February 20, 2014

Sellers Are Thinking They’ll Get More If They Wait

The World Property Channel reports on California. “Home sales in California were essentially flat in January, due to a limited supply of homes, according to the California Association of Realtors. Single-family home sales totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 363,640 in January, dropping 13.8 percent from the previous year. The median home price in January reached $410,990, falling from $438,090 in December. January’s median price was 22.1 percent higher than the revised $336,650 seen in January 2013. Housing inventory improved in January as home sellers geared up to sell their homes for the spring home-buying season. The available supply of existing, single-family detached homes for sale rose in January to 4.3 months, up from December’s Unsold Inventory Index of 3 months. The index was 3.5 months in January 2013.”

“‘The decline in the January median price was the largest in a year but is typical between December and January, with that decline averaging nearly nine percent over the last six years,’ said C.A.R. chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young. ‘The statewide median price was pulled down by a change in the mix of sales, as sales in higher-priced areas such as the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Ventura counties fell much sharper than in lower-priced areas.’”

The Press Democrat. “Despite a sharp jump in sales of upper-end properties, Sonoma County home sales slowed in January. Buyers purchased 272 single-family homes last month, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International VP Rick Laws. Sales fell 5 percent from a year ago and were the lowest for January in three years.”

“February sales remain slow, said Eileen Morelli, the operating principal and broker for the four Keller Williams offices in Sonoma and Napa counties. But activity should increase as usual this spring because agents have lined up plenty of sellers who are getting ready to put homes on the market. Laws agreed that many sellers are thinking they’ll get more for their homes if they wait until springtime. ‘They’re doing the last-minute fix-ups,’ Morelli said. ‘They want to see flowers in the yard and green grass on the hills and birds chirping,’ he said.”

The Union Tribune. “Foreclosures and default notices in San Diego County edged up in January, but are still hovering around post Great Recession lows. Last month, lenders foreclosed on 149 properties in San Diego County and issued 490 default notices, which kick off the 90-day foreclosure process, DataQuick reported. While the overall trend is down, January’s default notices jumped 58 percent above January 2013’s tally of 310. They were also up from the 387 filed in December. ‘That’s disconcerting and something to keep an eye on,’ said Mark Goldman, a loan officer and real estate lecturer at San Diego State University.”

The Press Enterprise. “The alleged squatters won. That was the news delivered by Eileen Didier, a real estate agent for Scott and Tammy Laffin, of La Pine, Ore., after a months-long struggle to evict a family occupying their Hemet house without permission days before it was to be sold to an Orange County investor. The bank refused to extend the $150,000 short sale on the house, Didier said, noting that the foreclosure was to be recorded Tuesday, Feb. 18. Now, it’s the lender’s problem, Scott Laffin said.”

“The Laffins said their ordeal began when they felt pangs of sympathy after an appraiser for the buyer told them a family had occupied the home that the Laffins left when their jobs took them to Oregon. The inhabitants’ story of an unscrupulous fraudster who duped them out of rent tugged at the heartstrings, and the family was allowed to stay through Christmas. After Christmas, the Laffins said, the family remained in the home. The short sale unraveled.”

“‘It was our big mistake,’ Scott said. ‘We should not have let our holiday spirit get in the way.’”

“The fact someone can stay in a house knowing that they are there without the owner’s permission is flat-out wrong, Didier said, adding that many valuable lessons were learned. ‘If you find out someone is in your home illegally, no matter how horrible the sob story, you have to get them out,’ she said.”

The Bakersfield Californian. “Bakersfield’s home construction industry is building on a post-recession rebound. The number of single-family home construction permits issued by the city has more than tripled since 2011 to 1,307 at the end of last year. Though well below 2005’s peak of 5,216 homebuilding permits, 2013’s total is the highest since 2007. The median price of a home sold in the city grew by 8 percent in 2012 — then soared 30.5 percent last year to $185,925, according to Bakersfield home appraiser Gary Crabtree.”

“While more homes on the market does not put upward pressure on prices, it does provide greater selection for homebuyers — and more business for Realtors. Bakersfield homebuilder Greg Gibbons said some customers buying now are people who lost their homes to foreclosure in the housing bust. And while home construction costs may soon rise as builders run out of developed lots, the outlook appears strong.”

“‘In 2006, 2007, 2008, we did nothing. It was horrible,’ he said. ‘Last year we finally had a good year. We don’t know how long it’s going to hold up, but it’s been a good year or two. And we think this year will be a good year. But you just never know in this business.’”

CBS San Francisco. “Two recent Palo Alto home sales give a better understanding of just how crazy the Bay Area real estate market has become. A buyer snapped up 202 Emerson Street in an all-cash deal for a cool $1.6 million, which included the bars on a door, cracks in the foundation and some missing bricks on the 1,100 square foot home. The house is also just steps from noisy Caltrain tracks. The home last sold 40 years ago for $25.000, but now sold at 6,400 percent of that.”

“The sky-high prices have many in the area considering a move, a common consideration in many established Bay Area communities. ‘Some of these people have lived here 25, 30, 40 years and find themselves sitting in a place they’d like to live, they love to live in, but they’re thinking ‘if I sell now, I can retire comfortably somewhere else,’ says Erick Motta of Home Star Real Estate.”

“One homeowner who spoke with KPIX 5 bought north of downtown for $32,000 in 1976. Last year, her neighbor across the street sold for three million.”

Bits Bucket for February 20, 2014

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