Friday, March 30, 2012

Rates Drop Below Four!
I feel a bit like a carnival or sideshow barker these days. "Round and round she goes and where she stops" is anybody's guess! But whatever it is, it's good! Rates popped up a tad over 4% last week, but this week they're back below the magic number. Thirty year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.99%. The important thing to remember is that regardless where they are at a given moment, rates this low are an excellent reason to be a buyer or seller! If you're buying, you're getting an opportunity that may not come again for many years, if ever. If you're a seller, getting your home ready and on the market places you in front of lots of buyers who are out there, cash in hand, and looking for property! Take advantage of this great opportunity! Call either of us: Peter: (415) 279-6466 or Jane: (415) 531-4091. And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rent or Buy: THAT is the question!
Regular followers of this blog know that we've been preaching the many benefits to both buyers and sellers of the continued low rates, as well as heavy buyer demand. Well, another question we frequently hear is wouldn't it be just as good an idea to rent as to buy? Some folks are feeling that they'll be better able to buy if they wait awhile, while others (some, at least) erroneously think they cannot afford to buy a home, and thus, must rent. Well, I've got news for you: Renting may have its place, but it certainly doesn't take the place of owning your own home!
So why is buying a better deal than renting? Well, there are several reasons, given the recent and present markets.
First, actual rents have skyrocketed over the past several months. In Marin, for example, average rents are up 10% over the same time a year ago (it's up 16% in San Francisco) and the vacancy rate is down to 2.8%, the lowest its been since 2008.
Second, available rental units are growing scarcer by the day. There were many fewer built in the past few years, so the normal rental demand, further increased by people who've lost houses to foreclosure or short sale, has made the inventory very tight. As with any commodity, when supply drops and demand rises, the costs increase. So, too with rentals.
Third, a new dot-com boom is beginning, fueled by recent and pending IPO's that will lead to younger tech millionaires to jump into the market. More competition for a scarce rental stock.
So, what exactly do you do? You take a serious look at the market and buy! Consider the following example for buying vs renting. It is about as illustrative as any comparison can be. Assuming a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage after 20% down, a 3-bedroom, 2.5-
bathroom option with a two-car garage.
• Option 1: Rent a 1,350-square-foot home for $3,300 a month.
• Option 2: Purchase a 1,600-square-foot home (list price: $979,000) for $3,197.35 a month. That's over $100 every month that stays in your pocket if you buy instead of rent! Covers dinner out for a night, or put it away until something grabs you that you feel you just can't do without. Best of all, while owning, you're building equity AND getting a tax deduction that's pretty substantial. Renting won't do any of that.
So, how do you get the jump on other buyers seeking a home in the current inventory-starved market? Simple! Call either of us and let us do the heavy lifting! Peter: (415) 279-6466 or Jane: (415) 531-4091. Pack your bags!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rates--They are a'rising. They hit just a tiny bit over 4% for 30 year fixed rate loans this past week. Now, that is the first time they've popped over 4% in quite some time. So this brings up the question--are low rates now gone away? The answer seems to be that they'll remain low for the remainder of this year, possibly well into 2013, but perhaps spend a fair amount of that period in the low 4's. Now, while that's a bit more expensive than it was a week ago, it is still close to the lowest historical rates we've seen and been comfortable with recently.
So, you ask, what do I do now? Well, if you're a buyer, the litany is unchanged! Get out there and take advantage of what are still very, very cheap rates and buy! If you are a seller, it's still a great market to take advantage of. Lots of buyers, cash in hand and not enough inventory at all levels. We've been seeing a number of multiple offers in the recent weeks, so that can only be good for you if your home is 'done', properly priced and on the market now. Unsure of its value? Give us a call: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091. We'd be happy to help you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Well, as we here in Marin County get what seems like all of our yearly rainfall in a week, the market is staying hot! We are seeing a continuation of multiple offers in a number of cases, and interest rates are staying relatively low--under 4% for 30 year fixed rate money. There was a brief rate spike for a few hours mid-week when one of the Fed Open Market Committee members voted against keeping rates down (he lost 9-1, but the fact that he dissented at all briefly pushed rates up). They quickly dropped after a few hours' raise. The message from here is that it's still a GREAT time to sell, and, if you're buying, the continued low rates certainly make it very attractive to buy.
For those of you thinking of selling, one important thing to keep in mind is making your home as attractive as is reasonably possible, short of doing a total remodel. The best way to do so is staging. Staging basically covers a wide range of options: from simply decluttering to doing limited remodeling and painting. The idea behind it all is that it makes potential buyers see your home in its best possible light--and think that if they buy your house, it will always look like it does once it's staged. In reality, it probably won't, but that's not the point. The point is that it gets them looking as positively at your home as is possible. That, in turn, increases the chance that they'll make you an offer, and an offer that is at or close to your asking price! How much difference does staging really make? Well, a recent survey shows that 94% of staged homes sold in an average of 29 days on the market, compared with an average DOM of 145 days for non-staged homes. Also, the question is often asked by sellers: how much will all this cost me, and will I get my cost back? Well, recent statistics on that issue show an average return on staging investment/cost of 299%! In other words, if you spend, say, $10,000 to stage your home, you could expect, on average, to get a return of $29,900 more on your sale price. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
If you have questions about staging--or anything else regarding your home or interest in the market, call us. We'd be happy to help you! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Latest--
Well, rates continue at or near historic lows! Interest for 30 year fixed rates dropped to 3.88 this week, while the figure for 15 year fixed hit a new all time low of 3.13%--unbelievable! As Chubby Checker used to say on the song, Limbo Rock, "How low can you go?" Great time to be a buyer or a seller with money this cheap and many many people trying to find homes to buy!
Speaking of selling, recently a trend has reappeared in Marin--perhaps not as overwhelmingly as in the early years of the last decade, but still there nevertheless. What am I talking about? MULTIPLE OFFERS! Homes that are done--ready to go--are often receiving multiple offers from buyers. This past week we personally had our two newest listings go into escrow with multiple offers--both homes listed for over $1 million. The first received six offers (no typo there), while the other received a pair of fine offers. Another listing of ours just closed yesterday after receiving three offers, and....well, you get the picture. We are seeing an increasing amount of this in all parts of the county, so if you've been thinking of selling, how can you do any better than a combo of historically low rates and multiple offers?
Give us a call: Peter: (415) 279-6466 or Jane: (415) 531-4091. We'd be happy to help you experience the same success in today's market!

Friday, March 02, 2012

This week we're going to look at how the recent mortgage settlement between 49 of the 50 states and the five largest lenders in the country. We'll also make a few recommendations as to how you can best involve yourself in today's market in a way to improve your chances of success.
The $26 Billion settlement was aimed, at least in part, at stabilizing the housing market, which remains as a soft spot in the recovering economy, even though other areas of the economy are improving.
Fed Chairman Bernanke has cited this issue frequently in recent months. As to the settlement, President Obama has applauded it as a great help not only to homeowners, but also to neighborhoods, communities and the nation at large.
California, in particular, appears to benefit greatly from the deal. It is set to receive at least $850 million in funds, particularly for those homeowners making mortgage payments, but definitely "under water" with their mortgages.
So, this brings us to the question of how do you enter the market wisely in these trying times? We have a few suggestions for you:
1. Any real estate decisions you make should be pursued with professionals--licensed agents and mortgage professionals;
2. Carefully consider what exact details and characteristics of a home most benefit you and your family and your respective needs;
3. Carefully consider whether you can improve your home over time to meet any new needs as they arise.
4. All of the above also apply equally for investment property, with adjustments as to your intended use of such property and what your investment goals and needs are.
After all of this, when you want to consider entering or expanding your presence in the market, give us a call. We have over 45 years of experience between us, and would be happy to help you, as well as direct you in your market search. Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.