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SoCal Home sales at 4 year low,with prices at post recession high

Southern California’s housing market chilled out in August with sales sinking to a four-year low for the month while the median price rose to a post-recession high, CoreLogic DataQuick reported Thursday.

The region’s housing market continued to face a triple whammy of tight inventory, decreasing affordability and investor activity that held at its lowest level in several years, CoreLogic DataQuick said.

Last month, sales in the five-county region fell 18.5 percent from 23,057 a year ago to 18,796, the company said.

Sales also fell 8 percent from July. On average, sales have risen 4 percent between July and August since 1988, when CoreLogic DataQuick began tracking the market.

Sales have now fallen on a year-over-year basis for 11 consecutive months. Sales during August have ranged from a low of 16,379 in 1992 to a high of 39,562 in 2003. Last month’s total was 28.2 percent below the August average of 26,169 sales.

“Its hard to figure out the market,” said Kimberly Ritter Martinez, an economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

“There are a lot of pluses. That big backlog of foreclosures has been greatly reduced and we’re seeing job and income growth. But I think the pace of improvement has been too slow to provide a lift in sales.”

The median price of new and previously owned houses and condominiums increased 9 percent from $385,000 a year ago to $420,000 and rose 2 percent from July. The year-over-year gain was the highest in three months. But it was also the third consecutive singe-digit increase after 22 months of double-digit gains.

In Los Angeles County, sales fell 19 percent from 8,038 a year ago to 6,508 in August. The median price increased 8 percent from $429,000 to $465,000.

In San Bernardino County, sales fell 21 percent from 2,770 to 2,188. The median price rose 14 percent from $210,250 to $240,000.

Michael Carney, executive director of the Real Estate Research Council at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is not troubled by the price increase losing steam.

“It’s a good thing. To me, those rapid increases in home prices are not what we need so I don’t think it’s bad,” he said. “It’s still quite a bit more than the rate of inflation.”

CoreLogic DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage believes the market is in a morphing phase.

“This time of year it always slows down so some of this is normal,” he said. “There was certainly pressure on home values this summer, but some of that jump in the August median sale price appears to reflect a shift in market mix. A slightly higher share of sales occurred in the more expensive coastal markets, and that can nudge up the median.”

The higher prices are not the only thing holding the market back.

LePage said that some people trying to buy a home struggle to qualify for a loan or are still trying to shake off the financial impact of the Great Recession. Meanwhile, potential sellers are holding out for more price appreciation.

Price points indicate that there is little supply now at the bottom sector of the market.

For example, the CoreLogic DataQuick report showed that in August the number of homes that sold for $500,000 or more fell 0.6 percent compared with a year earlier. But sales below $500,000 fell 16 percent year-over-year. And sales below $200,000 dropped 36 percent.

“Sales in the lower price ranges are hampered by, among other things, the drop in affordability over the last year, a fussy mortgage market and a relatively low inventory of homes for sale,” the company said in a statement.

The market is no longer a magnet for investors as distressed properties continue to dwindle.

During August foreclosure resales — homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months — accounted for a 5 percent market share, down from 5.2 percent in July and 7 percent a year ago.

In recent months, the foreclosure sales rate has been the lowest since early 2007. In the current cycle, they peaked at 56.7 percent in February 2009.

Short sales — deals in which sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — had an estimated 5.9 percent market share, up slightly from 5.8 percent the prior month and down from 11.5 percent a year earlier.

“It’s a strange market,” Carney said. “We know that if you put a home on the market it most likely will sell. So why aren’t there more homes on the market? Maybe there aren’t that many people who want to sell.”

By Gregory J. Wilcox, Los Angeles Daily News

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Homes Less affordable, but San Bernardino more affordable than most

The housing affordability index, which measures the percentage of all households that can afford to purchase a median-priced single- family home in California, fell in the second quarter, the California Association of Realtors reported today.

Despite the dip in Californians’ ability to buy homes, San Bernardino County remains one of the state’s most affordable areas.

Across the state, lower interest rates in the second quarter of 2014 failed to offset continued home price increases, lowering housing affordability, CAR said in a statement.

The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home in California fell from 33 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 30 percent in the second quarter and was down from 36 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to CAR’s Traditional Housing Affordability Index.

In the second quarter, home buyers needed to earn a minimum annual income of $93,590 to qualify for the purchase of a $457,140 single-family home. The monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, would be $2,340, assuming a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.32 percent.

The median home price was $416,720 in the first quarter of 2014, and an annual income of $86,420 was needed to purchase a home at that price.

During the second quarter of 2014, the three most affordable counties in California were Kings (64 percent), San Bernardino (58 percent), and Merced (57 percent). The least affordable counties were San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin (all at 14 percent), CAR said.

Source: “City News Service"

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Housing Affordability Index

2014 Q2

C.A.R. Traditional Housing Affordability Index

STATE/REGION/COUNTY

Q2 2014

Q1 2014

 

Q2 2013

 

CA SFH 

30

33

 

36

 

CA Condo/Townhomes

39

41

 

46

 

Los Angeles Metropolitan Area

33

35

r

39

 

Inland Empire

47

47

r

56

 

S.F. Bay Area

20

23

r

25

r

US

57

61

r

60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S.F. Bay Area

 

 

 

 

 

Alameda

18

22

 

25

 

Contra-Costa (Central County)

19

24

 

23

r

Marin

14

15

r

20

 

Napa

25

28

r

34

 

San Francisco

14

15

r

17

 

San Mateo

14

14

r

17

 

Santa Clara

19

22

r

24

 

Solano

51

53

r

63

 

Sonoma

29

29

r

29

 

Southern California

 

 

 

 

 

Los Angeles

30

31

 

37

 

Orange County

20

21

r

23

 

Riverside County

41

42

 

49

 

San Bernardino

58

61

r

69

 

San Diego

26

27

 

32

 

Ventura

28

29

 

36

 

Central Coast

 

 

 

 

 

Monterey

26

23

 

35

 

San Luis Obispo

24

24

r

30

 

Santa Barbara

18

18

r

18

 

Santa Cruz

18

20

r

20

 

Central Valley

 

 

 

 

 

Fresno

54

54

r

61

 

Kings County

64

64

r

70

 

Madera

55

61

r

71

 

Merced

57

58

r

65

 

Placer County

44

45

r

51

 

Sacramento

48

50

 

56

 

Tulare

57

59

 

66

 

Source: CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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What's Up with Mortgage Rates?

7 Tips for a Profitable Home Closing

By: G. M. Filisko

Published: February 10, 2010

Be sure you’re walking away with all the money you’re entitled to from the sale of your home.

1. Take services out of your name

Avoid a dispute with the buyers after closing over things like fees for the cable service you forgot to discontinue. Contact every utility and service provider to end or transfer service to your new address as of the closing date.

If you’re on an automatic-fill schedule for heating oil or propane, don’t pay for a pre-closing refill that provides free fuel for the new owner. Contact your insurer to terminate coverage on your old home, get coverage on your new home, and ask whether you’re entitled to a refund of prepaid premium.

2. Spread the word on your change of address

Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks before the closing. Also notify credit card companies, publication subscription departments, friends and family, and your financial institutions of your new address.

3. Manage the movers

Scrutinize your moving company’s estimate. If you’re making a long-distance move, which is often billed according to weight, note the weight of your property and watch so the movers don’t use excessive padding to boost the weight. Also check with your homeowners insurer about coverage for your move. Usually movers cover only what they pack.

4. Do the settlement math

Title company employees are only human, so they can make mistakes. The day before your closing, check the math on your HUD-1 Settlement Statement.

5. Review charges on your settlement statement

Are all mortgages being paid off, and are the payoff amounts correct? If your real estate agent promised you extras—such as a discounted commission or a home warranty policy—make sure that’s included. Also check whether your real estate agent or title company added fees that weren’t disclosed earlier. If any party suggests leaving items off the settlement statement, consult a lawyer about whether that might expose you to legal risk.

6. Search for missing credits

Be sure the settlement company properly credited you for prepaid expenses, such as property taxes and homeowners association fees, if applicable. If you’ve prepaid taxes for the year, you’re entitled to a credit for the time you no longer own the home. Have you been credited for heating oil or propane left in the tank?

7. Don’t leave money in escrow

End your home sale closing with nothing unresolved. Make sure the title company releases money already held in escrow for you, and avoid leaving sales proceeds in a new escrow to be dickered over later.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has survived several closings. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

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