Monday, December 31, 2007

Existing home sales edge up from record low

To close the year with a positive note, this news is a relieve for the Real Estate market.

Existing home sales edge up from record low
By Emily Kaiser
Mon Dec 31, 4:36 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The pace of existing U.S. home sales edged up in November from a record low, according to a report on Monday that offered some tentative signs of stabilization in the still-ailing housing market.

Sales of previously owned homes rose 0.4 percent to a 5 million-unit annual rate, the first increase in nine months, the National Association of Realtors said.

Economists and investors breathed a small sigh of relief that the glut of unsold homes was smaller than a month earlier, dipping to 10.3 months' supply at November's sales pace from 10.7 in October, as falling prices spurred stronger demand.

Wall Street economists had expected home resales to hold steady at October's previously reported 4.97 million-unit pace. October sales were revised up to a 4.98 million unit rate, still the lowest on records dating to 1999.

The data initially helped stocks trim losses, while weighing on prices for U.S. government bonds. However, the moves were short-live and major stock indexes closed down, with the blue chip Dow Jones industrial index (.DJI) falling 101 points to 13,264.

"The second consecutive month of steady sales seemingly hints at a possible bottom in housing demand," said Haseeb Ahmed, an economist with JPMorgan in New York. However, Ahmed said the stability was "quite possibly temporary."

While the inventory of unsold homes moved down, it remained elevated at 4.27 million homes as the ongoing turmoil in the credit markets thinned the pool of potential buyers, suggesting it may be some time before the market regains solid footing.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Real Estate Professionals --
Meeting the Needs of Home Sellers
by Dr. Paul C. Bishop, Harika “Anna” Barlett and Jessica Lautz, NAR Survey Research

Selling a home is a major decision for most households but sellers can choose from many options when looking to successfully complete a home sale. Sellers can work with a real estate agent who will manage the entire transaction, or they can take on the entire selling and marketing responsibility themselves, without the assistance of an agent.

2007 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicate that among recent home sellers, 85 percent were assisted by a real estate agent

How those home sellers select their real estate agent, what they expect their agent to do for them in the home sales transaction, and whether or not they would use that agent again are just a few of the questions that the report answers...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Latest Real Estate News

Foreclosure Activity Decreases 10% in November
“The 10 percent drop in November is the first double-digit monthly decrease we’ve seen since April 2006,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

FHA Legislation to Help Homeowners, Economy
The FHA Modernization Act of 2007, passed Friday by the U.S. Senate, would help protect the interest of America’s current and future homeowners by giving borrowers a safer alternative to riskier mortgage products while also helping many homeowners who may be facing foreclosure, according to the National Association of Realtors(R)

Realtors® Urge President To Sign Tax Relief Bill
Realtors® Urge President To Sign Tax Relief Bill Quickly To Ease Foreclosure Burdens
WASHINGTON, December 18, 2007 - Many families and individuals are one step closer to seeing tax relief, thanks to the passage of the Mortgage Cancellation Tax Relief Act by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Since the early 1990s, NAR has advocated repealing the current law that forces individuals to pay an income tax when they have had a loan forgiven in either a foreclosure, a sale in a market where prices are declining or because the lender grants new mortgage terms.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Housing Markets That Are Still Thriving

Daily Real Estate News | December 11, 2007
Housing Markets That Are Still Thriving

Home prices also jumped more than 10 percent in second home markets in Utah, Idaho, and Colorado.

"They're doing so well because they're getting the run-off from California, Nevada, and Arizona," says Jeannine Cataldi, senior economist for Global Insight. "When prices got so high [in those states], people said, 'there must be places that are more affordable.’”

The best-performing housing market in the country during the third quarter was picturesque Wenatchee, a city of more than 35,000 that is the seat of Chelan County, Wash. Prices in the Wenatchee metro area increased by 15.7 percent year over year, according to RealtyTrac.

Here are the top 10 best performing markets in the country:

Wenatchee, Wash.: 15.7 percent
Provo-Orem, Utah: 14.35 percent
Grand Junction, Colo.: 14.05 percent
Ogden-Clearfield, Utah: 13.95 percent
Salt Lake City: 13.37 percent
Idaho Fall, Idaho: 11.69 percent
Austin-Round Rock, Texas: 9.67 percent
Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas: 9.44 percent
Asheville, N.C.: 9.44 percent
Billings, Mont.: 9.07 percent

Source: BusinessWeek, Prashant Gopal (12/10/07)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mortgage rate freeze reached

Today President Bush announced a big program for the relief of the Mortgage crunches for the homeowners. Here is the newsbrief:

Mortgage rate freeze reached

11 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of thousands of strapped homeowners could get some relief from a plan negotiated by the Bush administration to freeze interest rates on subprime mortgages that are scheduled to rise in the coming months

There is no perfect solution," President Bush said Thursday as he announced an agreement hammered out with the mortgage industry. "The homeowners deserve our help. The steps I've outlined today are a sensible response to a serious challenge."

Seeking to counter criticism he is violating his free-market principles, Bush said the private-sector plan does not represent the imposition of a government solution to the mortgage crisis.

"We should not bail out lenders, real estate speculators or those who made the reckless decision to buy a home they knew they could not afford," Bush said after meeting with industry leaders at the White House. "But there are some responsible homeowners who could avoid foreclosure with some assistance."

Bush said 1.2 million people could be eligible for help. But only a fraction will be subject to the rate freeze. Others would get assistance in refinancing with their lenders and moving into loans secured by the Federal Housing Administration, Bush said.

Also, the aid will only come to those who ask for it, he said. Thousands of borrowers who are falling behind on their payments have been sent letters about the options, and Bush also urged people to call a new hot line: 1-888-995-HOPE.

The announcement followed news earlier Thursday that home foreclosures surged to an all-time high in the July-September period. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the percentage of all mortgages that started the foreclosure process in the third quarter jumped to a record 0.78 percent. That top the mark of 0.65 percent of all mortgages in the second quarter.;_ylt=And28tZReMbDjxW5ai5ZDXyb.HQA

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holidays 'food drive'

We have been doing the 'food drive' for the last 2 months.
We distributed brochures and on the designated days we would go out and collect the foods. It is the food drive collection for the local food banks.

We only ask for canned and non-perishable foods. Each Realtor volunteered and picked his/her own designated routes. Many of us collected bags and bags of foods each time we conducted the drive, some had less, depended on the route.

We have one more designated day to collect the food.

We also designated Saturday, 2-3 Realtors from our office would take turn and work at Walmart, Albertson & Stater Brothers supermarkets to collete foods from shoppes. We ask them on the way to their shopping to get extra can of food and donate.
We sign up in our office to work from 10 to 4pm. This is arranged ahead of time and we got permissions from the managers to set up the tables in the front of the stores.

Many people with children are very generous and they donated several big bags of foods. They are teaching their children to give and share during the holidays.

Some people are visibly irritated that we bothered them.
It takes certain personality to go up to people and ask them for donation (begging), I think at my age, I can take it lol.

One Sat I went in for a 12 to 2 pm spot and had to help another Realtor so I filled up the spot until 4 since no other Realtor signed up for the 2 to 4 slot.

I am going to work at Walmart it again this Sat. We get more donations at Walmart since more people are shopping there and they are not in a hurry or hungry as people shopping at Albertson and Stater Brothers.

So far we pretty much filled up the food banks for Thanksgiving and hopefully we can do the same for Christmas. We thought of doing Turkey but we did not want to do it because of the liability and logistic issues. Turkey has to be kept cold, frozen or not.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

How To Survive The Housing Slump.

An article on this week's Newsweek:

Five Ways to Survive the Housing Slump
Expert advice for would-be sellers and buyers.

By Daniel McGinn | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Nov 6, 2007 | Updated: 2:12 p.m. ET Nov 6, 2007

The National Association of Realtors has just launched a new ad campaign touting why buying a house "is a decision you shouldn't postpone any longer" and reminding buyers that "the value of a home nearly doubles every 10 years." But real-estate agents' forecasts have a history of being ridiculously optimistic. At the other extreme, housing bears like John Talbott say homeowners' current woes have only just begun. Here's his advice for would-be buyers and sellers right now:

What was your house worth in 1997?
When John Talbott figures how far prices have to fall, he figures they'll return to 1997 levels, since that was the year in which many of the aggressive lending practices—like interest-only mortgages—really began to take off.

Take a hard look at your mortgage.
"There are very few good deals left in the world for consumers, and fixed-rate, 30-year housing debt is one of them," Talbott says, particularly if homeowners set aside money to pay it off faster than the lender requires.

Follow the bailout talk.
Talbott says most people with adjustable-rate mortgages would be better off with a fixed-rate mortgage, but that makes two assumptions: that they can afford the larger payment on a fixed-rate loan, and they believe the government isn't going to offer some sort of bailout plan for borrowers who've gotten in over their heads with mortgage debt. People in mortgage trouble who are thinking about refinancing would be wise to watch headlines about bailout proposals, he says.

Think about home renovations as an expense, not an investment.
During the boom many homeowners came to believe the money they spent on a new kitchen or bath constituted savings, since improvements would only add fuel to their home's soaring value. The bust should help people understand that every dollar homeowners spend on a renovation rarely pays back $1 when they sell the house, Talbott says. Renovations are mostly about comfort and status, not about improving home values, he says.

It may still pay to sell now instead of later.
With home values down, some people may be inclined to hold off listing a home in the hope of a quick recovery. But if Talbott is correct, home prices have only begun to fall, and someone who can sell his home for 5 or 10 percent less than what he thought it was worth during the boom would do very well.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Home Value.

As I posted on my web site, homes and land are long term investment and it is still a safe investment with minimum risk. I also stated that my Real Estate investments so far have fair much better than my stock portfolios.

Here is a excerpt from my web site:


In today changing Real Estate market, it is important to remember that Real Estate is still a good long term investment.

It is an investment that the investor is practically utilizing other people's money to acquire appreciating assets on which the profits can be realized at 100% tax free. The risks in Real Estate investing can be offseted by the potential of long term gain. As investor and home owner, your monthly rent payment is now convert to a monthly mortgage payment which accumulate values over the years.

As an example, if an investor put a $15,000 down payment in a condo and lived in it for 5-6 years, she definitely made a good investment. Many of the owners of a condo in Murrieta bought it for around $89,500 in 2001 and if they just resold in 2007 for $290,000. This is overall translated to about $200,000 appreciation (profit tax free). Yes, the investors probably could have gotten $310,000 for the condo earlier this year but then he/she would have to pay higher prices for another property that

he/she wants to purchase to replace the condo.

I have been buying and selling Real Estate for the last 36+ years. When I bought my first home in Santa Clara for $70000 in 1975, it sold for about 10 times+ it's original price. This is not a guarantee or a result to be expected by everyone but there are similar results in the real estate appreciation in California in the past 30+ years.

According to the California Association of Realtors and The National Association Of Home Builders. Housing is still a safe long-term investment.

Despite declining home prices as recently reflected in an S&P/Case-Shiller home price statistics survey, on average, the nation's top markets have experienced price appreciation by as much as 50 percent over the past five years, according to comparable data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"It's important to keep things in perspective," said NAHB President Brian Catalde. "The current housing price correction is most pronounced in the once super-heated markets in California, Nevada, Florida and Arizona. In most other markets, price declines have been pretty modest."

According to the NAHB's comparable data tables, home prices in Los Angeles dipped 5.7 percent in the last year, but have appreciated by 88.9 percent since 2002. San Francisco home prices have declined 4.2 percent in the last year, but have seen appreciation of 46.7 percent since 2002. Home prices in San Diego have fallen by 8.3 percent in the last year, but have appreciated 54 percent since 2002, according to the report.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Real Estate News For The Week

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.26 percent for the week ending Nov. 1, its lowest point since May, compared with 6.33 percent a week earlier, and 6.31 for the same period a year ago. The five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.98 percent for the week, down from the previous week from 6.03 percent, and 6.05 for the same period a year ago.

"Continued market concerns about weaker economic growth and further declines in the housing market have kept mortgage rates low over the last few weeks," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

More info

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) have released a working roadmap of policies supporting the use of historic preservation as a tool for creating more affordable housing.

During a symposium held this week, HUD and the ACHP, backed by a panel of national experts on affordable housing and historic preservation, unveiled a working set of policies the agencies say carry the potential to help pave the way for more affordable housing in urban neighborhoods.

"Historic preservation and affordable housing are not two separate worlds," said HUD Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi. "Historic preservation can be a powerful tool to fuel the preservation of affordable housing too."

More info

Mortgage loan activity for the week ending Oct. 31 was up 3.8 percent, according to the latest survey by The Mortgage Bankers Association. On an unadjusted basis, the index was up 19.5 percent compared with the same week one year earlier. The refinance index also increased 9.2 percent to 2249.0 from 2059.3 the previous week.

More info

Friday, November 2, 2007

Top 5 Markets Where Home Prices are Rising

Top 5 Markets Where Home Prices are Rising
Home prices have risen in five major markets, while continuing to fall in the rest of the country, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for August, released Tuesday.

The largest price declines are in rust belt cities, although Tampa came out as the big loser as speculators abandoned properties.

“The fall in home prices is showing no real signs of a slowdown or turnaround," says Robert J. Shiller, co-creator of the index and chief economist for MacroMarkets LLC.

The Case-Shiller indexes track multiple sales of the same homes in an attempt to screen out price differences caused by shifts in the size and type of houses being sold. Some housing economists consider these indexes the best gauge of national and metro real-estate values.

Here are the changes in the August price level from a year earlier for single-family homes.

5 Cities Where Prices Rose

1. Seattle: 5.7
2. Charlotte: 5.6
3. Portland: 2.8
4. Atlanta: 0.8
5. Dallas: 0.5

15 Cities Where Prices Fell

1. Tampa: -10.1
2. Detroit: -9.3
3. San Diego: -8.3
4. Phoenix: -8.0
5. Miami: -7.8
6. Las Vegas: -7.6
7. Washington, D.C.: -7.2
8. Los Angeles: -5.7
9. San Francisco: -4.2
10. Cleveland: -4.1
11. Minneapolis: -4.0
12. New York: -3.8
13. Boston: -3.6
14. Chicago: -1.3
15. Denver: -0.4

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Rex Nutting, and S&P Case-Shiller Index (10/31/07)

Fed Cuts Rate a Quarter Point, Banks Respond

Fed Cuts Rate a Quarter Point, Banks Respond
The Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate by one-quarter percentage point to 4.5 percent Wednesday.

In response, commercial banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and KeyCorp., announced that they were cutting their prime lending rate — for certain credit cards, home equity lines of credit, and other loans — by a corresponding amount, to 7.5 percent.

The decline in these rates generally also pushes down first mortgage and refinance rates.

The Fed policymakers supporting Wednesday's rate cut said the action was needed to "forestall some of the adverse effects on the broader economy" that might arise from the housing and credit troubles that have wreaked havoc on Wall Street over the past few months.

But Fed policymakers said the current and the previous rate cut in September should be enough to “roughly balance” the risk to the economy from inflation.

Most economists are taking that statement to mean that the Fed probably will leave the funds rate alone when it next meets on Dec. 11, the last session of the year.

Source: The Associated Press, Jeannine Aversa (11/31/07)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Retirement Home

Daily Real Estate News - August 13, 2007

Buy Retirement Home Now, Move in Later

With prices in many areas at a low ebb, it might make good financial sense for Baby Boomers to buy their retirement homes now, even if they're still years away from actually moving. They can find renters who will pay the bills until they're ready to live there.

Here’s some advice for people who are considering this strategy:

Shop carefully. It's best to buy a home that can be rented for a rate that, after tax considerations, will cover the mortgage, real estate taxes, and insurance.

Study up on housing trends. Ask the local or state planning department for demographic and economic data.

The information can reveal facts that will influence whether or not to buy. For example, big companies going out of business or military base closings can be bad news.
Don’t forget maintenance.

Consider who’ll take care of the house in the owner’s absence. Property managers charge 6 percent to 15 percent of the monthly rent. Family members may be willing to do the job for free, but they could be ill equipped to do the job if the don't have any experience.

Consider financing. Boomers with sufficient equity in their current homes can tap it to either buy their retirement home outright or secure a much lower mortgage rate compared with a loan at the rate often offered to buyers of investment property.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Home Selling Solutions

Home Selling Solutions

Quick tips for a quick sale in today’s market

By Nanette Overly
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Epcon Communities

The challenges facing the national real estate market and the mortgage industry at the moment make this a bad time to sell your home, right?

Not so.

In fact, in many respects, the timing is ideal. Because prices have been trending more affordable and there is an overall perception that it is a buyer’s market, there are a lot of people out there house-hunting. With so many prospective buyers, people who have taken the initiative and prepared their house for sale will be in a strong position to make the sale that fits best for them, at a price that fully accommodates their future plans. Particularly for those seeking maintenance free living and Baby Boomers looking to make the transition to a condominium-style residential community, the opportunity is there to make a proactive and successful foray into the real estate market.

Here are a few basic home-selling tips to help you put your current house on the market, get a fair price and a speedy sale, and move on to exciting possibilities in your new home.

Gain Some Perspective

When preparing to sell your home, try to make sure that you rid yourself of any emotional attachments to maintain an unbiased perspective. If you can make a sincere attempt to your see your home as prospective buyers might see it, you will be better prepared to make the kinds of small changes that can make a significant difference to the overall appeal of the property. It is human nature to lose our objectivity a little bit; we live in these homes, and they have become a part of us. But while beauty may be in the eye of the beholder that beloved rope swing in the front yard might just appear to be a raggedy eyesore to someone else and potential buyers might not share your appreciation for the moth-eaten carpet that Uncle Bert brought back from Turkey.

Set Realistic Financial Expectations

One of the sticking points for so many people who may be initially hesitant to put their house on the market is the onset of inflated expectations that have seeped into the public consciousness. The real estate boom of a few years ago made real estate transactions seem like opportunities to win the lottery, but that kind of trend was unrealistic and ultimately unsustainable. If you have owned your home for three years or more and treated it with love and respect, you should not have a challenge in selling your home for more than you bought it for, but don’t expect to retire on it. Be realistic. Make a wise pricing decision, and you can sell your home quickly, efficiently and still realize a tidy profit.

Work With Some Stagehands

Don’t be afraid to hire a trained professional. Someone who can coach you in “staging” a home can be an invaluable asset both before your home is on the market and during the sales process. These are experts at identifying where you can make small adjustments and minor improvements to make a big impact or even just by putting a few personal items away or reorganizing the furniture to better accentuate the space.

Become a Do-It-Yourselfer

Roll up those sleeves and get busy! Put on a fresh coat of paint, using neutral tones at all times. Make minor repairs, take care of small cleaning projects and fix up those minor blemishes and nagging scuffmarks you’ve been meaning to take care of. Potential homebuyers have to be able to envision themselves living in your home, and a few trips to your local home improvement center and a little elbow grease is a small price to pay to help make that happen.

Don’t Neglect Landscaping

The outside also matters. Your home’s exterior and the landscaping that greets prospective buyers can make – or break – a sale. As much as we are told not to judge a book by its cover, it can be difficult to overcome a poor first impression. Avoid an overgrown and out-of-control yard whenever possible. There is no need to emulate the cover of Home & Garden, but keeping things neat and trim should be a priority. Don’t forget interior landscaping as well; fresh flower arrangements on an end table or dresser can really help brighten up a room.

The Nose Knows

Scent is one of the most powerful and resonant of senses, and people can have unexpectedly strong reaction to smell queues. Air fresheners and cut flowers are always a plus, and smokers and amateur cooks need to be particularly aware of any powerful or pungent odors in their home that may be a potential distraction.

Location, Location, Location

Perhaps most importantly, try to view your home in both regional and local market context. What are people getting who buy homes like yours? What features? What amenities? Be aware of larger industry trends, but also keep a close eye on neighborhood trends. Understanding where your home fits into the bigger picture can not only help you decide on a pricing strategy, but can also help you make the small changes necessary to make your home both more appealing and more profitable.

Nanette Overly is vice president of sales and marketing services with Dublin, Ohio-based Epcon Communities, one of the leading developers and franchise operators of condominium developments nationwide. She can be reached at 614-761-1010, or via e-mail at

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Best Market For

Matt Woolsey writes the most interesting and articulate artcles about Real Estate.
Read some of his latest artcles, it is in fitting with the time.

When bad news comes out of the housing market, skittish potential buyers opt to wait for the market to bottom out. And since they have to live somewhere, these would-be buyers rent.

If you're looking to rent property--for whatever reason--the best place to try is Atlanta, where rental vacancies are expanding and prices are going up slower than inflation. Not far behind are Denver and Phoenix, where yields and supply problems are giving investors fits, but making life easy for renters.

Best Renters' Markets
Matt Woolsey, 08.30.07, 12:00 PM ET

In Pictures: Best Renters' Markets

Best Markets For Landlords
These areas may not be kind to renters, but they're a boon to owners collecting
those monthly checks.

Whether they're waiting out the housing storm, or smack in the middle of it, an increasing number of Americans are choosing to rent, not own. And that's good news for landlords and investors.

Foreclosures and risky lending have dogged the housing market. As lenders have tightened their standards, attractive mortgages have grown harder to come by. Yet rental fundamentals have remained strong, especially in the 10 areas that made our list of Best Markets for Landlords.

Tops on our list: New York City, where in the last 12 months rents have jumped between 7.4% and 7.9% across the Class A, B and C apartment classifications ("A" being the most luxurious, "C" being the least). In the Big Apple, 80% of the population rents, and the city's unaffordable housing entices few to make the leap to home ownership.

In Pictures: Best Markets For Landlords

Friday, August 17, 2007

Top 10 Foreclosure Cities

Top 10 Foreclosure Cities
By Les Christie, staff writer
August 14, 2007

NEW YORK ( -- The binge that many housing markets went on in the early- to mid-2000s is over, and some of the hottest markets like California are now experiencing the worst hangovers.

But other areas, especially many that recorded slower home price growth earlier this decade, have seen little increase in foreclosure rates, according to the latest data released Tuesday from RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosure properties.
Most Ruthless Foreclosure States

"While foreclosure activity has skyrocketed over the past year in many cities, particularly in California, Ohio and the Northeast," James Saccaccio, RealtyTrac's chief executive, said in a statement, "foreclosure activity seems to be subsiding in parts of Texas, South Carolina and other states."

"Still," he said, "the overall trend is toward escalating foreclosure rates, with 82 of the top 100 metro areas reporting year-over-year increases in the number of homes affected by foreclosure."

Stockton, California now leads the nation in foreclosures. Of RealtyTrac's top 10 metro areas for foreclosures, four are in Central California.

Coastal California cities are doing relatively well, although foreclosures are up there too. San Francisco had one foreclosure for every 263 households, a fairly low rate, but up 83 percent from the first six months of 2006.

Stockton city drew thousands of home buyers to the Central Valley area from the prohibitively expensive Bay-area markets during the housing boom and saw home prices nearly double in the four years ended December 31, 2005, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Seven of the nation's top 10 metro areas are in the Sun Belt. Only three are in economically hard-hit areas, historically the kinds of places that once produced the highest rates of foreclosure filings.

Stockton recorded one foreclosure filing for every 27 households during the six months ended June 30, a 256 percent increase compared with the first six months of 2006.

Number two in the nation was Detroit, where job losses in the auto industry drove foreclosures higher. One of every 29 households recorded a foreclosure filing there, almost double the rate of a year ago. Las Vegas (one of 31, up 142 percent) was third.

The other California cities in the top 10 were Riverside/ San Bernardino (one in 33, up 198 percent), Sacramento (one in 36, up 231 percent) and Bakersfield (one in 47, up 222 percent). Rounding out the top 10 were Denver at No. 6, Miami at No. 7, Memphis at No. 9 and Cleveland ranked 10th.

The lowest foreclosure rate recorded by RealtyTrac among the 100 metro areas surveyed was in Richmond, Virginia. It had just one for every 2,319 households, about the same as a year ago and a rate barely more than 1 percent of Stockton's.

Other low foreclosure metro areas included Greenville, South Carolina (one in 1,721, down 66 percent), McAllen, Texas (one in 1,494, down 35 percent) and Honolulu (one in 1,151, up 68 percent).

Home Prices

According to Associationi of Realtors ( research, the most expensive home in the US is in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, where the median price was $865,000.

Well, certainly one should not be surprise - that's where all the good steady JOBS are.

The second
most expensive area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, at $846,800, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area (Orange County, Calif.), at $727,000.

Well again, NO SURPRISE there... JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! Steady 9 to 5 GOOD PAYING jobs.

Sales Pace Down 11% Nationally

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.91 million units in the second quarter, down 10.8 percent from a 6.63 million-unit pace in the second quarter of 2006.

Six states showed increases in the sales pace from a year ago; one was unchanged and complete data for two states were not available.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 6.37 percent in the second quarter, up from 6.22 percent in the first quarter; the rate was 6.6 percent in the second quarter of 2006.

Most, Least Affordable Areas in the U.S.

During the second quarter, median single-family home prices ranged from a very affordable $71,700 in Elmira, N.Y., to 12 times that amount in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, where the median price was $865,000.

The second most expensive area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, at $846,800, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area (Orange County, Calif.), at $727,000.

In addition to Elmira, other affordable markets include the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area of Ohio and Pennsylvania, at $76,700, and the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North area of Michigan, with a second-quarter median price of $86,900.

The biggest price gains were found in the Salt Lake City area, where the median price of $233,100 rose 21.9 percent from a year ago. Next was Binghamton, N.Y., at $111,200, up 19.8 percent from the second quarter of 2006, followed by Salem, Ore., where the second quarter median price rose 16.7 percent to $227,900. Most of the metros with price declines were modest, although four areas experienced double-digit drops.

What’s Happening With Condos?

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 55 metro areas – show the national median existing condo price was $226,800 in the second quarter, up 1 percent from $224,500 in the second quarter of 2006. Thirty-seven metros showed annual increases in the median condo price, including seven areas with double-digit gains; one was unchanged and 17 areas had price declines.

The strongest condo price gains were in the Salt Lake City area, where the second quarter price of $162,200 rose 25.2 percent from a year earlier, followed by Reno-Sparks, Nev., at $220,500, up 17 percent, and the Austin-Round Rock area of Texas, where the median condo price of $172,100 rose 14.9 percent from the second quarter of 2006.

Metro area median existing-condo prices in the second quarter ranged from $116,400 in Greensboro-High Point, N.C., to $608,700 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area. The second most expensive condo market reported was Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, at $413,400, followed by the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos area at $368,600.

Read the whole research here on Realtor.org

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

20 Things That Can Alter the Value of Your Home
by Dana DratchThursday, August 9, 2007provided by

Here are 10 features that can add value to your home, and another 10 that could reduce the sales price.
Increase home's value
1. An updated kitchen
2. Modern bathrooms
3. A well-appointed master suite
4. Natural materials
5. Curb appeal
6. A light, airy spacious feel
7. Good windows
8. Landscaping
9. Lots of storage
10. Basement

Expecting to plant a "For Sale" sign in the front yard any time soon? Whether the target date for listing your home on the market is a few months or a few years away -- or whether you simply like to make decisions with an eye toward the future -- you may well be wondering how putting some money into the house now will pay off later.

Thanks to research from Remodeling magazine, homeowners can take some of the guesswork out of project decision-making. The publication's "Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2006," which offers national averages as well as regional and city breakdowns of 25 common home improvement projects and their effects on resale value, shows that exterior siding replacement, wood window replacement and minor kitchen and bathroom remodels are tops in the national average of job cost recouped.

Here's the lowdown on the top 10 home improvement projects by resale value from this 19th annual report, which is based on e-mail surveys returned from 2,188 members of the National Association of Realtors. In calculating costs, the report authors considered complete cost-to-construct figures (including labor, material, subtrade contractors and gross profit).

Reports for each of the 60 cities surveyed, as well as a complete printed report, are available for purchase and immediate download from Remodeling magazine

Here are the top 10:
Top 10 remodeling projects
1. Replace siding -- fiber cement.
2.Replace siding -- vinyl
3.Mid-range window replacement (wood)
4.Minor kitchen remodel
5.Bathroom remodel
6.Upscale window replacement -- vinyl
7.Mid-range window replacement -- vinyl
8.Two-story addition
9.Siding replacement -- foam-backed vinyl
10.Upscale window replacement -- wood



Mortgage loan applications increased 3.4 percent to 687.7 for the week ending Aug. 10 compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) most recent survey.

"Recent upheavals in the mortgage industry may be temporarily increasing the level of retail application activity at the large lenders that participate in the MBA survey rather than representing a system-wide increase," said Doug Duncan, MBA's chief economist.

The refinancing sector claimed 39.9 percent share of all mortgage activity, while adjustable rate-mortgage (ARM) products saw a dip in volume to 21 percent from 22.5 percent of total applications for the week ending Aug. 10. compared with week before.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Market Prediction. Who's Right About the Housing Market?

Market prediction, up or down. Most news about real estate market nowaday are all gloomy.
This article is interesting to read in it's full content.

The article is written by James A. Crumbaugh, who has worked exclusively in the real estate industry for more than 35 years. He said that the worst article he has ever read in his entire adult life, was a recent column in the July 9, 2007, issue of BARRON’S.

This article from BARRON’S said that the real estate market in the US will go down another 30%.

MONDAY, JULY 9, 2007
1. Picking Through the Rubble
2. Cover Story -- Part II
3. Emerging Danger
4. Market Mayhem
5. Safe Spots for Bond Investors
Why a Housing Recovery Is Far Off
THE SPEED OF THE DROP IN HOME SALES has slowed over the past few months, leading some commentators to argue that the housing-market crisis will soon be over. But it's far too soon to start anticipating a recovery. In fact, there are solid reasons to think that the bottom might not be reached for a year or more.
The dynamics have changed since sales began to fall in the summer of 2005. At that time, the Fed was in the middle of its program to normalize short-term interest rates, which inexorably raised the cost of adjustable-rate mortgages. The flood of cheap ARMs when the fed-funds rate was very low was a key driver of the housing boom's latter stages. Many borrowers who were lured into the market by the availability of cheap ARMs should never have been granted loans, but there weren't many complaints at the time.

Experts vs. Neophytes - Who's Right About the Housing Market?
A U.S. Real Estate Pro Disagrees with British Economist's Dire Industry Outlook
Written by: James A. Crumbaugh III
July 25th, 2007 - 1:00 am

Every day we get to read another scare story about the real estate market. Some of these articles drive me up the wall because they are written by someone that has never spent a day working in the Real Estate industry, or they are written by a stock broker or some other neophyte.
However, the worst article I have ever read in my entire adult life, and I have spent my entire adult life in the real estate industry, was a recent column in the July 9, 2007, issue of BARRON’S. Before I address this article, let me give you a little background on myself. I have worked exclusively in the real estate industry for more than 35 years. I have owned and sold real estate companies, the most recent a six-office Prudential franchise with 200 REALTORS, 2,000 closed sales per year and almost $300 million in sales volume.
I sold the company at the very peak of the real estate boom because I took my own advice. I used to write a weekly real estate column for a local newspaper in Southwest Florida. In the summer of 2005, I predicted this exact market and, as a result, sold my company to a company that had been courting me for years.
My forecasts have been so accurate over the last three years that the local newspaper is running my articles from 2005 and asked me to write new articles on my view of the real estate market over the next few years. With that said, let me address the article that has my hair (what’s left of it) standing on end.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Best Places To Live For Over 50

The Best Places to Live if You're 50+
Looking for a great place to retire?

AARP's membership magazine has revealed it's annual ranking of the top five places to live for people older than 50. The selections are based on criteria that make a community livable, such as mass-transit systems so residents can drive less, expanded sidewalks to encourage walking, better health care, and a wide range of mixed use housing, according to the magazine.This year's top picks are:

Atlanta: "A sophisticated metropolis with southern charm, Atlanta offers abundant volunteer and cultural opportunities. Retirees also appreciate the wide range of housing options."

Beacon Hill in Boston: "This historically genteel part of Boston is full of culture and great restaurants. The Beacon Hill Village provides concierge style access to a network of support services for aging residents including transportation, health care and entertainment."

Chandler, Ariz.: "Gracious desert living combined with an activist twist that encourages residents to get involved with the spirit of the town. A city climate and plenty of parks and open space provide ample recreation opportunities."

Milwaukee: "An example of urban renewal at its best, Milwaukee features picturesque river walks and affordable water-front living."

Portland, Ore.: "European charm meets environmental nirvana in this environmentally progressive city. 50-plus residents love the miles of safe bike lanes and the revitalized Pearl District."

AARP also named four cities to watch: Austin, Texas; Burlington, Vt.; Mankato, Minn., and Traverse City, Mich.

Source: AARP The Magazine

Monday, July 23, 2007

Top 10 Worst Hit Zip Codes By Foreclosure - Second Quarter, 2007 June 19, 2007 stated that - the most foreclosure activity is clustered in two area; old Rust-Belt areas and new Sun-Belt ones.

Top 10 Worst Hit Zip Codes By Foreclosure - Second Quarter, 2007

(stats are in order: zip code, city, foreclosures in 3 months, median income, and percentage of state income)

44105 Cleveland, OH 783 $22,889 58%
30310 Atlanta. GA 709 $22,715 48%
80219 Denver, CO 705 $27,959 52%
48228 Detroit, MI 679 $26,953 57%
95823 Sacramento, CA 634 $30,481 61%
48205 Detroit, MI 634 $26,115 61%
48224 Detroit, MI 583 $32,503 76%
89031 N. Las Vegas, NV 575 $42,952 80%
80239 Denver, CO 553 $31,633 68%
48219 Detroit, MI 549 $31,676 74%

Ref: CNN Money income stats via City Data

Top 500 Foreclosures:
Where the most foreclosures have been filed.

Top 10 Rental Markets

According to Business Week, cautious would-be homeowners and buyers who are unable to qualify to purchase their own homes are delaying the purchase of homes. Affordability issue and tighter lending standards also played the role in this surge in rental rates in many areas of the country and rents have skyrocketing in these cities.

Top 10 Rental Markets With Fastest Rising Rates, 2nd Quarter 2007

San Francisco, CA $1,757 - 3 % Increase
San Jose, CA, $1,473 - 2.4 % Increase
New York City, NY $2,657 - 2.1 % Increase
Seattle, WA $973 - 2 % Increase
Oakland-East Bay, CA., $1,300 - 1.8 % Increase
Orange County, CA, $1,493 - 1.7 % Increase
Washington, D.C., $1,301 – 1.7 % Increase
Baltimore, MD $945 - 1.7 % Increase
New Haven, CT. – $1,065, 1.6 % Increase
Philadelphia,PA $981 – 1.6 % Increase
Ref: Business Week

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Latest News On The Net

The latest economic forecast by NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®:

  • Homebuilders will limit new construction well into 2008. The forecast predicted that home prices are poised for recovering in 2008 as housing inventory falls from current levels.
  • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is estimated to average 6.7 percent during the second half of this year, and fluctuate around 6.6 percent in 2008.
  • Growth in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) will probably be 2 percent in 2007, compared with a 3.3 percent growth rate last year; GDP is forecast to grow 2.8 percent in 2008.
  • The unemployment rate is likely to average 4.6 percent in 2007, unchanged from last year.
  • Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is projected at 2.6 percent in 2007, down from 3.2 percent last year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income should rise 3 percent this year, up from a 2.6 percent gain in 2006.—

- REALTOR® Magazine Online


Sales of High-End Homes Are Booming

From an article by David Leonhardt (07/11/07) on The New York Times

Sales of high-end homes are doing better than the rest of the market in many areas, according to DataQuick Information Systems, which tracks home prices.

In Boston, for instance, the number of homes selling for at least $1 million fell to 619 in the first five months of 2006, but jumped to 711 in the first five months of this year, about equal to sales during the same period of 2005, which was a boom year.

The same situation is true for New York City; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Denver; and Houston. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Miami, high-end sales are down but not by nearly as much as sales in other price segments.

There appears to be three main causes of the split in the market. First, affluent families continue to do better financially than others, thanks to healthy income gains and a rising stock market.

The upper end of the market has also been helped by an influx of well-off foreign investors whose buying power has grown with the recent decline of the dollar.

Finally, both the recent rise in interest rates and the problems in the mortgage market have had a much bigger effect on low-income and middle-class buyers than affluent ones. It's become harder to get a subprime mortgage, while the uptick in interest rates this year has added about $100 to the monthly payment on an average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Source: The New York Times, David Leonhardt (07/11/07)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Newest Most Expensive Home For Sale - in The US

SoCal Mansion Is Nation's Priciest Estate Once Belonged To William Randolph Hearst

POSTED: 8:50 am PDT July 10, 2007UPDATED: 9:39 am PDT
July 10, 2007

LOS ANGELES -- The 1920s-era Beverly Hills mansion of William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies has been put on the market for $165 million, making it the nation's most expensive residential listing, it was reported Monday.

The pink stucco, H-shaped estate, dubbed Beverly House by the late newspaper magnate, is spread across 6.5 acres north of Sunset Boulevard and features three swimming pools, 29 bedrooms, a state-of-the-art movie theater and a disco, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The compound boasts six separate residences -- four houses, an apartment and a cottage for the security staff, according to the newspaper.
"This is the kind of home that comes on the market once in a generation," Jeff Hyland, a Beverly Hills real estate broker and author of "The Estates of Beverly Hills," told The Times.
The seller, attorney-investor Leonard M. Ross, bought the property in 1976 and is now seeking "a lifestyle change," his real estate broker, Stephen Shapiro, told the newspaper.

The asking price for the property, which went on the market Monday, surpasses the $155 million being sought by developers of an estate in Montana's Big Sky country and the $135 million price of an Aspen, Colo., compound being sold by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, according to The Times.

Hearst bought the mansion in 1947 for about $120,000.

The 1920s-era, pink stucco estate is shaped like the letter H and is spread across 6.5 acres north of Sunset Boulevard.

It now features 29 bedrooms, three swimming pools, a movie theater, a disco and a separate residence for the security staff.

John F. Kennedy and his bride, Jacqueline, spent part of their honeymoon at the estate in 1953 and later used it as the West Coast headquarters for Kennedy's presidential campaign.

It also was featured in the movie, "The Godfather."

In the last two years, six U.S. residences have come on the market with nine-digit price tags, according to Rick Goodwin, publisher of Ultimate Homes magazine, an annual compendium of the world's hottest properties. But none of the six has sold, and no U.S. home to date has broken the $100 million mark, The Times reported.

The record remains the $94 million paid by former telecom mogul Gary Winnick for a Bel-Air estate in 2001. Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Top 5 Tips For Selling Your Home

1. Home staging can help your home stand out to buyers, resulting in a quicker sale and higher offers. Even small touches like removing family photos, diplomas, and other personal items make it easier for buyers to visualize themselves in your home. Before you put your home on the market, take an impartial look at your property, inside and out. Quick and inexpensive touch-ups that will give your house a polished look include fresh coats of neutral paint in the bedrooms; new cabinet knobs in the kitchen and bathrooms; and organized closets and cabinets.

2. To make sure you set the most realistic price for your home, learn all you can about your local housing market by carefully reviewing your REALTOR®’s Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This valuable tool explains what consumers have paid for similar homes in your market, which homes failed to sell in recent months, and their corresponding list prices. While you will ultimately decide the final listing price for your home, your REALTOR® can help you analyze the information contained in the CMA and make an assessment of how other homes on the market compare to yours in terms of size, location, amenities, and condition.

3. Keep in mind that as a home seller, you may qualify for the capital gains tax exclusion--up to $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $250,000 for single taxpayers. To qualify for this tax break, you must have used the home as your primary residence for at least two of the prior five years—and the two years don't have to be consecutive. Additionally, this exclusion is not a one-time benefit; you may take advantage of it once every two years as long as you meet the qualifications.

4. Worried about selling your home before you can identify and purchase a new one? It is not uncommon for sellers to add a contingency clause to the sales contract stating that the sale will only proceed if the sellers can purchase a replacement property. Contingency clauses stipulate conditions that must be fulfilled before a contract is binding. They typically provide for a set number of days after which the contingency must be removed from the contract or the parties must decide not to proceed with the sale.

5. Plan for a smooth closing—that's the day ownership of your property is officially transferred to the buyers—by requesting a preliminary copy of the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, which lists estimates of all the settlement fees to be paid by the buyer and the seller. While your portion of the closing costs will be deducted from your earnings from the sale, it is still wise to carefully review the fees to ensure they match what has been negotiated in your sales contract.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Calif. Fast Facts

Fast Facts

Calif. median home price - May 07: $591,180 (Source: C.A.R.)
Calif. highest median home price by C.A.R. region May 07:
Santa Barbara So. Coast $1,325,000 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. lowest median home price by C.A.R. region May 07:
High Desert $313,550 (Source: C.A.R.)

Calif. First-time Buyer Affordability Index - First Quarter 07:
25 percent (Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates - week ending 6/28:
30-yr. fixed: 6.67%; Fees/points: 0.4%
15-yr. fixed: 6.34%; Fees/points: 0.4%
1-yr. adjustable: 5.65%; Fees/points: 0.5%
(Source: Freddie Mac)

Census Bureau Announces Most Populous Cities

RELEASED: 12:01 A.M. EDT, THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2007 Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
301-763-3030/763-3762 (fax) 301-457-1037 (TDD) e-mail:

Census Bureau Announces Most Populous Cities

Phoenix has become the nation’s fifth most populous city, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. As of July 1, 2006, this desert metropolis had a population of 1.5 million.

New York continued to be the nation’s most populous city, with 8.2 million residents. This was more than twice the population of Los Angeles, which ranked second at 3.8 million. (See Table 1 Excel | PDF.)

The estimates reveal that Phoenix moved into fifth place ahead of Philadelphia, the latest evidence of a decades-long population shift. Nearly a century ago, in 1910, each of the 10 most populous cities was within roughly 500 miles of the Canadian border. The 2006 estimates show that seven of the top 10 — and three of the top five — are in states that border Mexico.

Only three of the top 10 from 1910 remained on the list in 2006: New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Conversely, three of the current top 10 cities (Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and San Diego) were not even among the 100 most populous in 1910, while three more (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) had populations of less than 100,000. (See fact sheet. [PDF])

The estimates also reveal that many of the nation’s fastest-growing cities are suburbs. North Las Vegas, Nev., a suburb of Las Vegas, had the nation’s fastest growth rate among large cities (100,000 or more population) between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006. North Las Vegas’ population increased 11.9 percent during the period, to 197,567. It was joined on the list of the 10 fastest-growing cities by three in the Dallas metro area: McKinney (ranking second), Grand Prairie (sixth) and Denton (ninth). In the same vicinity, Fort Worth just missed the list, ranking 11th.

Florida and Arizona each had two cities among the 10 fastest growing: Port St. Lucie (third) and Cape Coral (fourth) in Florida; and Gilbert (fifth) and Peoria (seventh) in Arizona, both near Phoenix. North Carolina (Cary, near Raleigh) and California (Lancaster, near Los Angeles) each contributed one city to the list. (See Table 2 Excel | PDF.) California had seven cities among the 25 fastest growing, leading all states.

Phoenix had the largest population increase of any city between 2005 and 2006, adding more than 43,000 residents to reach 1.5 million. However, Texas dominated the list of the 10 highest numerical gainers, with San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and Dallas each making the top 10. North Las Vegas; Miami; Charlotte, N.C.; and San Jose, Calif., rounded out the list of the 10 biggest numerical gainers. (See Table 3 Excel | PDF.) Overall, eight Texas cities were among the 25 biggest numerical gainers to lead all states.

New Orleans had by far the largest population loss among all cities with populations of at least 100,000 people. The city lost slightly more than half of its pre-Hurricane Katrina population. It fell from 452,170 on July 1, 2005, to 223,388 one year later — a loss of 50.6 percent. To put the size of this loss into perspective, Hialeah, Fla., which experienced the second-highest rate of loss over the period, saw its population decline by 1.6 percent.
(See Table 4 Excel | PDF.)

For more information about the geographic areas for which the Census Bureau produces population estimates, see

Monday, July 2, 2007

What consumers need now!

1. Download newest brochure, "How to Avoid Foreclosure and Keep Your Home," which provides outstanding information for existing homeowners who may not be able to afford their current mortgage, including phone numbers, counseling services and just plain good advice.

Download here.$FILE/NAR%20Foreclosure%20Brochure.pdf

2. Download the brochure, "How to Avoid Predatory Lending" and use it to help prospective homeowners avoid unfair lending practices.

Download here.

3. Visit NAR's subprime Web page for additional information on this growing problem and plenty of great resources for you.

More info here.

7 Tips for Foreclosure Property Investing

Many clients and friends asked me about Investing in Foreclosure property.
Here's an article from web site:

Daily Real Estate News | June 29, 2007

7 Tips for Foreclosure Property Investing

With foreclosures rising nationwide, prices falling, and inventories swelling to historic levels, investors with a discerning eye and knowledge of the foreclosure process can build a profitable portfolio of distressed properties, says James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosure data.

Saccacio offers this basic advice to foreclosure investors:

* Know your market. The most important tool in your real estate investing toolbox is knowledge of the area where you plan to invest.

* Develop an appropriate investment strategy. Find an investment strategy that will work in your market, and then do what it takes to implement that strategy.

* Make the foreclosure process work for you. Decide what foreclosure buying technique works best with your investment strategy and your strengths as a person.

* Scrutinize each deal. Many real estate investors wrongly assume that if a home is in foreclosure it's a good deal.

* Rely on a trustworthy team. You'll be in over your head if you try to do all the work involved in foreclosure investing on your own.

* Network with banks and lenders. In a slow real estate market, banks and other lenders are saddled with larger inventories of foreclosed properties and will be more motivated to sell those properties at bargain prices.

* Act quickly, but don't be in a hurry. A slow real estate market gives you the upper hand as a buyer, but you'll still need to act quickly to get the best deals.

— REALTOR® Magazine Online

Monday, June 18, 2007

The rich are bullish on real estate
The rich are bullish on real estate
Monday June 18, 12:58 pm ET
By Les Christie, staff writer

The very rich are different from you and me: they don't seem to be too worried about the current housing slump. At least that's what a new study released Monday found.
More than half of affluent homeowners expect their property value to appreciate at least somewhat during the next year, according to the Coldwell Banker Previews International Luxury Survey. A tenth of them expect significant gains.

The study polled 301 homeowners with million-dollar homes (two million dollars in California) and more than a million dollars in investable assets.

"These are very successful people and they still think that real estate is a good investment," said Jim Gillespie, Coldwell Banker's chief executive.

The results run counter to most industry watchers' predictions for a continued slump in the overall market. Some forecasts see home prices dropping about 8 percent for the two-year period through the end of 2008.

Part of wealthy home owners' optimism, according to Gillespie, is that the luxury market has held up nationwide during the recent slump.

It may also confirm a basic contrarian investing impulse found among many of the wealthy: the best time to buy is when others are selling. 40 percent polled say they may buy a second home this year.

Looking ahead, 36 percent of the affluent expect the price of their homes to increase significantly over the next five years and 58 percent expect at least some gain, according to the survey.

Women are even more optimistic, with 61 percent expecting some price increase during the next 12 months compared with 50 percent for men.

The wealthy also appear to want more space; 61 percent of those moving this year plan to buy a bigger house.

Gillespie pointed out, with some amazement, that almost half want to make the move because of the way their space is designed. "They're living in multi-million-dollar homes and they don't like their floor plans?" he asked.

Their new spaces are likely to include many features that were once very rare in American homes.

"What constitutes a luxury amenity is evolving," said Gillespie. "High-end kitchens and entertainment rooms now are givens."

The survey found that 72 percent of the rich already have designer kitchens, 63 percent maintain formal landscaped gardens and 34 percent have wine cellars. Some 72 percent of their houses boast rooms devoted to entertainment. 30 percent of those report having rooms with theater-type seating.

The number one next must-have amenity, according to the study, is heated floors. 23 percent of wealthy homeowners already have them, and another 21 percent are considering their addition.

Other desirable add-ons include tennis courts (19 percent), kitchens in the master suites (16 percent) and putting greens or small golf courses on the property (16 percent).

Many of the arriviste amenities - boat docks, gyms, indoor pools - have to do with sports activities and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Retiring in style

The survey also questioned the wealthy about they want to spend their retirement. Chief among them were travel with 87 percent of females and 84 percent of males wanting to indulge in foreign travel and 77 percent and 71 percent planning on domestic trips.

Spending time with families was big for both sexes (64 percent men and 63 percent women) and the majority hoped to remain physically active pursuing sports (65 percent of men and 76 percent of women).

A significant proportion can't seem to picture themselves out of harness: 19 percent of men and 16 percent of women plan to start a new business after they retire.

Some 54 percent of men and 67 percent of women said their main activity in retirement is to just enjoy life.

With the luxurious homes they already own, that shouldn't prove too difficult

Sunday, June 17, 2007

10 Red-hot Spots for New Homes

According to, these areas are the hottest spots for new homes.
Here is the excerpt:

10 Red-hot Spots for New Homes
Texas leads the pack in residential construction

By Diane Benson Harrington

New residential construction is booming in areas such as Phoenix, Ariz. and Atltanta, Ga.

Though the new-home sales are down by 3.9 percent so far this year — the lowest they’ve been since summer of 2000 — new residential construction is still thriving in some areas of the country. The 2002-to-2005 building boom caused too many developers and builders to get a little ahead of themselves.

“In many places, you’ll find there was over-building and over-pricing,” says Bernard Markstein, senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders. Those are the communities where sales are down now. But in other areas, builders were more measured. “These are essentially working places. Employment prospects remain good (in these cities), and population continues to move in there,” Markstein explains.

That’s allowed the new-home market to continue to do well — and retain a broad range of prices — even though building costs are generally increasing as much as 6 percent nationwide each year, Markstein says.

According to a recent study by, Texas tops the ranking of the nation’s residential biggest building site, with new-home communities that offer the most plans. Nevada is a contender as far as the count for communities. However, when it comes to plan choices available on Move, it’s outranked by the likes of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

For the best deals in new homes, head to the cities that are watching sales nose-dive. But for a terrific variety in both home styles and price ranges, check out these top-selling communities:

San Antonio, Texas
About 2-1/2 hours from the Gulf of Mexico and only slightly further from the Mexican border, San Antonio — home of The Alamo and the beautiful River Walk district — is a historical favorite in south central Texas.

San Antonio employers added 8,600 new jobs in the fourth quarter of 2006, many of them in government, trade/transportation/utilities, and education and health services.

Jacksonville, Florida
One of the largest cities — geographically speaking, at 874 square miles — in the continental United States, Jacksonville has thrown out its welcome mat for nearly 1 million residents. The average age here is 35. The vast majority of residents are white, followed by half again as many blacks. The median family income is more than $52,000.

Despite a 7 percent sales tax, the local Chamber of Commerce bills Jacksonville as the most affordable city in Florida. One of its greatest benefits is no state income tax.

Jacksonville is the nation’s 14th best market in terms of job growth, expanding its work force by 9.2 percent (more than 52,000 jobs) between 2001 and 2006, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal. With plenty of large employers here — including the Naval Air Station, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Mayo Clinic and Citibank — Jacksonville offers ample job opportunities.

Charlotte, North Carolina
If you’d like to be in the mountains or at the beach in less than two hours, Charlotte is a great location — equidistant between Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Asheville, N.C. In fact, if you live in Charlotte, you can reach about half the nation’s population within just one hour in a plane or one day in a car, according to

Because Charlotte is the center of the largest consolidated rail system, it’s transformed into a major distribution and transportation hub, adding to its reputation as a regional financial center (home to Wachovia and Bank of America). An inland port facility and foreign trade zone also make the city appealing to foreign companies who want a U.S. presence. The Charlotte area also has attracted several large contractors that do business with the nation’s Defense Department.

Phoenix, Arizona
With more than 1.6 million residents, this southwestern mecca has become the fifth largest city in the United States. The metro area has 3.7 million residents. It may be in a desert, but the city is more than 1,000 feet above sea level, and the average annual temperature is 72.6 degrees.

Known as a transportation, distribution and high-tech manufacturing hub, Phoenix added 67,000 new jobs between 2004 and 2005. The highest-growth industries in the area are health care, professional services, construction and tourism. Banner Health System, the U.S. Postal Service, Wal-Mart, Intel and Honeywell are among the top employers. Arizona State University is in nearby Tempe.

The typical resident is 30.7 years old with a household income of more than $42,000. More than 55 percent of residents are white, and 34 percent are Hispanic.

Atlanta, Georgia
The undisputed hub of the South, Atlanta offers everything from a major league baseball team to the CNN headquarters. Four distinct seasons — though with short winters and summers — make for mild living year-round.

While the city itself has only about half a million residents, the larger metro area recently surpassed 5 million residents — making this one of the fastest growing areas in the country. The median resident age is about 32, with about 61 percent of residents black and 31 percent white. The typical income is about $40,000.

Atlanta’s pro-business climate has attracted more than 2,000 businesses, including several Fortune 500 companies. Top employers include Delta Airlines, Publix Supermarkets, BellSouth, Turner Broadcasting and Cox Newspapers. Coca-Cola is also a well-known fixture. Services, trade and manufacturing are all well represented here. Atlanta is also making inroads as an international hub for business and trade, with more than 1,300 foreign-based businesses here.

Rancho Cordova, California
A growing city 12 miles east of Sacramento in northern California, Rancho Cordova borders the American River and is near historic Gold Country and the Sierra Foothill Wine Country.

The year-round mild climate and thriving business environment have attracted 60,000 residents (although the Sacramento metro area has nearly 1.7 million people). The city’s median age is 31.9, and at least half the residents have completed some college. More than 64 percent are white, about 13 percent Hispanic and 11 percent black. The median family income is about $47,000, yet the state income tax is a whopping 9.3 percent, and the local sales tax is 7.75 percent.

Government and transportation are among the area’s biggest workforce sectors. Finance, information, technology, leisure and hospitality, education, health services, and construction rank high, too. Nearby Sacramento is home to Intel and Hewlett-Packard, and Rancho Cordova employers include Vision Service Plan (ranked by Money magazine as one of the state’s best employers).

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Downstate from Denver, Colorado Springs scored at the top of Money magazine’s Best Big Cities list last year. With about 370,000 residents, the median age is 33.6 years, and the population is predominantly (more than 75 percent) white. The winter-lover’s climate and proximity to Pike’s Peak have created a nice tourism base.

But far and away, the U.S. Army’s Fort Carson is the city’s largest employer. That and other military installations (an Air Force base, the Air Force Academy and NORAD) employ about one-fifth of the city’s population. As a center for space research, Colorado Springs attracts plenty of high-tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Intel. Other industries are represented by firms like T. Rowe Price (financial), RockShox (mountain bike equipment manufacturer), Focus on the Family (ministry and publishing), and many others.

Colorado Spring’s sales tax is 7.4 percent, and the state income tax rate is 4.63 percent. The median family income is higher than most of the others on our list, at $60,131. The property tax rate is about .4 percent, putting the yearly median bill at less than $1,000.

Grove City, Ohio
Just southwest of Columbus (Ohio’s capital) and about 60 miles from Dayton, quaint Grove City’s population grew substantially throughout the ’90s. The median age is 35, the population is more than 95 percent white, and the household income averages $55,000. The state income tax is 7.19 percent. The city itself has about 30,000 residents, and the larger Columbus metro area has nearly 2 million.

Top employers in the Columbus area include Owens Corning Newark, NetJets, Chemical Abstracts, Qwest Communications and Alliance Data Systems, among many others.

Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Part of the East Coast metropolitan corridor, Pottstown is on the Schuylkill River, set among the rolling, green hills of Montgomery County Pennsylvania, about 15 miles southeast of Reading and 32 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Its 21,859 residents average 36 years old, with 79 percent white and 15 percent black. The median family income was $45,734 in 2000. Residents pay a 7.76 percent state income tax and 6 percent sales tax.

Among the Reading area’s top employers are Baldwin Hardware, Carpenter Technology Corp., East Penn Manufacturing Co., and Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products. The area also is home to Sovereign Bancorp, Surgical Specialties, Godiva Chocolatier, and R.M. Palmer (maker of chocolate Easter bunnies and novelty candies).

Summerville, South Carolina
Set on a pine forest ridge outside of Charleston, Summerville originally was populated by those trying to escape the Low Country’s summer heat. It’s known for its abundant pine trees and hundreds of azaleas.

The city has about 38,000 residents, while the Charleston metro area has nearly half a million. In Summerville, the median age is about 34 years old, and 76 percent are white, with 19 percent black. The estimated household income is more than $50,000.

Major employers in the greater Charleston area include the U.S. Navy and Air Force, CareAlliance Health Services, Piggly Wiggly, Westvaco Corp, and Robert Bosch Corp.

Copyright by Move, Inc.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

High End Of Luxury Markets Remains Strong

Southern California Luxury Home Values Rise, San Francisco Bay Area Values Unchanged
High End Of Luxury Markets Remains Strong

May 21, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO – Los Angeles luxury home values climbed 6.5% in the first quarter of 2007 compared to a year ago, while San Diego values rose 3.2% and San Francisco values were virtually unchanged, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index™ by First Republic Bank, a leading provider of wealth management and private banking services.

The Index, which has tracked luxury homes since 1985, found:

Los Angeles values rose 3.6% from the fourth quarter of 2006 and 6.5% from the first quarter of 2007 compared to a year ago. The average luxury home in Los Angeles is now $2.44 million.
San Diego values increased 0.8% from the fourth quarter of 2006 and 3.2% from the first quarter of 2007 compared to a year ago. The average luxury home in San Diego is now $2.17 million.
San Francisco Bay Area values were unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2006 and were virtually flat in the first quarter of 2007 compared to a year ago. The average luxury home in San Francisco remained at $2.92 million.
"Values in the upper tier of the luxury market are particularly strong," said Katherine August-deWilde, Chief Operating Officer of First Republic Bank. "Luxury home values in Los Angeles remain the strongest of our California markets because of strength in the entertainment industry and the diversified economy. The luxury markets in San Diego and San Francisco are also doing very well."

First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) produces the Prestige Home Index each quarter with Fiserv CSW Inc., a leading provider of automated property valuation services and home price metrics to U.S. financial institutions. Historical results of the Index are accessible at

Los Angeles Area Values
Los Angeles luxury values rebounded 3.6% in the first quarter of 2007 after dipping 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2006. Real estate agents said that a limited supply of marquee properties in exclusive neighborhoods was responsible for the 6.5% increase in the first quarter compared to a year ago.

Steve Frankel of Coldwell Banker in Beverly Hills said the market above $10 million remains very strong. The lower end of the market is also active, although buyers are being more selective. "The very high end continues to have a real head of steam. Good properties in premier locations are getting top dollar, and there are lots of buyers in the market. Homes from $2 million to $3 million are sitting on the market longer, but still at healthy prices. They're just not flying out the door like they were in recent years."

Whit Prouty of Prudential California Realty in Sherman Oaks agreed. "Los Angeles is not the same as the rest of the country. At this point, we seem to be insulated from what's happening elsewhere." Prouty said the region's vibrant economy has resulted in increasing demand and prices for luxury homes, although the market is more well-balanced than it has been. "Neither buyers nor sellers have the upper hand," he noted.

Like Los Angeles, Orange County's market for homes above $10 million is also robust, with inventories rising for homes selling for $2 million to $4 million. "The high end of the market in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach is very strong," said Jim Turco of Surterre Properties in Newport Beach. "In the $2 million to $4 million range, buyers are being very discreet. It's really become a much more normal market in that price range. No one is dominating either side of the transaction."

San Diego Area Values
In the San Diego area, values turned up modestly in the first quarter after declining 1.3% in the fourth quarter of 2006. Year over year, prices increased 3.2% and have averaged single-digit, year-over-year increases for the past five quarters.

"Overall, the market in the high end has been very strong," said Benny Landman of Coldwell Banker in Del Mar. "Since January, there have been multiple offers on many homes. Homes are selling right near or at the asking price. There are a lot of buyers with a lot of cash, although it is taking a little longer to sell."

Polly Rogers of Prudential California Realty in Rancho Santa Fe said inventory is higher in the $3 million to $6 million range, but the market is still moving. "It's a darn healthy market," Rogers said. "People are moving here from within and outside of California, and it's not just one demographic that wants to live here. There isn't much inventory of coastal properties and that's what will hold values."

San Francisco Bay Area Values
In the San Francisco Bay Area, there was no change in values from the fourth quarter of 2006 and values were virtually unchanged from the first quarter a year ago. Agents said luxury home values in the city of San Francisco, along the Peninsula and in Marin County were increasing. There appears to be pent-up demand in these markets, reflected by brisk sales activity for luxury homes in San Francisco and the fact that the median-priced home in Marin County topped $1 million in April for the first time.

"In the $3 million to $5 million range in prime neighborhoods in San Francisco, there is a real shortage of good inventory," said Steve Gothelf of Pacific Union in San Francisco. "When quality properties pop up and are priced correctly, they fly off the shelf. The reason is that we have an abundance of extremely well-qualified people chasing very few properties. That ratchets up prices."

On the Peninsula, the market is also very active. "A majority of the deals are generating multiple offers," said Hugh Cornish of Coldwell Banker in Menlo Park. "We have a strong national and local economy and very little supply of luxury properties. We had half the inventory we normally have in the first quarter."

In the East Bay community of Lafayette, buyers are clearly being more discriminating. "If something is unique, shows well and is priced right, the property is selling," said Kim Strand of Better Homes Realty of Lafayette. "In high demand areas with good schools and a history of appreciation, it's really a normal market. However, in the recent past, you'd have multiple offers. We don't see that very often. The time to sell is now 30 to 45 days, not a week to 10 days."

About The First Republic Prestige Home Index
The First Republic Prestige Home Index™ is the first statistical model of its kind customized to measure changes in homes valued at more than $1 million in key California urban markets. Some common features of luxury homes in the Index: 3,000 to 6,000 square feet, three to six bedrooms, and three to six bathrooms. San Francisco Bay Area properties include a cross-section of luxury homes in Alamo, Atherton, Belvedere, Danville, Healdsburg, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Mill Valley, Moraga, Orinda, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Portola Valley, Ross, St. Helena, San Francisco, Saratoga, Sonoma, Tiburon and Woodside. Properties in Los Angeles represent a cross-section of luxury homes in Arcadia, Beverly Hills, Calabasas, La Canada Flintridge, Encino, Los Angeles, Malibu, Marina del Rey, North Hollywood, Pacific Palisades, Pasadena, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, Studio City and the West Los Angeles enclaves of Bel Air, Brentwood and Westwood. San Diego properties represent a cross-section of luxury homes in Carlsbad, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, La Jolla, La Mesa, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego and Solana Beach. In producing the Index, Fiserv CSW Inc. draws upon its economic database and years of experience in tracking single-family home values; collects and cross-checks data from multiple sources; achieves a weighted balance of validation elements such as repeat sales, comparable sales, and physical home characteristics; and combines this with First Republic's extensive local market knowledge.

About First Republic Bank
First Republic Bank is a NYSE-traded, private bank and wealth management firm. The Bank and its subsidiaries specialize in providing personalized, relationship-based services, including private banking, private business banking, investment management, trust, brokerage and real estate lending. As of March 31, 2007, the Bank and its subsidiaries had total Bank assets and other managed assets of $34.1 billion. First Republic Bank provides access to its services online and through preferred banking or trust offices in ten major metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Boston and New York City. More information is available on the Bank's website at

Greg Berardi
Blue Marlin Partners
(415) 239-7826
E-mail Greg Berardi