It’s not your imagination: The housing market recovery is on a roll, upwards! A recent survey of over 100 real estate and economic experts predicts that by the end of 2013, home values will have increased nationwide by an average of 6.7% over a year ago. This is significantly more than the 5.4% bump anticipated in an earlier study.

The Home Price Expectations Survey was conducted by Pulsenomics, LLC on behalf of Zillow. Based on market expectations, the panel predicts that home prices will continue to rise until 2017, coming very close to the record highs of May 2007. The rate of increase however will not be as dramatic as 2013, with appreciation anticipated to slow to 4.4% in 2014 and down to 3.4% in 2017. This represents a cumulative increase of 23.7% through 2017, at which point appreciation is expected to be more in line with historic norms.

Interestingly, most panel members did not feel that rising interest rates would derail the recovery, unless interest rates rise above 6.0%. According to Zillow Senior Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell, “As long as interest rates don’t rise too far and too fast, most markets should be able to absorb these changing dynamics and remain healthy.” It is anticipated that as interest rates rise, investors will pull out of some markets, increasing inventory and helping to stabilize the market.

What does this mean for you? If you are looking to buy, now is the time as prices will continue to rise. Looking to sell? You are more likely to get top dollar between now and the end of the year as inventory, especially here in San Diego County is very limited. As appreciation slows and more inventory hits the market it is less likely that the multiple offer scenarios that we are currently experiencing will continue.

Questions about the value of your home? Interested in an investment property? Just give me a call and I’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

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Everyday I wake up, turn on my computer and read all the real estate news.  But pretty soon I’m scratching my head, wondering whether or not anyone really has a clue about what’s going on.  One story says values have double-dipped at a new low, another says they’re on the rise.  Some “experts” insist that reducing unemployment will drive the real estate recovery, while others have the statistics to “prove” that a stronger real estate market will be what heals the national economy.  No wonder the real estate market is stagnant – everyone is paralyzed by uncertainty!

As noted previously, I have no crystal ball.  Nor do I have a doctorate in economics.  However, I do know one thing that will help heal both the real estate market and the overall economy:   Would-be buyers and defaulting owners – take action now!  

If you are thinking about buying a property, quit thinking and start doing!  This is a fabulous buyer’s market and both prices and interest rates are at incredible lows.  If you’re worried that you won’t get the absolute lowest price because values might continue to drop, you’re probably wrong.  Most experts believe that we’ll see some slight ups and downs in value over the next 2 years, but it will be more of a bumpy road versus a roller coaster dive.   If you wait another year to buy, you’ll lose 12 months of mortgage interest deduction, and the enjoyment of owning your own home or investment property.

On the other hand, if you’re unable to continue to make your mortgage payments it’s definitely time to take action.  You probably won’t win the lottery, so call your bank and try to get a loan modification.  If that doesn’t work, consider a short sale.  Avoiding a foreclosure through short sale is generally not only better for the seller, but it will help the real estate market and economy.  Banks are choking on foreclosure inventory, and as those homes are released into the sales system they are often neglected and tend to lower home values.  Reducing the number of new foreclosures is key to recovery for everyone.

So if you’re still unsure and have questions about buying or selling, just give me a call.  I’m ready when you are to help turn this market around!

Back in November, and then again in December, I predicted that San Diego had seen the bottom and we would continue to see small gains in home values in 2011.  Over the first quarter however, there has been a lot of talk and statistics about home prices falling nationwide and some folks seemed anxious to prove me wrong. 

Well this morning, I can happily say I was right.  The just-released Standard and Poors/Case-Schiller Home Price Index for January reveals a 1.00% decrease in home values over the previous month…….except for two cities, Washington, D.C. and San Diego!  The index tracks values in 20 cities and overall, values were down 3.10% over January 2010 – only Washington, D.C., and San Diego showed a year-to-year gain.

So, to all of you who are waiting to buy in San Diego, fearful that values will continue to drop, pay attention.  Now is the time to buy….unless of course you want to pay 2.00-4.00% more at a higher interest rate a year from now.  Just a thought.

Research and analytics company CoreLogic reported last week that 23% of all homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.  All together, the negative equity of our nation’s homes is around $750 billion. 

I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty scary that nearly one quarter of all homes have negative equity.  Even if those homeowners don’t default and continue to pay their mortgage, this is a huge deterrent to recovery for the housing market.  In a healthy market, many of these folks would be selling and buying, either trading up or downsizing, or simply moving to a different location.  Instead, 11.1 million homeowners are stuck in their homes, unable to sell because of negative equity.

As noted in previous posts, I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m certainly not an economist, but as I’ve mentioned, one possible solution seems pretty obvious:  Principal reduction.  Since the top of the market in April of 2006, home values have dipped by an average of 32.8%.  The majority of the people who are underwater today bought or refinanced at the height of the market…..what if their mortgages were reduced by 30%?  Do you think that would help reduce defaults and stimulate sales?  Of course it would!

Logically, this seems like a good idea.  If banks are going to lose the money anyway if a home is foreclosed or sold short, why not take the loss up front and bring some real stability back to the housing market?  Although a few banks have offered some principal reductions, it is rare, and I have yet to hear a really good answer as to why more don’t. If you understand what seems to be some twisted bank logic, please explain it to me.

In the meantime, I predict that we will see an increase in short sales. As banks are providing few meaningful loan modifications and with the economy still shaky, even those people intent on staying in their homes despite negative equity may be forced to sell because of loss of job, decreased income or relocation.  Fighting $750 billion in negative equity is a not a battle that will be quickly won.

Home prices across the country have taken a roller coaster ride over the past few years with far more hair-raising dips than inclines.  According to a Fiserv, Inc. report, the ups and down may not be totally over, but the financial services company predicts that by the end of 2011 75% of U.S. metro areas will see stable prices.

The good news for San Diego is that we are only one of three metro areas that had prices stabilize in recent months.  San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are the other two.  Still suffering are hard-hit areas including Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas where prices are not expected to smooth out until late 2012.

This is not to say that we won’t see some price reductions in certain neighborhoods, but overall the downward slide in value is over for most San Diego homeowners.  Foreclosures, unemployment, and restricted access to credit will continue to be the three negative factors influencing our market, but increased demand based on low prices and low interest rates seems to be balancing our market favorably.

So is this a good time to buy?  As I’ve said before…..absolutely!  Prices are already increasing in many areas, but if you’re curious about where you can get the most bang for your buck in San Diego county, give me a call.

We all agree that reducing the national debt and annual deficit is important to the long-term stability and health of our nation’s economy.  But why, in a time when the housing market is so fragile, would anyone think that reducing one of the principal benefits of home ownership is a good idea?

Yesterday, the Deficit Reduction Commission issued its recommendations which included cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Defense spending, and the Mortgage Interest Deduction, among other programs.  The Mortgage Interest Deduction has been around for over 80 years and is one of the principal benefits of owning a home.  This provision allows homeowners to take the annual interest paid on their mortgage as an income tax deduction. Take away or significantly lower the deduction and the benefits of home ownership are reduced to choosing your own paint colors.   Values are not appreciating; no one is building equity, so why buy?

Coincidentally the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book was also released yesterday showing that the depressed housing market continues to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to economic recovery.  So if I understand correctly, the Feds are saying that our economy won’t show significant improvement until the housing market recovers and at the same time the Deficit Commission is proposing that we make home ownership less appealing.   The logic eludes me.

I believe that the impact of this proposal will be a significant blow to the struggling housing market, whether or not it is ever enacted.   The public in general is still nervous that home values will continue to decline, so many would-be buyers are sitting on the sidelines waiting to buy.  The news reporting of this proposal, and even the remote possibility that the deduction will disappear gives them one more reason to stall, further delaying recovery.

Although I don’t always agree with their politics, the National Association of Realtors got this one right.  This is a stupid idea and I hope that you’ll join me in asking your Representative to defend the Mortgage Interest Deduction.

There is a slight glimmer of hope that we are gradually pulling out of the Great Recession.  According to an elite panel of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, home prices across the US saw their lowest point in the first part of the year and have been gradually trending upward.

The panel predicts modest gains of approximately 1.2% over 2011, but warns that the record unemployment will continue to be a factor in triggering defaults.  According to the panel, getting more people back to work will be key to slowing foreclosures and the recovery of the housing market.

Single family home values are fairing better in San Diego County where we saw price increases above the national average, but values for condo sales dropped.  Comparing home sales in August of 2009 to sales in August 2010, we saw a 5.5% increase in average sale price for single family homes and a -2.2% decline in sale price for condos during the same period.  The median home price in August 2010 was $375,000 for a single family home and $220,000 for a condo.

Some areas of the county that had been hit hard by foreclosures after the boom period, such as newer areas of Chula Vista, saw an increase by as much at 15.9%, while more pricey areas such as La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe saw a decline in prices anywhere from -5.0% to -26.5%.  Please contact me if you’d like to know the specifics for your area.

The national numbers were presented in the NABE October 2010 Outlook.  The panel was comprised of 46 professional analysts from such firms as Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, Moody’s Analytics and the PMI Group.  The local sales statistics are courtesy of Fidelity National Title Company.