Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Manhattan Beach Real Estate Prices Go Wild

My website: www.sandralew.com

The beach lifestyle comes at a price... but for those who can afford it it's definitely worth it! Inventory is very low with just 5 listings under a cool million as of July 22. It was the south bay town with most million dollar plus listings of any Southern California city in 2012. There seems to be no end in sight for demand with prices still rising. Why Manhattan Beach? Top schools, beach lifestyle on the ocean and ability to walk anywhere with so many great restaurants, shops, grocery stores, malls, etc... it has a Mayberry appeal with the laid back feel. =)

Manhattan Beach Real Estate Prices Go Wild

Manhattan Beach - H 2013 

Located on a block-and-a-half lot on one of the walk streets, this rustic property has seven bedrooms, five baths, a 5,000-bottle wine cellar and a four-stop elevator.

By key metrics, Manhattan Beach is one of the most on-fire real estate markets in the L.A. area right now. The small beach town of 35,000 residents located just south of LAX -- known for its high-profile sports star residents and Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios -- hit a peak median residential sales price of $1.8 million in May, surpassing the highest median price of the boom year of 2006 (and up 22 percent from the same month in 2012). The South Bay town had the most $1 million-plus home sales of any Southern California city in 2012. Look on the Multiple Listing Service, and, as of July 22, there are just five single-family houses for sale in the burg for less than $1 million.

"Once we hit the new year, all hell broke loose -- multiple offers on everything. Here in July, we're 17 percent higher than we were in March," says local agent Rachel Ezra of Rachel Ezra Real Estate. Bidding wars are not uncommon. In June, one of Ezra's listings, a four-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot traditional-style house in a "walk street" (car-free) area was put on the market for $3.5 million. Seven weeks and 10 offers (eight of them cash) later, the sale closed at $4.2 million.
The top sale of 2013 so far was in February: A modern five-bedroom on the desirable oceanfront Strand sold for $11 million, the second-highest price ever paid for residential real estate in the city. Says agent Lee LeGrande of LeGrande Beach Homes, "Buyers are a dime a dozen now."

Among the highest-end properties on the market are a glass-box modern house on the Strand listed for $9.7 million and a jumbo 7,900-square-foot wood-and-stone residence in the walk streets for sale at $12.9 million.

So why the frenzy? A combination of factors has turned Manhattan Beach -- originally named Manhattan by its New York developer around 1902 (the "Beach" part was added later) -- into a posh paradise. No. 1, of course, is the big blue sea. "Well, it's really about the ocean," says Andre Jacquemetton, who has lived in the area with his wife, Maria, for a decade. (The two Emmy-winning Mad Men writer-producers recently left the show after six seasons to set up an overall production deal at Warner Bros. Television.) "When we moved to Southern California, we really wanted to take advantage of the ocean. What's the point otherwise?" he adds.

Quality public schools also are a major selling point. The Manhattan Beach district as a whole ranks as the third-best performing in the state. Says Maria, "We have kids, and it's been a really terrific place to raise your children sort of far from the craziness of a big city."
For many, the city's density -- so unlike Malibu's coastal sprawl -- is key to its Mayberry appeal. Houses, even the biggest ones, sit nearly cheek by jowl. This means that walking anywhere, and particularly to the main commercial strips, is a jiff.

"Everyone knows everybody," says writer Steve Maeda (The X-Files, Lost). "You don't have a choice. Everything is packed in so tight." Adds WME agent Cori Wellins: "I love the area because you can drop your car on Friday and not need to be back in it until Monday morning. You can walk, jog, scooter or ride your bike anywhere."

In the past couple of years, downtown Manhattan Beach's dining scene has blossomed with additions like David LeFevre's small-plates restaurant M.B. Post (1142 Manhattan Ave.) and right-on-the-beach The Strand House (117 Manhattan Beach Blvd.). New this year are LeFevre's seafood spot, Fishing With Dynamite (1148 Manhattan Ave.), Cal-French Chez Soi (451 Manhattan Beach Blvd.) -- which counts Modern Family's Ty Burrell as a partner -- and Southeast Asian-minded Little Sister (1131 Manhattan Ave.).

Sports stars and their coaches have been lured by the fresh air, proximity to the airport and, for some, the presence of the nearby Toyota Sports Center, a training facility for the NHL's Kings and NBA's Lakers, only four miles from downtown Manhattan Beach. In April, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni paid $6.9 million for a 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom contemporary house off the Strand. Not too far away lives USC football coach Lane Kiffin, who paid $5.5 million for a new pad in 2012. Among the famous athletes who call Manhattan Beach home are Maria Sharapova, Mia Hamm, former Laker Luke Walton and most of the current Kings roster. Former resident Michael Strahan was known to frequently ride his beach cruiser down the Strand until landing his Live! gig, which took him to the other Manhattan.

"My 6-year-old boy's basketball coach was [Lakers point guard] Steve Nash. Where else would that happen?" asks Duck Dynasty producer Scott Gurney.
Film and TV production is active as well, especially because James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment relocated to the 22-acre Raleigh Studios in 2011, signing a five-year lease to film two sequels to Avatar. A slew of series have been shot at the complex, including David E. Kelley's Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Public as well as The O.C. and 90210. "One day I'll work there -- I dream of that!" jokes resident Albert Kim, a co-executive producer and writer on The CW's Nikita who commutes to Burbank.

Not that the morning drive is as far as those who don't live in the South Bay might think. "I probably shouldn't say this, but it's only 30 minutes to CAA," says agent Amie Avor. "I don't want the secret to be out. I've hacked the route. It's not that hard."

More than anything, though, Manhattan Beach's industry players have been drawn to the oh-so-SoCal vibe. "When I was a kid, my mother used to say, 'Get out of your school clothes and get in to your play clothes,' " says producer Jeremy Elice, whose wife, Nicole, is Showtime's entertainment public relations director. "In Manhattan Beach, you have that same thing, that you're going from your work clothes to your play clothes. It's laid-back."

Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/manhattan-beach-real-estate-prices-590771

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prices bouncing back for California housing market

My website: www.sandralew.com

Home prices are still soaring due to less distress sales, an improving economy, low supply and still historically low mortgage rates. It seems we are still bouncing off the bottom but as prices continue their rise more supply should enter the market and help ease up the pent-up demand and price pressures may ease up a bit. Prices are likely to still go up but then at a slower pace.

I agree it's Economics 101: "Prices go up. Supply increases. That should ease price pressures."

Prices bouncing back for California housing market

The Associated Press Posted July 23, 2013 at 10:13 a.m., updated July 23, 2013 at 10:22 a.m.

— SAN DIEGO (AP) - California's home prices are bouncing back at a record pace.
The median price paid for a home in California last month soared to $352,000. That's up from $274,000 in June 2012 - a 28 percent increase and the biggest year-over-year jump since records began in the late 1980s, according to the latest figures from the real estate tracking firm DataQuick released Thursday.

San Diego-based DataQuick attributed the rise in prices across the state to disappearing distress sales, an improving economy and still low mortgage rates.

But many strapped homeowners - and investors - are still holding off, keeping inventory stubbornly low: Last month's sales statewide were about 17 percent below the average of 49,277 sales for all the months of May since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin.

"We're still bouncing off the bottom. This next part of the cycle should be fairly self-adjusting," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

An estimated 41,027 new and resale houses and condos sold statewide last month. That was down about 7 percent from 44,087 in May, and down more than 3 percent from 42,513 sales in June 2012, according to DataQuick.

The drop is atypical for the California market, when housing sales tend to increase between those two months.

"As prices go up, more homes will come on the market. Price pressures will ease," Walsh said. "The only element we don't know much about right now is how much pent-up demand there really is out there."

June marked the 16th straight month in which the state's median sale price rose year-over-year.
The median home price in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area reached $550,000 in June - the highest since December 2007. In Southern California, the median price surged to a five-year high, hitting $385,000. Of last month's sales, only 10 percent were properties that had been foreclosed on during the past year - the lowest level since August 2007. Short sales also dipped slightly.
San Diego relator Steve Seus said the shortage of homes for sale, especially in urban neighborhoods with their concentration of limited older homes, is feeding fierce bidding wars.

He recently sold a home in a central San Diego neighborhood in two days for $35,000 above asking price.

"The combination of low interest rates and still historically low prices certainly has attracted a lot of people," he said. "Literally, I had 175 people go through one home."

Bay Area home buyers are putting near record amounts of their own money into residential real estate, according to DataQuick. In June they paid a total of $2.3 billion out of their own pockets for down payments or cash purchases. That was down from May's all-time high of $2.6 billion, and up from $2.2 billion a year ago.

Real estate experts expect the escalation in prices to slow in coming months, especially if mortgage interest rates go up.

Abbey Boull't, 32, a mother of two, prays that happens, but she is also feeling the pressure to buy now or lose out.

Boull't and her family hoped to be able to buy their first home, but their lender told them they must wait for six months since her husband changed companies and needs more work history to qualify for a loan.

"If prices keep going up we might have to keep renting until we can save more," she said. "We're hoping this is just another bubble."

Andrew LePage, an analyst for DataQuick, said it's hard to know when the market is in a bubble, especially in the early stages.

"If the economy stays on track, interest rates don't spike too much, if not too many investors back out of the market, it's likely prices will continue to increase over the next year or two but at a slower pace," he said. "It's Economics 101: Prices go up. Supply increases. That should ease price pressures."

Source: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/jul/23/prices-bouncing-back-for-california-housing/


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Higher mortgage rates won't hurt recovery, Fannie finds

My website: www.sandralew.com

With mortgage rates still historically low and affordable people will still buy homes for personal reasons. Rate hikes typically do not stop people from buying homes when they are purchased based on desire. Yeah, maybe buy something smaller in less expensive neighborhood as impact will be more on how much willing to spend on a particular home.

Higher mortgage rates won't hurt recovery, Fannie finds

  @CNNMoney July 18, 2013: 7:34 AM ET

mortgage rates 071113

Mortgage rates have climbed by more than a percentage point since late April. 


If history is any indication, the recent spike in mortgage rates is going to have little to no impact on home prices, according to a new report from Fannie Mae.

After looking at mortgage rates going back to 1990, Fannie Mae's researchers came to the surprising conclusion that while rising rates were likely to hurt the number of home sales, they had virtually no impact on home prices.

"History suggests that interest rate increases at the level recently witnessed will not stop the current housing recovery," the report said.

The study, which compared historic mortgage rates with home price and sales data, focused on two time periods when rates soared. The first, from October 1993 through December 1994, when rates rose to 9.2% from 6.8% and the second from October 1998 to May 2000 when they climbed to 8.5% from 6.7%.

During the rate spike in the early 1990s, home prices leveled off, then fell only slightly. During the second rate climb, there was no impact on homes prices at all.

"What we see through the ups and downs of rate changes is that sellers are reluctant to lower prices," said Mark Palim, who led the Fannie Mae study. Homebuyers were also willing to find ways to stretch their resources, often by switching to adjustable rate loans, which kept payments affordable for the first few years then were adjusted higher.

In addition, rates and home prices both track economic trends, said Palim. So when the economy is hot, rates rise and so do hiring and income, which means more people are able to buy homes and pay higher prices for them.

Fannie's research may shine some light on what will happen to the housing market in the months ahead, but some housing experts are skeptical.

With rates for 30-year mortgages spiking by more than a percentage point to 4.51% since early May, some economists say rates will most definitely have an impact on home prices and, ultimately, the housing market's recovery. 

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, examined more than 20 years of mortgage rate and home price data and found that, on average, for every percentage point increase in mortgage rates, the pace at which home prices grew was lowered by half a percentage point.

"If sustained, the current rate rise will take some of the steam out of the market," he said.
However, he noted that current rates are still quite low and mortgages still very affordable compared with the historical average of more than 6%. "Buyers can live with 4.5% rates," he said.

Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said the recent rate increases will have a bigger impact on how much buyers will be willing to spend on a home.

People buy homes for personal reasons, he said: They need more room, they relocate for work, they fall in love with a house. Rate hikes usually don't stop them from buying.

"It impacts which house they buy, not whether they buy a house or not," he said.
Instead of a five bedroom, they'll choose a four-bedroom house. Or they'll purchase in a less expensive neighborhood. Either way, it should result in lowering median price -- not sales volume.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, disagrees: He believes mortgage rates will indeed impact sales volume and that home prices will ultimately follow.

"The dynamics of the housing market is that it affects home sales first and [then] inventory increases," he said. And when supplies go up, he said, prices must go down.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/18/real_estate/mortgage-rates/index.html


Monday, July 15, 2013

Mortgage Rates Hit 2-Year High

My website: www.sandralew.com

Rates are expected to continue to rise or remain static for the near future.

Finance, Mortgage Rates, Real Estate News  Jul 11, 2013  By: Neal J. Leitereg 

Mortgage Rates Hit 2-Year High


Mortgage rates are back on the incline, with key loans hitting their highest marks in two years. Rates continue to rise on the expectation that the Federal Reserve will curb its massive stimulus policies – a bond purchase program involving $85 million worth of Treasury notes and mortgage-funded securities. However, despite the steady rise over the past months, rates remain historically low. Affordable mortgage loans have been instrumental in fueling a housing recovery that has, in turn, helped to promote growth within the economy.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage hit a two-year high this week, according to the latest survey by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Previously at 4.29 percent, the average on a 30-year fixed-rate loan rose by .22 percentage point to 4.51 percent. The average on a 30-year loan neared a historic low as recently as early May, but has now climbed to its highest level since July 2011. The 0.53 percentage point increase marks the 30-year fixed loan’s highest weekly increase in more than 26 years.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage also rose this week, climbing to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent – a .14 percentage point increase. The 3.54 percent mark is the highest the 15-year fixed average has reached since August of 2011. It previously achieved a historic low in early May, when it fell to 2.56 percent.

Whether the Federal Reserve ends its bond buy-back program could depend on the job sector. Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, believes the Fed will not slow bond purchases until there is evidence of improvement in the labor market. “June’s strong employment led to more market speculation that the Federal Reserve will reduce future bond purchases, causing bond yields to rise and mortgage rates followed,” Nothaft said in a statement. However, he pointed to minutes released from last month’s Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting as a sign the Fed will hold back for now.

The average rate on a hybrid five-year adjustable mortgage also rose this week, climbing to 3.26 percent from 3.10 percent. The average on a one-year ARM remained static at 2.66 percent.

Looking ahead, rates are expected to continue rise or remain unchanged. In the latest Mortgage Rate Trend Index by Bankrate.com, 75 percent of the experts polled believe mortgage rates will climb or remain static over the next week. “Bond prices have continued to worsen, driving rates higher. Look for rates to remain in the mid to high 4s,” says Academy Mortgage branch manager, Derek Egeberg.

Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/mortgage-rates-hit-2-year-high/

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Will Waiting to Buy a Home Cost You?

My website: www.sandralew.com

Experts say now is still a good time to buy a house. Relatively speaking, rates are still at or near historic lows.

What Will Waiting to Buy a Home Cost You?


Finances, Mortgages, News, Real Estate News   Jul 8, 2013 By: Credit.com

At the end of June, mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 4.5 percent, up from 3.9 percent on June 1 — and a notable jump from the historically low 3.35 percent monthly average rate toward the end of 2012. However, while higher rates do mean an increase in monthly mortgage payments, experts are urging potential home buyers not to resign themselves to renting for the next few years just yet — it’s still a good time to buy a home.

These moderate increases in payments may still be manageable, particularly if buyers look at less expensive properties, or negotiate a lower price.

For example, the difference in monthly payments for a $200,000 home at 3.9 percent and one at 4.5 percent is just $70.03. If budgeted correctly, this could be a manageable expense.

Rick Allen, chief operating officer of Mortgage Marvel, is one expert who says now is still the time to buy a house. His platform records online mortgage loan applications, about a million transactions a year, which serves as a barometer for how well the housing market is doing. He says that refinances are down, as to be expected with a rate increase, but that “shouldn’t scare people off.”

“Relatively speaking, rates are still at or near historic lows,” says Allen. “A 4.5 percent mortgage is still an incredibly attractive rate at which to finance a home. From a real estate perspective, we’re not far off from recent lows, and we’re heading to improve real estate values. The combination of those two factors make this still a good time to buy.”

As the unemployment rate continues to decline, Allen says we’ll see more potential homeowners enter the market as well. Though Allen says “theoretically, rates could go through the roof or back down to the floor” but he personally believes we’ll see rates around 5 percent through the end of the year.

This is the early stage of the recovery of the housing market, and the rising interest rates encourage potential home buyers to be more decisive, and act quickly. As more homes are bought, supply decreases, so prices may rise even further. So if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, don’t lose your confidence, but it may be prudent to act quickly as rates continue to rise.

Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/what-will-waiting-to-buy-a-home-cost-you/


Monday, July 8, 2013

Chinese buyers flood U.S. housing market

My website: www.sandralew.com

Foreign Chinese buyers making an impact on home sales especially in the San Francisco bay area cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Cupertino as well as Los Angeles on the westside. Four states accounted for 58% of all foreign sales with top states being Florida, California, Arizona and Texas.

Chinese buyers flood U.S. housing market

@CNNMoney July 8, 2013: 12:53 AM ET

international us home buyers 

Chinese buyers accounted for 18% of the $68.2 billion that foreigners spent on homes during the 12 months ended March 31, according to the National Association of Realtors.


Flush with cash, Chinese homebuyers are flooding into the U.S. housing market, and paying top dollar.

"The Chinese came out really huge in the past year," said Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, a New York-based appraiser.

Chinese buyers accounted for 18% of the $68.2 billion that foreigners spent on homes during the 12 months ended March 31, according to the National Association of Realtors.

At a median price of $425,000, the Chinese are also buying more expensive homes than other foreign buyers, who spent a median of nearly $276,000 on U.S. homes. And nearly 70% of those pricey Chinese deals were made in all cash.

Nowhere is the influx of Chinese homebuyers felt more strongly than in California, where more than half of the homes sold to foreign buyers went to Chinese nationals.

Sally Forster Jones, an agent with Coldwell Banker International in Los Angeles, said Chinese are snapping up many of the trophy properties on the city's Westside. She estimates that she's sold about 10 multi-million dollar homes to Chinese nationals over the past 12 months.

"The uptick in sales to Chinese buyers started several years ago but it has increased dramatically lately," she said.

Most of her Chinese clients are wealthy industrialists or real estate tycoons, many of whom spend less than half the year in the States.

"Some have children going to school in Los Angeles and use the homes as residences for them and [as a place] to stay at when they visit their kids," said Jones.

China's gross domestic product has grown by high single-digit, sometimes double-digit rates for the past 10 years, producing a lot of cash for the country's top business people who view U.S. real estate as a safe and stable investment.

Rick Turley supervises real estate offices for Coldwell Banker in eight counties in and around San Francisco, including Silicon Valley. Many of his Chinese clients work in technology.

"The current hot spots are Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Cupertino, near Apple headquarters," he said.

Most purchase the homes to raise their family and they pay special attention to the local school systems. Turley also has Chinese clients who buy homes for their kids. Last year, a family from Shanghai bought a condo for their daughter who was attending Stanford. The daughter has since graduated and now works at Google, he said.

Many Chinese buy homes through the U.S. government's EB-5 Immigrant Investor program, which is considered a fast-track to getting a green card. To qualify, foreigners must invest at least $500,000 in a business that provides or preserves 10 jobs. This could be a home that is part of a bigger business project, such as a condo complex. Nearly 80% of all EB-5 visas went to Chinese nationals in 2012, according to the government.

Beyond California, sunbelt states in general are attracting a lot of foreign attention these days. Post-housing-bust bargains in resort and retirement areas like Las Vegas and Naples, Fla. have have gotten buyers from Canada, for example.

Four states accounted for 58% of all foreign sales. Florida had 23%, California 17% and Arizona and Texas 9% each. New York, an international business center and immigration gateway, and Virginia, close to the Washington corridors of power, both came in at 3%.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/08/real_estate/chinese-homebuyers/index.html


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Average 30-year fixed mortgage dips to 4.3%

My website: www.sandralew.com

Mortgage rates dipped back down for now due to fewer mortgage and refinancing applications. With rates remaining historically low this provides a boost to the housing market to further rebound.

Average 3-year fixed mortgage dips to 4.3%

Ben Mitchell, USA Today 10:20 a.m. EDT July 3, 2013

Average fixed-rate mortgages nationwide fell the week ended July 3 as home buying and refinancing demand slumped and a recent spike in market rates subsided.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage nationwide dipped to 4.29% after hitting a two-year high of 4.46% a week earlier, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of USA lenders.

The week ended June 27, average 30-year fixed mortgages jumped from just below 4% to nearly 4.5%, the biggest one-week jump since 1987, home loan Freddie Mac said.

Driving mortgage rates lower: Mortgage applications slumped 11.7% the week ended July 3, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association survey of lenders. And refinancing applications sank 16% week over week, hitting the lowest level since July 2011.

"At these rates, many fewer homeowners have an incentive to refinance, and refinance application volume declined more than 15%," said Mike Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.

Still, mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. And if the one-week dip continues, a rebound in the housing market, which has been crucial to improving economic growth this year, could get a boost.

Mortgage rates will also be helped if a market rates, which subsided this week after spiking the final two weeks of June, hold steady or continue falling. The bellwether 10-year Treasury note yield was trading at 2.47% Wednesday after hitting a 22-month high of 2.66% in late June.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.39% from 3.5% a week ago. The same week a year ago, the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.62% and the 15-year fixed mortgage was 2.89%

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2013/07/03/mortgage-rates-7-3/2485835/