A bit of good news for the Santa Rosa real estate market that will help both buyers and sellers. The government takeover of Fannie and Freddie has had the desired effect of lowing mortgage rates. The lower rates mean more people will qualify for home loans and be able to the home loan payments.
One thing for sure, this is a very exciting time in the real estate business.
Freddie Mac reported Thursday that its nationwide survey found that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 5.93 percent this week, down from 6.35 percent last week.
"This is the most significant positive benefit of the government takeover of Fannie and Freddie," Zandi said. "I think it is important that rates have fallen below the key 6 percent benchmark and hopefully rates will move lower in coming weeks."
The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes fell 3.2 percent to a reading of 86.5 from an upwardly revised June reading of 89.4. The index was 6.8 percent below year-ago levels.
Lawrence Yun, the trade group's chief economist, forecasts U.S. home sales are on a pace to fall 11 percent from last year to just over 5 million in 2008. Yun also says that stringent lending criteria by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- the mortgage finance companies taken over by the government this weekend held back sales activity.
The treasury Department announced on Sunday that they are buying out Freddie and Fannie to the tune of $100 billion each - representing 80% of the companies. This step is good news for home purchasers as it is expected to lower interest rates for new mortgages though it will provide little relief for those already in trouble.
Think of this as the beginning of the end of the worst financial collapse since the great depression.
The plan to inject up to $100 billion in each of the government-chartered mortgage companies could not only help lower mortgage rates but, some investors are hoping, buoy the overall economy. The plan could help banks feel more open to write new mortgages and to refinance existing mortgages at lower rates, offering a possible lifeline to consumers struggling with increasing payments.
Dave Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams in New York, said while the plan boosts confidence in sectors like financials and home builders, it doesn't immediately alleviate worries about other areas of the economy. Still, he said the move was far more welcome than a collapse of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Adding insult to injury, the condition of foreclosed homes drives the price down even further. As I reported in an earlier post, July sales numbers we fueled by foreclosure sales with many in poor or downright horrible condition.
"Part of the reason home prices are declining is a fundamental deterioration in the housing stock," said Glenn Kelman, CEO of the online, discount broker Redfin. "During the boom, nine out of 10 houses for sale in many markets were in prime condition. Now, for every 10 houses, at least three are dogs."
"I've never seen so many houses in this condition before," said Ray Anderson of Buyer's Advantage Real Estate in Auburn Calif., near Sacramento. "And I've been in the business 20 years. I've seen bank-owned properties in the past. They were never like this."
Nationally 18.6% of all homes sold during the three months ended June 30 were foreclosures, compared with just 7% during the same period a year earlier, and 3.1% in 2006, according to the real estate Web site Zillow.com. And that doesn't include short sales, which is when a home is sold for less than the mortgage balance and the bank forgives the unpaid balance and also account for a lot of sales in many areas.
Always the question and everyone has an opinion on when the Santa Rosa real estate market will bottom out. It looks like some think the historical prices are still way out of whack and we should see declines for another year.
My analysis says houses that our priced at 2000-2001 price levels are selling in 30-60 days. Houses priced higher are not selling at all.
Asha calculates the price-to-rent ratio using the Case-Shiller price index and the "Owner's Equivalent Rent" component of the CPI. The horizontal "means" in her chart are one standard deviation above the long term mean (i.e., they're not the average...they're a standard-deviation higher than the average*). The higher mean includes the high prices of the bubble years, and the lower one doesn't. Either way, it's clear that house prices are still well above their long-term average level relative to rents. (And don't forget that prices spend about half the time below the average).
Watching this real estate market closely is an obsession of mine. Almost daily there are stories written and statistics published that taken all together, begin to show a picture.
And studying the micro market of Santa Rosa, more specifically, home sales in Bennett Valley - the picture is clear. Good home priced at 2001-2002 levels will sell. All others sit on the market for 120 days or longer as the home inventories continue to grow.
The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that new-home sales rose by 2.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 515,000 units, the most since April. But sales in June had plummeted to a pace of just 503,000 — down from previous estimates of 530,000 — to mark the worst showing since September 1991.
The average price of a new-home sold in July was $294,600, down 4.1 percent from a year ago. The median home price — where half sell for more and half for less — was $230,700, down 6.3 percent from last year.
The National Association of Realtors reported Monday that sales of previously-owned homes rose in July as discounts lured buyers. However, the number of unsold properties hit an all-time high, an indication that the worst housing slump in decades is far from over.