Thursday, March 27, 2008

Market Report for Lane County February 2008

According to this months market report, the number of listings grew a slight 0.2% when comparing February 2008 to February 2007.

To see the complete market report click on this link below:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

5 Signs of a Housing Market Pickup

The following article is gleaned from Realtor magazine April 2008

New Jobs vs. New Housing
Historically, one new home owner is created fro every two new jobs, so if job creation continues in your area and builders are scaling back on production, it's just a matter of time before the supply and demand equation moves toward equilibrium.

Fewer Builder Concessions
Look for new-home builders in your area, as a sign of new confidence, to curtail their offerings of free mortgage payments, new toasters, designer landscaping, and other concessions they rolled out at the start of the downturn.

Months' Supply
The country had about a 10-month supply of housing at the end of Last year, but the figure you're interested in is the months' supply for your market. The historical nor is closer to six months.

Visitors per Listing
Look at the visitor trends tracked by your local MLS using today's computerized lock boxes. You can see not only how many visitors view the house buy how long they stay; more visitors staying longer suggests buyers are getting serious.

Rising apartment rents
Healthy rental rate increases show strong demand for rentals, but if such increases go on for too long or rates rise too steeply, renters will start inquiring about buying.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Home sales still strong in some places

Daily Real Estate News March 21, 2008

Home Sales Still Strong in Key Areas The housing slowdown is not being felt in some of the most desirable areas of the country.For instance, in Ross, Calif., about 18 miles north of San Francisco, real estate practitioner Tracy McLaughlin says, “It’s supply constrained.”Other metropolitan areas that continued to post gains in home prices nearly every month are Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Charlotte, N.C. In Charlotte, home price growth has averaged a steady 7 percent over the last five years.In San Francisco, prices have declined slightly, but demand remains strong. "The market is very strong," says Richard Weil of Hill & Co. in San Francisco. "We don't have any inventory. It comes down to that."Weil says houses in the $3 million to $5 million range are taking a little longer to sell. But those shopping for homes priced at $6 million or more are largely unaffected by the market downturn.
Source: Reuters News, Jim Christie (03/18/20) and San Francisco Business Times, Mark Calvey (02/28/08)

As mentioned in the above article Portland and the general Oregon housing market is still strong. Increasing Fed cuts and lower house prices have brought out many buyers. Its still important to be aware of increasing foreclosures however with increasing federal programs and steady job market in Oregon foreclosure do not play a huge threat in this area.

Bringing out the Buyers

The following article is gleaned from "Bringing Out the Buyers" by Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist from NAR (National Association of Realtors) online newsletter

The “second” reading of GDP growth in the 4th quarter of last year was unchanged – a basically flat 0.6 percent growth rate. As we go forward, economic growth in the first half of this year will be essentially non-existent. But there is some light at the end of what many pundits view as a dark tunnel. By the second half of the year, the economy will expand at slightly higher than 2 percent. The 2008 fiscal stimulus package contains over $100 billion in tax rebates. Those checks should be in taxpayers’ mailboxes in early summer. This tax cut is more than twice as high as a similar rebate passed in 2001. Past research suggests that consumers’ propensity to spend out of those tax rebates is about 40 cents to 50 cents on the dollar. That translates into additional consumer spending of $60 to $80 billion in the second half of the year. Make no mistake – this stimulus is the key factor in helping move the economy in the second half of the year.

Pent-Up Demand Rising sales will also bring down inventory and help strengthen home prices. The national median price of an existing home will fall in the first half of the year and then rise in the second half. For the year as a whole, the median price will have fallen by 1 percent – after having fallen 1.4 percent last year. Of course, there will be tremendous local market variations. The Northeast region is likely to be first region to show signs of stabilizing and then strengthening housing market conditions. The West region will likely trail behind.

The West region could, nonetheless, surprise us on the upside. What is unique about the current housing cycle is the pace of price declines in some local markets, which can significantly improve affordability conditions in a short time. Home prices are falling at or near a double-digit pace in California, Nevada, and Arizona. A sudden quick home price adjustment may be just the thing to quickly induce buyers back into these marketplaces. After all, as is the case in many parts of the country, jobs have been created in those Western states over the past two years even against the backdrop of a housing market slump, and hence, there exists significant pent-up demand.

New home sales will take much longer to turn around. That is simply due to the fact that there are far fewer new homes being built. Single-family housing starts have fallen by more than 50 percent in the past two years. Based on housing permits – generally a reliable indicator of upcoming housing starts – new home construction will fall further for the remainder of the year. New home inventory has been trending down but more cutbacks are needed. Therefore, homebuilders need to further bite the bullet and hold back construction. Loan modifications and other foreclosure mitigation programs are all well intended and good, but the best policy assistance in our current market condition is to unleash the pent-up demand. Any measures that violate the sanctity of private contracts – such as permitting judges to reset interest rates – should be avoided as those can greatly harm home sales by raising the cost of borrowing on new loan origination's. There is some discussion of a possible tax credit for first-time home buyers. Such a policy will be a great stabilizer for the housing market and the economy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

10 upgrades to help sell your home

The following article is gleaned from from from the real estate section

Preparing your home for the market is often less about aesthetics and more about fixing fundamental flaws. Here is 10 upgrades savvy buyers may be expecting.
1. Copper pipes
Pluming is usually out of sight and out of mind, but upgrading pipes should be a mojor priority for sellers of older homes. copper pipes are a big improvement of galvanized pipes, which corrode over time. Home era: pre-1960's
2. Electrical
Homes built before the 1970s often do not have enough electrical "oomph" to run all the electronic gadgets that are part of modern daily life. Today's homes typically have 200-amp service, so keep your home competitive by upgrading to at least 100 amp. Home era: Pre-1960s-1960s.
3. Furnace
Furnaces usually last from 12 to 14 years. Although this upgrade is relatively expensive, you'll need to bite the bullet if your unit is nearing or has passed its expiration date. People who bought a new home a dozen years ago or so are especially like to need this replacement. Home era: 1990s.
4. Kitchen Cabinets
Refurbishing old cabinets can quickly pull you kitchen into the 21st century. Replace dated cabinet hardware with stainless steel or nickel knobs, pull and hinges. Bring solid wood cabinets back to life by cleaning, sanding, staining, painting and replacing veneer. Home era: 1960s.
5. Kitchen Countertops
The saying "all real estate is local" is true right down to the kitchen coutnertops. In some neighborhoods, laminate is still acceptable. On others, you'll need to go with granite or corian. Check out your negihbors' kitchens to find out what is standard on your block. Home era 1980s.
6. Roof
Shrewd buyers are always concerned about the age of a home's roof. Have your roof inspected if it is more than 10yrs old. If it make the grade, include the inspection report in your buyers packet. If you must replace, cut costs by choosing 20 year material over 30 year material. Home era: 1990s.
7. Siding
A dated exterior can be fatal to your home's curbside appeal. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint is all you need to cover a multitude of sins. In other cases, you may need to replace the siding altogether. Home era: 1970s.
8. Termite inspection
Termites are tiny insects that love to feast on wood, including timbers in homes. Homes in Southern states are particularly vulnerable to this pest. Termite inspections are relatively cheap and are especially important in older homes
9. Water Heater
Water heaters typically last about a decade before running out of steam. Installing a high-efficiency water heater can cut energy use by between 10% and 50%, making your home more attractive to cost-conscious buyers.
10. Windows
Single-pane windows have gone the way of lava lamps and beanbag chairs, so be sure to upgrade those aluminum slider windows. Not only will your home look more enticing, but you'll also trim heating and cooling bills by 25%. Home era: 1970s

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


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FHA changes loan limits

Information given to us by Fred Chamberlin:

HUD has announced new FHA loan limits nationwide. Lane County's new loan limit is $343,750, almost $100,000 over the previous limit.

This program allows purchase (and refinances) with liberal underwriting and limited down payments, helping people that were being put into subprime loans in the past. This change is currently temporary until the end of the year. HUD could extend it or make it permanent prior to that, but right now it is temporary.

Greeen: Easy Does It

The following article is gleaned from "Green: Easy Does It" by Maggie Sierger from Realtor Magazine Feb 2008.

About 21% of US greenhouse gas emissions are generated from household energy use, according to the US Energy Information Administration. A house that consumes less energy reduces greenhouse gases because less fossil fuel is required to operate it. Energy and water savings mean financial savings too. Here are some simple greening options.
Improve Energy Efficiency: replaces incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. These produce the same amount of light yet require 75% less energy, produce 75% less heat and last 10 times longer.
Reduce Drafts: Plug leaks. Caulk and add weather-stripping to windows and doors to stop heat and air conditioning losses. Leaky air ducts can decrease energy efficiency by as much as 20%.
Appliance Excesses: Unplug chargers, power adapters, and appliances when they're not in use. about 75% of electricity used to power electronics such as VCR's televisions, stereos, computers and kitchen appliances is consumed while the products are turned off.
Avoid Super-Hot Water: Lower water heater temperature. the average tank style water heater uses about 5% less energy for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you reduce the temperature.

Foreclosure 'crisis' is overblown

The following article is gleaned from "foreclosure 'crisis' is overblown" by Scot Burns of MSN Money.

Sure there are pockets of pain around the US, but it's not as if most Americans are losing their homes. More than 99% of homes aren't in foreclosure.
A recent list of year-end mortgage foreclosure rates in 100 top metropolitan areas drew a lot of attention. Released by Realtytrac, a company that compiles date on home foreclosures, the list showed the number of foreclosure filings in each metro are, the percentage of home being foreclosed and the percentage change from the previous year.
Though the report had some dismal news-- such as the nearly 4.9% foreclosure rate in Stockton, Calif., area-- a close look at the data also provides some reassuring information. The foreclosure crisis is a regional problem, not a systemic one.
Though the national rate of foreclosure increased by a whopping 79% between December 2006 and December 2007, the rate was still only 1.033%. Because about 30% of all homes are owned mortgage free, this means that for all the noise about a crisis, only seven-tenths of 1% of all homes were in foreclosure.
In the top 100 housing markets, the average foreclosure rate was somewhat higher -- 1.38%-- and it was up 78% over the previous year. But if you rank-ordered the list of the top 100 areas, only 34 had foreclosure rates above the group average. Fifty-one areas had rates of 1% or less. Foreclosure rates actually fell in 14 of the 100 areas.
Owning your own home is an idea so popular that it's known as the American dream. But as prices fall and foreclosures rise, for many its become a nightmare instead.
The real economic problem, for most people, isn't the price-spike states. It's the deflation states.