5 Smart Moves for First Time Homebuyers

I came across this article and felt it was very timely – I also added my 2 cents in italics.  Enjoy – Sabrina
As a first-time real estate buyer, you probably have no idea how the overall purchasing process works or how to make sure you’re making a smart decision to purchase. And you’ll probably be very surprised to learn how much work it really is just to buy a home. To get you started in the right direction, and this is just a start, here are a few tips that you should consider.
Get lender-qualified and find a good real estate agent
To start off, you should get qualified by a lender to see what price range you can realistically afford and interview some real estate agents to find the right person to represent you in your transaction.
Once you’re qualified and have your price range estimate in hand, you’ll be able to spend your time shopping in neighborhoods that you can afford. But remember: Just because the bank says you can qualify for a certain amount, that doesn’t mean you should spend that amount. Make sure you can actually afford the monthly payment, along with all your other bills.
For real estate sales professionals, you should get referrals for a full-time agent or broker who sells at least five or more properties per year and is well-educated on the process and location where you plan to live. You should call references, check that the agent’s state sales license is up to date and interview them to make sure you’ll be comfortable working with them.
My 2 cents – Buyers should work with a lender who picks up the phone and answers their e-mails and questions in a timely manner.  Unless a buyer is using all cash, the home loan is VERY  key to purchasing.  A buyer will find that during the hunt and offer process – they will need an updated lender approval letter about every 30 days and your Realtor will need questions answered as your home journey progresses.  If the lender doesn’t respond, it can throw the home transaction off.
Make sure you plan to be a long-term owner
Once you know your price range and have looked at some properties, it’s time to make sure that you believe you can find a property that you will own for a minimum of five years. If your price range doesn’t match where you want to live, you’d be better off staying a renter and saving some additional money until you can afford where you want to live. This is because an owner really doesn’t earn any equity, on average, in a property for at least five years. That’s the generalbreak-even point, and you really need to shoot for longer than that as an ownership strategy. The truth is, long-term real estate ownership can be a great way to earn wealth, but short-term ownership usually will diminish your wealth.
My 2 cents – Due to our SF Peninsula location, The Caton Team advises buyers that they will mostly likely be in their new home for more than 5 years – closer to 7+ years before they see enough equity to sell.  Real Estate is definitely a long-term investment!  In regards to sitting back and saving though – it all depends on the real estate market where the buyer is purchasing and how fast homes are appreciating.  That’s why a buyer needs a full time agent to help them sort this out.  
On the SF Peninsula, we hit bottom on prices in 2009 – though not many people knew that.  Since then, due to low inventory, historically low interest rates and high demand; prices are moving up quickly with each sale.  Around here sometimes the market appreciates faster than buyers can save – and the last thing any buyer wants to find out – is that they waited themselves out of the home purchase market. 
Since no one can control the market and where prices are going.  If a buyer is serious about purchasing on the SF Peninsula and the home they want is not in their price range, The Caton Team suggests they go back to the table and re-evaluate their wants and needs list.  Determine if they can settle on something they didn’t necessarily want but fulfills their need.  And in time, they will earn equity, be able to sell their first home and buy a home more to their wants list than their needs list.  This might be the hardest part about purchasing on the Peninsula.  Often it pushes a buyer away from buying a home and more towards buying a condo since the price is more affordable and often larger and in better areas than similarly priced homes. 
Educate yourself
Buying property is probably the most complex, riskiest and expensive thing you will ever do. Do your homework: Talk to real estate owners, go to first-time buyer seminars, check out online material and read some books to learn what to avoid in the buying process. The more you educate yourself, the better the chances that when things go wrong — and they will go wrong — they will only be minor issues, not major headaches.
My 2 cents – In our experience the pro-active buyer is the most successful.  A Realtors knowledge and experience cannot be downloaded, though we try to explain and guide – there is so much to cover.  When a buyer steps in the real estate market it is far different than they expected.  Knowledge is power.  The Caton Team will never push a buyer to sign their name to a price or contract unless they feel it is the right thing to do.  And that feeling comes from educating themselves.  Asking questions, driving through areas, going to open houses and also sitting in our car to discuss homes as we tour.  It does take a lot of work to buy a home – and a buyer must be up for it if they want to succeed.  The Realtor cannot do this alone – a buyer must work closely with their Realtor and communicate!  Communication is so key to a successful working relationship.  And let your Realtor know who you would like to communicate.  Phone Email Text?  Just let us know.
Find a nice affordable property
The real gems in real estate are the nice, decent shape, moderately priced, boring houses, town homes and condominiums that are within your budget. Most buyers stretch to purchase the most expensive property they can afford. What if you lose your job? How about saving some of your money for retirement? You want your home to be an asset you can afford, not a liability that leaves you with no additional funds over the cost of homeownership. Also, skip the fixers, prize properties or anything that sounds too good to be true: Those always end up having issues, and owners realize, after the fact, that the deal they thought they were getting really was just too good to be true!
My 2 cents – This really hits home.  Often times buyers are so focused on getting a “house” they tend to overlook the repairs.  Figuring they can fix it themselves.  Sounds great in theory – until the repairs cost more than expected and now the monthly budget is tighter than expected.
When I purchased my first place, a one-bedroom condo, it only required some cosmetic updates.  We did most of the work ourselves, but in the end it still cost us about $20,000 and that was a condo – not a home.  Home repairs can be expensive.  And remember – it’s not an unexpected home repair – it is an expected home repair.  Because, like everything else, homes will deteriorate and require lifelong maintenance.  HOA dues don’t seem so crazy anymore once you compare what a home repairs might cost!
I’d rather see a first time buyer buy a condo that needs updating than a home that needs a roof, foundation repair and new windows. 
It’s hard for first time buyers to gauge and understand the cost of home repair and maintenance.  Ask your parents or a trusted friend who owns their home to get an idea of what maintenance and repairs can be like and how they are discovered.  Better yet start practicing your skills at painting etc or start getting quotes to better understand the cost.  We call this homework.
 
Take your time
Realistically it should take you six months or longer to buy a nice quality property that will add to your long-term wealth. Make sure you have a full understanding of what the marketplace has to offer in your price range and that you know what you’re doing.
Those are a few tips to get you started in the right direction. Real estate is buyer beware, so try to make sure you’re one of the buyers who is “aware” of how to make quality wealth-building real estate decisions. Down the road you’ll pat yourself on the back when things work out well.
My 2 cents – Be patient.  This is a journey not a race.  It will be frustrating.  At times a buyer will feel like this is just an uphill battle without any hope in sight.  Writing several offers and getting outbid will be stressful.  However, there is one thing we can say in our 25+ years of Real Estate experience.  If you want to buy a home and you are realistic, willing to adjust your wants and needs, taking the time to understand your financing options, your day to day expenses and doing your homework – you will get a home! 
Doris Day said it best – what will be will be.  Thanks for reading!
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/
Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Warren Buffet is our New Boss!!!! Press Release!!!!

PRESS RELEASE !!!!!

Prudential, Real Living brands to be Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Brookfield Asset Management remains a partner in new brand

BY INMAN NEWS, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012.

The nation’s second-biggest real estate broker, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. affiliate HomeServices of America Inc., has entered the franchising business by acquiring a majority interest in the Prudential Real Estate and Real Living brands from Brookfield Asset Management.

The Prudential Real Estate and Real Living affiliate networks will be rolled into a new franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, that will come online in 2013, the companies said.

HomeServices and Brookfield have formed a joint venture, HSF Affiliates LLC, to operate the Real Living and Prudential Real Estate affiliate networks, whose member brokers employ 53,000 sales associates and closed more than $72 billion in home sales last year.

HomeServices is the majority owner of HSF Affiliates, with Brookfield Asset Management retaining joint ownership. Brookfield’s relocation business, Brookfield Global Relocation Services, will remain wholly owned by Brookfield. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is a new franchise brand built upon the financial strength and leadership of Brookfield and HomeServices,” said Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in a statement. “I am confident that these partners will deliver value to the residential real estate industry, and I am pleased to have Berkshire Hathaway be a part of the new brand.”

Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of  HomeServices, said the company was “honored and proud to be entrusted with the use of the Berkshire Hathaway name as our new real estate franchise brand.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices will be based in Irvine, Calif., and led by Earl Lee, who will serve as chief executive officer. Other key management executives named today are Chief Operating Officer Stephen Phillips, Chief Financial Officer Brian Peterson, and Chief Marketing Officer Aleya Chattopadhyay.

Lee has worked under the Prudential brand since his Hawaii-based company, Locations LLC, joined the Prudential network in 1995. He was president of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services when it was acquired by Brookfield Residential Property Services for $110 million last year.

Real Living founder and president Harley Rouda Jr. will take over as CEO of Trident Holdings Inc., the parent company of Ohio-based HER Realty Real Living. Rouda said HER Realty does not plan to be affiliated with Real Living or Prudential Real Estate.

Canadian-based Brookfield entered the U.S. market in 2008, by acquiring GMAC Real Estate and merging the company into Real Living the following year.

Phillips served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for GMAC Home Services from 2001 to 2006, and as interim CEO of the GMAC Relocation Services business. Peterson has 24 years of experience in the real estate brokerage and franchising business, including 14 years with Brookfield and GMAC. Chattopadhyay has been with Brookfield since 2003, holding roles in Canada, India and the U.K.

Peltier said that while Minneapolis-based HomeServices is getting into the franchising business to accelerate its growth and build a website that will be a destination for consumers, the company will continue to expand its company-owned brokerage operations.

“The business model we have used to grow for the last 15 years was to identify great companies, regardless of their brand, and own and operate those local companies,” Peltier said. 

Since HomeServices was acquired in 1998 by Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings Corp., the “independent brand” acquisition strategy has helped the company grow from 4,000 agents in three markets to more than 16,000 agents in 21 states who last year handled sales of homes valued at nearly $32 billion.

Peltier said that while HomeServices will continue to identify brokerages to acquire, own and operate, “being a franchisor, we’ll be in a lot of markets much quicker than (with the) existing strategy” alone.

With consumers typically starting their home search on the Internet, creating a single destination website under the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand will benefit both company-owned brokerages and franchisees, Peltier said.

“At some point, you can’t ignore the fact that if you want to attract customer eyeballs, you have to have a presence on the Internet, and you can’t do it with local independent brands” alone, Peltier said. “You have to have a single brand.”

Company-owned brokerages that operate under independent brands will continue to have the option of pursuing that strategy, while still benefiting from the exposure they will receive from the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices website, he said.

“We will continue to grow and support the independent brand strategy as well,” Peltier said. “We’re adding to our strategy — this is not deleting.”

HomeServices of America’s business model now looks more like the one employed by competitor Realogy Holdings Corp. Although Realogy operates the nation’s largest brokerage company, NRT LLC, most of the company’s 2011 adjusted net earnings came from providing real estate franchise services to companies operating 13,800 offices under the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Sotheby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker Commercial, and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brands.

HomeServices owns nine brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate, including three acquired this year: Portland, Ore.-based Prudential Northwest Properties, acquired in February; Seattle-based Prudential Northwest Realty Associates, acquired in April; Prudential Connecticut Realty, also acquired in April.

The six other HomeServices brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate are and Prudential California Realty (Southern California), Prudential First Realty (Iowa), Prudential Rhode Island Realty, Prudential Carolinas Realty, Prudential York Simpson Underwood Realty (North Carolina) and Prudential Yost and Little Realty (North Carolina).

HomeServices also owns Koenig & Strey Real Living, a dominant brokerage in the metro Chicago area, which it acquired from Brookfield in 2009.

“This is not a new thought,” Peltier said of the decision to create a national franchise brand, noting that HomeServices was interested in acquiring the Prudential Real Estate brand two years ago. 

When Brookfield acquired the brand instead, it did so knowing it would eventually have to transition to another name — parent company Prudential Financial Inc. made that a condition of the sale.

“They were looking for a great brand, and we were fortunate in that we’d been given permission by our parent” company to use the Berkshire Hathaway name to create a new brand, Peltier said. It’s “an internationally recognized brand that’s currently not being used in commerce.”

According to an amended registration statement Prudential Real Estate Affiliates filed on Jan. 19 with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Brookfield was barred from signing up new franchisees to operate under the Prudential Real Estate name. Brookfield had the right to renew the right of existing franchisees to operate under the Prudential name for up to five years, but only if their franchise agreements expired on or before Dec. 6, 2013.

All rights to use the Prudential Real Estate name expired at the end of 2027 — when the franchise agreement with the longest term was set to expire — or on the date on which no franchise agreement is in effect, the registration statement said.

Brian Boero, a partner in the real estate technology consulting firm 1000watt, said in a blog post today that while many existing Prudential affiliates “are deeply invested” in the brand, “I think most will jump at the opportunity to associate with Berkshire Hathaway. I’ve heard from some already, and they’re enthused. A conversion process that could have taken a decade will be collapsed into months.”

In filing its updated registration statement with Minnesota regulators, Prudential Real Estate also disclosed recent litigation with several franchisees.

Last year, Prudential Real Estate said it received $1.9 million from Mason McDuffie Real Estate Inc. to settle a breach of contract lawsuit Prudential Real Estate filed against the Pleasanton, Calif.-based brokerage after it switched its franchise affiliation to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

Prudential Real Estate also disclosed that it had received settlement payments in 2011 from Prudential Texas Properties and Missouri-based brokerage Carter Duffey Inc.

I read this article at: http://www.inman.com/news/2012/10/30/prudential-real-living-brands-be-berkshire-hathaway-homeservices

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Tatjana… A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When Michael and Tatjana reached out to The Caton Team – we were very excited to be their Realtors for their first home purchase.  We got them preapproved with Melanie Flynn of First Priority Financial and hit the ground running.  They were so excited, started checking out properties and sooner than later, we began to write some offers.

With fingers crossed and prayers whispered we waited on pins and needles to hear back on their first offer… they didn’t get it.  The first time you lose a house – it’s the pits.  The second and third time it doesn’t get any easier.  Tatjana and Michael started to lose hope.  Who wouldn’t?

But The Caton Team wouldn’t let them lose out on their dream.  As full time Realtors, we’ve spent countless sleepless nights hoping and praying our client’s dreams come true.  We knew – you have to get back on the horse, try, try again….there are other fish in the sea.

And they did – but they had one request.  They no longer wanted to write a letter to the seller that included their adorable family photo.  In shock, I asked why.  They were adamant – ‘what’s the point?  The seller is looking for the most money and highest offer.’  I smiled.  We could hear the disappointment in their voice.  But we had faith.  We couldn’t change what we were doing.  The offer package The Caton Team prepares for each offer is thorough and it is successful.  Sometimes money talks.  But sometimes, it’s the other items in the offer package that get the recognition.

As we waited to hear back on their offer I was looking at the copy of the photo we sent of their family.  I’ve known Tatjana since the 6th grade and here she was, with her husband and two beautiful sons…  The phone rang, couldn’t get to it fast enough.  It was the seller’s agent.  I could hear the happiness in her hello.  They got the house.  Quickly she interjected – it wasn’t about being the highest price, they weren’t.  It was about the letter and the picture.  (It still brings tears to my eyes.)  Turns out the owner was deceased and had charged her best friend with handling her estate.  Her wish was for her home to be sold to a nice family – not an investor.  She had built that home from the ground up, raised her family there, and she wanted her best friend to pick the sweetest family for her home.  And boy they couldn’t have found a better family.

Sometimes it really isn’t just about the money.

Congratulations to Michael and Tatjana – to many happy years and memories in your new home!

 

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team offers a Free Mobile Real Estate App!

Ever find yourself standing outside a home you want to buy and need more information?  Now The Caton Team offers a FREE Mobile Real Estate App that will provide you with information at your finger tips and the ability to alert me right away – visit the link below to my free app.

http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Thank you!

Popcorn Ceilings – No Night At The Movies…

Please enjoy my candid journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com where I share my personal stories of being a young homeowner.  My newest blog is about Pop Corn Ceilings… Enjoy!

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

San Mateo County Homebuyer Assistance Program

Music to my ears.  Just came across this program to help homebuyers living and working in San Mateo County.  Please visit their website for updates.

Homebuyer Loans

Downpayment assistance loans for first-time homebuyers
in San Mateo County

Together with Meriwest Mortgage, HEART has created a customized loan package that is not offered by any other lender. Our goal is simple: to help you buy a home with a 5% downpayment.

Working with Meriwest Mortgage, a wholly owned subsidiary of the not-for-profit Meriwest Credit Union, HEART has created an entirely new loan package that helps qualified moderate-income families earning not more than $150,000 and who have not owned a home in San Mateo County in the last 3 years and meet other qualifications, buy their first home in San Mateo County, or to move substantially closer to transit in the county. This program does not apply in Daly City.

* Guidelines current as of July 2012. Subject to change based on rapidly changing market conditions. Check back often for updates, or call John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage at (408) 849-7115.

How does the Opening Doors Program work?

Together with a Meriwest Mortgage first home mortgage loan, HEART of San Mateo County offers a below-market rate second loan up to $78,225 to help facilitate a home purchase with a minimum of 5% downpayment. This program does not apply in Daly City. You may purchase a home or condo anywhere else in San Mateo County.

Based on the maximum sales price of $521,250, with a conforming first mortgage amount limit of $417,000, the maximum 2nd mortgage loan is  up to $78,225. Borrowers can put more money down on a home purchase above the $521,250 limit, however, the first and second mortgages remain at the previously described limits.

The 2nd mortgage allows for an 80% loan to value ratio on the first mortgage. The purchaser is not required to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI) for this loan. This results in significant savings to the homeowner of thousands of dollars in annual mortgage insurance premiums.

The Meriwest Mortgage first loan products that will be available for this special program are:

a 30-year fixed rate

a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) 30-year full amortizing

and a 5/1 ARM adjustable 40-year loan fully amortizing.

In combination, these loans reduce the monthly payment to the homeowner. Note the maximum loan is subject to change depending on market conditions. The first mortgage may be up to 80% Loan to Value.

Who Qualifies?

In order to qualify for this loan, you must meet a few specific requirements. There aren’t many of them, but they are important, and you must be able to prove that you meet each and every one of them. Please review the list below and check those to which you can answer “yes.”
Guidelines current as of July 2012. Subject to change based on rapidly changing market conditions. Check back for updates, or call John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage at (408) 849-7115.

Do you and your family earn $150,000 or less each year?

Do all borrowers have good credit – FICO score 680 or higher?

Is the purchase price of the property you want to buy $521,250 or less?

Do you currently live or work in San Mateo County? If you live or work in Daly City, you may apply for this program, but you cannot purchase a home or condo in Daly City.

Is the home you are purchasing in San Mateo County? This program does not apply in Daly City.

Have you NOT owned a home during the past 36 months, OR, if you have, will you be selling your current home and buying one that is substantially closer to transit in San Mateo County?

Will the total household debt to income ratio be less than 45%?

Will you be able to make a down payment of 5% of the purchase price?

Will you be able to demonstrate continuous employment for 24 months prior to application?

Do you have 5% downpayment available?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may qualify for Opening Doors. To begin the application process and find out for certain if this program is right for you, click on the APPLY NOW button. You will be taken to the website of Meriwest Mortgage, a subsidiary of Meriwest Credit Union, and you will be asked to begin an application for a mortgage loan

Click Here to Apply

If you have problems accessing the site, have questions, or need further information, please call HEART at (650) 872-4444 ext. 4#, or email pstinson@heartofsmc.org.

FAQ

Q: What do I do if I have more questions?

A: You can download a full set of Frequently Asked Questions here

Q: What are the interest rates?

A:  Please call John Souza at Meriwest Mortgage, 408-849-7115 for today’s rates.

Q: How is the program funded?

A: HEART’s donations from local employers fund the program. HEART continues to raise funds to enable this program to grow and serve even more local employees. Please click on the Donate Now button to make a gift, or contact Paula Stinson at (650) 872-4444, ext. 4#, pstinson@heartofsmc.org Thank you!

I read this article at: http://www.heartofsmc.org/programs/homebuyer-assistance/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Home Prices Rebound According to CNN Money – enjoy this shared article…

Home prices rebound

By Chris Isidore CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago.

According to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index, which covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, the typical home price in July rose 1.6% compared to the previous month.

It marked the third straight month that prices in all 20 major markets followed by the index improved, and it would have been the fourth straight month of improvement across the full spectrum if not for a slight decline in Detroit in April.

The index was up 1.2% compared to a year earlier, an improvement from the year-over-year change reported for June. While home prices have been showing a sequential change in recent months, it wasn’t until June that prices were higher than a year earlier.

The July reading matched levels last seen in summer 2003, when the market was marching toward its peak in 2006. The collapse of the market after that led to the financial crisis of 2008.

“The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing.”

Record low mortgage rates and a tighter supply of homes available for sale have helped to lift home prices. Lower unemployment also has helped with home prices, although job growth in recent months has been slower than hoped.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced it would buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds a month for the foreseeable future. This third round of asset purchases by the central bank, popularly known as QE3, is its effort to jump start the economy through even lower home loan rates.

Related: Best home deals in Best Places

Mike Larson, real estate analyst with Weiss Research, said part of the improvement in the housing market is due to investors using the low mortgage rates to buy up homes that are in foreclosure and renting them in a strong rental market.

But he said that he doesn’t think there’s much chance of housing prices forming any kind of new bubble in the foreseeable future.

“Clearly the worst is behind us for this market., but this is not a market that is going to take off again,” he said. “While you have a firming up, you still have tight lending standards and people who have been burned are reluctant or unable to get back in the market.” He predicts it will take several more years before housing prices can gain more than 1% to 2% a year.

Related: Buy or rent? 10 major cities

But that is good news for a housing market that was plagued by plunging home values and high foreclosure rates for much of the last six years. And the good news has the potential to build on itself, said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank.

“Housing remains a rare bright spot in an economy that is otherwise muddling through,” he wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “The price trend for housing is significant, because it provides economic stimulus via stronger household balance sheets.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that home prices had reached a 9-year high. In fact, they rebounded to the level last seen in summer 2003, before their peak several years later.

Curious about the local real estate market on the San Francisco Peninsula?  Email me! 

I read this article at: http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/25/real_estate/home-prices/index.html?source=linkedin

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina