Mortgage Rates Sink to New Lows – AGAIN!

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Piggy BankMortgage rates were back to breaking records for the second consecutive week. All mortgage products, except for the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage, averaged a new record low, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

For those who can qualify, the low rates are helping to keep home buyer affordability high and refinancing strong, Freddie Mac reports.

“Fixed mortgage rates continued to decline this week, largely due to the Federal Reserve’s purchases of mortgage securities, and should support an already improving housing market,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The Fed recently announced it would purchase $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities every month until the economy shows more improvement. The move is expected to send rates lower.

Here’s a closer look for the national average rates for the week ending Sept. 27:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged a new record low of 3.40 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s previous record low of 3.49 percent. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.01 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged a new low of 2.73 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s previous record low of 2.77 percent. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.28 percent.

5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.71 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 2.76 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.02 percent.

1-year ARMs: averaged a new low of 2.60 percent this week, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.61 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.83 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

via Mortgage Rates Sink to New Lows Again | Realtor Magazine.

Day of Wine and Chocholate This Sunday

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The 16th Annual A Day of Wine & Chocolate benefits Hospice of the Valleys

Sunday, September 30, 2012

4pm to 8pm
Wilson Creek Winery
35960 Rancho California Road, Temecula (map)

http://www.hospiceofthevalleys.org/browse-62297/ADayofWineandChocolate.html
Pre-Pay Tickets are $60.

Pending Home Sales Decline in August

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Gee, do you think this might have anything to do with lack of inventory?

InventoryAfter reaching a two-year peak, pending home sales fell in August but are at elevated levels compared with a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 2.6 percent to 99.2 in August from an upwardly revised 101.9 in July but is 10.7 percent above August 2011 when it was 89.6. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

Contract activity in July 2012 was at the highest level since April 2010 when buyers were rushing to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said some volatility can be expected in the monthly readings. “The performance in month-to-month contract signings has been uneven with ongoing shortages of lower priced inventory in much of the country, and across most price ranges in the West, but activity has remained at notably higher levels this year,” he said.

“The index shows 16 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, and that has translated into a higher number of closed sales. Year-to-date existing-home sales are 9 percent above the same period last year, but sales were relatively flat from 2008 through 2011,” Yun added.

Existing-home sales this year are expected to rise 9 percent to 4.64 million, and gain another 8 percent in 2013 to nearly 5.02 million. With generally balanced inventory conditions in many areas, the median existing-home price is projected to rise about 5 percent in both 2012 and 2013.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 0.9 percent to 78.2 in August and is 19.9 percent above August 2011. In the Midwest, the index declined 2.6 percent to 95.0 in August but is also 19.9 percent higher than a year ago. Pending home sales in the South slipped 1.1 percent to an index of 110.4 in August but are 13.2 percent above August 2011. With broad inventory shortages in the West, the index fell 7.2 percent in August to 102.5 and is 4.2 percent below a year ago.

Housing starts are forecast to stay on an uptrend and reach 1.12 million next year, but will remain well below long-term underlying demand with builders facing obstacles in obtaining construction loans.

via Pending Home Sales Decline in August | Realtor Magazine.

Foreclosure Prices Rise, Highest Increase Since 2006

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Down trendForeclosure sales prices rose 6 percent in the second quarter and were up 7 percent year-over-year, RealtyTrac reported this week. This marks the largest annual increase in foreclosure-related sales prices since 2006.

During the second quarter, the average foreclosure-related sales price was $170,040.

Still, foreclosure and bank-owned homes sold at an average price that was 32 percent lower than the average price of a non-foreclosure home, RealtyTrac reports.

Meanwhile, the gap between REO sales and short sales continued to narrow during the second quarter. REO sales outnumbered pre-foreclosure sales by 9,833 — the smallest difference since the third quarter of 2007.

The number of short-sale transactions rose 18 percent year-over-year, accounting for 14 percent of all sales during January through May time period, RealtyTrac reports.

“The second-quarter sales numbers provide solid statistical evidence of what we’ve been hearing anecdotally from real estate agents, buyers, and investors over the past few months: There is a limited supply of available foreclosure inventory to choose from in many markets,” says Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. “Given this shortage of supply and the seasonally strong buyer demand in the second quarter, it’s no surprise that the average foreclosure-related sales price increased both on a quarterly and annual basis.”

via Foreclosure Prices Rise, Highest Increase Since 2006 | Realtor Magazine.

Mortgage Rates Fall Back to Record Lows

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Piggy BankFixed-rate mortgages are back at all-time record lows or hovering near them, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. For those who can qualify for a loan, the ultra-low mortgage rates are pushing housing affordability higher.

“Following the Federal Reserve’s announcement of a new bond purchase plan, yields on mortgage-backed securities fell, bringing average fixed mortgage rates to their all-time record lows, which should aid in the ongoing housing recovery,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Here’s a closer look at the national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Sept. 20:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.49 percent, with an average 0.6 point, matching its all-time low. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.09 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.77 percent, with an average 0.6 point, setting a new record low this week. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.29 percent.

5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.76 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 2.72 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.02 percent.

1-year ARMs: averaged 2.61 percent this week, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same as last week. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.82 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

via Mortgage Rates Fall Back to Record Lows | Realtor Magazine.

Asking Prices on the Rise in These Metros
(Hint, Hint)

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The median list price was at $190,000 in August, dropping 2.51 percent from July, Realtor.com reports in its August housing data of 146 markets.

However, a limited inventory of homes for-sale are helping to push prices up in many areas.

“The recovery process, which began a year ago in Florida and has since spread to the West, continued to gain traction in August, with list-price gains in most California markets, as well as other hard-hit metros such as Phoenix.; Boise City, Idaho; Seattle and Reno, Nev.,” Realtor.com reported in a release of its data.

The following areas saw the biggest growths in their list prices month-over-month in August:

1. Iowa City

Month-over-month: +6.5 percent

Median list price: $212,900

2. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, Calif.

Month-over-month: +5.34 percent

Median list price: $749,000

3. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

Month-over-month: +3.03 percent

Median list price: $170,000

4. Sacramento, Calif.

Month-over-month: +2.27 percent

Median list price: $225,000

5. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

Month-over-month: +1.90 percent

Median list price: $214,000

6. Macon, Ga.

Month-over-month: +1.90 percent

Median list price: $139,500

You might also be interested in reading about what areas saw the largest drop in inventory August 2012

 

via Asking Prices on the Rise in These Metros | Realtor Magazine.

Some Markets See Inventories Cut Nearly in Half
(Check out Riverside County…)

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Inventory The number of homes for sale in the last year is falling the most in California, with eight of the top 10 biggest drops in inventories in the last year from metro areas in the Golden State. Many California metros are also seeing asking prices on the rise in the last year, too.

Nationwide, inventories of for-sale homes continues to remain at historic lows with 1.84 million units for sale in August, which is down from 18.68 percent compared to a year ago, Realtor.com reports in its August housing data report.

“Low inventories, combined with stable list prices, suggest that the overall market may be poised for additional growth,” according to a Realtor.com release of the August housing data on 146 markets.

The following markets have seen the largest decreases to their inventories in the last year:

1. Oakland, Calif.: -58.35%

2. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: -45.03%

3. Fresno, Calif.: -43.13%

4. Sacramento, Calif.: -42.24%

5. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.: -41.75%

6. Bakersfield, Calif.: -41.36%

7. San Jose, Calif.: -41.10%

8. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.: -41.07%

9. San Francisco: -40.15%

10. Atlanta: -37.02%

You might also be interested in reading about what areas saw the largest jump in asking prices in August 2012

 

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

via Some Markets See Inventories Cut Nearly in Half | Realtor Magazine.

Rentals Getting Too Pricey for Many

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for rent signMore than 20 million rental households spent more than 30 percent of their income last year on rents. In fact, more than half of those renters spent at least half their income on housing, “severely burdening” their finances, according to Census data.

Rents have been on the rise the last few years as demand surges. In the past seven years, median rent payments have soared nearly 20 percent from $728 to $871. Some markets have seen double-digit increases in rent in just the last year, such as in cities like Houston, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay area where strong job markets are fueling high demand.

“More demand with little new supply means rising rents and shrinking vacancies,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist with the real estate Web site Trulia.

Millions of home owners who lost their home to foreclosure or did a short sale are now forced to rent as they repair their credit, which has been contributing to the rising numbers. Also, some potential home buyers have been left on the sidelines, unable to qualify for financing to jump into home ownership.

“Despite the strong affordability for owning, there are severe barriers to home ownership — and those won’t change quickly,” Kolko told USA Today. “Lots of people are in no position to qualify for a mortgage or save for a down payment, so that will keep a lot of people who might want to own as renters.”

 

Source: “More Renters Burdened by Higher Costs,” USA Today Sept. 19, 2012

via Rentals Getting Too Pricey for Many | Realtor Magazine.

Mortgage Rates Continue to Hover Near Lows

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Piggy BankFixed-rate mortgages mostly held steady this week near their all-time lows, keeping the purchasing power of home buyers high.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages, the most popular choice among home shoppers, has been below 4 percent every week this year except for one, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages, which tend to be more popular among refinancers, has remained below 3 percent since the last week in May.

Freddie Mac reports the following average mortgage rates for the week ending Sept. 13:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.55 percent, with an average 0.6 point, holding the same as last week. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.09 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.85 percent, with an average 0.6 point, down slightly from last week’s 2.86 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.30 percent.

5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.72 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 2.75 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.99 percent.

1-year ARMs: averaged 2.61 percent, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same as last week’s average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.81 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

via Mortgage Rates Continue to Hover Near Lows | Realtor Magazine.

7 Neighborhood Need-to-Knows for 21st Century Home Buyers

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Helpful TipsThe 21st century is in full effect. And that means a couple of things for savvy home buyers who are in the process of vetting prospective neighborhoods. Investigating neighborhood basics like school districts and such is no longer tricky or difficult: there are ample resources online giving detailed information about schools, scores and even parent reviews.

As well, savvy sellers and their agents are more likely now than ever to market amenities like proximity to parks and shopping districts in a home’s marketing materials. In many states, formal reports are now disclosed from every seller to every buyer as a matter of law by third party services with detailed access to information about faultlines, flood zones, landslides, radon gas, airport zones and former military zones that a property might be impacted by, as well as a slew of other environmental hazards that were difficult to investigate in generations past.

While technology and industry developments have supercharged a buyer’s ability to get basic neighborhood need-to-knows, the 21st century has also given rise to entirely new sets of neighborhood assets – and liabilities. Fortunately, the information age has cracked stores of neighborhood data wide open, giving each of us the power to tap into knowledge about our future necks-of-the-woods with a few clicks – knowledge that was inconvenient or impossible to access, even a few years ago.

Here are 7 of those next-gen neighborhood need-to-knows, and the next-gen tools for investigating them:

1. All about crime. Crime rates are essential indicators of neighborhood desirability, although blanket labels of ‘safe’ vs. ‘dangerous’ neighborhoods are outdated and unhelpful, when it comes to directing a house hunt. Most buyers familiar with their towns know on a basic level whether a neighborhood has a reputation for being safe or being crime-riddled. Further, if you are buying on a budget that strictly limits your overall neighborhood options, the black-and-white, safe-or-not dichotomy does nothing to help you make more nuanced decisions about your house hunt.

Now, though, buyers have open access to crime report databases that previously could only be accessed via tedious, time-consuming and generally infeasible hours spent flipping through police records down at the station. And the availability of these records online has empowered much more sophisticated and meaningful ways of sorting this data, for the purposes of the average home buyer.

For example, our interactive crime maps offer heat maps showing the density of crime reports in neighborhoods located in 50 markets across the country. They also allow you to sort by hours, by crime category and by violent vs. non-violent crime – so you know what sorts of crime are committed in your neighborhood at what times of day and you can gauge a non-violent, high-crime area (where you’ll want to keep your car parked in the garage) from a very violent, high-crime area (where you’ll want to watch your back, among other things). Trulia Local makes these nuanced, neighborhood crime insights available to buyers across the nation – along with other neighborhood need-to-knows like school data, commute times and restaurants.

Finally, almost every state now offers a digitized Megan’s Law database, which surfaces information about registered sex offenders and other criminals and where they live. The type and detail of the information varies widely by county and state, but it can be informative to search for the address of a home you’re considering buying and see what sort and number of convicted criminals live within a given geographic radius, before you make your final commitment to a home.

2. Meth labs. These next-gen, interactive reports of crime rates, types, hours and pinpoint locations are uber-useful, but there’s another type of crime-related data that can help protect your family’s day-to-day health: the Drug Enforcement Agency’s database of addresses which have been used as laboratories for making methamphetamine (and other drugs). Fact is, most meth labs are (or were) homes, and its not uncommon for them to be sold to unsuspecting buyers by their former owners’ estates, investment corporations, foreclosing banks and other sellers that (a) might not even know the places were once used as meth labs, and (b) are exempt, legally, from making detailed disclosures to buyers, even if they are aware.

Meth lab properties are often contaminated with flammable, explosive and toxic chemicals that can affect the health of later buyers and residents – even neighbors, depending on the contamination level. Search the DEA database, here, but don’t neglect to Google your target property’s address to determine whether your state or county might also maintain searchable digital databases of meth-contaminated properties.

3. Social connectedness, online and off. On a (much) lighter note, savvy buyers might like to know whether their neighborhoods have next-gen social amenities like block parties, newsletters, email lists, homeowner resources for vendors like child care and handyman services, and even neighborhood-specific social networks:

  • Review any HOA disclosures (if relevant), which may contain newsletters and other social information
  • Ask your home’s seller and/or the homeowner’s association (HOA) management company,
  • Google your neighborhood’s name and peruse the results, and
  • Search sites like Facebook, NabeWise and NextDoor to find your target neighborhood’s online social networks, blogs and groups.

4. Technological and communications capabilities. When you’ve lived in one spot for a number of years, it’s easy to take your area’s technological capabilities for granted. For instance your provider(s) cell networks and reception capabilities (including 3G and 4G networks) might allow for incredible reception where you live, but not in another neighborhood across town. In fact, if you’re moving from a an urban area to a more rural one, you might be surprised at how spotty or non-existent cell service still is in some areas. In the same vein, many areas across the country are still waiting for the broadband and fiber optic cable infrastructure development that will allow residents to tap into digital television, phone and internet services.

Technological capabilities – or the lack thereof – are unlikely to be a deal-breaker if you’re planning to buy a home, but they are something that might help you prioritize among multiple neighborhoods or homes you’ve been considering. Getting up to speed on what’s available can help you understand what additional changes you might have to make – and charges you might incur for making them – to optimize your technologies and services once you move. Contact your cell, cable, phone and internet providers to determine what’s available in your neighborhood-to-be; many of the major mobile carriers also have voice, data, 3G and 4G network coverage maps on their websites.

5. Potentially problematic HOA rules and municipal regulations. You might want to build a tall fence for backyard privacy, plant a food garden in your front yard or have bees, goats or other light livestock on your property – but your city’s regulations may or may not allow these things, depending on the zoning of your neighborhood. Similarly, you might want to paint your home a shade that isn’t allowed by the HOA rules, or have more cars than your desired home has “legal” parking spaces – HOA regulations may even go so far as to ban exterior satellite dishes, pets and even some internal home improvements.

Read the HOA rules and regulations disclosed by your next home’s seller very, very thoroughly to understand any such limitations before you buy. And if you’re considering any sort of urban farming or have plans to make major changes to the exterior of your home after closing, you might want to contact the city building and planning department before you remove your contingencies, to see what would and would not be involved in making those changes to that home.

6. Future developments that might affect your ability to enjoy your home. Many states require that sellers disclose any manufacturing, commercial, airport or industrial zones that currently exist near the property. What is less clear to most buyers is the equally important issue of whether there are any proposals currently being considered by the powers that be that would create new zones that fall into these categories – proposals that could very well uptick the traffic, noise, odors and pollution that you’ll have to deal with in the home as time goes on. You should feel free to ask the seller flat out, but here’s where a call to the city and a plain old Google search for the neighborhood names and cross streets can also be helpful, to turn up news reports of relevant proposals and permit requests. Ask your agent for guidance on other local sources you might be able to tap into.

7. Upcoming/proposed special assessments. HOAs can impose special assessments to cover building and common area repairs and upgrades. And some cities,districts, neighborhoods and states vote in special assessments that are added onto local homeowners’ property tax bills for things like first responder services, street lighting, supplemental school funding and the like. Once these things have already been imposed, they are disclosed through title and HOA disclosures, but it’s best to know about them when they’re coming down the pike.

Reviewing the disclosed HOA reserves and financials – as well as recent newsletters and Board meeting minutes – can hip you to upcoming special assessments before they take effect, and paying attention to (or researching) recent local ballot measures can do the same for the governmental special assessments.

via 7 Neighborhood Need-to-Knows for 21st Century Home Buyers.