Posts Tagged ‘Real Estate’

PENDING RATIOS STILL IMPROVING

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The ratio between pending sales and listed properties is the best single indicator of future market direction.
Silicon Valleys Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) has now improved for 16 months in a row from from February 2011 to May 2012.
A PENDING SALE is defined as a Signed Purchase Contract.
Given the Federal Reserves commitment to keep rates down for at least another year this trend seems sure to continue with a steady increase of home prices.

TIME TO BUY???

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Are you a potential 1st time buyer living in Californias Silicon Valley, and expect to live in your new home for at least 5 years/? YES YES YES.

0. Prices in our Valley have pretty much stabilized.

0 Interest rates are at all time lows.

0 There are multiple 1st Time Buyer programs from Cities, Countys, State, and Federal Governments. These can provide down payment assistance, and significantly reduce the cost of owning.

If your answer to my 1st question is negative then the answer is probably NO NO NO.

If you believe that prices are going to drop further and you plan to wait and buy at the bottom, please let me know how you will be able spot that bottom before it has already happened.

 

 

 

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ZILLOW. MIRAGE or MAGIC?

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Zillow is one of several Web sites which provide a wide range of Real Estate information useful to the general public. For this I salute it. However, to a great extent it has also created an image of being a free souce of accurate information on the value of individual properties.For this I condem it.

If you want a reasonably accurate valuation of your property there will be 50 local real Estate Agents willing to provide a “free” Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)in the hope that if you are selling you will consider hiring them.

If you need a detailed estimate you can pay a profesional Appraiser between $200-$300 for it. In both cases you will get a valuation based on local knowledge of the house, it’s condition, and the circumstances of the comparable sales i.e. Short Sale, Foreclosure, Probate etc.
Now consider whether a computer program having non of this highly relevant data might be able to provide a more accurate result.
I’m a great believer in the old saying that we get what we pay for. Zillow is a perfect example of that.

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SILICON VALLEY Real Estate UPDATE

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The real estate crisis has gutted house prices, tipped millions into foreclosure, and rattled the global economy to its core. But for many would-be home buyers, the historic boom and bust have been a blessing in disguise. During the first half of the previous decade, easy credit and speculative excitement worked to make houses increasingly expensive. By the fourth quarter of 2005, median home prices had reached 2.77 times median household incomes. That is sharply higher than the 1.92 average of the 15 years ending in 2003 and too expensive for many families. But the subsequent crash in home prices–values have fallen roughly 30 percent at the national level from their 2006 peaks–has helped restore affordability to this once inflated market. By the third quarter of 2009, the price-to-income ratio–a key measure of housing affordability–had fallen below its 15-year average, to 1.84 for the nation as a whole.

Beginning Jan 2010 Silicon Valley Counties (North Santa Clara and Southern Alameda) sales prices have stabilized and some areas are now seeing small increases.

Apart from this being a normal process indicating the last stages of any financial cycle, it has been significantly driven by 5 major sources:

  1. 1st Time Buyer Tax Credits which ended mid 2010.
  2. Extension of FHA and V/A maximum loan limits for High Priced Zip codes.
  3. Historically low interest rates.
  4. Huge increases in the number of 1st Time Buyer programs from Federal, State, County, City, and Employment specific sources. These continue to increase and improve.
  5. Major reductions in Bank Owned (REO), and Short Sale properties coming to market as Banks have beefed up programs designed to keep people in their homes where possible. This has allowed more normal conditions to have control of sales prices.

NOTE: I’m only describing my local Market here in Silicon Valley. I know conditions in other areas have been, and continue to be hit worse than us.  

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Typical Buyer Questions #1

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Here’s a question from a client who has just had an offer accepted on a bank owned (REO)  property.

Question.

Hi Bill, I was talking to a friend about REO and wanted to get your expertise on the matter.  She mentioned recently there were news about how bank were approving foreclosure while owners were doing a refi and other things, so at the end of the day even the bank didn’t own title to the property.  The loan is sold off to multiple lenders and Title is unclear.  Have you heard about it?

My Answer.

Hi Lisa,   As with many things described as “News” in ourMass Media this is just another Urban Legend. In this case one that shows absolutely no knowledge of reality. What it is talking about is a mixture of different situations based on rumours and hearsay, in all cases relating to either Short Sales, or loan modifications, usually from the 29 States where “mortgage” law is different than in California.

It has nothing to do with REO properties which by definition are fully owned by a Bank. There is no other “Owner”. Title is in the name of the Bank and will be delivered by them to the new owner as in any other purchase. An owners Title Insurance  policy will, as always, be paid for by the current owner (the Bank) and given to the new owner through Escrow. There is nothing different today than when you bought your house.

New questions are allways welcome at bmccord@rwnetwork.com

From: Lisa Ly

Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2010 8:11 AM

To: bmccord@rwnetwork.com

Subject: REO Question

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Conversation With A Buyer

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The following is a result of a recent inquiry from a subscriber to the Trulia Voices website. He wanted my opinion on a purchase he was considering. He had picked up a lot of useful information but did not have the experience of the actual steps involved which allows an expert to place multiple bits of knowledge into a clear context, and then into a plan.

                                                             ____________ — _______________

Hello James,

        You are obviously doing a lot of homework yourself, as I would prior to deciding on alternate strategies for a medical problem. However, in both cases accurate information is required in order to make the optimal decision.

I believe you have reached the point of needing accurate current data, placed in its correct context, in order to decide how to proceed.

For example, let’s look at the scenario you described in your question.

Purchase price – $360,000

Loan $288,000 – o.k.

20% down – o.k. but maybe not the best choice, as you are already aware.

6.00% interest – Wrong. Worst case is 5%. (A $200 per month difference in payment)

Property Taxes about $300 per month – Wrong. On $375,000 will be $390:63 per month. A $90:63 difference.

Hazard Insurance $100/m – Wrong. $60 per month is a good estimate. A $40 per month difference.

Just these few differences would allow you to buy up to $400,000 for the same monthly cost. This takes you into the Piedmont High School district with its much superior education system.

You’ve taken the time to build your knowledge and vocabulary well. Now you need real facts and numbers in order to become an educated buyer in a market place where getting it wrong can be very expensive.

I’m not going to base important decisions about my health on “free” research and advice from the Web. I want the alternatives to be explained by a professional, and specifically as they apply to me, not some mythical Mr. Average.

I suggest you take a similar approach and hire a Realtor who will explain the options available to you, and help you understand the pro’s and con’s of each one.

Sorry if this seems “preachy” but I feel very strongly about the mass of incorrect and misleading advice and information being spread throughout Radio, T/V, “News”papers, Magazines, and the Internet. These sources are not interested in supplying information relevant to you and your situation. Their sole motivation is to sell advertising.

Why not hire your own professional who can advise and inform you based on your unique circumstances, at this specific time, and with regard to your medium and loan term plans.

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Foreclosure Moritorium.

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There’s been a lot of babble in the media about the possibility of a Federal halt to ALL foreclosures. Being the MASS Media there seems to be 100% agreement that this would be catastrophic for the crippled Economy, and disasterously expensive for the poor Banks.

The reasons stated are that it will slow down the recovery which needs lots more honest decent folks to lose their homes.

I beg to differ.

I suspect that a moritorium would actually result in Banks putting more effort into Loan Modifications and, where not feasible, Short Sales, which cost 20% less than foreclosures but need a small element of intelligence. These options are both far less traumatic and would get the bad loans reseolved quicker.

Anyone care to guess why the Banks aren’t doing this already?

Given that the Banks caused this situation with their stupid lending practices, is it too much to ask that they give us a little help in digging out of it.

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Higher interest rates likely Soon??

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The Federal Reserve (the Fed) took aggressive steps during 2009 and early 2010 to drive mortgage interest rates down in order to encourage more people to buy homes and revive the real estate industry.

To understand how they did this we need to know what actually controls mortgage interest rates for the home buyer.

 It is the price of Mortgage Backed Bonds (MMB’s)and NOTHING else. The bulk of these are created by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac who buy your mortgage from the Bank or Mortgage Broker who originally made it. They then package hundreds of mortgages together as a Bond and sell it off to private investors (Pension and Insurance companies are typical buyers). The proceeds from the sale are used to buy new mortgages from the Banks and Brokers. This virtuous circle is the motor that drives the Real Estate market.

The Private Investors stopped buying when they realized that a lot of the individual mortgages inside the Bonds were badly designed (Sub-Prime) and payments from were less reliable than they had been told.

When investors stop buying MMB’s the Mortgage Lenders have no money to lend and the Real Estate Market freezes up.

One solution would have been to increase the interest rate on new mortgages in order to offer a higher rate to the investors to compensate for the higher risk. In normal times this is how the market works. In the current circumstances the Investors were not going to buy at any price.

In early 2009 the Fed came to the rescue to avoid a total shut down of the housing market. They began buying these MMB’s in huge numbers and aaccepted very low interest rates. This restored the supply of money available to make new mortgages at historically low rates, and stabilized the whole residential real estate industry.

These Fed purchases have been completed and the challenge now is to attract Private Investors back as buyers for MBB’s. They are there, but will not accept the low rates that the Fed did. Therefore the interest rates paid to get a mortgage will have to go up.

Potential Buyers need to be getting serious if they want to take advantage of these historically low rates.

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California Buyers Tax Credit – Good or Bad?

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Speaking as a Realtor I should welcome the new California tax credit for certain homebuyers. Instead I condemn it as nothing more than a subsidy for lenders, the building industry and the brokers/agents (including me) handling their transactions.

California is a virtually bankrupt State with the 3rd worst educational system in the Country.

To be allocating $200 million to such a program, while simultaneously imposing huge cuts on education, seems to me the height of irresponsibility.

In practice this program will chiefly benefit people who would be buying anyway, and steer them toward new construction. I don’t see this as anything Realtors should be cheering about.

Banks and Builders however are welcoming it with huge sighs of relief.

Just my opinion.

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THE SMART BANK

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There are many suggestions being made as to how best to deal with homeowners in trouble with their mortgage payment. Some are constructive and worth pushing for. Others are not.

One of these is the proposal to allow a bankruptcy judge to force a bank to reduce the Pincipal amount of the mortgage. This is called a “cram down”.

Rather than giving this power of “Cram Down” to bankrupcy courts” (most “distressed” homeowners do not, and will not want to go the bankrupcy path), I’d rather see the Real Estate and Media industries praising and fighting for the Wells Fargo strategy for dealing with their Wachovia inheritance.

They are actively using Principal Reduction “Cram Down” along with Loan Modification strategies, usually  together, to provide long term solutions to many of their defaulting loans.

With a long history of prudent and pragmatic lending policies Wells Fargo are an excellent example of what the banks could and should be doing to make it possible for responsible homeowners to stay in their homes. By lowering the loan amount and interest rate they minimize the larger loss which they would take in a foreclosure or short sale.

 the short sighted strategies being used by the majority of other banks with similar problems are best described as  re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

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