Midyear Report: The Housing Market Is on Track for Its Best Year Since 2006 (and It Ain’t a Bubble)

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Realtor.com| Jonathan Smoke| June 10, 2015| Link

As we approach the midpoint of 2015, the residential real estate market is on track for its best year since 2006, the peak of the housing bubble. (This time, though, it’s no bubble.)

Job growth is powering the surge in demand for homes. More than 3 million jobs have been created in the past 12 months. And more than 1 million jobs have been created for 25- to 34-year-olds, the age range in which most Americans buy their first home.

We’re seeing record traffic at realtor.com®Real estate websites across the board are experiencing 15% year-over-year growth in unique users, but our site has seen more than twice that (perhaps thanks to Elizabeth Banks?). The vast majority of our visitors report that they intend to purchase a home.

With rising demand, homes are selling more quickly, too. In May the median age of inventory (homes on the market) nationwide was 66 days—that’s 8 days faster than for last year. The hottest markets are seeing inventory move 18 to 45 days faster.

A rapidly declining age of inventory signals that demand is growing more rapidly than supply. Indeed, we’ve had 32 months in a row of existing-home inventory at less than a six months’ supply. That’s why we’re also seeing above-normal price appreciation.

Year-over-year median home price appreciation reached 9% in April, which has helped existing homeowners see strong gains in equity.

That level of price appreciation would be problematic if it continued, but we don’t think it will. Median list prices, which often predict the direction of actual price changes, moderated in each of the past two months as the number of listings grew.

Meanwhile, rents are increasing at a similar or even stronger pace than home prices. Record numbers of renting households have driven down apartment vacancies, and low vacancies led to higher rents. As a result, it is cheaper to buy rather than rent in 80% of the counties in the U.S.

And now the clock is ticking as mortgage rates are on the rise. With strong employment data in April and May, the average 30-year fixed conforming mortgage rate broke through the 4% level, and in the past week moved above 4.10%.

Is that slowing down demand? No, just the opposite. Consumers can clearly see that affordability is going down for real, so those who are ready and able to buy are searching for homes, looking at listings, visiting open houses, applying for mortgages, and signing contracts.

In April, new-home sales were up 26% over last year. Pending home sales, which are new contracts on existing homes, were up 14%.

At this level of growth, total home sales in 2015 could come close to 6 million, which is a level comparable to 2007 (if not quite at the level of peak 2006). But 2007 was a year of decline for the housing market, whereas in 2015, we’re expecting more good things to come.

The 20 Hottest U.S. Real Estate Markets in May 2015

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Realtor.com | Cicely Wedgeworth| June 1. 2015| Link

The housing market is chugging ahead, with even higher home prices and more buyer activity—and in May, we’re seeing more than the ordinary seasonal uptick.

“On the demand side, we are seeing traffic and searches on realtor.com® continue to set new highs,” said our chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, who did a preliminary analysis of our site’s data in May. Visits and searches are expected to be up more than 50% and 35%, respectively, year over year.

Helping create more opportunities for buyers, the listings inventory is now growing faster, at 4% over April—but it’s still down compared with last year, so buyers will need to keep on their toes. In part because of the limited inventory, the median list price increased nationally to $228,000, up 7% over the previous year and 1% over April. At the same time, homes are moving more quickly: Median days on market, now at 66, continued a sharp decline, down 11% year over year and 10% month over month.

Smoke’s team also ranked the nation’s 20 hottest real estate markets for buyers and sellers. Looking at the nation’s 300 largest markets, the team used the number of views per listing on realtor.com to gauge demand, and the median age of inventory to assess supply.

California dominated the list, with half of the country’s 20 hottest real estate markets, because of its tight supply of homes and economic-powered growth in demand. San Francisco and San Jose maintain the second and third spots from the April rankings, while the state capital, Sacramento, leaped from No. 21 in April to No. 12 in May.

“Sacramento typically follows strong growth in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, as it is a relatively more affordable alternative,” Smoke said. “But this market has had strong employment growth above the national average and is seeing strong household growth as a result.”

Three states pulled off a two-fer on the list: Texas, with No. 4 Dallas–Fort Worth and No. 16 Austin; Colorado, with No. 1 Denver and No. 13 Boulder; and Michigan, with No. 9 Ann Arbor and No. 10 Detroit. These markets’ success also reflects economic-powered gains, but the Texas and Colorado story is more of a continuing saga that shows the resilience and diversified nature of the states’ economies despite the declines in oil. Michigan’s performance is related to economic recovery and very strong affordability.

Denver resoundingly maintained the top ranking as inventory there shaved six days off the median age while listing views grew 7% over April. Like Dallas, Denver is experiencing substantial economic growth, and the tight supply of housing is resulting in the fastest-moving inventory in the country.

The 20 Hottest Real Estate Markets in May 2015

Market May Rank April Rank
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 1
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 2
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 3
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 5
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 6
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 8
Santa Rosa, CA 7
Ann Arbor, MI 9
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 10  11
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 11  10
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 12  21
Boulder, CO 13  17
Fargo, ND-MN 14  12
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 15  15
Austin-Round Rock, TX 16  14
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 17  13
Manchester-Nashua, NH 18 31
Columbus, OH 19 22
Stockton-Lodi, CA 20 38

A Home Buyer’s Guide to a Seller’s Market

Realtor.com| May 26, 2015| Annamaria Androitis|Link

In many parts of the country, this is a good time to sell a home. That could make it a risky time to buy one.

Houses are selling fast and prices are going up. Sales of existing homes nationwide are expected to reach the highest volume since 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors.

In the first quarter, median sales prices of single-family homes were at least 10% higher than a year prior in 51 metropolitan areas, according to the trade group. That included Charlotte, N.C., up 18%, and Denver, up 17%. Nationwide, median prices rose 7.4%, to $205,200.

A shortage of homes for sale is helping to drive the market higher, experts say, along with a gradually improving economy and a growing concern that a period of historically low interest rates may not last much longer.

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Competition among buyers can be fierce, and some are aggressively wooing sellers in an attempt to stand out.

Amanda Corona bid more than the asking price on a 2,100-square-foot townhouse in Atlanta, and she agreed to see the deal through even if the home was appraised for less than the purchase price.

“I guess I’m a risk taker,” says Ms. Corona, an insurance executive who is 38 years old. The appraisal came in above the purchase price of $365,000 and she closed on the house this month.

Buyers should consider what could go wrong in this kind of market. A bidding war could entice you to spend more than you can afford. An inflated price could leave you owing more than you can sell the house for down the road, if prices fall.

Some strategies could limit the danger. Study whether prices in your city are being driven by low inventory, which could be a warning sign, or a solid economy, which could sustain prices.

Set a budget and stick to it. And see if new homes may hit your local market soon, which could cool things down. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said that in April construction on new homes rose to the highest level since before the recession.

Keep in mind that it could still be a good time to buy. Mortgage rates remain near historic lows and home prices could keep rising. Buyers should also factor in how long they plan to keep a home, because short-term volatility may not matter for a long-term owner.

Here is a buyer’s guide to navigating a seller’s market.

Supply and demand

House-hunting can be difficult when homes for sale are hard to find.

In a market balanced between buyers and sellers, there are enough existing homes available to satisfy demand for six to seven months, according to the Realtors association. But in the first quarter, the association says, there was only 4.6 months’ worth of inventory available nationwide on average, down from 4.9 months in the same period of 2014.

Listings have grown scarcer in many big cities. In Seattle, there were 8,465 homes listed for sale in April, down 23% from a year earlier, according to Redfin, a national brokerage based in Seattle. In Portland, Ore., there were 8,941 listings, down 27%. In Omaha, Neb., there were 4,158 listings, down 20%.

Some homeowners who bought at the top of the market are reluctant to sell because the value of their home plummeted in the financial crisis and still hasn’t fully recovered. Others are holding out for higher prices, experts say.

Whatever the cause, a shortage of listings can have a significant impact on prices even in an otherwise listless market.

In a March report, Fitch Ratings, a credit-rating firm, said that prices in many metropolitan areas are being driven up more by limited inventory than by a strong economy.

“With supply limited, small increases in demand can have outsized impacts on prices,” the report said.

Under construction

That puts a premium on taking the pulse of your local market.

Try to determine if the local economy is strong. If jobs are growing, incomes are rising and people are moving into town, that could be a sign that price increases are sustainable or that more houses will soon come onto the market.

Look for signs of new construction in the neighborhood. The number of lots that have been prepared for home building increased more than 21% over the 12 months through March, says Brad Hunter, chief economist at Metrostudy, a research and consulting firm that tracks the home-building industry.

The Commerce Department says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts increased 9.2% nationwide in April from a year earlier, and the rate of housing units authorized by building permits rose 6.4%.

Growth varies by region. In the Northeast, for example, housing starts increased 52% from a year ago and building permits increased 57%. In the South, the increases were 3.5% and 1.3%, respectively. In the Midwest, starts declined 10.5% and building permits declined 7.5%. In the West, starts rose 15% and permits rose 3.4%.

The Commerce Department provides data on building permits for many metropolitan areas. Other sources track local data on housing starts. According to Metrostudy. housing starts of single-family detached homes were up about 15% in Denver and Atlanta in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, for example. In Las Vegas, they are up more than 36%, says Metrostudy.

Ask experts in your market what they are seeing. If construction activity is strong, you should be able to find evidence without too much trouble.

If new homes are going up, patience could pay off. Chris Langan and his partner put their five-month house search in Atlanta on hold in April after the couple grew tired of looking at houses that cost more than they wanted to spend and more than they thought the homes were worth, he says.

“When I see a lot of people going toward one thing—this mass frenzy—I like to step back and evaluate it,” says Mr. Langan, 31, a sales consultant for a food distributor. He says they plan to rent for two years, by which point he expects the market to be calmer.

Winning and losing

Buyers who push ahead could get lured into bidding wars, where winning in the short term can later feel like losing if you pay too much.

Bidding wars were more common in the first quarter than they were a year earlier in several markets, including Denver; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle, Wash., according to Redfin, which bases its figures on the number of bids submitted by its agents that face at least one competing offer.

Other markets saw fewer bidding wars over the same period, including Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Orange County, Calif.; and Washington, D.C., according to Redfin.

Buyers often need to move quickly, which can add to the frenzy. In Denver, Houston, Oakland and Seattle, more than 40% of the homes for sale in the first quarter were in contract within two weeks, according to Redfin.

As a result, buyers should figure out how much they can afford to spend ahead of time. Consider getting a preapproval from the mortgage lender you select.

That doesn’t mean you should borrow the full amount for which you are preapproved. Be sure the monthly mortgage payments will leave enough left over for living expenses and emergency funds. Think about how you would cover the cost if you were temporarily unemployed.

Once you set a budget, stick to it. Be prepared to walk away if prices get too high.

Consider looking at houses that aren’t selling as quickly. The owners may be more willing to lower the asking price. But get a thorough inspection to make sure you aren’t buying a house with serious flaws.

In Denver these days, a house that hasn’t been snapped up within two to four weeks is likely either to be overpriced or to need fixing up, says Tim Davis, owner and managing broker at Weichert Realtors Professionals in Denver.

Self-defense

Buyers who are eager to purchase a home are also waiving rights that are standard in sales contracts, experts say.

In addition to promising to plow ahead even if an appraisal values the house below the purchase price, buyers are agreeing to forgo the option of dropping out if an inspection shows the need for costly repairs or if they are unable to get a mortgage.

“We’re seeing strategies and situations that have never been experienced here, and I’ve been in the real-estate business since 1987,” says Mr. Davis, the Denver broker.

These kinds of contingency clauses, as they are known, are meant to protect buyers. If you agree to drop them, you could end up forfeiting your deposit if you back out anyway. The seller could also sue the buyer, though that is uncommon in a seller’s market, says Bob Lattas, a real-estate attorney in Chicago.

There are other risks, too. If an appraisal comes in low, buyers could have to put up fresh cash in a hurry in order to go through with the deal. That’s because lenders typically reduce the loan amount if a house is appraised at less than the purchase price.

If, for example, a buyer agrees to pay $400,000 for a house, but the appraised value is $380,000, the buyer could have to pay the seller an additional $20,000 out of pocket.

In such situations, buyers essentially acknowledge that they’re overpaying. They believe “the house will increase in value so much that even if something is wrong with it [they] will still be fine,” says Doug Miller, a real-estate attorney and executive director of Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate, a nonprofit based in Navarre, Minn.

The risk is that prices don’t continue to go up—or, even worse, drop.

Unless buyers are certain they can assume the risks, they may be better off avoiding situations where they have to drop contingency clauses in order to strike a deal, says Richard Vetstein, a real-estate attorney in Framingham, Mass.

If you do decide to waive contingency clauses, try to determine how nasty the financial surprise might be.

Keep in mind that price and value aren’t the same thing. Carole Short, a real-estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Atlanta, says some agents are agreeing to list homes at high prices in order to win the business.

She says, “We are starting to see some greedy-seller overpriced listings at numbers where you go, ‘Oh my God, are you kidding? That house isn’t worth that.’ ”

Housing Inventory Slowly Disappearing

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KeepingCurrentMatters.com| March 26, 2015| Link

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, and the market demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report this week.

Inventory Levels & Demand

Amidst reporting on the fact that sales of existing homes rose 1.2% from January, and outpaced year-over-year figures for the fifth consecutive month, was the news that total unsold housing inventory is at 4.6-month supply.

This is down 0.5% from last February and remains below the 6 months that is needed for a historically normal market.

Consumer confidence is at the highest level in over a decade. Pair that with interest rates still under 4%, new programs available for down payments as low as 3%, and you have an attractive market for buyers.

Buyer demand for housing remains twice as high as this time last year.

Prices Rising

February marked the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains as the median price of existing homes sold rose to $202,600 (up 7.5% from 2014).

So What Does This Mean?

The chart below shows the impact that inventory levels have on home prices.

March2015-16KCM

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun gave some insight into the correlation:

“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices. Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before (interest) rates rise.”

Bottom Line

If you are debating putting your home on the market this year, now may be the time. The amount of buyers ready and willing to make a purchase is at the highest level in years. Contact a local professional in your area to get the process started.

FIVE SMART HOMEBUYER STRATEGIES

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Realty Times| Blanche Evans| February 26, 2015| Link

The National Association of REALTORS® has announced that there’s a housing supply shortage. Homes are selling quickly and home prices are starting to inch up again. It’s becoming a seller’s market in many areas.

Any time the market changes, it’s time to change strategies. During a buyer’s market, buyers have the upper hand and can make more demands to sellers over their homes’ price and condition. During a sellers’ market, buyers concede the upper hand to sellers and are more willing to accept higher prices and terms.

When homes are in short supply, buyers don’t have the luxury of taking their time, teasing sellers with lowball offers, demanding that every little thing be fixed, and shopping for homes with multiple real estate agents. Do these five steps instead.

Make a good first impression. Not only do you need to impress sellers, you need to impress real estate agents. Hire one agent and let him or her profile your needs to the marketplace. Be specific about your must-haves so you don’t waste your agent’s and your time viewing homes that lack what you want most. When you find the home you want, send the seller a letter along with your offer outlining why you love the home.

Get preapproved by a lender. Not only will you know how much home you can buy, you’ll be ready to make an offer quickly. Your real estate agent can include the fact that you’re financially preapproved by your lender in with the offer, which will carry weight with the seller.

Shop within your price range. In a seller’s market, it’s wise to shop for homes within or slightly below your price range. This will give you more room to make full-price offers or above in case the home you want is in a bidding war with other buyers. You’ll be able to pay your own closing costs. Trying to buy a home out of your reach during a seller’s market will only cause you and your agent frustration.

Be flexible. No home is perfect. To get more home for your money, you might shop for an older home that needs renovation. Try to look past ugly wallpaper and stained carpet and visualize the home with more attractive finishes. You may be able to get more living space in an established neighborhood than with a newer home that is priced higher for similar square footage.

Be ready. Be ready to see a new listing at a moment’s notice. Be ready to make an offer when you believe this is the right home for your household. Once a seller has accepted your offer, proceed as if you’re in a normal market. Set a reasonable closing date that accommodates the seller as much as possible. Confirm the offer with your lender. Schedule the inspections you’ll need and don’t nitpick the seller over small things.

Whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, you should feel good about the home you choose, the deal you make, and the courteous way you treated all parties to the transaction.

2015: Year of the First-Time Home Buyer

RealtorMag| December 5, 2014| Link

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First-time home buyers are expected to re-emerge in the new year after mostly staying out of the market in the aftermath of the housing crisis. That’s one of realtor.com®’s five top housing predictions for 2015.

“The residual financial effects of recession-driven job losses and subsequent unemployment have impeded Millennials’ entry into the home-owning market,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®. “In 2015, increases in employment opportunities will empower younger buyers to return to the market and fuel the continued housing recovery. If access to credit improves, we could see substantially larger numbers of young buyers in the market. However, given a high dependency on financial qualifications, this activity will be skewed to geographic areas with higher affordability, such as the Midwest and South.”

Realtor.com®’s top five housing predictions for 2015 are:

  1. Millennials to drive household formation. Households headed by Millennials are expected to see significant growth in 2015, particularly as the economy continues to make gains. Millennials are expected to drive two-thirds of household formations over the next five years, according to realtor.com®’s report. The forecasted addition of 2.5 million jobs next year, as well as an increase in household formation, are the two factors that realtor.com® points to in driving more first-time home buyers to the housing market.
  2. Existing-home sales on the rise. Existing-home sales are projected to rise 8 percent year-over-year in 2015, as more buyers enter the market. Distressed properties will make up a smaller share of that growth, unlike in 2012, when a similar increase in existing-home sales was mostly driven by distressed properties.
  3. Home prices will rise. Home prices are expected to continue to edge up in 2015, with realtor.com® forecasters predicting a 4.5 percent gain. “While first-time home buyers have many economic factors working in their favor, increasing home prices will make it more difficult to get into high-priced markets such as San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.,” realtor.com® notes in its report. “As a result, first-time home buyer activity is expected to concentrate in markets with strong employment and affordability, such as Des Moines, Iowa; Atlanta; and Houston.”
  4. Mortgage rates to inch up to 5 percent. In the middle of 2015, mortgage rates are expected to increase as the Federal Reserve increases its target rate by at least 50 basis points before the end of the year. That will likely bring the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to an average of 5 percent by the end of 2015. (It’s currently averaging 3.89 percent, according to Freddie Mac.) The 1-year adjustable-rate mortgage, on the other hand, is expected to rise more minimally. “Lower ARM interest rates will influence an uptick in buyer interest for adjustable and hybrid mortgages,” realtor.com® notes. “While still at historic lows, rate increases will affect housing affordability for first-timers trying to break into the housing market and will be another factor pushing them to less-expensive locales.”
  5. Housing affordability will decline. Affordability for homes, based on home-price appreciation and rising mortgage interest rates, will likely fall by 5 to 10 percent in 2015. However, the decline in affordability likely will be offset by an increase in salaries next year for many households. “When considering historical norms, housing affordability will continue to remain strong next year,” realtor.com® notes.

The new normal for Silicon Valley home buying: 36 days on the market

October 21, 2014|Lauren Hepler| Silicon Valley Business Journal| Link

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Forget, for just a moment, all of the hype about Silicon Valley’s mythical millennial tech talent clamoring for newfangled luxury apartments.

New monthly data for September from Realtor.com reveals that the region’s for-sale housing market is also crazy as ever.

Homes listed in the San Jose and San Francisco metro areas have only been on the market for a median 36 days, which leaves the Bay Area locales tied for the designation of the second-fastest-moving residential real estate markets in the entire country.

In what could be a testament to concerns about skyrocketing prices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley sending prospective buyers fleeing to farther-flung Bay Area housing markets, the neighboring Oakland metro area boasted homes with the shortest median time on the market at 35 days.

Oakland also had the most inventory, with 4,175 homes on the market as of September, compared to 2,050 in the San Jose area and 2,397 in San Francisco.

Median home prices were $500,000 in Oakland, $718,000 in San Jose and $949,000 in San Francisco.

See the chart at the bottom of this story for a breakdown of how the Bay Area housing markets stack up against other fast-growing tech hubs like Austin and Seattle when it comes to pricing and the amount of time homes are listed for sale.

The upshot for those looking to buy homes in the Bay Area — in case you haven’t heard the horror stories of competing with all-cash buyers or brokers specializing in selling homes before they even hit the market — is that competition to buy is extremely fierce, even if you can afford high boom-time prices.

As I have reported, median home prices that have in some areas surpassed $1 million also undermine the ability of even middle- or relatively high-income area workers to buy a home. Unaffordability pushed some would-be homeowners into the crowded rental market and some into buying in cheaper areas that can entail grueling commutes — that is, if they don’t decide to pack up and move somewhere much farther away that offers much more house for much less money.

Recognizing the potential economic threat posed to the region by unaffordable housing, local cities are now deliberating how to pay for and build new housing for workers at all income levels. Part of that debate is how much new housing should be single-family homes versus rentals targeted for more dense areas.

When it comes to the bigger picture for national home sales, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke notes in the new report that baby boomers adjusting their real estate portfolios before retirement and booming employment in STEM fields (science, technology engineering and math) are likely two big factors driving the market.

“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 industrial production and employment,” he said. “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.”

August slowdown hits Bay Area housing market after red-hot year

9/11/14| Pete Carey| San Jose Mercury News| Link

After a red-hot start to the year, the Bay Area’s housing market is heading toward a fall and winter hibernation that should be easier for buyers battered by frenzied competition for a scant supply of homes for sale.

“We’re edging back to normalcy,” said Andrew LePage of CoreLogic DataQuick.

 This year’s big annual price gains came early, with February recording a 30 percent yearly gain for Bay Area single-family homes; March, 28.7 percent; and April 17, percent, as homebuyers strove to outbid one another for the few homes on the market. Price gains began leveling off in June and July. And August continued the trend, with slowing sales and more moderate sales price gains — especially in the South Bay — the real estate information service CoreLogic DataQuick reported Thursday.

In August, the median sale price of a single-family home in the nine-county Bay Area was up 10.5 percent to $650,000 from a year earlier. That compares with a 35.2 percent year-over-year price gain in August of last year, according to the Irvine-based company.

20140911_073050_SJM-HOUSING-0912_400

LePage said trends show there are fewer investors competing with regular buyers, and banks are making more loans that are over the so-called “conforming jumbo” limit of $417,000, which can carry lower interest rates and are vital to buyers in the high-cost Bay Area.

Prices were up the most in Alameda County, where they rose 17.3 percent to $668,500.

Smaller gains were reported elsewhere. Prices were up 9.9 percent to $478,000 in Contra Costa County; up 6.1 percent to $790,000 in Santa Clara County; and up 4.2 percent to $904,000 in San Mateo County. That compares with last August’s year-over-year gains of 32 percent in Alameda County, 39.4 percent in Contra Costa County, 24 percent in Santa Clara County and 33.5 percent in San Mateo.

Alameda County is essentially back to its pre-crash peak set in 2007, according to CoreLogic DataQuick, while Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have already surpassed their former peaks. Contra Costa County still has a way to go — it’s still nearly 27 percent below its high.

Some real estate agents in the East Bay said they were beginning to see price reductions as sellers realize they have missed the big buying season.

Sales of single-family homes were down 8.1 percent in the nine-county Bay Area in August, compared with a mere 3.2 percent year-over-year drop in August 2013, CoreLogic DataQuick said. Santa Clara County sales sagged 15.7 percent and Alameda County sales dropped by 12.2 percent from last August. Defying that trend, Contra Costa County had a 4.2 percent gain and San Mateo County sales rose 4.5 percent over the year.

See More

 

 

Mortgage Rates Experience Biggest Weekly Drop Since January

September 2, 2014| Zillow Blog| Lauren Braun| Link

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Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell 12 basis points this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.96 percent, down from 4.08 percent at this same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 4 percent for most of last week, peaking at 4.09 percent on Monday before easing back down to the current rate on Tuesday.

“Mortgage rates stayed below 4 percent for much of last week on news of a potential European Central Bank plan to implement a stimulus program similar to the Federal Reserve’s that has kept rates low in the U.S.,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “We expect rates to remain flat in this holiday-shortened week, as any bright spots in domestic economic data will likely be overshadowed by concerns about the European economy.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.04 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.81 percent.

 

Santa Clara County Inventory Update

Weekly Santa Clara County Inventory Update 8/25/14:

recentstats

Since the beginning of August we have seen both single family home and condo/townhome inventory go down slightly overall, while pending sales of both types of properties have gone up.  It looks like during the month of August, with kids returning to school and the summer ending,  we are experiencing fewer homes coming on the market and an uptick in sales due to a stabilization of prices.

Here are the latest numbers from 8/18 to 8/25:
Active single family homes decreased from 1367 homes to 1363 and pending sales increased from 1199 to 1218 homes.

Active condos and town homes decreased from 483 to 450 units and pending sales increased from 490 to 499 units.