Posts Tagged ‘Real Estate’

SANTA CLARA MARKET STABILITY

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Ohlone/Chynoweth–Almaden (VTA)

Ohlone/Chynoweth–Almaden (VTA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

For about 3 years we have suffered through the craziest Real Estate Market I have seen in the 25 years I been a Broker here in Silicon Valley. During much of this period properties would be Listed Wed, Open House Sat and Sun, offers accepted Tue/Wed and Sold by Thu, after an average of 24 offers (the record I know of  was 79 offers on a nice 3 bed, 2 bath in South San Jose). This drove prices up a a ridiculous rate.

This was the inevitable result of a wave of overseas investors stocking up on “Cheap” California Real Estate, a surge of well qualified 1st time buyers, and historically low interest rates.

This excess of Buyers (DEMAND) led to a shortage of properties for sale (SUPPLY)

There are 3 significant results of this great Sellers Market:

1. The virtual disappearance of SHORT SALES, and REO (Foreclosure) properties for sale. The rising prices have rescued many homeowners from the UPSIDE DOWN (Negative Equity) situation they had fallen into.

2. A restoration of the Laws of SUPPLY and DEMAND. Over the past 7 years many people were forced to postpone their retirements when most of their Home Equity vanished, and they had to hunker down till the market improved. The rising prices are  allowing them to restart their long term plans to retire and move out of the area.

3. A significant number of MOVE UP BUYERS who got stuck in small houses despite the arrival of small children are now able to get prices which allow them to move up to a more suitable house. They are selling to  buyers who are helped by the huge number of special FIRST TIME BUYER PROGRAMS now available from  City, County, State, and Federal sources. These are greatly enhanced by the fantastic interest rates.

Now here we are in early 2015 and things have returned to something close to normality with inventory for sale, and ready and qualified Buyers pretty much in balance in most of the valley. The exception to this is in those areas with the top rated schools where the boom times are still hot although on a lesser scale.

 

VETERANS MORTGAGES

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English: AmeriFirst Home Mortgage logo

English: AmeriFirst Home Mortgage logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vahome1

Vahome1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is it that you never seem to hear anything in the Mass Media about the BEST mortgage available? Especially for 1st time buyers.

FEATURES:                   

                   1. ZERO DOWN PAYMENTS.

                   2. NO PMI.

                   3. LOWERQUALIFYING REQUIREMENTS.

 

                   4. UP TO $615,000 PURCHASE PRICE.

                   5. LOWER INTEREST RATES.

 Who do you know that’s a Veteran or ex Veteran trying to buy a home??

 Pass this on to them.

ACCURATE MLS DATA OR???

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Real estate agents in Silicon Valley enter their “for sale” listings into the MLS Listings data base as soon as the Paperwork is signed.

These listings are immediately available for the public to see by signing on to MLS Listings.com. or at Realtor.com.

No paid for advertising or promotions, just 100% real time accurate data

The Zillows and Trulias of this world (and dozens of smaller Portals) buy this data from us and put it out on their flashy web sites in order to pull you in and sell you some of their “(For Profit”) services.

What they don’t tell you is that our MLS Listings data base is continually updated in real time as agents make additions and changes.

They can choose how often to update their sites and typically do so every 7 to 10 days.

This means you cannot assume that the information they provide is accurate.  

The information you get at MLS Listings.com, or Realtor.com is updated in real time and will always be accurate.

Your choice:

Free on a very well designed web site where the critical data is often out of date.

OR

Free on a less flashy but 100% accurate site.

THE $$$$$$$$’s Per/Sq Foot PUZZLE

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A Recent Buyer client was continually comparing different listed houses on the the basis of ASKING PRICE per SQUARE FOOTAGE of living space. At 1st sight this seems perfectly reasonable. He could not understand why there seemed to be NO evidence of this when looking at SOLD prices. i.e. Bigger houses seemed to sell for FEWER dollars per square foot than smaller ones.

However, once we understand how houses are built it really does make sense.

Assume 2 house built at the same time are both 3 bed 2 bath models and 1,200 sq feet living area.

They were both sold new for $400.000. Therefore, when sold, they cost the Buyers $333 per sq ft.

At this time the $$$$$$$$ per sq footage is a valid indication of comparitive value.

Now consider which parts of a new house are the most expensive to build?

How about the Kitchen and Bathrooms with all the high cost plumbing and electrical systems which are not required in the other parts of the house.

1 year later one of the owners decides to add a 400 Sq Ft extension to his family room. As the new consruction does not include any new plumbing and little electrical work the cost per sq ft of the project will obviously be less than that of the complete house.

From this point on the $$$$$$ per sq foot calculation becomes meaningless

The larger house will have a lower $$$$$$$ per sq footage because a a larger part of it cost less to build.

 

 

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PROBLEMS FOR THE 1st TIME BUYER

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Cover of "Buying a Home (Essential Financ...

Cover of Buying a Home (Essential Finance)

Real estate transactions place a particularly complex set of psychological and emotional stressors on buyers and sellers.  Clients are supposed to make wise financial decisions, find (but manage!) their emotional passion for a property, do diligent research, and handle an uncanny list of logistics – all at once.

This has been the case since the dawn of the real estate business. But the last decade has added two line items to this list of stressors that have sent some buyers and sellers over the edge – and pushed many others right to the (deal-breaking) brink:

The biggest recession in American history is one — this has ratcheted up buyers’ and sellers’ financial fears and the pressure to make smart, sustainable decisions.

The advent of the internet is the other — now that every bit of market data and advice is literally at hand, real estate consumers can overwhelm themselves and fall prey to “analysis paralysis” in the effort to get informed.

Client mindsets, unmanaged, kill deals. And you can’t manage what you don’t first understand. Even worse than glitching up your close rate, some of these anxieties can actually cause panic, paralysis and poor decisions. Let’s take a little trip inside the minds of our post-recession, constantly-connected home buyers and sellers, to get a better understanding for their freak-out moments and sticking points.

Neurosis #1: Interest Rate Fixation.

The buyer and refi-er with interest-rate fixation checks interest rates online all day, every day. They hang on Bernanke’s every word – and text or call you immediately after his every press conference to see what you think about it. They notice rates rise and fall by .375% one week, and have done the amortization math to reveal that this difference would save them $2,750 over their 30 year loan.  As a result, interest rate fixated buyers and home owners often freeze up when it’s time to lock rates, hesitating out of the hope/fear that rates will decline, even by a smidgen, tomorrow.

As with most human neuroses, interest rate fixation starts from a good place: the desire to be a smart, informed, wise money manager and real estate decision-maker. But it can spiral to a place where it borders on delusional. Something about the ease of access and constant information about every moment’s variation in interest rates makes mortgage borrowers perceive that they have more control over the precise timing of their rate lock and their transaction than they actually do.

How you can help

If you have someone with interest rate fixation on your hands, it might help to keep them mindful of the overall goal of buying the right home at an affordable price and terms, or saving money and paying their home off early, via their refinance.  Explain that they should be aggressive about moving their house hunt and refinance forward. But also inform them that their contingency and underwriting timelines have more impact on the timing nuances that dictate their precise interest rate than obsessively watching CNBC ever will.

Neurosis #2: House-Stalking Syndrome.

Your house stalkers are those buyers who are constantly asking you about homes that are not on the market, having seen a late-night infomercial that urged them to write letters to owners asking them to sell – and finance – their homes.  These are also the buyers who see a ‘Coming Soon’ sign go up on the most luxurious home in town and start checking online, calling the listing agent and emailing you 5 times a day to know the moment it comes on the market. Then, when it is listed at a price far beyond their means, they go to the Open House, put in a lowball offer (with a picture of their Yorkie) and go into mourning when the place sells for hundreds of thousands more than they could every have paid.

Believe it or not, these are the most benign symptoms of house stalking syndrome. I’ve heard of house stalking buyers who track the sellers down on Facebook, knock on their doors, and even attempt to sabotage their open houses. But by and large, house-stalkers reserve their fixation for late-night internet research into a property’s permit history, floorplans, owners and neighbors, estimated value, days on market and listing agent history.

How you can help

Historically, house stalkers were seeking to be the first to hear of a price reduction.  But on today’s seller’s market, house stalkers are often legitimate buyers driven slightly nuts by the prospect of getting outbid (again).

To minimize this mania, it’s essential for you, the agent, to be the calming presence in a crazy market.  Create a sensible house hunting plan and strategy, encourage them to view homes priced low enough that they can compete and stay within budget, and brief them up front about how many offers buyers normally are having to make before snapping up their ultimate home.

Neurosis #3: Home Voyeurism, aka Looky-Loo Syndrome, aka Property Peeping Tom Tendencies.

Home voyeurs are related to the aforementioned home-stalkers, with one big difference: they have no interest in actually buying a home!  Hence, these Property Peeping Tom’s can be the bane of an agent’s existence, because their phone calls, emails and texts place a real drain on the time you could be spending with serious clients.

As long as there have been open houses, there have been looky loos. But the advent of the internet has exacerbated their symptoms and encouraged their bad behavior by rendering so much more information about properties and the people involved with them publicly available.

How you can help

The toughest type of Property Peeping Tom to deal with are those friends and relatives who beg you to use your real estate agent superpowers to constantly pull comps, get insider information or even provide access to listed homes for what you know will turn out to be no good reason. One word: “no”.  Wait – one more word: “boundaries”

Neurosis #4: Décor Expectations Disorder.

Reality TV, real estate shows and design magazines have created some pretty unrealistic expectations about what the interior of a home should look like on any given day. While the average human being isn’t put off by some unopened mail in the basket or a pair of sneakers in the hallway, those with Décor Expectations Disorder are shocked and outraged by even the slightest signs of real life inside the homes they view. They are aghast when every pillow isn’t fluffed and completely incensed by out-of-date appliances.  No window valances? Quelle horreur.

How you can help

Truth is, the ante has certainly been upped. Buyers at all price points do have the right to expect listings to be clean and prepared for sale – and listing agents must know that homes which don’t measure up will not command top dollar. If your buyer client has Décor Expectations Disorder, remind them that the perfectly staged homes tend to get more offers and sell for more, so that a poorly prepared property might present a good opportunity for them.  Encourage them to visualize the place in the pristine condition they’ll keep it, if and when they end up owning the place.

And take every opportunity to remind your home sellers that the competition is fierce. In fact, remind them that they are not just competing against nearby listings, but also against the standard of cleaniness and decor that buyers see in the media. Encourage them to be vigilant about keeping their home pristine and clutter-free while it’s listed and being shown. Stagers, housekeepers and storage units are property preparation investments that can have pay off big, at closing.

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THE NEXT BUBBLE IS COMING

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Global Real Estate Bubble

Global Real Estate Bubble (Photo credit: Ryan Harvey)

Zillow.com launches!

Zillow.com launches! (Photo credit: Billiard)

Housing forecasters remain optimistic that property values will continue to increase over the next several years and exceed pre-bubble rates by 2017, according to the first-quarter Zillow home price expectations survey.
Based on predictions from 118 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists, these respondents believe home prices will end 2013 up on average 4.2% and rise cumulatively by 22% over the next five years.
Similar to this year, survey respondents anticipate home values will escalate another 4.2% in 2014 before moderating somewhat to annual appreciation rates between 3.6% and 3.8% over the next three years. With an annual 4.1% prediction in housing unit prices expected between 2013 and 2017, this represents the first time the average annual growth rate has surpassed pre-housing bubble (1987-1999) since the Seattle-based analytic firm began its survey three years ago.
The most optimistic of panelists predicted a 6.1% increase in home values this year, while pessimistic economists projected for an average jump of 3%. Furthermore, through 2017, the outlook for cumulative home price change projections ranged from 34.2% among the most positive quartile respondents to 11.7% for the most discouraged housing forecasters.

NOTE: These predictions cannot be used to discuss any specific area.They are for the whole of the Country. In my area, Silicon Valley, these folks are about 2 years behind the times. In other parts of California, mostly inland areas, are only now seeing early signs of recovery.

 

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SHORT SALES-THE END??

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Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For about 2 years now my market (Silicon Valley) has seen a steady increase in sales prices. This is finally causing changes in Banks approach to Short Sales.

I just had my 1st experience where a Bank (BofA) cancelled a previously approved short sale when they realized that the current value of the property is now higher than the amount of the loan.

They have now re-started the Foreclosure process where they can expect to get all of their money back and not have to take a loss after all.

This also gives the owner/borrower the opportunity to minimize the Credit hit by selling the property before the foreclosure completes, and maybe even get a little money back themselves.

I firmly believe that the age of the Short Sale Specialist is coming to it’s end and all those useless seminars will disappear with them.

However, there

Bank

Bank (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

for the home owner who is falling behind  if the Banks begin to think it might be smarter to foreclose and lose a lot less than previously, rather than expend time and effort trying to keep the afloat.

The next 6 month will be very interesting.

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MORTGAGE FRAUD ALERT

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English: A sign advertising foreclosure rescue...

English: A sign advertising foreclosure rescue, name and number blanked out following discussion. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite frequent publicity and legal actions the Fraudsters and Scam Artists are still ripping off vulnerable and financially stressed homeowners with promises to fix their problems for a few thousand dollars up front.

They promise to obtain loan modifications, mortgage relief, and foreclosure rescue. Once the cheque is cashed they are no longer to be found.

There are many services available that legally try to help with these kinds of problems; however, they do not require payment up front which is totally illegal.

THE GOLDEN RULE IS THIS:

ANYONE ASKING FOR AN UP FRONT PAYMENT IS A CRIMINAL TRYING TO CHEAT YOU.

 

 

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MCC. FREE MONEY FROM THE IRS

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Many States, Counties, and Cities have great programs to help 1st Time home buyers, but few if any are better then the Federal Governments Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program.
This turbo charges the existing TAX DEDUCTION for mortgage interest by allowing 15% of it to be taken as a TAX CREDIT.
Here’s an example:
If you pay mortgage interest of $24,000/year you can take 15% of that ($3,600) and deduct it dollar for dollar from your total tax liability.
To put it simply; if your total tax bill was $20,000 it will be reduced to $16,500. You have now got a tax free pay raise of $250/m.
You can now tell your employer to reduce the amount they take from your paystub so you get the benefit of this right away with an extra $250/month in your pocket.
This program is administered by the Counties, and your Mortgage Broker/Bank, but be aware that not all of them are familiar with it. Be prepared to educate them.

FOREIGN REAL ESTATE BUYERS

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Here in Silicon Valley were hearing a great deal about the Asian Buyers who are fueling the crazy boom market now in full force.
Every new listing is selling with multiple offers within day of hitting the MLS, and often not even getting to the MLS.
Buyers with less than 20% down payment have very little chance of even getting their offers considered, much less accepted.
While this is true it’s not accurate to suggest that any one ethnic group is driving this situation.
If we just consider the 2 States where most outside money is driving the market we find some interesting statistics:
o. 26% of all sales involving out of the country Buyers are happening in Florida.
o. 11% are in California.
o. In both cases 24% of such sales are coming from Canada.
o. 11% are from China.