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By Sri Kesava | Your Local Expert | Agent in Venice, Los Angeles,...
  • Fed Chief Says Economy Still Needs Boost

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Venice, Home Buying in Venice, Investment Properties in Venice  |  December 5, 2013 11:20 PM  |  574 views  |  No comments
    Yellen Supports Stimulus Efforts
    Likely Incoming Fed Chief Says Economy Still Needs Boost

    In mid-November, Janet Yellen, President Obama's choice to replace Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke, indicated that she would likely continue with the Fed's economic stimulus efforts, known as Quantitative Easing. 

    At her confirmation hearing in front of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Yellen signaled that she intended to carry on with, rather than taper, current efforts until she saw a significant improvement to the economy. Yellen indicated that, at 7.3 percent, unemployment is "still too high, reflecting a labor market and economy performing far short of their potential." 

    In addition to the auto industry, she optimistically said that housing "seems to have turned a corner." Her remarks were especially important, and were her first public views on the monetary stimulus debate since her last public speech in mid-April. Some Republicans have remained critical about the Fed's repeated Bond-buying efforts since an easy money policy can lead to risks in bubbles. 

    Lenders Anticipate Dodd-Frank Regulations
    Home loan credit has been tighter by historical standards, leaving only borrowers with the highest credit ratings and healthy down payments attaining the lowest rates. 

    Loan volume has fallen because rates have been rising. Loan originations were down nearly 20 percent in the third quarter from the same period in 2012, according to Mortgage Daily. Origination volume was also down 20 percent, or $441 billion, from the prior quarter. Though equities rose on the back of Yellen's comments, home loan rates, which take longer to react, remained largely unaffected immediately afterwards. 

    Refinances are also down more than 50 percent from a year ago because of higher rates, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association; whether this leads to banks easing their guidelines remains to be seen. Many await January 10, or the official effective date of the Dodd-Frank Act on mortgage qualification guidelines, which will require lenders to make a more reasonable good faith determination of a consumer's ability to repay any home loan. Lenders remain eager to understand how these rules will be implemented and enforced. 

    Homebuilder Sentiment Unchanged
    November's homebuilder sentiment index, courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders, clocked in at 54. Despite retreating from a high of 58 in August, the reading was still well above the 45 level that was logged this time last year. Last month's reading was little changed from October and showed that for the sixth consecutive month, more builders view market conditions as good rather than poor.

    Despite rate increases, home loan rates remain attractive compared to historical rates.

  • Pending home sales index dropped for the fifth consecutive month

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Venice, Home Selling in Venice, Investment Properties in Venice  |  December 5, 2013 2:32 PM  |  401 views  |  No comments

    The U.S. pending home sales index dropped for the fifth consecutive month in October, reaching its lowest since last December, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    The index – reflecting contracts and not closed sales — dropped 0.6 percent to 102.1 in October, from an upwardly revised 102.7 last month. It is 1.6 percent lower than last year.

    NAR expected the drop in market activity for October.

    “The government shutdown in the first half of last month sidelined some potential buyers,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “We could rebound a bit from this level, but still face the headwinds of limited inventory and falling affordability conditions.”

    The index grew modestly in the Northeast and Midwest, while dropping in the South and West.

    Last week NAR reported a 3.2 percent monthly drop in existing home sales for October. However, the figure was 6.0 percent higher than last year.

    Annual existing-existing home sales are expected to be almost 10 percent higher in 2013 compared to last year, NAR reports.

    The national median existing-home price has endured double-digit yearly increases for 11 consecutive months and is projected to be 11 percent higher in 2013 than last year.

    However, there are concerns for the housing market heading into 2014.

    “New mortgage rules in January could delay the approval process, and another government shutdown would harm both housing and the economy,” Mr. Yun said.

    To view the original article, click here: http://www.worldpropertychannel.com/north-america-residential-news/us-pending-home-sales-us-housing-market-national-association-of-realtors-lawrence-yun-7695.php

  • Time to sell your house

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Venice, Home Selling in Venice, In My Neighborhood in Venice  |  November 1, 2013 6:44 PM  |  463 views  |  No comments

    Many now realize that it is a great time to buy a home.  It might also be an opportune time to sell your house.  Here are the five reasons now may be a perfect time to put your house on the market.

    1. Demand Is High

    The most recent Existing Home Sales Reports by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show a double digit percent increase in sales year-over year; sales have remained above last year’s levels for over 25 months.  There are buyers out there right now and they are serious about purchasing.

    2. Supply Is Beginning to Increase

    Total housing inventory is again approaching historic norms of a 5 month supply compared with 4.3 months in January.  Many expect inventory to continue to rise as 3.2 million homeowners escaped the shackles of negative equity in the last 12 months and an additional 1.9 million are expected to enter positive equity in the next 12 months.  Selling now while demand is high and before supply increases may garner you your best price.

    3. New Construction Is Coming Back

    Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block.  As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in.  These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative for many purchasers.

    4. Interest Rates Will Again Rise

    Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year.  The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year.

    Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

    5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

    Look at the reason you are thinking about selling and decide whether it is worth waiting.  Is the possibility of a few extra dollars more important than being with family; more important than your health; more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

    You already know the answers to the questions we just asked.  You have the power to take back control of your situation by putting the house on the market today.  The time may have come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.  That is what is truly important.

  • Homebuyers: Get there first

    Posted Under: General Area in Venice, Market Conditions in Venice, Home Buying in Venice  |  November 1, 2013 6:41 PM  |  401 views  |  No comments

    Housing inventory is stiflingly tight in many locations, making it a challenge to find, much less land, your dream home.

    The number of available houses in the hottest markets has dropped dramatically over the past year, says the National Association of Realtors: In the Boston area, for one, inventory levels are down 29% vs. 2012. And Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco aren't far behind.

    Shopping in a popular spot? You'll have to go beyond the usual sellers' market tactics, such as getting prequalified for a mortgage. These strategies will help you find homes first, stopping a bidding war before it starts."Some homes are flying off the market in a matter of days," says Paul Bishop, VP of research for NAR.

    Go unlisted

    One way to head off the competition is to look for so-called pocket listings, homes that are for sale but don't show up on the multiple listing service, where brokers post available properties.

    Owners may choose not to list because they want to keep details about their houses private, or simply because they don't want to deal with staging the home and taking photos, says Zillow contributor and agent Brendon DeSimone, who works in New York and California.

    To find these homes, you'll need a well-connected broker. "You want someone who has an inside track," says DeSimone. Agents who have experience with pocket listings should be able to tell you about examples of off-the-radar houses they've handled in the past, as well as any they are currently aware of (keep in mind that pocket listings are most common in areas with tight inventory).

    A caution: Buyers considering an unlisted property should be on the lookout for defects and check that the price is in line with the area, says San Francisco broker Samuel Cadelinia. Owners sometimes use this low-profile method to avoid calling attention to a problem or to see if they can sell for more money.

    Get the real-time scoop

    Many would-be buyers depend on automatic search, a regular roundup of listings sent out by the local MLS. But by the time these emails go out to shoppers, included homes may have been online for hours or even days.

    Ask your agent about real-time MLS alerts, emails that are sent the moment a new listing goes live. While not yet in all markets, the alerts are available in the San Francisco Bay area, Las Vegas, Columbus, parts of Connecticut, and more.

    Agents often have a home for 24 hours or so before entering it into the MLS, so your broker may be able to give you a heads-up on a house he just received. To increase your chances of getting that call, tell him that you'd like to be notified immediately, and be sure he knows exactly what type of house you're after.

    See through bad listings

    Don't be scared off by a hideous paint job, bad lighting, or unflattering photos. Sometimes sellers don't listen to agents about getting the house ready for sale.

    In a tight market it's worth checking out marginal listings to avoid missing a badly packaged gem -- just factor in the price of any project required to bring the home up to snuff.

    Set your search criteria a bit higher than your target price; you'll lickely catch some overpriced homes that may eventually go for less.  How will you know?  The number of days on the market is a tell tale sign.

    Set your search criteria a bit higher than your target price; you'll likely catch some overpriced homes that may eventually go for less. How will you know? The number of days oFor example, if most homes in the area are gone within a month but this one's been on the market for two, the owner may be willing to consider a lower offer. If the listing is new, get a sense of how realistic the cost is by comparing it with the recent sale price of similarly sized houses in the same area.


  • Recent Crime in Venice CA

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Venice, Home Selling in Venice, In My Neighborhood in Venice  |  November 1, 2013 3:15 PM  |  315 views  |  No comments
    I don't mean to be a downer, but it does seem there has been a lot of crime in Venice of late.  Go to link below to see the latest...

  • Property comps

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Venice, Home Buying in Venice, Home Selling in Venice  |  October 14, 2013 8:18 PM  |  330 views  |  No comments

    Real estate agents use comparable sales or "comps" (properties recently sold in the area) to see what the market bears for a listing price or value range marketing.

    But what makes a home a good comp? A few things must line up in order for the agent to utilize the comp to justify your listing price. The same neighborhood, school district, similar street and, of course, similar housing features and size. If these things align, then a comp can be used to provide a current estimated value of your home.

    Ideally, using a comp from a home that is the same model in the same subdivision is key. Even better is if a sold comp closed escrow very recently. Taking comps from many weeks or months before can weaken the comp.

    The expertise of a highly knowledgeable real estate agent can save you many hours of research and headaches. Most people don't really know how to compare real estate properties, which is why they hire an agent. Good agents take the work out of selling your home and give you solid reason to understand why the agent is pricing the home at a particular price.

    Location, upgrades, amenities, sale date, extras, foreclosures, short sales, and unique nuances of the home all affect the listing price and how your home is compared to a comp.

    Taking a closer look at each of these shows exactly what people in your area might be looking for when it comes to buying a home. For instance, a higher price on a home that has a pool can indicate that this is a family neighborhood and buyers put an increased value on amenities that create family/social fun. Your home may not have a pool but it might have another type of amenity: tennis courts, gym, or putting green.

    Agents look at both what is similar and what makes your home stand out. They search for the best characteristics to showcase and, when comparing your home to others that have sold, they look to see how yours stacks up from a buyer's perspective.

    Agents can add value to a home that might not have, say, for instance, the pool. Instead, your home might have an extra bedroom or den complete with floor-to-ceiling, high-quality bookcases.

    Reviewing the comps can provide a lot of insight about sales in your neighborhood. Physically viewing the properties can be even more eye-opening. Agents who routinely work in the neighborhood may have an excellent grasp of which homes will sell fastest. It's not a lucky guess.

    They've been inside these homes and have seen the notable upgrades or the tragic flaws of a home. They also know which homes were foreclosures or short sales. Generally, a foreclosed home is in poor condition. However, a short sale can be in much better condition. Both of these sales are at discounted rates. So, if a comp is used from one of these types of sales, your agent will take careful consideration to evaluate the distinct differences that may increase the value and, ultimately, the listing price on your home. 


  • Sept late summer sales

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Venice, Home Selling in Venice, Investment Properties in Venice  |  October 9, 2013 12:54 PM  |  210 views  |  No comments

    Home price gains in September rose over record August levels, evidence of residual summer buying activity, according to the first market report of the month to be released.  

    All regions saw small up­ticks in yearly price 
    gains as Clear Capital’s Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report said September prices rose to 10.9 percent year­over­year. In August, national yearly home price growth reached 10.2 percent, the last time Clear Capital reported double digit yearly price growth since the middle of 2006, the height of the bubble.

    Clear Capital’s August prices remained 32.5 percent off their previous highs and only in line with 2002 prices. Additionally, the low tier price segment of the housing market saw quarterly gains of 2.0 percent, the lowest since April 2012, indicating the sector that kick started the recovery is already on a path of moderation. From its peak rate of growth in April 2013, rates of growth for the low tier segment, or home sale values in the bottom 25th percentile, have fallen from 4.1 percent to 2.0 percent.

    “While national and regional rates showed more of the same in September, an interesting
    dichotomy is unfolding beneath the surface,” says Dr. Alex Villacorta, vice president of
    research and analytics at Clear Capital. “Strong performances in San Francisco and Detroit
    remind us that in a dynamic market, the only constant is change. For about a year and a
    half now, we’ve been focused on First­In, First­Out recoveries characterized by hard hit markets attracting investor interest, like Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Now as the
    recovery matures, we see homebuyers re­engaging in markets that haven’t fit the typical
    investor profile.
    “As demand calibrates to local economic environments, markets will start to find their
    natural equilibriums with moderating gains ahead. This should invite new markets, such as
    San Francisco and Detroit to share the spotlight as their recoveries continue to evolve,” he

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