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So California home prices jump | Armonk Real Estate

The Southern California housing market is red-hot again.

Home prices in the region have been climbing steadily, as they have nationwide, toward record levels not seen since the 2008 housing crisis plunged the country into a severe recession.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a widely followed gauge of the market, showed that prices in the Los Angeles market in April stood at their highest point since October 2007.

The median home price in Orange County in May was $651,500, surpassing its bubble-era peak reached in 2007, according to the real estate data firm CoreLogic.

Interest rates of about 3.5% or less for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages  not far off the all-time low of 3.31% in November 2012  have helped fuel the gains.

Dana Kuhn is a lecturer at the Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate at San Diego State University, and we asked him to summarize the market and what it means for would-be buyers and sellers. Here’s an edited excerpt:

Has the Southern California housing market completely recovered from the recession?

In the most desirable markets, that’s essentially true. That would be West Coast large-metro areas. The San Francisco Bay Area is now priced above its peak numbers of the last decade. Orange County, too, and Los Angeles and San Diego are getting very close to their former peaks. Seattle is doing really well. Portland is doing well.

One of the worst-hit areas in the housing crisis was the Inland Empire. How is that region faring?

That was the real subprime [mortgage] disaster area. Those markets have been slower to recover. There are areas like the Inland Empire that are probably only between 80% and 85% of [their pre-bubble] peak.

Is it surprising that it’s taken this long?

Yes and no. Given how severe the recession was, there was so little production [of new housing] in that time. There was a four-year period between September 2008 and September 2012 when the nation’s housing starts were below all previous troughs going back some 40 years. And in those previous troughs, what you typically had was one year at that nadir, and then you’d climb back up fairly quickly. But we had four years below all of those troughs, and so production obviously fell behind demand.

So there was a huge pent-up demand when people started getting jobs and believing in housing again. The industry has struggled to keep up with it in the more desirable markets.

Is that driving the surge in prices?

Yes. Like most things, it’s a supply/demand situation. The number of [housing] starts hasn’t been able to take care of that pent-up demand. The pricing has gone up accordingly, and that has been accommodated by low [mortgage] interest rates. Continued low interest rates have in essence subsidized a rapid ascent in pricing.

Why is it tough to add more housing to the supply in Southern California?

Land is increasingly scarce, and that’s forcing people to build up rather than out. And those higher-density projects are more sensitive politically, more difficult to get approved and take longer to get through the pipeline. You can have agreement about needing more housing in a given market, but when it actually comes down to [building] those 300 units on that corner in that neighborhood, you get resistance. So it can take years in Southern California coastal areas to get [those] projects approved. That’s true whether it’s a for-sale product or a rental market.

This all sounds good for sellers, but is it a tough time to be a buyer?

Yes. Unfortunately real [inflation-adjusted] wage growth hasn’t kept up with that surge in pricing. It’s significantly harder to buy something now than it was a few years ago because people’s wages just haven’t kept up, even though interest rates are still the same.

The median price of a house in Los Angeles County is above a half-million dollars. How does a first-time buyer afford that?

They don’t buy that house. That’s the middle of a statistical group. Your first-time buyer is pretty much forced to buy a [less-expensive] attached product, not detached.

Like a condominium?

Yes. And they’re probably not going to be able to afford to buy that unit in the same neighborhood in which they would rent if they were renters. So they have to make a lifestyle concession in order to become homeowners.

Meaning they would build up equity in that house, then later sell it in hopes of buying one in the neighborhood they desire?

Right. Also, the millennial generation [18 to 34 years old] has eschewed the concept of home ownership because they saw their parents and others get burned in the last downturn and because they prefer lifestyle over ownership.

But as they get older and have kids they’ll have a different outlook. And as their wages increase, they’re also going to realize the importance of the mortgage deduction  the tax benefits that come from home ownership  and there will be move back toward home ownership.


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Mortgage Rates at 4.04% survey says | Armonk Real Estate

Freddie Mac  today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates reversing course once again and moving lower amid mixed economic and housing data.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.04 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending July 23, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 4.09 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.13 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.21 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.25 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.26 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.54 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.50 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.39 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“U.S. Treasury yields dropped following announcements that many blue chip companies’ earnings failed to meet expectations. This drove the 30-year fixed rate mortgage down 5 basis points to 4.04 percent this week. Housing continues to be the bright spot in the economic recovery. Existing home sales beat market expectations coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million homes. This is up 9.6 percent from a year ago and the fastest pace since 2007. Also, housing starts jumped 9.8 percent responding to strong demand in the multifamily market.”

Bidding wars return to home market | Armonk Real Estate

Christina and Kevin Dirks have been searching for a house in the Denver area for four months at prices up to $275,000. They made offers on six homes—and were outbid on each one.

“When we first started looking, you had to pay $10,000 over” list price to win the bidding, Ms. Dirks said. “Then, as the weeks went by, it went up to $20,000. And now it’s up to $30,000 and $40,000.”

Ms. Dirks, a 28-year-old office coordinator, said she and her husband, a 30-year-old merchandiser, hope that as the market slows down this winter, “people will put a halt on being so crazy.”

Bidding wars, a hallmark of last decade’s housing boom, are making a comeback in a number of metro areas across the U.S. But while the earlier wars reflected enthusiasm fueled by easy-money mortgages, the current froth stems from a market short of homes for sale.

The reasons for the scant supply are myriad, including a much-slower-than-expected recovery in home construction. Yet an equally significant problem is that millions of people aren’t listing their homes for sale because they suspect they can’t qualify for a new mortgage, can’t afford the costs associated with a sale or fear that they won’t prevail in the scrum for the few houses available.

At the end of May, there were 2.3 million existing U.S. homes for sale, enough supply to last 5.1 months at the current sales pace. That is below the six to seven months of supply that the National Association of Realtors says is needed for a balanced market.

But in more than one-third of the 300 largest metropolitan areas tracked by Realtor.com, homes listed for sale in June had been on the market for a median of less than two months. A low median figure indicates rapid turnover in inventory as demand for homes exceeds supply.

Those include big markets like San Francisco, with a median time on market of 27 days, and Dallas at 38 days, as well as smaller markets like Vallejo, Calif., at 26 days and Kennewick, Wash., at 36 days.

The tightest market in June was Santa Rosa, Calif., a relatively affordable Bay Area suburb, where the median time a home was on the market was 24 days.

In those markets with limited supply, bidding wars tend to push prices higher, creating price bubbles. According to Realtor.com, the $580,000 median listing price in Santa Rosa is up nearly 10% from a year ago. That handily outpaces the national average increase in resale prices, which the National Association of Realtors calculates at 7.9%. Realtor.com is operated by Move Inc., which like The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp.

The low supply of homes reflects a reluctance or inability of owners to sell their current house or apartment and trade up to their next, often larger, one. Some remain skittish about the economy, their own finances or their ability to qualify for a mortgage. Others can’t sell because they are underwater, meaning they owe more on their mortgages than the homes are worth.

Even though U.S. home prices are up 31% in the past five years, 15.4% of homes—an estimated 7.9 million—remained underwater in the first quarter, according to real estate website Zillow. The long term average is 3% to 5%, Zillow says. These owners can’t sell unless they have thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars on hand to pay the shortfall on their old mortgage and finance costs of selling and moving.

Another pressure on housing inventories is growth in U.S. household formation. The U.S. added roughly 1.5 million households in the first quarter from a year earlier, though almost all were formed by renters.


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Pending Sales Continue Momentum | Armonk Real Estate

The Pending Home Sales Index increased for the fifth straight month to the highest level in over nine years. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts reported by theNational Association of Realtors (NAR), increased 0.9% in May to 112.6, and climbed to 10.4% above the May level a year ago.

Pending Home Sales May 2015

Regionally, the May PHSI increased 6.3% in the Northeast and 2.2% in the West. However, the May PHSI declined slightly by 0.6% in the Midwest and 0.8% in the South. Year-over-year, the PHSI was up 13.0% in the West, 10.6% both in the Northeast and South, and 7.8% in the Midwest.


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Armonk Zero Waste Day | Armonk Real Estate


 Saturday, April 25  9:00 am – 3:00 pm

(rain or shine) 

Behind Town Hall

15 Bedford Road, Armonk


Used Motor, Antifreeze and Cooking Oil

Paper Shredding 

Scrap Metals 

Household Furniture 

Spring & Summer Clothing and Linens

Adult & Children’s Bicycles 

Dog & Cat Supplies 

ZWD volunteers will help unload your donations.



 Sunday, April 26  9:00 am – 3:00 pm


Help pick up roadside trash and recyclables 


Contact: CleanUpNorthCastle@gmail.com


Pick Up bags & Safety Vests at 

Town Hall, Community Center NWP, and Banksville Firehouse

Effective Rate on New Home Loans Drops Below 4 Percent | Armonk Homes

Last month we reported that the contract rate on new home loans dipped below 4 percent in January, based on data released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  In February, the rate continued to decline, from 3.92 to 3.79 percent, as did the average initial fees and charges on the loans, from 1.18 to 1.11.  In both cases, the numbers are the lowest they’ve been since mid-2013.

Fees Feb 15

As a result, the average effective interest rate (which amortizes initial fees over the estimated life of the loan) on conventional mortgages used to purchase newly built homes also dropped below 4 percent (going from 4.05 to 3.91) in February—the first time in 20 months the effective rate has been that low.

Eff Rate Feb 15

Meanwhile, both the average size of conventional mortgages used to purchase new homes and the average price of the homes, have been drifting upward (subject to normal monthly volatility) and these trends continued in February.   The average loan amount increased from $331,700 to $338,600, while the average new home price increased from $440,300 to $449,400.  In each case, the February dollar figure represents a record high.

Avg Price Feb 15

This information is based on FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS) of loans closed during the last five working days in February.  For other caveats and details about the survey, see the technical note at the end of FHFA’s March 26 news release.


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NAHB Completes Landmark 800th Local Impact Study | #Armonk Real Estate

n January, NAHB produced a study on the impact of home building in the nine-county Kansas City metropolitan area.  Like earlier studies, the one for Kansas City estimated the income, jobs and taxes generated by home building activity in the area.  However, the Kansas City study is especially notable because it marks the 800th such customized report NAHB has produced for various metropolitan areas, non-metropolitan counties, and states across the country since first offering this service late in 1996.

The map below illustrates the parts of the country covered by the 800 customized NAHB local impact studies.  The darker green shading indicates studies covering metro areas or non-metro counties; the somewhat lighter orange shading indicates studies produced for an entire state.

NAHB 800

Although a local market area analyzed by NAHB must be large enough to include places where construction workers live, and places where the new home occupants work and shop (most often, a metropolitan area or non-metropolitan county), the construction analyzed can be confined to a particular jurisdiction or development.  Over the years, the studies have been used to help get individual projects approved, counter anti-growth proposals, and generate publicity for the local home building industry.

A customized report can be ordered by anyone willing to pay the fee and provide the inputs needed to run the NAHB model.  For those lacking the time or resources, a study showing results for a typical or average local area is available immediately on line.

For example, this study shows that the estimated one-year local impacts of building 100 single-family homes in a typical metro area include

  • $21.1 million in local income,
  • $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and
  • 324 local jobs.

And that the additional, annually recurring impacts resulting from the 100 single-family homes becoming occupied and the occupants paying taxes and otherwise participated in the local economy  include

  • $3.1 million in local income,
  • $743,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and
  • 53 local jobs.

The typical local area report, along with instructions for ordering customized reports for a particular area,  are available on NAHB’s local impact of home building web page.   Readers are urged to check back periodically, as NAHB anticipates updating the information for a typical local area within the next two months.   Readers with questions about the local impact estimates or how they’re generated may contact Paul Emrath in NAHB’s Housing Policy Department.


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Case-Shiller: “The housing recovery is faltering” | Armonk Real Estate

Home prices saw a slight increase in nine cities covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices in December.

Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw year-over-year increases in December compared to November.

The 10-City Composite gained 4.3% year-over-year, up from 4.2% in November. The 20-City Composite gained 4.5% year-over-year, compared to a 4.3% increase in November.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.6% annual gain in December 2014 versus 4.7% in November.

“The for-sale housing market made great strides toward ‘normal’ in 2014, as runaway appreciation cooled markedly and negative equity fell significantly. But anyone looking to see how far from truly ‘normal’ the market remains need look no further than the red-hot rental market, and its implications on the broader housing market going forward,” said Zillow Group (Z) Chief Economist Stan Humphries. “Many current renters could likely realize significant monthly savings by buying a home now and taking advantage of terrific affordability driven by low mortgage rates and home prices that remain below peak in most areas.”


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