Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving full of good friends, great food and lots of laughter!   Continue reading

RENTING VERSUS BUYING: THE BATTLE WAGES ON

SEATTLE, Nov. 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Paying for a mortgage is still more affordable than renting in the U.S., but saving enough money for a down payment has become increasingly difficult for first-time buyers, especially in markets where home values are rising rapidly.  With the majority of renters in the largest metros putting about 30 percent of their monthly incomei toward a rental payment, saving money for a 20 percent - or even 10 percent - down payment is extremely difficult. First-time homebuyers and millennials are left trying to find other ways to break into the housing market, turning to friends and family for financial help. In 2014 alone, 13 percent of home purchases were bought using a loan or gift from friends or family for the down payment. Continue reading

ARE AFFORDABILITY ISSUES SOFTENING THE CALIFORNIA HOUSING MARKET?

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 17) – California’s housing market softened in October as both statewide sales and median price contracted from the previous month and is still on target to meet forecast projections, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today. Home sales exceeded the 400,000 level in October for the seventh consecutive month and posted higher on a year-to-year basis for the ninth straight month. Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 403,510 units in October, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2015 if sales maintained the October pace throughout the year.  It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.  Click here to read more.                                                    Continue reading

BIG BUCKS: THE MOST EXPENSIVE HOME SALES IN LOS ANGELES LAST WEEK

The Malibu home of a fashion entrepreneur, a reimagined Hacienda in Santa Monica and the onetime Bel-Air house of a Hollywood composer were among the priciest residential real estate sales in the greater Los Angeles area this past week. $18.45 million — Malibu Kym Gold, the cofounder of True Religion Jeans, sold her ocean-view home in the 24000 block of Pacific Coast Highway for $8.05 million less than the $26.5 million it was listed for in January. Built in 2001, the single-story Spanish-style hacienda features a courtyard entry, reclaimed wood finishes and commanding views of the surrounding coastline. Click here to read more.                                                    Continue reading

STRATEGIES IN REAL ESTATE: THE RATE LOCK

A mortgage rate lock could help you save some money on the total cost of your home. A lock is essentially an agreement that says a lender will charge a specific rate and price on the mortgage for a specified period of time while a borrower gets ready to close. Common lock agreements are for 15, 30 or 45 days, and if your loan doesn’t close by the agreed-upon deadline, you could be subject to fees to extend them. If you’re not sure when to lock in an interest rate on your mortgage, here are a few things to consider in getting the best possible rate and price. Click here to read more.                                                  Continue reading

RENT VS. BUY: IS NOW THE TIME TO MAKE A MOVE?

With threats of an increase in the Federal Funds rate and the expected corresponding increases in mortgage lending rates the question of renting vs buying is timely. To address this question let’s first look at the expected impact on mortgage rates if the fed does follow through on the anticipated rate increase.                                                   Continue reading

THE FED RATE HIKE: HOW MUCH DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

It may seem counterintuitive, but when the Federal Reserve finally gets around to raising interest rates, the impact on mortgage rates should be negligible. After all, the last time the Fed was hiking, from mid-2004 to mid-2006, mortgage rates rose only a small amount, half a percentage point. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has signaled that the central bank plans to soon boost the federal funds rate -- which banks charge each other to lend funds -- likely at its next meeting in December. After that, she has indicated that the Fed will increase the fed funds rate only gradually, perhaps a quarter-point at a time. A higher fed funds rate, now near zero percent, will have an immediate effect on other shorter-term rates, like those for credit cards and auto loans. Click here to read more.                                                  Continue reading

TO RENT OR TO BUY? IN MOST MAJOR METRO MARKETS HOMEOWNERSHIP IS A BETTER DEAL

The upward trajectory of rents in many metropolitan areas, which shows no sign of abating, often makes homeownership the better deal. But renters still aren’t rushing to buy. Real estate listing and lender websites are awash in charts and mortgage calculators aimed at persuading renters that they can cut their monthly costs by buying a home. The problem is, “increasing rents have a very paradoxical effect on the housing market,” said Ralph McLaughlin, a housing economist at Trulia, the real estate information site. “Rising rents make it a relatively better deal to buy, but it also makes it more difficult for households to save up for a down payment.” Click here to read more.                                                  Continue reading

HOW WILL RATE HIKES IMPACT YOUR MONTHLY PAYMENT?

The surprisingly strong employment report that we got on Friday quickly upped the odds for a Fed Funds rate hike in December.  October delivered strong job creation, surging average hourly earnings, a decline in the unemployment rate, essentially all of the ingredients that point to real strength in the jobs market. So at some point in the almost here future, mortgage interest rates will move higher than where they are today. Signs of real economic recovery will dominate the financial airwaves, strong jobs report data will be delivered consistently and without asterisks, inflation will ascend to target, the Fed will finally raise short term interest rates and there will be joy throughout the land. Click here to read more.                                                Continue reading

UNDERSTANDING SECOND MORTGAGES

If you don't know what a second mortgage is, or only have a vague understanding, there's probably a good reason. You likely don't want to know. After all, paying for a first mortgage can be bad enough. Hearing the term "second mortgage" is enough to make anyone's eyes glaze over. But it's a financial strategy that's helped many a homeowner. So if you've ever wondered what you need to know about a second mortgage, consider this your crash course. What it is. It's a second mortgage on your existing home. (Yes, theoretically, if someone refers to a second mortgage, they could be talking about another mortgage on house No. 2, like a cottage at the lake. Lucky them.)  Click here to read more.                                                Continue reading