More Home Buyers Have Renovation in Mind

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, June 22, 2016

As buyers face more hurdles finding their dream home because of limited inventories, some are settling for a property they can eventually mold into what they want. Over a quarter of renovation projects are being driven by recent home purchases, according to the 5th annual Houzz & Home survey of more than 120,000 respondents. Home owners say they are opting to renovate instead of buying a “perfect” home largely because they think remodeling is a more affordable option or could provide a better return on investment, the survey found.

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Recent home buyers invest more in renovation than other home owners — $66,600 versus $59,800. They also tend to take on larger projects and are nearly three times as likely to renovate all of their interior spaces than other home owners, according to the survey.

Kitchen remodels are the most popular renovation projects, followed by master and non-master bathrooms. Other top priorities include the addition of home automation and curb-appeal projects, such as upgrading exterior paint, roofing, exterior doors, and decks.

“2015 was another strong year for the home-renovation market, with home owners continuing to increase investment in their homes,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “While the majority of renovations are spurred by home owners’ desire to upgrade a home they have lived in for some time, recent home purchases are also an important driver of home-renovation activity. Recent home buyers tend to do more, spend more, and are more likely to hire professionals to help with their renovation projects than other home owners. As the churn in the housing market picks up in the near future, the home-renovation market should see meaningful growth.”

Home owners who are preparing to sell reported spending slightly over half the amount that recent home buyers do on renovations ($36,300 versus $66,600), which shows they are “prioritizing immediate return on investment and rapid sale,” the Houzz survey notes.

Source:  Houzz

Existing-Home Sales at Highest Pace in 9 Years

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All major U.S. regions except the Midwest saw an uptick in existing-home sales last month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. As tight inventories continue to plague many markets, the median sales price for all housing types climbed to an all-time high of $239,700 in May — up 4.7 percent from a year earlier — as buyer demand outweighs housing supply.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, increased 1.8 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million in May. Sales are now up 4.5 percent from a year ago and are at the highest annual pace since February 2007. This is the third consecutive month for gains in existing-home sales.

“This spring’s sustained period of ultra-low mortgage rates has certainly been a worthy incentive to buy a home, but the primary driver in the increase in sales is more home owners realizing the equity they’ve accumulated in recent years and finally deciding to trade up or downsize,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “With first-time buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now.”

Yun says sales likely will maintain their current pace throughout the summer, assuming there are no further decreases in job growth that could prompt a pause among repeat buyers.

Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales performed in May, according to NAR’s latest housing report:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $239,700 in May, up 4.7 percent from a year ago. That also surpasses the previous peak in median sales prices of $236,300, set last June.
  • Days on the market: Properties spent less time on the market in May, selling, on average, after 32 days. That’s below the average time on market a year ago (40 days) and the shortest time since NAR began tracking such data in May 2011. Forty-nine percent of homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month, also the highest percentage since May 2011. Short sales were on the market the longest, at a median of 103 days in May, while foreclosures sold in 51 days. Non-distressed homes took 30 days.
  • Housing inventories: Total housing inventory at the end of May increased 1.4 percent month-over-month to 2.15 million existing homes for sale. That is 5.7 percent lower than a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory represents a 4.7-month supply.

“Existing inventory remains subdued throughout much of the country and continues to lag even last year’s deficient amount,” says Yun. “While new-home construction has thankfully crept higher so far this year, there’s still a glaring need for even more, to help alleviate the supply pressures that are severely limiting choices and pushing prices out of reach for plenty of prospective first-time buyers.”

  • All-cash sales: Buyers paying in cash accounted for 22 percent of all transactions in May, down from 24 percent a year ago. Individual investors account for the biggest bulk of all-cash sales. Investors purchased 13 percent of homes in May, down from 14 percent a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales dropped to 6 percent of all sales last month, down from 10 percent a year ago. Foreclosures comprised 5 percent of sales in May while short sales represented 1 percent of sales. On average, foreclosures sold for a discount of 12 percent below market value while short sales were discounted 11 percent.

Regional Snapshot

Here’s how existing-home sales fared across the country in May:

  • Northeast: existing-home sales rose 4.1 percent to an annual rate of 770,000, and are now 11.6 percent above a year ago. Median price: $268,600, which is 0.1 percent below May 2015.
  • Midwest: existing-home sales fell 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.3 million in May but are still 3.2 percent higher than a year ago. Median price: $190,000, up 4.8 percent from a year ago.
  • South: existing-home sales rose 4.6 percent to an annual rate of 2.28 million in May and are now 6.5 percent above a year ago. Median price: $211,500, up 5.9 percent from a year ago.
  • West: existing-home sales climbed 5.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.18 million in May but are still 1.7 percent lower than a year ago. Median price: $346,900, which is 7.7 percent above a year ago.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Mortgage Rates Plunge to 3-Year Lows

For the second consecutive week mortgage rates moved lower, and are currently the lowest since May 2013.

“The 10-year Treasury yield continued its free fall this week as global risks and expectations for the Fed’s June meeting drove investors to the safety of government bonds,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year mortgage rate responded by falling 6 basis points for the second straight week to 3.54 percent — yet another low for 2016. Wednesday’s Fed decision to once again stand pat on rates, as well as growing anticipation of the U.K.’s upcoming European Union referendum will make it difficult for Treasury yields and — more importantly — mortgage rates to substantially rise in the upcoming weeks.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.54 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.60 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.81 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.87 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.23 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.74 percent, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week’s 2.82 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

What the Remodel Reveals

What the Remodel Reveals

Our Slow-Growth Future

Slow Growth Future

April pending home sales and Market Pulse Survey

April California pending home sales trend higher but inventory concerns remain

LOS ANGELES (May 23) – Led by the Central Valley, California statewide pending home sales reversed a three-month decline and posted higher in April, but a persistent shortage of homes for sale may dampen the upcoming spring homebuying season, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

C.A.R.’s April Market Pulse Survey** also reflected a slowdown in market activity with a decrease in floor calls, open house traffic, and listing appointments/client presentations, likely due to the tight inventory and low affordability conditions constraining the California housing market.

Pending home sales data:

• Statewide pending home sales rose in April on an annual basis, with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* increasing 4.1 percent from 135.9 in April 2015 to 141.6 in April 2016, based on signed contracts. April’s annual increase was the strongest thus far this year, and the PHSI is now at its highest level since March 2012.

• California pending home sales also rose on a monthly basis more than is typical for April, which average 1.3 percent between 2008 and 2015. The PHSI increased 4.5 percent from an index of 135.4 in March. When adjusting pending sales for typical seasonal patterns, pending sales actually increased 9 percent from March. Despite the uptick, inventory concerns remain as statewide listings are 4.2 percent below where they were a year ago.

• At the regional level, pending sales were up on an annual basis in all major regions of the state, with the Central Valley Region’s index reaching an all-time high, thanks to its high affordability and ample inventory. The Southern California region also saw a healthy uptick in pending sales from a year ago, driven by double-digit increases in Orange County and Riverside.

• For the Bay Area as a whole, pending sales were down 5.1 percent from March and up 1.6 percent from April 2015. Within the core areas of the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, pending sales actually saw an increase over last year of 9.4 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively.

• The pending sales index in Central Valley posted an increase of 35.3 percent from March and 2 percent from April 2015.

• While pending home sales in Southern California as a whole were down 5.5 percent from March, they rose 4.8 percent from a year ago. Los Angeles County posted an annual gain of 3.4 percent, while Orange County experienced a robust 10.3 percent gain.

Year-to-Year Change in Pending Sales by County/Region

County/Region/State Apr-16 Apr-15 Yearly % Change
Los Angeles 94.2 91.1 3.4%
Monterey 80.2 70.5 13.7%
Orange 87.6 79.4 10.3%
Sacramento 81.8 81.9 -0.2%
San Francisco 96.7 88.4 9.4%
Santa Clara 115.6 99.8 15.8%
SF Bay Area 170.0 167.3 1.6%
So. CA 108.7 103.8 4.8%
Central Valley 130.2 127.7 2.0%
California 141.6 135.9 4.1%

April REALTOR® Market Pulse Survey**:

In a separate report, California REALTORS® responding to C.A.R.’s April Market Pulse Survey saw a decrease in floor calls, open house traffic, and listing appointments/client presentations, likely due to the tight inventory and low affordability conditions constraining the California housing market. Floor calls and listing appointments both reversed three months’ growth in April. Open house traffic declined also but has been in positive territory since the beginning of the year.

• The share of homes selling above asking price in April shrank for the first time since December 2015, slipping to 32 percent from 34 percent in March and 36 percent in April 2015. Conversely, the share of properties selling below asking price rose for the first time in four months to 40 percent. The remainder (28 percent) sold at asking price.

• For the homes that sold above asking price, the premium paid over asking price declined for the second straight month to an average of 9.6 percent, down from March’s 9.8 percent and 10 percent in April 2015.

• The 40 percent of homes that sold below asking price sold for an average of 12 percent below asking price in April, down from 9.6 percent in March and 11 percent a year ago.

• Nearly seven of 10 properties for sale received multiple offers in April, indicating the market remains competitive. Seventy-two percent of properties received multiple offers in April 2015.

• The average number of offers per property decreased for the first time in three months to 2.9 in April, down from 3.3 in March and 3.6 in April 2015.

• With home prices leveling off in recent months, more sellers are adjusting their listing price to become more in line with buyers’ expectations. About one in four (23 percent) of properties had price reductions in April, down from 28 percent a year ago.

• Low housing inventory continued to be REALTORS®’ biggest concerns, cited by one in three (33 percent), while 16 percent indicated declining housing affordability, and 14 percent stated overinflated home prices.

• REALTORS® remained somewhat optimistic about market conditions over the next year, with the index increasing slightly from 60 in March to 61 in April. However, optimism is waning as the index is down from 73 a year ago, indicating fewer REALTOR® respondents are positive about the market.

Graphics (click links to open):

• Pending home sales by region.
• Homes selling at or above asking price.
• Share of homes receiving multiple offers.
• REALTORS®’ market expectations.

*Note:  C.A.R.’s pending sales information is generated from a survey of more than 70 associations of REALTORS® and MLSs throughout the state.  Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, offering solid information on future changes in the direction of the market.  A sale is listed as pending after a seller has accepted a sales contract on a property.  The majority of pending home sales usually becomes closed sales transactions one to two months later.  The year 2008 was used as the benchmark for the Pending Homes Sales Index.  An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008.
**C.A.R.’s Market Pulse Survey is a monthly online survey of more than 300 California REALTORS® to measure data about their last closed transaction and sentiment about business activity in their market area for the previous month.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 185,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
# # #

Market at a Glance – April 2016

Market at a Glance - April 2016

Market at a Glance – April 2016

Pending Sales Soar to Highest Level in Decade

Contract signings for home purchases rose for the third consecutive month, with upticks in the South and West regions of the country providing the bulk of the increase, according to the latest NAR’s latest Pending Home Sales Index.

Overall, the index climbed 5.1 percent month-over-month in April to a 116.3 reading. The index is now 4.6 percent higher than a year ago.

“The ability to sign a contract on a home is slightly exceeding expectations this spring even with the affordability stresses and inventory squeezes affecting buyers in a number of markets,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The building momentum from the over 14 million jobs created since 2010 and the prospect of facing higher rents and mortgage rates down the road appear to be bringing more interested buyers into the market.”

Mortgage rates have remained below 4 percent in 16 of the past 17 months, a boon to home buyers. Yun predicts that rates for home purchases will continue to hover around 4 percent in the coming months, but he cautions inflation could potentially cause rates to jump suddenly.

“Even if rates rise soon, sales have legs for further expansion this summer if housing supply increases enough to give buyers an adequate number of affordable choices during their search,” Yun says.

The Midwest was the only major region of the country to see contract activity slip in April, albeit slightly. Here’s a closer look at how pending home sales fared across the country last month:

  • Northeast: pending home sales rose 1.2 percent to 98.2 in April, and are now 10.1 percent above a year ago.
  • Midwest: pending home sales dropped slightly by 0.6 percent to 112.9 in April, but are still 2 percent above April 2015.
  • South: pending home sales increased 6.8 percent to an index of 133.9 in April, and are 5.1 percent higher than last April.
  • West: pending home sales rose 11.4 percent in April to 106.2, and are now 2.8 percent above a year ago.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Homebuilders Say Major Uptick Coming

Steady job growth, low mortgage rates, and pent-up demand is prompting an increase in the demand for new single-family homes, and homebuilders say they’re ready to build them.

That said, builders say they’re being met with plenty of headwinds that could subdue some construction, such as a shortage of lots and labor and tight access to construction and development loans.

“Builders remain cautiously optimistic about market conditions,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders, in a Spring Construction Forecast Webinar on Thursday. “2016 should be the first year since the Great Recession in which the growth rate for single-family production exceeds that of multifamily. And we see single-family growth accelerating in 2017 as the supply side chain mends and we can expand production.”

NAHB forecasters predict that single-family production will see a 14 percent uptick this year to 812,000 units, and then rise another 19 percent to 964,000 units in 2017.

Single-family starts will reach 64 percent of historically normal levels by the fourth quarter of this year and rise to 77 percent of normal by the end of 2017, NAHB reports. By the end of 2017, the top 20 percent of the largest states will reach at least 102 percent of normal single-family production levels, compared to the bottom 20 percent, which likely will still remain below 65 percent, NAHB reports.

“Consumer surveys suggest the ultimate goal of millennials is to purchase a single-family home in the suburbs,” says Dietz. “We see growth for single-family looking ahead. The recovery continues and is dictated by demand side conditions and supply side headwinds.”

Source: National Association of Home Builders

Pending Home Sales Move Forward in February

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2016) — Pending home sales rose solidly in February to their highest level in seven months and remain higher than a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Led by a sizeable increase in the Midwest, all major regions except for the Northeast saw an increase in contract activity in February.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 in February from a downwardly revised 105.4 in January and is now 0.7 percent above February 2015 (108.3). Although the index has now increased year-over-year for 18 consecutive months, last month’s annual gain was the smallest.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says pending sales made promising strides in February, rising to the highest index reading since last July (109.8). “After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year1 and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory2,” he said. “Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what’s being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers. Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau.”

According to Yun, the one silver lining from last month’s noticeable slump in existing-home sales was that price appreciation lessened to 4.4 percent, which is still above wage growth but certainly more favorable than the 8.1 percent annual increase in January.

“Any further moderation in prices would be a welcome development this spring,” adds Yun. “Particularly in the West, where it appears a segment of would-be buyers are becoming wary of high asking prices and stiff competition.”

Existing-homes sales this year are forecast to be around 5.38 million, an increase of 2.4 percent from 2015. The national median existing-home price for all of this year is expected to increase between 4 and 5 percent. In 2015, existing-home sales increased 6.3 percent and prices rose 6.8 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 0.2 percent to 94.0 in February, but is still 12.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index shot up 11.4 percent to 112.6 in February, and is now 2.5 percent above February 2015.

Pending home sales in the South increased 2.1 percent to an index of 122.4 in February but are 0.4 percent lower than last February. The index in the West climbed 0.7 percent in February to 96.4, but is now 6.2 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

1 According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.66 percent in February — the lowest since April 2015 at 3.67 percent.

2 Total housing inventory at the end of February increased 3.3 percent to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 1.1 percent lower than a year ago (1.90 million).

* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: NAR’s 2016 Vacation and Investment Homes report will be released April 6, Existing-Home Sales for March will be reported April 20, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be April 27; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Technology vs Community

Technology vs Community300dpi

Why First-time Buyers Purchase Real Estate

Why Buyers Purchase Real Estate?

Why Buyers Purchase Real Estate?

2016 Real Estate Housing Forecast

2016 Real Estate Housing Forecast


WASHINGTON (January 12, 2016) — Following the housing market’s best year in nearly a decade, existing-home sales are forecasted to expand in 2016 at a more moderate pace as pent-up buyer demand combats affordability pressures and meager economic growth, according to National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a newly-released video on his 2016 housing market expectations.

In the NAR-published video, Yun discusses his expectations for the U.S. economy and housing market in 2016 and points to pent-up demand, sustained job growth and improving inventory conditions as his reasons for an expected gain (from 2015) in new and existing-home sales (view infographic).

Despite his forecasted increase in sales, Yun cites rising mortgage rates, home prices still outpacing wages and shaky global economic conditions as headwinds that will likely hold back a stronger pace of sales.

“This year the housing market may only squeak out 1 to 3 percent growth in sales because of slower economic expansion and rising mortgage rates,” Yun says in the video. “Furthermore, the continued rise in home prices will occur due to the fact that we will again encounter housing shortages in many markets because of the cumulative effect of homebuilders under producing for multiple years. Once the spring buying season begins, we’ll begin to feel that again.”

With one month of data remaining for 20151, Yun expects total existing-homes sales to finish the year up 6.5 percent from 2014 at a pace of around 5.26 million —the highest since 2006, but roughly 25 percent below the prior peak set in 2005 (7.08 million). The national median existing-home price for all of 2015 will be close to $221,200, up around 6 percent from 2014. In 2016, existing sales are expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent (5.30 to 5.40 million) and prices between 5 and 6 percent.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Renovation Realities

Renovation Realities

2015 vs 2014 Truckee / Lake Tahoe Statistical Report

Tahoe Donner Real Estate Statistics

Tahoe Donner Real Estate Statistics

Truckee / Lake Tahoe Real Estate Statistics - 2015 vs. 2014

  • For 2015, 7% more homes were sold than in 2014 – however, ski resort sales (Alpine Meadows, Northstar & Squaw Valley) were 30-50% fewer due to less snow;
  • While the median price for homes decreased by $10,000 or 2%, it is a misleading statistic;
  • A comparison of the similar homes sold in Tahoe Donner reveals the price per square foot rose approximately 5% in 2015 compared to 2014 (see graph).
  • Condo sales in Tahoe Donner provide the best indicator of overall change in valuation, as neighborhood statistics in other areas can be skewed by higher or lower price-points – an example being the Westshore which is skewed greatly by $2-$3 million condos in Fleur du Lac.
Feel free to call or email Scott Kennedy with any questions you may have.
NOTE: Tahoe Donner $ / sq. ft. data based on subset of homes 2500-3500 sq. ft. built between 2000-2010.  MLS data is believed accurate however not guaranteed – verification is recommended.

Real Estate Terms & Terminology

7/23 and 5/25 Mortgages: Mortgages with a one-time rate adjustment after seven years and five years, respectively.

3/1, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs: Adjustable-rate mortgages in which the rate is fixed for three-year, five-year, seven-year and 10-year periods, respectively, but may adjust annually after that.
Acceleration: The right of the mortgagee (lender) to demand the immediate repayment of the mortgage loan balance upon the default of the mortgager (borrower), or by using the right vested in the due-on-sale clause.
Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM): A loan on which the monthly payments will increase or decrease over time, based on changes in the ARM?s interest rate index. ARM payments typically are adjusted every six months or once a year. Common indices to which ARMs are tied include the 11th District Cost of Funds, one-year T-note and six-month T-bill.
Adjusted Basis: The cost of a property plus the value of any capital expenditure for improvements to the property minus any depreciation taken.
Adjustment Date: The date that the interest rate changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Adjustment Interval: The interval between changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage in the interest rate and/or monthly payment; typically one, three or five years depending on the index.
Adjustment Period: The period elapsing between adjustment dates for an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Affordability Analysis: An analysis of a buyer?s ability to afford the purchase of a home. Reviews income, liabilities and available funds. Considers the type of mortgage you plan to use, the area where you want to purchase a home and the probable closing costs.
Amortization: The gradual repayment of a mortgage through monthly (e.g. installment) payments. In the early years of a mortgage, most of the monthly payment goes toward interest. Later in the mortgage, more of the payment goes toward reducing the loan?s principal balance.
Amortization Term: The length of time required to amortize the mortgage loan expressed as a number of months. For example, 360 months is the amortization term for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The annual cost of a mortgage, including interest, loan fees and other costs, stated as a percentage of the loan amount.
Appraisal/Appraised Value: An opinion of the market value of a home expressed by a real estate appraiser.
Arbitration: The term used to describe a form of dispute resolution that occurs outside of the court system, usually by private agreement between parties. Basically, arbitration is a dispute resolution system where the parties submit arguments and evidence to a neutral person, known as the arbitrator, who then renders a decision, called an award, based upon the evidence and arguments presented.
Assessment: A local tax levied against a property for a specific community purpose, such as a sewer or streetlights.
Assignment: The transfer of a contractual interest or obligation from one person to another such as, but not limited to, a transfer of a mortgage obligation. Assignment is a legal term used to transfer interest from one contract to another.
Assumable Mortgage: An assumable mortgage can be transferred from the seller to the new buyer. Generally requires a credit review of the new borrower and lenders may charge a fee for the assumption. If a mortgage contains a due-on-sale clause, a new buyer may not assume the mortgage.
Assumption: The agreement between buyer and seller where the buyer takes over the payments on an existing mortgage from the seller. Assuming a loan can usually save the buyer money by acquiring an existing mortgage debt, instead of obtaining a new mortgage where closing costs and market-rate interest charges will apply.
Assumption Fee: The fee paid to a lender (usually by the purchaser of real property) when an assumption takes place.
Balloon Mortgage: A loan that is amortized for a longer period than the term of the loan. Usually this refers to a 30-year amortization and a five-year term. At the end of the term of the loan, the remaining outstanding principal on the loan is due.
Balloon Payment: The final lump sum paid at the maturity date of a balloon mortgage.
Biweekly Payment Mortgage: A plan to make mortgage payments every two weeks (instead of the standard monthly payment schedule). The 26 (or 27) biweekly payments are each equal to one-half of the monthly payment required if the loan were a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The result for the borrower is a substantial saving in interest.
Blanket Mortgage: A mortgage covering at least two pieces of real estate as security for the same mortgage.
Borrower (Mortgager): One who applies for and receives a loan in the form of a mortgage with the intention of repaying the loan in full.
Bridge Loan: A second trust for which the borrower?s present home is collateral, allowing the proceeds to be used to close on a new house before the present home is sold. Also known as a “swing loan.”
Broker: An individual who assists with arranging funding or negotiating contracts for a client but who does not loan the money himself or herself. Brokers usually charge a fee or receive a commission for their services.
Buy-down: When the lender and/or the homebuilder subsidize a mortgage by lowering the interest rate during the first few years of the loan. While the payments are initially low, they will increase when the subsidy expires.

Caps: Provisions of an adjustable-rate mortgage limiting how much the interest rate can change at each adjustment period (e.g., every six months, once a year) or over the life of the loan (rate cap). A payment cap limits how much the payment due on the loan can increase or decrease.

Cash Flow: The amount of cash derived over a certain period of time from an income-producing property. The cash flow should be large enough to pay the expenses of the income-producing property (mortgage payment, maintenance, utilities, etc.).
Certificate of Eligibility: The document given to qualified veterans entitling them to VA-guaranteed loans for homes, businesses and mobile homes. Certificates of eligibility may be obtained by sending form DD-214 (Separation Paper) to the local Veterans Affairs office with VA form 1880 (request for Certificate of Eligibility).
Certificate of Reasonable Value (CRV): An appraisal issued by Veterans Affairs showing the property?s current market value.
Certificate of Veteran Status: The document given to veterans or reservists who have served 90 days of continuous active duty (including training time). It may be obtained by sending DD 214 to the local Veterans Affairs office with form 26-8261a (request for certificate of veteran status; this document enables veterans to obtain lower downpayments on certain FHA-insured loans).
Change Frequency: The frequency (in months) of payment and/or interest rate changes on an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Closing: The meeting at which a home sale is finalized. The buyer signs the mortgage, pays closing costs and receives title to the home. The seller pays closing costs and receives the net proceeds from the home sale.
Closing Costs: Expenses in addition to the price of the home incurred by buyers and sellers when a home is sold. Common closing costs include escrow fees, title insurance fees, document recording fees and real estate commissions.
COFI: An adjustable-rate mortgage with a rate that adjusts based on a cost-of-funds index, often the 11th District Cost of Funds.
Construction Loan: A short-term interim loan to pay for the construction of buildings or homes. These are usually designed to provide periodic disbursements to the builder as he or she progresses.
Consumer Reporting Agency (or Bureau): An organization that handles the preparation of reports used by lenders to determine a potential borrower?s credit history. The agency gets data for these reports from a credit repository and other sources.
Contingency: A condition that must be fulfilled before a contract is binding.
Contract Sale or Deed: A contract between purchaser and seller of real estate to convey title after certain conditions have been met. It is a form of installment sale.
Conventional Mortgage: A loan not guaranteed, insured or made by the federal or state government.
Conversion Clause: A provision in an adjustable-rate mortgage allowing the loan to be converted to a fixed-rate mortgage at some point during the term. Usually conversion is allowed at the end of the first adjustment period. The conversion feature may cost extra.
Counteroffer: An offer in response to an original offer.
Credit Report: A report documenting the credit history and current status of a borrower?s credit standing.
Credit Risk Score: A credit risk score is a statistical summary of the information contained in a consumer?s credit report. The most well-known type of credit risk score is the Fair, Isaac or FICO score. This form of credit scoring is a mathematical summary calculation that assigns numerical values to various pieces of information in the credit report. The overall credit risk score is highly relative in the credit underwriting process for a mortgage loan.
Default: Failure to meet legal obligations in a contract, specifically, failure to make the monthly payments on a mortgage.
Deferred Interest: When a mortgage is written with a monthly payment that is less than required to satisfy the note rate, the unpaid interest is deferred by adding it to the loan balance.
Delinquency: Failure to make payments on time. This can lead to foreclosure.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): An independent agency of the federal government that guarantees long-term, low- or no-downpayment mortgages to eligible veterans.
Debt-To-Income (DTI) Ratio:The ratio of monthly debt payments to monthly gross income. Lenders use a housing DTI ratio (house payment divided by monthly income) and a total DTI ratio (total debt payments including the house payment divided by monthly income) to determine whether a borrower?s income qualifies him or her for a mortgage.
Deed: A legal document conveying ownership of property.
Downpayment: The portion of the home?s purchase price the buyer pays in cash.
Due-on-Sale-Clause: A provision in a mortgage or deed of trust that allows the lender to demand immediate payment of the balance of the mortgage if the mortgage holder sells the home.
Earnest Money: The deposit given by a buyer to a seller to show that the buyer is serious about purchasing the home. Earnest money usually is refundable to homebuyers in the event a contingency of the sales contract cannot be met.
Entitlement: The Veterans Affairs home loan benefit (i.e., entitlement for a VA-guaranteed home loan). This is also known as eligibility.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA): A federal law requiring lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs.
Equity: The difference between a home?s value and the mortgage amount owed on the home.
Escrow: The holding of documents and money by a neutral third party prior to closing.
Escrow Disbursements: The use of escrow funds to pay real estate taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance and other property expenses as they become due.
Escrow Payment: The part of a mortgager?s monthly payment that is held by the servicer to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, lease payments and other items as they become due.
Exclusive Right to Sell Listing: A contract giving an agent the exclusive right to market a property under a certain time frame.
Exclusive Agency Listing: A contract giving the broker the right to market an owner?s property for a certain period of time, but also allowing the owner to sell the property during that period without paying a commission.
Farmers Home Administration (FmHA): Provides financing to farmers and other qualified borrowers who are unable to obtain loans elsewhere.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA): A division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development whose main activity is insuring residential mortgage loans made by private lenders. FHA also sets standards for underwriting mortgages.
Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae): A privately owned corporation created by Congress that purchases and sells conventional residential mortgages as well as those insured by Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by Veterans Affairs. This institution, which provides funds for one in seven mortgages, makes mortgage money more available and more affordable. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the key secondary mortgage-market agencies.
FHA Loan: A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration open to all qualified home purchasers. While there are limits to the size of FHA loans, they are generous enough to handle moderately priced homes almost anywhere in the country.
FHA Mortgage Insurance: Requires a fee (up to 2.25 percent of the loan amount) paid at closing to insure the loan with FHA. In addition, FHA mortgage insurance requires an annual fee of up to 0.5 percent of the current loan amount, paid in monthly installments. The lower the downpayment, the more years the fee must be paid.
Firm Commitment: A promise by Federal Housing Administration to insure a mortgage loan for a specified property and borrower. A promise from a lender to make a mortgage loan.
First Mortgage: The primary lien against a property.
Fixed Installment: The monthly payment due on a mortgage loan, including payment of both principal and interest.
Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM): A loan on which the interest rate and monthly payment do not change.
For Sale By Owner (FSBO): The owner sells his or her home without a REALTOR® to avoid paying a sales commission.
Foreclosure: A legal process by which the lender or the seller forces a sale of a mortgaged property because the borrower has not met the terms of the mortgage. Also known as a repossession of property.
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac): A quasi-governmental, privately owned agency that purchases conventional mortgage from insured depository institutions and HUD-approved mortgage bankers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the key secondary mortgage-market agencies
Fully Amortized ARM: An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a monthly payment that is sufficient to amortize the remaining balance, at the interest accrual rate, over the amortization term.
Graduated-Payment Mortgage (GPM): A type of flexible-payment mortgage where the payments increase for a specified period of time and then level off. This type of mortgage has negative amortization built into it.
Growing-Equity Mortgage (GEM): A fixed-rate mortgage that provides scheduled payment increases over an established period of time. The increased amount of the monthly payment is applied directly toward reducing the remaining balance of the mortgage.
Guaranty: A promise by one party to pay a debt or perform an obligation contracted by another if the original party fails to pay or perform according to a contract.
Guarantee Mortgage: A mortgage that is guaranteed by a third party.
Hazard Insurance: A form of insurance in which the insurance company protects the insured from specified losses, such as fire, windstorm and the like.
Homeowner?s Warranty: A policy that covers certain repairs (e.g. plumbing or heating) of a newly purchased home for a certain period of time.
Housing Expenses-to-Income Ratio: The ratio, expressed as a percentage, which results when a borrower?s housing expenses are divided by his or her gross monthly income.
HUD-1 statement: A document that provides an itemized listing of the funds that are payable at closing. Items that appear on the statement include real estate commissions, loan fees, points and initial escrow amounts. A separate number within a standardized numbering system represents each item on the statement. The totals at the bottom of the HUD-1 statement define the seller?s net proceeds and the buyer?s net payment at closing.
Impound Account: An account established by a lender to collect a borrower?s property tax and insurance payments. Impound accounts are normally required on mortgages with down payments of 10 percent or less.
Index: A published interest rate against which lenders measure the difference between the current interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage and that earned by other investments (such as one-, three- and five-year U.S. Treasury security yields, the monthly average interest rate on loans closed by savings and loan institutions, and the monthly average costs-of-funds incurred by savings and loans), which is then used to adjust the interest rate on an adjustable mortgage up or down.
Indexed rate: The sum of the published index plus the margin. For example if the index were 9 percent and the margin 2.75 percent, the indexed rate would be 11.75 percent. Often, lenders charge less than the indexed rate the first year of an adjustable-rate mortgage.
Initial Interest Rate: This refers to the original interest rate of the mortgage at the time of closing. This rate changes for an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). It?s also known as “start rate” or “teaser.”
Installment: The regular periodic payment that a borrower agrees to make to a lender.
Insured Mortgage: A mortgage that is protected by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or by private mortgage insurance (MI).
Interest: The fee charged for borrowing money.
Interest Accrual Rate: The percentage rate at which interest accrues on the mortgage. In most cases, it is also the rate used to calculate the monthly payments.
Interest Rate Buydown Plan: An arrangement that allows the property seller to deposit money to an account. That money is then released each month to reduce the mortgagor?s monthly payments during the early years of a mortgage.
Interest Rate Ceiling: For an adjustable-rate mortgage, the maximum interest rate as specified in the mortgage note.
Interest Rate Floor: For an adjustable-rate mortgage, the minimum interest rate as specified in the mortgage note.
Interim Financing: A construction loan made during completion of a building or a project. A permanent loan usually replaces this loan after completion.
Investor: A money source for a lender.
Lease-Purchase Mortgage Loan: An alternative financing option that allows low- and moderate-income homebuyers to lease a home with an option to buy. Each month?s rent payment consists of principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) payments on the first mortgage plus an extra amount that accumulates in a savings account for a downpayment.
Liabilities: A person?s financial obligations. Liabilities include long-term and short-term debt.
Lien: A claim upon a piece of property for the payment or satisfaction of a debt or obligation.
Lifetime Payment Cap: For an adjustable-rate mortgage, a limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease over the life of the mortgage.
Lifetime Rate Cap: For an adjustable-rate mortgage, a limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease over the life of the loan.
Listing: A property placed on the market by a listing agent.
Loan: A sum of borrowed money (principal) that is generally repaid with interest.
Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: The ratio of the amount of money owed on a home to the home?s value. The LTV ratio for a $100,000 home financed with a $90,000 mortgage would be 90 percent, for example.
Lock: Lender?s guarantee that the mortgage rate quoted will be good for a specific number of days from day of application.
Margin: The amount a lender adds to the index on an adjustable-rate mortgage to establish the adjusted interest rate.
Market Value: The highest price that a buyer would pay and the lowest price a seller would accept on a property. Market value may be different from the price a property could actually be sold for at a given time.
Maturity: The date on which the principal balance of a loan becomes due and payable.
Mediation: A process used to resolve disputes. In mediation, the parties to the dispute are assisted by a neutral third person called a mediator. The mediator is not empowered to impose a settlement or decision on the parties; rather, the mediator facilitates discussions and negotiation between the parties with the goal of assisting the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement of their dispute.
MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium): Insurance from FHA to the lender against incurring a loss on account of the borrower?s default.
Monthly Fixed Installment: That portion of the total monthly payment that is applied toward principal and interest. When a mortgage negatively amortizes, the monthly fixed installment does not include any amount for principal reduction and doesn?t cover all of the interest. The loan balance therefore increases instead of decreasing.
Mortgage: A legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt.
Mortgage Banker: A company that originates mortgages for sale into the secondary mortgage market (e.g., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).
Mortgage Broker: An individual or company that arranges mortgage financing between a borrower and a lender.
Mortgagee: The lender.
Mortgage Insurance: Money paid to insure the mortgage when the down payment is less than 20 percent.
Mortgage Life Insurance: A type of term life insurance specifying that in the event that the borrower dies while the policy is in force, the debt is automatically paid by insurance proceeds.
Mortgage Interest Deduction: The ability of mortgage borrowers to deduct the interest paid on a home loan for purposes of federal and state income taxes.
Mortgager: The borrower or homeowner.
Multiple Listings Service (MLS): The service combines the listings for all available homes in an area, except for For-Sale-By-Owner properties, in one directory or database.
Negative Amortization: Occurs when monthly payments are not large enough to pay all the interest due on the loan. This unpaid interest is added to the unpaid balance of the loan. The danger of negative amortization is that the homebuyer ends up owing more than the original amount of the loan.
Net Effective Income: The borrower?s gross income minus federal income tax.
Net Listing: A listing agreement in which the broker?s commission consists of the amount above a net price set by the owner. If the net price is not met, a commission is not earned.
Non-assumption Clause: A statement in a mortgage contract forbidding the assumption of the mortgage without the prior approval of the lender.
Note: A legal document that obligates a borrower to repay a mortgage loan at a stated interest rate during a specified period of time.
One-year Adjustable: Mortgage whose annual rate changes yearly. The rate is usually based on movements of a published index plus a specified margin chosen by the lender.
Open Listing: A property marketed by more than one agent at a time.
Origination Fee: A fee charged by a lender for making a mortgage.
Owner Financing: A property purchase transaction in which the party selling the property provides all or part of the financing.
Payment Change Date: The date when a new monthly payment amount takes effect on an adjustable-rate mortgage or a graduated-payment mortgage. Generally, the payment change date occurs in the month immediately after the adjustment date.
Periodic Payment Cap: A limit on the amount that payments can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period.
Periodic Rate Cap: A limit on the amount that the interest rate can increase or decrease during any one adjustment period, regardless of how high or low the index might be.
Permanent Loan: A long-term mortgage, usually 10 years or more. Also called an “end loan.”
PITI: Principal, interest, taxes and insurance — the primary components of a monthly mortgage payment.
Pledged-account Mortgage (PAM): Money is placed in a pledged savings account and this fund plus earned interest is gradually used to reduce mortgage payments.
Points: One point equals 1 percent of the mortgage amount. Points are charged by lenders to increase the lender?s return on the mortgage. Typically, lenders may charge anywhere from zero to two points. Loan points are tax-deductible.
Power of Attorney: A legal document authorizing one person to act on behalf of another.
Pre-approval: The process of determining how much money you will be eligible to borrow before you apply for a loan.
Prepaid Expenses: Necessary to create an escrow account or to adjust the seller?s existing escrow account. Can include taxes, hazard insurance, private mortgage insurance and special assessments.
Prepayment: A privilege in a mortgage permitting the borrower to make payments in advance of their due date.
Prepayment Penalty: Money charged for an early repayment of debt. Prepayment penalties are allowed in some form (but not necessarily imposed) in many states.
Primary Mortgage Market: Lenders, such as savings-and-loan associations, commercial banks and mortgage companies, who make mortgage loans directly to borrowers. These lenders sometimes sell their mortgages to the secondary mortgage markets.
Principal: The loan amount borrowed or still owed.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Insurance issued by private insurers that protects lenders against a loss if a borrower defaults on a mortgage with a low downpayment (e.g., less than 20 percent).
Qualifying Ratios: Calculations used to determine if a borrower can qualify for a mortgage. They consist of two separate calculations: a housing expense as a percent of income ratio and total debt obligations as a percent of income ratio.

Rate Lock: A commitment issued by a lender to a borrower or other mortgage originator guaranteeing a specified interest rate and lender costs for a specified period of time.
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): A consumer protection law that requires lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs. RESPA is a federal law that, among other things, allows consumers to review information on known or estimated settlement cost after application and prior to or at settlement. The law requires lenders to furnish the information after application only.
REALTOR®: A real estate broker or agent who, as a member of a local association of REALTORS®, a state association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (link to, adheres to high standards of professionalism and a strict code of ethics.
Recission: The cancellation of a contract by putting all parties back to the position before they entered the contract. In some mortgage financing situations involving equity in the home as security, the law gives the homeowner three days to cancel a contract.
Recording Fees: Money paid to the lender for recording a home sale with the local authorities, thereby making it part of the public records.

Refinance: Obtaining a new mortgage loan on a property already owned. Often to replace existing loans on the property.
Renegotiable Rate Mortgage: A loan in which the interest rate is adjusted periodically.
Reverse Annuity Mortgage (RAM): A form of mortgage in which the lender makes periodic payments to the borrower using the borrower?s equity in the home as collateral for and repayment of the loan.
Revolving Liability: A credit arrangement, such as a credit card, that allows a customer to borrow against a pre-approved line of credit when purchasing goods and services.
Satisfaction of Mortgage: The document issued by the mortgagee when the mortgage loan is paid in full. Also called a “release of mortgage.”
Second Mortgage: A mortgage made subsequent to another mortgage and subordinate to the first one.
Secondary Mortgage Market: The place where primary mortgage lenders sell the mortgages they make to obtain more funds to originate more new loans. It provides liquidity for the lenders.
Security: The property that will be pledged as collateral for a loan.
Seller Carry-back: An agreement in which the seller provides financing, often in combination with an assumable mortgage.
Seller Financing: A financing agreement in which a seller provides part (or all) of the financing needed by a buyer to purchase the seller?s home.
Servicer: An organization that collects principal and interest payments from borrowers and manages borrowers? escrow accounts. The servicer often services mortgages that have been purchased by an investor in the secondary mortgage market.
Servicing: All the steps and operations a lender performs to keep a loan in good standing, such as collection of payments, payment of taxes, insurance, property inspections and the like.
Shared-Appreciation Mortgage (SAM): A mortgage in which a borrower receives a below-market interest rate in return for which the lender (or another investor such as a family member or other partner) receives a portion of the future appreciation in the value of the property. May also apply to a mortgage where the borrower shares the monthly principal and interest payments with another party in exchange for part of the appreciation.
Simple Interest: Interest that is computed only on the principle balance.
Standard Payment Calculation: The method used to determine the monthly payment required to repay the remaining balance of a mortgage in substantially equal installments over the remaining term of the mortgage at the current interest rate.
Step-Rate Mortgage: A mortgage that allows for the interest rate to increase according to a specified schedule (i.e., seven years), resulting in increased payments as well. At the end of the specified period, the rate and payments will remain constant for the remainder of the loan.
Survey: A measurement of land, prepared by a registered land surveyor, showing the location of the land with reference to known points, its dimensions, and the location and dimensions of any buildings.
Sweat Equity: Equity created by a purchaser performing work on a property being purchased.
Third-Party Origination: When a lender uses another party to completely or partially originate, process, underwrite, close, fund or package the mortgages it plans to deliver to the secondary mortgage market.
Title: A legal concept relating to ownership of property.
Title Insurance: Insurance to protect the buyer and lender against losses arising from disputes over the ownership of a property.
Title Search: An examination of public records to determine the legal ownership of property. Usually the records are recorded with the County Recorders office. The search is usually performed by a title company using computerized records.
Total Expense Ratio: Total obligations as a percentage of gross monthly income including monthly housing expenses plus other monthly debts.
Truth In Lending Act: A federal law requiring disclosure of the annual percentage rate to homebuyers shortly after they apply for the loan. Also known as Regulation Z.
Two-Step Mortgage: A mortgage in which the borrower receives a below-market interest rate for a specified number of years (most often seven or 10), and then receives a new interest rate adjusted (within certain limits) to market conditions at that time. The lender sometimes has the option to call the loan due with 30 days notice at the end of seven or 10 years.
Underwriting: The process of evaluating a loan application to determine if it meets the lender?s standards.
Usury: Interest charged in excess of the legal rate established by law.
VA Loan: A long-term, low- or no-downpayment loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Restricted to individuals qualified by military service or other entitlements.
VA Mortgage Funding Fee: A premium of up to 1.5 percent (depending on the size of the downpayment) paid on a VA-backed loan. On a $75,000 fixed-rate mortgage with no down payment, this would amount to $1,406 either paid at closing or added to the amount financed.
Verification of Deposit (VOD): A document signed by the borrower?s financial institution verifying the status and balance of that person?s financial accounts.
Warehouse Fee: Many mortgage firms must borrow funds on a short-term basis in order to originate loans that are to be sold later in the secondary mortgage market or to investors. When the prime rate of interest is higher on short-term loans than on mortgage loans, the mortgage firm has an economic loss that is offset by charging a warehouse fee.
Wraparound Mortgage: Results when an existing assumable loan is combined with a new loan, resulting in an interest rate somewhere between the old rate and the current market rate. The payments are made to a second lender or the previous homeowner, who then forwards the payments to the first lender after taking the additional amount off the top.

Homeowners Reap Remodeling Benefits Whether Selling or Staying, Say Realtors®

Homeowners Reap Remodeling Benefits Whether Selling or Staying, Say Realtors®

Homeowners Reap Remodeling Benefits Whether Selling or Staying, Say Realtors®

WASHINGTON (December 9, 2015) — Homeowners preparing to sell often make improvements, both big and small, to their homes that can help yield positive results and garner top dollar from buyers. According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®, remodeling projects can also bring major benefits to homeowners who choose to remain in their homes.

“Realtors® know that certain home upgrades and remodels can be beneficial to get more buyer eyes on a property, potentially bring in more offers or gain more equity from a home,” said NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida. “But remodeling projects are just as valuable to homeowners who simply want to get more joy out of their dwellings. Regardless of the situation, Realtors® know what remodeling projects bring the biggest bang for the buck and what projects are most likely to improve a homeowner’s impression of their current place.”

According to NAR’s 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, which uncovers the reasons homeowners choose a remodel and the increased happiness certain projects bring once completed, 64 percent have experienced increased enjoyment in their home after completing a remodeling project. Additionally, 75 percent of respondents said they felt a major sense of accomplishment when thinking of their completed project. Fifty-four percent of respondents felt happy about the changes to their home, and 40 percent felt satisfied. As for their reasons to complete a remodeling project, 38 percent of homeowners said they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials; 17 percent wanted to add features and improve livability; and 13 percent believed it was time for a change.

Realtors® named kitchen upgrades, complete kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations and new wood flooring as the interior projects that most appeal to potential buyers. Similarly, Realtors® also ranked projects based on expected value at resale (without accounting for project price); the projects that ranked the highest in this category were complete kitchen renovations, kitchen upgrades, bathroom renovations and the addition of a bathroom.

When looking at the interior projects that yield the biggest financial results upon resale, Realtors® ranked hardwood flooring refinishes (100 percent of project cost recovered upon resale), insulation upgrades (95 percent recovered), new wood flooring (91 percent recovered), and converting a basement to a living area (69 percent recovered) as projects to consider.

Exterior projects are also important for both sellers and homeowners looking to increase satisfaction with their current home. Realtors® said new roofing, new vinyl windows, new garage doors and new vinyl siding are most appealing to potential buyers and are highly valued upon resale (both considering project price and disregarding project price). Upon resale, Realtors® said new roofing would recover 105 percent of its project cost, a new garage door would recover 87 percent, new vinyl siding would recover 83 percent, and new vinyl windows would bring back 80 percent of their cost. As for exterior projects that bring the most happiness for those not necessarily intending to sell, homeowners said new fiber-cement siding, new fiberglass or steel front doors, new roofing, and new garage doors brought the most satisfaction.

The 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, the first of its kind from NAR that examines personal satisfaction from remodeling projects, surveyed Realtors®, consumers who have completed their own remodeling projects, and members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

“Remodeling projects can greatly improve both the value of and satisfaction with one’s home, which are great things no matter the reason for a project,” said Judy Mozen, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “This report highlights the best projects to consider in either situation and showcases just how much of a difference a good and professional remodel can make in real numbers.”

Salomone said the report not only assists homeowners who are preparing to sell in choosing the best projects to attract buyers, but it also helps those looking to get more personal satisfaction out of their homes. “Realtors® know that remodeling projects aren’t just done to get more money for a home once it’s time to sell – a home is your sanctuary, the place you raise your family and where you make lifelong memories, which is why the report can also help consumers decide which projects could enhance their current quality of life and happiness,” he said.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry is the medium for business development, a platform for advocacy and the principal source for industry intelligence. NARI connects homeowners with its professional members and provides tips and tricks so that the consumer has a positive remodeling experience.

California Association of Realtors Victorious in Beating Back Mortgage Tax

President Obama today signed H.R. 22, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, which does NOT include an extension of the higher guarantee-fees set to expire in 2021.  The bill funds several highway and transit-related projects, with monies coming from a variety of sources. While the Senate version of the long-term transportation bill included this “mortgage tax” to pay for transportation infrastructure, the final version does not. This is a HUGE win for REALTORS® and their clients.In November, the House of Representatives approved a long-term-transportation bill with an amendment to exclude the tax. C.A.R. and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® vigorously opposed the “add-on” fee for all new conforming mortgages in order to pay for transportation infrastructure. This “g-fee,” which was a disguised tax on home buyers, would have cost average California home buyers more than $8,100 over the life of their mortgage on a new home purchase or refinance.

C.A.R. thanks its members, local Association Executives and local Association Government Affairs Directors for their support and efforts in successfully beating back this tax and helping to meet its goal of exceeding a 20 percent response rate to the Call-for-Action. Nearly 31,000 California REALTORS® called or emailed Congress to oppose this proposal.

Dec. 4, 2015

Why Buyers Need to Buy That New Home Now

Your client has decided on new-home construction, but they’re dragging their feet. Need to give them extra motivation to get that contract signed this fall or winter?

“Fall and winter are a great time to start working with a builder and do much of the upfront planning and legwork that goes into a new-construction home,” says Brian Brunhofer, president of Meritus Homes. “Plus, there are some definite advantages to beginning that process before the end of the year that buyers might not be aware of.”

BUILDER online recently highlighted some of those advantages, including:

1. Low interest rates: The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is still under a 4 percent average, according to Freddie Mac. But most economists are predicting that interest rates will soon be on the rise, and when rates do rise that will deflate buyers’ purchasing power.

2. Buffering in more time: Many buyers fail to take into account the length of the permitting and approval process, which has to take place before the actual construction. “The reality is that after a buyer signs a contract with us, it takes anywhere from 60 to 90 days to get architectural plans submitted and permits approved before we actually start construction,” Brunhofer says. “Buyers who begin that process in the fall or winter can relax knowing they have plenty of time to get all those details taken care of and be 100 percent ready to roll when the early spring construction season starts. And if we have a mild enough winter, we might be able to get a jump on construction for them even earlier in the year.”

3. Taking advantage of the financial benefits: Before the end of the calendar year, builders will have secured their 2016 contract prices for labor and building materials. As such, they’ll adjust their home prices to reflect any increased costs. Buyers who decide to sign a contract with a builder this fall rather than waiting until next spring may see some cost savings by taking advantage of 2015 pricing.

4. Timing the market right: Many families prefer to be able to move into their new-home prior to the beginning of a school year. Buyers who work with builders in the fall and winter will likely be ready to move into their new home by next summer. “Buyers should expect anywhere from five to six months of actual construction time,” Brunhofer says. “That means if we get all the upfront approvals and permitting taken care of during the fall and early winter, we’ll start work the minute the ground thaws and we’ll be wrapped up in time for a summer move-in date.” Also, for buyers with an existing home to sell, they will be able to sell their current home then during the spring time, which is traditionally a busier housing market.

Source: “Give Customers Four Reasons to Buy Now,” BUILDER (Sept. 30, 2015)

Home Buyers: The Bargains are Now…

For home buyers chasing a bargain, they may want to act fast. Closings in January provide the best discount for home buyers, according to Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, in his latest column at Forbes. That means buyers can get the best deals when they get a home under contract around December, Yun writes.

From peak price in August and September, home prices decline by 0.51 percent by January closings, according to the Case-Shiller index. On a typical home price of $220,000, that discount could equate to about $1,122, Yun writes.

“The seasonal decline is not all price depreciation of homes” in winter, Yun notes. “A good portion of movement is driven by a higher proportion of lower priced and smaller-sized homes getting sold during the winter months. The reason for this is that families with school-aged kids are generally not in the market during the winter because they do not want their kids to be disrupted during a school year, and it is the families with kids that generally require the larger homes that carry higher prices.”

The discounts in the winter and during the holidays may be a perfect opportunity for home buyers looking to break in to the housing market.

“Real estate professionals know this to be true in everyday business since there are far fewer buyers shopping over the holidays; as a result, listed homes staying on the market for a longer period. In short, there is a discount to be had for the few buyers purchasing over the holidays.

Source: “Now Is the Best Season to Buy a Home,” Forbes (Dec. 2, 2015)

6 Home Repairs Owners Shouldn’t Delay

Some home repairs that owners linger on could turn into financial catastrophe. recently highlighted several things home owners should repair in their home before it’s too late, including:

1. Gutters: If not cleared, gutters – crucial for proper drainage — could be the root of problems for home owners. During the winter, clogged gutters could lead to ice or water damage. Also, gutters and downspouts that are overflowing with leaves or that appear to not be draining properly or draining toward the house can also cause water issues.

2. Decks: Loose railings along your porch, deck, or steps should not be ignored. The fix may be as simple as a few screws that need to be tightened in a few places. But if ignored, a loose rail could give in and risk injury and more costly repairs.

Read more: Home Improvement Spending Is Booming

3. Water spots: A spot on the ceiling should be handled immediately. The cause, however, of the water damage may not be obvious. A roofing contractor may be the first source of contact to determine if it’s from a loose shingle.

4. Asphalt cracks: Water that seeps in and then freezes can cause cracks to get wider. The water may also saturate the soil underneath the driveway and cause a shift overtime. Home owners should seal their driveway as soon as they notice any signs of wear to prevent damage from rain, snow, ice, or sunlight.

5. Leaky faucets: A slight drip or a running toilet is not an issue that should be overlooked either. These may be signs of a bigger problem and the fix will likely save you money on your water bills. Small leaks can get bigger if left ignored and become more costly to repair.

6. Blocked chimneys: Proper maintenance of chimneys is important or home owners could risk suffering from a fire or smoke inhalation. Soot and creosote build up in in the interior of chimneys and need to be removed. Also, owners would be wise to inspect the chimney cap to make sure it’s not rusty or damaged to prevent debris or pests from coming into the home.

Source: “Time’s Up: 9 Things to Repair in Your Home Before it’s Too Late,” (November 2015)

California pending home sales bounce back in October 2015

Southern California and Bay Area regions rise, Central Valley posts lower

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 24) – Pending home sales bounced back from the previous month at the statewide level in October, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today. Pending sales were also significantly higher on an annual basis, portending higher closed escrows in the next couple of months.

In a separate report, California REALTORS® responding to C.A.R.’s October Market Pulse Survey saw a nominal increase in sales with multiple offers compared with September and an increase in the number of offers received. The number of floor calls and open house traffic declined, however, primarily reflecting seasonal factors as the market enters the end of the home-buying season. The Market Pulse Survey is a monthly online survey of more than 300 California REALTORS®, which measures data about their last closed transaction and sentiment about business activity in their market area for the previous month and the last year.

Pending home sales data:

• Statewide pending home sales increased in October, with the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* rising 2.5 percent from a revised 110.7 in September to 113.4 in October, based on signed contracts. The month-to-month gain was better than the average increase of 0.9 percent from September to October observed in the last seven years.

• On an annual basis, statewide pending home sales were up 13.9 percent from the revised 99.5 index recorded in October 2014. Pending sales have been increasing on a year-over-year basis since November 2014 and have seen double-digit increases for nine straight months.

• At the regional level, pending sales were higher on a year-over-year basis in all areas, with Southern California and Central Valley both increasing at a double-digit rate compared to last October.

• San Francisco Bay Area pending sales rose 16.3 percent to reach an index of 145.6 in October, up from September’s 125.2 and up 16.1 percent from October 2014’s 125.4 index.

• Pending home sales in Southern California increased to 94.3 in October, up 9.8 percent from 85.9 in September and up 9 percent from an index of 86.5 a year ago.

• Central Valley pending sales dropped in October to reach an index of 89.5, down 13.9 percent from September’s 103.9 index but up 18.6 percent from October 2014’s 75.5 index.

Equity and distressed housing market data:

• The share of equity sales – or non-distressed property sales – dipped in October but remained at the highest levels since the fall of 2007. Equity sales now make up 93.7 percent of all sales, up from 91.5 percent a year ago.

• The combined share of all distressed property sales (REOs and short sales) edged up in October to 6.3 percent of total sales, but was down from 8.5 percent a year ago.

• Fifteen of the 44 counties that C.A.R. reports showed month-to-month decreases in their share of distressed sales, with Mariposa having the smallest share of distressed sales at 0 percent, followed by San Francisco (0.4 percent), San Mateo (0.8 percent), and Santa Cruz (1.3 percent). Madera had the highest share of distressed sales at 19 percent, followed by Siskiyou (16.4 percent), Yuba (12.1 percent), and Tulare (11.9 percent).

October REALTOR® Market Pulse Survey**:

• More than one in four homes (27 percent) closed above asking price in October, and nearly half (47 percent) closed below asking price. One-fourth (25 percent) closed at asking price.

• For the one in four homes that sold above asking price, the premium paid over asking price fell to an average of 8.9 percent, down from 11 percent in September and up from 8.4 percent in October 2014.

• The 46 percent of homes that sold below asking price sold for an average of 12 percent below asking price in October, up from 10 percent in September and up from 6.3 percent in October 2014.

• About two-thirds (64 percent) of properties received multiple offers in October, indicating the market remains competitive. Fifty-one percent of properties received multiple offers in October 2014.

• The average number of offers per property increased to 3.2 in October, up from 2.4 in September and up from 2.3 in October 2014.

• With home prices leveling off in recent months, more sellers are adjusting their listing price to become more in line with buyers’ expectations. One-third (32 percent) of properties had price reductions in October, the highest level reached in the last 12 months.

• REALTOR® respondents reported that floor calls, listing appointments, and open house traffic all declined in October, mostly due to seasonal factors.

• When asked what REALTORS®’ biggest concerns are, more than one in five (22 percent) said low housing affordability, 21 percent indicated a lack of housing inventory, 16 percent cited overinflated home prices, and 12 percent said a slowdown in economic growth.

• On a positive note, four of five REALTORS® believe market conditions will either improve or remain the same next year.

Graphics (click links to open):

• Pending home sales by region.
• More transactions closing above asking price.
• Premium paid over asking price declines.
• REALTORS®’ expectations of market conditions.

*Note:  C.A.R.’s pending sales information is generated from a survey of more than 70 associations of REALTORS® and MLSs throughout the state.  Pending home sales are forward-looking indicators of future home sales activity, offering solid information on future changes in the direction of the market.  A sale is listed as pending after a seller has accepted a sales contract on a property.  The majority of pending home sales usually becomes closed sales transactions one to two months later.  The year 2008 was used as the benchmark for the Pending Homes Sales Index.  An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2008.

**C.A.R.’s Market Pulse Survey is a monthly online survey of more than 300 California REALTORS® to measure data about their last closed transaction and sentiment about business activity in their market area for the previous month and the last year.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 175,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Four of Five REALTORS Believe Market Conditions Either Improve or Remain the Same in 2016

For of Five REALTORS Believe Market Conditions Either Improve or Remain the Same in 2016

Four of Five REALTORS Believe Market Conditions Either Improve or Remain the Same in 2016

5 Key Housing Stats From NAR’s Latest Report

Mortgage rates are still below 4 percent but the low financing rates aren’t luring more buyers this fall. All four major regions of the U.S. saw a decrease in existing-home sales in October, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report.

Regional Snapshot

Here are existing-home sales fared in October across the country:

  • Northeast: home sales were at an annual rate of 760,000 – 8.6 percent above a year ago. Median home price: $248,900, which is 1.3 percent higher than October 2014.
  • Midwest: sales fell 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.30 million but are 8.3 percent above year ago levels. Median home price: $172,300, up 5.7 percent from a year ago.
  • South: sales dropped 3.2 percent last month to an annual rate of 2.14 million but are 0.5 percent above a year ago. Median home price: $188,800, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.
  • West: sales dropped 8.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.16 million in October but are 2.7 percent above October 2014. Median home price: $319,000, which is 8 percent above a year ago.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Existing-home sales – which are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops – dropped 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million in October. Despite the drop, sales are still nearly 4 percent above a year ago, when sales were at 5.16 million.

“New and existing-home supply has struggled to improve so far this fall, leading to few choices for buyers and no easement of the ongoing affordability concerns still prevalent in some markets,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Furthermore, the mixed signals of slowing economic growth and volatility in the financial markets slightly tempered demand and contributed to the decreasing pace of sales. As long as solid job creation continues, a gradual easing of credit standards even with moderately higher mortgage rates should support steady demand and sales continuing to rise above a year ago.”

Here’s a closer look at the numbers behind NAR’s latest housing report for October sales:

1. Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types last month was $219,600, which is 5.8 percent above a year ago. Last month marks the 44th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

2. Housing inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of last month fell 2.3 percent to 2.14 million existing homes for-sale. Inventories are now 4.5 percent lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

3. Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales dropped to 6 percent in October, the lowest since NAR began tracking such data in 2008. Last year, distressed sales comprised 9 percent of the market share. In October, 5 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value while short sales were discounted on average 8 percent.

4. Days on the market: Properties typically stayed on the market for an average of 57 days in October, a drop from the 63 days in October 2014. One-third of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month. Short sales were on the market the longest mount of time at a median of 90 days, while foreclosures sold in an average of 67 days and non-distressed homes took 57 days.

5. All-cash transactions: All-cash sales comprised 24 percent of transactions last month, down from 27 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes last month, down from 15 percent a year ago. “All-cash and investor sales are still somewhat elevated historically despite the diminishing number of distressed properties,” Yun says. “With supply already meager at the lower-end of the price range, competition from these buyers only adds to the list of obstacles in the path for first-time buyers trying to reach the market.”

Source: National Association of Realtors

October 2015 Home Sales and Price Report

California home sales and price decrease in October as affordability crunch impacts housing market

– Existing, single-family home sales totaled 403,510 in October on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, down 5.1 percent from September and up 1.3 percent from October 2014.

– Statewide sales were above the 400,000 mark for the seventh straight month.

– October’s statewide median home price was $475,990, down 1.3 percent from September and up 5.7 percent from October 2014.

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 17) – California’s housing market softened in October as both statewide sales and median price contracted from the previous month and is still on target to meet forecast projections, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

Home sales exceeded the 400,000 level in October for the seventh consecutive month and posted higher on a year-to-year basis for the ninth straight month. Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 403,510 units in October, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2015 if sales maintained the October pace throughout the year.  It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The October figure was down 5.1 percent from the revised 425,120 level in September and up 1.3 percent compared with home sales in October 2014 of a revised 398,510. The year-to-year increase was the lowest since January 2015 and was significantly below the six-month average of 9.7 percent observed between April 2015 and September 2015.

“The slowdown in October’s home sales could be attributed to the financial turmoil and global economic uncertainty that took place in August and September, as some prospective buyers took a wait-and-see approach,” said 2016 C.A.R. President Ziggy Zicarelli. “With job growth increasing the most since late 2014 and interest rates remaining below 4 percent, the demand for housing should continue to grow at a modest pace. Statewide sales are on track to finish the year with a mid-single-digit increase from last year.”

The median price of an existing, single-family detached California home slipped 1.3 percent in October to $475,990 from a revised $482,150 in September.  October’s median price was 5.7 percent higher than the revised $450,460 recorded in October 2014. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.

“Housing affordability is an issue in many parts of California, and the impact it has on sales varies from region to region. In the Bay Area, a persistent shortage of homes for sale put upward pressure on housing prices and is now presenting significant affordability challenges to home buyers in the region,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “With home prices in the Bay Area averaging more than 7 percent higher than a year ago, we’re now seeing the negative effect on sales due to low housing affordability as higher prices have put homebuying out of reach for many potential buyers.”

Other key points from C.A.R.’s October 2015 resale housing report include:

• While sales continued to improve from last year at the state level, the number of active listings continued to drop from the previous year. Active listings for California dropped 5.6 percent from September and decreased 7.6 percent from October 2014.

• While sales were slightly higher from a year ago at the state level, the number of active listings continued to drop from the previous year. The October Unsold Inventory Index remained at 3.7 months for the third straight month, unchanged from September and down from 3.8 months in October 2014. The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. A six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.

• The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home increased in October to 35.5 days, compared with 32.6 days in September and 38.7 days in October 2014.

• According to C.A.R.’s newest housing market indicator which measures the sales-to-list price ratio*, properties are generally selling below the list price, except in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a lack of homes for sale is pushing sales prices higher than original asking prices.  The statewide measure suggests that homes sold at a median of 98.2 percent of the list price in October, up from 97.7 percent at the same time last year. The Bay Area is the only region where homes are selling above original list prices due to constrained supply with a ratio of 102.2 percent in October, up from 101.2 percent a year ago.

• The average price per square foot** for an existing single-family home was $237 in October 2015, up from $231 in October 2014.  Price per square foot at the state level has been stabilizing in the last few months as the statewide median price began leveling off and slowing to an average increase of 1.4 percent in the past three months.

• San Francisco had the highest price per square foot in October at $778/sq. ft., followed by San Mateo ($745/sq. ft.), and Santa Clara ($572/sq. ft.).  The three counties with the lowest price per square foot in October were Siskiyou ($115/sq. ft.), Madera ($120/sq. ft.), and Kings and Tulare both at $121/sq. ft.

• Mortgage rates were unchanged in October, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.80 percent, down from 3.89 percent in September and from 4.04 percent in October 2014, according to Freddie Mac.  Adjustable-mortgage interest rates also were essentially the same, averaging 2.56 percent in October, down incrementally from 2.59 percent in September but up from 2.41 percent in October 2014.

Graphics (click links to open):

• October sales at-a-glance infographic.
• Change in sales by price range.
• Share of sales by price range.
• Sales to active listings ratio.
• Sales to list ratio.
• Price per square foot.

Note:  The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only.  County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales.  Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home.  The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed by a relatively small share of transactions at either the lower-end or the upper-end. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold.  The change in median prices should not be construed as actual price changes in specific homes.

*Sales-to-list price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions.  The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage.  A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.

**Price per square foot is a measure commonly used by real estate agents and brokers to determine how much a square foot of space a buyer will pay for a property.  It is calculated as the sale price of the home divided by the number of finished square feet.  C.A.R. currently tracks price-per-square foot statistics for 38 counties.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 175,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
# # #

October 2015 County Sales and Price Activity
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)

October-15 Median Sold Price of Existing Single-Family Homes Sales
State/Region/County Oct-15 Sep-15   Oct-14   MTM% Chg YTY% Chg MTM% Chg YTY% Chg
CA SFH (SAAR) $475,990 $482,150 $450,460 r -1.3% 5.7% -5.1% 1.3%
CA Condo/Townhomes $391,340 $389,970 $376,900 r 0.4% 3.8% -7.7% -2.7%
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area $441,360 $438,120 $412,190 0.7% 7.1% -1.4% 1.2%
Inland Empire $293,090 $288,680 $274,630 1.5% 6.7% -3.3% 2.4%
S.F. Bay Area $790,580 $796,470 $737,000 r -0.7% 7.3% -1.6% -8.9%
S.F. Bay Area                  
Alameda $711,990 $739,580 $659,660 r -3.7% 7.9% -0.1% -11.9%
Contra-Costa $726,400 $784,000 $695,690 r -7.3% 4.4% -1.7% -9.5%
Marin $1,207,140 $1,043,270 $969,700 15.7% 24.5% 12.0% -11.7%
Napa $664,470 $659,480 $599,140 0.8% 10.9% -43.4% -33.0%
San Francisco $1,294,120 $1,189,520 $1,200,760 r 8.8% 7.8% 50.3% -15.4%
San Mateo $1,188,940 $1,200,000 $1,071,000 -0.9% 11.0% -10.4% -20.4%
Santa Clara $951,000 $955,000 $870,000 -0.4% 9.3% -8.1% -8.7%
Solano $355,420 $362,500 $327,460 -2.0% 8.5% -2.2% 8.8%
Sonoma $548,840 $562,070 $487,930 -2.4% 12.5% 6.1% 8.6%
Southern California
Los Angeles $509,570 $517,750 $477,600 -1.6% 6.7% 5.3% -1.4%
Orange $704,370 $707,700 $692,390 -0.5% 1.7% -10.9% 1.9%
Riverside $334,660 $329,200 $321,750 1.7% 4.0% -3.6% 4.5%
San Bernardino $231,330 $229,890 $208,080 0.6% 11.2% -2.9% -0.7%
San Diego $539,000 $539,340 $493,030 -0.1% 9.3% -3.3% -0.5%
Ventura $604,610 $599,710 $583,810 0.8% 3.6% -6.4% 11.6%
Central Coast
Monterey $486,000 $480,000 $460,000 1.3% 5.7% 7.1% -1.6%
San Luis Obispo $540,480 $536,250 $455,660 0.8% 18.6% -1.8% 3.4%
Santa Barbara $636,360 $724,140 $570,000 -12.1% 11.6% -9.0% -4.2%
Santa Cruz $743,750 $755,000 $715,000 -1.5% 4.0% -23.5% -6.6%
Central Valley
Fresno $214,620 $215,970 $200,600 -0.6% 7.0% -2.5% 4.3%
Glenn $206,250 $225,000 $167,500 -8.3% 23.1% 28.6% 5.9%
Kern (Bakersfield) $208,500 $215,000 r $215,000 -3.0% -3.0% -8.3% -0.8%
Kings $183,330 $197,500 $168,670 -7.2% 8.7% -12.6% 13.7%
Madera $207,500 $216,670 $210,420 r -4.2% -1.4% 9.3% 15.7%
Merced $196,250 $210,710 $190,710 -6.9% 2.9% -9.3% -7.0%
Placer $394,720 $392,820 $380,170 0.5% 3.8% -4.9% 3.3%
Sacramento $292,150 $289,760 $270,150 0.8% 8.1% -6.3% 7.7%
San Benito $487,500 $466,000 $435,000 4.6% 12.1% 19.5% 8.9%
San Joaquin $278,210 $294,060 $263,270 -5.4% 5.7% -2.2% 6.0%
Stanislaus $259,620 $253,500 $228,630 2.4% 13.6% -2.9% 11.7%
Tulare $190,000 $190,370 $179,060 -0.2% 6.1% -1.6% -2.8%
Other Counties in California
Amador $255,000 $233,330 $265,000 9.3% -3.8% -12.5% -14.6%
Butte $265,240 $247,320 $233,780 r 7.2% 13.5% 17.2% 3.8%
Calaveras $243,480 $260,290 $247,370 r -6.5% -1.6% 17.9% 36.6%
Del Norte $246,870 $216,670 $157,500 r 13.9% 56.7% 68.8% 28.6%
El Dorado $378,070 $399,270 $355,800 -5.3% 6.3% -13.8% -10.2%
Humboldt $258,090 $268,480 $260,340 -3.9% -0.9% 30.3% 17.3%
Lake $211,360 $216,180 $190,000 -2.2% 11.2% 3.0% 13.1%
Mariposa $250,000 $237,500 $225,000 5.3% 11.1% -16.7% 42.9%
Mendocino $325,000 $341,180 $337,500 -4.7% -3.7% 9.1% 0.0%
Nevada $336,960 $350,000 $315,520 r -3.7% 6.8% 10.7% 3.9%
Plumas $260,000 $258,330 $255,000 r 0.6% 2.0% -29.2% -27.7%
Shasta $236,540 $235,940 $220,920 0.3% 7.1% -1.8% -0.9%
Siskiyou $186,000 $178,330 $161,670 4.3% 15.0% 12.2% 77.4%
Sutter $252,500 $230,000 $213,240 9.8% 18.4% 11.8% 10.1%
Tehama $190,000 $188,890 $160,000 0.6% 18.8% 0.0% -20.8%
Tuolumne $252,500 $248,440 $219,640 1.6% 15.0% -6.0% -13.7%
Yolo $378,380 $413,410 $344,740 -8.5% 9.8% -0.7% 24.6%
Yuba $219,050 $225,000 $210,940 -2.6% 3.8% -18.5% -14.3%

October 2015 County Unsold Inventory and Time on Market

(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)

October-15 Unsold Inventory Index Median Time on Market
State/Region/County Oct-15 Sep-15   Oct-14   Oct-15 Sep-15   Oct-14  
CA SFH (SAAR) 3.7 3.7 3.8 35.5 32.6 38.7 r
CA Condo/Townhomes 3.0 2.8 3.2 r 31.7 29.6 37.3 r
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area 4.0 3.9 4.3 50.7 47.1 52.2
Inland Empire 4.5 4.4 4.7 52.0 48.9 55.3
S.F. Bay Area 2.5 2.5 2.1 r 23.4 22.3 24.4 r
S.F. Bay Area
Alameda 2.2 2.3 1.8 r 19.5 18.0 20.4 r
Contra-Costa 2.3 2.4 2.0 r 20.9 20.3 23.2 r
Marin 1.7 3.2 2.5 32.3 36.4 38.9
Napa 7.4 4.1 4.7 57.7 58.1 64.8
San Francisco 1.9 3.0 1.4 r 21.2 21.5 22.3 r
San Mateo 2.1 1.9 1.6 18.6 18.7 19.5
Santa Clara 2.2 2.1 1.8 20.6 19.1 20.9
Solano 3.1 2.8 2.4 41.1 41.2 45.0
Sonoma 3.2 3.6 3.2 48.2 45.9 50.2
Southern California
Los Angeles 3.7 3.7 3.9 45.6 42.1 45.5
Orange 3.9 3.7 4.1 56.7 53.0 62.3
Riverside 4.7 4.4 4.9 53.6 50.2 58.7
San Bernardino 4.3 4.3 4.5 49.2 46.5 49.6
San Diego 3.7 3.7 4.3 25.0 24.3 28.3
Ventura 3.7 3.7 4.4 58.8 52.4 63.0
Central Coast
Monterey 3.9 4.2 3.8 34.7 26.2 26.2
San Luis Obispo 4.1 4.3 4.3 40.3 42.4 50.2
Santa Barbara 4.8 4.6 4.4 39.5 33.9 41.5
Santa Cruz 3.2 2.8 3.1 25.9 25.2 33.7
Central Valley
Fresno 5.0 4.8 4.9 29.5 27.1 29.4
Glenn 4.6 5.8 5.5 45.5 31.0 47.9
Kern (Bakersfield) 4.1 3.7 r 3.8 r 29.0 26.0 27.0
Kings 3.6 3.2 3.6 24.1 33.3 44.5
Madera 7.5 8.0 4.9 54.9 75.5 47.3 r
Merced 4.3 4.1 3.9 34.0 38.3 46.3
Placer 3.2 3.2 3.5 27.4 25.5 29.6
Sacramento 2.7 2.7 3.3 23.5 22.4 25.8
San Benito 2.9 3.3 3.7 25.5 26.2 40.2
San Joaquin 3.1 3.1 3.4 23.9 23.1 25.5
Stanislaus 3.1 3.2 3.5 24.8 23.7 25.2
Tulare 4.5 4.6 4.4 31.0 32.6 42.8
Other Counties in California
Amador 6.7 5.9 5.9 93.1 63.9 65.8
Butte 3.4 4.2 3.6 r 36.2 39.1 40.3 r
Calaveras 5.3 6.3 7.1 r 67.2 69.5 57.8 r
Del Norte 5.8 10.1 8.6 r 123.1 84.2 122.3 r
El Dorado 4.6 4.4 4.3 51.3 46.8 55.1
Humboldt 3.5 4.9 5.4 49.7 46.5 52.4
Lake 6.7 6.8 7.2 76.4 94.6 80.0
Mariposa 11.8 9.8 12.3 91.0 31.0 124.6
Mendocino 7.7 8.8 7.4 72.6 76.8 91.0
Nevada 3.9 4.8 5.4 47.1 40.4 52.5 r
Plumas 10.2 8.8 8.1 124.1 126.8 126.5 r
Shasta 5.6 5.7 5.5 33.9 46.0 56.1
Siskiyou 5.5 6.8 12.4 87.1 78.4 45.5
Sutter 3.0 3.5 4.1 25.0 33.2 24.8
Tehama 6.0 6.6 4.5 r 55.9 41.9 45.5 r
Tuolumne 6.7 6.7 6.0 51.1 71.9 73.3
Yolo 2.8 3.0 3.4 24.9 24.0 23.3
Yuba 4.1 3.3 2.9 26.2 23.2 40.0

r = revised


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California’s Hot Real Estate Market

C.A.R. releases its 2016 housing market forecast

For release:
October 8, 2015

C.A.R. releases its 2016 California Housing Market Forecast

California home sales to increase slightly, while prices post slowest gain in five years

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 8) – California’s housing market will continue to improve into 2016, but a shortage of homes on the market and a crimp in housing affordability also will persist, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2016 California Housing Market Forecast,” released today.

The C.A.R. forecast sees an increase in existing home sales of 6.3 percent next year to reach 433,000 units, up from the projected 2015 sales figure of 407,500 homes sold.  Sales in 2015 also will be up 6.3 percent from the 383,300 existing, single-family homes sold in 2014.

“Solid job growth and favorable interest rates will drive a strong demand for housing next year,” said C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey.  “However, in regions where inventory is tight, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, sales growth could be limited by stiff market competition and diminishing housing affordability. On the other hand, demand in less expensive areas such as Solano County, the Central Valley, and Riverside/San Bernardino areas will remain strong thanks to solid job growth in warehousing, transportation, logistics, and manufacturing in these areas.”

C.A.R.’s forecast projects growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of 2.7 percent in 2016, after a projected gain of 2.4 percent in 2015.  With nonfarm job growth of 2.3 percent in California, the state’s unemployment rate should decrease to 5.5 percent in 2016 from 6.3 percent in 2015 and 7.5 percent in 2014.

The average for 30-year, fixed mortgage interest rates will rise only slightly to 4.5 percent but will still remain at historically low levels.

The California median home price is forecast to increase 3.2 percent to $491,300 in 2016, following a projected 6.5 percent increase in 2015 to $476,300.  This is the slowest rate of price appreciation in five years.

“The foundation for California’s housing market remains strong, with moderating home prices, signs of credit easing, and the state continuing to lead the nation in economic and job growth,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “However, the global economic slowdown, financial market volatility, and the anticipation of higher interest rates are some of the challenges that may have an adverse impact on the market’s momentum next year. Additionally, as we see more sales shift to inland regions of the state, the change in mix of sales will keep increases in the statewide median price tempered.”

2016 California Housing Market Forecast

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015p 2016f
SFH Resales (000s) 416.5 422.6 439.8 414.9 383.3 407.5 433.0
% Change -12.30% 1.40% 4.10% -5.90% -7.60% 6.30% 6.30%
Median Price ($000s) $305.0 $286.0 $319.3 $407.2 $447.0 $476.3 $491.3
% Change 10.9% -6.2% 11.6% 27.5% 9.8% 6.5% 3.2%
Housing Affordability Index 48% 53% 51% 36% 30% 31% 27%
30-Yr FRM 4.70% 4.50% 3.70% 4.00% 4.20% 3.90% 4.50%

p = projected
f = forecast

Leading the way …® in real estate news and information for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 175,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Existing-Home Sales Regain Momentum in September

WASHINGTON (October 22, 2015) — Existing–home sales rebounded strongly in September following August’s decline and have now increased year–over–year for 12 consecutive months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All four major regions experienced sales gains in September.

Total existing–home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single–family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co–ops, increased 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million in September from a slightly downwardly revised 5.30 million in August, and are now 8.8 percent above a year ago (5.10 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says a slight moderation in home prices in some markets and mortgage rates remaining below 4 percent gave more households the confidence to close on a home last month. “September home sales bounced back solidly after slowing in August and are now at their second highest pace since February 2007 (5.79 million),” he said. “While current price growth around 6 percent is still roughly double the pace of wages, affordability has slightly improved since the spring and is helping to keep demand at a strong and sustained pace.”

The median existing–home price2 for all housing types in September was $221,900, which is 6.1 percent above September 2014 ($209,100). September’s price increase marks the 43rd consecutive month of year–over–year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of September decreased 2.6 percent to 2.21 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 3.1 percent lower than a year ago (2.28 million). Unsold inventory is at a 4.8–month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in August.

“Despite persistent inventory shortages, the housing market has made great strides this year, backed by an increasing share of pent–up sellers realizing the increased equity they’ve gained from rising home prices and using it towards trading up or moving into a smaller home,” says Yun. “Unfortunately, first–time buyers are still failing to generate any meaningful traction this year.”

First–time buyers fell to 29 percent of sales in September after climbing to their highest share of the year in August (32 percent). A year ago, first–time buyers represented 29 percent of all buyers.

NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Realtors® strongly back the passing of H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015.” Polychron testified in support of the bill yesterday before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance.

“This bill helps expand homeownership and rental housing opportunities at all levels and specifically includes changes to Federal Housing Administration policies that limit the flexible and affordable financing needed by many potential condo buyers — especially first–time buyers.”

All–cash sales rose to 24 percent of transactions in September (22 percent in August) and are unchanged from a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in September, up from 12 percent in August but down from 14 percent a year ago. Sixty–seven percent of investors paid cash in September.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30–year, conventional, fixed–rate mortgage remained below 4 percent for the second consecutive month, declining slightly in September to 3.89 from 3.91 percent in August. A year ago, the average commitment rate was 4.16 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 49 days in September, an increase from 47 days in August but below the 56 days in September 2014. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 135 days in September, while foreclosures sold in 57 days and non–distressed homes took 48 days. Thirty–eight percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month.

Distressed sales4 — foreclosures and short sales — remained at 7 percent in September for the third consecutive month; they were 10 percent a year ago. Six percent of September sales were foreclosures and 1 percent (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008) were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 17 percent below market value in September (18 percent in August), while short sales were discounted 19 percent (12 percent in August).

Single–family and Condo/Co–op Sales
Single–family home sales rose 5.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million in September from 4.68 million in August, and are now 9.6 percent above the 4.50 million pace a year ago. The median existing single–family home price was $223,500 in September, up 6.6 percent from September 2014.

Existing condominium and co–op sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 units in September (unchanged from August), and are up 3.3 percent from September 2014 (600,000 units). The median existing condo price was $209,200 in September, which is 1.9 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown
September existing–home sales in the Northeast jumped 8.6 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, and are 11.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $256,500, which is 4.0 percent above September 2014.

In the Midwest, existing–home sales climbed 2.3 percent to an annual rate of 1.31 million in September, and are 12.0 percent above September 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $174,400, up 5.4 percent from a year ago.

Existing–home sales in the South rose 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 2.21 million in September, and are 5.7 percent above September 2014. The median price in the South was $191,500, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing–home sales in the West increased 6.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.27 million in September, and are 9.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $318,100, which is 8.0 percent above September 2014.

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NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1Existing–home sales, which include single–family, townhomes, condominiums and co–ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing–home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single–family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing–home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample — about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month — and typically are not subject to large prior–month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single–family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single–family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single–family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper–end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month–to–month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year–ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co–op price often is higher than the median single–family home price because condos are concentrated in higher–cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single–family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single–family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single–family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first–time buyers, all–cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at

NOTE: The Pending Home Sales Index for September will be released October 29, and Existing–Home Sales for October will be released November 23; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Top 10 Home Projects to Recoup Costs at Resale

Top 10 Home Projects to Recoup Costs at Resale

Top 10 Home Projects to Recoup Costs at Resale

Fast-Moving Markets’ Demographic Secret?

Though we’re heading into what is traditionally a slowdown in real estate as cooler temperatures and the holiday season looms, some markets are still seeing rapidly-moving sales. According to the® September National Housing Trend Report released today, these markets have an interesting demographic similarity: large populations of engineers and Baby Boomers.

“When we see homes moving quickly in a particular market, we expect the trend to be supported by signs of local health like growth in economic production and employment,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for®. “This month, we also observed more out of the ordinary trends including high proportions of math and science professionals, as well as Baby Boomers in each of the fast moving markets. As the technology industry grows and aging Baby Boomers decide to make housing moves to support their retirement, we’ll continue to see strong housing demand associated with these factors.”

Here are the 12 markets that® listed as the fastest-moving, with average properties spending less than two months on the market:

Oakland, Calif.
San Jose, Calif.
San Francisco, Calif.
Denver, Col.
Washington, DC
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.
Houston, Texas
Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
Austin-San Marcos, Texas
Omaha, Neb.
San Diego, Calif.
Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay, Fla.

Source: “® Data: Fastest Moving Markets Are Home to High Populations of Engineers and Baby Boomers,” Move, Inc. (Oct. 20, 2014)

Housing Starts Solidly Above Million Mark

The breaking of ground on new homes and apartments increased 6.3 percent in September to reach an annual 1.02 million-unit-pace. That’s the third time this year the rate has reached the one-million mark, which is considered a vital milestone in the homebuilding industry.

Most of the gains, however, were attributed to a surge in multifamily production, which rose 16.7 percent month-over-month, while single-family housing starts had a more modest 1.1 percent increase, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Economists say the gain in housing starts and permits in September signals the new-home sector is making a modest recovery and is showing signs of strengthening.

“These numbers show starts returning to levels we saw earlier this summer, where they hovered around one million units,” says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “We are hopeful this pattern of modest growth will continue as we close out the year.”

Last month, the Commerce Department reported housing starts tumbled in August by 14 percent. However, “September’s uptick reveals that last month’s dip in production was more of an anomaly than a market reversal,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “I expect we will see a continued recovery as job creation grows and consumers gain more confidence in the housing market.”

Combined housing starts rose across the country, with the largest gains posted in the West (up 13.9 percent month-over-month), followed by the Northeast (up 5.3 percent), South (up 4.2 percent), Midwest (up 3.5 percent).

The sector will likely hold onto these gains. Permits, a measurement of future building activity, rose 1.5 percent in September to an annual rate of about 1 million units, led by a 4.8 percent gain in multifamily permits. However, single-family permits fell 0.5 percent to 624,000 units. The Northeast posted a 12.3 percent gain in permits, followed by an 8.2 percent rise in the Midwest and 5.9 percent in the West. The South reported a 4.7 percent decrease in permits in September.

Source: National Association of Home Builders and “U.S. Housing Recovery Rolls On as Groundbreaking Rises,” Reuters (Oct. 17, 2014)

Fannie, Freddie to Loosen Up on Lending

The regulator of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is reportedly working on a deal with the financing entities that will loosen up lending standards and make mortgages more affordable for those with less-than-perfect credit. The move is expected to expand home buyers’ access to financing, as tight credit the last few years has kept many sidelined.

The new rules reportedly will include a lower minimum down payment requirement (from 5 percent to 3 percent), in order for lenders to qualify to sell a loan to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That would bring down payment in sync with the Federal Housing Administration, which insures loans made to lower-income borrowers and first-time buyers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee about 59 percent of all mortgages written.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, reportedly will include more safety measures to help lenders protect themselves from making bad loans. Lenders have faced numerous high-dollar settlements after issuing loans that later defaulted. The new agreement would give greater confidence to lenders so they won’t be penalized years after a loan is made, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The potential agreement “would allow credit to flow more freely to lower- and middle-income households,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told The Wall Street Journal. “That’s vital to getting the housing recovery moving forward.”

During the financial crisis, the financing giants faced steep losses as home loans defaulted. The spike was blamed on poor underwriting by lenders in ensuring that borrowers could afford their mortgages. In response, the companies, which were seized by the government in 2008, have had banks tighten their credit standards, which some critics say has gone too far and prevented many home buyers from qualifying for a home loan.

The Urban Institute has estimated that 1.2 million more mortgages would have been issued in 2012 alone if lending standards that were commonly used in 2001 were still in place.

“Understandably, after the [financial] crisis the pendulum of mortgage credit standards swung to a far extreme” Paul Leonard, California director of the Center for Responsible Lending, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s now working its way back to a more moderate position.”

The FHFA is expected to formally announce the plans later this week.

Source: “Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Reach Deal to Ease Mortgage Lending,” Los Angeles Times (Oct. 17, 2014) and “Mortgage Giants Set to Loosen Lending,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 17, 2014)

Outlook on Housing and Finances May Spur Potential Homebuyers to Act

Potential homebuyers may enter the purchase market sooner rather than later  as more Americans expect mortgage rates and home prices to climb, according to  results from Fannie Mae’s June 2013 National Housing Survey. The share of  respondents who say mortgage rates will go up during the next 12 months jumped  11 percentage points to 57 percent, the highest level in the survey’s three-year  history.

Meanwhile, consumers’ home price expectations have stayed strong in the face  of rising mortgage rates. The share of respondents who believe home prices will  go up in the next year also hit a survey high of 57 percent, while those who say  prices will go down stayed steady at 7 percent. Although sentiment toward both  the current home buying and selling environments retreated slightly, it remains  near the survey highs of last month, with 72 percent saying it is a good time to  buy and 36 percent saying it is a good time to sell.

“The spike in mortgage rate expectations this month seems to have had an  impact on a number of the survey’s indicators and may increase housing activity  in the near term by driving urgency to buy,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice  president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Consumers may recognize that  today’s still favorable mortgage rates and homeownership affordability levels  will recede over time. Given rising home and rental price expectations and  improving personal financial attitudes, more prospective homebuyers may be  deciding that now is the time to get off the fence.”

Among those surveyed, 56 percent say rental prices will go up during the next  year – an 8 percentage point increase and the highest level since the survey’s  inception – and the average 12-month rental price change expectation jumped 1.2  percent to 4.6 percent. Americans’ outlook on their personal finances also  increased significantly in June. The share who expect their personal financial  situation to improve during the next year climbed to 46 percent, the highest  level since June 2010. The share who say their household income is significantly  higher than it was 12 months ago jumped 6 percentage points to a survey high 26  percent.

Other survey highlights include:

  • At 3.8 percent, the average 12-month home price change expectation fell  slightly from last month’s survey high.
  • The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months hit  a survey high 57 percent, while those who say home prices will go down held  steady at the survey low 7 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up increased 11  percentage points to 57 percent, the highest level since the survey’s  inception.
  • Forty-seven percent of respondents think it would be easy for them to get a  home mortgage today, a slight increase over last month.The percentage of people  who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12  months jumped to 46 percent, the highest level since June 2010.
  • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly  higher than it was 12 months ago rose 6 percentage points to a survey high 26  percent.
  • The percentage of respondents who say their household expenses are  significantly higher than they were 12 months ago rose to 36 percent.

850,000 Properties Bounce Back to Positive Equity

Residential property analytic provider CoreLogic® recently released new analysis  showing the market is making big moves, with 850,000 additional residential  properties turning to positive equity during the first quarter of  2013.

In addition, the analysis shows good news for mortgages: the total  number of mortgaged residential properties standing in negative equity is down  by nearly 1 million from the previous quarter, moving from 10.5 million (21.7  percent) at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, to 9.7 million (19.8 percent)  in the first quarter of 2013.

The national aggregate value of negative  equity decreased more than $50 billion to $580 billion at the end of the first  quarter from $631 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. This  decrease was driven in large part by an improvement in home prices.

Of  the 39 million residential properties with positive equity, 11.2 million have  less than 20 percent equity. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, 2.1  million residential properties had less than 5 percent equity, referred to as  near-negative equity. Under-equitied mortgages accounted for 23 percent of all  residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the first quarter of 2013.  The average amount of equity for all properties with a mortgage is 32.8  percent.

“The impressive home price gains of 2012 and the beginning of  2013 have had a big impact on the distribution of residential home equity,” says  Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “During the past year, 1.7  million borrowers have regained positive equity. We expect the pent-up supply  that falling negative equity releases will moderate price gains in many of the  fast-appreciating markets this spring.”

“The negative equity burden  continues to recede across the country thanks largely to rising home prices,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “We are still far below  peak home price levels, but tight supplies in many areas coupled with continued  demand for single family homes should help us close the gap.”

Highlights  as of Q1 2013:

– Nevada had the highest percentage of mortgaged  properties in negative equity at 45.4 percent, followed by Florida (38.1  percent), Michigan (32 percent), Arizona (31.3 percent) and Georgia (30.5  percent). These top five states combined account for 32.8 percent of negative  equity in the U.S.
– Of the largest 25 metropolitan areas, Tampa-St.  Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties  in negative equity at 44.1 percent, followed by Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla.  (40.7 percent), Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (34.5 percent),  Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (34.2 percent) and Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills,  Mich. (33.6 percent).
– Of the total $580 billion in negative equity, first  liens without home equity loans accounted for one-half, or $290 billion  aggregate negative equity, while first liens with home equity loans accounted  for the remaining half at $290 billion.
– 6.0 million upside-down borrowers  hold first liens without home equity loans. The average mortgage balance for  this group of borrowers is $211,000. The average underwater amount is  $48,000.
– 3.7 million upside-down borrowers hold both first and second  liens. The average mortgage balance for this group of borrowers is $294,000.The  average underwater amount is $79,000.
– The bulk of home equity for mortgaged  properties is concentrated at the high end of the housing market. For example,  88 percent of homes valued at greater than $200,000 have equity compared with 73  percent of homes valued at less than $200,000.

“As leaders and agents, it  is up to us to get the word out,” said Gary Scott, President of Long &  Foster Real Estate, during RISMedia’s recent Power Broker Forum at NAR Midyear. “There is a huge opportunity for people who had negative equity to come back  into the market. We have to help those sellers. It’s about a grass roots  effort—about taking your sphere of influence and walking them through the  reality of the market.”

For more information, visit

All About Short-Sales

Thinking of Making an Offer on a Short Sale?  What You Need to Know…

Are you looking to buy a new home? Are you thinking that now’s a great time to find bargains? That’s true, but it pays to know a little about the seller’s situation before you make an offer.

If a home is being sold for below what the current seller owes on the property-and the seller does not have other funds to make up the difference at closing-the sale is considered a short sale. Many more home owners are finding themselves in this situation due to a number of factors, including job losses, aggressive borrowing against their home in the days of easy credit, and declining home values in a slower real estate market.

A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when the seller’s lender has taken title of the home and is selling it directly. Homeowners often try to accomplish a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure. But a short sale holds many potential pitfalls for buyers. Know the risks before you pursue a short-sale purchase.

You’re a good candidate for a short-sale purchase if:

• You’re very patient. Even after you come to agreement with the seller to buy a short-sale property, the seller’s lender (or lenders, if there is more than one mortgage) has to approve the sale before you can close. When there is only one mortgage, short-sale experts say lender approval typically takes about two months. If there is more than one mortgage with different lenders, it can take four months or longer for the lenders to approve the sale.

• Your financing is in order. Lenders like cash offers. But even if you can’t pay all cash for a short-sale property, it’s important to show you are well qualified and your financing is set. If you’re preapproved, have a large down payment, and can close at any time, your offer will be viewed more favorably than that of a buyer whose financing is less secure.

• You don’t have any contingencies. If you have a home to sell before you can close on the purchase of the short-sale property-or you need to be in your new home by a certain time-a short sale may not be for you. Lenders like no-contingency offers and flexible closing terms.

If you’re serious about purchasing a short-sale property, it’s important for you to have expert assistance. Here are some people you want to work with:

• Experienced real estate attorney. Only about two out of five short sales are approved by lenders. But a good real estate attorney who’s knowledgeable about the short-sale process will increase your chances getting an approved contract. Also, if you want any provisions or very specialized language written into the purchase contract, a real estate attorney is essential throughout the negotiation.

• A qualified real estate professional.* You may have a close friend or relative in real estate, but if that person doesn’t know anything about short sales, working with him or her may hurt your chances of a successful closing. Interview a few practitioners and ask them how many buyers they’ve represented in a short sale and, of those, how many have successfully closed. A qualified real estate professional will be able to show you short-sale homes, help negotiate the purchase when you find the property you want to buy, and smooth communications with the lender. (All MLSs permit, and some now require, special notations to indicate that a listing is a short sale. There also are certain phrases you can watch for, such as “lender approval required.”)

• Title officer. It’s a good idea to have a title officer do an initial title search on a short-sale property to see all the liens attached to the property. If there are multiple lien holders (e.g., second or third mortgage or lines of credit, real estate tax lien, mechanic’s lien, homeowners association lien, etc.), it’s much tougher to get that short sale contract to the closing table. Any of the lien holders could put a kink in the process even after you’ve waited for months for lender approval. If you don’t know a title officer, your real estate attorney or real estate professional should be able to recommend a few.

Some of the other risks faced by buyers of short-sale properties include:

• Potential for rejection. Lenders want to minimize their losses as much as possible. If you make an offer tremendously lower than the fair market value of the home, chances are that your offer will be rejected and you’ll have wasted months. Or the lender could make a counteroffer, which will lengthen the process.

• Bad terms. Even when a lender approves a short sale, it could require that the sellers sign a promissory note to repay the deficient amount of the loan, which may not be acceptable to some financially desperate sellers. In that case, the sellers may refuse to go through with the short sale. Lenders also can change any of the terms of the contract that you’ve already negotiated, which may not be agreeable to you.

• No repairs or repair credits. You will most likely be asked to take the property “as is.” Lenders are already taking a loss on the property and may not agree to requests for repair credits.

The risks of a short sale are considerable. But if you have the time, patience, and iron will to see it through, a short sale can be a win-win for you and the sellers.

For more information regarding Truckee real estate short-sale properties and north Lake Tahoe real estate short-sale properties, please contact me.

* Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and is bound by NAR’s strict code of ethics.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.