Entries Tagged as 'Redwood City'
February 19th, 2008 · 2 Comments
I’d like to thank Kristen Emery at Princeton Capital in Palo Alto for providing me with the first bit of information that actually explains what the changes to conforming loans will mean to someone in Silicon Valley trying to buy a home.
A little light reading for you:
We have seen a whirlwind of legislative activity these past few weeks! There is much confusion surrounding the recentlypassed Economic Stimulus Package and higher loan limits. Unfortunately, the new law can be confusing to decipher, andnot everyone will benefit. For this reason, we have provided an outline below that clarifies what this new law means for youand how you can benefit from the higher loan limits.
Description and Overview:An economic stimulus package just passed Congress on February 7, 2008 and was signed into law by the President onFebruary 13, 2008. This new law is effective immediately and includes a temporary increase in both the FHA andconforming loan limits to as high as $729,750 in high cost areas. This means that the interest rates on many mortgages willgo down because these loans are now eligible to be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or insured by the FederalHousing Administration (FHA). Previously, the FHA was only allowed to insure loans with balances lower than $200,160 -$362,790, depending on the county where the property was located. Also, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were only allowedto purchase loans with balances at or below $417,000. This resulted in limited options and higher financing costs for thosewith loan balances above these limits. The new law substantially increases these limits in high cost areas and opens upnew options and lower financing costs for many people.
How to Determine “High Cost” AreasThere are two things you must know in order to determine if you are in a high cost area:
1. Understanding the Formula
If 125% of the local area median home price exceeds $417,000, the temporary loan limitwould be that 125% of the median home price with a cap of $729,750. Here are threeexamples to illustrate this concept: If the median home price in your area is $375,000, 125% of that number is$468,750. Thisis above the current $417k conforming loan limit. Therefore, the conforming loan limit inyour area WILL change and go up to $468,750. This number is also higher than thehighest FHA loan limits, so therefore your FHA loan limit will also go up to $468,750. If the median home price in your area is $650,000, 125% of that number is $812,500.This number is greater than the maximum cap of $729,250. Therefore, the conforming loan limit in your area willincrease to highest allowable amount under this new law which is $729,250. (Our median home price is $612,000 for Santa Clara County).
2. Determining the Median Home Price in Your Area
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will publish the median house prices within 30 days of the billgoing into effect (30 days from February 13, 2008). HUD does not have any interim stats or information for us to use. However, the bill also states that HUD can use any commercially available data if they are unable to compile theinformation on their own within the 30 day timeframe. With that in mind, it is likely that HUD’s numbers will be relativelyconsistent with the data published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which already has a solid track record oftracking and publishing this information on a quarterly basis. Therefore, until HUD actually publishes their version of the median home prices, the most accurate way to get thisinformation today is to utilize the data that is published by NAR. Ironically, NAR just released their latest median homeprice update for the 4th quarter of 2007 on February 14, 2008! Contact me today and I’ll research your info and let youknow exactly what the median home price is in your area and how you can benefit from this information.
What do all the dates mean?
There is some confusion because the bill has a provision that says the higher limits areonly effective for loans originated between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008. Inshort, the reason it is effective beginning July 1, 2007, is because the credit crisis startedto unfold in July and August of 2007. Mortgage market conditions rapidly deterioratedalmost overnight. Many secondary market investors suddenly refused to purchase loansthat couldn’t be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (For more info on how this processworks, please see the article entitled Saga of the US Mortgage Industry.) Unfortunately, many mortgage banks had already funded these loans in their ownportfolio or through their warehouse lines of credit. Their intention was obviously to sellthese loans on the secondary market after the loans were funded. However, the creditcrisis prevented them from doing so, and they were stuck holding these loans in theirportfolio. The July 1, 2007 date in the bill is designed to allow these lenders to unloadthese mortgages and sell them on the secondary market to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
However, the July 1, 2007 date has no bearing whatsoever on new refinance transactions!
In other words, it doesn’tmatter when the loan you are refinancing was originated. The old loan could have been originated in 2005, 2006 oranytime before or after July 1, 2007 and it would have no effect whatsoever on your current purchase or refinancetransaction.
If you are refinancing a new loan today, whether it is a purchase or refinance transaction, that loan issubject to the new limits set forth in the bill.
The other date of December 31, 2008 means that the old limits will go back into effect after this year. In other words, now isthe perfect time to buy a new home or refinance your mortgage because after this year, your costs will be higher and youroptions more limited again.
When does this all go into effect?
February 13, 2008 – immediately upon the President’s signature. Therefore, HUD is obligated to publish the median homeprices within 30 days of that date. However, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and various wholesale lenders may have different policies as to how these new loans are going to be priced and underwritten.
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Tags: 2008 real estate market
, Conforming Loans
, first-time buyer
, Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007
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Tags: * Type of Content · Analysis · Burlingame · Buyer · Buyer and seller tips · Buyers · Consumer · Financing Process · For buyers · Foster City · Loan Application · Market updates · Menlo Park · Mortgages · Mountain View · Palo Alto · Preapproval · Prequalification · Redwood City · Redwood Shores · San Carlos
February 19th, 2008 · 1 Comment
. . . Said my friend Amy to me the other day. Since she is sort of a typical first time buyer, (actually not), I decided to make an example of her and contribute to her 15 mins of fame.
Amy is your somewhat typical Sillycon Valley MBA tech-marketing type. She works in marketing for a large company, so her income is derived from her salary, as opposed to commissions or stock options that may or may not vest. The company is stable, so her bonuses tend to be consistent and her income fairly predictable. She recently moved from one giant tech company to a large one, so she has a number of years of experience in her industry and job classification, excellent credit, and some equity from a condo that she sold.
Being an MBA, and financially conservative (politically liberal), she can comfortably afford something in the $650K price range, even in the current lending environment. The previous idea was for her to take out two mortgages, a conforming loan of $417,000, and then a second or equity line to cover the rest.
Now that Mr. W. has signed off on the stimulus package that included a short-term increase in the conforming loan limit for 2008, Amy’s interest in buying a house has gone up. The tax rebate will let her buy her kids a happy meal and some new jeans, so her interest is much more in the mortgage changes.
At the time of our conversation, the difference in rates between a conforming (under $417,000) and jumbo ($417,001+) loan was about .75%, depending on a million things, which I will leave to co-contributor Eric Trailer to explain. Jsut plugging in some numbers, on a loan of $585,000 (10% down on our $650K house), her payments would drop about $4300 a year excluding taxes if that loan was at the lower rate. Now we are talking interesting.
Admittedly, this is very simplified, because it doesn’t take into account the cost of a conforming first and then a second, or whether lenders will have tiered pricing based on the loan amount, or credit scores, documented vs. non-documented income, etc., etc., etc.
My intent is to show the effect of this new law on “normal” Silicon Valley home buyers who have “normal” jobs, and are trying to put a roof over their heads. While the tax rebates of a few hundred dollars will only have minor impacts on most of us (I get $300, I think), the effect on home buying capability will be potentially significant.
Let the comments fly, and thanks for reading.
Tags: 2008 loan limits, Conforming Loans
, economic stimulus
, Home buying
, Jumbo Loans
, mortgage mania
, mortgage rates
, new home buyer
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Tags: * Type of Content · Buyer · Buyer and seller tips · Buyers · Consumer · Financing Process · For buyers · Foster City · Local information · Market updates · Menlo Park · Mortgage · Mortgages · Mountain View · Palo Alto · Redwood City · Redwood Shores · San Carlos · Sunnyvale
A few days ago I spoke about the effect a mythical local insect, Vendus Encourigitis, has on housing inventory patterns here in Silicon Valley. It quite dependably comes out in the early part of each year, spraying homeowners with pheromones that make the notion of selling their home completely irresistible, thus putting an end to the seasonal problem we have here of low inventory. A close cousin of said insect, Achetus Encourigitis, tends to come out shortly thereafter, encouraging buyers to compete with eachother to buy the new inventory and drive prices up.
To continue the allegory, we look at another creature, this time a real one, but again with an allegorical function in this tale. I speak of the lowly plankton, a tiny oceanic life form: in size, seemingly insubstantial, but in importance, great. The plankton, you see, is at the bottom of many aquatic food chains, and if it were for some reason to disappear, the effect would be disastrous for the creatures that depend on it for food, and for predators of the creatures that depend on the plankton, and so forth: a ripple effect ultimately reaching most aquatic life.
The plankton of local real estate is the humble first-time homebuyer in the lower priced areas such as Redwood City, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park east of 101, parts of Mountain View and San Jose, and so forth. These folks purchased their homes in the last few years, assuming (as we all did) that prices would continue to rise, and they could then “move up” into a ritzier neighborhood with the equity they had built up. A higher than normal percentage (for this area) of such purchases were made with sub-prime loans.
Fast forward to 2008…these markets are hurting, some of them quite badly.
East Palo Alto’s inventory, for instance, has been marching steadily and worryingly upwards since early 2007…
…and prices have been going in the opposite — and expected — direction:
When inventory is over three times what it was a year ago, and prices have dropped by over 15%, the market basically freezes. Deflation does what it always does: makes the bargain-hunters decide to continue salivating just a bit more, because surely those prices are going to continue going down! Homes sell more slowly, prices continue downwards…it’s a vicious spiral.
And the plankton who own these homes? Well, if they can’t sell, that means they can’t buy the $850K starter home in Flood Park…and that homeowner can’t buy the $1.1M home in Palo Alto…who in turn can’t upgrade to the $1.6M property in Los Altos he’s been salivating over…who in turn can’t move to a respectable venture-capitalist-ridden neighborhood in Atherton.
The sub-prime woes affecting the lower-end markets are bound to eventually impact Palo Alto and its kin — though probably not as much as this analogy makes it sound. Why? In this market, there are plankton at almost every price point, so homeowners looking to sell don’t necessarily need to wait for a $500K homeowner to be able to sell his home. For every East Menlo Park’ian who was planning to — but no longer can — move across the 101 to buy an $850K home, there’s a dual-income tech couple who’s looking for the same $850K as their first home. Higher up the food chain, newly minted Googlers represent the plankton of the Atherton market.
But make no mistake about it: the lower end markets here are hurting, and will continue to do so for a while.
For instance, Redwood City’s inventory, much like East Palo Alto’s, is more than triple where it was a year ago…
…and prices in the two lowest quartiles are not looking pretty:
, Flood Park
, Menlo Park
, Mountain View
, Palo Alto
, Real estate
, Redwood City
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Tags: Atherton · Consumer · East Palo Alto · Flood Park · Los Altos · Menlo Park · Mountain View · Palo Alto · Redwood City · San Jose
Amid all the current bad real estate news, with mortgage companies going bankrupt, Foxton’s closing shop, foreclosure rates rising, a liquidity crunch in the credit market, people can certainly be forgiven for thinking the sky is falling — especially if their little corner of the real estate world really is suffering.
Meanwhile, back in our little insulated corner of the world here in Palo Alto, prices remain strong, with the median price point having risen
ten twenty thirty thirty-five percent year on year. Yes, that’s thirty-five, as in the number found between thirty-four and thirty-six. Hard to believe, but no less true for it:
(Skeptics will of course pounce on the slight drop from the high of $2.4M a month ago to where we are now — $2.35M — as evidence that — finally — Palo Alto home prices will begin to obey the same rules of gravity that apply elsewhere. I believe it’s more likely to be a seasonal thing rather than an indication of impending doom for our market.)
Not only is the overall market doing well, but every quartile is actually pulling its weight, with the top quartile doing particularly well of late:
Median prices, of course, are not the whole picture. Inventory, for example, is well below what you would expect for this time of year: a year ago at this time, there were 80 homes on the market, while now we’re just short of 50:
Our neighbors to the north in Redwood City, meanwhile, are showing a different story. Median prices are down, way down…
…and inventory levels are up, way up:
But again, that’s not the complete story. Observe…first, the lower two quartiles are indeed hurting…
…but the top two quartiles are holding their own quite well, thank you very much:
What’s the explanation for all this? Why is Palo Alto and the upper half of the Redwood City market doing so well, while the lower half of Redwood City is hurting? Friend, top broker, and
colleague ex-colleague Steve TenBroeck (the “Steve” in the “Jeff and Steve” team) explains it thus:
Home owners in Palo Alto learn from the Merc and the Chron that the market is bad and decide maybe now ain’t a good time to sell. But, no worries — they don’t have to sell. Their mortgage, while high, ain’t killing them. They didn’t get an adjustable rate mortgage, so their payments aren’t skyrocketing. Owning a home isn’t causing them any cash flow problems.
Similar reasoning holds for the upper half of the Redwood City market. In the lower half, however, homeowners are hearing that the market is bad, and they’re personally experiencing it: their adjustable rate sub-prime mortgages are resetting soon, and their cash flow problems are about to become worse. Many don’t have the luxury of waiting for next year to sell. They have to sell now.
The lesson? Real estate is local, very, very, very local.
, Palo Alto
, Redwood City
, Steve TenBroeck
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Tags: Consumer · Palo Alto · Redwood City · Steve TenBroeck
December 26th, 2006 · 2 Comments
Lying across the San Francisquito Creek and just to the north and west of its bigger, brasher neighbor Palo Alto, Menlo Park is the epitome of upscale suburban Silicon Valley living. Bounded roughly by Highways 101 and 280 and the cities of Palo Alto, Atherton, and Redwood City, Menlo Park is as well-manicured as it is wooded.
Apart from its natural beauty, Menlo Park’s denizens are proud, and rightly so, of its school system, which include the eponymous Menlo Park Elementary School District and the Las Lomitas School District (both of which it generously shares with Atherton) and the Sequoia Union High School District for the older students.
The shopping district centers around Santa Cruz Ave from El Camino Real to University Drive and boasts furniture stores, upscale salons, a toy store, numerous high-end restaurants (including The Left Bank), a wonderful 70’s vintage breakfast hangout named Anne’s Coffee shop (where one devotee has taken the time to upload a Youtube video), and Drager’s, which performs the amazing feat of making Whole Foods look like an inexpensive Safeway clone. Santa Cruz Ave is pretty quiet after 8:00pm, a sure sign that Stanford students prefer the glitz and glamor of Palo Alto’s University Ave.
While Palo Alto boasts the world-class university Stanford, Menlo Park’s contribution to Silicon Valley’s unique entrepreneur-laden business ecosystem is the venture capitalist heaven Sand Hill Road, an otherwise nondescript stretch of road running from El Camino Real to Highway 280.
The neighborhoods to the north and west of Menlo Park — Fair Oaks, Flood Park, and the Willows — are where you’ll find the city’s starter homes adjacent to Highway 101, with prices for a 1400 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home starting in the mid-$700,000’s. Prices rise rapidly each block south and east of the highway, with the nicer and larger homes deep in the Willows running a tidy $1.6 million.
The Menlo Oaks neighborhood, bounded roughly by Bay, Willow, Middlefield, and Ringwood, boasts some of the largest homes and lots in this area of meandering streets and wonderfully old and large Oak trees. Crossing Middlefield, you come to the Allied Arts/Downtown neighborhood which includes the Allied Arts Guild. Further west brings you to the West Menlo and Alameda neighborhoods.
, Fair Oaks
, Flood Park
, Menlo Park
, Real estate
, Redwood City
, West Menlo
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Tags: Alameda · Atherton · Fair Oaks · Flood Park · Menlo Park · Real estate · Redwood City · Stanford · West Menlo · Willows
Why we love it here — #2 — Little India Restaurant
September 9th, 2006 · No Comments
Redwood City’s ongoing downtown facelift is transforming a dowdy area into a bustling, hip place. Near the center of action is a perennial Redwood City favorite, the Little India Restaurant. Combining delicious buffet-style fare with very reasonable prices, it’s a great place for both a quick lunchtime getaway and a slower-paced evening dining experience.Next time you have a hankering for Indian food, head over to Redwood City and visit the Little India Restaurant, at 917 Main Street
Tags: For buyers
, Redwood City
, Why we love it here
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Tags: For buyers · Redwood City · Why we love it here