IS SOCAL REAL ESTATE BACK TO NORMAL?

The median price of a home in Los Angeles County rose by 4.7 percent in July, compared with the same month a year ago, while the number of homes sold jumped by 13.5 percent, a real estate information service announced today. According to CoreLogic, the median price of a Los Angeles County home was $492,000 last month, up from $470,000 in July 2014. A total of 8,236 homes were sold in the county, up from 7,256 during the same month the previous year. Click here to read more.                   Continue reading

WILL EL NINO RAINS BE A FLOOD OF BAD NEWS FOR REAL ESTATE?

Summer may be waning, but the Pacific Ocean is just starting to heat up. And with that warming water comes El Niño, the dangerous and sometimes disastrous series of weather events that “heats up the atmosphere and changes circulation patterns around the globe, especially the jet stream over the Pacific, which becomes stronger and dumps more frequent and intense storms over the western U.S., especially California,” writes CNN. Sigh. This year’s El Niño, according to the forecast released by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center on Thursday, is “significant and strengthening.” Translation: It’s gonna be hot, it’s gonna be stormy, and it’s gonna be long. While the effects are felt around the world, in the United States, California and the South tend to be hardest hit, and, as The New York Times reported on Friday, “El Niño May Bring Record Heat, and Rain for California.” Click here to read more.                   Continue reading

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

A Westside penthouse, a Greene & Greene Craftsman and new construction in Arcadia and Hollywood Hills West were among the priciest residential real estate sales in the greater Los Angeles area in the week that ended Aug. 15. $9 million — Santa Monica An ocean-view penthouse at the Seychelle building in the 1700 block of Ocean Avenue was sold in one of the priciest condominium transactions historically in the Westside community. Click here to read more.           Continue reading

MONEY NEWS FROM THE MOTLEY FOOL: WHAT TO DO BEFORE INTEREST RATES RISE

The U.S. economy has come a long way from the depths of the Great Recession. In the second-quarter, U.S. GDP grew 2.3% (although this estimate will be revised twice more), all while the U.S. unemployment rate in July held steady at its lowest level (5.3%) in seven years. Admittedly, things are far from perfect for the U.S. economy -- but growth is continuing at a steady enough pace that things almost feel back to normal. As this "new normal" sets in, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee will have to make some critical decisions in its upcoming meetings to determine what's next for the American economy. With multiple tools at its disposal, the most likely course of action in the coming months -- and one that Wall Street and investors have expected for a while -- is a hike in the federal funds target rate, or the overnight rate that banks charge when lending to one another. Click here to read more.                 Continue reading

ZIP CODE ENVY: WHAT ARE THE HOTTEST RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE MARKETS IN AMERICA?

Forget Beverly Hills’ 90210. You want hot? Scalding hot? Housing market hot? The ZIP codes 02176 (Melrose, MA), 43085 (Worthington, OH), and 58103 (Fargo, ND) are where it’s at today, according to an exclusive analysis by our economic data team that resulted in a list of the top 10 hottest ZIPs in the United States. Homes in these top 10 communities sell four to nine times faster than the national average, and spend 20 fewer days on the market than their respective metropolitan statistical areas. Their listings on our site are viewed three to eight times more often than overall U.S. listings—an average of 2.3 times more often than their respective metros. “Each locale on this list is emblematic of the key trends driving housing this year—healthy local economics, job opportunities, and affordability,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com®. “For first-time home buyers, these communities provide great opportunities to enter the housing market, build a career, and raise a family; older generations are able to build wealth and enjoy a variety of lifestyles.” Click here to read more.               Continue reading

BUYERS BEHOLD: CLOSING COSTS ARE ON THE WAY DOWN

Despite rising home prices nationwide, wannabe house owners can take comfort in one thing: Closing costs are dropping. The closing fees associated with borrowing for a home have fallen seven percent over the past year, now averaging around $1,850 on a $200,000 loan, according to Bankrate.com. The research firm sought an online estimate from lenders in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on the closing costs for getting $200,000 mortgage on a single-family home, with a 20 percent down payment. An important take-away from the survey: Homebuyers have more say over closing costs than they might expect. Bankrate advises people to compare closing prices, noting that costs vary among lenders. Click here to read more.               Continue reading

REMODELING ROI: WHERE SHOULD YOU SPEND ON HOME IMPROVEMENT?

Whether you're looking to sell or stay put, you'll save money on these home improvement projects. The possibilities are endless when it comes to remodeling and upgrading your house, and deciding where to put your precious dollars can be tough. Many of these remodeling decisions can be made based on whether or not you're planning to stay in your home long term. Let's take a look at the places where a $10,000 investment in your home can go the furthest. Click here to read more.               Continue reading

THE CREDIT CONUNDRUM: IS ACCESS TO CREDIT GETTING EASIER?

This was supposed to be the year that getting a mortgage would become easier. Now that we’re halfway through, we’ve seen home sales and closings substantially improve over last year, including by first-time buyers. This must mean that access to credit is getting better, right? Well, it doesn’t look that way. After mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac clarified their credit qualification standards last fall to encourage lenders to ease their requirements, it seems like credit access would improve. And then the Federal Housing Administration lowered its insurance premiums, and Fannie and Freddie introduced new low-down-payment programs for qualified buyers. Click here to read more.             Continue reading

TAKING THE STRESS OUT OF HOME INSPECTIONS

No matter whether you’re buying or selling, the home inspection process can be somewhat terrifying: For sellers, it’s a stark reminder of the nagging issues you might have turned a blind eye to over the years. And for buyers, it’s a recipe for pure heartbreak—falling in love with a home that might just end up making no sense to buy. But don’t let the inspection stress you out. And remember, that’s not what your inspector wants either—all he or she wants is a comprehensive to-do list and a happy client. So form a team with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are seven essential things you keep in mind. Click here to read more.             Continue reading

CALIFORNIA DOMINATES THE LIST OF HOTTEST HOUSING MARKETS

It’s a height-of-summer tradition: The U.S. housing market tends to peak in July or August. And while demand this year remains strong, a preliminary analysis of our site’s data for July shows that housing inventory—homes available for sale—is finally starting to catch up. Sort of. “We are now entering the time of the year when both inventory and demand typically reach their peak,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com®. “The dog days of summer slow down the pace of activity, just as the school year creeps closer. “This year we’re seeing inventory continue to grow in July, albeit at a slower pace than this spring,” he continued. “And while demand overall is strong, the trend in median days on market is suggesting that the market is finding more of a balance, which bodes well for more moderate price appreciation in the months ahead.” Click here to read more.             Continue reading