Breaking News – Unemployment Rate Down to 8.8%

Today is a pivotal day for mortgage markets and conforming mortgage rates. At 8:30 AM ET, the government released its March Non-Farm Payrolls report.

Employers added 216,000 jobs to their payrolls in March, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Department of Labor. The national unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, down from 8.9 percent in February.

Analysts had been forecasting a smaller pool of new jobs and no change in the unemployment rate. Since November 2010, the jobless rate has declined by a full percentage point.

“Conditions in the U.S. labor market are finally starting to show signs of meaningful improvement,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for the research firm Capital Economics, in commentary issued just after the numbers were released.

The national unemployment rate of 8.8 percent is the lowest it’s been in two years. 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU?

More commonly known as “the jobs report”, the monthly Non-Farm Payrolls is a market-mover and home buyers would do well to pay attention. Depending on the report’s strength, mortgage rates could rise, or fall, by a measurable amount later today. It’s because so much of the today’s mortgage market is tied to the economy, and economic growth is dependant on job growth.

With more job growth, there’s more consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy. Additionally, it generates more payroll taxes to local, state and federal governments. This, too, puts the broader economy on more solid footing.

Between 2008 and 2009, the economy shed 7 million jobs. It has since recovered 1.5 million of them. Today analysts expected to count another 190,000 jobs created. If the actual figure had fallen short, mortgage rates would have eased.  With the healthy increase, they are bound to increase.

If you are in the market to buy a home, keep in mind that every increase to interest rates diminishes your purchasing power.  Interest rates are still at historic lows and affordability is at an all time high in Marin County.  With the beautiful days of spring more homes are coming on the market every day, call me if you would like to discuss your real estate goals.  I will work hard at helping you reach them!

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!  Thinking of buying? I will help you find the right home and provide you with the best home buying experience possible.  I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth.

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


January 2011 Case-Shiller Index : Weak And Flawed

Case-Shiller Annual Change January 2011

Standard & Poors released its Case-Shiller Index for the month of January this week. The index is a home valuation tool, measuring the monthly and annual changes in home prices in select cities nationwide.

Have Home Values Returned To Summer 2003 Levels?

January’s Case-Shiller Index gave a poor showing. As compared to December 2010, home values dropped in 19 of the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets. Only Washington, D.C. gained. The results were only modestly better on an annual basis, too.

18 of 20 markets worsened in the 12 months ending January 2011.

According to the report, values are down 3.1% from last year, retreating to identical levels from Summer 2003.  As a buyer or seller in today’s market, don’t read too much into it, however.  The Case-Shiller Index is far too flawed to be the final word in housing.

According to the report, values are down 3.1% from last year, retreating to the same levels from Summer 2003. As a buyer or seller in today’s market, though, don’t read too much into it. The Case-Shiller Index is far too flawed to be the final word in housing.

The Obvious Flaws Of The Case-Shiller Index

The index has 3 main flaws, in fact.

…The first flaw is the Case-Shiller Index’s lack of breadth. The report is positioned as a national index, but its data is sourced from just 20 cities nationwide.

Putting that number in perspective: the Case-Shiller Index tracks home values from fewer than 1% of the 3,100 U.S. municipalities — yet still calls the report a “U.S. Average”.

A second flaw in the Case-Shiller Index is how it measures home price changes, specifically. Because the index only considers “repeat sales” of the same home in its calculations, and only tracks single-family, detached property, it doesn’t capture the “full” U.S. market.  Condominiums, multi-family homes, and new construction are ignored in the Case-Shiller Index algorithm. 

In cities like Chicago, condos are a huge part of the market.  So what does that say for Case-Shiller’s Chicago data?

And, lastly, the Case-Shiller Index is flawed because of the amount of time required to release it.

Today, it’s almost April and we’re talking about closed home resales from January which is really comprised of homes that went under contract in October — close to 6 months ago. Sales prices from 6 months ago is of little value to today’s home buyer, of course.

Get the scoop on what’s happening in your market through a local agent:

The Case-Shiller Index can be a helpful tool for economists and policy-makers trying to make sense of the broader housing market, but it tends to fail for individuals like you and me.

When you want local, accurate, real-time housing figures for your local market, talk to your real estate professional instead.  I track the Marin County Real Estate Market and have plenty of hyperlocal weekly   and monthly reports  available on my website the County as a whole and for each community.

For information about your particular neighborhood and the value of your own home, feel free to contact me for a free, no obligation comparable market analysis.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!  Thinking of buying? I will help you find the right home and provide you with the best home buying experience possible.  I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth.

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Water Conservation Tips For Your Home And Garden

With the warm days of summer coming soon, here are a few tips to help you conserve water…that ever so precious commodity.  And if you are thinking that with all the rain we’ve had recently, our reservoirs must be full and we don’t need to worry, think again.   It requires a lot of energy to have running water every time we turn our faucets on…  Watch the video and read on.

According to the EPA, the average U.S. household spends close to $500 each year on water and sewage bills. But by making just a few small changes, that figure could drop by as much as $170 annually. It’s all in how you use your water.

In this 4-minute video from Lowe’s, you’ll learn basic water conservation techniques that you can immediately put to work.. 

Some examples:

  • Don’t rinse food from dishes before putting them in a dishwasher. Scrape the dishes instead.
  • When brushing your teeth or shaving, turn off the water at the sink.
  • Use a rain barrel to capture rain, then use the rain to water plants and shrubs.

There’s a host of tips in the video but the recurring theme is that you should never “leave water running”. This is because water at home is “treated” water and the amount of energy required to treat 5 minutes’ worth of water from a faucet is equivalent to the amount of energy required to run a 60-watt light bulb for 14 hours.

That’s a lot of energy.

Water is a precious resource, and it can be expensive, too. Therefore, help the environment and your budget at the same time — practice water conservation at home.


New Home Sales Fall To All-Time, Recorded Low. Maybe.

New Home Sales (2010 - 2011)Sales of newly-built homes plunged 17 percent to an seasonally-adjusted, annualized 250,000 units in February, and the supply of new homes rose to 8.9 months in February — a 1.5 month jump from January.

It’s the lowest New Home Sales reading in recorded history, according to the Census Bureau, and the third straight report to signal that home values may be slow to rise nationwide this season.

Earlier this week, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Existing Home Sales down 10 percent from February, and the Federal Home Finance Agency said home values slipped 0.3 percent between December and January.

The media has picked up on the trend, too. 

  • No Spring In Housing’s Step (WSJ)
  • Is Housing Really In Recovery (CNBC)
  • Experts See Weak Recovery (UPI)

There are  two interesting angles here. First, the one that’s largely neglected in the stories online.

Although New Home Sales nationally read -17% last month, the data’s Margin of Error read ±19%. This means that, once additional homes are added to February’s New Home Sales tally, it’s possible that the reading actually rose 2%.

Because the Margin of Error exceeds the measured reading, February’s New Home Sales figures are of “zero confidence”. The Census Bureau even says as much in its report.

Or, if the initial reading is accurate, a second story emerges. Namely, how an increase in home supply may help this season’s buyers to negotiate better prices for a home, and upgrades from a builder.

There’s often more to a real estate story than its headline and February’s New Home Sales proves it.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Marin County Market Report – February 2011

 Larkspur, CA – March 21, 2011

Marin County Trends at a glance

       
Single Family Homes

         
  Feb-11

% change from Jan-11

% change from Feb-10

Jan-11

Feb-10

Median Price

$ 620,500

-4.5%

-20.4%

$ 650,000

$ 780,000

Average Price

$ 883,085

7.9%

-11.6%

$ 818,434

$ 998,805

Number of homes sold

110

22.2%

5.8%

90

104

Sale/List Price Ratio

94.3%

1.2%

-0.6%

93.2%

94.9%

Days on Market

144

30.9%

26.3%

110

114

MARIN MARKET TRENDS

As is often the case, Marin is bucking the national trend: sales were down 10% in February and inventory was up to 8.6 months nationally. The data is somewhat unexpected, too. NAR’s Pending Home Sales report is a reliable predictor for the housing market and, based on recent findings, home sales were projected to climb in February. It’s unclear why they didn’t.

There has been increasing buyer interest and activity since the beginning of the year, with a surge in buyer activity in February bringing sales up after four months wen single family home sales were lower than the year before.  244 offers were accepted on single family homes and 87 on condominiums, both figures representing the largest number in over 2 years, resulting in a very low months’ supply of inventory—5.5 for single family homes and 5.3 for condos. 

A comparison to the single family homes highs and lows of recent years helps put things in perspective:

  • Months Supply of Inventory: High: February 09, 15.4 months; Low: June 05, 1.8 months.
  • Sales: High: June 2005, 282; Low, February 2009, 62
  • Average Price: High, September 2007, $1,485,000; Low: February 2009, $802,000.

Even though spring started officially on March 21, we are still a few weeks away from the traditional spring sales period, when a great number of homes generally come up for sale.  Many sellers however are still reluctant to put their home on the market to compete with distressed properties which keep prices down.  It is hard to predict what this spring will look like. 

Today’s buyer is different from last year’s: a National Association of Realtors survey showed first-time homebuyers accounted for just 29 percent of buyers, down from 40 percent a year ago when the tax credits were still in place.  Bargain hunting investors accounted for nearly one in four sales in California in February, and a record 32 percent of transactions were all cash deals. 

“Unprecedented levels of all-cash purchases, primarily of distressed homes sold at deep discounts, undoubtedly pulls the median price downward,” NAR President Ron Phipps said in a statement. “Given the levels of inventory we see today, we believe that traditional homes in good condition have held their value.”

California Association of Realtors’ Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement: “With tight credit standards, it’s not surprising to see so much activity where cash is king and investors are taking advantage of conditions to purchase undervalued homes.”

As a result, average days on market for single family homes spiked up to 160 in February from 117 in January.  For condominiums, the number jumped as well from 108 in January to 140 in February.  As buyers have been feeling more urgency since interest rates have started to trend up, they are digging deeper in the pool of older inventory.  Sellers, wise from their long market exposure, are making deals to get their property in escrow.    

LUXURY MARKET:

In the luxury market, a total of 29 homes sold for more than $1 million in Marin County in February, up month to month from just 18 sales in January , but shy of last February’s 33 closed transactions.  The median sale price of million-dollar properties dipped 2.8 percent.  Here is a snapshot of the market by price range as of February 15.

Marin County – Single Family Residences as of March 1, 2011

  Total Active

In Contract

% In Contract

Type of Market

ALL PRICES

854

286

33.49%

Seller’s

0-$999K

537

213

39.66%

Strong Seller’s

1MIL-$1,999K

181

57

31.49%

Seller’s

2MIL-$2,999K

57

10

17.54%

Buyer’s

$3MIL +

79

6

7.59%

Strong Buyer’s

 

Properties in the $1-2 million range are selling much faster than last year.  In the past few days activity seems to have picked up substantially in the high end market.  Just in the past three days 7 properties over $1 million went into contract.  They were priced at $1,162,600 (Ross), $1,275,000 (Greenbrae), $1,795,000 (Tiburon), $2,395,000 (Larkspur), $2,575,000 (San Rafael), $4,450,000 (Ross – 14 days on market) and $4,195,000 (Ross – 6 days on market).  Wow!  This is a big change from what we have seen in the recent past when properties priced over $2 million sat on the market for months at a time before warranting any kind of interest.

 CITY BY CITY ANALYSIS

City by City Analysis-Single Family & Condos March 1, 2011. All price ranges combined      
City Total Active In Contract % In Contract Type of Market
Sausalito 55 11 20.00% Buyer’s
Belvedere 35 5 14.29% Strong Buyer’s
Tiburon 84 15 17.86% Buyer’s
Mill Valley 128 37 28.91% Seller’s
Corte Madera 34 14 41.18% Strong Seller’s
Larkspur 27 6 22.22% Buyer’s
Greenbrae 35 13 37.14% Strong Seller’s
Kentfield 19 9 47.37% Very Strong Seller’s
Ross 13 3 23.08% Buyer’s
San Anselmo 59 20 33.90% Seller’s
Fairfax 33 13 39.39% Strong Seller’s
San Rafael 270 103 38.15% Strong Seller’s
Novato 266 111 41.73% Strong Seller’s

As always, each Marin micro market has a mind of its own and behaves differently.  Kentfield is still leading the pack with almost half of its active listings in contract; Novato and Corte Madera are close behind with 41.73 percent and 41.18 percent in contract, respectively.  Belvedere and Tiburon are lagging behind with less than 20 percent in contract.  A great time to buy in either of these two exclusive communities!

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling your piece of Marin, my fact-based, problem-solving approach looks at each real estate transaction by the numbers, and helps identify innovative, out of the box solutions.  Armed with good information, you can then make smart financial decisions.   

Call me at 415.505.4789 or email me at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com with any question for real estate advice you can trust!


10 U.S. Cities With The Steepest Rent Increases (2010)

Rent is risingHome sales data is easing so far in this calendar year. Home resales and new construction have dropped to multi-month lows and, in many cities, home supplies are rising. One housing sector that’s not slowing, however, is rentals.

The rental market is booming.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the average apartment vacancy rate is 6.6% nationwide, down from 8.0% last year. In addition, the number of occupied apartments rose by more during Q4 2010 than during any comparable period of the last 10 years.

It’s a major reason why rents are up 2.3%.

Some areas, however, fared worse than others. This study of rent increases as published on MSNBC, for example, lists the 10 U.S. cities in which rents increased the most last year. And they may not be the cities you’d expect.

In order:

  1. Greenville, SC (+11.2%; $669 average monthly rent)
  2. Chattanooga, TN (+10.4%; $726 average monthly rent)
  3. Savannah, GA (+8.4%; $866 average monthly rent)
  4. Portland, OR (+8.1%; $875 average monthly rent)
  5. San Jose, CA (+8.0%; $1,716 average monthly rent)
  6. Nashville, TN (+8.0%; $786 average monthly rent)
  7. Tacoma, WA (+8.0%; $900 average monthly rent)
  8. Denver, CO (+7.5%; $873 average monthly rent)
  9. Washington, DC (+7.4%; $1,473 average monthly rent)
  10. Raleigh, NC (+7.4%; $785 average monthly rent)

Big cities New York (#18), San Francisco (#19), and Chicago (#24) showed modest gains, by comparison.

Not everyone wants to be a homeowner, but renters are facing a squeeze. With mortgage rates historically low and home values slow to recover, in many cities, the cost-benefit analysis is shifting toward buying.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Weekly Financial Market Update – March 21, 2011

Report provided by guest contributor Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Email: gkemsley@terramb.com – Website: www.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW

“It’s a small world after all…” That notion was especially evident last week, with both the news in Japan and the Middle East impacting our markets. Here’s what happened, and what the impact was on home loan rates.

The first thing to understand is the concept of “safe haven trading.” At times of global unrest and uncertainty, like with last week’s nuclear crisis in Japan and the ongoing fighting in Libya, Traders will park their money in “safe” investments like our Bonds. And since Bonds such as Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) are tied to home loan rates, when Bond pricing improves, our home loan rates can improve… which is what we saw last week.

But it’s also important to understand how incredibly volatile this situation is. A “safe haven trade” is just that… a trade, which is short-term. Should events around the world become more stable, this safe haven trade can unwind very quickly… with Bond prices and home loan rates worsening as a result. This is similar to how the market reacted at the end of last week, when Libya declared a cease fire to fighting after the United Nations declared a no-fly zone.

Another thing to note is that Bonds and home loan rates are facing some additional headwinds that could hamper their improvement. First, if Japan sells some of their Treasury holdings to help finance the recovery and reconstruction, like they did in 1995 after the Kobe earthquake, this could spur a sell-off in Bonds overall, which would cause Bonds and home loan rates to worsen.

Second, we cannot overlook the impact of inflation… which is the arch enemy of Bonds and home loan rates… both here and overseas. Not only is China struggling with inflation even though they have raised rates and tightened lending requirements multiple times over the past few months, but last week both our Producer Price Index (which measures inflation at the wholesale level) and our Consumer Price Index were hotter than expected.

The bottom line: If inflation is allowed to grow, it can be very difficult to rein in and control… and this will hinder improvement in home loan rates. And, if the situations in Japan and the Middle East stabilize or improve, we could see further unwinding of the “safe-haven” buying of US Bonds… which will also hinder improvement in home loan rates.

If you have been thinking about purchasing or refinancing a home, call or email me to learn more about how you can benefit. Or forward this newsletter on to someone you know who may benefit from today’s historically low rates.

FORECAST FOR THE WEEK

Continuing developments in world events are sure to impact the markets this week, but there are some important US economic reports to look for, too, including:

  • Monday’s Existing Home Sales Report and Wednesday’s New Home Sales Report for February – will they show improvement in the housing market?
  • We’ll get a read on the economic recovery with the Durable Goods Report on Thursday, which gives us an update on consumer and business buying behavior on big-ticket items that are designed to last for an extended period of time (i.e. televisions, appliances, vehicles, etc). It’s an interesting report, as people tend to hold back on these types of purchases when they are feeling a need to be extra conservative with their finances or feel insecure about their employment.
  • We’ll also get a read on the labor market with Thursday’s weekly Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims Report. Last week’s Initial Jobless Claims were reported at 385,000, right smack at expectations, and show that the labor market is continuing to improve.
  • Friday will bring two additional reads on our economic recovery: The Consumer Sentiment Index and the Gross Domestic Product Report, which is the broadest measure of economic activity.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

Bonds and home loan rates improved due to the turmoil around the world, but they were unable to improve above a key technical level. I’ll be watching to see which way the markets move this week.

Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.

Economic Calendar for the Week of March 21 – March 25

Date ET Economic Report For Estimate Actual Prior Impact
Mon. March 21 10:00 Existing Home Sales Feb 5.05M 4.88M 5.40M Moderate
Wed. March 23 10:00 New Home Sales Feb 288K   284K Moderate
Thu. March 24 08:30 Jobless Claims (Initial) 3/19 384K   385K Moderate
Thu. March 24 08:30 Durable Goods Orders Feb 0.9%   3.2% Moderate
Fri. March 25 08:30 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Q4 2.9%   2.8% Moderate
Fri. March 25 08:30 GDP Chain Deflator Q4 0.4%   0.4% Moderate
Fri. March 25 10:00 Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM) Mar 68.0   68.2 Moderate

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!  Thinking of buying? I will help you find the right home and provide you with the best home buying experience possible.  I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth.

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Central Marin Brokers’ tour – Thursday, March 17, 2011

I toured today in Central Marin: Larkspur, GreenbraeKentfield  and Ross. right

Larkspur  has had very little activity in the past few months, not because there have been no buyers, but rather because there have been few sellers.  Out of the 27 active listings at the beginning of March, there were only 6 in contract, or 22.22%. 

There were 7 homes on tour today.

  • If you are looking for a small condo and want to stay under $300,000–a great price for Larkspur–, 601 Larkspur Plaza Drive is for you. 
  • For $1,195,000, you could realize your dream of owning a waterfront home with its own dock and San Francisco Bay Access at 270 Riviera Circle.   This 3 bedroom, 3 bath one story home is elegant and charming, with an abundance of natural light and spectacular views. 
  • At 25 Cedar Avenue, you will enjoy great views as well in a serene, very special setting.  This property has enormous potential for the buyer who has the vision to update this magical spot into a priceless property.  Priced at $1,288,000.

Greenbrae is hot right now.  13 of its 35 active listings are in contract, or 37.14%.  There were  8 Listings on tour today.

  • 25 Corte Alegre – A brand new listing and an opportunity not to be missed!  Homes of this style and quality rarely come on the market in this coveted cul-de-sac location in the flats of Greenbrae.  The home has been extensively remodeled with high end finishes throughout and great attention to detail.  Great kitchen with cherry cabinets, granite counters and center island, top of the line appliances and a breakfast area and adjoining family room.  The garden was professionally designed and features a stone patio, a paved walkway and outdoor lighting.   Priced at $1,675,000. 
  • 32 Manor Road– a great starter home in the popular flats within a quick stroll of Bacich Elementary.  this 3 bedroom 2 bath home is all on one level with a family room that opens to a large yard and pool that back to open space.  The master suite  faces Mt. Tam withFrench doors opening to the garden. Newly refinished hardwood floors, fireplace & sunny picture windows.  Great for first time homebuyers at $1,149,000.

Ross had 3 Listings on tour today.  Just like Tiburon and Belvedere where many of the properties are in the higher price ranges, Ross has fewer of its active listings in contract, 3 out of its 13 currently active listings or 23.7%. 

  •  My favorite was 5 Fernhill Avenue.  Very unique home with tons of character and charm with great amenities: solar,speakers,radiant heat.   This Santa Barbara style Spanish Colonial was built in 2006 on a level .60 acre lot. Most sought-after Ross neighborhood due to large private lots & walking distance to both Ross School and charming downtown San Anselmo. 5 bed/5 ba plus Office. Large pool, and huge fenced yard.  Sweeping circular driveway. 2 Car attached garage is on the side of home.  Priced at $4,450,000.
  • 44 Fernhill Avenue – For a cool $8,495,000 you can become the proud owner of one of Ross’ most prominent estates in the community’s best location. Completed in 2008, the 6 bedroom, 5 1/2 bath east coast shingle style home boasts great scale & traditional, high end finishes throughout.   It was featured on the cover of Traditional Homes magazine in May 2010.  Enormous level lawn (big enough for sporting events), mature, lush gardens, pool, spa & play areas create year round resort like living. Just blocks to the highly acclaimed Ross School & town.  Spectacular!

Kentfield‘s market has witnessed even greater activity; on March 1 it had 47.37% of its listings in contract, or 9 out of 19.  There were 6 homes on tour today.

  • 31 Ross Terrace – 4 bedroom, 4-1/2 bath end unit in this enclave of recently renovated craftsman style homes. 4 en suite bedrooms with beautiful finishes. An elevator serves the upper floor. Great location close to everything – $1,495,000.
  • 37 Laurel Grove Avenue – This brown shingle, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home offers a formal living room, dining area, eat in kitchen with attached family room. Gated pool, Mt. Tam views and pool house which can be set up as a private office or study. $1,465,000.
  • 240 Evergreen Drive – Located in the hills of Kentfield, this 4 bedroom 4 bath home has stunning views of the tree studded hillside and an open floor plan.  You will love the beautifully landscaped gardens with bluestone walkways.  Priced at $2,095,000.
  • 224 Woodland Road – Beautiful mid century home situated on almost one acre in the coveted “flats” of Kent Woodlands.  Great indoor/outdoor flow, floor to ceiling windows, great sun, level lawn and pool.  Priced at $4,195,000. 

If you would like additional information about any of these homes or to schedule a viewing, please contact me at 415.505.4789.

_____________________________________________________________________________

About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!  Thinking of buying? I will help you find the right home and provide you with the best home buying experience possible.  I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth.

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Weekly Financial Market Update – March 15, 2011

Report provided by guest contributor Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Email: gkemsley@terramb.com – Website: www.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

 LAST WEEK IN REVIEW

“And now… the rest of the story” – Paul Harvey. With his famous line, Paul Harvey pointed out for years that there’s more to every story – and often those hidden details influence what happened. With that in mind, let’s look at the “rest of the story” behind last week’s news items, which had alternating impacts on Bond prices and home loan rates.

First, let us start by sending our thoughts and prayers to the families affected by last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The earthquake was a magnitude of 8.9 – the strongest in 140 years. The earthquake in Japan and its damage created some counterintuitive market reactions.

One would think that US Treasuries and Mortgage Bonds would have traded much higher, as often is the case with devastating natural events that drive money into “safe haven” trades. But that wasn’t the case. Why? The answer is that buying of Treasuries and Mortgage Bonds as a safe haven trade was offset by the Japanese selling some of their own massive holdings of Treasuries and Mortgage Bonds, in order to repatriate money back to their country during the time of emergency. Considering that Japan is the second largest holder of U.S. debt at $877 Billion, selling just a tiny position of their holdings has an impact on Bond prices.

In addition, Bond prices traded in very volatile fashion last week after getting jockeyed around on news out of Saudi Arabia that police had opened fire on protesters with rubber bullets. Let’s look at how this influenced the markets in a different way than one might at first imagine.

Like other recent uprisings in the Middle East, Saudi protesters are looking for more democracy, the right to elect public officials, greater civil rights, freedom of expression, more women’s rights and a higher minimum wage. Interestingly, however, oil fell last week, despite the news. Why? Shouldn’t unrest in Saudi Arabia – the world’s largest oil producer, push prices higher? Yes, but that news was offset by the earthquake in Japan. That’s because Japan is a huge importer of oil… and the market senses that the earthquake and subsequent tsunami may create an economic slowdown and diminish the demand for oil.

Seeing that Mortgage Bonds are lower – even in the face of weak Stocks and enormous uncertain global news – tells us that the gains in Bonds are not coming with a lot of conviction and Traders are selling into this strength. This is because a lot of headwinds remain for Bonds – like inflation abroad, rising government debt and continued QE2 purchases.

 This is a good example of why it is important to work with a mortgage professional that understands not only what was reported in the news, but also how the many cross currents may have alternating effects on everything from Bonds, Stocks, Oil to the US Dollar.

FORECAST FOR THE WEEK

“Double dose!” is the phrase of the week, as we’ll see multiple reports this week focusing on the same segments of the economy:

  • We’ll start off with some big news today, Tuesday, when the Federal Reserve holds its FOMC meeting and releases its Policy Statement. As always, what the Fed says about the economy, inflation, and its Quantitative Easing program could have an impact on home loan rates.
  • There’s a double dose of real estate news with Wednesday’s release of data on Housing Starts and Building Permits in February. Check back with me on Wednesday to get the breakdown of how the news actually arrived!
  • There’s also a double dose of manufacturing news. Tuesday’s Empire State Index looks at New York State’s manufacturing sector and is a good gauge of manufacturing overall, while on Thursday we’ll also see another important manufacturing report in the Philadelphia Fed Index.
  • A double dose of inflation news also comes our way this week with Wednesday’s Producer Price Index Report, which highlights inflation at the wholesale level, and Thursday’s Consumer Price Index Report, measuring inflation for consumers like you and me! Remember: The Fed is intent on creating inflation, which is unfriendly to home loan rates, and signs of inflation from these reports could be unfavorable for rates.

Thursday we’ll get a read on employment with the weekly Initial Jobless Claims Report. Initial Jobless claims rose 26,000 in the latest week to 397,000, which was above expectations but still below that psychological barrier of 400,000.

  • Finally, on Thursday we’ll see a double dose of manufacturing data with the release of reports on Capacity Utilization and Industrial Production in February. The capacity utilization rate provides an estimate of how much factory capacity is in use. If the utilization rate climbs too high it can lead to inflationary bottlenecks in production. The Federal Reserve watches this report closely and decides how to set interest rates on the basis of whether production constraints are threatening to cause inflation.  

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

Bond prices experienced some up-and-down volatility last week, but ended the week near where they began – meaning home loan rates are still near historic lows.

So what should you do if you or someone you know is in the market for a new home?

The bottom line is that even if housing were to drop a little further in some areas, the affordability coming from today’s rates serves as a backstop against any moderate price reduction. Remember, housing will likely be in a much better position in the second half of the year and at that time rates could be a bit higher. Now’s the time to take advantage of the combination of low rates and affordable housing. Call or email today to get started.

Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.

Economic Calendar for the Week of March 14 – March 1

Date ET Economic Report For Estimate Actual Prior Impact
Tue. March 15 02:15 FOMC Meeting Mar       HIGH
Tue. March 15 08:30 Empire State Index Mar 17.0   15.43 Moderate
Wed. March 16 08:30 Housing Starts Feb 551K   596K Moderate
Wed. March 16 08:30 Building Permits Feb 570K   562K Moderate
Wed. March 16 08:30 Producer Price Index (PPI) Feb 0.6%   0.8% Moderate
Wed. March 16 08:30 Core Producer Price Index (PPI) Feb 0.2%   0.5% Moderate
Thu. March 17 08:30 Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) Feb 0.1%   0.2% HIGH
Thu. March 17 08:30 Consumer Price Index (CPI) Feb 0.4%   0.4% HIGH
Thu. March 17 08:30 Jobless Claims (Initial) 3/12 387K   397K Moderate
Thu. March 17 09:15 Industrial Production Feb 0.6%   -0.1% Moderate
Thu. March 17 09:15 Capacity Utilization Feb 76.5%   76.10% Moderate
Thu. March 17 10:00 Index of Leading Econ Ind (LEI) Feb 0.9%   0.1% Low
Thu. March 17 10:00 Philadelphia Fed Index Mar 28.0   35.9 HIGH

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!  Thinking of buying? I will help you find the right home and provide you with the best home buying experience possible.  I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth.

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.

 


A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 15, 2011 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, for the second straight meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The vote was 10-0.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that since its January 2011 meeting, the economic recovery “is on firmer footing”, and that the labor markets are “improving gradually”. In addition, household spending “continues to expand”. Nonetheless, the Fed said, the economy remains constrained by rising commodity prices and the “depressed” housing sector.

The FOMC statement also re-affirms the group’s plan to keep the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”, and to keep its $600 billion bond market support package — more commonly called “QE2” — intact.

And, lastly, for the third straight time, the Federal Open Market Committee’s post-meeting release statement included a paragraph detailing the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of managing inflation levels, and fostering maximum employment. Although it acknowledged inflationary pressures on the economy, the Fed said inflation remains too low for the economy currently, and that unemployment remains “elevated”. 

In time, the Fed expects both measurements to improve.

Mortgage market reaction to the FOMC has been negative since the statement’s release. Mortgage rates are unchanged, but poised to worsen.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 2-day event, April 26-27, 2011.

_____________________________________________________________________________

About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!  Thinking of buying? I will help you find the right home and provide you with the best home buying experience possible.  I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth.

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.