For March, 2011

Why New Homes Don’t Sell


While the real estate market has struggled across the board, new homes have been hit harder than ever before. Existing home sales are down about 3% in the last year, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors. That’s peanuts compared to new home sales, which have fallen a whopping 28%, according to the U.S. Census. To some extent, existing homes have always recovered before new construction, but analysts say this situation is so extreme that it could delay a meaningful recovery for the new-home market by two more years.

The reason for the discrepancy is clear, experts say: New homes are currently 29% more expensive than existing homes, about double the typical margin, according to the NAR. At the same time, there are some radical discounts in the existing home market, foreclosures and short sales specifically, which accounted for nearly 40% of all sales in February. (In 2010, they accounted for 25% of all sales, according to

But a shift in consumer psychology has also hurt new home sales. Pre-recession, buyers expected high-end appliances and fancy countertops, and builders delivered. Now consumers are more enthusiastic about a home that’s easier and cheaper to maintain, says Vogel. For many buyers, that even includes smaller rooms – a rarity in homes built during the real estate boom – that are more affordable to heat or cool. More buyers are also looking to live in or near a city – where relatively fewer new homes exist – to be closer to their job and to spend less on gasoline costs.

The trend doesn’t seem to be reversing itself any time soon. In spite of the lagging sales, new home prices are still expected to rise by nearly 1% this year, according to the NAR: Builders have all but stopped building, says David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, and supply is dwindling.

As Housing Recovery Lags, Rental Business Set to Boom


With foreclosures numbering more than 200,000 a month and lending regulations tightening, more homeowners will be pushed into renting, which in turn will see a demand for apartments and multi-family homes increasing.

“The most severe housing collapse and recession in post-war history will naturally leave scars on the economy for years, with the housing market most vulnerable,” Michelle Meyer, economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, wrote in a research note for clients.

“The resulting decline in demand and tightening of credit has triggered a decline in homeownership and downsizing toward smaller homes, which in our view will underpin multifamily construction,” Meyer added.

Why the New Mortgage Risk Rules May Fail


Yesterday financial regulators proposed a set of rules intended to lower mortgage defaults by requiring banks to retain five percent of the risk when they package home loans as securities. Unfortunately, the plan relies on banks to adequately self-regulate their lending practices—something they’ve shown time and again they are not very good at.



Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index 星期二发表了从12月份到1月份的房屋销售价格指数。


全国范围内,除了Washington D.C.以外,其它19个城市房价均在下降。全年房屋价格下降幅度,Seattle排名第7位:

Phoenix -9.1%
Detroit -8.1%
Portland -7.8%
Chicago -7.5%
Atlanta -7.0%
Tampa -7.0%
Seattle -6.7%

Seattle area sees fewer apartment vacancies, higher rents


Things are looking up in the Seattle area’s apartment market — if you’re a landlord.

The vacancy rate kept dropping over the past few months while rents kept rising, according to two recently released reports.

Both trends began a year or more ago. They will continue for at least the rest of this year, according to research firms Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors and Apartment Insights Washington, the authors of the new reports.

The number of new apartments in King and Snohomish counties slated for completion this year is just one-third the number of 2009.

Apartment Insights surveyed apartment complexes with 50 or more units. It pegged King County’s vacancy rate this month at 4.99 percent, the first time it’s been below 5 percent since late 2007.

Dupre + Scott looked at projects with 20 or more apartments. It said the county vacancy rate in March was 4.3 percent, down from 4.9 percent last September and 6.8 percent two years ago.

Rents have risen, both firms reported, while the number of landlords offering incentives to lure tenants has dropped. So has the monetary value of those incentives.




Housing market: 13% of all U.S. homes are vacant


Maine had the highest proportion of empty housing stock, at 22.8%. Other states with gluts of empty houses included Vermont (20.5%), Florida (17.5%), Arizona (16.3%) and Alaska (15.9%).

Connecticut has a vacancy rate of just 7.9%, the lowest of all the states. Besides Connecticut, the other states with lowest vacancy rates are California, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia and Washington, all at 9.2% or lower.

For real estate, a giant spring clearance sale


At the Sunset Ridge estates, the amenity bonanza gets even more surreal: Buy a customizable colonial for as little as $170,000 and get a brand new, $17,000 Chevy Cruze. The 2011 model. For free.

The festival of upgrades on new homes — especially in the housing markets that were savaged by the subprime meltdown — is queasy confirmation of just how much the housing market remains the sickest part of the U.S. economy.

Steps to Boost Your Credit Score


The secret to a great credit score is to have a long history of making all payments on time at all times.

But what if you have a few late payments or other negative information on your credit report? Don’t assume your credit score is doomed. There are steps you can take that can boost your credit score. Some of these steps can increase your score by 20 points or more in a single month.

  • Pay recent past-dues
  • Request good faith adjustment: After bringing past due accounts current, contact the creditors who report late payments on your credit report and ask them to make a good faith adjustment to remove the late payment information from your credit report files.
  • Pay collections that agree to vanish
  • Spread debt evenly: The objective is to have not more than 50 percent of the credit limit used on any one card. That’s because having one credit account nearly maxed out can severely reduce your credit score.
  • Report credit limits: Some of your credit accounts may not report the credit limit to the credit bureaus. This reduces your score because when that information is missing, the score counts the account as being maxed out.
  • Keep the right credit: Don’t close down your cards that have the longest history and the highest credit limits available because these help boost your score. Instead, close down those department store charge cards.
  • Limit new credit accounts

Single ladies top home-buying charts


Almost twice as many single women (20 percent) are buying homes than single men (12 percent), according to the most recent statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The reason? Because they can.

New home sales slowest in at least a half-century


New home sales are now just half the pace of 1963 — even though there are 120 million more people in the United States now.

Diminished sales have driven the median price of a new home down to about $202,000, the lowest since 2003.

Sales of new homes plunged in February to an annual rate of 250,000. Last year, 323,000 new homes were sold — the worst year on record and the fifth straight year of declines.

In 1963, when the U.S. population was about 190 million — compared with today’s nearly 310 million — far more new homes were sold: 560,000.

ARMs suit some, but what about you?


A growing number of people seem to choose ARM. An estimated 10% of borrowers, up from 3% in 2009, will opt for an ARM this year, according to a recent Freddie Mac survey of 112 lenders nationwide.

Whether you should be among them depends greatly on your specific situation and your tolerance for risk. In some cases, ARMs are certainly worth a look.

The real reason most borrowers shy away from an ARM is their own risk tolerance, says Michael Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, a direct mortgage lender headquartered in New York City.

“An ARM would save most of our customers money, but only about 15% of the loans we fund are ARMs because not everyone is comfortable with the risk,” Moskowitz says. “If they can’t sleep because they’re worried about interest rates, it’s not for them.”

Even if a borrower has a relatively low risk tolerance, they may want to look at an ARM if they plan to move soon.

ARMs have a big potential downside because the rates can jump, leaving the borrower on the hook for more than if they had gone with a traditional product. “That risk is always there,” says Moskowitz. “However, it’s a risk that you can and should understand before you take the loan.”

Home sales fall 9.6 pct in February


The National Association of Realtors say sales of previously occupied homes fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million. That’s down 9.6 percent from 5.4 million in January. The pace is far below the 6 million homes a year that economists say represents a healthy market.

The median sales price fell 5.2 percent to $156,100, the lowest level since April 2002.

Sales of homes at risk of foreclosure rose to 39 percent of all sales in February.

Double-digit rent rise is coming to the housing market


In the hottest rental markets, the increases will likely top the 10% mark annually for the next couple of years, according to Lesley Deutch of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. In San Diego, she anticipates rents will rise more than 31% by 2015. In Seattle rents will climb 29% over that period; and in Boston, they may jump between 25% and 30%.

New-home construction plunges 22.5% in February


The Commerce Department says home construction plunged to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 homes last month, down 22.5% from the previous month. It was the lowest level since April 2009 and the second-lowest on records dating back more than a half-century.

The building pace is far below the 1.2 million units a year that economists consider healthy.

The drop in home construction activity was felt coast to coast. It fell 48.6% in the Midwest, 37.5% in the Northeast, 28 percent in the West and 6.3% in the South.

Economists say falling prices, sluggish sales and the weak construction rate all point to a housing market that is years away from a recovery.

Multi-Family Housing Offers Good Value For Aspiring Landlords


More multi-family properties are becoming cash flow positive due to a combination of lower property values and mortgage costs (from continued low interest rates) and resilient rents.

Looking ahead, multi-family vacancy rates are forecast to decline from 5.8 percent in the current quarter to 4.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Lower vacancy rates give landlords more leeway to raise rents and reduce concessions such as one-month-free rent specials. Indeed, effective rents are also improving, with 76 of the 82 apartment markets tracked by Reis posting year-over-year rent increases through the fourth quarter.

Landlords Raising Rents as Demand Outpaces Supply


It’s a classic example of supply and demand. As Americans have lost their homes or continue to put off buying a home, there are more renters than ever. With inventory constrained, landlords increased rents. In 2010, rents nationwide rose an average 4.2 percent. In 2009, by contrast, landlords offered greater discounts to attract tenants, and effective rents fell 5.9 percent. According to AXIOMetrics, an apartment market research firm in Dallas, last year was one of the best periods for landlords over the past 15 years and may mark a turning point in the short term.

Foreclosure filings plunge 27% compared to last February


Allegations of improper foreclosure processing continued to dog the mortgage servicing industry and disrupt court dockets. The industry is in the midst of a major overhaul that has severely restricted its capacity to process foreclosures.

Another contributing factor was the harsh winter weather that covered much of the country during the month. That delayed some of the paperwork processing and the serving of notices of default, notices of auction sales and other filings.

More people are buying their homes with cash


The number of homes bought with cash jumped to 32% in January compared to 26% a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors.

In Southern California, about 30% of the sales in January were cash, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Same thing in Denver. In Phoenix and Las Vegas, cash sales topped 50% of all deals.


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  1. 将所有私人物品收起来,尤其是私人照片和宗教物品,因为这会让潜在的买家非常不舒服
  2. 将杂物收到盒子里集中存放到车库,或放到朋友家中,让家里显得很整洁
  3. 重新粉刷各个房间,一定要选比较中性的色彩。这样会让房子感觉焕然一新
  4. 将各个角落都打扫得干干净净,一尘不染。给家里喷点香,或烤上一点点心,或者煮一点cinnamon棒,让家里散发迷人的清香
  5. 割好草坪,种上花草,将灌木旁边铺上漂亮的木屑或树皮。


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  • 检查房屋的设计,看是否符合自己的需要,比如说厨房的位置和睡房的位置,或者认真考虑自己是否真的需要很大的房子
  • 认清卖方装饰的意图。比如说卖方会故意下掉几扇门,或摆设一些很小的家具,让房间显得很大,很空旷。一旦你把门装回去,或摆上正常大小的家具,房间立刻会小很多
  • 仔细评估房屋的维护情况。虽然油漆是新的,但是厨房水龙头下方是否有水渍?地板是否有损坏?
  • 仔细评估装修质量。高质量的装修,即使旧一点,也肯定比低质量的装修更耐用
  • 检查房屋的采光
  • 到处闻闻、嗅嗅,看是否有霉味

Mortgage Applications in U.S. Rise 16%, Biggest Gain Since June



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就在不久以前,首次买房者的比例占房屋销售的40%,现在则下降到了29%,而且这个比例还在持续下降。专家认为,这主要是因为费用和利率都在持续上涨。本月,新房屋贷款的费用将会上涨0.5%。到4月份,小额首付贷款(small-down-payment mortgages)的费用将会急剧上涨。与此同时,越来越多的贷款公司要求更高的首付,比如说20%甚至更高,以此来降低银行自身所承担的风险。

More Borrowers Underwater

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In Q4, 23 percent of borrowers nationwide, or 11.1 million, were holding “underwater” mortgages; that’s a collective $750 billion of negative equity, according to the latest survey from CoreLogic. That’s up from 22.5 percent, or 10.8 million, in Q3, again, thanks to falling home prices. To make matters worse, 2.4 million borrowers have less than 5 percent equity in their homes, deemed as “near-negative” equity.

Of course negative equity is concentrated in the hardest hit states: Nevada (65 percent), Arizona (51 percent), Florida (47 percent), Michigan (36 percent) and California (32 percent). This as the consensus among housing watchers is that home prices will fall another 5 to 10 percent this year before slowly climbing back. That means negative equity will climb another ten percentage points.

Million-dollar homes sales rise nearly 20%

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After four straight years of declines, sales of million-dollar homes and condos rose last year in all 20 major metro areas, according to DataQuick Information Systems. On average, these cities saw an 18.6% jump in high-end home sales.



Obama政府和共和党国会少有的共同点就是准备关闭Fannie和Freddie. 虽然这不会很快发生,但是市场会逐渐减少对这两家公司的依赖。没有了它们,房贷市场会发生什么变化呢?

  • 30年固定贷款将会成为稀有产品
  • 利息肯定将会上升
  • Lender将会收取更多的费用

Low Credit Score = High Payment

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最影响利率的就是你的Credit Score. 分越高,则利率越低。如果你的分低于620,你在自家浴缸里找到石油的概率都比银行批准你的贷款的概率要大。
除非你的Credit超优,否则无论你的收入多高,资产多雄厚,你都拿不到最好的Programs, terms and conditions. 
什么标准算超优呢?740 以上
一旦超过740,你就可以拿到最好的利息。最好的Credit Score和最差(最低标准)的Credit Score之间,利息可以相差1.5%。
在你买房的一年之前,请尽快修复你的Credit Score吧!

Bellevue: 28% of the population is Asian


  • White 59%
  • Asian or Pacific Islander 28%
  • Hispanic 7%
  • Black 2% 2%
  • Somerset area in Bellevue: more than 38% of the population is Asian.
  • Crossroads residents are 64% minority.
  • 2009 city survey, 30% of Bellevue’s population was foreign-born. Among those, 42.9%, or more than 16,000, entered the U.S. in 2000 or later.
  • 68% of Asians who are employed in Bellevue work in management or professional occupations, compared with 60% of the employed whites and 21% of the employed Hispanics.
  • Redmond: about 39% of the city’s residents are minorities, up from 24% 10 years ago.
  • Bothell: 25% of minorities
  • The quality of the schools is a draw for Eastside neighborhoods. The June 2010, U.S. News & World Report ranked Bellevue School District’s International School 10th in the nation and Newport and Bellevue high schools were within the top 100. And Newsweek ranked five schools in Bellevue within its top 100.
  • The growth in the Eastside Asian population also is reflected in stores. The Bellevue Square Macy’s, for example, has added very small sizes — zeros and twos — and gotten rid of its big and tall men’s section, to accommodate more shorter, thinner shoppers, Betsy Nelson, Macy’s spokeswoman said.

受short sale影响,二月份King County房价继续走跌

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二月份King County销售的房屋中间价是$334,000,比前一个月的$356,000和去年二月份的$373,010都有所下降。现在的价格几乎与2005年3月份相当,比2007年的最高峰跌了30%。

据房屋经纪公司Windermere分析,房价下降的主要原因在于银行大量倾销short sale的房产。二月份的困难房屋数量占总销售量的37%。如果扣除这些销售,房屋销售的中间价则高得多,达到$390,000。



不过,在有些社区,比如说West Bellevue和Mercer Island,困难资产却非常稀少,所以他们的房价没有受到太大影响。如果在这些地方的Seller收到多个offer,就一点也不奇怪。


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星期二的数据显示房价仍然接近崩盘后的低点。两天后政府一月份数据显示新屋销售跌了两位数。Yale经济学家Robert Shiller更预测“房价还有可能再下探15%, 20%, 或25%”。
Dean Baker,经济与政策研究中心的主管,也预测价格还会下跌10%到15%,所以一年以后买房将更实惠。Baker是根据房价与租金之间的比例来推算的。如果房屋中间价大于年租金的15倍,房价下跌的可能性就很大。“现在的房价与租金比例还是太高”。
当然,德州和中西部基本比较稳定,房价不会大跌。但是Seattle, Portland and inland California还有可能继续下跌,据Baker分析。
另据Fiserv预测,有些市场会反弹,今后两年里最强劲的地区是Tacoma, Washington – 会增长12%。同时,美国人民也是信心十足。Fannie Mae的星期一的调查显示65%的人们相信现在是买房的好时机,78%的人们相信房价在未来的12个月里会稳定,甚至上扬。最新迹象也确实令人鼓舞,例如一月份的旧屋销售量上扬,出租屋的空置率下降,以及更多的投资者进场买房。
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