Thursday, May 9, 2013


Let’s start with a quote from a veteran real estate analyst of Southern California, G.U. Krueger, “If home prices and jobs are an indication, prosperity may be re-emerging in California”. In fact, according to analysts with Clear Capital, home prices in February this year grew by double digit rates from a year ago in nearly every metropolitan area deemed important for statistical reasons. Probably some of the best news was that inland areas, hard hit by the foreclosure and short sale wave, also showed serious growth and promise. This is significant because jobs in these regions are more about growth stability, workers and manufacturing as opposed to high tech and Internet or stock market; job divisions sometimes seen as leading vocations along the coast.

UCLA also posted predictions that Orange County would see strong gains and continuing job growth. Their current prediction is that OC should return to pre recession job levels around 2016. Unemployment is expected to drop to 6.8% this year compared with 7.6% a year ago and level off at 4.6%. In 2016.

No doubt everyone has read about or personally experienced the tight inventory, yes a serious lack of homes for sale. Not only is the desire to buy right now so high because of the low prices, signaling the bottom of the market that we hit last year; but also, more importantly, is the historically low interest rates. These rates are allowing the buying public to get up to as much as 30% more house for their money with no fear of a bubble. WHY?...Because these are real loans for people who have been strenuously qualified. If you have gotten a home loan recently, you know that this is true. That is real qualification and the loans being fixed versus ridiculous stated loans and interest only 3 year adjustables, which have gone by the wayside, thankfully. Now is the time to try and find and buy your dream home.



The number of OC homes facing foreclosure fell 55% over the previous 9 months ending in February, a decrease of nearly 5,000 properties that were previously in some form of foreclosure, according to CoreLogic. Another data provider, DataQuick, had a similar report. Southern California, comprised of Ventura, LA, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties, reported 20,879 Notices of Default for 4th quarter 2012 as compared with 34,013 for the same period 2011. Orange county went from 4,297 to 2,169 and that is how the 55% decline is figured. Part of the decline is in response to new foreclosure laws which require an additional 30 day warning period in writing before the NOD can be placed on a property. Lenders are preferring to have properties go through a short sale. Thankfully, lenders are catching up with the learning curve and most now have procedures in place which actually can expedited the short sale process.



The total number of sales in Southern California was 15,945. The overall median price was $320,000 which is up 20% from the $264,750 of a year ago for the same month. (February is the latest full month available for statistics). Orange County had total sales of 2,252 which was up in sales volume by 6.7%. However pricing was up overall 22.3% with the median overall hitting $477,000. Part of the reason for the large gain, however, is lost when you just look at statistics. Last year, 2012 saw mainly investors flipping houses and cashes buyers buying distressed properties to flip. The market was largely devoid of the upper end seller or buyer. They are now back in force and so some of the price hike should not be seen as a worrisome bubble, but rather a welcome addition to the real estate market of 2013. Every county posted sales volume gains of around 5% except the Inland Empire, which lost a little ground. Every So Cal county posted double-digit pricing gains.



This brief newsletter can hardly accommodate the many subjects that could be discussed. Here is a brief look at some other points to ponder. A recent article mentioned on CNBC has Zillow’s economist worried about housing affordability. Something to watch is how quickly the housing prices are rising compared with wages. This newsletter has addressed the same concerns in previous months. What is keeping home buying in the game plan for most is the historically low interest rates. The Fed announced they could likely stick around until 2016, which coincides with pre recession employment gains. A recent article by Jonathan Lansner (April 10, 2013), economist for the Register newspaper, was asking where inflation is? It appears to be MIA. Gas topping the list, durable goods, food, all seem under control. If we mix the economic cocktail correctly, perhaps job growth will spur wages, before interest rates rise, and when inflation does return, the consumer’s purchasing power will be status quo. There is always room for optimism, even in economics.


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