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By Doug & Bud Zeller | Agent in Placerville, CA
  • Unexpected Drop in New-Home Sales

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Folsom, Home Buying in Folsom, Home Ownership in Folsom  |  August 26, 2014 4:20 PM  |  27 views  |  No comments

    Sales of newly built single-family homes dipped 2.4 percent in July, catching many housing analysts off guard.

    "We are somewhat surprised by this dip, considering builder confidence and new-home starts are on the rise," says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. "However, builders are increasing their level of inventory in anticipation that sales will gradually improve during the rest of the year."

    Last week, the Commerce Department reported that construction of new homes surged to its highest level since November, rising 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.09 million units. Additionally, builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes reached its highest score since the beginning of the year

    Despite July's drop in new-home sales, builders remain confident that the sector's outlook is brighter.

    "Though new-home sales is a volatile metric that can fluctuate significantly from month to month, the economic fundamentals are in place for an ongoing housing recovery," says David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist. "Consumer confidence continues to improve, mortgage rates are at yearly lows, and the labor market is healing. These factors should help spur pent-up demand."

  • Study: Friendly Neighborhoods Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Cameron Park, How To... in Cameron Park, Home Ownership in Cameron Park  |  August 26, 2014 4:13 PM  |  27 views  |  No comments

    Knowing your neighbors may be good for your heart — and not just emotionally — according to a new study by psychologists at the University of Michigan. The more social connections you have in your neighborhood, the less likely you are to die from a heart attack, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

    The study is based on assessments of social connectedness for more than 5,000 adults in urban, suburban, and rural areas over a four-year period. By the end of the four years, 148 of the more than 5,000 adults had heart attacks.

    “Each unit of increase in neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of heart attacks,” says lead author Eric Kim, a psychologist and doctoral student at University of Michigan. “If you compare the people who had the most versus the least neighborhood social cohesion, they had a 67 percent reduced risk of heart attack.”

    The researchers controlled for factors like optimism, age, race, income, marital status, education, mental health, and known risk factors for heart attacks such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

    Kim says that maintaining friendly neighbor relations could be good for your health because neighbors may be more likely to check in on one another and notice any potential health problems, share any health-related information, lend money, or share resources. “I also really believe in how helpful emotional support can be in buffering against toxic effects of stress,” Kim says.

    Source: “Always Talk to Strangers,” The Atlantic (Aug. 19, 2014) 

  • Spring Was Healthiest Market in 3 Years

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in California, Home Buying in California, Home Selling in California  |  August 21, 2014 1:55 PM  |  19 views  |  No comments

    July housing data shows that price appreciation and inventory increases during the peak home-buying season helped the market to post the largest spring gains in three years, realtor.com® reports in its National Housing Trend Report.

    “In July 2012 and 2013, we saw external economic factors overwhelm the healthy gains established in the housing market during the spring home-buying season,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®. “This year, we’re ending the traditional season with high buyer and seller confidence demonstrated by price appreciation, increases in inventory, and quick home sales.”

    In July, housing inventories rose 2.3 percent year-over-year, as the median list price posted a 7.5 percent increase year-over-year, realtor.com® reports. The median list price was $214,900 nationwide in July.

    “This is the first time since the beginning of the recovery that we expect to see positive momentum throughout the second half of the year,” Smoke says. “While seasonal patterns are emerging in July month-to-month comparisons, all other metrics point to fundamental market health and a build-up of momentum.”

    Source: realtor.com®

  • Dwindling Competition for Home Buyers?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Placer County, Home Buying in Placer County, Property Q&A in Placer County  |  August 20, 2014 10:37 AM  |  32 views  |  No comments

    After a three-year high, cash sales may finally be showing signs of receding, though the drop is still moderate. However, some housing experts say this could be a sign of less competition for home buyers who have been continually outbid for homes from all-cash buyers and institutional investors.

    All-cash sales in real estate purchases dropped from 42 percent in the first quarter to 37.9 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to RealtyTrac’s second-quarter 2014 U.S. Institutional Investor & Cash Sales Report. Still, cash sales remain above year-ago levels, when they were at 35.7 percent.

    The share of sales from institutional investors — those who purchase at least 10 properties in a calendar year — also dropped in the second quarter to 4.7 percent. That marks the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012, when institutional investors represented 4.6 percent of all sales, RealtyTrac reports.

    “The flurry of purchases by institutional investors and other cash buyers that kicked off two years ago when U.S. home prices hit bottom is finally showing signs of subsiding,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “Over the past 10 quarters, cash sales have accounted for 39 percent of all home sales on average, and institutional investor purchases have accounted for 5.3 percent of all home sales on average. Prior to that, from 2001 to 2011, the average quarterly cash share was 30 percent, and the average quarterly institutional investor share was 2.6 percent. This is a classic good news/bad news scenario for the housing market.”

    The good news is that having fewer cash buyers in the market should “help loosen up inventory of homes for sale and reduce competitive bidding, giving first-time home buyers and other non-cash buyers more opportunities,” Blomquist says. “The bad news is that some of those first-time home buyers and other non-cash buyers may already be priced out of the market thanks to the rapid run-up in home prices over the past two years in many areas.”

    Source: “RealtyTrac: Cash Purchases Disappearing From Home Sales,” HousingWire (Aug. 19, 2014)

  • Fannie Mae More Cautious On Housing Outlook

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Folsom, Home Buying in Folsom, Home Selling in Folsom  |  August 20, 2014 9:50 AM  |  37 views  |  No comments

    Fannie Mae economists have downgraded their housing outlook after a weak end to the second quarter, and they say that near-term indicators are suggesting only a minor improvement in the second half of the year.

    "The impact on mortgage rates from the market's expectation that the Federal Reserve would soon start tapering their securities purchases, combined to some degree with the weather effect in the first half of 2014, led to very little seasonal growth in housing," says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist. "In the first six months of the year, total sales have run below last year's pace."

    Also, Duncan notes that "on the demand side, there appears to be a conservatism among consumers and their willingness to take on big-ticket purchases, such as homes."

    Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group estimates that 2014 will finish lower in total sales figures than 2013. They're also predicting that "2015, while stronger than 2013 and 2014, will not be the breakout year some are expecting."

    Still, there is some hope for a turnaround: Consumers surveyed in Fannie Mae's July National Housing Survey did report being more optimistic about their personal income and expenses. Also, the economy has shown a slight improvement, with upticks in consumer spending and employment, Fannie researchers note.

    Source: Fannie Mae

  • City Design Linked to Residents’ Health

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Placerville, Home Buying in Placerville, Home Ownership in Placerville  |  August 18, 2014 3:08 PM  |  34 views  |  No comments

    Older cities are generally healthier than many newer cities because compact street networks promote more walking and biking, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Connecticut. 

    The study’s co-authors looked at 24 medium-sized California cities with populations between 30,000 and just over 100,000, examining street network density, connectivity, and configuration. They studied how street design correlates with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma rates collected by the California Health Interview Survey since 2003.

    The report concluded that more intersections in a city leads to a reduction in obesity at the neighborhood level, as well as a reduction of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease at the city level. The study also found a correlation between wider streets with more lanes and increased obesity and diabetes rates.

    “Over the course of the 20th century, we did a great job of engineering utilitarian active transportation out of our daily lives,” said Wesley Marshall, study co-author and assistant professor of engineering at CU Denver. “While they were well-intentioned design decisions, they effectively forced people to make an effort to seek out exercise and we are now seeing the health implications of these designs.”

    “While it is possible to lead an active, healthy lifestyle in most any type of neighborhood,” Marshall said. “Our findings suggest that people living in more compact cities do tend to have better health outcomes.”

    “Taken together, these findings suggest a need to radically re-think how we design and build the streets and street networks that form the backbone of our cities, towns, and villages,” said Norman Garrick, co-author and associate professor of engineering at the University of Connecticut. “This research is one more in a long line that demonstrates the myriad advantages of fostering walkable places.”

    Source: “Study Shows Links Between City Design And Health,” University of Colorado Denver (Aug. 11, 2014)

  • Housing Affordability Takes Another Dip

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Cameron Park, Financing in Cameron Park, Home Ownership in Cameron Park  |  August 18, 2014 3:02 PM  |  27 views  |  No comments

    Housing affordability is slowly falling due to higher home prices and qualifying income levels, despite borrowing costs from mortgage rates remaining at their lowest readings of the year, according to the National Association of REALTORS® latest reading on its Housing Affordability Index.

    The median price for a single-family home in June rose 4.5 percent year-over-year to $224,300. But price gains are continuing to slow, NAR researchers note.

    Affordability inched down slightly in all regions month-over-month in June as well as year-over-year, according to NAR’s report. The Midwest saw the largest month-over-month drop in affordability, while the West posted the largest year-over-year drop, with affordability falling 10.5 percent in the past year.

    Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders, which maintains a separate housing affordability index, released its latest reading this week showing that affordability dipped in the second quarter as several markets saw increases in home prices. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index showed that 62.9 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of April and the end of June were affordable to families earning the median income of $63,900 – down from 65.5 percent in the first quarter.

    "The second quarter HOI reflects the slow but steady march toward the historic levels of price appreciation and interest rates that result in affordability levels we experienced before the mid-2000s boom," says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While we are seeing a slight decrease in affordability, it is still fairly high by historical standards."

    Source: “The Latest Housing Affordability Index,” National Association of REALTORS®’ Economists’ Outlook Blog (Aug. 15, 2014) and National Association of Home Builders

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