must understand that smart money is buying at a percentage of replacement cost and has the cash to carry if necessary. RD

PS – Also at WSJ.com, check out “Negative Equity by State” chart. California is actually slightly better off than Florida, Nevada and Arizona.

Home prices rise for 4th month in a row

WASHINGTON – The summer’s trend of rising home prices is flattening as the traditional home shopping season ends, two reports Tuesday showed.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 major cities rose 0.3 percent to 144.96 in September, the fourth monthly increase in a row. The seasonally adjusted index is now up more than 3 percent from its bottom in May, but still 30 percent below its peak in April 2006.

Another reading of home prices published by the Federal Housing Finance Agency held steady from August to September. Analysts expect prices to dip again this winter as foreclosures increase.

“As long as the unemployment rate stays elevated, you’re going to see pressure on the pace of foreclosures, which are going to find their way back onto the market, depressing prices,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist with Miller Tabak & Co.

Home prices are a key ingredient to rebuilding the economy. Homeowners feel wealthier when their property appreciates in value and are more likely to spend money. Rising prices also help millions of homeowners who owe more to the bank than their homes are worth.

Currently, roughly one in four homeowners are in that situation, according to First American CoreLogic.

While prices nationally are likely to keep rising through November, “we are very worried about the potential for a huge wave of supply next year, both from private sellers and banks,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “Prices could easily reverse their recent gains.”

Home prices rose in 11 major cities with the strongest gains in San Francisco and Minneapolis, according to the Case Shiller report. Prices fell by the most in Las Vegas and Cleveland.

Compared with a year earlier, the 20-city index was down 9.4 percent, the smallest year over year decline since January 2008.

“With housing remaining an albatross around the economy’s neck, nothing would perk things up more than some increases in home prices,” wrote Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors. “That seems to be happening.”

The price reports came a day after the National Association of Realtors said home resales surged by more than 10 percent in October as buyers took advantage of a special tax credit for first-time owners.

Source: Yahoo! News by ALAN ZIBEL, Associated Press Real Estate Writer