By Andrew Khouri June 25, 2013, 8:18 a.m.

New home sales surged more than expected last month, a good sign for a building sector that has an oversized role on the broader economy.

Sales of new single-family homes rose 2.1% from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 476,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was the highest rate since July 2008 and 29% more than May of last year.

Home values have risen sharply lately as buyers compete for few available homes. That lack of inventory and price growth has builders turning dirt and increasingly confident in the new home market.

That is not only good news for those in construction but also related industries such as lumber, and heating and air conditioning.

New home sales rose from April in all regions except the South, but were up across the nation compared with last year.

The median price for new homes in May was $263,900, down 2.8% from a month earlier.

Supply remains below average. If new homes continued to sell at the current rate there would be a supply of 4.1 months, unchanged since April.

Also on Tuesday, a leading home price index showed strong growth during April in the nation’s largest cities. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index rose 2.5% from March and 12.1% over the last year.

Because of the time it takes to build new homes, economists Patrick Newport and Stephanie Karol of IHS Global Insight said those sharp gains won’t ease soon.

“The shortages are likely to get larger before getting smaller, which means that home price gains in most cities and states are likely to remain strong for some time,” they said in an emailed analysis.

From: LA Times

Mortgage Rates on The Move

Mortgage rates moved to within a hair of the 4% barrier this week, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The average rate for 30-year, fixed-rate loans rose 0.07 percentage point to 3.98%, and is up 0.63 percentage point since the week of May 2. Rates have not been this high since the week of April 12, 2012

“Fixed mortgage rates crept up further this week following a solid employment report for May,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The recent improvement in the employment picture should result in more home buying, which would pressure rates even higher. Rates have also been going up because the Federal Reserve has signaled that it might cut back on buying mortgage-backed securities. If that happens, lenders would likely charge higher rates to make the securities more attractive to other buyers.

As rate increases push up the cost of home ownership, the impact on the housing market will be slight, according to Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com, a mortgage information company.

The Bizarre Sleep Habits Of 8 Highly Successful People

Most sleep experts and researchers agree that the average adult needs about six to eight hours of sleep a night, but according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, of people who work more than 40 hours a week — which includes, let’s face it, most of us — 36% get fewer than six hours of shut eye each night. That means that many American workers are terribly sleep deprived. As if you needed some study to tell you that, right?

But then there are those rare people who manage to be incredibly successful and maintain ridiculous sleep habits. There are those who rise long before dawn to get their creative work done before grueling day jobs, those who have too much to do to get anywhere near the recommended amount of sleep and still blow the rest of us out of the water with their productivity and success, and those who just plain can’t sleep, but are probably better for it. Here are eight successful, fascinating people and their strange sleep habits.

1. Charlotte and Emily Bronte:

OK, so that’s two people, but both suffered from insomnia. In fact, it was so bad that they reportedly would walk in circles around the dining room table until they got sleepy. While insomnia is never a comfortable state of affairs, it certainly didn’t hurt either of their writing chops.

2. Michael Chabon:

The author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, among other notable works, has a surprising writing schedule: Five days a week, he sits down to write from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Other writers, such as Franz Kafka, have kept similar schedules.

3. Barack Obama:

The president goes to bed around 1 a.m. and is usually up by 7, though sometimes he gets less sleep than that. He has also revealed that he doesn’t have an alarm clock; instead, he has the White House secretary rouse him every morning.

4. Silvio Berlusconi:

The former Italian prime minister said he gets just two to four hours of sleep each night. Honestly, I don’t even want to think about what he’s doing at night when he’s not sleeping.

5. Martha Stewart:

The wildly successful businesswoman gets around four hours of sleep a night. After all, she has to get up early to collect fresh eggs from her own chickens.

6. Marissa Mayer:

The Yahoo! CEO needs only four to six hours of sleep a night. However, she rests up regularly on week-long vacations every four months.

7. Sylvia Plath:

Like many great writers, Plath was an early riser. She would write each morning from 5:30 a.m. until her children woke up.

8. Sir Isaac Newton:

The scientist managed his astounding accomplishments by sleeping just two hours a night or fewer, and working the other 22 hours of the day.

REAL Trends Housing Market Report June 2013

Posted by Travis Saxton on Jun 11, 2013 in Housing Market Reports

The June 2013 report shows that the rate of housing sales increased strongly in May growing 13.5 percent from May 2012.  The annual rate of new and existing home sales for May 2013 was 5.984 million up from the 5.273 million recorded in May 2012.

The average price of homes sold increased by 7.5 percent in May 2013 compared to May 2012.

June 11, 2013 – The REAL Trends Housing Market Report showed that the combination of new and existing home sales in May 2013 continued to show strength across all regions in both unit sales and the average price of homes sold. The annualized rate of the combination of new and existing home sales increased to 5.984 million in May 2013 up from the 5.273 million recorded in May 2012.

The average price of homes sold in May 2013 was up 7.5 percent from the average price of homes sold in May 2012 marking the 14th consecutive month of increased home sale prices. 

Housing unit sales for May 2013 were up 18.1 percent in the Midwest, the strongest showing in the country. The next highest region was the South region at 16.8 percent, the West region was up 9.0 percent and the Northeast was up 7.0 percent.

The average price of homes sold in May 2013 increased 7.5 percent across the country, nearly the same increase as that recorded a month earlier. The West had the best results with the average price of homes sold increasing 13.2 percent followed by the South region at 8.6 percent and the Midwest at 8.5 percent.  The Northeast saw the lowest increase in average price at 2.2 percent.

“May 2013 sales of new and existing homes continued to show strength across all regions and are evidently shaking off the low inventories in most markets.  The two regions of the country with the lowest average sales prices, the South and Midwest, continue to outperform other regions in terms of unit sales increases.  The average price of homes sold was up solidly again due to supply and demand imbalances.  As this report and other housing indicators show the scarcity of inventory and buyer demand are creating a situation where prices are advancing at far greater rates than had been predicted due to high levels of housing affordability and restricted inventory,” said Steve Murray, editor of the REAL Trends Housing Market Report.

As Home Sales Heat Up Again, Buyers Must Resort to Cold Cash

As Home Sales Heat Up Again, Buyers Must Resort to Cold Cash…


Published: June 8, 2013

LOS ANGELES — Bidding wars sound almost quaint. These days, the only way for would-be buyers to secure a home, it often seems, is to offer all cash and be ready to do so within hours, not days.

Dick and Susan Yost had heavy competition while trying to buy a smaller home.

The bursting of last decade’s housing bubble feels like ancient history here, where first-time home buyers are competing with investors to get into single-family homes with prices approaching $1 million.

“It’s everyone from a kid out of law school to an investor from China, walking around with thousands to spend,” said Kameron Eliassian, a Los Angeles real estate agent. “I don’t know where it’s coming from, and I don’t care. Just show me proof that it’s there, and we’re good.”

After saving money for years, waiting for the residential real estate market to hit bottom, buyers all over the country appear eager to get back in, lured by low interest rates and the prospect of a good deal.

But with the number of homes for sale at historically low levels and large investors purchasing thousands of properties, buyers are facing a radically changed market and prices are quickly rising.

The percentage of homes bought with cash has shot up in many markets across the nation. Nearly a third of all homes purchased in Los Angeles during the first quarter of this year went for all cash, compared with just 7 percent in 2007. In Miami, 65 percent of homes sold were for cash deals, compared with 16 percent six years ago.

The prices on all-cash deals are also rising significantly. In Los Angeles, the median price on an all-cash home this year is about $351,000, compared with $230,000 in 2009. Over the same period, the median price over all increased to $410,000, up $85,000. In fact, last month, home prices in Southern California hit their highest level in the last five years.

All-cash buyers, typically investors eager to renovate and quickly resell or rent out homes, are making it more difficult for first-time buyers, who typically rely on mortgage loans that can take weeks or months to materialize. More California homes have been flipped in the last year than in any year since 2005.

And while Los Angeles may be a center of the frenzy, it is not an anomaly. Buyers in Boston are offering $100,000 more than the asking price or placing offers on homes they have spent only minutes in. In San Francisco, Miami and Phoenix, sellers are looking at dozens of offers within days of putting their home on the market, often accompanied by letters from would-be buyers professing their love for the property. New York City has seen similar drops in inventory, and prices have been rising steadily since 2009.

Shortly after Andres Alvarez, 36, got married last fall, he began to look for a home with his wife, figuring that their steady jobs, savings and good credit would make them the perfect buyers in Los Angeles. They were ready to spend $700,000. Their optimism deflated quickly.

“We thought we were the cream of the crop, but anything that was in our price range and move-in ready, there was this insane competition,” Mr. Alvarez said. They put in nearly a dozen bids, often losing to cash buyers, before finding a two-bedroom home for $650,000. “It might be a great time to buy, but it’s a horrible time to be a buyer,” he said.

Dick and Susan Yost can vouch for that. They wanted to downsize while leaving their home in Cambridge, Mass., to their son and his family. “We bid on eight places before we finally got one,” Mr. Yost said. “The worst we bid was $85,000 over the asking price, and we didn’t get it.”

Even unappealing homes, he said, had “people all over them.”

Still, there are plenty of skeptics wondering how long the sharp price increases can last.

“People are realizing we’ve probably hit bottom, but the kinds of spikes we’re seeing in places like California seems like history is repeating itself,” said Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac, which monitors residential sales. “That’s not sustainable for the long term, at least not for the regular home buyer, so I think there are some warning flags there.”

For agents who spent the last several years scrounging for business, the change is welcome. When Mr. Eliassian listed a three-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills for $699,000 this year, he worried that the current renters would make it difficult to schedule prospective buyers. But with just two open houses — one meant only for other agents — nearly 300 people came through.

“I had to turn the phone off to avoid people asking to see the place,” Mr. Eliassian said.

Within the week, he had six offers, and the home sold for $745,000. He said he had represented and sold homes to more cash buyers in the last year than at any other time in his career.

Lewis Legon, a developer in Salem, Mass., jumped into the Boston market after he saw how many people were showing up at open houses. “It was like Times Square,” he said of one open house, at a property listed for $1.5 million. He beat out two dozen other bidders by offering $1.8 million in cash, not the first time he had made an all-cash offer.

“The first time I was ready to have a heart attack,” he said of all-cash buy. “But it makes you a more attractive buyer and helps you stand out.”

He also waived the inspection clause, an increasingly common practice. While offers have typically included appraisal clauses, allowing buyers to back out if the home was valued below what they were willing to pay, offers today are more likely to include escalation clauses, saying buyers will pay an additional amount over the highest bid.

“Buyers are taking a lot more risks than they ever would before,” said Dana DeSimone, a Boston real estate agent who called the current market an “insane asylum.” “I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of waiving the inspection contingency on a 150-year-old brownstone until now.”

Now, agents say their biggest challenge is potential sellers who are wary of putting their home on the market because they fear they cannot find a place to buy.

Jeff and Lorena Leininger considered moving from their suburban Los Angeles home over the last several years, but they feared they would not get as much as they paid for it. But this year, with their youngest child getting ready for kindergarten, they decided it was time. Three days after showing the home, they had nine offers.

“It felt as crazy as it was back when we bought 10 years ago,” Mr. Leininger said. “But it was much worse on the other side. We would show up to an open house, and it was already sold. The clear message was: be ready to move fast or just get left out.”

Even in Florida, where the market was once swamped with foreclosures, there are signs of the latest boom, with cash purchases fueled in part by international investors and retirees awash in cash after selling their homes elsewhere.

Don Faught, a manager with Alain Pinel Realtors near San Francisco, said the current market is turning buyers to desperation, particularly because the turnaround has come so quickly.

“A year ago, people didn’t want a deal, they wanted a steal,” he said. “Sellers were listing homes for less than what they originally paid for them and offering all these concessions. Now, the only concessions are coming from the buyers.”

His office has begun to track the number of offers clients make before landing a property. The current record: 27 offers, nearly all at or above asking price.

Nelson Radio Show #215 – Dated 05.08.13



4 real estate trends of the summer

4 Real Estate trends for the Summer

By: Vera Gibbons

Are you finally off the fence and doing a little home shopping? As the market  heats up and sellers regain control, here are a couple of trends to  consider.

Low mortgage rates

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace is currently hovering near historic lows, at 3.78 percent. And while rates have  crept up this past week, they’re not going to skyrocket suddenly, says Erin Lantz, director  of mortgages at Zillow. “Even if the Federal Reserve starts to scale back its  stimulus program, the Fed will still help keep rates low for the remainder of  the year in order to accelerate the housing market recovery. As the Fed  withdraws support and the economy recovers, we expect rates will rise gradually  over the next 18 months.”

Slim pickings

As of February, slightly less than 2 million homes were for sale nationwide.  This represents a supply of less than five months (six months’ supply is  considered “normal”). During the same period last year, the supply was 6.4  months. In a dozen markets, there is less than a three-month supply of homes on  the market! Granted, rising home prices should lead to more inventory (and  ultimately more sales because it encourages new construction and encourages  homeowners to sell), but one key question is whether prices will rise enough so  that for-sale inventory will hit bottom and start expanding again.

Home stalking

As demand from home buyers grows faster than the supply of homes for sale,  many buyers are taking less conventional routes to find their dream home:  They’re knocking on the doors of homes they like, writing handwritten notes, and  tracking down the owners in hopes they may be willing to sell even though their  home is not technically on the market. Zillow’s Make Me Move® section,  where homeowners list their properties with a “dream” price, is seeing a flurry  of activity: There are now 148,000 listings, and contacts to owners are up 132  percent over last year.

Bidding wars

As many of the nation’s markets heat up, bidding wars are quickly becoming  the norm — especially in places such as California (San Francisco, Sacramento  and cities in Southern California), Boston, Washington, Seattle and New York.  This poses a challenge, in particular, for first-time buyers seeking entry-level  properties in Las Vegas, Tampa and other markets where investor demand is  particularly strong. Who do you think wins the bidding competition — investors  with all-cash offers or buyers who need to obtain financing and have the home  appraised at their offered price?

Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/06/06/4-real-estate-trends-for-summer-2013/#ixzz2VTAiguUv