Posts Tagged ‘housing’
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
It feels great to be blogging again, and I am sorry I have not posted for over a week! I do have an excuse: the spring home sale season is well underway! I can’t remember being this busy in a long time – not since the early 2000s; it has been incredible! If you are wondering what is going on out there in the North San Diego real estate market here is an overview:
Slight rise in inventory. Although we still do not have a surge in inventory there have been increases, enough so that local agents are able to show several properties to buyers in most cases, rather than just one! According to Housing Tracker, inventory has increased on a national level 13.5% so far this year. In San Diego county there were about 7540 homes listed on the MLS as of the start of this week, which is about 100 more homes listed than the same time last month. The lowest inventory level we hit here in San Diego county was in February of 2013, and the last time we had inventory levels higher than right now was in December 2012…so although inventory is still low from a historical perspective, there is some comfort in knowing that it is rising slightly.
Multiple offers/quick market times still dominate. Yes, we are still seeing many new sales with multiple offers, and usually within days of listing. Buyers have to present their strongest offers in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Cash buyers are still in the game and often outbid those requiring lender approval. It can be frustrating, but there are always things that can be done to present the strongest offer possible, even in multiple offer situations (for more on this click here)
Prices are still rising, especially in some areas or neighborhoods. Prices continue to rise in most areas, and San Diego is no exception. The challenge with area appraisers to find higher values in pending property sales finally seems to be getting easier, as many appraisers are now applying the faster growing values into their analyses. For those who are afraid we are approaching another bubble, you can rest assured that will not happen so long as prices stop rising drastically at some point and level out. My guess is that this will happen by the end of the year. For more of my perspectives on the bubble possibility, click here.
Distressed inventory declines. According to market research firm Core Logic, the number of seriously delinquent mortgages has fallen about 33% since the peak (3.7 million) in January 2010. This is good news for buyers who are not finding as many short sales out there. But I must say that they are still out there, and that they are as painful as ever. I am personally awaiting for lender approval on two short sales that have been contingent for a long time – one since December of 2012. Lenders’ promises that short sales were going to get quicker never came to fruition and I don’t believe they ever will (but that is the subject for another blog…stay tuned!) More good news: foreclosure filings also fell to a 74 month low in April, according to RealtyTrac.
Loans may be a tad easier to obtain. There is growing demand for home loans, and application levels continue to rise. In order for banks to improve mortgage assets they will need to address the demands. Also, the Federal Reserve recently discovered that 8% of banks loosened mortgage credit conditions in the past 3 months (ending in April) – now you may laugh and say that 8% is not a big number, but it is a start. Also, according to Realty Times “27 percent of banks plan to up residential mortgage assets over the next year and know they can’t do that without taking on a little more risk.” Good news for borrowers.
All in all the market seems to be shaping up and we are well on the road to recovery. Luckily spring time came along right when the market started climbing out of the doldrums, and it seems we will have a strong spring and summer sales season.
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Friday, April 26th, 2013
If you haven’t noticed, flippers are back in full force. It seems everyone wants to get into property flipping these days, even those who have never done so or may not have a good sense of what they are doing. If you are a buyer or know someone looking for property – whether a home, second home or investment property, you need to be careful when you come across flipped properties.
Let’s start with defining a “flip.” This is a property that has been recently purchased and then remodeled, oftentimes very quickly, in order to put back on the market and make a profit. There are all kinds of flippers – from experienced to do-it-yourselfers, and many different levels and degrees of remodeling. As a buyer you need to be very careful when considering writing an offer on these properties. There are several different types of flips, and I have categorized them to make it easier to understand:
Types of Flips:
1. Quick Flip or “Eye Candy” Flip: This is the most common type of flip that I see when showing property, and it is very easy to do and the cost is minimal. This type of flip often involves new paint inside and usually outside, a major cleanup, new (usually inexpensive) carpet in carpeted areas, new hardware to freshen up cabinetry, new light fixtures, and often new kitchen appliances. It gives the illusion of newness, but usually upon deeper inspection one finds that there are many items that need attention – furnaces and water heaters that need to be replaced, electrical issues, landscaping, and many others. If the home is older oftentimes the flipper does not replace the windows, which is an expensive job. Each home obviously differs in what is needed to make it look great to a buyer, and these quick flips often get the “oohs” and “ahhs” from buyers, but they may still need a lot of work.
2. Full Flip: These types of properties address replacement, or partial replacement, of most appliances and other issues, along with a remodel. They typically involve more than just painting and putting in baseboards and new kitchen appliances. Many flippers these days do not do this type of flip, because it is not cost effective. but for a buyer this is obviously the best kind of flip property to buy, because it is not just eye candy and things have been properly attended to. These flippers often address issues that quick flippers do not, like replacing old windows, flooring, cabinetry and sinks, appliances, landscaping, and any other issues that a quick flipper might pass over.
How to Avoid Making a Mistake in Buying a Flip that is a Lemon:
1. Get a home inspection: Keeping in mind that not all home inspectors are alike, it is a good idea to do your research – most real estate agents know inspectors who do a thorough job. If not, contact a few and get names of people who have used them. Talk to those people and see how well the inspector did. Also, check their credentials and make sure they are certified by either CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association) or ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors); if you live in another state you can check with that state’s licensing board. My favorite inspector is a licensed civil engineer and a licensed general contractor as well, so I feel very confident my clients are getting the best inspection possible.
2. Get a home warranty plan. Home warranties are great for the first year, in case any appliances break or you have other issues that are covered under your policy. You can write this into your purchase contract and ask the seller to pay for it. You may want to ask the seller to include upgrades to the policy, like roof, pool (if relevant), air conditioner, etc. That way you are covered, and you can extend the policy at the end of the first year should you desire. Discuss this with your real estate professional.
In order to avoid having to waste time on a home that is a low quality quick flip, you should look beyond the “eye candy” that paint and fresh baseboards and appliances may present. Look inside cabinets, check the furnace and air conditioner (if there is one), as well as the water heater. Look for any signs of prior leaks (although paint usually does a good job of covering these up for a short time). Really take a good look at the home to see if there are other potential issues that may need to be addressed, either immediately or in the future. Have your agent ask questions of the listing agent if you need. If you feel comfortable in making an offer than you will find out more when you have your home inspection.
The bottom line is to hold off on getting excited about a flipped property until you have all the facts and can verify that the home will not end up in need of a lot of work soon after purchase. As always, if you do your homework you will likely avoid making mistakes…buying a flip home can be wonderful if you are careful. Happy home hunting!
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
This year much has changed in the real estate investment world, but where does that leave investors, and is it still a good time to purchase investment property? The answer really depends on the goals of the investor. Let’s look at a few different possibilities.
Buy and hold investors. Like the majority of my investor clients, many investors purchase with the notion that down the road the property will have gained equity, and at some point in time, a sale will net a nice profit. Most of these investors look for properties that are in good to excellent condition, and need very little work (such as paint and new appliances or possibly flooring), but they tend to stay away from major fixer properties. The goal is to purchase for a good price in a home that will command a good rent.
Most of these types of buyers have stepped back this year and are no longer looking for properties to add to their portfolios. This is because of the increase in prices due to increased demand and very low inventory. These types of buyers are not interested in getting into bidding wars and definitely do not want to pay prices that are above comparable market sale prices – like many purchasers today who are buying homes for their primary residences. For these folks the decision is not emotional, so they have or are no longer active in this market, at least until inventory levels rise and demand cools off.
Flippers. Flippers are still looking in today’s market, but it is harder to find the “gems” out there. Flippers come in many shapes and sizes…some do minor – what I call “bandaid” – work, and then sell. They are good at doing a minimal amount of work on the property to make it feel like a remodel. But if you look deeper you will see that they don’t tackle a lot of the things that the “heavy” flippers (my term) don’t. Heavy flippers don’t just slap on a coat of paint and throw in new appliances, they replace lighting and fixtures, surfaces and bathrooms, and repair other issues that need addressing (like installing new water heaters and HVAC units, etc.) It is really very property-specific, and obviously some properties need more work than others.
In today’s market it has become more difficult for the heavy flippers, as they usually need to purchase homes for low prices in order to make a decent profit. But I have definitely seen more and more bandaid flippers – some are willing to pay contract price, and then go in and do a minimal amount of work before putting the property back on the market. Many of these flippers likely make $10-15 in profits and are happy with that. So if you are a flipper or are thinking about becoming one, whether the market is ripe for doing so will depend on the specific area market, on your competition, and on what you plan to do to rehabilitate the property.
For many investors it is a difficult time to acquire property that is priced well without getting into a bidding war. And since paying over comparable sales is usually not a good business goal for an investment, it has become a difficult time for many buy and hold investors. Similarly, flippers are faced with challenges in finding properties they can buy for prices that are low enough for them to make a profit on the flip side.
It is important to keep in mind that every real estate market can be very different from the next, even neighboring complexes or cities may be different in terms of value and comparable sales. So before you venture out there to buy investment property, make sure to do your homework and work with an experienced local area agent. Have no fear – when inventory increases once again there will be more opportunities for investors.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Someone called me the other day with a question about short sales and HOA fees. She wanted to know whether a homeowner should continue to pay HOA fees if they are involved in short selling their home, and are awaiting lender approval. The answer is YES.
Unlike other fees which short sale lenders typically agree to pay (such as county transfer fees and certain document fees, escrow and title fees, etc.), lenders normally will NOT pay late HOA fees. In most situations where the homeowner is behind on these fees, the buyer will end up having to pay for them. This obviously could be an issue if the balance is hefty.
The even bigger problem is that the HOA could file a lien on the property for the late fees. This could hold up the closing of the short sale, or even worse: cause the parties to miss the closing deadline that was specified in the lender approval letter.
The best advice to give short sellers (and I always do so right from the start) is to stay current with HOA payments, even when they are no longer current with their loan(s). This will assure a much smoother transfer of title and avoid any problems that could lead to a bungled short sale and a foreclosure.
If you have any other questions regarding short sales or questions related to legal ramifications of selling your home, please feel free to contact me at Rachel@LaMarRealEstate.org.
Monday, April 8th, 2013
Friday, March 29th, 2013
The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act, a recently proposed bill in the House of Representatives, would help millions of homeowners refinance at lower interest rates, thus saving thousands of dollars a year and rewarding those who have been responsible in keeping up with mortgage payments.
HARP, he current refinancing program, only saves homeowners on the average about $2500 a year, but the new bill would increase the savings and the opportunity to refinance for millions of borrowers who met the eligibility requirements. The new bill also will supposedly help many who do not qualify under HARP.
Here is what else the new bill will do:
• Allow for streamlined refinancing options for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers, whether or not they are currently underwater. Under the HARP program many underwater borrowers were cut out because of a lack of equity; the new legislation will require all servicers to adhere to the same set of rules, thus providing more underwater borrowers the opportunity to refinance.
• Eliminate appraisal costs for every borrower under the program
• Reduce refinance fees that are paid up-front
• Remove other barriers to competition, so that other lenders could compete for your business
• Streamline the application process so it is quicker
• Extend HARP for one year, so that eligible borrowers could access the program
I am happy that this new bill may help some borrowers be able to refinance into lower rate loans, however, the new bill will still only apply to borrowers whose loans are Fannie or Freddie loans. There is still a very large pool of homeowners out there who would love to refinance but do not have Fannie or Freddie loans. There has been talk of legislation that would help these other borrowers, but so far we have not seen it materialize. My hope is that this will be the next big focus of our legislators.
To track the progress of this bill you can visit this site.
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
Monday, March 18th, 2013
If you are thinking of selling, refinancing, or just want to get an idea of what your home is worth, you have many options. Most people these days like to do things themselves, since there is so much information available at our fingertips online. There are also some great real estate sites and many local brokerage sites, so there are multiple ways to access the information. But you need to be careful, as what you get on some of those sites may be inaccurate, especially in today’s market.
Sites like Zillow and Trulia provide easy access to recent sales, and even provide estimates for the value of your home. Some things they may not take into consideration are:
1. The condition of your home and comparable sold properties
3. Additions – sometimes these take a long time to show up in the public records, which could alter the valuation of your home
4. Very recent sales (closed in the last few days)
5. Pending sales that are about to close escrow (as they will have an affect on your sales price should you decide to sell)
6. Whether or not your property is distressed or other recent sales were distressed
7. Inside knowledge about other homes that may have just gone into escrow or appraised
8. Other factors. There may be other factors that can affect your sales price, such as information displayed in the confidential remarks on sold properties (that only licensed agents can see) that provide details – for example, commissions may have been reduced, sellers may have reduced the sales price due to expensive necessary repairs, or other factors could have affected the sales price. Also, there may be information about construction in the surrounding area that can affect sales prices in the future (freeway extensions, plans for new shopping centers, Or there could be issues with the condition of the home that sold.
All of these details are important in analyzing your home and making sure you get the correct information. Thus it is very important that you consult a local area real estate broker or agent to provide you with a specific and detailed market analysis.
There are many things we can do ourselves these days online, but if you are considering selling make sure you get the right information so that you can make an informed decision. Real estate agents are there to help you, and I do not know of any who charge for a detailed market analysis. So find a skilled agent to assist you, and make sure you have all the pertinent information before making any major decisions.