What she doesn’t say is that there is a lean supply of homes because so many people are waiting for the market to turn around before they sell – and many many other people who would like to sell cannot, because they are effectively trapped in their homes which are “underwater” (that is, they owe more on the homes than they are worth). … It means that in the face of weak employment and stagnant incomes, when interest rates rise (as they are apparently rising now), the prices people will be able to pay for housing are going to drop – and that’s going to bring house prices right on down too. … Suffice it to say that while it may be true as the President says that there is a clear trend of lower unemployment – that trend could be easily reversed and, as the article I linked to notes, the drop in unemployment is largely due to the fact that 206,000 more people have given up looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed. I’ve sipped the last of my Earl Grey and I’m looking down at what’s left in my cup, and I’m trying to make sense of what I see there. … Our pre-tax payment will be considerably higher than that, of course – so I for one really hope they don’t pull the plug on the mortgage interest tax deduction – which could , of course, have a really deleterious effect on home prices depending on how it is implemented.
You really need to look at the year before to see how the market performed – and from the statistics, we can see the median home price, county-wide, is actually down 33.5% in April of 2009 compared to a year ago. … Honestly, I am mystified how people can take a few anecdotes, completely ignore the state of the economy and the housing market as a whole, and now herald, with strident authority, that we are now at the bottom of the market and THIS, TODAY is the time to buy, or you will miss out on the chance of a lifetime. … Well, that’s not true – short sales can also occur at those prices, and some people who have had their homes a long, long time may have enough equity in them to compete with all the REOs and short sales. … Personally, I think it’s going to put increased pressure on the bottom of the market, as many people who were looking at buying a lower-priced “starter” home may now be thinking of stretching to go for one of these “premium” foreclosures which I expect we’ll be seeing.
Whether you think the current housing crisis is a cause of a symptom of the economic meltdown in the United States and abroad, there’s no denying that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about how long this recession will last , how deep it will cut , and what this means for people looking to buy a house in Santa Cruz today. I’ve said it several times in various postings to this blog, but I think it bears repeating: I think home prices in Santa Cruz county will continue to drop for the foreseeable future – and by that, I mean the rest of this year, at least. … It’s not a new thing – as I mentioned a blog entry or two ago, this multiple-offer feeding-frenzy has been going on at least 18 months, I don’t see that it is more common today than it was a year or so ago – but perhaps it’s being talked about more in the media, as there is now more effort into talking up the economy rather than talking it down. … I had seen it when it had come up (I send myself e-mails from my automated system for every bank-owned home that hits the market), but at the moment, I had a number of deadlines I was working to meet so I didn’t look at the particulars to see that it was really an incredible deal. … Actually, when it started out, I don’t think it was a short sale – but as the months went by, the price was reduced until finally the owner owed more on it than the market would pay.
Fact is, we have been seeing multiple offers for well over a year now on these bargain-basement properties in Watsonville – and pretty much anywhere in California where bank-owned foreclosures are sold several percent cheaper than competing properties – these properties attract multiple offers and sell quickly. … Pretty much – I didn’t go into 87 Arista when it was on the market, but from what I can tell on the MLS from the pictures, the choice of paint colors and level of amenities in this home was about on par with my listing. … And then, a scant two months later, my own listing comes on with an asking price of $250,000 – that’s 3.8% less than the sale price of a very very comparable property which closed just two months earlier…and I’m on the market eight days, and I’m standing in a field of chirping crickets . … But not too far below – if in fact you were able to buy a home for 10% below true market value, you could not do a thing to the property, then turn around and sell that property to someone else the next day for 10% more than you paid for it.
As has been the case for several months, there is a bit of good news – the sales volume (number of houses, condos, etc., which have sold) has increased for the seventh month in a row, year-over-year. Unfortunately, sales were not up month-over-month; in December of 2008, there had been 112 sales of single-family residences in Santa Cruz county; in January ’09, that number had sunk back down to 79. … The important thing to look at, I feel, is the year-over-year gain or loss, and this year, sales were up a whopping 21.5% from January 2008. … If you watch TV or listen to the radio, you may have heard a commercial or two from the National or California Association of Realtors telling you this is a great time to buy , that there are a lot of homes for sale. … There are not many homes for sale at all – the amount of inventory is down 21.6% from January a year ago, and inventory has been declining for nine straight months.
The Housing Crash guy says: A landlords’ rule of thumb is that a house price should be a maximum of 15 times the annual rent for that place, yet in coastal areas, houses are still selling for 30 times annual rent I think he’s got a good point there – which goes to underscore my belief that prices in Watsonville are actually very reasonable at the moment. … Looking over the ads on Craig’s List, it’s safe to say that a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house would rent for about $2,400 a month in Santa Cruz, assuming it was in a not-so-great location. … Let’s look at the payment for a $500,000 house – but let’s assume you’re putting down a reasonable 10% instead of the FHA minimum of 3.5% – so you’d have a $450,000 loan, again at about 5.75% because with only 10% down, you’d still need to pay mortgage insurance. … Let’s say you’re in a tax bracket of 25%, and you can figure you’d save about $640/month in federal and state taxes, bringing your effective monthly after-tax payment to about $2,519 per month, or just about $120 more than renting.
The C.A.R. report breaks it down county-by-county, and reports this as the Santa Cruz county: Q2 2007: 18 Q1 2008: 28 Q2 2008: 30 So since Q2 2007, Santa Cruz county has soared 12 points – that’s 67%! … C.A.R. also goes on to report that the median entry-level priced home is going for $531,250 – and that’s a steep drop from what homes used to be going for ($750K+). … In case you’re curious, C.A.R. also figures that a home costing $531,250 is going to cost a buyer $3,380 per month including principal, interest, tax, and insurance (PITI) – assuming a 10% down payment (check under your mattress for that $53,000 you have lying around). … And the good news is, these prices are still dropping in many areas – it’ll be interesting to see where Santa Cruz county sits in next quarter’s affordability index.
Or, if their asking prices are reasonable, more often than not, it’s a short sale, which means that the contract and price are subject to approval of the one or more lenders which have loans outstanding against the property. … That leaves bank-owned “REO” foreclosure properties (not all of which are actually priced to sell) and those few not-overly-encumbered homes with enlightened sellers who realize where their homes need to be priced in order to actually be in the market and have a decent chance of selling. So when you look at homes that are actually in the market and priced right, there really is not a good selection of these kinds of homes. … Beyond the fact that the seller, a bank, already said it was an as-is sale and no repairs would be made or credits issued for same, there’s another salient point: there were three offers on the table.