Is Market Recovery Slowing Down? Great Article from SF Gate

Great article about our local Real Estate market – is recovery slowing down?  Or is supply holding back the reins?

Signs of possible slowdown in housing recovery


By: Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle & SF Gate

Bay Area home prices rose on a year-over-year basis last month, albeit at a slower pace than earlier in the year, while sales fell to their slowest pace for a December since 2007, DataQuick reported Wednesday.

It was another sign of a potential slowdown in the housing recovery.

On Tuesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association lowered its forecast for 2014 mortgage originations, citing higher interest rates and uncertainty over new mortgage rules that took effect this month.
DataQuick attributed the sales slowdown to a lack of supply, not a lack of demand.
“Demand has been impacted by a roughly one percentage point increase in rates since spring. But we think the bigger deal is the lack of inventory,” DataQuick spokesman Andrew LePage says.
In the Bay Area, 6,714 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the nine counties last month. That was up 0.8 percent from November but down 12.7 percent from December 2012.
Sales are typically higher in December than November, but the seasonal increase is normally much higher – around 8 percent.
The December sales figure was the lowest for a December since 2007, when 5,065 homes sold.
The median price paid for a Bay Area home last month was $548,500. That was down 0.3 percent from November, but 23.9 percent higher than the same time last year. From April through August last year, prices rose 30 percent or more on a year-over-year basis.
More sales in spring

LePage says there will be more homes on the market in spring and summer, when the market typically heats up. Rising home prices will leave fewer homes underwater, so more homeowners will sell because they could make enough to pay off their mortgage. Also, there has been “a little more construction,” LePage says.
“Waiting (to buy a home) will get you more choice, but all bets are off on prices,” he says.
If the current rate of appreciation holds, “the typical home would be selling for $50,000 to $60,000 more by spring.

Perhaps twice that at the upper end of the market,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in a news release.

Tight inventories are also hurting the mortgage industry.

In its forecast Tuesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicted that only $1.12 trillion in home loans will be originated this year, down 36 percent from $1.76 trillion in 2013. In October, it predicted that 2014 originations would drop by only 32 percent.

The forecast came out hours after mortgage heavyweights Wells Fargo and Chase announced big drops in fourth-quarter mortgage originations as part of their earnings reports.

The numbers “just kept getting worse through the end of 2013,” says Michael Fratantoni, the association’s chief economist.

The association predicts that home-purchase mortgages will rise just 3.8 percent to $677 billion this year. In October, it was expecting a 9 percent increase.

Refinance originations, it says, will hit only $440 billion, down 60 percent form last year. In October it expected a 57 percent drop.

Higher rates a drag

The main culprit is higher interest rates. Mortgage rates were around 3.5 percent at the beginning of last year but jumped by a full percentage point in May and June. They have been hovering around 4.5 percent since then.

The immediate effect was to slash refinance volume, but home-purchase originations also suffer from a low-rate “hangover,” Fratantoni says. The ultra-low rates that persisted before May “pulled forward some (purchases) that might not have occurred until six months or a year later. Now we are now we are seeing a bit of a payback in terms of lower activity.”

The association predicts that the average 30-year mortgage rate will be above 5 percent by the end of this year and above 5.5 percent at the end of next year.

It also predicts that fewer mortgages could be made this year as lenders narrow their product lineup to conform with the new mortgage rules designed to outlaw some of the abusive lending practices that led to the financial crisis.

The new rules give lenders some protection from borrower lawsuits if they make what is known as a qualified mortgage and the loan goes bad. A loan is not qualified if it has certain features, such as interest-only payments, or if the borrower’s total debt payments (including the mortgage and other debt) exceed 43 percent of gross income.
Over government limit

The new rules apply only to jumbo and other nonconforming mortgages, because all loans that could be bought or backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration and other government agencies are automatically deemed qualified.

Government loans account for the vast majority of the mortgages nationwide but a smaller percentage in the Bay Area, where many borrowers exceed the government limit, which tops out at $625,500 for Fannie, Freddie and FHA loans in high-cost areas.

In the Bay Area, 15.4 percent of home-purchase loans exceeded $625,500 in the fourth quarter, but this number ranged from less than 0.4 percent in Solano County to 32 percent in San Francisco, according to DataQuick.

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Net Worth runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail: kpender@sfchronicle.com Blog: http://blog.sfgate.com/pender Twitter: @kathpender

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/business/networth/article/Signs-of-possible-slowdown-in-housing-recovery-5146631.php
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Sound Off: What are the biggest mistakes the buyers make? – Great Article from SF Gate

I enjoy reposting articles I find so I don’t sound like I’m shouting from my soap box all day long.  This artcile, in the Sunday Real Estate section was a great read – please enjoy and if you have any questions – ask me – Info@TheCatonTeam.com or call at 650-568-5522

Q: What are the biggest mistakes buyers make?

A: In this fast-paced market, it is still important for buyers to remember the fundamentals of purchasing a home. The items listed below will always be relevant, and they are important issues for buyers to be aware of, and try to avoid:

1. Failing to read documents they receive from their lender and their agent. Buyers receive a lot of information after escrow is opened, which can be overwhelming. But it is imperative that these reports, ranging from disclosures from the seller, to preliminary title reports from the escrow company, to all the various inspection reports completed, be carefully reviewed by the buyer, and they should be encouraged to ask questions. Call on your escrow officer, inspectors, real estate agent and lender until you are completely comfortable and understand all the paperwork you have received.

2. Time is of the essence in all things real estate. There are so many people involved in a transaction, and it is important that all items requested of the buyer from their lender, or their agent, be responded to as quickly as possible. If not, a delay could cost them dearly, from an increase in their loan rate, to even losing the property by not being able to remove a loan contingency in a timely manner.

Another area where the buyer needs to move quickly is when they have identified their dream home. Hesitating a day could mean losing out to another buyer. A slow response to a counteroffer could lose the home to a more aggressive buyer.

3. A buyer’s financials must be in order, and it is most important they don’t make any large purchases during the escrow period, pay bills late, incur derogatory marks on their credit report or change jobs. Make sure to stay in close contact with a lender before making any major money moves.

I read this article at:  http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Sound-Off-What-are-the-biggest-mistakes-the-4283038.php#ixzz2LOGh3yKt

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Susan Caton – of The Caton Team Realtors – Interviewed by the Daily Journal – Article by Sally Schilling

Please enjoy this article below, my partner and mother-in-law, Susan Caton was interviewed by Sally Schilling of the Daily Journal regarding the local San Francisco Peninsula Real Estate market.

First-Time Home Buyers Beat Out By Cash

By Sally Schilling – Daily Journal Correspondent 9.17.12 5am

Low interest rates and low housing prices have first-time buyers feeling optimistic about purchasing a good home. But people who have saved up enough money for a sizable down payment are finding they are still not in the most favorable position in the housing market.

Cash buyers are often beating out first-time home buyers who are taking out loans.

“They’re being beat out, but not necessarily priced out,” said Anne Oliva, president of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors. Sometimes, cash buyers get preference over buyers with home loans, even if their cash bid is lower, she said.

Traditional home buyers with a 20 percent down payment are struggling, said Oliva, who is currently working with a couple for whom she has put in nine different offers. Her clients have enough for a 20 percent down payment, but sellers are thinking it is better to go with the cash buyer for the sure deal.

The challenge may be even greater for first-time buyers of units in complexes, such as condominiums or apartments. Investors are buying up units with cash and turning them into rentals, said Oliva.

First-time buyers with a 3.5 percent down payment on a condo, for example, may get pre-approved for the loans and have their offer accepted. But they could lose final approval of the loan once the lender sees that the complex has a high number of rentals.

“Every lender looks at the renter-to-owner ratio,” said Oliva, who ran a program for first-time home buyers in San Bruno. “If the renter-to-owner ratio is high, they will not lend.”

While she understands that buying and renting condos is a good move for investors, Oliva worries about how this trend will affect the number of homeowners.

“We could have a huge problem with increasing homeownership if this keeps happening,” she said.

Abundance of cash

“There’s a lot of cash out there,” said Susan Caton, a Realtor based in Redwood City. “It’s amazing, even over $1 million there’s a lot of cash.”

Caton worked with a client who was outbid several times on homes priced at more than $900,000. “They kept getting beat out, and beat out,” she said.

One home priced at more than $1 million in San Francisco had 25 offers on it. A client offered with 60 percent to 70 percent down and had excellent credit. They were beat out by an all-cash offer that was less than asking price.

The all-cash offer closed in nine days, whereas the client’s offer which would have closed in 30 days.

“In San Mateo County, it’s the same thing,” she said. “With 40 or 50 percent down or better, you are still beat out by cash offers.”

Caton agreed that the low housing inventory is a big part of the problem, along with the conditions that come with first-time home buyers with loans.

“Fifty percent down is a darn good offer and a good loan,” she said. “But the sellers or agents are saying ‘take the cash, it’s a sure thing,’ especially with no financing or property conditions.”

Many home buyers do get discouraged.

“It’s a hard battle,” said Caton. “It takes a lot of patience, but they can’t give up.”

But she sees a silver lining in the dark cloud.

“In each instance when a buyer is beat out a number of times, when they finally get a house they are so happy they got the one they got,” she said.

Strings attached

There are many reasons for sellers to prefer all-cash offers from prospectors over a down payment from a home buyer with a loan. Many strings are attached to a deal with a first-time home buyer; the sale may take longer to close, an appraisal is needed and sometimes sellers are required to do repairs. And on the other hand, a cash offer may have no conditions.

“If you’re up against cash offers, it’s very difficult,” said Diane Viviani, a longtime real estate agent in San Mateo County.

The cash-buyer trend is especially apparent in the $500,000 to $700,000 range, where inventory is low, said Viviani.

Recently, a home on Oneill Drive in San Mateo had 30 offers on it, she said. The listing price was $525,000 and it sold for $675,000, after being on the market for just eight days.

“I’ll tell a buyer to make the best offer you can,” she said.

For those taking out Federal Housing Administration loans, the down payment only needs to be 3 percent, said Viviani. But with such a low down payment, the lender’s liability is higher and the buyer seems less attractive.

“It’s doable,” said Viviani of FHA loans. “But when something comes at or below market [price], they’re seeing them go [to cash buyers].”

Fading trend

Joe Rodden, a longtime real estate broker based in Redwood City, has seen this trend. A home on 18th Avenue was recently sold to a cash buyer, despite the offer being 5 percent less than the other offers from people taking out loans, said Rodden.

“[The seller] felt more comfortable taking cash because it was a sure thing,” he said.

When asked what happens to the houses after they are bought with cash, Rodden said this is up to the buyer. Cash buyers could potentially close a deal with cash and then take out a loan, but the contract would still say all cash.

The cash trend has become less common in the past couple of months because prices have bumped up, said Rodden.

“Now cash buyers don’t see the same bargain,” he said.

I read this article at:

http://smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=1754902&title=First-time

Sabrina’s 2 cents…

Reading this article, it is clear – the local San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate market is highly competitive – so really nothing has changed.  We live in one of the greatest places on earth!

Though the focus of this article made it clear how tough it can be – The Caton Team has seen the light at the end of the tunnel.  After our clients experience writing multiple offers and being out bid – we reevaluate the situation and get back into the market.  I’m happy to say in the end, we find the right home for the right client.  Each experience is different though… thus our ‘Cinderella Story’ blog entires.  ENJOY!

A Cinderella Story… Lisa and All Those Offers…. at:

https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/a-cinderella-story-lisa-and-all-those-offers/

A Cinderella Story… Jake  and Sophia…. at:

https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/a-cinderella-story-part-2-jake-sophia/

A Cinderella Story…Nisi and Rip… at:

https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/a-cinderella-story-part-1/

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