September 2, 2008
Long-time readers know that I do my newspaper reading online via the New York Times. In a throwback to a quieter time, I do subscribe to the San Jose Mercury News on Sundays as we like to peruse the articles and share witty banter about the headlines over morning coffee. In an interesting twist, I also receive the paper on other random days of the week . . . but I digress.
When I picked up the paper on Labor Day (Second Sunday?), the headline “Home Sales Raising Hopes” bravely attempted to be seen over the front and center HURRICANE HITS GOP main headline. What’s this I thought, positive news about the housing market from the Merc? Really?
I have grown weary and wary of the Merc and its drumbeat of foreclosure of the week, gloom and doom, and reinforcing that real estate is local, and my market in Palo Alto varies just a bit from south San Jose. If you don’t believe me, visit Altos Research and compare the chart for median home price over the last couple of years in these two cities. The results may surprise you . . .
The Merc got my hopes up with an intro and a couple of quotes from brokers saying they were expecting an upturn in sales in the Fall after activity was so low in the summer, and there is usually an upturn in the fall. There is some back and forth, and the article pretty much shot down the “fall uptick” conventional wisdom. Again, Altos to the rescue showing inventory and sales actually DO pick up in Palo Alto fairly consistently every fall before slowing down over the holidays.
To see the article on its entirety, click here to visit the Mercury online. For charts and stats galore, visit the Market Reports page on my website, now in Single Family and Condo!
Thanks for reading . . .
Tags: 2008 real estate market, home prices, Local information, palo alto home prices, palo alto market, San Jose Mercury
September 1, 2008
Credit for this post really goes to 3 Oceans contributor Eric Trailer who sent me this content in a letter this week. My clients got it last week, and the blogoshpere can now benefit. We can assume that Eric has better things to do on Labor Day than blog. I’m guessing something involving his lovely wife and son . . .
To see current market data and price trends over the past year for local communities and confirm or refute Eric’s prognostications on the local market in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities,
CLICK HERE to see real-time market data, courtesy of our friends at Altos Research.
As you have likely been hearing, there continues to be more and more evidence that it will cost prospective home buyers more to purchase a home in select areas of the Bay Area as they allow time to go by.
Why? Let’s look at the basic reasons, then review an example:
1. The median price across the board in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities has risen since the beginning of the year.
2. On a national basis, the trough of the market was reached in April.
3. The conforming loan limit will DECREASE over $100,000 in 2009 to $625,000.
4. Rates have risen about .5% since the beginning of the year, despite the increase in the conforming loan limit to $729,750
5. Loan qualifications are becoming more restrictive with each passing week.
6. More restrictions on loans and a tighter supply of money forces rates to go up
7. Because loans require more work to process them (requirements today are 4x what they were a year ago), rates will go up.
8. Inflation is the number one concern of the Fed, and should be the number one concern for all of us.
Let’s say for a moment that you agree that rates are on the rise, but feel as though prices may come down on a $1mm property today; thus, you want to wait. Let’s further assume that you are right and the future price is $950,000, but rates have increased .5% at that future time. Using 20% down, waiting just cost you an ADDITIONAL $117 per month-over $1,400 per year.
But now let’s be more realistic given the appreciation rates of desirable areas of the Bay Area. If rates increase and the $1mm home appreciates to $1,050,000, you are looking at an ADDITIONAL $550 PER MONTH-OVER $6,000 PER YEAR!
What’s the take-away here? Price matters much less than true cost… My motto has always been that it always pays off to buy sooner than later, provided your holding period is greater than four years. And to prove that I walk the walk, I am happy to share my personal situation written as an article titled, “How to Afford a Home in Palo Alto Without a Trust Fund.”
To call Eric on his walking the walk comment, and get a copy of his article, “How to Afford a Home in Palo Alto Without a Trust Fund.”, click on his pretty picture over there in the contributor column to send him an email.
Tags: 4---mortgage-mania, absolute mortgage bank, mortgage rates, Mortgages, palo alto home prices, Palo alto housing market, palo alto market, palo alto real estate market
January 16, 2008
I want to underscore the importance of what Kevin is discussing in his post regarding statistics and the actual market activity that they represent. Because the neighborhoods in Menlo Park are not distinguished by ZIP code or city, which are two popular methods of segregating data, it is easy to draw an incorrect interpretation of what is happening there.
The Band-Aid fix that I have been using with my clients interested in Menlo Park is to explain the nature of the market, and then look at the market data for the upper two quartiles of homes only. Conveniently, the homes in the areas of Menlo Park East of 101 are all below the mean for the whole city, while those West of 101 are generally above the mean overall.
Scott at Altos Research sent me the following interesting bit of analysis of how an outlier can throw off the statistics for an area. It seems there was recently at home in Del Mar in Southern California listed for $76 million.
The Median home price is reflected here (Median = half the homes on the market are listed above this price, half below):
The numbers are weekly, and we can see how having a limited number of data points (homes for sale) bounces the numbers around.
Maximum price for Del Mar during the same period:
Gee, I wonder when that house was listed, and what the selling commission is?
And here is how the mean (average) price of homes in Del Mar, California is affected as a result:
So, the average price of a home in Del Mar, CA took a nice bump, but does that mean that the house at 123 Main Street went up in value by over 50%? Sadly, no. Similarly, when and if that bad boy sells, the mean price of homes in Del Mar will drop correspondingly, but the value of 123 Main will not be affected at all.
So, to all of you living in on the Peninsula crying in your Cheerios because you read in The Chronicle that home values in California are off by 20%, RELAX, and ask your Realtor what is really happening with the market in YOUR neighborhood.
Rember, real estate is LOCAL, especially here.
Thanks for reading.
Tags: Altos Research, average home price, home prices, home values, median home price, Menlo Park, palo alto home prices, real-estate-market, statistics