Mortgage Market Week in Review – July 27, 2012

MORTGAGE WEEK UPDATE

We’ve lost a little bit of ground in interest rates today after the Government reported that 2nd Quarter GDP slowed to a tepid 1.5% and Consumer Sentiment fell to its lowest level of the year.  You would think this news would spur bond sales and decrease interest rates but that was not the case since both numbers came in slightly above expectations and triggering a sell-off in bonds (forcing rates up).  Next week is a big week in the marketplace with lots of economic reports scheduled for release, culminating in the biggest report of them all, Friday’s Employment Report.  Stay tuned…

CURRENT INTEREST RATES | JULY 27, 2012

CONFORMING RATES
($200,000 – $417,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.500% (3.59% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.875% (2.96% APR)
JUMBO RATES
($625,501 – $2,000,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.375% (4.46% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.06% APR)
CONFORMING (HIGH-BALANCE) RATES
($417,001 – $625,500 cap by county) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.750% (3.82% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.08% APR)
RATE TRENDS
Rates are UP compared to last week.
Rates are DOWN compared to last month.
Rates are DOWN compared to one year ago

INDUSTRY NEWS

Commentary:  “Hope Springs Eternal”
 
This quote from Alexander Pope could be the best description of how we face the task of rebuilding our economy after the financial crisis and recession of four years ago. It seems like we have been taking baby steps climbing out of a giant crater. We still face huge obstacles such as a huge budget deficit which leaves little room for help from the government, a slowing world economy and a general lack of confidence in the future. To that we say–hope springs eternal. No matter how tough things seem to be, man will envision a better future. We see many signs that this hope could come to fruition. One just needs to look at one segment of the economy to see what is happening, slowly but surely. In June, U.S. car sales were at an annual rate of around 14 million. While this is lower than the peak of 17 million before the recession hit, it is up 40% from the bottom of 10 million just over two years ago and up over 20% in the past year alone. Bottom line is the fact that the population of our country is growing and cars eventually have to be replaced.
 
More importantly, there was a precipitous drop in the first time unemployment claims the week of the July 4th holiday. Statistics which measure holiday weeks are typically volatile and should not be relied upon. Plus the weekly claims figure is subject to temporary factors which also make it a poor measure of health. Indeed, the temporary factor was that U.S. auto plants were delaying regularly scheduled summer layoffs to keep up with the volume. Yes, auto plants. Plants needed to keep up with increased production. If the auto industry hires more people, what will these people do—especially since rates are at historic lows? They might purchase a home and this would contribute to the recovery of the housing sector. Builders are building more homes this year so that they can be sold to auto workers and others and this also creates more jobs. Even home prices are rising and it has been reported that over 700,000 people who were underwater on their home loans have moved to break even or better during the last quarter alone. A mere five percent rise in home prices will move another two million “above water.” To that we say, hope springs eternal. If the auto and housing sectors start hiring, so will other sectors. This builds confidence and confidence builds more hope. So why can’t it spring up like an eternal fountain? It will.
 
– Dave Hershman

 

Belvedere lagoon

 

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This article was reprinted courtesy of Gina Kemsley – Copyright © 2012 Gina Kemsley, Terra Mortgage Banking, All rights reserved.

Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Office: (415) 464-3144 – Cell: (415) 828-0218 – Email: gkemsley@terramb.comWebsitewww.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

________________________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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

 


Financing Aging-in-place Upgrades

Did you know that today close to one out of every four Marin County residents is a person age 60 or older?

Marin’s population is aging.  At 44.5 years, Marin’s median age is the highest in the Bay Area and the 14th highest in California.  Demographic data from the Census Bureau from the 2010 count demonstrate a growing presence of older adults in Marin: residents age 60 years and above totaled 61,454 in 2010, a 38% increase from the previous decade.  In comparison, the county’s overall population grew by only 2% from 200 to 2010.

AGING IN PLACE: A GROWING TREND

If you live in Marin, therefore, there is a high chance that either you are over 60 or you have aging relatives who are.  Sooner or later they will be facing health declines, making doing normal daily tasks or getting around the house in a wheelchair a challenge.  Aging in place has become an increasingly popular option for Marin residents.

Under such scenarios, many aging residents become ideal candidates for the Streamline FHA 203k Loan Program, which allows homeowners to refinance an existing mortgage and roll home improvement costs into a single loan. In other words, homeowners using the loan don’t have to save up cash or hunt down separate financing for their renovation projects.

“It provides an alternative when couples want to stay together in a home but when there’s declining health,” comments Bell, an education specialist with Go2Training, Portland, Ore., and who teaches mortgage professionals about the FHA’s 203(k) program. 

The program features two types of 203k loans, and each lets homeowners accomplish different goals.

The Standard 203k (sometimes referred to as Full or Regular) is aimed at more comprehensive projects that require structural changes and additions, or, for example, at buying and fully overhauling a bank-owned property.

The FHA 203k Streamline (frequently referred to as the Streamlined K or Limited Repair Program) is intended for smaller jobs, such as aging-in-place projects, costing up to $35,000 that doesn’t entail structural modifications.

Bell’s Dad would have been an ideal candidate for this program. Unfortunately, he faced additional health hurdles and wasn’t able to use the loan to address any home upgrades. 

That’s one reason to perform aging-in-place projects before you’re in a pinch.

Upgraded property, lower payments

So if you’re looking to just make cosmetic upgrades or incorporate universal design elements in your primary residence, the FHA Streamline203K loan could make the difference between your being able to age at home and needing to hunt down alternate housing, such as assisted living.

Upgrades also have the potential to increase a property’s value.

Bell offers this success story:  “A Colorado couple used the 203K to refinance their existing home. They put in new windows and doors, upgraded their kitchen, and finished a room above the garage. And they decreased their monthly house payments,” she recalls.

Is my project covered?

There’s a tremendously long list of projects that can be financed with a Streamline 203k, including painting and new carpet or flooring, waterproofing basements, addressing deferred maintenance issues, and converting spare bedrooms into caretakers’ quarters.

Here are just three types of projects that you can fund to prepare your house for easier aging.

1. Universal design. Widen doorways, lower countertops, make bathing facilities accessible, and install ramps.

2. Healthier, greener environment. Eliminate health and safety hazards, such as lead paint, asbestos and mold; swap carpeting for bamboo flooring; and replace inefficient kitchen gear with Energy Star appliances.

3. Energy efficiency. Replace windows, doors, perform weatherization projects, and upgrade HVAC systems both to make a house more comfortable and efficient and cut energy bills.

For a full list of eligible projects, see www.fhainfo.com/fha203k-streamline.htm.

Know yourself and your consultants

The loan isn’t without stringent guidelines, however.

For one, repair costs with the Streamline 203k can’t exceed $35,000 (for projects over that amount, you can consider a Full 203k loan) and properties must be owner-occupied, meaning, for example, that such loans can’t be used to renovate investment properties.

And since the loan process deviates a bit from what people are used to, it’s important to understand the details and timeline and find experts, including loan officers, contractors, and other advisors, who are familiar with the loan.

Here are three considerations:

1. Smart lenders. Work with licensed loan originators who understand and can explain the wrinkles of 203k loans.  Such experts will be able to assess whether you’re a good candidate for and qualify for such a loan. They also can outline other financing options and help you decide what’s best for your long- and short-term needs. To vet your loan expert and be sure he or she is properly licensed, see http://nmlsconsumeraccess.org.

2. Vet contractors. Call references and ask about contractors’ experience both with the 203k program and with home remodeling.  And, says Gary Smith, someone with a cost estimating background is immensely helpful. Smith, a construction consultant in  Ridgeland, Miss., has had a long career in the home industry and is a licensed professional home inspector, a remodeler, and a FHA 203K Consultant.

Sure, there are always change orders with construction jobs. But you don’t want a $6,000 project turning into a $15,000 one because the contractors’ estimates were a “little” off due to inexperience.

3. Know yourself. If you have limited patience and want your project done in a week, then maybe the 203k route isn’t for you, suggests Smith. “It’s not for everyone. There can be approval and construction delays and scheduling conflicts because there are quite a few players involved in the process.”

If you are interested in exploring this program, please contact me and I will put you in touch with a mortgage professional who is familiar with 203K loans.

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This post was adapted from a article in a SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist)Newsletter.  As a SRES designee,  I am a certified senior specialist and astute to the financial and emotional challenges senior clients face when they sell a long-held family home.

SRES® designees not only can create a customized approach to marketing and selling your property, but they also can work with you to explore your housing options to ensure that your next home best serves your current and future needs.  Should aging in place not be a viable option for you or your loved ones, feel free to contact me to explore your options.

View of Mt. Tam from Greenbrae

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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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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


Mortgage Rates Down 1 Percent In One Year

Freddie Mac Mortgage Rates

It’s hard to believe but here we are: Another week, another new low for mortgage rates. 

If you own a Marin County home or are planning on purchasing one in the near future, this may be a once in a life time opportunity to avail yourself of rock bottom mortgage rates.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell 3 basis points to 3.53% last week nationwide.  The 3.53% mortgage rate is available to mortgage applicants who are willing to pay 0.7 discount points, on average, plus a full set of closing costs.

One year ago, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate was 4.52%.  Today, it’s nearly one percent lower. For every $100,000 borrowed at today’s rates as compared to July 2011, a mortgage applicant will save $57 per $100,000 borrowed, or $684 per year.

Over 30 years of a loan, those savings add up.

30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have now dropped through 5 consecutive weeks, and in 11 of the last 12 weeks, a streak dating back to late-April.   Depending on where you live, rates vary. 

Last week, mortgage rates by region were listed as follows :

  • Northeast Region : 3.56% with 0.7 discount points 
  • West Region : 3.49% with 0.7 discount points
  • Southeast Region : 3.58% with 0.7 discount points
  • North Central Region : 3.52% with 0.7 discount points
  • Southwest Region : 3.56% with 0.7 discount points

In California, we received the lowest rates in the country, on average. Owners and buyers in Florida and Georgia, by contrast, received the highest rates.

This week, though, mortgage rates are still lower everywhere.

With Spain at risk for a sovereign default and China warning of slow growth, mortgage rates began the week by falling yet again.  I was reading in the Wall Street Journal this morning that Moody’s is lowering its view for Europe’s dominant economy: Germany.

If you’re eligible to refinance, therefore, the timing may be right to lock a mortgage rate.

Similarly, if you’re an active home buyer here in Marin County , today’s low rates will bolster your maximum purchasing power.  Read my June 2012 Marin County Real Estate Market  Update to find out about buying conditions in today’s market in Marin.

Talk to your loan officer about capitalizing on the lowest rates of all-time. Rates may not rise beginning next week, but when they do rise, they’ll likely rise quickly.

If you need a referral to a top notch mortgage professional, feel free to call me.  I will put you in touch with the best professionals in Marin County.  Don’t hesitate to reach out and call me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

Enjoy our gorgeous Marin County weather!  If you’re not here in our little corner of paradise, make sure to come and visit soon.

Waterfront living in Belvedere

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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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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


Drought Tolerant Gardens Help Trim Your Water Bill

Drought tolerant gardens
A “softer” hardscape – courtesy of www.Houzz.com

Have you been unhappy with your water bill lately?  Of late we have all noticed that water is not getting any cheaper in Marin County: if we save water the rates go up, and if we use more water the rates go up!  And unfortunately that’s a conundrum that’s not likely to go away in the foreseeable future.

With a growing desire to conserve water and the widespread awareness of environmentally conscious practices, Marin County homeowners are increasingly looking for solutions to trim down their water bills.

Where to start?  In addition to following basic water conservation practices, including building a rain barrel, and adding water conserving fixtures in your home you can generate big savings by making a few changes in your garden to both help reduce the use of water and prevent the loss of rain water:

  • Maybe the easiest way to diminish water use is to reduce or totally eliminate the amount of grass, which requires tons of moisture, particularly during the hot-weather months of July and August.
  • Another efficient step is to replace thirsty plants with drought tolerant plants. Cacti and succulents are very popular options in drought-tolerant gardens, –and I am seeing them more frequently in Marin gardens these days.  You can opt for a more arid, minimalist look or a lush palette of succulents of different colors, shapes and texture.  Succulents are not the only alternatives when it comes to water-hardy plants however. There are other choices available such as lavender, Russian sage, catmint, goat’s beard, euphorbia, ornamental grasses and lady’s mantle, to name just a few, that require minimal water to reach maximum growth.   Before planting drought tolerant plants however, there are a few things to take into consideration. The first is that no matter what plant is to be planted, it will need to be watered regularly for one to two years before it will become drought tolerant. Also, the amount of water the plant will actually require is greatly dependent on what type of soil it is planted in. For example, a clay based soil will hold water longer than a sandy soil, therefore planting in sandy soil will require you to water more often.
  • You don’t have to totally forgo plants that require more water. When designing, take sun and wind exposure into consideration and create a site plan that groups plants according to similar watering needs. Strive for three basic divisions:
    • Very low water zone
    • Low water zone
    • Moderate water zone
Drought Tolerant Gardens
Drought Tolerant Garden in Kentfield

Each area should be irrigated separately.

  • While we’re on the subject of irrigation, a good irrigation system is a must. And remember that all irrigation systems were not created equal when it comes to their water-saving efficiency. The least efficient system is the sprinkler, which delivers a large amount of water in a short period, but loses excessive amounts of moisture to evaporation. Sprinklers are the only choice for turf areas, however. Low-volume trickle or drip irrigators and soaker hoses deliver moisture over a long period, losing little water to evaporation or runoff. Make sure to check all systems regularly, in any case, as an improperly calibrated, clogged or leaking system can waste a great deal of water.
  • Make sure you water your plants the right way and at the right time: waiting until your plants are wilted will create stress and overwatering will result in root rot.  Water in the morning so that water can evaporate with the sun.
  • Consider “softer” hardscaping for your little patch of paradise: a path made of gravel or crushed granite instead of mortared and grouted stone is pleasing to the eye and easy on the budget as well. These pathways made out of a permeable material, instead of non-porous concrete, allow soil to absorb some water before it runs off. A good compromise is to use pavers or flag stones, leaving gaps between pavers to allow water to soak in the ground below.
  • Spreading mulch over your garden soil helps the soil hold moisture and as a bonus it controls weeds. Shredded bark is one of the best mulch types to use.
  • When eliminating thirsty blooming plants, add interest with showy hardscape elements, such as an oversize boulder or several small ones, a birdbath or garden scuptures.

With careful selection, planning and execution, drought-tolerant landscapes can be as pleasing as those needing heavy irrigation.  If you need a referral to an excellent landscape architect or designer to help you design your drought tolerant garden, feel free to contact me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

Have a wonderful summer!

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  • White glove service - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziAbout 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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!I specialize in Luxury Homes in 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 Real Estate Market Update – June 2012

It’s pretty typical for real estate sales to taper off in Marin County in the summer months.   Most folks are either preparing, or have left for, their yearly family vacation.  But this year I am still feeling a lot of energy in the market and activity has remained brisk.

HALF YEAR CHECK UP 

What a difference a year makes…

Looking back at the first half of the year, there is a marked improvement over the same period last year.  After a strong first quarter defined by increased buyer demand and a sharply reduced supply of homes for sale, the market has continued to improve in the second quarter. Marin County activity for the second quarter 2012 closely mirrored that of the first quarter: extremely strong sales and a limited inventory, translating into multiple offers on the most desirable properties.

Strong sales/low inventory

Sales in the first half of the year were up at 1,419 units sold compared to 1,200 for the first half of 2011, an 18 percent increase.

With high demand and only 677 homes for sale at the end of June, compared to 1,047 at the end of June 2011 and 1,499 at the end of June 2010, Marin County real estate agents are scrambling to find homes for their frustrated buyers.  The percentage of properties in contract was at 47% as of the end of June, compared to 24% at the end of June 2011.  After averaging around 30% in 2011, it reached 40% in December 2011 for the first time since 2005 and has remained over 40% consistently since then. 

While inventory remains low, as noted by Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman in a recent article, “[f]or the first time in five years, we’re seeing sellers enter the market to take advantage of rising demand, not just out of sheer necessity…”  However, many Marin homeowners are still choosing not to sell yet either because they bought at the height of the market or because they are waiting for prices to keep increasing.  This helps explain the scarcity of homes on the market.

Those homeowners who do decide to list their homes often sell very quickly, getting multiple offers and going in contract within two weeks of coming on the Multiple Listing Service.

 As prices continue on their upward trajectory, we should see more sellers join the market. 

Finally, fewer distressed properties

Another reason why inventory remains so scarce is the decrease in the number of distressed properties offered for sale. During the first half of 2011 567 distressed properties (REO’s and short sales) came on the market compared to 365 in the first half of this year.  207 distressed properties –corresponding to 20 percent of all available properties—were on the market at the end of June 2011 compared to 73 — 11 percent of all available properties– at the end of June 2012.  

Home prices trending up

As a result of the increased demand and the reduced number of distressed properties, home prices have climbed slightly higher in the last quarter but are still significantly below levels at the height of the market. The median sold price as of the end of June 2012 was $735,000, compared to a high of $996,000 in May 2007 and a low of $542,000 in January 2011.  The average sold price was $914,000, compared to a high of $1,344,000 in September 2007 and a low of $655,000 in January 2011.

LOOKING AHEAD

Two dark clouds hang over the housing recovery: the stubbornly high unemployment rate and the European debt crisis. For buyers borrowing to finance their purchase, the European crisis is actually a gift—at least for now—because it keeps pushing down mortgage rates to unheard-of lows. 

Tight credit and low appraisals will remain an obstacle.  Industry analysts say that there has been an overcorrection in the appraisal industry, and appraisers have been too conservative.  Additionally, as is common in a market in transition, homes receiving multiple offers and going into contract for prices higher than recent comparable sales often do not appraise for the purchase price.

Despite these challenges, in Marin, and in the Bay Area at large, our booming economy and the Facebook effect have helped our local real estate market maintain its sizzle. At this point, there’s no sign of the current high demand waning. While prices are trending up slightly, the combination of still low prices and rock bottom interest rates contribute to maintain an all time high affordability.  Barring any unexpected turn of event, sales should keep up their pace in the third and fourth quarters. If more sellers, encouraged by the increase in prices, join the market in the second half of the year, and help ease the inventory shortfall, sales might even increase above their current level.

ACTIVITY BY PRICE POINT

Taking a closer look at our Marin market activity reveals that every segment of the market has improved since last year, with the exception of the high end.  The 0-$500,000 segment continues to be on fire at 97% in contract.

 

CITY BY CITY REPORT

Real estate is hyper local and every town in Marin is unique.  As of July 5, Greenbrae continued to dominate the market with over 68% of its listings in contract.  Novato came in second place at 58.2% in contract, closely followed by Corte Madera and San Anselmo.   Belvedere, Tiburon and Ross, where the majority of the high end listings are concentrated, trailed behind with 24%, 24.5% and 19.2% in contract, respectively.

 

Within each community, each neighborhood, each street/block is different.  If you would like to know how much your home is worth today, feel free to contact me (Cell: 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.)  I can offer you two options: a quick, rough estimate based on recent sales in your neighborhood or a more accurate, research based valuation after a fifteen minute visit of your home.  Either way, I would be happy to assist you assess the current value of your home and discuss your real estate options.

Waterfront living in Belvedere
_________________________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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

 

Mortgage Market Week in Review – July 20, 2012

MARKET WEEK IN REVIEW

This week Ben Bernanke’s testimony to congress was uneventful in so far as he gave no hint of a third round of quantitative easing but stay tuned; we think it’s coming and rates will move up when and if it does (remember the market buys on rumors and sells on the news). Absent any domestic news the markets turned their eyes to Europe’s problems again and as a result the US Dollar and US Bond Market are getting a safe haven buying bid which is helping keep domestic interest rates low.

CURRENT INTEREST RATES | JULY 20, 2012

CONFORMING RATES
($200,000 – $417,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.500% (3.59% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.875% (2.96% APR)
JUMBO RATES
($625,501 – $2,000,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.500% (4.58% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.06% APR)
CONFORMING (HIGH-BALANCE) RATES
($417,001 – $625,500 cap by county) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.625% (3.70% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.08% APR)
RATE TRENDS
Rates are SAME compared to last week.
Rates are DOWN compared to last month.
Rates are DOWN compared to one year ago

INDUSTRY NEWS

Home Sales & Prices Up in the Bay Area in June!
 
In all Bay Area Counties but one (Solano), the median price and sales volume rose in June 2012 and the overall Bay Area median sales price was the highest it has been in four years.
 
The median price for all new and resale homes throughout the nine counties in June was $417,000, up 10.4 percent from a year earlier. That was the highest since August 2008 and a big jump from the trough of $290,000 in March 2009. The 8,577 homes that sold in the month was up 7.2 percent from a year earlier.  

Sausalito waterfront

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This article was reprinted courtesy of Gina Kemsley – Copyright © 2012 Gina Kemsley, Terra Mortgage Banking, All rights reserved.

Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Office: (415) 464-3144 – Cell: (415) 828-0218 – Email: gkemsley@terramb.comWebsitewww.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

______________________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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


1893 Willis Polk Belvedere Treasure For Sale

One of the favorite parts of my job as a luxury real estate agent in Marin County is previewing exceptional properties.  This week I was in for a very special treat: an extraordinary and very unique property came on the market. 

This amazing home, located at 428 Golden Gate Avenue in Belvedere,  is on the National Register of Historic Places in Marin County and was commissioned by the original owner of the Belvedere Land Company, Valentine Rey, Esq.  It is a Willis Polk designed 1893 construction Mission Revival home in beautifully preserved original condition…  The redwood was milled from old growth prior to the turn of the 20th century!   Built before electricity was brought to Belvedere, the home sits in a magical setting, one of my very favorite spots in all of Marin County.  Located on the best block on Belvedere,  at the tip of the island and the end of Golden Gate Avenue, this jewel enjoys views of the lagoon and Tiburon on one side and on the other side the Bay and San Francisco skyline.

The 3,500 square foot home has four bedrooms, three baths and is on a quarter of an acre.  The living room has a fireplace carved out of a single, enormous piece of redwood.  The stairs and open stairwells are also made of beautifully preserved wood with magnificent designs and carvings.

Willis Polk, the architect, was born in Jacksonville, Illinois .  His early career included work with McKim, Mead & White, as well as Bernard Maybeck.   Polk also worked with Daniel Burnham in Chicago, and then moved to San Francisco to establish and direct Burnham’s San Francisco office.   Before long, Polk started his own firm and spent many years designing highly regarded California commercial and residential architecture.

Polk was a versatile architect, with particular skill in combining classical styles with environmental harmony.  He was regarded for his elegant residential work, mainly in mansions and estates, in the Georgian Revival style for wealthy and prominent San Francisco residents.

Example of Polk-designed buildings in San Francisco and the Bay Area include:

If you are interested in this home or in purchasing luxury real estate in Marin County, please contact me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com

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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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


Mortgage Market Week in Review – July 13, 2012

MARKET WEEK IN REVIEW

Last week the central banks of China, England, Denmark, and India all eased interest rates in response to what is believed to be a global economic slowdown and last night Brazil, Korea, and Japan followed suit.  This news combined with the release of the Fed’s latest minutes are helping keep interest rates low.  

CURRENT INTEREST RATES | JULY 12, 2012

CONFORMING RATES
($200,000 – $417,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.500% (3.59% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.875% (2.96% APR)
JUMBO RATES
($625,501 – $2,000,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.375% (4.46% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.06% APR)
CONFORMING (HIGH-BALANCE) RATES
($417,001 – $625,500 cap by county) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.750% (3.82% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.08% APR)
RATE TRENDS
Rates are SAME compared to last week.
Rates are DOWN compared to last month.
Rates are DOWN compared to one year ago

INDUSTRY NEWS

Purchasing a “Distressed” Property
 
Short sale, foreclosure, REO: these are some of the most-heard words in today’s real estate market. Along with those terms, you’ve probably read plenty of articles exhorting you to take advantage of today’s market and to buy now. Depending on a few factors, this really could be the perfect time for you to pick up one of these properties, generally termed ‘distressed,’ at a great deal. But remember, distressed properties are not for everyone. The following facts may help you determine whether a distressed property is right for you.
 
Short sales: In a short sale, the original mortgage lender agrees to allow the current homeowner to sell the home for less than the balance of the loan. This often leads to the home being competitively priced. You should always work with an agent that has some expertise in short sales. The seller’s agent coordinates with the seller’s lender.
 
In the past, short sales were time-consuming and often ended with the original lender denying the sale. That’s no longer true most of the time, thanks to recent regulatory changes that have streamlined the process.
 
Downsides:
 
1.    You may still experience a delay in closing. If the sale of your own home is contingent on your purchase, this can be a huge headache.
 
2.    You may not be getting such a super bargain. The lender must agree to the price and they may not want to take a loss of thousands of dollars on the property.
 
Foreclosures. A home goes into foreclosure when the current owner defaults on his or her mortgage. The home then goes to a foreclosure auction, where interested parties bid on the home. The lender asks for a minimum bid.
 
Downsides:
 
1.    You’re generally going to get this property as-is, no repairs or fixes.
 
2.    You don’t get much time to review the home. The auctions move very quickly.
 
3.    Winners must pay the full amount of the winning bid at auction. For a typical homebuyer, this is usually not a realistic choice.
 
REOs: When a home fails to sell at a foreclosure auction, it becomes a real-estate owned property, or REO. Lenders don’t like to own homes so they are generally motivated to sell. You can order an inspection of the home as you would in any real estate transaction, so if the inspection uncovers costly necessary repairs, the terms of your offer might change. But remember that the lender is still in the game to get the most money it can for the property.
 
Downsides:
 
1.    These properties are likely to be in the worst condition of the three types reviewed here.
 
2.    Like foreclosures, REOs are generally sold as-is. Even if you uncover necessary repairs, they probably won’t be made by the lender.
 
Many people believe that short sales, foreclosures and REOs are the equivalent of bargain-basement sales. This isn’t always the case. You’ll need to remember that whoever the seller is — whether an individual or the lender — they want to get the most money possible for the property, so it is important to manage your expectations about what constitutes a good bargain.
 
If you have any further questions about these types of properties and the opportunities they provide, give me a call today to discuss whether purchasing a distressed property is right for your financial situation, your short- and long-term goals and your family’s needs. Happy hunting!

Belvedere & Corinthian Island in the background

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This article was reprinted courtesy of Gina Kemsley – Copyright © 2012 Gina Kemsley, Terra Mortgage Banking, All rights reserved.

Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Office: (415) 464-3144 – Cell: (415) 828-0218 – Email: gkemsley@terramb.comWebsitewww.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

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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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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

 


Revisiting Housing Market Predictions For 2012

Revisiting predictions for 2012When the calendar flips to a new year, analysts and economists like to make predictions for the year ahead. 

So, today, with the year half-complete, it’s an opportune time to check back to see how the experts’ predictions are faring (so far). 

If you’ll remember, when 2011 closed, the housing market was showing its first signs of a reboot.   Marin County was no exception, activity remained brisk in December 2011 and multiple offers became more common. Home sales were strong, home supplies were nearing bull market levels, and buyer activity was strong.

Homebuilder confidence was at its highest point in 2 years and single-family housing starts had made its biggest one-month gain since 2009. 

In addition, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates had just broken below the 4 percent barrier and looked poised to stay there.

There was a lot about which to be optimistic in January 2012.

Yet, there were obstacles for the economy. The Eurozone’s sovereign debt issues remained in limbo, oil prices were spiking, and the Unemployment Rate remained high — three credible threats to growth.

At the time, analyst predictions for the economy occupied both ends of the spectrum, and everywhere in between.

Freddie Mac said home prices would rise in 2012, for example, whereas analysts at CBS News said they’d fall. Both made good arguments.

As another example, American Banker said mortgage rates would rise in 2012. The LA Times, however, said just the opposite. And, the problem with these predictions is that each party can make such a sound defense of their respective positions that it’s easy to forget that a prediction is really just an opinion.

Nobody can know what the future holds.

A lot has changed since those predictions were made :

  • Job growth slowed sharply after a strong Q1 2012 
  • Oil costs dropped rapidly beginning in early-May
  • Spain and Italy have joined Greece as potential sovereign debt trouble-zones

Now, none of this was known — or expected — at the start of the year yet each has made a material change in the direction of both the housing and mortgage markets.

Today, home prices remain low and 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates now average 3.56% nationwide. Home affordability, both nationally and here in Marin County, is higher than it’s been at any time in recorded history and, at least for now, low downpayment mortgage products remain readily available.

The experts never saw it coming.

Six months from now, the markets may be different. We can’t know for sure. All we can know is that today is great time to be a home buyer. Home prices and mortgage rates are favorable.  Stay tuned for my detailed Marin County half year market update coming later this week.

Whether you are in the market to buy or sell Marin County real estate, call me for a free, no obligation consultation.  I will help you identify your options and determine what your next move should be.  I can be reached at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

Belvedere
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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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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


Home Purchasing Power Reaches New Highs in Marin County

Purchasing power grows in Q2 2012

Whether you are refinancing your mortgage or purchasing a new home, today’s falling mortgage rates can significantly lower your monthly mortgage payments, adding money to your household budget.

If you are thinking of buying, however, falling rates bring an added bonus: they bring home affordability to an all-time high, raising your maximum purchase price and allowing you to buy a lot more home in Marin County for your money.  

For Home Buyers, Mortgage Rates On Sale

According to Freddie Mac’s most recent mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.62% last week, down from 4.08% in March 2012, and down from 4.60% from one year ago.

It’s a great time to be a buyer.

And, this week, rates have moved lower still. From Marin County to Bethesda, Maryland to Miami, Florida, mortgage rates are easing and poised to register a new, all-time low for the third consecutive week. Mortgage rates have been down over consecutive days dating back to last week.

Purchasing Power Up 11% Since Last Year

Rapidly changing mortgage rates can make for a heady home shopping experience.  

Falling mortgage rates can affect the way a home buyer looks at properties in two ways:

  • They can either make a given home’s monthly housing payment that much more affordable to a buyer.  You can set your sights on a price range for a home, then watch as your corresponding monthly mortgage payment drops with the rates.
  • or they can expand your home purchasing power to a higher, maximum price point.  Since July 2011, that maximum price point increase has been significant.

Assuming a principal + interest payment of $4,000 per month and a 30-year loan term, a category that includes 30-year fixed rate mortgages and most adjustable-rate mortgages, here’s a maximum loan size comparison of the last 12 months : 

  • July 2011 : A payment of $4,000 affords a maximum loan size of $788,520
  • July 2012 : A payment of $4,000 affords a maximum loan size of $877,636.

With an increase in maximum loan size of more than $22,000 per $1,000 of monthly payment in just 12 months, it’s no wonder that multiple-offer situations have been so common in Marin County — today’s buyers know that low home prices and low mortgage rates are combining to make home buying more affordable than at any time in recent history.

Looking at an $800,000 mortgage, the monthly payment at 4.60% last year was $4,101  per month and at 3.62% last week  $3,646 per month: a  hefty $455 monthly saving and $5,460 yearly saving.    

Home Affordability : Tied To Low Mortgage Rates

However, the buyer-friendly environment can’t last forever.

First, home prices have started to rise both nationwide and here in our Marin County Market, the median sale price increased by 4.1 percent in June 2012 compared to June 2011, reversing the downward trend of recent years (see chart below.)  Demand for homes has outpaced home supply in Marin County for the past six months, resulting in bidding wars and driving home prices higher.

 

Second, low mortgage rates can’t last forever.

A recovering economy will lift mortgage rates back above 4 percent, a scenario that will hit home affordability hard.

Home-buying conditions are optimal this season. If you’re in the market for a new home, contact me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com and together with your loan officer we will help you maximize your home purchasing power.

Resort living in Kentfield - call me for a showing today!

 ____________________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!

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