28 December 2010

Existing-Home Sales Rise 5.6%

Existing-home sales got back on an upward path in November, resuming a growth trend since bottoming in July, according to the National Association of REALTORS®
Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, rose 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in November from 4.43 million in October, but are 27.9 percent below the cyclical peak of 6.49 million in November 2009, which was the initial deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, is hopeful for 2011. “Continuing gains in home sales are encouraging, and the positive impact of steady job creation will more than trump some negative impact from a modest rise in mortgage interest rates, which remain historically favorable,” he said.
Yun added that home buyers are responding to improved affordability conditions. “The relationship recently between mortgage interest rates, home prices and family income has been the most favorable on record for buying a home since we started measuring in 1970,” he said. “Therefore, the market is recovering, and we should trend up to a healthy, sustainable level in 2011.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $170,600 in November, up 0.4 percent from November 2009. Distressed homes have been a fairly stable market share, accounting for 33 percent of sales in November; they were 34 percent in October and 33 percent in November 2009.
Foreclosures, which accounted for two-thirds of the distressed sales share, sold at a median discount of 15 percent in November, while short sales were discounted 10 percent in comparison with traditional home sales.
Here's a look at how existing-home sales performed by region:
Northeast: Existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.7 percent to an annual pace of 770,000 in November but are 33.0 percent below the cyclical peak in November 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $242,500, which is 9.2 percent higher than a year ago.

Midwest: Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 6.4 percent in November to a level of 1.00 million but are 35.1 percent below the year-ago surge. The median price in the Midwest was $138,900, down 1.1 percent from November 2009. 

South: In the South, existing-home sales rose 2.9 percent to an annual pace of 1.76 million in November but are 26.1 percent below the tax credit surge in November 2009. The median price in the South was $148,000, down 2.6 percent from a year ago. 

West: Existing-home sales in the West jumped 11.7 percent to an annual level of 1.15 million in November but are 19.0 percent below the sales peak in November 2009. The median price in the West was $212,500, up 0.4 percent from a year ago.

This valuable information is brought to us by the National Association of REALTORS.

22 December 2010

Wishing You the Happiest of Holidays...

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours...

See you in 2011!

Very sincerely,


17 December 2010

Swift Rise in Yields Pushes Up Mortgage Rates

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a six-month high of 5.09% on Thursday, according to a survey by data tracker HSH Associates. A separate survey by Freddie Mac showed rates averaged 4.83% for the week ending Thursday, up from a record low 4.17% just one month ago.
"I've been doing this 15 years, and I've never seen rates rise this fast," said Wade Douroux, president and CEO of Resource Financial Services, a mortgage banking firm in Columbia, S.C.
Rising mortgage rates are one immediate consequence of the unusually large jump in Treasury yields in recent weeks. The yield on the 10-year note, which directly affects mortgage rates, closed Thursday at 3.473%, up from its October low of 2.382%.
The jump in Treasury yields, one of the swiftest in decades, has caught economists, investors and borrowers off guard.
Rising Treasury rates have roiled other markets, too. Yields on municipal bonds have also risen, increasing borrowing costs for state and local governments and punishing muni bondholders.
"By itself, it's not devastating," said Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist in Leesburg, Va. "But if you don't see improvement in the jobs market, this is bad."
Many see rates moving higher still. And the Freddie Mac survey in particular probably understates the recent rise because it takes an average over the week. Much of the gain has happened in the past couple of days.The 0.66 percentage-point-rise in mortgage rates, which would add about $150 to monthly payments on a $400,000 mortgage, could be easily absorbed by some buyers. But it will squeeze others at the margins, especially first-time buyers already grappling with higher fees and bigger down payments required by lenders.
Even with rates hovering at historically low levels, any rise is likely to weaken housing demand, putting more pressure on sellers to cut their asking prices. And it has already slammed the door on a refinancing boomlet that began earlier this year when rates were lower.
Even with historically low rates, buyer demand has been weak ever since home-buyer tax credits expired in May.
A general rule of thumb holds that every one-percentage-point increase in rates effectively raises home prices for buyers by roughly 10%.
Christine Collins applied last month to refinance the 30-year mortgage, which has a 5.5% fixed rate, on her West Hartford, Conn., home when rates were hovering at 4.25%.
Even though she has paid hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, she's decided it no longer makes sense to refinance with rates nearing 4.9%.
"You're watching the rates thinking, 'We really should do that,"' said Ms. Collins, 39. "But the kids start school, you're busy, and by the time you get around to it, you miss the boat."
For full article, visit the Wall Street Journal Online

13 December 2010

The 411 on Today's Interest Rates...

Bonds and home loan rates took a hit again last week, and that leaves many asking: Will home loan rates go back down?

Below are 5 points that will help explain the current situation...and what we can predict based on the information we have today:

1) Home loan rates are near historic lows...for now.

2) That said, rates have been headed up recently…and indications are that those unbelievably low home loan rates may be behind us.

3) Looking at the big picture, there are only a few things that would bring back the lows that we saw in early November:
•If the tax cut package doesn't get passed. This would be bad news for the economy and Stock market, but it would help interest rates.
•If the Fed’s recent round of Quantitative Easing falls on its face and doesn't meet its mission of creating inflation, boosting Stock prices, lowering unemployment and creating consumer demand. This is a long shot, but if it happened, Bond prices could make some gains as the threat of deflation reemerges. 
•If the financial problems in Europe worsen significantly. This would drive investors into the safe haven of the US Bond market – and, therefore, it could help Bond prices, but probably only modestly.
4) Realistically, the chances of those events happening are unlikely. In the end, rates may see some fleeting improvements, but will likely continue to creep up over time.

5) Please allow me to reiterate: Home loan rates are still near historic lows...FOR NOW. That means, now is the time to act, and get locked in if you've not done so already.

This information is from my friend Leo Espino at Resource Lenders.  He is a wealth of information and a very knowledgeable "Resource" :-)  If you are interested in learning more, or getting in touch with him, I would be happy to help...just let me know!

Thank you,

Katy Perry photo via gettyimages.com

This Month in Real Estate...December 2010

The housing market continues its uneven and gradual recovery without the aid of the tax credit. Experts believe this will be the trend moving forward. Interest rates hit another record low but have started moving back up as the overall economy improves.

Despite a less-than-expected employment report, consumers seem to be feeling brighter about the future. While the Consumer Confidence Index about the Present Situation rose only slightly, the Expectation Index showed substantial improvement. As we enter into the holiday gift-buying season, consumers are expected to be out shopping and buying more gifts for under the tree this year. Reports indicate a 13-24% increase in retail sales from last year. Consumer spending accounts for about half of all economic activity in the US; as long as consumers are spending and using debt responsibly, this is a positive indicator for economic growth.

This march back up continues to provide excellent opportunities: an ample selection of homes, affordable prices, and historically low interest rates. Experts anticipate both the economy and the housing market will continue on a path to a complete recovery.

Home Sales
Home sales dropped slightly in October, compared with the previous month, despite a temporary moratorium on foreclosures, which have recently represented more than one third of sales activity. Sales were up 15% from July when the tax credit expiration caused a drop-off in sales. The most significant indicator of a market rebound, however, appears to be the October pending sales report. A 10.4% increase in pending sales, which measures homes under contract, signals stronger home sales activity in the coming months as the homes under contract close.

Home Price
Home prices have shown considerable stability when compared with the previous several years. October’s median home price declined slightly, down less than 1% from the previous month and year. A recent study shows an increased interest in smaller homes. Smaller homes often mean smaller price tags, depending on location. While the market currently provides many opportunities for buyers, sellers look forward to the general trending upward of home price as the market’s stability without government support grows deeper roots.

There are fewer homes on the market. Total inventory fell to 3.86 million in October from 4 million in September. The month’s supply* of homes on the market fell to 10.5 months.  While still at a relatively high level, months of inventory has shrunken substantially since July’s 12.5 months. As lending standards continue to loosen and return to historical norms, more people will be able to buy their first home, move up, or invest and take advantage of the abundant opportunities in the current market – including  historically low interest rates, highly affordable prices, and an ample but shrinking selection of homes.
* Month’s supply of inventory measures how many months it will take to sell all the homes that are for sale, if no new homes come on the market and buyers continue to buy at the same pace or rate. 
Housing is at record affordability levels. Prospective home buyers stand to benefit from the lowest mortgage rates in decades, as well as advantageous home prices. The home price-to-income ratio, 13.5% in October, continues to remain well below the historical standard. Stabilizing home prices and rising interest rates are anticipated to begin drawing affordability back up toward more normal levels.

Source: National Association of Realtors - October housing data released November 23.

Mortgage rates hit another record low of 4.17% on November 11 after which they rose to close to 4.4% for the remainder of the month. Historically low rates have contributed to real savings for buyers who will continue to realize those savings for as long as they own the home. As overall economic recovery gains traction, rates must rise to keep inflation in check. Industry economist Lawrence Yun anticipates rates to be between 5.4% and 6% by the end of 2011.

30 year fixed
15 year fixed
5/1-year ARM
30 year average for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage
Source: Freddie Mac, Rates as of December 2.


It's a Prime Time to Buy
Homes Have Never Been More Affordable

For most individual home buyers, there are only a few factors that really matter:
     •   Can I afford this home?
     •   Is it a good investment?
     •   Does it meet my family’s needs?

So it’s a bit surprising that the most important housing statistic has gone largely unreported:homes have never been more affordable.  Affordability, measured by the median mortgage payment on the current median-priced home ($171,000) as a percentage of the median household income ($62,141), is lower than it’s been in a generation.  The chart below shows affordability at a record level, having significantly improved since the height of the recent housing boom in 2006.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, KW Research

08 December 2010

My New Address...

I'm very excited to announce I have moved my business to Keller Williams Realty in Visalia.  If you're ever in the neighborhood...please stop by!  We can walk across the street to Jamba Juice or In N Out Burger :-)

If you, or someone you know, is looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate...I would love to chat.  I'm always looking to grow my business and meet new friends and clients :-)

Happy & Merry,
Jillian Bos


07 December 2010

When Are California Property Taxes Due?

And the answer is....this Friday, December 10.

California property taxes are generally due on December 10th and April 10th. The penalty for a late property tax payment is 10%.

California property taxes are due on the same dates for all secured property owners in California. Property taxes are split into two payments that are due on the 1st of November and 1st of March of each year. However, most people pay them on the day before they officially become delinquent, which is the 10th of December (for the November 1st due date) and the 10th of April (for the February 1st due date). Some counties may impose a 5pm time deadline as well, so it is best not to wait for the very last minute. Due to the stiff penalties for late California property tax payments, it is important to make sure California property tax due dates are met.
California Property Tax Due Date Earlier Than IRS and FTB Income Tax Due Date
Keep in mind that the April 10th due date is five days before income taxes are due for most taxpayers. This means it is a very bad idea to pay income taxes and property taxes at the same time on April 15th, because the property taxes would then be late. If it's necessary to pay both taxes at the same time, pay them by the 10th of April instead.

Article courtesy John Wu, December 3, 2010

30 November 2010

Local Holiday Festivity No. One

216 North Willis Street, Visalia  559.733.3033
It's the most wonderful time of the year....what could be more festive than Afternoon Tea at the Vintage Press?! 

2:00 in the afternoon
Sunday, December 5
Sunday, December 12
Sunday, December 19

*Reservations are encouraged.

This lovely tea is $25 per person...and includes bubbly.

If you know of any local holiday festivities....let me know!  I'd love to spread the good cheer :-)

Very sincerely,

Refinancing Now Could Be Better Than Waiting for Mortgage Rates to Drop Further

Mortgage rates on 30-year, fixed rate loans are hovering near the lowest level on record since 1951. While some home buyers are putting their home purchases on hold hoping rates will go even lower, many industry experts are advising homeowners with rates in the upper 4 percent range to refinance.

What this means....

  • Homeowners with rates in the upper four percent range are likely to benefit from refinancing, according to Peter Ogilvie, president of First Residential Mortgage Corp. in Santa Cruz, Calif.  He says refinancing to a lower rate often produces monthly savings, as long as the borrower can qualify under today’s industry credit guidelines and loan-to-value underwriting standards.

  • Borrowers who want to become debt-free faster and can afford it, ought to consider refinancing out of a 30-year term loan into a 15-year term.  Fifteen-year mortgages carry lower rates than 30-year loans, but their faster amortization schedules require higher monthly payments.
  • When considering whether refinancing is the best option, consumers are advised to take into account all of the fees associated with the refinance and decide if the money saved is worth the cost of the refinance.

Read the full story: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-harney-20101114,0,6276584.story

24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cross your fingers my bird turns out as lovely as this!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd love to share one of my favorite "After Thanksgiving" recipes with you...this is something my family is very thankful for :-)

"After Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches"

- sliced turkey meat
- ciabatta roll or pretzel bread (our local Savemart has ciabatta, you'll have to trek to Fresno's Whole Foods for pretzel bread...but any good bread roll will do)
- Brie cheese
- cranberry sauce
- arugula (any green will work...)

Assemble sandwich any way you like, with all ingredients.  You can enjoy this sandwich hot, cold, or warm...it's best when brie is warm and slightly oozing out the sides...yum yum!

Until next time, wish me luck as I prepare the Barefoot Contessa's Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter for my entire family.  Let's hope our celebration doesn't turn into a vegetarian option...!

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving...bon appetit!

Very sincerely,

22 November 2010

Three Reasons to Sell a Home Now

The Holiday season is notoriously slow in the for the real estate market...  However, below are three good reasons not to wait, even though the Holidays are (quickly!) approaching:

1. The market is improving. Most markets have either turned or are close to turning.

2. All real estate is local. Homes in great locations are always in demand.

3. Spring is coming soon. Many potential buyers are starting their online searches right after the holidays, making mid- to late February a great time to start marketing.

Source: Bankrate.com, Steve McLinden