housing news

With very few homes for sale, the market is EXTREMELY challenging

Everybody is frustrated.  Buyers write offer after offer after multiple instances where they did not have the “winning bid.”  Many wonder if they will ever be able to secure a home.  Frustrating. REALTORS® representing buyers have to work ten times harder than a normal, balanced market, showing every home that appears on the market, analyzing the data and writing offers that are one of 20 submitted.  Frustrating. REALTORS representing sel- lers have to keep their clients from getting too far ahead of themselves and grossly overpricing their homes.  Frustrating.

What is going on?  Quite simply demand, the number of homes placed into escrow in the past month, is about equal to the number of homes on the market. The chart below illustrates the issue.  When supply, the housing inventory, is much larger than demand, it takes a lot longer to sell a home.  As they get further apart, it becomes much easier to purchase.  Take a look back in mid-2007 when there were close to 18,000 homes on the market with demand at about 1,200 homes.  Buyers had their choice of homes and it there was no competition.  Last year at this time, the active inventory sat at 7,597 homes and demand was at 3,569.  The lines were much closer, but the difference was still 4,028 homes.  Today, the active listing inventory sits at 3,272 homes and demand is at 2,887, that is a difference of only 385 homes. The last time this occurred in Orange County dates back to 2005.

Demand is much less today than back in 2005 when there were 4,549 pending sales in a month.  But, back then there were 5,146 homes on the market, a lot more than today.  Since demand is based upon the number of recent escrows, it is currently heavily muted because there are simply not enough homes that have entered the fray.  If there was a surge in the inventory tomorrow, there would be a surge in demand as well. There are throngs of buyers waiting in the wings for a fresh supply of homes.

This market will remain extremely frustrating until the supply of homes increases.  It appears as if that is not going to happen soon and the tight inventory will remain a major issue in 2013 and a stumbling block for many buyers to successfully purchase.  The tight inventory will also encourage homeowners to place their homes on the market and aggressively pursue the market by pricing their homes well above the last comparable pending or closed sale.  Unfortunately, many will drastically overprice their homes and they will sit on the market and procure no offers.  Buyers are willing to pay more for a home, but are not willing to absurdly overpay. 

Pricing a home is a delicate balancing act that requires a homeowner to carefully analyze the local market and the rate of appreciation.  Remember, homes may increase in value by as much as 10% in a year, but not in a month.  Carefully selecting a REALTOR® is a must.  Finding one that knows the local data and market dynamics is essential to success.  Hiring somebody solely based upon a projected sales price is foolish.  Instead, look for somebody that understands the market the best and has a strong command of the data.

Active Inventory:  The inventory remained the same.

The inventory started the year at the lowest level since tracking the active listing inventory back in 2004.  Since then the inventory has only added an additional 111 homes.  In the past two weeks it actually dropped by 4 homes and now sits at 3,272 homes.  The inventory sits at an unprecedented anemic level.  For proper perspective, just ask any buyer who has seen the few available homes and written several offers to no avail.  They will tell you how they are watching the market like a hawk, ready to pounce on the next home that hits the market that closely matches their parameters.  The only problem, when there are this few homes, too many other buyers are doing the same thing. 
So far this year, there have been 17% fewer homes placed on the market compared to last year, which represents 918 homes.  The buyer masses waiting in the wings would appreciate an additional 900-plus homes on the market.  The anemic levels are here to stay for the foreseeable future.  Last year at this time there were 7,597 homes on the market, 4,325 more than today.

Demand:  Demand continued to rise.

In the past two weeks, despite very few homes entering the market, demand increased by 11%, or 291 pending sales, and now totals 2,887.  It has grown by 33% in the past month, or 715 pending sales.  Compared to last year at this time, there are 682 fewer pending sales today.  In 2012, the market was sizzling forward at a breathtaking speed, fueled by a much larger inventory.  Today’s demand is strongly dependent on the inventory.  As soon as the inventory increases, demand will increase.  Until then, you can expect continued, subdued, muted demand.

The Distressed Market: The distressed inventory dropped by 11 homes, a 3% drop.

The distressed inventory continues to drop, shedding an additional 11 homes, which amazingly represents 3% of all foreclosures and shorts sales on the market.  There are 339 distressed homes within the active listing inventory, just 10% of the total active listing inventory.  There have not been this few distressed listings since April 2007, nearly six years ago. 

In the past two weeks, the foreclosure inventory increased by 24 homes, totaling 117, and has an expected market time of 25 days. The short sale inventory decreased by 35 homes in the past two weeks, totaling 222, and has an expected market time of 11 days.  Short sales continue to be the hottest segment of the Orange County housing market today.

NEWS FLASH – We may be losing our Mortgage Interest Deduction – Please Help!

Call your member of congress today to protect the mortgage interest deduction
Congress, as part of negotiations on avoiding the “Fiscal Cliff,” has made direct references to “closing loopholes” and “limiting deductions” as a way to raise revenues. Clearly, the mortgage interest deduction is high on this list of revenue raisers.

Losing the mortgage interest deduction will disproportionately affect the middle class because a larger proportion of the middle class takes the deduction. In California 89% of those who took the mortgage interest deduction earned less than $200,000. Losing the deduction would cost the average California taxpayer over $3,900 (Way more than this in Orange County).

What you can do to help:

Call Congress. First and foremost, I am urging my friends and clients to call Congress @202-224-3121. The Capitol switchboard operator will help callers identify their member of Congress and connect them. The hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Eastern Time.

Get the word out. Many people seem to be blissfully unaware that their mortgage interest deduction is in danger. Please do the following to make sure that the message spreads.

  1. Forward this message to your family, friends, and clients.
  2. Post this information on your personal and office websites and blogs.
  1. Share this information on Facebook and urge others to share it as well.
  2. Tweet about it on Twitter and urge others to retweet. Use the hashtag: #keepthemid.
  3. Link to the following web page: www.KeepTheMID.com.  This site has information about contacting Congress, more information on the MID, and links to articles.
  4. As you see new information and articles, share these on all your social networking sites.

This affects all present and future homeowners.  Your call to your Congress member is invaluable.

Housing demand in Orange County is so low that it cannot be measured

This is a continuation of yesterday’s piece on the status of the market.  The active listing inventory is muted this year because many homeowners are still underwater.  They may have good credit and a stable job, but they do not have the cash necessary to close because they are currently too far underwater.  Also, many homeowners are now sitting on the fence while they recoup their equity.  Everybody is familiar with the term “buy low, sell high.”  It appears as if the bottom of the market was reached last February and now buyers are flooding the market attempting to “buy low.”  Homeowners know it is a low, so they want to wait.  They don’t want to “sell low.”

 DemandThe lack of inventory is cutting into demand.

As discussed above, true demand is much higher than demand based upon the number of new pending sales over the prior month.  In the past two weeks, demand dropped by 470 pending sales, a 16% drop, and now totals 2,543.  Based upon the word on the street, buyers are scrambling around at anything and everything that is placed on the market right now, but there just is not enough coming on the market.  And, that will remain the case throughout the holiday market, which does not end until the second half of January, right after everybody gives up on their New Year’s resolutions.  Buyers are in a rush to buy, but homeowners are not in a rush to sell.  Instead, they are going to enjoy the holidays with the knowledge that as their homes are slowly appreciating.  Last year at this time there were 46 additional pending sales, a 2% difference.  But, there were 8,905 active listings for buyers to choose from. 

The Distressed Market: The distressed inventory dropped by only 16 homes, but that is still a 4% drop.

For buyers looking for a “deal” and looking closely at the distressed inventory, the pickings are slim.  There are only 434 total short sales and foreclosures on the market today.  Distressed homes make up only 12% of the active inventory and 34% of demand.  Last year at this time there were 3,357 distressed homes on the market, 38% of the active listing inventory and 57% of demand, much different than today.  In the past two weeks, the foreclosure inventory decreased by 12 homes, totaling 110, and has an expected market time of 18 days. The short sale inventory decreased by only 4 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 324.  The expected market time is only 14 days and continues to be one of the hottest segments of the housing market.  Both 110 active foreclosures and 324 active short sales are new lows for the year and levels not seen since the beginning of all of the distressed activity back in 2007.

Home values rise for first time in 5 years


Here’s a great CNN article I just read that does a good job spelling out what is happening in the market. Home prices hit a bottom and are finally bouncing back, according to an industry report released Tuesday. Nationwide, home values rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter…

Click here to read full article

FREE $500 Gift Certificate Toward Escrow or Moving Costs

By now if you live in the City of Lake Forest, you should have received a Shop and Dine Passport with coupons for deals all across the city.  I have a Real Estate coupon in the book for a $500 certificate toward escrow or moving costs.  

If you would like the certificate (and a valuable stamp in your  “passport”) this is all you have to do:

1) View one of these four short videos and comment on what you like best about my real estate methods.

Selling SFRS for Top Dollar in One Day

Selling Condos for Top Dollar in One Day

Client Testimonial

Lake Forest Community Video

 

2) Email me at Jenean@JeneanHill.com and give me your name, address and phone number so I can get you your $500 certificate (which will be good for the next year).

3) For an added bonus, “like” me on my Facebook business page, Jenean Hill’s “Live in Lake Forest” and you will receive a Starbucks gift card, and if you share me with your friends, I will put you in this month’s drawing for 2 SeaWorld Tickets.

Thanks, and I look forward to serving you in the future.

Jenean Hill  – (949) 583-1331
Broker Associate, First Team Real Estate
Director, Orange County Association of Realtors, 2006-2011, 2013-2015
Lic# 01312003

7 Things All Borrowers Should Know About FHA Loans

FHA Pros, LLC, a national FHA condo approval service, has developed a list of facts speaking to the top misconceptions associated with FHA loans in order to help home buyers better navigate an already confusing market. FHA loans are mortgages issued by qualified lenders and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

“We have seen home buyer interest in FHA loans go from practically zero three years ago to upwards of 87 percent today,” said Christopher Gardner, founder and president of FHA Pros, LLC. “Despite this rapid rise in popularity, many buyers still do not fully understand the benefits of these loans, and we believe it’s time to change that.” 

1. FHA Loans Are Not Only For Lower-Income Borrowers. FHA loans are available to everyone. In fact, even Bill Gates can get one. There is no maximum income restriction associated with FHA loans. Borrowers do need to substantiate income and assets by submitting proper documentation. This requirement ensures that borrowers are well-vetted and truly able to afford their future homes.

Read on:

http://rismedia.com/lowes/8355/9067

Government to reimburse homeowners on energy efficient upgrades:

Green light bulbThe government is expected to unveil a new program in the next couple of months that, if approved, may reimburse homeowners for up to half the cost of making their homes more efficient.  Through the program, homeowners will receive the largest return from simple upgrades like caulking windows, adding insulation, and changing incandescent light bulbs to those that are more energy-efficient.

To determine which energy-efficiency upgrades are best for their house, homeowners should obtain a home energy audit.   Homeowners are advised to hire a contractor licensed by the Building Performance Institute or the Residential Energy Services Network.  These contractors have been trained to first test a home to determine the amount of energy it is losing, then make suggestions on renovations.

In our household, we installed solar panels, an energy efficient tankless water heater, front loading washer/dryer and changed out our lightbulbs.  It looks like we now have enough surpluss energy to power one electric vehicle 7,000 miles and still have no electric bill.  If you would like to know more, just give me a ring!

Hardest O.C. home to buy? Portola Hills

Jon Lansner of the Orange County Register writes: The latest O.C. home inventory report Steve Thomas ( fellow OCAR Director), at Altera Real Estate in Aliso Viejo says that as of two weeks ago the “hardest” O.C. town to find a home to buy in terms of “market time” (supply of homes for sale vs. new purchase deals inked in past month) is Portola Hills. By his math, it would take 1 month to theoretically sell all for-sale homes at the current buying pace. A year ago, this town was at 6.2 months. Also …

  • The 5 “hardest to buy” markets combined have a market time of 1.3 months and comprised 5% of the supply of homes for sale.
  • “Hardest” market to sell a home in, based on the same math, is Corona Del Mar with market time at 18.1 months to theoretically sells all for-sale homes at the current buying pace. A year ago, this town was at 28.7 months.
  • The 5 “hardest to sell” markets have a combined market time of 9.6 months and were 19% of the supply of homes for sale.
  • All told, countywide market time was 2.9 months last week.
  • Chart at right looks at the 5 hottest and 5 coldest markets in O.C. as of last Thursday (supply for sale; new deals made; market time in months vs. a year ago and average listing price) by Thomas’ market time math.
  • A year ago … hardest to buy? Fountain Valley, 2.57 months. Hardest to sell? Laguna Beach, 34.6 months.
  • Hottest Cities in Orange County

5 Questions to Consider Before Purchasing a Home

interest-rates-low

Interest rates on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dipped to a 38-year low recently, giving consumers another reason to consider purchasing a home or refinancing their current one.

Freddie Mac recently stated the average rate on a 30-year loan was 4.71% with an average 0.7 point, the lowest rate since the agency began its weekly tracking of long-term interest rates in 1971. A point is equal to 1% of the loan amount, payable as a lump sum at closing. While the decline wasn’t overly dramatic, the dip is likely to get people wondering whether it’s time to sign on the dotted line.

 The 5 following questions may help you decide if now is the time to go ahead and purchase a home or refinance your current home.

Q: Why are rates so low?
A: Since early January, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae in an effort to stabilize the housing market by making homes more affordable for consumers. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is managing the program, plans on purchasing $1.25 trillion of securities.

Q: Are rates expected stay this low?
A: It’s hard to tell, but don’t count on it because the lending landscape is likely to change next year. In September 2009, the Fed said it would gradually wind down the purchase program, ending it by March 30, 2010. That has some in the mortgage lending industry worried.

In a recently published mortgage survey, more than 60% of Bankrate.com’s panel of experts predicted that rates will move higher over the next 30 to 45 days. How much higher is anyone’s guess. Last year at this time, the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.53%.

Q: Why do different mortgage surveys come up with different average interest rates?
A: It depends on which lenders are in their sample, when the survey was taken and whether the rates quoted are the posted rate, the application rate or the commitment rate. Also, some surveys take into account the points paid to secure the rate.

But regardless of the survey, the general consensus is that rates are ultra-low right now and may be the lowest the market will see.

Q: What else does a consumer need to know?
A: The lowest rates are offered to the most credit-worthy customers who can make sizable down payments. Shop not just for the interest rate and the points involved but also for the fees involved, which can vary widely from one lender to another.

Q: So is now the best time to buy a home?
A: It depends on personal situations. Homebuyers certainly have a lot of factors working in their favor right now—low interest rates, plenty of marked-down homes for sale and an extended and expanded federal tax credit that will expire in the spring.

IRS to outline changes in the home buyer tax credit program

I'm with First Team and I'm here to helpIf you’re thinking about applying for the new $6,500 home buyer federal tax credit or the extended $8,000 version, the Internal Revenue Service has just issued its first formal guidelines for you.

Tops on the agency’s list of advice: Cool it for a couple of weeks. Even if you qualify for one of the credits, don’t send in any requests to the IRS quite yet. Wait until later this month when the agency publishes its revised Form 5405 with the key instructions needed to get you a check from the government.

The forthcoming version of the form will incorporate the major changes to the tax credit program made by Congress in legislation signed by President Obama on Nov. 6. These include expanded income limits, a cap on home prices, additional documentation requirements and prohibitions against claims by dependents.

In a tax bulletin issued just before Thanksgiving, the IRS emphasized that all home purchasers after Nov. 6 “must use this new version [of Form 5405] to claim the credit.” Put another way: If you send in the old version — the one you can currently download from the agency’s website, www.irs.gov — your request for the credit will probably go nowhere.

The legislation — known as the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 — extended the $8,000 first-time home purchaser credit until April 30 for signed contracts and June 30 for closings. The law also created a new tax credit for people who have owned a principal residence for a consecutive five of the previous eight years, and who purchase a replacement principal residence with a signed contract no later than April 30, followed by a closing no later than June 30.

Qualified repeat buyers can obtain credits up to $6,500. For both the first-time and repeat buyer program, the credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price of the house, up to a maximum of either $6,500 or $8,000.

The new IRS bulletin also outlined the agency’s guidance on other important features of the amended credit program:

* Members of the armed forces, as well as diplomatic and intelligence personnel serving in foreign countries, will get an extra year to buy a principal residence and still qualify for a credit. They will have until April 30, 2011, to enter into a contract to purchase a house, and until June 30, 2011, to close on it.

* Anyone who buys a house after Nov. 6 — even those who had intended to get in the door before the previous Nov. 30 expiration date for the $8,000 credit — will now need to comply with several new rules. First, the house cannot cost more than $800,000. Second, no one under age 18 can claim the credit no matter what the circumstances. And finally, anyone who is counted as a dependent on another taxpayer’s federal filings is ineligible for a home purchase tax credit.

* The expanded income limits for purchasers after Nov. 6 range to $125,000 in “modified adjusted gross income” for single taxpayers and to $225,000 for those who file jointly. Singles with incomes between $125,000 and $145,000 may be eligible for reduced credit amounts, as are joint filers with incomes from $225,000 to $245,000. Anyone with an income above these amounts cannot qualify for either of the credits. Under the pre-Nov. 6 rules, taxpayers applying for the $8,000 credit were limited to incomes of $75,000 (single filer) to $150,000 (joint filer).

The IRS continues to offer detailed consumer information resources on the credits, including questions and answers on a variety of home purchase scenarios.

For example, some taxpayers seeking the extended $8,000 credit are uncertain about co-purchase and co-signing situations, especially involving parents and adult children. When a home-owning parent co-signs for a mortgage with a son or daughter, and both names appear on the note, can the son or daughter qualify for the first-time purchaser credit?

The IRS says the parent clearly does not qualify for any portion of the credit since he or she already owns a principal residence. But if the son or daughter has not owned a house during the three years preceding the current purchase, and qualifies on income, he or she can be allocated the entire $8,000 credit.

Similarly, when unmarried individuals co-purchase a house, and only one of them is eligible for the credit, the full $8,000 can be allocated to the eligible buyer.