Jun 17th

The Seven Most Improved US Housing Markets

By Mike Goldman
The Seven Most Improved US Housing Markets
Since the recession, the US housing market has been in a constant state of recovery, and some markets have even seen prices rebound to pre-recession levels.  Most of these county-level markets are small communities where the housing boom and crash did not have a major impact.  Prices in these communities didn't rise as high, or fall as low, but have been steadily improving from whatever fluctuations did occur.  Perhaps the best performing market in the country, however, is the San Francisco market, where prices have soared to record levels this summer.  Prices have risen so dramatically in San Francisco, in fact, that some economists have begun to express concern that the market will undoubtedly crash in the coming months.
Jun 12th

Accuracy of Zillow "Zestimates" Called Into Question

By Kelly Curtis
Accuracy of Zillow "Zestimates" Called Into Question
The real estate market has changed drastically over the last decade or so as technology has advanced, forever changing the way that homes are bought and sold.  In fact, more than 90 percent of US homebuyers began their search online last year, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the Internet is now flooded with websites offering home search tools, advice and information aimed at helping educate consumers about the complexities of the market.  One of these online tools is an automated valuation model, which allows consumers to get an idea of what their home is worth without hiring an appraiser.  The accuracy of these tools has come into question recently, however, including the so-called “Zestimate” tool offered by the biggest name in online real estate, Zillow.
May 29th

Anonymous Real Estate Developer Sparks California Frenzy with Hidden Cash Scavenger Hunt

By Kelly Curtis
Anonymous Real Estate Developer Sparks California Frenzy with Hidden Cash Scavenger Hunt
An anonymous California real estate developer has been in the news for the last few days for his innovative way of giving back to the community.  The generous millionaire has been stuffing envelopes with between $50 and $150, hiding the envelopes and posting clues to their whereabouts on a Twitter account set up for the scavenger hunts.  Appropriately named @Hidden Cash, the Twitter page is also serving as a place for those who found one of his drops to post pics of themselves holding the loot.  While the man has spoken with several media outlets, the only clues he offered as to his identity is that he is a real estate developer between the ages of 35 and 45, and that he is indeed a millionaire.  The @Hidden Cash Twitter account now has more than 70,000 followers, and the scavenger hunt story has made it into the news all over the country.
May 28th

Mortgage Demand Jumps as Interest Rates Hit 2014 Lows

By Mike Goldman
Mortgage Demand Jumps as Interest Rates Hit 2014 Lows

 
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported Thursday that demand for home loans rose 1.2 percent in the week ended May 23rd thanks to a surge in purchase applications.  According to the group's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, requests for purchase loans gained 1 percent, offsetting an identical 1 percent slide in applications for refinancing loans.  The boost in purchase loan demand came just as average mortgage rates reached their lowest levels this year.  


Mortgage insurer Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate home loan, the mortgage type most utilized in home purchases, fell to 4.13 percent.  Despite last week's gain in demand for home purchase loans, however, the MBA's mortgage purchase index is still down about 15 percent on a year-over-year basis.  The group's refinancing index, meanwhile, has plunged 73 percent from a year ago as interest rates have been rising steadily since the government began unwinding stimulus programs that were launched at the height of the recession. 
May 28th

Demand for VA Loans Has More than Tripled Since Recession Began

By Frank Galvano
Demand for VA Loans Has More than Tripled Since Recession Began
 
When the housing market crashed in 2007, the entire landscape of mortgage lending changed, increasing the popularity of alternative lending programs such as those offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  As property values across the nation plummeted, traditional lenders began tightening up the purse strings, raising the amount they required as a down payment while also increasing the credit score it required for borrowers to qualify.   As a result, the popularity of VA loans has skyrocketed.  In 2007, the year the recession began, the VA backed just 133,000 loans.  That number has more than tripled since then, as the agency insured more than 630,000 VA loans in 2013.  The popularity of VA loans is not likely to decline any time soon, either, as lenders are still requiring larger down payments (20 percent is standard) and pristine credit scores.  At the same time, the downsizing of the military is also increasing the number of veterans, thus increasing the pool of those eligible for VA backing.
May 28th

Luxury Home Builder Toll Brothers Sees Profit More than Double

By Kelly Curtis
Luxury Home Builder Toll Brothers Sees Profit More than Double
Toll Brothers Inc., one of the largest homebuilders in the US, issued its fiscal second-quarter earnings Thursday, exciting investors with more than double the profits from the same period a year earlier.  In the three months ended April 30, the luxury home builder earned net income of $65.2 million, or 35 cents a share on $860 million in revenue.   In the same three months in 2012, the builder earned $24.7 million on revenue of just under $515 million.  The results were particularly encouraging given the extended winter weather that stymied home sales in the Northeast.
May 6th

Comprehensive Colorado Springs Market Reports

By Kelly Curtis
Click Here for comprehensive, up-to-date housing statistics for the Colorado Springs area and the Pikes Peak MLS region.
Apr 23rd

Rising Home Prices Reflect Changing Construction Trends

By Frank Galvano
Rising Home Prices Reflect Changing Construction Trends
The recent upward trend in home prices is somewhat misleading, industry experts suggest, as it not only reflects shortages in supply in many areas but also a change in the type and size of the homes being built.  Since 2010, the average size of a newly constructed home has surged from 2,392 square feet to just under 3,000, an increase of about 9 percent.  At the same time, developers are paying more attention to features such as fireplaces, bathrooms and appliances and are simply building better and bigger homes.  That means, though homebuyers are paying more on average, they are also getting more home for the money in many cases.
 
Apr 11th

Tricks to Finding Foreclosed Properties for Investment

By Steve C.
Tricks to Finding Foreclosed Properties for Investment

We've all heard the stories. A neighbor finds this unbelievable deal on a foreclosed home and ends up nearly doubling his money. But how do you find those deals? Get some help, most experts say. A good starting point is to try and find a local real estate agent who specializes in foreclosures. These agents have developed relationships with the banks by bringing them buyers quickly, and should be the first to know when a new foreclosure is about to hit the market. It's also a good idea to pay a local information company to supply you with regular updates. Some of these companies cover multiple counties and will send you regular email updates for about $40 to $50 a month. There are a handful of national companies that provide the same information, though the updates typically roll in a little slower, meaning the information you get from them may be dated.
Apr 3rd

Home Affordability Keeping Buyers Out

By Frank Galvano
The latest stats are showing a slightly different trend.  It's not the low inventory that's news to us, but rather the lack of potential home buyers who can afford to purchase the homes.  

In 2013, we saw the average price for a home sold rise almost 14%.  The trend is expected to continue through 2014, however, analysts suggest those numbers will remain in the single digits.  But cities with solid job growth could see those numbers trend higher. 

The good news is lenders seem to be easing their standards, which will allow more 'qualified' buyers to enter the market. 

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