March 10th, 2017
This seems to be the million dollar question right now as home buyers survey the lack of inventory and multiple offer situations present in many markets. A strong seller’s market and high prices make some buyers nervous. So is it better to buy now or wait?
There are a few very good reasons why now is the time to make that home purchase:
Interest rates are rising – We have already seen this happen and word is they will do so again this year, likely several times. This affects mortgage payments and down payments, so jumping in and securing that lower rate now could be smart. It is also important to note that some lenders are charging a lot more for interest rate lock extensions, so that is something to think about if you have a long escrow period or are pursuing a short sale.
Lack of inventory – Inventory in many markets is still very low – San Diego County included. Many buyers cannot find properties to purchase and when they do there are often multiple offers, especially in the $650,000 and under price range. Cash buyers are out in force as well in many lower range markets, making it even harder for first time home buyers. Being picky is getting more and more difficult – right now is a good time to be preapproved and ready to write an offer once you find a home that meets your criteria. See the home as soon as it comes on the market and submit your best offer right away.
Prices are not dropping as we head into the “busy season” – Lack of inventory is making it difficult as demand outpaces supply. Unless this changes we will not likely see price drops in the busy Spring and Summer months to come. The buyer who decides to wait this period out may find herself down the road with still low inventory and higher interest rates.
Here is an example: A house that currently sells for $766,000 with an interest rate of 4.75% and a 20% down payment would yield a payment of a little over $4000 a month. To get that same payment down the road with a home price drop to $727,000, assuming a higher 5.125% interest rate increase, the buyer would be losing $1585 over 3 years. So even if prices drop 5% and rates increase 3/8th of a percent, the buyer who purchases with a lower rate now will be ahead in the long run.
Uncertainty – Worry about the future and economy is still prevalent among home buyers. Uncertainty about taxes and home write offs, as well as the expected rise in interest rates, make some buyers hesitate to make big purchases. The real estate market, like any market, is cyclical. If you are buying a home with a long term commitment then it is a great time to do so, before there are more rate hikes.
Before you decide whether it is best for you to purchase now or wait, it is important to discuss your scenario with you accountant or financial adviser, an experienced real estate agent in your area and your mortgage professional. Information is power.
March 3rd, 2017
Home buyers these days have many hurdles to jump through in order to finally purchase a new home, from finding a home, to making an offer in possible multiple offer situations, to actually getting to closing without other issues. One such issue is appraisal – with inventory so low and prices climbing to meet demand it is not out of the ordinary for an appraisal to come in on the low side. But have no fear – there are a few things you can do to keep the sale moving along.
1. Renegotiate price/ compromise. If the home does not appraise there is always an opportunity to renegotiate price with the seller. Either the price can be negotiated down to the appraisal price, or the buyer and seller can agree on a compromise (for example, if the appraisal comes in $10,000 under contract price the parties can split the difference – buyer pays $5,000 more in cash and seller lowers the price by $5,000). However, if the seller had multiple offers there may be another buyer willing to pay that high price just to get into contract, so sometimes a seller will not renegotiate. It is always worth a try though, because if the other potential buyers are getting loans the seller could wind up in the same position.
2. Pay the difference with cash. Lenders are only concerned with the appraisal only because it affects the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio. The lender will only make a loan based on the contractual amount or appraised value.
3. Seller can carry a second loan. If you cannot lower the price and the buyer cannot pay cash over appraisal value, the seller can offer to carry a small second loan to make up the difference. The problem with this is that often the interest rate is higher than normal, but you can negotiate with the seller
4. Challenge the appraisal and ask for another to be ordered. Depending on the type of loan the buyer is obtaining this can be a possibility. If there is a good reason to challenge the appraisal with a conventional loan, say the appraiser was from out of the area or did not know the reasons why comparable properties sold for different prices (maybe your home is highly upgraded or has a better lot or view, etc.), then the appraisal can be challenged and you can ask for a second appraisal. Make sure that you provide comparables and an analysis of their sales to the new appraiser or to the lender – a job that the listing agent should have done (but even if s/he did there could still be other issues that did not bring in the appraisal value to the contract price). Talk to your agent and mortgage professional and figure out a plan that works best.
5. Cancel the sale. If there are no other options available the buyer has the right to cancel the sale without losing any deposits (unless otherwise agreed in the contract).
The bottom line is that there are potential solutions if your appraisal does not come in at contract value, so don’t panic. Make a plan with your agent and mortgage professional and see what you can do. Most of the time there will be a valid solution.
February 19th, 2017
The real estate market in Carlsbad is strong but there is still a shortage of inventory. Although Zillow reports that market is currently a buyers’ market, I do not agree (at least not in certain price ranges), as we are still seeing multiple offers in some ranges. Higher priced homes seem to be accruing slightly longer market times than “starter” homes (condos and townhomes from about $650,000 and under).
The median attached home list price in Carlsbad is currently just over $549,000. Home sellers are in a great position at this time, as the market still favors a strong seller advantage, with no change in average asking price per square foot (average of $379). Average market time was 76 days and 22% of properties had a price decrease last week. From my position in the trenches with buyers I am finding though that many properties under $650,000 are literally going into contract in a matter of days, often with multiple offers.
Single Family Homes:
The median list price for single family homes is currently $1,049,900, and the 199 homes in Carlsbad (as of last week) have been on the market an average of 90 days. Pricier homes (those over about $1 million) seem to take longer to sell than those under $800,000 – one Carlsbad neighborhood that typically sells in the high $700,000-low $800,000 range can’t keep inventory on the market more than a week, and homes are selling over asking price with multiple offers in days. Although inventory and market action has been trending downward, inventory is sufficiently low to keep the market labeled a seller’s market.
Sale values have risen in some Carlsbad markets 7.5% over the last year and are predicted to rise 2.7% in the next year, according to a study by Zillow, making it a great time to be a seller.
February 10th, 2017
Real estate agents wear many hats – from negotiator to chauffer to therapist, and that’s just for starters. A real estate agent often must take clients by the hand and walk them through the home search or listing process, as well as the subsequent purchase or sale transaction. But there is one thing that agents need to keep in mind during these busy and sometimes emotional times – responsibility for clients.
Responsibility for one’s clients as it relates to agency comes in many forms – some are spelled out in the ethics code (such as the duty to disclose), and some come from law (such as anti-discrimination, personal injury, tort and criminal law). But many situations with clients fall into a gray area when it comes to responsibility. One of those most important is the responsibility to accompany clients when viewing a property. If an agent does not do so there could be legal ramifications, say for example if an injury or property damage occurs.
Here are some tips to use when showing property to keep you and your clients out of harm’s way and avoid potential legal action:
1. Never let clients visit a property alone. While this seems obvious to many of us, I have read stories of agents giving clients one day lockbox codes or passing along entry instructions. As the representative of your clients you need to understand that this action can land you in hot water – unless you have been authorized by the property owners in writing to allow your clients to enter on their own (and I still would never allow that). Let’s just say there are a handful of legal issues here – from trespassing to other issues of someone gets injured or breaks something, or leaves a door/window open which could allow a thief to access the property.
2. Make sure you stay with your clients as they tour a property. Again, if you allow your clients to wander off it could cause problems. If it is a large property you especially need to stick with your touring clients. Make sure you and they have access to all areas of the property. If your clients have small children and there are potential hazards (steep or dangerous areas or animals, for example), make sure your clients do not wander off alone without permission and without you at their side.
3. Ask the owner or listing agent if you are allowed to access areas about which you are unsure. If there is a part of the property that you are not sure about, ask the listing agent or owner if you have permission to explore there. For example, a guest home, separate structure or animal pen, or flowing water. Oftentimes a listing agent will specify whether such areas are able to be viewed, but if not don’t ever assume.
The bottom line is that if your clients are not in your presence while touring a property, they could end up creating problems or suffering injuries to themselves or their property. If they were being careless and wandering around without permission, they likely will not have rights to recover for injuries suffered. Make sure to establish this right off the bat in order to protect yourself and your clients.
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 an 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.
January 19th, 2017
Gorgeous upgraded end unit Windward townhome – largest model in complex with cathedral ceilings, patio, balcony, mountain views. Stunning kitchen with granite counters, stainless steel appliances including beverage fridge and refrigerator, custom paint, crown molding and 5″ baseboards throughout. Optional 4th bedroom/den/office downstairs, wood flooring on stairs, master bath with oversized spa tub – clean and gorgeous! Gated complex, ample storage, attached 2 car garage, blocks from downtown Oceanside and beach.
– 3 bedrooms plus optional 4th downstairs bedroom, 1776 square feet
– Largest model in complex
– Granite kitchen with stainless appliances, refrigerator and wine fridge, upgraded
cabinetry and fixtures
– Designer tile flooring downstairs, wood floors on staircase and upper hallway
– Large living room with fireplace and hidden storage area
– Gorgeous master bathroom with oversized jacuzzi tub and towel dryer
– Walk in closets in all bedrooms
– Custom paint throughout
– Crown molding, 5″ baseboards, high ceilings
– Tons of storage
– Views out to hills, mountains and canyons
– Downstairs patio and upstairs balcony
– Attached 2 car garage
– Gated, quiet complex with pool, spa and clubhouse
– Low HOAs and no mello roos
– Washer, dryer, towel dryer and refrigerators convey
– Only a few blocks to downtown Oceanside and the beach
Please call Broker Rachel LaMar with questions or to schedule a showing at 760-310-9466. This is s short sale subject to lender approval. To view more photos and see a virtual tour please click here
January 11th, 2017
By Elvin J. Wesley, President and Broker of Ranch and Coast Mortgage Group
What a great way to start the week and 2017!!!
Monday morning HUD announced that it had achieved the balance of its statutory operational goals and as a result of that it requires a reduction of the Annual MIP charged. This exciting announcement from HUD yesterday morning that represents a 25 basis points improvement on most FHA Loans (not to interest rate, but to the Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium charged by HUD on FHA loans)
The Revised MIP schedule is effective for Endorsements of Mortgages with a Closing / Disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017. Closing / Disbursement date is defined as the later of the date of the signing of the Mortgage or the Disbursement of the Loan Proceeds as is entered in FHA Connection. Unlike changes in the past the change is effective based on the closing date and not the case number assignment date!
The Revisions applies to all FHA Title II Forward Programs excluding Mortgages insured under the National Housing Act section 247 (Hawaiian Homelands).
Here is a Summary of the changes
What does this mean in regards to $$…payment reduction when a buyer/borrower is purchasing a home?
Old – $550K base loan amount based on 0.85% MIP = $389.58 per month
NEW – $550K base loan amount based on 0.60% MIP = $275.00 per month
That’s a $114.58 reduction in MIP payment, which means lower overall payment for buyers/borrowers and more BUYING power!
On November 23rd the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the maximum conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017 will increase, which of cources has now taken place. This will be the first increase in the baseline loan limit since 2006. In higher-cost areas, higher loan limits will be in effect as shown below.
This change has already taken place for FHA and VA loans limits as well.
2017 Conforming and High Balance Loan Limits-
SAN DIEGO NEW LIMITS $424,100 Conforming and $612,500 High Balance
LOS ANGELES NEW LIMITS $424,100 Conforming and $636,150 High Balance
ORANGE COUNTY NEW LIMITS $424,100 Conforming and $636,150 High Balance
*See attached spreadsheet for more counties and limits for 2-4 unit properties
|Number of Units
||Maximum base conforming loan limits for properties NOT in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam & U.S. Virgin Islands
||Maximum base conforming loan limits for properties in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam & U.S. Virgin Islands
High Balance/Super Conforming:
|Number of Units
||Minimum/Maximum Original Loan Amount
||Properties in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam & U.S. Virgin Islands
Please refer to the full County Loan Limits list attached or just contact Elvin Wesley at Ranch and Coast Mortgage
(CA DRE license: 01316249, NMLS: 234795):
f 866.683.5399 toll free
January 2nd, 2017
San Diego is definitely a desirable place to live, and as one of the most visited places in the United States it’s no wonder why – we have the best weather, beautiful beaches, great food and nightlife, culture, incredible places to walk and hike, and so much more. There is nowhere else I’d rather live!
As we head into the new year here are some of the happening stories highlighting San Diego and the local real estate market.
San Diego Ranked 5th “Hottest” Real Estate Market in U.S. – Realtor.com ranked San Diego as the 5th “hottest” real estate market in the country. This is great news for the local market. The story pointed out that demand has especially grown since the election, likely due to increasing mortgage interest rates, and that the low supply levels heading into the new year will keep prices high – great news for sellers. Median sales time is 53 days in San Diego county, compared to 88 days nationwide.
San Diego Remains Top Destination for Foreign Buyers – We still rank as one of the top places for foreign buyers, especially those from China and Canada. San Diego is up there with Los Angeles, Orange County and San Francisco as the top places to purchase property in California. Speculation that this trend will continue in 2017 as many feel the US economy and the dollar will strengthen.
San Diego Home Sales Could be Protected by State Supreme Court Ruling – I have blogged about “dual agency” many times, and my position has always been that real estate agents should not be able to represent both the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction. The reason for this is that I feel it is virtually impossible to exercise a fiduciary duty to both parties – it can create too many conflicts of interest. The California Supreme Court seems to be coming closer to agreeing with this sentiment.
In November the court ruled that “a listing broker has a fiduciary responsibility to the buyer and the seller when his brokerage firm is representing both, setting a significant precedent for obtaining and sharing information in residential and commercial transactions.” While there are currently disclosures required which allow such situations, this ruling could be paving the way to no longer discontinuing them in the future…stay tuned for more.
If you need any information about property in the San Diego county area please feel free to contact me. Happy New Year!
December 21st, 2016
If you are like me you are surprised we are at the end of the year already, but the good news is that the real estate market fared well this year, and will likely continue to do so in 2017. Here are my annual predictions for the market, at least here in San Diego County:
1. Home inventory will remain low. Due to a combination of factors – rising interest rates, expenses of moving up and difficulty of finding replacement housing, many potential home sellers will likely choose to remain where they are and not sell. This trend defined the market in 2016 and I believe it will continue. Until Americans see how the new President will affect the market I am betting on this.
2. Prices will stabilize for the most part. 2016 saw prices still rising slightly in some areas, and higher in others (especially in summer months), but for the most part things seem to be leveling off. I think we will return to “normal” annual price appreciations of 5-7%. Of course this is always area-dependent so check with your local realtor for market statistics and area comparables.
3. Market times will decrease or remain low for desirable homes. Due to the continuation of lower inventory levels I believe we will see desirable homes sell quickly. But I also think that buyers are very savvy and will not pay crazy high prices either – although in a multiple offer situation you never know.
4. First time buyers could have a difficult time with competition. As interest rates rise, inventory levels decrease (or remain low) and prices remain high, many first time home buyers may find themselves in challenging situations when looking for homes to purchase. Competition will also factor in, especially in areas where there is an influx of repeat homebuyers who are moving up and are well qualified (with large downpayments). My advice is for those first time buyers to get preapproved and start looking now. Click here to read more on how to “win” that home you want.
5. Interest rates will rise. This is inevitable and we have already seen the beginning of the end of the lowest interest rates in history. The new administration will also play a role in the interest rate rise as economic goals fluctuate.
The bottom line is that I believe the housing market will do well in the coming year. I do not predict any “bubbles” as some (very few) have done. I think here in San Diego County our market is strong and will continue to be as we head into 2017.
As I always say, if you are thinking of buying or selling in the future you need to do your homework and start early – even a year is not too early. Study the markets, visit homes for sale, get to know inventory, neighborhoods and floorplans. Talk to a mortgage professional and plan ahead. Find a great local real estate agent and let him or her keep you informed so you are ready to go when the time is right. Be prepared and have a wonderful new year!
December 13th, 2016
Three days ago one of my neighbors passed away. She was a beautiful woman, almost the same age as me, with 2 children roughly the same age as my children. Like me, she had her own business. The impact her death has had on my life is astounding, and as a mother it has made me so very grateful to be here today, and every day, for my family and those who are dear to me.
My sister in law passed away at the same age as my neighbor – 46. Watching her children go through such a horrible circumstance was so difficult. So my neighbor’s death really brought back all those memories of losing my sister in law, whom I still miss every day. As parents we never really think about leaving our children behind- I know for me it has been the biggest fear since mine were born. We want to be there for our children and help them grow up, and want to see who they become and what lives they make for themselves. Too many young parents do not get to be there for all the beautiful things – graduations, significant others, jobs, marriages, children, etc.
This holiday season I feel more grateful than normal, and I am going to carry that with me daily. Our time here is only borrowed and can be very short – we never know when it will be up. So I am going to spend even more time with family and friends, and make sure that I give thanks every day for being here. I am also going to send my love and prayers to the neighbors who no longer have a mother, and to all motherless and fatherless children everywhere.
With all the terrible things going on in this world – wars, hardships, stress, illness, political messes – we all need to realize that it’s better to face difficult situations and get through them than it is to not be here. So lighten up and take notice of all the things in your life you have to appreciate, and don’t just be grateful, but share that feeling and pass it on. You are blessed.
Happy holidays to you all.