Friday, February 25, 2011

Well, we're still in something of the classic economic two/three step dance. You know the one: take three steps forward, then take two back. Eventually, assuming nothing cataclysmic in the meantime, you get where you want to. The housing market(and the economy, which affects the housing market) are doing just that.
Yes, things are apparently slowly getting better. But not in any great hurry. On the good side, new jobless claims dropped by a larger number than experts expected. That's good, because if someone's working, they're more likely to qualify for a loan and buy a home.
On the negative, the monthly Case-Shiller came out at the end of last week and showed the lowest level of value nationally since 2006. However, what's good for those of us here in Marin is that the report covers 20 metro areas, SF being one. While most areas dropped in value, many up to 20%, the SF area showed what was basically a flat reading. True, we dropped 0.6% in values, but, given the overall scheme of things, that's a truly flat reading, and bodes well compared to much of the rest of the country. Rates are still in the low 5's. So, as I've said before, if you're a seller, all of this means there are more folks able to buy. You should take advantage and get your home on the market--like NOW! If you're a buyer, with rates where they are, get moving! Call your lender or broker and get that loan approved! Then call us for help in buying a home!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here's The Latest!

Well, the very slow recovery I alluded to last week continues. Stock market numbers are climbing and continue to look good for folks with cash there. Housing also seems to be moving forward. Nationally, values and numbers of sales continued their overall gradual rise. More importantly, here in Marin, stats just out yesterday showed numbers of sales climbing again compared to a year ago and a month ago. Values are also above their year ago levels, although they did drop overall from last month's averages/medians. We're seeing many buyers out looking with cash literally in hand (in the form of a loan commitment) trying to find and acquire a home. For you sellers, that bodes well as there is not enough supply to satisfy all of their needs and demands. For those of you buying, it is a further reason to intensify your search so when the right house hits the market, you won't miss your shot at it!
Questions? As always, call (415) 380-2133 or email us ( and we'll be happy to assist you.

Have a happy Pres Day holiday!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pluses and minuses ('sort of'):
Well, as the signs of a beginning recovery continue to mount, the housing market more or less mirrored the economy. Job reports continued to show improvement, however slow the rise, as either jobs created rose or new jobless claims dropped. Sales here in Marin continue to show signs of life. While there is not yet a clear across the board rise, prices in the $5-800,000 range are definitely showing some strong activity, to the extent that over 35% of listings in that market are in contract, a seller's market, in other words. The only market where homes are still seeing reductions in any meaningful way is the over $2 Million market. Here, it's truly case by case, some dropping and others rising.

What do these numbers mean? They indicate that we may have actually reached the bottom of the market and be trying to start to climb back out. Although you can still find some experts predicting it'll be at least 3-5 years until a turnaround will begin, more and more real estate experts are feeling that the rebound has begun and that 2011 could well be the baseline for the turnaround to climb from.

How will interest rates affect this? Well, this past week, we had a strong jump in rates with 30 year fixed loans around 5.3%. That's about 3/4% increase in the past month. It's a sign that rates may have left the sub-5's permanently, a cause for concern. However, on the bright side, even at five and a half (where they haven't gone yet), rates are still a bargain, and a definite reason to buy, or, if you're a seller, to jump into the market as buyers are really champing at the bit!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Some Healthy Signs:
This week has brought a few new signs that the worst may be over--or at least nearing an end. While we can't unconditionally state that everything is over and we're on the way to recovery, we had good news on a couple of fronts this week.
Jobs: A combination of improved reports on the jobs front point to the possible improvement in the economy in general and the housing market in particular. First, there were over 30,000 fewer first time filings for unemployment this week. Fewer layoffs mean more folks staying employed. Second, the national unemployment rate dropped to 9%, which, while still a lot higher than anyone wants to see, is the lowest it's been in over two and a half years. Again, more people employed means more folks who can legitimately consider buying a home. Third, although the figure was a bit lower than hoped for, there were over 50,000 new jobs created. As with the prior two items, more people working means more who can look at a house and legitimately think about buying it.

Interest Rates: Rates have risen to just over 5% for 30 year fixed loans, a pretty good jump over the past few weeks. However, while this is the highest they've been for quite awhile, it's still very cheap money and a great opportunity to give serious thought to purchasing a home. Fed Chairman Bernanke has also reiterated his plans to not raise rates until we have a good strong recovery in the jobs area, something that even the biggest optimists feel is at least 9-12 months away.

Little Signs: This one is my own personal indicator that things may be getting better. It's kind of like the first robin in spring or, and only you folks who've lived in the colder regions of the country can relate to this, the first crocus pushing up through the snow. When Realtors begin catering open houses, it's my experience that they feel things are getting economically better. Well, this past week, I personally saw a couple of agents catering who haven't done so for awhile. Laugh, but we all have our own indicators that go along with what the "experts" and economists tell us.
So my message is that if you're thinking of buying or selling, It's looking like a great time to get moving!
More next week!