Home prices still climbing, but at slower pace

Home prices are still climbing in the Sacramento area, but at a much more moderate pace than a year ago, DataQuick reported Wednesday.

The market research firm said the median sale price of all homes came to $260,000 last month in Sacramento County. That was down slightly from May, but up 13 percent from a year earlier.

Median sale prices in Placer County reached $385,000 last month, the highest in the eight-county region covered by DataQuick. That represented a 6.5 percent increase from a year ago.

DataQuick said the results are in line with the general slowdown in price appreciation elsewhere in California. “Sacramento is more or less mirroring the state in terms of price appreciation throttling back,” said analyst Andrew LePage.

The actual volume of sales was down significantly throughout the region, with activity dropping 10.3 percent in Sacramento County in June compared to a year earlier.

The latest statistics suggest the market is continuing to recover from the 2008 crash but isn’t roaring like it was in 2013, LePage said.

For example, he said the 13 percent growth in Sacramento sale prices is one-third the pace of a year ago, when prices jumped 39 percent.

One reason for the slowdown in price appreciation: Investors are retreating from the market. In June, 25 percent of all purchases were made by investors. A year ago, it was 34 percent. The 14-year average is 22 percent.

“We have fewer investors and cash buyers out in the market,” LePage said.

In addition, job and income growth remains relatively sluggish, putting a damper on pricing, he said.

As for the decline in sales volume, LePage cited a relative scarcity of available homes for sale. That shortage is a reflection of the incomplete recovery in the housing market. Many homeowners either are still “underwater” or have only a small amount of equity in their properties, which means they don’t have the ability to make a down payment on another house. If they can’t move into another house, they can’t sell their current house.

Also, new-home construction remains relatively slow, which puts another constraint on inventory, he said.

Only 121 new homes were sold last month in Sacramento County, down 21 percent from a year earlier.

Courtesy of Dale Kasler, sacbee.com

Changes in the Market

If you haven’t seen this article that was written by Lawrence Yun who is chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, please read:

Seeds of a Housing Shortage

Sliding inventories and price increases could lead to overheated markets
October 2012 | By Lawrence Yun

The market is looking much improved today, with home sales and prices heading up. But within this improvement are the seeds of a long-term challenge: falling inventories.

The inventory of existing homes is at its lowest level in seven years, while newly constructed home inventory has hit a 50-year low mark. Falling inventory is causing home prices to shoot up higher and faster than most analysts anticipated. The national median price of transacted homes was up 9.5 percent in August. Other price measures, like Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency price index, which look at price changes in sales of the same properties over time, have been rising as well, at double-digit annualized rates in recent months. Of course, not all markets are this robust. Phoenix is looking to notch a 25 percent gain for the year, while Chicago is just emerging from negative territory.

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As winter approaches, inventory will slide further. Few homes are newly listed after Thanksgiving. Historically, inventory tends to be 15 percent lower in winter than summer. Last year’s seasonal decline was even more dramatic, at 25 percent. We hope we won’t see an inventory decline of that magnitude this winter. Home values rising much faster than income growth will markedly cut into housing affordability.

But that may well be what’s in store. Distressed home listings will continue to fall because fewer borrowers are now seriously delinquent. Home construction is up, but only reaching half of the historic average of housing starts. Even the many pent-up sellers—those normal, non distressed home owners who’ve been holding back for better market conditions—will not help the net inventory situation, because most of them will be selling to buy a trade-up property.

Slight seasonal relief should come in March, just as the spring buying season gets underway. But a deeper and longer-term issue to watch out for is the increasing possibility of a housing shortage across many parts of the country.

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Home Buyers Changing

Keys.
Image by Bohman via Flickr

With married couples comprising less than 50% of all US households, home buyers are changing.  A growing number of non-family households, according to a report from John Burns Real Estate Consulting are on the increase.  Non-family households where no one is related to the house holder have increased nearly five times in the last 50 years from 7.9 to 39.2 million. 

A lot of non-family households are looking at SMALL HOMES: preferring a home under 2500 sf with three or fewer bedrooms.  LOCATION:  the proximity to work and entertainment over home size and they are less interested in media rooms and pools.

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Cheaper to buy than to rent in 72% of largest U.S. cities

Despite the rising number of renters in the U.S., it is cheaper to buy a home rather than rent one in 72% of the 50 largest cities according to an index released by Trulia.com. 

Trulia’s rent vs. buy index compares the median list price with the median rent on two bedroom apartments, town homes & condominiums listed on Trulia.com as of 1/10/11. 

In 36 out of 50 of the country’s most populous cities, buying a two-bedroom home is less expensive than renting one.  These cities also include many areas that have been hit hard by foreclosures, such as Sacramento.

A price-to-rent ratio of 1 to 15 means that it’s much cheaper to buy than to rent in a particular city.  A ratio between 16 and 20 means that it’s more expenseive to rent than to buy, but depending on the family’s situation, buying could “make financial sense” the side siad.  Any ratio above 20 indicates that owning is much more costly than renting in a city.

Top 10 cities to buy vs. rent:

Rank City State Price to Rent Ratio
1. Miami Fla. 6
2. Las Vegas Nev. 6
3. Arlington Texas 7
4. Mesa Ariz. 8
5. Phoenix Ariz. 8
6. Jacksonville Fla. 8
7. Sacramento Calif. 10
8. San Antonio Texas 11
9. Fresno Calif. 11
10. El Paso Texas 11

Source: Trulia

In 10 cities, renting is cheaper, but buying might make more financial sense, according to Trulia. These cities include Los Angeles, Boston, and Fort Worth, Texas.

The index considers the total cost of homeownership compared to the total cost of renting. Calculations for the total cost of homeownership include mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, hazard insurance, closing costs at time of purchase, homeowners association dues, and private mortgage insurance. The homeownership cost calculation also includes tax advantages from mortgage interest, property tax and closing-cost deductions.

Calculations for total rental cost include rent and renters insurance.

The total cost of homeownership was highest, compared to the cost to rent, in New York; Seattle; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Francisco.

Top 10 cities to rent vs. buy:

Rank City State Price:Rent Ratio
1. New York N.Y. 31
2. Seattle Wash. 24
3. Kansas City Mo. 21
4. San Francisco Calif. 21
5. Memphis Tenn. 20
6. Los Angeles Calif. 20
7. Fort Worth Texas 19
8. Oakland Calif. 18
9. Portland Ore. 18
10. Albuquerque N.M. 18

Source: Trulia

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What you Should Know Before Buying a Home

This past week, I have posted several articles on credit reports.  Below are a few things you should know before buying a home:

1)  Get Pre-Qualfied – you will need to find out what you can qualify for and obtain a Pre-Approval letter before going out to look at homes.

2)  If you have marginal or bad credit, consult your lenderthey will be able to advise you on whether your credit history will prevent you from qualifying for a home loan.

3)  You will need a down paymentDown payment requirements vary depending on the type of loan.  There are a few down payment assistance programs, but gone are the days of lots of  ZERO down loans, unless you are a Veteran.  Consult with a lender about the programs available in your area.

4)  You will need funds for closing costs – In addition to your down payment, you may need to have additional funds for closing costs (i.e. Escrow, title, mortgage insurance, taxes, loan fees and fire insurance).

5)  Some loans have “points” and some do not – A point is a loan origination fee equivalent to 1% of the loan amount.  Together with the interest rate they constitute the yield on your loan for the lender.  Some lenders charge a higher interest rate to compensate for charging no points.  It is important to comparison shop lenders to make sure your loan is at a competitive yield.

6)  Should you select a mortgage with a fixed rate or an adjustable rate?  It depends on whether mortgage rates are at a high or a low point when you purchase, and on how long you plan to live in the home.  If rates are low, a fixed rate would be more attractive and if rates are high, an  adjustable rate might be attractive since subsequent rate drops could reduce your monthly payments.  Also lenders may offer a low rate during the first few years of an adjustable mortgage to make it appealing to you.

7)  Be aware of the two main type of loan categories – Conventional Loans and Government Loans (FHA/VA) .  Both of these loan types are available with fixed or adjustable interest rates and some require mortgage insurance.

8)  If you are a low or moderate income home buyer – there are some local and state housing agencies, like the California Housing Finance Agency(CalHFA) that have special loan programs available.

9)  Why might I have to pay mortgage insurance?  Generally, conventional loans that require larger down payments do not require mortgage insurance.  Mortgage insurance is always required on FHA loans.  Mortgage insurance protects the lender from potential loss if you should default on your mortgage loan payment. 

10)  Many organizations offer home loan counseling to prospective home buyers– These organizations provide classes for home buyers to cover the steps to home ownership.  They will cover home selection, realtor services, lenders, loan programs, home ownership responsibilities, saving for a down payment, and other important pieces of information.  Many first-time home buyer programs require home buyers to attend this type of class to be eligible for selected programs.

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Payoff your Debt before Saving for Retirement

Day 4 - Paying off debt
Image by quaziefoto via Flickr

 

A lot of people are trying to save money for their Retirement years and have questions concerning how to go about saving and paying off their debts to prepare for retirement. 

The following information was given by Steven Zeller, a Gold River, CA, based investment adviser regarding credit card debt and publised by RISMEDIA:

If you are heavily in debit, he would not encourage anyone to go into bankruptcy proceedings if he or she can help it.  It creates a lot of stress and is not the best for your self-esteem.

If you have multiple credit cards to payoff, I would begin paying off the credit cards, starting with the smallest one first, until they are all gone for good.

It may be painful at first, buy you will increase your cash flow over time by eliminating the monthly payments.

He also stated,  “At the end of the day, if you pay into an IRA and Roth IRA instead of paying down your credit card debt, you will still have debt. ”

 Related articles

5 Reasons To Stop Saving for Retirement(money.usnews.com)

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