Friday, January 29, 2016

Rates Dropping in 2016

Believe it or don't, mortgage interest rates are dropping so far in 2016.  I know, I know--the Fed raised its rates a few weeks ago. Usually, mortgage rates would follow suit, but, so far in 2016, they have actually fallen every week in the new year. 
Mortgage rates have declined every week so far in 2016 and are currently at their lowest levels since the fall, a fact that could help motivate hesitant homebuyers who have been sitting on the fence.
That’s according to the most recent numbers from Freddie Mac, which said that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.81 percent for the week ended Jan. 21, down from 3.92 percent from a week earlier and up from 3.63 percent a year ago. Fifteen-year mortgage rates displayed a similar pattern, dropping from 3.19 percent to 3.10 percent on a weekly basis but up from 2.93 percent year over year.
In a statement accompanying the report, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti attributed the declines to weak inflation in 2015 and global economic turmoil, which is driving investors to treasuries.
All this aside, most experts feel that the general trend going forward is likely to be a slow gradual increase.  How does this affect you? If you're a buyer, it means that the sooner, the better to get going!  If you're thinking of selling, the answer is similar.  The sooner your home is on the market, the sooner you can have buyers thinking about its purchase--before they get hit with even slightly higher borrowing costs.
How to prepare for either situation? Call us--we'd be glad to help! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Improving Economy Boosts Housing Market

Well, stock market activity of recent weeks aside, the overall economy continues to improve, and that fact is a major contribution to the overall housing market, including right here in the greater Bay Area in general and Marin in particular.  Take a look at the following stats.

Americans are increasingly optimistic about housing market conditions, encouraged by a growing confidence in their personal financial outlook and the U.S. economy in general. That optimism was revealed in a recent survey by Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage firm, and it gives a boost to forecasts for real estate activity in the Bay Area and elsewhere in the months ahead.
Fannie Mae said its latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) rose 2.4 percentage points in December to 83.2, its highest level since the index was created in June 2010.
Four of the HPSI’s six components increased in December:
  • Survey respondents who said it is a good time to sell a house rose 4 percentage points to 8 percent.
  • Respondents who said that home prices will go up rose 2 percentage points to 40 percent.
  • Those who said they are not worried about losing their job rose 3 percentage points to 72 percent.
  • Those who said their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago rose 9 percentage points to 15 percent.
  • Respondents who said that it is a good time to buy a house remained flat at 35 percent.
  • Those who said mortgage interest rates will go down continued to decrease, dropping 4 percentage points to negative 52 percent.
“Consumers ended the year on an improved note with regard to their income, job security, and overall economic outlook,” Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said in a statement accompanying the survey results. “This more-positive consumer sentiment brought the HPSI up a few points, moving the index up for all of 2015.
“Brightening economic prospects, if sustained, should stimulate demand for homeownership,” Duncan said. “However, continuing upward pressure on rental prices and constrained housing supply, particularly for starter homes, may mean prospective first-time homebuyers could face affordability constraints.”
The Home Purchase Sentiment Index was derived from Fannie Mae’s monthly National Housing Survey, which polled 1,000 Americans in early December, asking them about their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, home and rental price changes, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence.

Interested in the value of your home? Want to give more serious consideration to buying that new home you've been thinking about, or how about looking at purchasing real estate as an investment, either to begin building personal wealth or expanding your holdings?  Whatever your interests, let us help you! You can contact us at either of the following numbers: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091; or you can email us at: .  Either way, we're here to assist you.

Friday, January 15, 2016

To Do in 2016!

Well, just as in life, real estate is a place to definitely make plans and resolutions for the New Year. Here are some ideas.
The year 2016 is already a week old, but it’s never too late to adopt a smart set of resolutions to help guide you through the year ahead. Whether you are a homebuyer or a seller — or might become one or the other over the course of the year — take a look at Pacific Union’s roundup of real estate resolutions for the new year.
Making extra payments can dramatically shorten the time until your mortgage will be paid in full. Consider this: The monthly principal and interest on a $300,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and an interest rate of 4 percent totals $1,432. Paying an extra $300 each month would increase the payment to $1,732, but also shorten the term by eight years and five months and cut the interest expense by $67,393.
Do you have a second mortgage? Do everything you can to pay it off. It may not be easy, but the freedom from that added debt and interest expense can be worth the effort — especially if your second loan has a variable rate. Rates are low today, but if they rise in the future, you could face a painful payment hike.
Are you due a discount on your homeowner insurance? Major repairs or improvements that you made to your home last year may get you a discount or a lower quote on this year’s coverage. A new roof and updated electrical and plumbing systems make your home less likely to suffer damages requiring an insurance claim, which can save you money on your insurance. Talk with your insurance agent or carrier and make sure your file contains the latest information about your home.
What repairs or improvements will make your home more attractive — and valuable — to buyers? The sooner you start work on them, the sooner you can put your home up for sale. And schedule a home inspection to ensure there will be no last-minute surprises.
Talk with a real estate professional who is familiar with your community, and find out what your home is worth and what strategies will help it sell quickly. Become familiar with the home-selling process. Learn the basics of home staging, and if necessary, hire a professional stager.
Plan your exit strategy in advance. It’s hugely stressful to plan a purchase and a sale at the same time. Can you afford to close on your new home before selling? If so, for how long? Do you need to sell the property first? What about short-term housing? Ask your real estate professional about making the sale contingent on your next purchase. At the very least, it can buy you some extra time.
Get your financial house in order. Know your credit score and understand what your financial situation looks like from a lender’s perspective. If you have credit problems, identify the necessary steps to correct them. Sometimes, it can take six months to see your FICO score move up enough to get a better mortgage rate.
Save as much money as you can for a down payment. If your parents or another source can help with the down payment, it’s better to start that conversation early rather than later, so you understand your financial commitment. Similarly, look at your own finances and determine how much you can afford to spend.
Educate yourself on the real estate market where you hope to live. What neighborhoods and homes can you afford? What parks, retail districts, and other amenities are nearby? If you have children, learn as much as you can about the local schools.
Talk with a real estate professional who is familiar with your desired community. Learn the intricacies of buying a home — the paperwork, estimated timelines, making a bid, and closing a sale. You may think you only need to go to open houses once you’re ready to buy, but in reality, a buyer needs several months to understand home values, the prices per neighborhood, and the market in general. The homes you see and your experience feeling out the market will serve as the building blocks toward becoming an informed buyer.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Bay Area STILL A Very Hot Market!

Well, as the following will attest, 2016 is shaping up to be another very hot year for real estate in the Bay Area, including Marin County. This is the way 2015 ended as well!
Like in previous months, more than half of the nation’s most in-demand real estate markets are located in California as December comes to a close, with Bay Area cities claiming the top three spots.baybridge
In a recurring monthly analysis, names the 20 hottest housing markets in the U.S. based on listing views on its website and where homes are selling the fastest. Eleven of those hot markets can be found in California, based on data from the first three weeks of December, and Golden State real estate should continue to command plenty of interest in the coming year.
“Pent-up demand and robust economic growth, combined with limited supply, will keep California tight in 2016, but more markets will challenge them as demand improves elsewhere,” Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said in a statement accompanying the report.
For the second straight month, San Francisco topped’s list of scorching markets, with a median list price of $748,000, the second highest of 20 cities and more than three times the national median list price of $228,000. San Jose, the nation’s second-hottest real estate market, is also the most expensive, with a median list price of $848,000. Vallejo ranks No. 3, down from No. 2 in November. With a median list price of $384,000, the Solano County city is about half as expensive as its larger neighbors to the west and south.
Sacramento landed in the No. 5 spot, followed by San Diego (No. 6), Santa Rosa (No. 8), Yuba City (No. 9), Stockton (No. 10), Los Angeles (No. 11), Oxnard (No. 12), and Modesto (No. 15). All 11 California cities were among the country’s 20 hottest in November, while Santa Cruz dropped off the list this month. says that homes in cities on its hot list sell 29 to 51 days faster than the nationwide average of 93 days. Combined, these markets have seen average days on the market decline by 15 percent on an annual basis.
The Bay Area’s largest two real estate markets are moving nearly twice as fast as the rest of the country, with homes selling in 47 days in San Jose and 49 days in San Francisco. In the Central Valley, where demand for homes is growing as more buyers head inland to score bargains, the pace of sales is even quicker: 42 days in Stockton, 43 days in Modesto, and 44 days in Sacramento.

U.S. home sales should climb in 2016 to levels we haven’t seen since the last housing boom — with millennials leading the charge — as continued economic prosperity appears to be on the horizon.cb
In its 2016 Housing Forecast, projects that new and existing home sales will reach 6 million in 2016, the highest level since 2006. According to the report, home starts will see a 12 percent annual uptick, while sales of new homes will grow by 16 percent year over year. Home price appreciation will moderate to 3 percent next year, which Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke says signifies that the housing market is normalizing.
Millennials — defined here as those ages 25-34 — are expected to make up the largest percentage of homebuyers in 2016, spurred on in part by growing incomes. Generation Y buyers are most concerned with neighborhood safety and home-construction quality, and they also want a reasonable commute.
Having rebounded from the recession, Gen Xers on the younger side of the spectrum (ages 35-44) will account for the second-largest pool of buyers. Two-thirds of this demographic are move-up buyers and will be trading up for a larger property or a nicer neighborhood.
Older Americans ages 65-74, the third-largest projected buyer demographic, will look to do the exact opposite, selling their spacious homes for smaller, newly constructed ones. These homeowners are expected to put their properties on the market in March or April and will place an emphasis on customization when searching for their next home. predicts the U.S. economy’s health to hold in 2016, with the GDP increasing by 2.5 percent, up from 2.1 percent growth in 2015. Unemployment will decline from 5 percent at the end of 2015 to 4.8 percent by the end of 2016, while the number of jobs created — 2.5 million — will remain roughly unchanged. The forecast warns that tougher access to credit and rising home prices could ultimately stifle demand for housing and temper the benefits of the thriving economy.
So, once again, the word here is, if you need assistance in looking at the market in general, or as it relates to your present home, give us a call: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091. As always, we'd be happy to help!