August 27, 2014

Paranoia About Buying At The Top

The Marin Independent Journal reports from California. “Marin home prices edged up 5 percent in July. The median price of a single-family home was $960,000 in the county, and 276 homes sold this July, compared with 325 in July 2013, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. Sales were down in most Bay Area counties, plummeting 7 percent in the area overall and 33 percent in San Francisco. ‘There’s a whole range of thinking’ as to why so few homes are on the market, said Jeff Sterley, a Pacific Union agent. One reason, he said, is that ‘people want to see their price come back to at least the amount it was at the former peak.’ Prices peaked around 2006 and then plunged, coming back around 2012. Sterley believes these would-be sellers are watching and waiting to make a move, and many will make that move in 2015.”

“‘People who want to retire and move out of Marin and are ready to downsize will feel more comfortable once the nest egg has been restored. There are people who will get strong appreciation in 2015. They are going to feel they are in a position to make a move once they have gotten their equity back plus,’ Sterley said.”

The Union Tribune. “The yearly growth in home prices continued to slow in real-estate markets across the United States in June, and San Diego’s was no exception. Michelle Silverman, a La Jolla based Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway, said she’s seen the market slow as higher inventory has made buyers more sensitive to price. ‘I think the move-up buyer isn’t moving up right now,’ she said. ‘They’re looking at what I have, and what is out there, and do I want to make that stretch right this moment?’”

The Los Angeles Daily News. “Housing inventory surged again in July in the San Fernando Valley from a year earlier. Last month, the Valley’s supply of properties for sale jumped 27.5 percent — from 1,470 in July 2013 to 1,874 — said the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors, noting a two-and-a-half-month supply at the current sales pace. The year-over-year inventory increases began in July 2013, and they have been more than 20 percent each month since October, the association said.”

“Prices continued moderating last month. In July, the median home price increased 3 percent, from $505,000 a year ago to $520,000, but a drop of 3 percent from June. Sellers are becoming more realistic about setting prices, buyers are becoming more selective, and multiple offers, common a year ago, are rare now, association CEO Jim Link said. ‘They have a choice for the first time in a while, and they will not overpay. There are still a lot of people in the market who are sensitive to the last (price) run-up, and there is also some paranoia (about) buying at the top,’ Link said.”

“In the smaller Santa Clarita Valley market, home sales fell 4 percent — from 221 a year ago to 212 in July, an increase of 12 percent from June. The median house price there increased 8 percent, from $430,000 a year ago to $465,000 in July, but declined 3 percent from June. Inventory in the market, though, soared 48 percent, from 492 to 726 properties. ‘The rapid price rise had to moderate,’ Nancy Starczyk, president of the association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division, said in a statement. ‘Each tick up in prices locked more prospective buyers out of the market. Some owners still mistakenly expect prices to keep going up, up and up, yet that’s not realistic.’”

The Orange County Register. “What’s up with mortgage rates? Jeff Lazerson of Mortgage Grader in Laguna Niguel gives us his take. ‘From rate sheets hitting my desk that are not part of Freddie Mac’s survey: Locally, well qualified borrowers can get a 5-year ARM at 2.875 percent with 1 point, borrowing all the way up to 1 million dollars in loan amount or add 1/4 percent to 3.125 percent in rate and get a loan amount to 2 million dollars. I have a confession to make. Today’s flat prices are going to start falling pretty hard after the first of the year – when the Fed starts raising short-term interest rates. Uncle Sam is the leading suspect behind the crisis of home affordability.”

“If you need to sell between now and the next two years, sell now. List your home at fair market value. There’s too much competition in the market to do otherwise. According to Steven Thomas of, the number of Orange County property listings now is 8,000, compared to 5,869 one year ago. He observed, ‘Buyers are second-guessing purchasing altogether.’”

“The U.S. government controls 90 percent of the U.S. mortgage market. In one form or another, a tremendous amount of unnecessary and unaffordable rate and points are added to your mortgage with no change to this thinking in sight. Housing is sinking, for one, because of this expensive anchor around every borrower’s neck.”

The Desert Sun. “Trying to sell a home in the Coachella Valley? Soon, fewer agents outside of the desert may see it. The desert’s largest group of real estate agents plans to remove its property database from a giant pool of regional listings across Southern California. The split goes live Wednesday, eliminating access from agents in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties.”

“But the move concerns outside agents, who say making data more exclusive will hurt home prices and hinder their ability to sell a desert home. Laura Steelman, a La Quinta homeowner, wants to eventually sell her 3,000-square-foot house in a gated community. She’s now concerned that fewer buyers will see her property, leading to fewer bids and offers. ‘It’s a disservice for the homeowners in the valley,’ said Steelman, an assistant to an Orange County broker. ‘A lot of owners here come from not only out of the state, but out of the country, so how does that work?’”

“‘We want those prices to go up,’ said John Stewart, an individual investor from Orange County who flipped two desert homes in the last two years. ‘By having this kind of closed system where you exclude other agents, the 100,000 agents from the rest of Southern California from seeing your properties, how can it not affect sales?’”

Bits Bucket for August 27, 2014

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