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Good news in Real Estate!

Good News in Real Estate: Housing Market May Be on Rise

Posted By susanne On April 26, 2012 @ 3:34 pm In Business Development,Consumer News and Advice,Real Estate Information,Real Estate News,Real Estate Trends,Today’s Top Story,Today’s Top Story – Consumer |Comments Disabled

 [1](MCT)—The housing market’s long, cold winter may finally be heading into a springtime thaw.

New data show price declines easing in big cities, sales of new homes improving nationally and foreclosures in California dropping to levels not seen since before the start of the credit crunch nearly five years ago.

The easing of foreclosures is seen as key by many economists, since the glut of these properties being sold at a discount has been a significant drag on home prices.

“The foreclosure market is turning into a drought, not a wave, and that has resulted in a lack of inventory,” said Sean O’Toole, chief executive of ForeclosureRadar.com. “If it continues, it will likely mean that we’ve either seen a bottom—or have passed a bottom—in prices because of limited supply and still strong demand.”

Home prices remain depressed from their peak in 2007, when the median-priced home in Southern California sold for $505,000. The median price last month was $280,000.

The economy overall has been improving, however, with unemployment, retail sales, corporate profits and other measures showing steady if unspectacular gains. Housing has been one of the last holdouts, but analysts note that prices have stabilized and sales volume has been gaining.

“What are important are sales and inventory, and those are pointing in the right direction,” says Christopher Thornberg, a principal at Beacon Economics who was one of the early callers of the housing crash. “I would say that by the end of the year, they should translate into better prices.”

Thornberg adds, “The recovery is here.”

Notices of default, the first step in the foreclosure process, fell to 56,258 statewide in the first three months of the year, a 17.6 percent drop from the same period last year, DataQuick of San Diego reported Tuesday. That was the fewest number of default notices filed since the second quarter of 2007.

Banks still retain many foreclosed properties on their books, and some analysts have predicted that housing prices could weaken again if lenders dump these properties into the recovering market. But O’Toole and other analysts see that long-feared “second wave” as increasingly unlikely, pointing out that the banks would be acting against their own interests by undercutting prices through a fire sale.

“A few years back, there were some breathtakingly negative forecasts making the rounds regarding the foreclosure problem,” DataQuick President John Walsh says. “It’s not necessarily playing out the way some pundits thought.”

Low interest rates and the availability of bargain-priced properties are drawing more buyers into the market.

Bobbie Dunlap, 61, an office manager, said she recently bought a bank-owned home for $225,000 that she intends to fix up and rent out. The South Gate, Calif., resident had to raise her price to beat competing bids on the two-bedroom property in nearby Bellflower. She hopes that the rental income from the investment will provide her with a financial cushion when she stops working.

“It is in pretty good shape, but it still needs some extra work, of course,” Dunlap says.

Betting on the rebound, investors made up a record share of buyers in Southern California during the first two months of the year, according to DataQuick. As more foreclosed homes in hard-hit neighborhoods are filled with renters, an increasing number of everyday buyers will grow interested in owning, said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of Zelman & Associates, a New York housing research firm.

“This is not a robust recovery, but I feel confident that we are not sitting here lingering,” says Zelman, who predicts that home prices will end the year up about 1 percent. “There really is more meat to the bone.”

Several factors continue to hold back a major turnaround in housing, including a weak job market, tight mortgage lending standards and the huge number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, leaving them essentially stuck in their properties. And the absence of a major housing recovery is likely to hold back the broader economy.

“Housing generates a ton of jobs and income. However, I don’t think the housing recovery is going to be nearly as robust this time as it has been in prior cycles,” said Christopher Low, chief economist for FTN Financial. “The bubble started with froth in local markets and then spread out to a national level; the recovery is going to come in local markets and eventually spread and become a national phenomenon.”

Other new housing data also point to a fledgling recovery.

New-home sales nationally fell 7.1 percent in March from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, but that was partly because it revised February sales figures up significantly. Even though the figure for March was the lowest since November, overall sales of new homes are up about 16 percent for the first three months of the year compared with 2011, the department said. The report helped boost the Dow Jones industrial average 74.39 points to 13,001.56.

That improvement means that new-home sales will probably be stronger than last year’s, which were the worst on record.

One of the most widely watched measures on home values, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 U.S. cities, showed price declines moderating from January to February. Prices fell 0.8 percent from January to February, and were down 3.5 percent from February 2011. Los Angeles fell 0.8 percent in February from the previous month, while San Francisco was down 0.7 percent. San Diego was slightly positive, up 0.2 percent from January.

Many economists brushed off the decline as the Case-Shiller numbers capture the traditionally slow months of January and December, as well as February, because they average three months’ worth of data. The index’s year-over-year decline in home values has also been steadily shrinking in recent months.

(Times staff writer Lauren Beale contributed to this report.)

©2012 the Los Angeles Times
Distributed by MCT Information Services [2]

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How to Pick a Real Estate Agent!!!

March 26, 2012

How to Pick a Real Estate Agent That Suits Your Needs

Zillow

– — Many factors contribute to the experience and success of buying and selling homes, but even in the digital age of a more transparent real estate market, working with a good real estate agentcontinues to be one of biggest impacts on either side of the transaction.

But how do you pick the right person to represent you or your home?

Before you just start asking your friends or digging through the fliers in your mailbox or hunting online, here are a few dos and dont’s you should seriously consider when selecting an agent.

Do:

  • Ask people you trust for agent recommendations, but take what they say with a grain of salt. Did they recently buy a home in your same price range? Have they had a successful time selling their home? Just because this agent worked out well for them does not guarantee the same experience for you.
  • Find an agent that specializes in what you’re trying to do. Don’t select an agent who sells $2 million homes to help you find a $200,000 home. Check out current home listings. Do you like the photos, the description? Try contacting the agent to see if they’re available for you.
  • Interview the agent. What is their specificmarketing plan for your home? How will they negotiate so that you can be the winning bidder on your dream home? Why are they the best option for you? Can you call some of their past clients?
  • Set up expectations. What do you want from them? Outline your needs from the get-go so there won’t be any surprises down the road.
  • Make sure you get along with the agent. You don’t need to be best friends, but ultimately there should be some sort of rapport that allows for a successful business relationship.

Don’t:

  • Pick friends or family. You don’t want to jeopardize a friendship if the buying or selling process gets difficult. Also, be wary of hiring even a friend of a friend, or someone recommended. If you’re serious about real estate, find someone that you can be honest and professional with. Unfortunately, that may not include your cousin or your best friend’s spouse.
  • Pick someone who dually represents the buyer and the seller of the property you’re looking at. They may not be able to fully transparent with you.
  • Be afraid to break up with your agent. Be honest and simply tell the agent it’s not working out. List your reasons and be respectful.
  • If you’re not quite ready to be tied down to a particular agent, it’s better not to engage one until you’ve made a formal decision. You can communicate with an agent and ask for advice, but be clear upfront where you stand.

Get ‘Real’ and Protect Your Money

Inflation erodes wealth. A way to counter the threat of rising prices is by investing in so-called real assets such as gold and real estate.

Central banks have flooded the markets with cash, oil prices continue to rise, and emerging market economies are growing rapidly. That means inflation is very likely to increase in the years — if not months — ahead.

The government’s measure of inflation, known as the consumer price index, or CPI, showed that inflation increased 2.9% in January from a year earlier. That’s lower than the average rate of 3.6% since 1980. However, John Williams, an economist at Shadow Government Statistics, thinks those numbers are grossly understated given the changes in CPI calculations. If inflation were measured the same way it was in 1980, the average increase over the past 30-plus years would be 7.7%, he says.

Today’s Market Update

Thursday’s bond market has opened flat following mixed economic news and an uneventful opening in stocks. The major stock indexes have fluctuated between positive and negative ground, but within a pretty tight range. The Dow is currently up 9 points while the Nasdaq has gained 7 points. The bond market is currently nearly unchanged from yesterday’s close, which in itself is very good news for mortgage shoppers. However, due to a sizable downward move in bonds late yesterday, we will likely still see an increase in this morning’s mortgage rates of approximately .250 of a discount point if comparing to yesterday’s morning pricing.

This morning’s big news came from the Labor Department, who posted February’s Producer Price Index (PPI). They announced an increase of 0.4%in the overall reading and a 0.2% rise in the more important core reading. The core data excludes more volatile food and energy prices, giving us a more reliable measurement of inflation at the producer level of the economy. Analysts were expecting to see 0.5% and 0.2% increases in the readings, so we can consider the data neutral to slightly favorable for the bond market and mortgage rates.

The Labor Department also announced last week’s unemployment figures this morning, revealing that 351,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week. This was a decline from the previous week’s revised total of 365,000 new claims, hinting that the employment sector strengthened last week. That makes the data negative towards mortgage rates, but since it tracks only a single week’s worth of new claims, its impact on today’s trading has been minimal.

Tomorrow has three economic reports scheduled for release. February’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be released early tomorrow morning, which measures inflationary pressures at the very important consumer level of the economy. Its results can definitely have a huge impact on the financial markets, especially long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds. It is expected to show a 0.4% increase in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the more important core data. If we see weaker than expected readings, bond prices should rise and mortgage rates would likely fall tomorrow.

February’s Industrial Production report will be released at 9:15 AM ET tomorrow. This report measures manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is expected to show a 0.5% increase from January’s level. A decline would be considered extremely favorable news for bonds and mortgage rates because it would indicate manufacturing sector weakness and a broader economic recovery is more difficult if manufacturing activity is slipping.

The week’s final piece of data is the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment for March just before 10:00 AM ET tomorrowjk. This index gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If confidence is rising, then consumers are more apt to make large purchases. This helps fuel consumer spending and economic growth. A drop in confidence will probably hurt the stock markets and boost bond prices, leading to lower mortgage rates, assuming the CPI matches forecasts. Bad news for bonds and mortgage rates would be rising confidence. It is expected to show a reading of 75.8, which would be an increase from February’s final reading 75.3.

Mortgage Rates on the RISE! Longmont Real Estate News

Wednesday’s bond market has opened well in negative territory as yesterday’s afternoon sell-off extends into today’s trading. With no relevant economic news scheduled for release today, this isn’t a complete surprise. On the other hand, what is interesting is a lack of a follow-up rally in stocks this morning. With the Dow up only 18 points and the Nasdaq up 2 points, it appears that yesterday’s events are no longer fueling stock buying. The Dow and Nasdaq both closed at their highs of the day yesterday, which would normally signal a follow-up rally this morning if the rally was likely to continue. The indexes are in positive ground, but I believe that we will see them slip below this morning’s levels fairly quickly.

The other side of this argument is the fact that bonds are still moving lower, extending yesterday’s sell-off. The benchmark 10-year Treasury Note is currently down 29/32, which will likely push this morning’s mortgage rates higher by another .375 of a discount point on top of yesterday’s afternoon revision. Overall, we have lost a little more than .125 of a percent in rate since yesterday morning. With bonds still moving lower, we may see still another upward revision later today. As it appears that stocks and bonds are trading independently of each other today, we cannot rely on a possible stock reversal to erase today’s bond losses and mortgage rates increases. In other words, we will be paying less attention to stock movement to gauge bond and mortgage rate direction, at least for the next day or so.

There is no relevant economic data scheduled for release today. We do have the 30-year Bond auction taking place today, with results being posted at 1:00 PM ET. A strong sale could help alleviate some pressure that we are seeing in bonds today, but there is little possibility of moving into positive ground and erasing today’s increase in mortgage pricing. At the very least, a strong sale could help prevent an intra-day increase to rates this afternoon.

Tomorrow brings us the release of one of the key inflation indexes we see each month. The Labor Department will post February’s Producer Price Index (PPI) at 8:30 AM ET tomorrow morning. This important index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the index- the overall reading and the core data. The core data is more important and watched more closely because it excludes more volatile food and energy (including gasoline) prices. If the index shows a large increase, inflation concerns will rise, making long-term investments such as mortgage-related bonds less attractive to investors. This would lead to another increase in mortgage pricing. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.5% increase in the overall reading and a 0.2% increase in the core data. Since the Fed has already told us inflation does not seem to be a concern, slightly smaller increase will likely have little impact on tomorrow’s trading. Much weaker than expected readings could cause an improvement, but it will probably take a large variance from forecasts to see a sizable improvement in rates.

Also tomorrow morning, the Labor Department will post their weekly update of unemployment figures. They are expected to announce that 355,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, down a little from the previous week’s 362,000. A large increase would be favorable for bonds and mortgage rates, but I suspect the data will not heavily influence the markets or mortgage pricing.

Longmont CO Real Estate Marketing Improving!

2012 is estimated to turn the wheels!  The unemployment rates are down and the interest rates are still at record lows!  If you have been on the fence about buying or selling real estate, JUMP!! You don’t want to be the one that lost out.