High-End Home Sales Soar throughout California

By RE INSIDER

While home sales throughout much of California have remained flat throughout this spring and early summer, a new study has indicated that multimillion dollar homes are selling in record numbers, offering hope that the market is still improving and prompting many to wonder what’s holding the rest of the market back.

home-for-sale-sold

According to a recent study performed by San Diego-based DataQuick, $1 million-plus sales grew at a 9.1% clip statewide compared with last year, while sales overall fell 7.4%. Additionally, California in the second quarter set all-time records for the number of homes sold for more than $2 million, more than $3 million, more than $4 million and more than $5 million.

What’s driving these high-end home sales? According to market-watchers, there are several factors.

One is the hot technology sector in the Bay Area and some affluent parts of Southern California, which is minting new millionaires who can afford seven-figure homes. Another is the 11.6% price growth in California over the last year, which means a house worth $925,000 last summer may be worth $1.03 million today. And there’s the influx of international buyers, which is pushing up prices at the high end.

“It’s always fascinating to watch this part of the real estate market. It behaves differently, responds to its own set of criteria,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. “These buyers, especially those in the multi-million-dollar market, are less likely to agonize over credit scores, income and job security, down payments and mortgage interest rates.”

With this in mind, do you think this the market is improving as a whole? And considering that mortgage rates remain historically low, what do you believe is holding other buyers back?

READ MORE HERE

http://re-insider.com/2014/08/18/high-end-home-sales-soar-throughout-california/

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Southern California median home price jumped to $400,000

 

Home prices in Southern California are at their highest level in six years, according to new data, though those gains may be taking a bite out of sales volume.

 

The median price of a house sold in Southern California rose from $383,000 in February to $400,000 in March, the market’s highest level since February 2008, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks real estate data.

The figure is up 15.8% from the same month last year and is the first noticeable increase since the torrid run-up in prices last spring and summer.

At the same time, the number of sales fell on an annual basis for the sixth straight month as investors and cash buyers pull out in the face of higher prices, and more traditional home buyers hesitate to jump in. There were 17,638 homes sold in DataQuick’s six-county Southern California’ region, down 14.3% from last March and the second-lowest total for the month — the start of the key spring home-buying season — in nearly two decades.

“Southland home buying got off to a very slow start this year,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. “We see multiple reasons for this: The inventory of homes for sale remains thin in many markets. Investor purchases have fallen. The jump in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year has priced some people out of the market, while other would-be buyers struggle with credit hurdles. Also, some potential move-up buyers are holding back while they weigh whether to abandon a phenomenally low interest rate on their current mortgage in order to buy a different home.”

The data also show how the recovery is being felt differently at different segments of the market.

While prices have climbed fast on lower-priced homes, the number of sales has fallen sharply, suggesting a lack of homes for sale and buyers who can afford them. Sales of homes for less than $500,000 dropped 26.4% from this time last year…

Continue HERE…

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-southern-california-home-prices-20140415,0,6707626.story#ixzz2z08dOtsr

Condo Prices Up in L.A.

The price per square foot of a new condo downtown climbed 6% in March from February to $656, according to a new report from the Mark Co., which tracks downtown real estate.

The number of condos for sale, meanwhile, fell sharply as buyers snapped up units at downtown’s lone new condo building: the Barker Block on Hewitt Street.

At month’s end, Mark said, there were only 27 new units for sale downtown, and the inventory of existing condos for sale would burn off in less than three months — half of what’s considered a healthy supply. Prices for condo resales slipped in March but remain 23% higher than a year earlier, at $534 per square foot.

“There is a dearth of condos,” said Alan Mark, the Mark Co.’s president. “People are not even selling existing condos because there’s no place for them to buy.”

The tight for-sale market contrasts sharply with a boom in apartment building.

After the housing market tanked in 2008, some downtown projects that had originally been designed as for-sale switched over to become rentals. And big institutional investors, desiring a safe, stable return, shifted their money into high-end apartments, helping to fuel a building boom that has 5,000 rental units now under construction, and 3,000 more units approved by the city.

That surge in rental supply may lead some apartment owners to flip their buildings back to condos, but Mark said he doesn’t see that happening yet. The numbers don’t quite pencil out, and the wounds from the downturn are still too fresh.

“There are definitely people circling, trying to figure out does it work and do they have the wherewithal to put 200 or 300 units on the market for sale,” he said. “Some developers still feel the scars of the recession.”

As for new construction, that could happen — there’s one 38-story condo tower in early development on 9th Street north of Staples Center — but it’s going to take a while.

“To build any building that’s sizable, it’s 18 months to two-and-a-half years to deliver,” Mark said. “You just don’t see this thing changing soon.”

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-downtown-condo-market-20140408,0,873943.story#ixzz2ytsQzLTR

What Does Sale Pending Mean?

Posted by Justin in Buying A HomeHomebuyers Tips | RealEstateCommunites.com

http://realestatecommunities.com/what-does-sale-pending-mean/

You’ve come across a beautiful house and it looks picture perfect from the outside – mature trees, beautiful exterior, shiny windows, maybe even a small pond. You check the sign, wanting to give the realtor a call to schedule a tour but much to your chagrin you see a “Sale Pending” sign on to of the realtor card. Does this mean that the home is sold? Does this mean you shouldn’t bother trying to bid on this house? Let’s find out!

Subjects, Contingencies and Pendings, Oh My!

Anytime you see a “subject to” or “contingent upon” but in an ad, that means that the sale isn’t final. The seller can’t accept the buyer’s bid for real until they meet those terms – one of the most common of these is a financing contingency. If the buyer can’t get financing to buy the home, they’ll be off the hook and the seller can search for another buyer instead.

The Seller May Still Entertain Other Offers

But just because a home has an offer doesn’t mean it’s off the market. Sometimes the buyer could back out at the last minute. Sometimes the offer just falls through and they have to find another buyer – but it’s important to remember that once they enter the fulfillment period during the time the home is appraised, inspected or where they’re fulfilling a contingency, they won’t be able to entertain other offers.

What Does Sale Pending, Mean, Anyway?

If the seller is still trying to meet all of those terms before the buyer’s (or buyers!) offer is accepted, they won’t be able to entertain other offers. This means that you can’t swoop in with a better bid, skip the financing contingency or even just offer to put down an earnest money deposit to skip ahead in line. It all just depends on what province you reside in and what their rules are, so make sure you talk with your realtor before you get your hopes up!

But you CAN submit a bid, if you really want to. You may not see anything come of it, and you’ll have to go through an appraisal process, a home inspection to make sure if there are any lingering issues you can get them fixed up before the sale is final and slap that financing contingency onto the home so if your financing falls through, you’re not on the hook.

If You Really Want the Property, It’s Worth it

But if you really want to buy a property, it’s well worth it to explore all of your options. Don’t let that sale pending sign scare you away, especially if you’re willing to go the distance to own this home. Spend some time, talk to your realtor, find out what a reasonable expectation for this home will be maintenance wise, cost-wise, even just the amount of energy you’ll spend chasing it. If it’s had people locked in a bidding war for a few weeks, you might be better just walking away.

 http://realestatecommunities.com/what-does-sale-pending-mean/

Why Wait To Buy Your First Home Till You Are Married

In my parents generation it was easy, you dated, got engaged, got married, then bought the house. Lots of little check marks on the list and very few deviated from the norm.

In my generation it was a bit more difficult. You still did the dating part, but we typically added the living together part before the marriage or even the engagement. It was practical, and a bit controversial, but we did it.

Now our children are facing another change in the equation. Young couples are buying homes together before they get married.

Coldwell Banker has come out with a new survey that shows 24 percent of millennial couples are buying the house before they get married. Now part of this is because these couples are waiting much longer to tie to the knot, but for those in the real estate industry it is a trend to watch.

Especially as we see the housing industry start to recover. If these numbers were growing in the recent housing recession I think they will explode as the market takes off.

So remember when you want to go back into your personal history to predict future events in real estate, odds are you will be mistaken. The world is changing, fast, and the smart and successful agents are watching these trends and using them to their advantage.

Survey Trends: Love, Marriage and Homebuying

New Homes for Newlyweds: More than one in three married homeowners (35 percent) purchased their first home together by their second wedding anniversary.

Cold Feet? Not These Couples: 17 percent of all married couples surveyed purchased a home together before their wedding day.

Millennials are Less Likely to Wait Until Marriage: 24 percent of married homeowners ages 18 to 34 bought a home together before they were married, compared to 14 percent of those ages 45 and older.

Southerners Take Their Time: 72 percent of married Americans in the South waited until after they were married to purchase a home, compared to 60 percent of Americans in the Northeast.

To Have and to Hold … and to Own: Only 16 percent of married U.S. adults have not purchased a home together with their current spouse.

Impact of Homebuying on a Marriage

  • 93 percent of homeowners who purchased their first home while married always planned on owning a home after marrying.
  • 80 percent said purchasing a home with their spouse did more to strengthen their relationship as a couple and family than any other purchase they have made together.
  • Over one-third of married homeowners (35 percent) wish they had taken the plunge (into homeownership) sooner than they actually did.

How to Find the Perfect Apartment for Rent – 10-Step Process

By Jacqueline Curtis | Money Crashers

http://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-find-cheap-apartments-for-rent-guide/

Tips to Find a New Home to Rent

1. Determine Affordability

The U.S. Census Bureau suggests that your monthly rent should not exceed 20% of your monthly income – 30% at the most. For instance, if you bring home $4,000 each month, you should cap your search at around $1,200. Taking the time to update and polish your personal budget before you start looking for apartments can not only help you figure out your price range, it can also help you identify areas in your personal finances where you can cut back if you want to spend more on a pricier apartment. After scrutinizing the numbers, you may decide to drop that costly TV subscription to allow you more wiggle room in your budget for the right place.

Create your budget with a simple spreadsheet or an online service like Mint or PearBudget. Detail your income and expenses down to the penny, from fixed obligations such as phone bills, student loans, and car payments, to variable month-to-month costs such as groceries, entertainment, and clothing. You can lower your food bills by clipping coupons, and save money on your cable, smartphone, and Internet by bundling all three services under one provider. These small moves can really add up, giving you the funds you need for your future housing.

2. Lower Rental Costs

There are several things you can do to find a lower monthly rent:

  • Look Outside an Urban Area. While living in the city center may seem like a priority, it doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford the rent. Instead, check out apartments in the suburbs within a conveniently commutable distance to work.
  • Consider Transportation Costs. Urban areas generally require a smaller transportation budget, since you can likely take public buses or subways to get around. However, you still need to take transportation costs into consideration, whether it’s a bus pass or gas money, if you choose to live away from the city center.
  • Get a Roommate. You can slash the price of any apartment in half simply by sharing it with someone. You need a landlord’s approval before doing so, but having a roommate can significantly reduce the financial pressures of renting. Just make sure you have a written agreement with your roommate laying out all obligations.
  • Check for Subsidies. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) routinely offers subsidies for those with lower-income jobs who may not be able to afford rent. Search the HUD website to find affordable housing or see if you qualify for subsidies.
  • Think Small. Square footage comes at a premium in an apartment, particularly in the number of rooms. Going for a studio or one-bedroom may mean missing out on some space, but you make up for it with big month-to-month savings. Assess how much space you really need based on your lifestyle, visitors, pets, and storage. You may find that you’re happier paying less for a smaller place.
  • Negotiate. Unless you’re apartment hunting in a popular area with little renter turnaround, many landlords are amenable to negotiating. Check out the rates for comparable apartments with similar amenities in the area and bring your research with you to strike a better deal. You can also offer to pay rent for a longer chunk at a time (a landlord may lower the rate if you pay three or six months at a time) or choose to sign a longer lease to score a better deal overall.

3. Add Renters Insurance

For some, renters insurance is a choice, but for the vast majority, it’s required by a landlord. In either case, you should add it to your budget. It covers losses in case you suffer a break-in, and it also helps cover your landlord if you do damage to the property. A landlord insures the building, but renters insurance covers what’s actually inside it.

Luckily, it’s pretty affordable. Rates depend on geographical location, amount of coverage, and amount of rent paid, but, on average, you can expect to pay around $500 per year on $25,000 worth of coverage – about $12 to $15 per month.

for rent sign

4. Run a Credit Check

Many landlords run credit checks to see if there are any glaring issues with potential tenants, such as unpaid bills or bankruptcy. You can also expect a background check. Although landlords run these checks prior to approving you, it’s actually a good idea to request your own free credit reporton your own. That way, you can comb through to check for any potential roadblocks and contest any errors you may find.

All three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) are required by the FTC to offer one free credit report each year. It’s no cost to you and won’t affect your score if you request it, but you do need around three weeks to actually receive the report.

5. Start Hunting

Don’t leave apartment hunting for the last minute. In a perfect world, it should start around three months before your “must move” date. Many current tenants have to let their landlords know of vacancies in advance – the majority of areas require renters to give at least 30 days’ notice, but plenty give more.

While the features you want in an apartment are specific to you and your lifestyle, there are a several basic things you need to look for:

  • Price. Avoid looking at apartments outside of your budget. Landlords are unlikely to discount the rent, and you could end up either overspending or being disappointed when you can’t afford the apartment of your dreams. Instead, set a firm number and only look for places that fall within your budget.
  • Transportation. If you’re currently without a car, check every potential apartment’s proximity to public transportation. An apartment may be well-priced and in a great neighborhood, but if you have to spend most of your time walking or calling taxis, it might not be so attractive. What’s more, you need to factor the cost of transportation into your budget for a realistic picture of how much an apartment really costs.
  • Convenience. Choosing an apartment that is conveniently located can make your life a lot easier. Look for a place that’s close to work, shopping, transportation, and amenities such as laundry.
  • Safety. Not only should an apartment be in a safe neighborhood, landlords should make an effort to ensure their tenants feel safe inside. Proper locks on each door, private entrances, and security should all make you feel better about renting.

6. Gather Your Down Payment

Many landlords require a down payment, which usually includes the first and last month’s rent, along with a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. Therefore, if you’re forking over $800 per month for a new place, you need $2,400 ready to go when you actually sign your lease. Your first and last month’s rent is obviously retained by the landlord, but your security deposit is generally returned if you leave the property in the condition you found it. Otherwise, it can be applied to maintenance, repairs, and cleaning.

While you won’t need to give a landlord a security deposit until you sign the lease, it’s always a good idea to have the amount saved up in your bank account. That way, you won’t lose out on a potentially perfect apartment to a better-prepared renter simply because you didn’t have the money.

rental application

7. Prepare Documentation

Landlords take a substantial financial risk if they don’t thoroughly check out each applicant, so in addition to credit and background checks, some may require extra documentation. Gather the following papers and keep them on file in advance of your search:

  • Letter of Employment. A landlord needs to know you’re gainfully employed and able to make monthly payments based on your salary. This letter should be printed on company letterhead and include an affirmation that you work there, the duration of your employment to date, and your monthly or yearly salary. It should be signed by a supervisor.
  • Pay Stubs. These corroborate the information in the letter of employment.
  • Tax Returns. If you’re self-employed, tax returns from the last couple of years should suffice in place of pay stubs. You may need to offer extra explanation as to what you do for work and the amount you make annually.
  • Reference Letters. A landlord wants to know that you’re a great tenant. If you’ve rented before, ask for reference letters from past landlords explaining that you paid your rent on time and cared for the property. If you’ve never rented before, ask for letters from previous employers or acquaintances who can confirm that you’re responsible and honest. Just make sure they’re from people not related to you – glowing recommendations from your mom won’t do the trick.

8. Talk to Tenants

While you want to make a good impression on the landlord, you also need the landlord to make a good impression on you. The best way to find out if you really want to live in a certain property is to talk to past and current tenants. In general, you want a landlord who is courteous and safe, and who takes care of maintenance issues promptly. Ask about tenant turnover, infrastructure issues, and response times to complaints.

This is also the ideal time to ask about living expenses in the area, especially if you’re moving to a new neighborhood. Current tenants can give you a rundown of what they spend on transportation,utilities, and entertainment, as well as information about the neighborhood, such as where to eat, the location of specific school districts, and the best local amenities.

9. Do a Walk-Through

Don’t sign that lease just yet. After everything checks out and you’re happy with the apartment, location, and landlord, you should do a final walk-through before signing on the dotted line. Because previous tenants may have caused damage or maintenance issues, you need to be sure that you won’t be responsible for any issues that weren’t your fault.

Come prepared and check for the following:

  1. Turn on lights and faucets, and flush toilets throughout the apartment to make sure they all function properly.
  2. Check for rodent or insect infestation, particularly in cupboards and storage spaces. Chew marks or droppings are a major red flag.
  3. Bring along a cell phone charger and plug it into the outlets to make sure they all work.
  4. Check smoke alarms and look for fire safety equipment, such as an extinguisher in the kitchen.
  5. Open and close and lock and unlock doors and windows.
  6. Turn on all included appliances to make sure they’re working.
  7. Examine floors and walls for any type of damage. Carpet, hardwood, linoleum, drywall, and tiles should all be inspected.
  8. Take pictures of any problem areas with a digital camera and show them to the landlord. Save the file so if there are any discrepancies with maintenance or problems getting your security deposit back when you move, you have evidence to prove you didn’t cause the damage.

final walkthrough

10. Read Over and Sign the Lease

Lease agreements vary depending on time frame and contract terms.

  • Periodic Leases Work Best for Shorter Durations. With a periodic lease, the landlord acknowledges that your situation could change from month to month, allowing you to pay and renew your lease monthly. However, these leases can be more expensive, and because you have to renew each month, the landlord reserves the right to raise the rent at any time. You need to give your landlord 30 days notice before vacating the apartment, so this arrangement is best only if you truly need short-term living space.
  • A Fixed-Term Lease Is Most Common. Contract with your landlord to stay in the apartment for a specific period of time – three months, six months, a year, even two years. In many cases, if you choose to move out, you’re still responsible to pay for the time left on your lease, whether you live in the apartment or not. This can mean locking in a lower rate, though, which is ideal for longer-term living situations. Occasionally, landlords let renters out of their lease if a penalty is paid, so be sure to discuss contingencies before you sign.
  • Subleases Are Three-Party Lease Agreements. They often occur when a renter needs to vacate an apartment, but is still in a lease with the landlord and responsible for the rent. With a sublease, the original renter finds another resident to take over lease payments until the term is up. The renter then pays the landlord for the duration of the contract. Subleases must be approved by the landlord, so if someone offers you a great deal on the down-low, it could be suspect.

http://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-find-cheap-apartments-for-rent-guide/

Top 10 kitchen trends of 2014

By Freshome | for BobVila.com

Photo: Thermador Kitchens

This year is definitely the year for your kitchen! Over the past few years the trend of modernizing your kitchen to fit your lifestyle has been apparent with technology-driven appliances and innovative surfaces and materials. I traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada in February for the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry show (KBIS). Here are 10 wonderful highlights of the show and how your kitchen still rules the home.

1. Modern kitchen innovation that gives a hint of the past:   There has been a re-emergence in kitchen design to bring back old world finishes and blend them with modern innovation. Modern countertops in granite, marble and solid surfacing can take on a vintage appeal with beveled edges and details that went away with handcrafted cabinetry years ago. Kitchen faucets that resemble ‘hand-forged sentiments of early 20th century metalworkers, Artesso™kitchen faucets blend traditional design with industrial chic inspiration’ was gorgeous to see from Brizo faucets. It was also nice to see that kitchen manufacturers haven’t forgotten that historic details in the kitchen still have a place in our homes.

2. Commercial-quality kitchen amenities in your humble abode:   While we all love the comfort of quaint homes, do you sometimes prefer the industrial feel of a commercial kitchen? At KBIS, you could see a definite trend of kitchen manufacturers appealing to both aesthetics. Blanco sinks features their Quatrus R15 stainless steel sink that offers a revolutionary sleek appeal while still enabling homeowners to wash it easily. Turn your kitchen into that commercial kitchen you always wanted with amenities that show off your inner culinary chef . 3. Kitchen accessories aren’t just for show anymore:

Years ago, kitchen accessories played a minor role in function and were instead meant to compliment the sink, faucet or cabinetry of the kitchen. Today, kitchen brands are realizing that homeowners want form, function, and beauty all wrapped up into one. Accessories such as colanders and cutting boards can now fit seamlessly into the sink to help you drain or cut your favorite vegetables. There is no longer a reason to wonder, “What does that do?” in your modern kitchen.

4. Organize your kitchen drawers like never before:   Drawers are commonly used to separate items like spices and utensils. But did you know you can also use your drawers to store bread in their very own customized bread boxes? There was a big representation of brands such as Poggenpohl’s drawer accessories that included cutlery trays, spice racks, knife blocks, bread drawers and aluminum foil holders, among other things. Instead of organizing just a few items in your kitchen, organize your kitchen drawers around the way you and your family use the kitchen.

5. Lighting your kitchen in eco-friendly ways:

Just like the evolution of your home, lighting plays an integral role in ensuring your kitchen experience is safe, enjoyable, and helpful for all your kitchen activities. While traditional lighting fixtures such as pendants and under cabinet lights aren’t new – the use of eco-friendly LED lighting inside of cabinets, drawers, and below the base cabinets is proving to be more helpful to the culinary enthusiast. Whether you have your hands full and don’t have time to reach a light, or you’re looking to add more illumination to your kitchen’s darkest nooks, LED lit cabinetry and drawers may be exactly what you’re looking for.

6. Decorative tile becomes the showstopper over the appliances:

There used to be a time when you walked into a kitchen and all eyes went to the appliances. While appliances are still a major opportunity to wow guests, decorative tile is the perfect crowning glory to a dynamic kitchen. This year, tile manufacturers are holding nothing back and Walker Zanger has always been known for their innovative and iconic tile design styles. This Chelsea Art Glass backsplash is the “Epitome of glass craftsmanship, offering a collection of stunning Tiffany-inspired mosaics created from sheets of colorful, marbleized glass. The glass sheets are hand-cut and blended to create 12 unique shades”. If you’re looking for a way to add pizazz to your kitchen, look to decorative tile to add a glamorous personality to the heart of your home.

7. Saving money in the kitchen is easier than ever

While we all enjoy splurging on our home improvements, saving money on your kitchen renovation is essential. While there was an enormous representation of high-end remodeling ideas at KBIS, there was also a nice contrast of kitchen brands that understood that homeowners like to save money too. I interviewed fixture manufacturer Danze, whose high-quality kitchen faucets are designed save consumers money. They think, “…Your kitchen faucet should do more than just wash vegetables. It should nourish your eye for great design, too. We offer an appetizing array of unique kitchen faucets, bar and convenience faucets and pot fillers. With plenty of smart styles to reflect your personal taste.”

8. Filtered water for your family, delivered in a gorgeous way

Over the years water filtration has become more important as water becomes a more precious resource. Kitchen plumbing manufacturers are finding a way to eliminate the clunky add-on water filter on the outside of your faucet, or under your sink. Brands like ROHL’s Perrin & Rowe are using, “… Filtration featuring Triflow® Technology. This innovative faucet series provides beauty and functionality in one space-saving design. Filtration happens right in the faucet and eliminates the need for an under- the-counter system. Enjoy hot, cold and filtered water while saving money and protecting the environment’”.

9. Affordable countertop surfaces that give the look of luxury

Countertops can be a very expensive portion of your kitchen entourage. Lucky for you there are several kitchen countertop manufacturers that understand homeowners want the look of granite, stone, and marble without the hefty price tag.Formica Corporation has created the 180fx® laminate countertop surface. “A revolution in surfacing with true-to-scale granite patterns that offer visual drama unmatched by any other laminate. New sophisticated patterns focus on a neutral palette – versatile enough to pair with any interior design concept.” So don’t think the kitchen remodel you want is out of reach. It may be possible thanks to these new patterns!

10. Creating connections between your lifestyle and cooking

We live in a wonderful design age where kitchen manufacturers are realizing the importance of connecting how we all live in our homes, the way we interact with our appliances, the way we prepare food, and the way appliances, fixtures, and finishes should interplay with our senses. KBIS is a wonderful example of how the best minds come together to show you what is available today and what they are working on for your future. It’s still true: The kitchen rules our homes and rightfully so. It’s the soul of our home and the way we come together with family and friends!