House flipping, a quick-buck scheme pursued by amateurs and professionals alike during the real estate boom, now is dominated by investors willing to pay all cash, who troll auctions for foreclosures that banks are gradually trying to siphon off their books.
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Thousands of potential home buyers are expected to converge the weekend of March 13 and March 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the FREE third annual Southern California Home Buyer’s Fair. The event is sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) and the Los Angeles Times.
The Southern California Home Buyer’s Fair, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 13, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, March 14, features more than 50 educational “how-to” seminars designed to help home buyers navigate today’s real estate market with confidence and peace of mind. Seminar topics range from understanding home prices and monitoring and fixing credit to applying for a mortgage and the importance of the home inspection. Several of the sessions also will be offered in Spanish.
A report by Trulia.com found that as of Jan. 1, 21 percent of homes currently on the market have experienced at least one price reduction. The total amount reduced for all homes nationwide declined to $21.2 billion in January compared with $24.7 billion in December. The average discount for homes with price reductions remained at 11 percent, according to the report. In the west, which includes California, 22 percent of listings experienced price reductions.
California remains ahead of the nation in market recovery with many first-time home buyers entering the market due to affordable home prices, low mortgage rates, and first-time home buyer tax credits from the state and federal governments. However, credit still is tight and unemployment remains high, which could hinder a full market recovery until 2011.
MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY…
Home sales in California hit bottom more than two years, and the median home price of an existing, single-family home reached its trough in February, according to data collected by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). In November, the state’s median home price rose in year-to-year comparisons for the first time since August 2007.
C.A.R.’s closely watched “2010 California Housing Market Forecast,” projects that the median home price in California will rise 3.3 percent to $280,000 in 2010 compared with a projected median of $271,000 in 2009.
Some economists are forecasting another surge of foreclosures in 2010. However, C.A.R.’s economists expect that foreclosures will remain flat this year compared with 2009. In 2008, many lenders flooded the market with foreclosures, and as a result, the state’s median price declined by historic levels. By comparison, in 2009, lenders listed properties for sale at a more measured pace, which helped moderate another home price decline.
Government efforts to maintain a low interest rate environment have stabilized the market. However, a mortgage analyst at a financial publishing company predicts that rates likely will rise to 5.5 percent by mid-2010 and close the year at 5.75 percent to 6 percent.
A fourth-quarter survey conducted by HomeGain showed that 72 percent of HomeGain members believe that home prices will remain the same in the next six months, an increase from 69 percent in the third-quarter survey.
According to the recent survey, HomeGain members said that 37 percent of home buyers believe that homes for sale are fairly priced or under priced, compared with 36 percent in the third quarter. Conversely, 41 percent of homeowners think their homes should be listed 10 percent to 20 percent higher than what their agents recommend, up from 38 percent in the third quarter.
The first-time home buyer tax credit has helped drive sales, with 21 percent of respondents saying half of their transactions involved a first-time home buyer, with only 11 percent noting that none of their transactions involved a first-time home buyer.
The Treasury Dept. unveiled sweeping rules this week to help financially troubled homeowners who need to sell but can’t get a price high enough to pay off their mortgages. Homeowners will even get $1,500 to help cover their moving costs.
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Economist and policymakers got what they were looking for Monday: a clear uptick in the housing market. The catch is few believe it’s sustainable.