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Sunday, February 10, 2013


Southern California has continued its gradual recovery in housing, stymied only by sluggish jobs and lack of inventory.  This newsletter's last edition of 2012 made mention of the less than 3 months inventory in most cities.  A neutral market is considered 6 months of inventory, that is a market that favors neither seller nor buyer.  So it could be said that as we start out 2013 we have a seller's market.   That being said, other aspects of the economy, such as sluggish job growth, coupled with amazingly low interest rates, still favor the strong buyer.  Perhaps it is a more even market after all, and that is not such a bad thing.  A total of 19,285 new and resale houses and condos sold in the Southland counties from Ventura down to San Diego.  That is the highest monthly total since November 2006.  That number is up 14% from November of 2011.  Activity rose the sharpest in the mid to upper range of houses, a range typical of "move up" buyers, and would account for the pent up demand of that market segment.  In fact, sales in that range, $300,000 to $800,000 jumped 34% year over year.  Short sales, where properties sell for less than what is owed against them, still accounted for 26% of the market share in November.  (The last complete monthly stats available.)  When looking at the increase in sales volume year over year, of the Southland counties,  Orange County leads the way at 25% followed by San Diego with 23%.  San Bernardino actually declined by 3% performing the worst of all counties.  More properties should hit the market as the new year gets underway, typical for the first quarter as many sellers sit out the holidays.  This should bode well for both seller and buyer, by allowing more choices for the buyer, a little more competition for the seller, to keep pricing increases in check.  Expect to see a healthier housing market this year, with growth that can be sustained by economic reality rather than the financing fancies of years gone by.


In a nutshell, 26,000 new jobs, 6.8% increase in home values, and 10% rebound in construction spending.  Is this accurate?  Are you a half empty or half full type of person.  Tax hikes and uncertainty of the national debt and ceiling are certainly reasonable concerns.  Construction seems likely to make a bigger comeback than that forecast.  However, jobs does remain a concern.  Rumor on the street is that there are companies out there with cash on the sidelines, and jobs in the pipeline.  This column will weigh in with a "half full" vote, that housing will be stronger than last year and the distressed property continuing to be absorbed and outpaced by equity sellers.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


The total number of units sold for November in Orange County was 2,879.  This number includes 1,841 resale houses, 829 condos, and 209 new homes.  The median price for all homes was $450,000 and that is a change of 12.5% from a year ago.  The median resale price was %525,000, and condos came in at $307,500 and new homes topped out at $606,250.  Foreclosed homes across the nation plunged 23% and although California wasn't in the group of the 5 states with the lowest number of foreclosures, it also is no longer in the group of the top 5 states.  Good news for California.


Bankrate.com had some awesome tips to consider for getting the best deal on mortgage rates this year whether you're buying or refinancing.  Here's the top 5:  1) Stop procrastinating and refinance!  If you're paying more than 3.75 to 4 percent, it's time.  These rates won't be here forever.  2) Ensure that your credit is golden.  Credit standards remain tight, but there are things you can do to take care of old dings on your credit.  Pay off a low balance credit card and watch your credit score go up 30 points.  3) Underwater refinancers...don't take no for an answer.  HARP, the :home affordable Refinance Program, is here to help you.  Go online to find information.  4) Compare FHA versus conventional loans.  FHA requires a much smaller down payment.  5) Approved for a mortgage?  If yes, then don't buy anything!!  Don't apply for credit anywhere else during your loan process.  Once you're approved, lenders don't want to know you're out borrowing and getting into more debt.

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