Archive for the ‘Buyer news’ Category
Friday, December 1st, 2017
There is some good news on the real estate horizon for borrowers – the Federal Housing Agency (FHA) recently announced that the maximum conforming loan limits will be increased for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages in 2018. High balance/super conforming maximum loan amounts in San Diego County will be $649,750.00 for single unit properties. (See below for all types of properties).
Maximum conforming loan limit for single unit properties across most of the country will increase to $453,100 in 2018. This is an increase from the current maximum of $424,100. Some counties will go up to $679,650 for single unit properties. Anything above this will be considered jumbo financing.
It is important to note that the above rates only apply to conventional loans, not to FHA and VA. But my mortgage professional tells me that those will soon change as well.
Here are the new Conventional Loan Limits for San Diego, California:
2018 Loan Limit – 1 Unit
2018 Loan Limit – 2 Unit
2018 Loan Limit – 3 Unit
2018 Loan Limit – 4 Unit
If you have any questions you can contact my mortgage broker extraordinaire, Elvin Wesley with Ranch and Coast Mortgage, at 760-580-1733.
Thursday, March 16th, 2017
As many in the real estate industry anticipated, the mortgage interest rate has been raised, and predictions are that rates will go up again, possibly multiple times this year. What does that mean for home buyers, sellers and the real estate market in general?
1. Inventory will likely remain low. Since inventory in most markets is already low the rise in rates could keep it that way. That is because home sellers who were considering selling may choose to stay in their homes. Those who have low mortgage rates currently may decide not to make aÂ move if their new rates will be higher – it will all depend on numbers for many sellers. OR – there is always a chance that rising rates may cause some to sell quickly in order to prevent being locked into their homes for potentially years to come…it will remain to be seen.
2. People may be priced out of markets. If there are fewer homes on the market then home buyers will have a more difficult time finding homes due to high demand and low supply, which normally creates higher prices. As competition heats up, some buyers – likely many first time home buyers – will be priced out of the housing markets in many areas. Unless home builders supply the market with new inventory there could be a stall ahead.
3. Cash buyers will continue to play a role. In many markets, especially condo and townhome markets priced at $650,000 and under, I believe cash buyers will continue to be out in force snatching up these properties. Many first time buyers will have to contend with these cash buyers, and usually that is a losing game for the buyer who is getting a loan (since cash buyers do not require appraisals and can close more quickly; not having to rely on a lender to get the sale closed is a plus to many home sellers).
4. Rental market will continue to be saturated. If the above holds true then the already saturated rental market will continue to be busy – landlords will be able to make good money and raise rents because there will be plenty of renters needing homes who will pay the higher prices if current tenants cannot. This point correlates with the increase in cash buyers that we have seen lately in the “lower end” markets – many of them have been purchasing the lower priced properties for income potential, and it is a great time to make money in the rental market.
5. Real estate industry could see changes. With less inventory real estate brokers and agents could see a big change in the industry. Much like the exodus of sales people during the foreclosure crisis of 2008-2011, I predict many agents will again leave the business because they will not be able to survive in such a tight market. I also predict agent commissions will go down if there are fewer homes which sell faster.
The bottom line is that the real estate market in many areas, at least here in San Diego County and others in California, is still “hot,” but it is getting more difficult for people to get into it. This could affect future home ownership rates and the real estate industry as a whole.
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
The new housing report was released yesterday by Case-Shiller, indicating that U.S. home prices are still rising. Of course this is really area dependent, but if you are a potential buyer or seller you might feel worried, and justifiably so. Keep reading for important information and advice.
The report covers major metropolitan cities and states that prices in these areas rose by 5.27% in November – above expectations of economists, and also up from the previous month of 5.1%. What does this mean for buyers and sellers? Let’s take a look at some important considerations.
Local markets: Of course these studies are general and tend to focus on big cities, so it is important that you contact an experienced real estate agent in your local market to see what is going on in the area. But, the thing to take away from this data is that prices are not easing up. Combine that with the next factor…
Inventory is still very low: Again, your local market must be studied to get an accurate glimpse and set expectations (your real estate agent can help with this), but using my local North San Diego market as an example I know that this is painfully true. I have buyers who simply cannot find homes, and multiple offer situations in some categories – like properties under $600,000 – are still the norm. With low inventory and prices staying put or rising, a buyer does not benefit from waiting to purchase, especially considering the next factor…
Springtime is coming: Traditionally the “hot” season for housing, spring and summer are just around the corner. But in my view we are already in the heat of things. Hopefully more inventory will pop up as we head into that “busy” season, but honestly I think the entire last year and especially this Fall and Winter, can be considered busy in housing – at least here in San Diego. Waiting until Spring could put buyers in even more of a quandry, bringing anÂ increase in the buyer pool: more competition can drive prices up again.
The National Home Price Index also rose by 5.6% annually – up from 5.5% the previous month. High demand is causing these prices to continue on an upward trend. It is important to note, as some doubters or “bubble-talkers” as I call them, may believe, that these trends are NOT similar to those that occurred prior to the last housing crisis in the early 2000s.
How is this market different than that prior to the last crash?
1. Factors driving prices are not the same. Prior to the crash people were driven by speculation and anticipation of growth. Instead, healthy market factors like a strong job market and low mortgage rates are driving this market.
2. Lending is stricter. Lending requirements are not as loose as they were during the time prior to the last housing crash, so not everyone can qualify for a loan.
3. Demand is high but supply is not. Prior to the last market crash, there is a much lower supply of inventory in most areas. It is not so easy to find property to purchase. Many would-be sellers are afraid to sell, as they don’t know where they will move if there is such low supply and so much demand – so it’s a great time to be a seller if you have the time to wait it out on a subsequent purchase.
The moral of all this information is that if you are a potential seller you are in a great position. But if you have to buy after selling you need to have a “plan B” in place – e.g. stay in a furnished month to month apartment or temporarily move in with a relative or friend will put these people in ideal situations to sell and wait for the right home. But buyers have it a bit tougher – the best advice I can give is to BE PREPARED. Get preapproved, start looking at everything in your price range and desired area – even those homes that may not be as upgraded as you like or in the exact neighborhood you wanted. Do your homework and be ready to pounce once you find that “right” home.
Friday, October 7th, 2016
It has been an interesting time lately in the real estate market, and it is difficult to figure out exactly what is going on – is it slowing down, is it still hot…many people are confused. It really depends on your specific area, but there are some interesting things going on in my local markets…let’s take a look.
Multiple offers – still?! Yes! There are still some of those crazy multiple offer situations going on out there, and believe it or not they make it look like a seller’s market in the heat of summer. But this is not happening everywhere. It seems – at least in my neck of the woods in North San Diego – to be happening with condos and towhhomes that are very nicely upgraded, in good areas, and priced up to $550,000. Just last week I wrote an offer on a townhome for clients. The offer was super clean, priced over asking price, which was already stretching the appraisal potential, and a quick close in 30 days. We received a multiple counter offer asking us in essence to come up higher, remove the appraisal contingency at the outset, reduce all other contingency periods, and specifying that the sellers would make no repairs. We lost that one (I would never allow a buyer to remove an appraisal contingency unless they insisted, after being fully aware of the consequences).
Buyers are not jumping as high: Yes, this may sound like it contradicts the above paragraph, but it is true in most cases that buyers are not giving into inflated prices any longer. Most buyers (with the exception being the above scenario) are taking longer to find the right home, and then trying to negotiate the price. Much of the real estate news I read follows this position – after a crazy summer with prices inflating many buyers who missed the boat (or even those who intentionally waited out the crazy buyer storm) are finding that they can negotiate prices down and for that matter do not mind waiting until homes have some market time to make offers. This to me indicates the slow approach of a buyers market.
Fewer listings, fewer escrows opened: As is normal after the end of the summer season, listings are not as plentiful. But even after a fewer-than-usual-listings summer the Fall numbers continue to drop. Fewer escrows were opened in the last month compared to summer months. If this continues – fewer active properties, steady demand – it could spur the seller’s market to stick around for a bit…which means we could see prices rise. Interest rates will play a big part in this equation, as of course will jobs – people have to be able to afford homes.
In a nutshell the market is a bit hard to predict right now and doing so requires focusing on the specific community in which you are searching. For those buyers out there who are ready, willing and able to purchase my advice is to not rush into anything (unless you find your absolute “must-have it” dream home – but even then you need to be careful), consult with an experienced real estate agent to make a plan,Â stick to your budget and stick to your guns when negotiating price, repairs and other items.
Monday, May 23rd, 2016
If you are a real estate agent or a home buyer you may notice that the market is obviously low on inventory right now. Being that it is the “selling season” of Spring/Summer, and since there are a lot of buyers out there looking at homes, there are many situations involving multiple counter offers and homes selling for well over asking price…all great if you are a seller. However, there are also some fishy things going on out there and it is frustrating to agents and their buyers.
Let’s take a look at what is happening:
1. Homes listed well over comparable value. Many, and I mean a LOT, of homes in North San Diego are being listed over market value – some slightly and some way over. Buyers, who normally would avoid such homes until the price drops, are flocking to them and making offers anyway. No one seems concerned that the home likely will not appraise, and if one buyer walks there are many more who will step right in. This is pricing out first time homeowners and bringing prices up…you may think the latter is good, but it is dangerous because such inflation could create problems for the market – especially when there are many buyers who have incomes that will price them out of neighborhoods they should have been able to afford had prices reflected comparable sold values.
2. Many sellers are taking a long time to respond to offers – even very strong ones. If a buyer makes a very strong offer over asking price, many listing agents are waiting for 4 or 5 days to even respond, during which time they collect more offers. Many then submit multiple counter offers to all bidders asking for the best and highest price. This prices many potential buyers out of the running, and most already submitted an offer slightly over their budget.
3. Sellers are refusing to make repairs or pay for reports. In a seller’s market the seller knows s/he is in the driver’s seat, and many sellers are countering back stating the home is sold as is, and that they will make no repairs and pay for no reports – like termite reports. They want the cleanest offers possible with the least amount of money out of pocket. This means the buyer can get stuck with multiple repairs, termite work, etc. If the buyer is already paying top dollar for the home, s/he has to make sure those things are affordable. No one wants to see a new foreclosure wave hit in a few years.
4. Appraisals are not coming in at contract value – but that is not deterring sales. I have not had problems with appraisals on listings (I don’t market properties in the “insane” price category), but have heard from many agents who have. Even if the home does not appraise at contract value, there are plenty of buyers who are willing to pay the difference in cash if sellers will not negotiate prices down to the appraised value. They feel that is the only way to secure a home purchase in these crazy times. Does this sound like 2003/2004 – “pre-crash” – to anyone else besides me?
5. Overly aggressive listing agents seem to be multiplying, and they are not being cooperative. There are many listing agents who are ruthless and even rude. They don’t care that your buyers love the home and have been looking in that neighborhood for a long time, or that they wrote a very strong offer and submitted it first. To these agents, it’s all about playing the game and finding the highest bidder. Some agents do not return calls and emails, and some violate the Realtor code of ethics – a few may even commit fraud. It is extremely frustrating for buyer’s agents, who are trying to find a home for their well-qualified buyers.
6. Pocket listings and homes listed “off the MLS” are increasing. Many agents are marketing their listings on third party sites like Zillow, and not placing them on the MLS – the cooperative tool used by Realtors to benefit all parties looking in particular areas/price ranges. While it is their right to do so, it makes a problem for buyer’s agents whose clients may see these listings and want to visit them – but when their agent calls the listing agent to make an appointment she is often told that the seller is not paying a commission to buyers’ agents. Imagine you have been helping your buyers for months to find a home and now you cannot show them this one home because the broker will not cooperate with your broker. It puts buyer’s agents – who play an imperative role in protecting buyer’s rights – in a very sticky situation. You may ask why listing agents do this: the answer is so they can find buyers who will work with them, thus saving the seller from paying out a commission to the buyer’s agent. Hopefully the California Supreme Court will soon put an end to double ending sales and this will no longer be a problem.
I am a bit concerned and hope that we are not heading into trouble in the real estate market. I hope that agents keep in mind the spirit of cooperation that is inherent in our business – we all need to work together and be fair. If we do not then buyers and sellers will not be protected from future lawsuits, and many people will be priced out of the housing market – which could cause a domino effect with local economies and eventually the US economy.
Thursday, January 21st, 2016
The real estate business has definitely evolved over the last few decades, with the growth of technology being the main contributor. But when it comes down to it, working with a real estate agent is not just about finding a savvy salesperson, but rather it is about finding someone who truly has your best interests at heart and is willing to work hard to find the right property or sell your home, at the right price, with the best terms. It is not so much a sales relationship as it is a trusted adviser relationship. An agent plays many roles throughout the buying and selling process – researcher, chauffeur, adviser, negotiator, paperwork coordinator, and therapist – to name a few.
As they always will, many people try to come up with ways to find and convert “leads” to clients, from advertising to cold calling to handing out cards to people all day long and asking for referrals from past clients, friends and family members. In the last year I have seen some interesting attempts to woo potential buyers and sellers, and although I am impressed with those who are trying hard, I must say I have been surprised at some of these methods:
1.Â Recorded Calls: I received my first recorded sales call from a real estate agent last year. I was surprised because the agent, who had a lot of enthusiasm, sounded like he was trying to sell me a used car. He went on and on about how he could help me buy or sell a home, and about his strengths as an agent. Now, I must say that selling real estate is not difficult – anyone can do it. BUT not everyone can do a great job at taking care of the PEOPLE, the clients. I have always said that this business is not about houses, it is about people.
2.Â Print Marketing: Marketing via mail and email has always and will continue to be a very strong way for the real estate agent to get business – s/he creates a lovely flyer or brochure and lists skills and past sales and testimonials to make her/him look amazing. S/he even uses words like “Number 1 agent” and “Top agent,” “sold more homes than anyone else.” The trick is that many agents can say these things by putting a spin on the information, and these statements can be true.
Many of these advertisements actually constitute ethical violations in my opinion (and I have been trying to get the rules changed to prevent this, but that is another story). For example, if you are a broker who oversees say 30 buying agents, and among those agents your brokerage or team sold 100 homes last year, how is it ethical for you yourself to claim you sold over 100 homes last year – you did not do that personally, your agents contributed many of those sales. But to the average homeowner who receives your marketing piece, you look like you have done more business than anyone else. Glossy marketing pieces with claims to being “the top producer” do sway the average Jane and Joe many times. Like the political arena, I think that if agents are going to make claims like this they need to explain the truth behind the claims.
3. TV Commercials and movie theater advertising: These types of marketing can also be valuable, but again the time is limited and the agent has only a few moments to convince you of how incredible they are at their job. There is no fine print – but if it gets you to remember their name and call them then the piece has achieved the goal set by the agent. Again, anyone can make a great marketing piece that makes them look like the best agent ever – and of course that is what all salespeople try to do.
4. Broker Calls to Agents About Homes “Coming Soon” to the Market: This newest method is interesting, and is aimed at local area agents. A broker has an agent make calls to other agents’ voicemails, reading from a script about a home that is not yet listed on the open MLS but soon will be – they tell the agents (it seems agents are chosen based on who sells the most in a given area – not all agents receive these calls) that they are giving them a chance to show the property to their buyers before it hits the MLS. Now, if you happen to be an agent working with a buyer and get a call describing the perfect home, this could be a win-win for your client. But if you are an agent and do not get that call, or if you are a buyer looking online and waiting for the perfect home to pop up, you are truly at a disadvantage in such a situation. So this can be a good or poor method of advertising, depending on how you look at it.
5. “Coming Soon” Listings Posted on Third Party Sites: There are some third party sites (such as Zillow and Trulia) that allow agents to post “coming soon” listings. Not all agents can do this – they must pay to become an elite member of these sites, and then they have the “privilege” of posting such properties. It’s great for the agents – they likely get at least some calls from potential buyers – but for those buyers who are not looking on those sites they get the short end of the stick if the home sells before hitting the MLS. Similarly, agents can send out e-flyers or emails about listings that are coming to the market soon, and if this is done fairly (sent to ALL agents in a county), then that is a great advertising tool. It is not fair to the potential buyer who is not working with an agent and who waits for properties to list on the MLS, but of course this is just one of the many benefits of working with an agent (we tend to hear about up and coming listings from many industry sources – agents, appraisers, lenders, sellers, etc.).
From my perspective I believe that all agents should be able to advertise and “sell” their services and skills. But I think there are 2 rules that need to always be adhered to by real estate agents and brokers: 1. Keep it classy. 2. Be honest and ethical. If the local real estate associations who govern agents and make rules set out to make the rules stricter, I think it would be beyond valuable to potential buyers and sellers.
If you are looking for a real estate agent, remember to get the full picture – what can s/he do for you that is different from other agents? Make sure you will not be just a number – some agents have teams of people working for them and they represent many clients – if you like this than great, if not you may want to look for an experienced agent who treats you like you are the only client. Everyone has different needs, so make sure you get all your questions answered and find the person who is best able to help you; shiny materials and boasts about being a “top producer” should play into your decision minimally (although you do want someone who can sell your home with strong marketing and advertising abilities), but you need to feel comfortable with the person and what s/he can offer you.
Thursday, March 26th, 2015
The latest case on the Supreme Court docket could affect the number and difficulty of future short sales, so if you are short selling, purchasing/planning to purchase a short sale, or if you are an agent who may be selling one, please read on.
In Bank of America v. Caulkett, the Supreme Court will soon rule as to whether a borrower has the right to void a second lien through bankruptcy when his home is not worth the value of the first mortgage. In simpler terms, if you have two loans and file bankruptcy, and your home is not worth the amount of the first mortgage (say you owe $500,000 on the first loan and $100,000 on a second loan, and your home is worth $450,000), filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy would allow you to void the second loan. The home could then be sold via short sale and the second lienholder would get nothing and have no rights to intervene.
Back during the short sale wave of 2008-2011 many second lienholders were successfully able to block negotiated bankruptcy settlements that benefitted the borrowers and first mortgage holders; thus many short sales fell through, and those homes eventually ended up going into foreclosure. When the economy worsened many of these foreclosure proceedings got pushed to the back burner and homeowners stayed in their homes for long periods of time, even years, without paying anything. This led to damaged and neglected homes, and in some parts of the U.S. entire neighborhoods deteriorated. This of course resulted in cost increases for taxpayers and the bank bailout.
Not long after this all started many first lienholders began to offer small sums to the second lienholders (usually about $10,000) in exchange for their blessing on the short sales, and this became standard practice. But not all second lienholders acquiesce. If they are now given the legal right to block these agreements in bankruptcy it could create problems that would be passed along to taxpayers.
Two of the Justices – Kennedy and Sotomayor – have indicated that they do not think it fair that a second lienholder would be able to hold hostage a bankruptcy settlement reached by the borrower and first lienholder.
Keep an eye on this case and the outcome, which should be decided in June, especially if you are a homeowner in this situation, a short sale buyer or an agent who sells short sales. The decision could affect short sales as we know them…stay tuned.
Thursday, January 1st, 2015
2014 was a positive year for the housing market, with many areas experiencing recovery and more houses selling than previous years. Prices rose quite a bit, and there was a lot of conflicting news about the future of housing. Now, as we head into 2015, many wonder what is in store for the housing market. Of course I do not have a crystal ball, but based on what I see in my local market here is what I think we will see as we head into the new year.
1. Price Increases Will Slow Down
Buyers were out in force on a pretty consistent level in 2014 here in North San Diego. We saw increased competition for listings, multiple offer situations, interest rates remained low, and prices jumped. Heading into the new year I believe prices will continue to rise, however in a much slower (think “normal”) manner. There are two factors that contribute to this: the exit of many investors from the market and lower inventory levels. According to Case-Schiller prices on a national level are near their spring 2005 levels; the 20 cities tracked by the real estate analytic giant are about 15% to 17% off their mid-summer 2006 peaks.
Zillow predicts prices will rise this year about 2.5%, while Relator.com thinks the number will be closer to 4-5%. The California Association of Realtors predicts that single family home prices will appreciate 5.8% in 2015 – that is a lot less than the appreciation this year, which statewide climbed to almost 12% (obviously some areas were higher than others, like San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, and parts of Northern California). Moving forward the market will likely follow a more “normal” growth pattern as predicted.
2.Â Homebuyer Pool will Increase
2014 saw quite a gain in the number of homebuyers – low rates and lower inventory levels had many people determined to purchase before prices jumped too high. Since the majority of investors have left the housing market (due to rising prices and the inability to get a great “deal,”) rates are still low and credit rules have eased, I expect we will continue to see an influx of ready, willing and able buyers to the market. These factors will lead to increased inventory levels, which means that more sellers will list their homes and be able to find replacement properties (one of the biggest challenges for sellers last year was that there was so little inventory that they had nowhere to move to if they sold).
3.Â Affordability will Decrease
Along with more inventory and a stronger market, I think affordability will worsen. Just because housing market prices are rising does not mean that buyers’ income is rising in sync. With rising prices, even though the rise will be slower, buyers whose incomes remain the same will not be able to afford the homes they may wish to purchase. When mortgage rates start to rise that will add to the challenge. Realtor.com thinks that affordability will decrease 5-10% in 2015.
4. Mortgage Rates Will Rise
This is inevitable. Those who are sitting on the fence need to start looking now before rates rise and affordability decreases. Freddie Mac predicts a rise to a 4.5% interest rate this year, while others (like the Mortgage Bankers Association) predict rates will hit 5% by the end of the year.
Market stabilization should generate more inventory as we settle into calmer housing waters, as sellers realize the price frenzy is now over and there is no longer a need to wait and see if prices will continue to jump exponentially. Buyers who have been considering a home purchase will likely jump off the fence to do so before interest rates rise – which they will. The slowing down of price jumps could be a big benefit to the market as a whole, bringing us back to a much more “normal,” thus safer-feeling market.
Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
I received an email from one of the preferred lenders with whom I work, telling me about a client of his who wasÂ having a difficult time deciding whether to purchase now or wait. She told him that her friends had advised her to wait to purchase, since home prices are high right now. He shared with her the report from CoreLogic that came out today, which details the rising market and demonstrates more than ever why now is a great time to buy.
CoreLogic, a leading data, analytics and global property information provider, reported this morning that home prices rose 6.4% year over year in August 2014 from August 2013. Furthermore, prices are expected to rise 5.2% between August 2014 and August 2015. According to the report, “this change represents 30 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally.”
The report predicts that home prices will increase .02% month over month from August 2014 to September 2015. California was named as one of the five states with the highest home appreciation value, at 9.2%. While the peak of appreciation is and will continue to slow down, the real estate market will balance out and future home buyers will have less pressure when it comes to affordability.
The data points to the fact that the market is still strong and now is a great time to buy. To sum it up, here are the reasons why buying now is smart:
1.Â Interest rates are still low
2.Â Prices are slowing down but still will continue to rise (albeit more slowly) moving forward
3.Â Many lenders are providing more products that will make it easier for buyers to get qualified, thus meeting the demand for loans
4. Inventory is still on the low side and market times in many areas are longer, but the majority of sellers need or want to sell so it is a great time to be a buyer.
To read the entire report click here.
Friday, October 3rd, 2014
First time buyers have faced challenges over the last several years – from qualifying for loans to finding inventory that meets their needs at the price that fits within their budgets. But the biggest challenge by far has been competition from investors.
Investors jumped back into the housing market in a big way in the last several years, often times buying up entry level priced homes for cash, thus beating out many first time home buyers who were qualified, since cash is usually a safer bet in the eyes of a seller. However, cash investors have slowed down this year, mostly due to the rise in prices.
The California Association of Realtors reports that in 2013 cash transactions dropped for the first time in seven years in California. Personally, only one of my many investor clients is still active right now, but slowing down, so this is accurate on a personal level as well.
The good news is that this offers some great opportunities for first time buyers. Although local inventory picked up slightly over the summer, it is still on the low side. Furthermore, many markets are becoming buyers’ markets, so that offers further opportunity to many buyers to be able to negotiate IF they can find a home.
The biggest challenge right now for buyers remains to be limited inventory. If you are a buyer it is imperative to find a skilled real estate agent who can understand your criteria, help you narrow down the areas and neighborhoods that you like, and be ready to view new listings and present offers as soon as they hit the market, in order to avoid competition.
First time buyers should get fully pre-approved by a lender and have a great agent on their side. They should understand the market(s) in which they are focusing, and be ready to go when the right home is found. For those who may be considering purchasing in the future, I highly recommend connecting with a real estate agent early – even up to a year early – in order to narrow down your criteria and start viewing homes and neighborhoods. That way, once you are ready to purchase you will be completely educated about the local market and the purchasing process, and you will be ready to act when the right property comes up.
Happy house hunting!