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FHFA increases conforming loan limits for first time since 2006

Provided by California Association of REALTORS®

California REALTORS® commend FHFA for raising Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limits

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 23) –  The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) today issued the following statement in response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) announcement to increase the 2017 conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to $424,100 on one-unit properties and a cap of $636,150 in high-cost areas. The previous loan limits were $417,000 and $625,500, respectively.

“C.A.R. applauds FHFA Director Mel Watt for raising the existing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limits, which will provide stability and certainty to the housing market and give tens of thousands of California homebuyers a chance at homeownership,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “The FHFA recognizes that home prices have recovered, not just in California but also across the nation. Many higher-priced areas of the state will benefit greatly from the higher limit.”

C.A.R. and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) both have long advocated for making higher conforming loan limits permanent. As a result of C.A.R.’s and NAR’s efforts, cities with high median home prices have benefited from a loan limit above the national conforming loan limit.

The conforming loan limit determines the maximum size of a mortgage that government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy or “guarantee.” Non-conforming or “jumbo loans” typically have tighter underwriting standards and carry higher mortgage interest rates than conforming loans, increasing monthly payments and hampering the ability of families in California to purchase homes by making them less affordable.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® ( is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 185,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

The New Hot Housing Market: Vacation Homes

Source: National Association of REALTORS®
Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, April 02, 2015

It’s a good time to have a vacation real estate niche. Vacation home sales jumped to a record high in 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey. Vacation home sales climbed to an estimated 1.13 million last year, the highest since NAR began its survey in 2003.

Sales of vacation homes rose 57 percent compared to the 717,000 tally in 2013. Vacation sales in 2014 nearly doubled the combined total of the previous two years.

“Affluent households have greatly benefited from strong growth in the stock market in recent years, and the steady rise in home prices has likely given them reassurance that real estate remains an attractive long-term investments,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Furthermore, last year’s impressive increase also reflects long-term growth in the numbers of baby boomers moving closer to retirement and buying second homes to convert into their primary home in a few years.”

Vacation home sales comprised 21 percent of all transactions in 2014 – the highest market share since NAR began conducting its survey.

As vacation home sales soared, investment purchases dropped for the fourth consecutive year, the report showed. Investment home sales in 2014 fell 7.4 percent to an estimated 10.2 million in 2014 compared to 1.10 million in 2013. The market share of investment sales dropped to 19 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 2013.

“Despite strong rental demand in many markets, investment property sales have declined four consecutive years to their lowest share since 2010 as rising home prices and fewer distressed properties coming onto the market have further reduced the number of bargains available to turn into profitable rentals,” Yun says.

Here are some additional findings from the report:

Sales prices: The median sales price of vacation and investment homes dropped last year. The median vacation home price was $150,000, an 11 percent drop from $168,700 in 2013. The median sales price of an investment home was $125,000, down 3.8 percent from a year ago when it was $130,000.

All-cash transactions: The share of vacation buyers who paid in all-cash dropped to 30 percent in 2014 compared to 38 percent in 2013. Investment buyers who paid all-cash in their transactions dropped to 41 percent in 2014 compared to 46 percent in 2013. For those buyers who did finance their purchase with a mortgage, 48 percent of vacation buyers and 41 percent of investment buyers financed less than 70 percent of the purchase price.

Distressed properties: Forty-five percent of vacation homes and 44 percent of investment homes purchased last year were distressed properties – either a foreclosure or short sale.

Vacation buyer profile: The average vacation home buyer last year had a median household income of $94,380 – higher than in 2013 when the median income was $85,600. Vacation home buyers also tended to buy a property that was a median distance of 200 miles away, and plan to own their property for a median of six years. Forty percent of vacation buyers bought a home in a beach area, 19 percent purchased in the country, and 17 percent purchased a vacation home in the mountains.

Investment buyer profile: The average investment home buyer in 2014 had a median household income of $87,680 – less than $111,400 in 2013. The median distance of the investment property was 24 miles from their primary residence. Investment buyers purchased property for a variety of reasons, including for rental income (37 percent), because of low prices and the buyer found a good deal (17 percent) and for potential price appreciation (15 percent). Investment buyers plan to hold onto the property for a median of five years. The South was the the most popular choice for investment properties. The majority of investment buyers (37 percent) purchased a property in the South last year, followed by 26 percent in the West, 20 percent in the Midwest, and 17 percent in the Northeast.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Isn’t it time you thought about purchasing your next home?

Fannie Mae Offers Closing Cost Aid to First Time Home buyers

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae announced a new program that allows first-time home buyers of its properties to receive up to 3 percent of the purchase price in closing cost assistance. On a $150,000 priced home, for example, buyers could receive up to $4,500 in closing cost savings.

Fannie Mae’s HomePath Ready Buyer Program requires eligible buyers to complete an online home buyer education course as well as purchase a HomePath property – the branding that Fannie Mae uses for the foreclosed properties it owns.
“Purchasing your first home can be an overwhelming process,” says Jay Ryan, vice president of REO Sales at Fannie Mae. “We developed the HomePath Ready Buyer program to provide first-time home buyers with the knowledge to make informed decisions as they navigate the complexities of the home buying process. Closing cost assistance provides a cushion many first-time buyers need to more confidently face the financial responsibilities of home ownership.”
The education course buyers are required to take covers the responsibilities of owning a home and the home buying process. The course includes nine, 30-minute sessions and is offered exclusively online.

To be eligible for the program, buyers must:
• Complete the online HomePath Ready Buyer training course on and receive the Certificate of Completion.
• Must be a first-time homebuyer (who has not owned a property in the past three years) and who has plans to reside in the property as the primary residence. Auction, pool and investor sales are not eligible.
• Make their request for closing cost assistance at the initial offer, submitted on or after April 14, 2015.

Visit the Fannie Mae website for additional information about the HomePath Ready Buyer Program.
Source: “Fannie Mae Launches HomePath Ready Buyer Education Program for First-Time Home Buyers,” Fannie Mae (April 14, 2015)

Lenders Forecast Rosy Spring for Mortgages

Fannie Mae survey shows improved economy, loosening credit standards fueling optimism

Mortgage lenders expect increased demand and profit margins as we head into spring, according to Fannie Mae’s first-quarter 2015 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey.

According to the survey, released today, an improved economy and relaxed credit standards are fueling optimism among lenders as the first quarter comes to an end.

After gradually trending down throughout 2014, lenders’ purchase mortgage demand expectations for all types of loans (GSE eligible, non-GSE eligible and government loans) increased this quarter across institution sizes and types (mortgage banks, depository institutions and credit unions), although there might be seasonal influences, the survey found.

For GSE-eligible purchase loans, 71 percent of lenders surveyed said they expect purchase mortgage demand to rise in the next three months, compared with 59 percent reported during the same quarter last year. Additionally, 41 percent of lenders reported increased profit margin expectations, up from 21 percent during the same quarter in 2014.

Results also showed that the credit tightening observed last year has continued to trend down gradually moving into 2015. Across all loan types, lenders said credit is easing, and mortgage banks were more likely than depository institutions to agree with this sentiment.

Senior mortgage executives indicated they are more optimistic about the overall economy, but more pessimistic about consumers’ ability to get a mortgage today.

“The first-quarter results mirror a similar trend among American households,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “These results are consistent with our view that an improving economy, strengthening employment and increasing consumer confidence should support a modest housing expansion in 2015, after an uneven and disappointing year for housing activity in 2014.”
An improving economy, strengthening employment and increasing consumer confidence should support a modest housing expansion in 2015.” – Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae

Lenders’ profit margin outlook has improved significantly from last year, particularly for larger lenders.

The survey was conducted between Feb. 4 and Feb. 16 by Fannie Mae and Penn Schoen Berland.

Article provided by Amy Swinderman with Select Mortgage in Inman News

2014 Real Estate Year End Review for Coachella Valley

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Why Home Buyers Need to Act Now

Home buyers need to move fast if they want to spend less, notes Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at® in commentary at the site.

“Delayed purchases will only result in higher monthly mortgage payments as prices and rates rise,” Smoke writes.® is forecasting that affordability may decline as much as 10 percent over the year.

The Federal Reserve continues to remind the financial markets that it plans to raise its target federal funds rate this year, which will cause mortgage rates to rise. Many economists are predicting 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to average near 5 percent by the end of the year.

For now, mortgage rates are near historical lows for homebuyers and home owners who can take advantage. Freddie Mac reported last week that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66 percent (last year at this time it averaged 4.32 percent), and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.98 percent (a year ago, it averaged 3.40 percent).

“Right now, the Fed is using the word ‘patient’ to describe its approach to picking the time to raise the target rate,” Smoke notes. “However, when the Fed ‘loses patience,’ rates will go up at least 20 to 40 basis points in anticipation of the target rate officially going up. … So, buyers beware: The clock on these low mortgage rates may be ticking.”

Source: “2015: Buy Now, Before the Fed’s Patience Ends,”® (Jan. 30, 2015)

CAR Post Home Sales and Price Report

December home sales and price report

For release:
January 15, 2015

California’s housing market returning to normalcy as year ends

Sales move higher in Southern California and Central Valley, while Bay Area pauses

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 15) – California’s regional housing markets ended the year with mixed results as statewide home sales inched up from a year ago for the first time in nearly a year and a half, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 366,000 units in December, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide.  Sales in December were down 2.9 percent from a revised 376,890 in November but up a slight 0.6 percent from a revised 363,740 in December 2013.  The negligible year-to-year increase was the first since July 2013.  The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2014 if sales maintained the December pace throughout the year.  It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

For 2014 as a whole, a preliminary 383,320 single-family homes closed escrow in California, down 7.6 percent from a revised 2013 figure of 414,900.

“Home sales were down on a statewide basis, with pockets of gains in sales activity, especially in Southern California and the Central Valley, where home sales were higher than the prior month and year,” said 2015 C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey.  “Not so for the San Francisco Bay Area, which saw run-ups in sales and prices throughout the year.  This market has tempered from its earlier frenzied pace mostly due to extremely tight inventory.”

Reversing a three-month decline, the median price of an existing, single-family detached California home increased 1.7 percent from November’s median price of $444,830 to $452,570 in December and was up 3.1 percent from the revised $438,790 recorded in December 2013.  The statewide median home price has been higher on a year-over-year basis for more than two years, but price gains have narrowed over the past few months. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.

“2014 saw a return to a near normal housing market, with sales moving at a moderate pace and home price appreciation growing at more sustainable levels,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  “Home prices have stabilized over the past year, which is positive news for buyers who have been putting off their home search until prices leveled off.  And with recent news of an improvement in the job market and the lowest interest rates in a year and a half, buyers may be resuming their home search.”

Other key facts from C.A.R.’s December 2014 resale housing report include:

• Housing inventory tightened in December, with the available supply of existing, single-family detached homes for sale dropping from 4.4 months in November to 3.3 months in December. The index was 3 months in December 2013.  The index indicates the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.  A six- to seven-month supply is considered typical in a normal market.

• The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home lengthened in December, up from 43.9 days in November to 47.3 days in December and from 40.4 days in December 2013.

• According to C.A.R.’s newest housing market indicator measuring sales-to-list price ratio*, multiple bid offers for properties has waned, and properties are again generally selling below the list price.  The statewide measure suggests that homes are selling at 97 percent of the list price, down from a ratio of 98.1 percent at the same time last year. The Bay Area is the only region where homes are selling above list prices and are generally selling about 0.6 percent more than the asking price.

• The average California price per square foot** for an existing single-family home was $210 in December 2014, a decrease of 1.3 percent from the previous month, but a 4.9 percent increase from December 2013.  Price per square foot at the state level has been showing an upward trend since early 2012, and has been rising on a year-over-year basis for 35 consecutive months.  It seems to have reached a plateau in recent months and has been leveling off at around $215 for existing single-family homes.  San Mateo County had the highest price per square foot in December with $667/sq. ft., followed by Santa Clara ($500/sq. ft.), and Santa Cruz ($409/sq. ft.).  The three counties with the lowest price per square foot in December were Siskiyou ($93/sq. ft.), Kings ($113/sq. ft.), and Merced ($114/sq. ft.).

• Mortgage rates fell again in December, with the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaging 3.86 percent, down from 4 percent in November and down from 4.46 percent in December 2013, according to Freddie Mac.  The December 2014 average 30-year fixed rate was the lowest since May 2013, just before the Federal Reserve announced its intention to taper the bond buying program.  Adjustable-mortgage interest rates also dipped in December, averaging 2.40 percent, down from 2.44 percent in November and down from 2.56 percent in December 2013.