Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lukewarm Good News:

Well, the monthly Case-Shiller report came out, and it shows continued increases in prices in 14 of the 20 metro areas it tracks. These increases are only month to month, NOT compared with a year ago. So, the trend is encouraging, but shows the market is still a long way from its vibrant days of the mid-2000's. The analysts feel that the news is encouraging, but, as with many things at present, must be taken with care. Such things as the huge REO 'shadow inventory' of unmarketed REO homes pose a major question, as do the economy and the jobless rate. But it's a nice trend even with these items to be aware of.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Things Change:
In figures just announced by Freddie Mac, the number of purchase first mortgages that are adjustable rate loans has dropped to its lowest level since 1982. In 2009, these loans amounted to no more than 3% of the total home purchase loans. It is believed that the continuing mortgage crisis, coupled with a growing negative reputation about this type of loan has led to this drop. It is expected, according to Freddie, that this direction in the type of loans used to purchase housing will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Something Positive:
Figures announced today indicate that housing prices nationally bottomed out in January, 2009, and then began a gradual climb through the first half of the year. Following this, there was a slight decline in the final months of 2009, but an overall higher price level than a year ago. In studies released by two separate analytical organizations, homes around the Bay Area appeared to be one of the two areas nationally that showed the highest rate of recovery, although yearend numbers are still well below their level of 2008.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hopeful Signs in the Market

In recent days, there have been more hopeful signs in the market to benefit both buyers and sellers of homes. First, the Fed has stated that it is going to provide more support to both Freddie and Fannie, which should help make mortgages available. Second, although rates have risen slightly in the past two weeks, they are still at historic lows, and there is no time like now to get a 30 year fixed rate loan in the low 5's. Third, home values have again risen for the 4th consecutive month. While still well below a year ago's levels, this movement is encouraging.

While it remains to be seen how long the recovery will take, or whether anything might derail it, it appears that, overall, we are a bit past the bottom. One possible danger to the continuance of the recovery is the shadow inventory of over 7 million foreclosed homes that the banks still have not released into the market. Depending on how, when and in what numbers these come to market could have a major effect on the recovery.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Things Looking Up--if only a little:

Well, things are continuing to show signs of hope in the housing market. The latest monthly Case-Shiller Housing Report showed value increases in most of the 20 metropolitan areas it covers. The two that rose the most were San Francisco and Phoenix. As these are metropolitan areas, the SF figures include those here in Marin--a positive sign for sure. However, don't go looking for any return to values of late 2005 and 2006 any time soon. There's still a number of hurdles to get over. These include continuing unemployment (though a tiny bit better this month) and the 'shadow' inventory of foreclosed homes that the banks are holding and have yet to market. How, when and in what numbers these hit the market could have a major effect on the market.
However, the combined increases in values, sales and the extended first time buyer credit all point in the right direction.
If you have any questions about the market, buy or sell, give us a call! We'd be happy to help.
Happy New Year!
Peter & Jane

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Important New Home Buying Book:
Today a new book hits the bookstore shelves. It deals with all, and I DO mean all, aspects of buying a home. Called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying A Home", it's published by Penguin's Alpha books. Definitely something you should have as you venture into the home buying market--along with a top Realtor.