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By Donny Opoku | Agent in 90008
  • Home building surges 12%

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in 90008  |  January 30, 2013 6:09 PM  |  171 views  |  No comments

    The reading smashed the 889,000 that economists surveyed by Briefing.com were expecting.

    The Northeast saw a 19% increase in housing starts from November to December, as construction picked back up again after the storm put a halt to new building activity. Single-family housing starts also boosted December's strong reading, rising more than 8% from November.

    Applications for new building permits, which are seen as an indicator of builders' confidence in the market, were little changed from November's rate. But the annual rate of 903,000 reported in December is up 28.8% from last year's level.

  • Interest rates: The big freeze

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in 90008  |  January 30, 2013 6:08 PM  |  141 views  |  No comments


    Freeze your rate. Buying a home? Rates are at 40-year lows, so lock yours in with a fixed-rate mortgage; interest on a 30-year fixed was 3.57% in January.

    "It's a sure thing," says Keith Gumbinger of mortgage data provider HSH.com.

    Related: Sizing up bond investing risks

    Lower your term. Refinancing? If you're certain to move within a few years, consider an adjustable-rate mortgage; initial rates on five-year ARMs were 2.68% in January.

    Otherwise, use low rates to shorten your mortgage's term and cut interest costs. Should going from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year be too big a payment hike, get a 20-year version. (About 15% of refinancers opt for a 20-year, says the Mortgage Bankers Association, up from 12% in 2011.)

  • Facebook Graph Search for Realtors

    Posted Under: Tech Tips in 90008  |  January 28, 2013 5:52 PM  |  185 views  |  No comments

    One of the biggest developments that Facebook has rolled out recently is the new Facebook Graph Search. I had first talked about Facebook Search back at Real Estate Connect SF 2012 and predicted that this would be the “next big thing for Facebook.” At that time, they were in the process of hiring some of the top talent from Google and the rumblings in Silicon Valley was that this was in the works. It’s no secret, that for some time, Facebook search was awful.

    I am excited to have access to the Facebook Graph search and after playing around with it for the past couple days, I felt it was important to put together a quick video explaining what it is, what it looks like, and most importantly what I feel like are some of the ways real estate professionals can best use it.

  • California Million-Dollar Home Sales Highest Since 2007

    Posted Under: Home Selling in 90008  |  January 28, 2013 5:50 PM  |  167 views  |  No comments

    The number of Golden State homes sold for a million dollars or more rose last quarter to its highest level in almost five years, the result of an improving economy, some price increases and improved mortgage availability. The year-over-year gain for $1 million-plus sales was nearly double the increase for the overall housing market, a real estate information service reported.

    A total of 7,763 homes sold for $1 million plus during the April-to-June period. That was up 79.5 percent from 4,325 during the first quarter, and up 18.5 percent from 6,553 in 2011's second quarter, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

    The jump in million-dollar sales last quarter outpaced overall home sales. Total California home sales - including all price levels - increased 10.3 percent year-over-year last quarter, from 109,713 in second-quarter 2011 to 121,058 last quarter.

    Last quarter's $1 million-plus sales were the highest since third-quarter 2007, when 10,946 changed hands. The highest quarter in DataQuick's records, which go back to 1988, was third-quarter 2005, when 15,898 homes sold for $1 million or more.

    "This market always responds to its own set of incentives. Most homebuyers agonize about income, down payments and mortgage interest rates. And while there may be some of that in the prestige market, buyers there also watch what kind of returns their assets are bringing from investments and savings. If your money is parked in a savings account or something else that is low-risk, you're not making much and real property might look good," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

    "Part of the sales increase is because prices are going up, pushing some near-million-dollar homes up over the million-dollar threshold. Those price increases don't appear to be dramatic, but they may also be pushing fence-sitters into the market," he said.

    Statewide, 188 homes sold for $5 million or more last quarter, while 122 were in the $4-$5 million range, 316 were in the $3-$4 million range, 909 were in the $2-$3 million range, 5,100 were in the $1-$2 million range. The exact price on the rest could not be determined, although financing and other factors made it clear that it was a million-dollar sale.

    DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

    The million-dollar transactions include home sales where it could be determined from public records that there was a buyer, a seller, that money changed hands, and that there was a legal transfer of property ownership. Not included were property swaps, sales of multiple lots, sales where no price or loan amount was available, teardowns, and large farm or ranch properties. Sales to companies and trusts were included.

    The most expensive confirmed purchase last quarter was a 17,908-square-foot, 9-bedroom, 14-bathroom Beverly Hills mansion built in 2008 which sold for $34,500,000 in May. It was also the largest million-dollar home sold last year.

    While second-quarter sales in some communities were a mix of prestige and non-prestige homes, some communities are exclusively million-dollar, including 92067 Rancho Santa Fe, 94024 Los Altos and 90402 Santa Monica.

    Newly-built houses and condos accounted for 4.3 percent of last quarter's $1 million-plus sales, down from 5.2 percent a year ago. Condo sales made up 8.8 percent of the million-dollar category, up slightly from 8.6 percent. Most $1 million-plus condos were sold in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego counties.

    The median-sized million-dollar home sold last quarter was 2,629 sq.ft., with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The median price paid per square foot for all million-dollar homes in the April-to-June period was $632, up 2.0 percent from $619 in second-quarter 2011. For the market overall, the square-foot median was $169, up 6.4 percent from $159, DataQuick reported.

    Last quarter, 31.0 percent of the $1 million-plus buyers paid cash, down from 37.7 percent the previous quarter and down from 31.9 percent for second-quarter 2011. In the over-$5 million category, 59.4 percent of the purchases were cash. Of those who did finance their purchase last year, the median down payment was 26.0 percent of the purchase price.

    The lending institutions most willing to provide mortgage financing for $1 million-plus homes were Wells Fargo, Union Bank, First Republic Bank and Bank of America. Wells Fargo's market share was greater than the next three combined.

    There are 8.74 million houses and condos in California. Of those, 239,636 are assessed for more than a million dollars by county assessor offices, up from 233,006 a year earlier, DataQuick reported.

  • Home sales slip nationally in December as inventory drops

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in 90008  |  January 28, 2013 5:44 PM  |  117 views  |  No comments

    “Record low mortgage interest rates clearly are helping many home buyers, but tight inventory and restrictive mortgage underwriting standards are limiting sales,” the Realtors group's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said in a news release.

    Housing inventory dropped 8.5% in December to reach 1.82 million homes available for sale. That represents a supply of just under 4½ months. Most economists consider six or seven months a healthy supply. Unsold inventory is now at its lowest level since January 2001.

    Tight inventory and steep competition for homes drove the median home price up 11.5% from the same month a year earlier to hit $180,800.

  • Pending home sales slip in December, but still up from year earlier

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in 90008  |  January 28, 2013 5:42 PM  |  115 views  |  No comments

    Pending home sales declined in December as inventory tightened, but they were up compared to a year earlier, according to a national index released Monday. 

    The National Assn. of Realtors said its pending home sales index fell 4.3%, to 101.7, compared to the previous month, but was up 6.9% from December 2011. An index level of 100 is considered a healthy level of pending sales. 

    The forward-looking indicator is based on the number of purchase contracts signed for existing homes. A sale is usually completed within one or two months. 

    Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, blamed the December decline chiefly on a tightening market.

    “The supply limitation appears to be the main factor holding back contract signings in the past month.  Still, contract activity has risen for 20 straight months on a year-over-year basis,” he said in a statement. 

    In the West, the index dropped 8.2% last month to 101, and declined 5.3% from a year earlier.

  • Mortgage rates on rise, Freddie Mac says; 30-year fixed at 3.42%

    Posted Under: Financing in 90008  |  January 28, 2013 9:57 AM  |  224 views  |  No comments
    By E. Scott Reckard

    January 24, 2013, 7:16 a.m.

    Interest rates on fixed mortgages rose this week, according to Freddie Mac, with lenders offering the 30-year home loan at an average 3.42%, up from 3.38% a week ago.

    The rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular option for people refinancing home loans, was 2.71%, up from 2.66%. Borrowers would have paid 0.7% of the loan amount to lenders in upfront fees and points to obtain the rates, Freddie Mac said Thursday morning in its weekly report.

    The government-backed finance giant said the starting interest rates on variable loans were unchanged.

    Freddie Mac’s weekly survey asks lenders for the terms on mortgages they are offering to solid borrowers with 20% down payments, or 20% equity in their homes if they are refinancing. Third-party charges, such as for appraisals and title insurance, are not included.

    Rates have been hovering near all-time record lows for months, as another rate tracker, HSH.com, noted. HSH Vice President Keith Gumbinger called it “wandering around directionless.”

    “They continue backing and filling, waiting for clear signals that the economy is picking up steam or losing it,” Gumbinger said.

    “With the tax bite from the 'fiscal cliff' solution just starting to show in paychecks, it's a fair bet that some slowdown in spending is likely. How much is anyone's guess at this point."  

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