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Southern California Home Sales Hit 7-year High

rising home pricesBuyers poured a record $4.65 billion in cash into Southern California’s housing market during May, driving the biggest price gain in nine years and putting sales at a seven-year high, a research firm said Tuesday. 

Last month, cash down payments and home purchases jumped 19.5 percent from $3.89 billion the year before and increased 1.8 percent from $4.57 million in April, the prior record, said La Jolla-based DataQuick.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos in the six-county region increased 24.7 percent in May to $368,000 from $295,000 a year earlier and it was up 3.1 percent from $357,000 in April. 

Last month’s median was the highest for any month since May 2008, when it was $370,000, and the year-over-year increase was the largest since a 24.8 percent gain in October 2004. 

“We’re deep into uncharted territory: Amazingly low mortgage rates, a razor-thin inventory of homes for sale, and the release of years’ worth of pent-up demand. Plus there’s a seemingly endless stream of investors and non-investors who pay cash and thereby avoid the loan-qualification process. How this all plays out is educated guesswork at this point,” John Walsh, DataQuick president, said in a statement. 

“Understandably, speculation continues over whether another housing bubble is forming.” 

Price gains in the six county region ranged from 30.2 percent in Los Angeles County to 18.1 percent in Ventura County, DataQuick said. 

The median price has now increased on a year-over-year basis for 14 consecutive months, with those annual gains ranging between 10.8 percent and 24.7 percent over the past 10 months. But May’s median remained 27.1 percent below the record $505,000 median for the region in spring and summer of 2007. 

rising home prices2Michael Carney, executive director of the Real Estate Research Council at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, believes that prices will eventually level out with the peak of the last boom remaining a distant target. 

“Those kind of increases can’t be sustained, 20 to 30 percent are enormous increases,” Carney said. “We’re not going back to the earlier (record price) levels. Not in my lifetime.” 

Prices are heating up now because of near record low inventory and because housing again is an attractive investment

“This has been going on for some time and it’s largely people chasing yield,” Carney said of the cash-flush market. “At this point, it’s looking pretty profitable to invest in housing.” 

Most of last month’s year-over-year gain in the median reflects rising home prices, while about a quarter of it reflects a change in market mix. Sales are increasing in more expensive markets and falling in low-cost areas, DataQuick said. 

Lack of inventory continued to pinch sales in May. 

Last month, sales across Southern California increased 3.8 percent to 23,034 properties from 22,192 a year earlier, DataQuick said. Last month’s sales total was the highest for the month of May since 30,303 sold in May 2006.

The spiking prices will likely shake loose some inventory, said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. 

“As prices continue to rise at this rate it’s almost a given. You will see what economists call a supply response and an increase in inventory,” he said. 

In addition, the housing market continues to wean itself of distressed properties. 

During May, foreclosure sales — homes foreclosed in the prior 12 months — accounted for 10.8 percent market share. That was down from 12.4 percent in April before and down from 26.9 percent a year earlier. Last month’s foreclosure resale rate was the lowest since it hit 0 percent in August 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009. 

Short sales — transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — had 17.7 percent share last month, unchanged from April but down from 24.3 percent a year earlier. 

Absentee buyers — mostly investors and some second-home purchasers “” bought 29.5 percent of the homes sold last month. That was down from 30.6 percent in April and up from 27.5 percent a year earlier. 

The record was 32.4 percent in January this year. 

The number of cases of flipping properties for a quick profit remained low last month. 

During May, 5.9 percent of the homes sold had previously changed owners in the prior six months, down from 6 percent in April and up from 4.3 percent a year ago. 

Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research in Los Angeles who has been tracking the market since its collapse in the Great Recession, said the housing market is finally healing. 

“It’s safe to say we are in recovery. It’s here and gaining momentum,” she said. “But my forecast for home prices is a lot of uncertainty.”

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Financial benefits of homeownership

There are many reasons people invest in real estate. Besides the myriad of personal reasons to buy, here are just illustrations of the financial perks of buying a home in California. Call or text me for more information or questions at 949-922-3947.

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Success requires a singular focus

singular focus

Gary Keller’s new book, “The One Thing,” begins with this advice: “If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one.”

This simple Russian proverb is at the heart of what it takes to have a meaningful life and a highly successful real estate business.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had numerous conversations about what various industry leaders are doing to improve their businesses for 2013. Everyone seems to be narrowing their focus as opposed to expanding it.

For example, Marc Davison, co-founder of 1000 Watt, ended his Agent Reboot keynote by imploring the audience to find “the one thing that you will do and that will help you grow your business.”

Janet Choynowski of Immobel.com told me she has only one goal in mind for her business: the globalization of real estate.

Fafie Moore, president of Realty Executives of Nevada and the former chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, told me she had narrowed her goals for 2013 down to a single item.

Each of these industry leaders came to these conclusions separately. Keller’s “The One Thing” seems perfectly timed to capture this mindset by rescuing you from the onslaught of “could and should-do’s.” The book guides you to a place where you will have the greatest probability of achieving the singular goal that will make doing “everything else easier or unnecessary.”

The six lies that mislead and derail us

“The One Thing” begins by tackling the six lies that mislead and derail us. One of the biggest lies is that people can multitask. Motivational speaker and creative problem solver Steve Uzzell once said, “Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Research has consistently shown that we can concentrate on only one thing at a time. According to David Meyer, a nationally recognized expert on multitasking, task switching increases the time it takes you to complete a task 25 to 100 percent.

To see how costly the three “D’s” are (distraction, disturbance and disruption), Keller cites the research that shows that we are interrupted every 11 minutes on average and that we spend almost a third of the day recovering from these distractions.

Consequently, a simple way to gain back a third of your day is to focus on doing one thing at a time. Put your phone on airplane mode and check it when you have completed the task at hand. Avoid trying to do two things at once. You will do both tasks more poorly, and it will take you significantly longer as well.

Other big lies include that “everything matters equally,” “will power is always on will call,” that a balanced life is achievable, and that “big is bad.”

The simple path to productivity

Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”

Keller argues that the first step in this process is to ask a “focusing question.” Research shows that asking questions improves learning and performance by as much as 150 percent. The focusing question that he recommends is: “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The power of this question is that it not only helps you to identify the “big-picture questions” such as “Where am I going?” or “What target should I aim for?” but it also helps you answer the “small-focus” questions such as “What must I do right now to be on the path to getting the big picture?”

The big-picture question is about finding the right direction in life, and the small-focus question is about finding the right action to take.

The four P’s of extraordinary results

According to Keller: “Your big one thing is your purpose, and your small one thing is the priority you take action on to achieve it. Purpose is the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions.”

Keller also believes that the more productive people are, the more purpose and priority are pushing and driving them. “Personal productivity is the building block of all business profit. The two are inseparable … this is the straightest path to extraordinary results.”

The three commitments to your ‘one thing’

The first of the three commitments is mastery. Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson discovered what he called the “10,000-hour rule.” It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an elite performer. Keller suggests that in terms of how this relates to you and your work, you’ll need to average four hours per day, five days a week, for a full year to master your “one thing.”

The second commitment is moving from “E” (entrepreneurial) to “P” (purposeful). The cycles for these two types of behavior are quite different. When the entrepreneurial person hits her ceiling of achievement, she experiences disappointment first, resignation second, and then she searches for greener pastures where the cycle will repeat itself.

When the purposeful person hits his ceiling of achievement, the person strengthens his focus. The person is committed to growth, and seeks new models or systems to continue that growth. It’s these new models and/or systems that allow the person to achieve breakthroughs.

The third commitment is accountability. Rather than allowing life’s events to victimize you, the purposeful person owns the situation and searches for solutions. This allows him or her to stay in action and to continue the breakthrough process.

If you’re ready to achieve extraordinary results in your business and your personal life, “The One Thing” is the one thing you must read this year.

Contact Roy at RoyaltyAgent@gmail.com

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9 Easy Do-It-Yourself Weekend Decorating Projects

weekend decorating tips
As you look around your home, you’re probably wishing you had some extra time on your hands to make a few renovations or to handle a few extra redecorating projects. But, you already have the time – it’s called the weekend! In that short 48-hour time span, there’s a lot of work you can get done. Even if you pick one task per weekend, that’s four decorating projects completed a month!

Don’t think it can be done? Well just check out these nine simple weekend decorating projects that can each be started Friday evening and wrapped up before you go to bed Sunday night.

1. Organize and Beautify Your Bookcases

If you have a lot of books, videos and collectibles clambering for space on your bookcases, taking a Saturday afternoon to remove, sort and organize everything will instantly make the room look cleaner and tidier. Sometimes successful redecorating isn’t about changing the way things are but more about cleaning up and organizing what you already have.

This is also a good time to de-clutter your bookcase. Tossing out old magazines or storing books you no longer want in the garage can go a long way towards making the most of your bookcase’s capacity.

2. Tile the Kitchen’s Backsplash

If you really want to give your kitchen an updated look but you can’t afford a complete renovation, install ceramic tile to the backsplash for an instant update. It may take some time to get up and running, but once you find your swing, you’ll discover this job moves along at a smooth pace. Both weekend days will be required for this job, and you might have to extend the finishing touches over to next weekend, but you’ll be able to get the bulk of the heavy lifting done in one weekend.

3. Transform the Fireplace

The fireplace is the focus of the room during the cold, winter months but what do you do with it for the other eight months out of the year? Once winter’s chill has left, clean out the fireplace and decorate the hearth with a variety of low-maintenance plants and add a touch of vibrancy to the room. Succulents work nicely because they don’t require a lot of watering or sunlight. Use tiered plant pot holders for a truly beautiful look that will also cover up the unsightly cinder stains on the inside of the fireplace. Or, for a complete re-do, you can even consider painting the fireplace!

4. Install Some Molding

Crown molding makes a room feel and look larger than it really is, and it’s not really that difficult to install, especially when you use specially-made corner pieces that eliminate the need for cutting perfect mitered edges. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you might be able to install it in all of your rooms before the weekend is over.

While you’re at it, you can also install chair railing or update your baseboards with a newer, more modern style.

5. Unify Your Picture Frames

Odds are the picture frames that adorn your walls have been purchased over a long period of time, so no two probably look alike. But, if you take them all down and paint the frames all the same color, they will suddenly look as if they all belong together. In addition, this will help give your room the color accent it’s been missing.

6. Update the Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Forget about the old brushed nickel cabinet knobs. Today, hardware stores have a ton of different varieties to choose from. Pick a style that best reflects your home and replace the knobs in your kitchen for a quick and easy kitchen makeover.

7. Makeover Your Lamp Shades

Adding some fabric, beads or ribbons to your lamp shades will turn them from drab to fab. Choose a color scheme that compliments the room and your friends won’t stop asking you, “Where did you purchase those beautiful lamp shades and how much did they cost?”

8. Redecorate the Bedroom

All you need to redecorate your bedroom is some fresh paint, some new curtains and a new comforter and voila – you have a freshly redecorated bedroom. The bulk of your time will be spent re-painting the bedroom and that won’t take that long at all, so go ahead and start planning your bedroom’s new look.


9. Add Some Fresh Flooring

If you have hard surface floors, add some color and style to the room by incorporating a few area rugs and/or carpet runners. This is an especially good idea come winter time as the carpet will help keep your feet off the cold floor and help insulate the room.

Contact Roy at RoyaltyAgent@gmail.com

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5 Things Consumers Should Expect From Housing Market In 2013

   In 2012, the national housing market finally turned a corner. We’ve now experienced 13 straight months of home value appreciation. Sales were up significantly over 2011 as buyers returned to the market, boosting demand.

   So what will 2013 have in store? Here are five things consumers can expect to see in the housing market next year:

    Up, Up and Away

  • The national housing market hit bottom in October 2011, and home values have since risen 5.3 percent from that trough. The most recent Zillow Home Value Forecast calls for 2.5 percent appreciation nationwide from November 2012 to November 2013.
  • According to a recent Zillow survey of more than 100 economists and analysts, respondents predicted home values (based on the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index) to rise 3.1 percent in 2013, on average.
  • Most markets covered by Zillow’s Real Estate Market Reports have already bottomed out, with only 10 of 255 covered metro areas not projected to hit a bottom within the next year.

   Bottom Line: Homeowners looking to sell in 2013 can largely rest assured they won’t be selling at the bottom, and many will find themselves in a sellers’ market. Potential buyers in 2013 may be more motivated to get a deal done while affordability is still extremely high and mortgage rates continue to be historically low.

   Real Estate Is Local Again

  • According to the Zillow Breakeven Horizon, buying beats renting when staying in the home for three years or more in roughly 60 percent of U.S. metros. The areas where it might make more sense to buy (if you’re planning on staying for three-plus years) are clustered in the Southwest and Southeast. If you won’t be staying put for at least a few years, consider renting in the Northeast, where buying often doesn’t make more financial sense until five years or more.
  • The goal of Zillow’s Buyer/Seller Index is to determine where buyers have the most leverage in a sale, and where sellers might have the upper hand. In general, we determined that metro areas in the West and Southwest – including the Bay Area, Las Vegas and Phoenix – are strong for sellers. Metros in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic – places such as Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia – are best for buyers.

   Bottom Line: The housing market recovery has remained true to the old real estate axiom of “location, location, location.” How your local market is faring today – and if it makes more sense to buy or rent, to sell now or to hold off if possible – is largely determined by unique, local factors and fundamentals. Arming yourself with timely and comprehensive local market information is good advice at any time, but will be even more important in 2013 as buyers continue to seek bargains and sellers look to maximize returns.

   Coming Up for Air

  • In the third quarter of 2012, the percentage of homeowners with a mortgage in negative equity – or “underwater,” owing more on their mortgage than their home was worth – fell below 30 percent for the first time since Zillow began tracking that data using an improved methodology in early 2011.
  • Still, 28.2 percent of homeowners with a mortgage remain underwater. Because underwater owners have a far more difficult time selling their home, a large number of homes that otherwise might end up on the market aren’t getting listed. As a result, inventory in many areas is incredibly tight, leaving buyers to fight it out amongst themselves, which in turn can help drive up prices. This, among other factors, has led to tight inventory in many of the hardest-hit cities around the country.

   Bottom Line: As home values continue their upward march in 2013, more homeowners currently trapped underwater will begin to surface. This will be good for buyers exhausted by limited inventory and intense competition in markets such as Phoenix and Miami, but it will also have the effect of cooling price increases. As a result, in 2013, we predict home value appreciation in many areas will look more like a series of steps, characterized by cycles of price spikes and plateaus. Price spikes will free some homeowners from negative equity, allowing them to sell, thereby easing supply constraints and dampening prices until the cycle is repeated.

   Historically Affordable

  • Mortgage interest rates have been hovering at or near historic lows for the past year, and the Federal Reserve has taken concrete steps to ensure they stay low for at least the foreseeable future.
  • At the same time, home values – while recovering nicely – still have a long way to go to reach their pre-bubble levels. Overall, national home values in November were still down 19.4 percent from their peak in May 2007, according to Zillow.

   Bottom Line: Between 1985 and 2000, Americans spent, on average, about 20 percent of their household income on mortgage payments. That percentage increased to more than 24 percent by 2006, before falling to just 13 percent by the second quarter of 2012. If you can qualify for a home loan, the combination of low rates and low prices means your home-buying dollar will continue to take you farther in 2013 than in recent years, even for buyers on modest budgets.
Mortgage Interest Deducted?

  • Changes to the mortgage interest deduction (MID) may be a key element of any “grand bargain” reached by politicians in order to avert the year-end fiscal cliff. If adopted, any measure to limit or repeal the MID will result in some home price impacts over time and by market segment.
  • Home values at the high end of the market will likely be more negatively impacted by MID changes than home values overall, according to a recent Zillow survey of economists. For example, in the event that the maximum MID-eligible mortgage amount is reduced from $1 million to $500,000 and the deduction allowance for second homes is eliminated, the majority of respondents said they expect high-end home prices to fall while U.S. home prices overall experience little or no price impact.

   Bottom Line: Real estate lobbying groups have long fought against changes to tax rules allowing for the deduction of mortgage interest, arguing that any changes will impact or eliminate some of the historic financial advantages of owning a home. But unless you’re buying a proportionally more expensive home or are buying in a more expensive area, the impacts of MID changes will likely be muted. The decision to buy or sell a home is highly personal and dependent on a number of factors, only one of which is potential tax implications. In 2013, make your decision to buy or sell based on your own informed opinion and your unique situation.

   Click here to contact Roy for more information or questions concerning your real estate goals.

Fannie Mae Forecasts ‘Continued Gradual Healing for real estate market’

Despite signs of a slowdown in global economic growth, recent single-family housing data suggest the housing recovery is “on track” and is set for “continued gradual healing,” according to a monthly economic outlook released this week by Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group.

There are some favorable signs that a housing recovery is under way, Fannie Mae said. Homebuilder confidence reached its highest level in five years in May. Mortgage rates are expected to remain around their current lows through this year to average 3.8 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

 

Home prices are showing signs of finding a floor thanks to fewer distressed sales, though Fannie Mae doesn’t expect them to reach a bottom until 2013. The mortgage giant expects prices to decline another 1.2 percent this year before regaining that same percentage in 2013.

Year to date through April, existing-home sales, new-home sales and single-family housing starts were above the levels posted during the same period last year, and Fannie Mae predicts each will rise 7.6 percent, 13.5 percent and 17.4 percent, respectively, in 2012 compared to 2011.

Despite these encouraging indicators, the housing market continues to face challenges, Fannie Mae said. These include drops in purchase mortgage applications and contract signings for existing homes in April, a persistently high share of loans in foreclosure, damaged household balance sheets, sluggish income growth, and historically tight lending standards.

The latter “help explain why record-high affordability conditions stemming from declining mortgage rates and home prices have not substantially boosted home sales. The tight relationship between affordability and home sales observed prior to the year 2000 has clearly broken down,” the report said.

A spring lull in hiring and the European sovereign debt crisis are also weighing on the market. Though still gaining, employment growth has slowed each of the last five months, and in May the jobless rate rose to 8.2 percent, adding just 69,000 jobs.

“It is now less convincing to frame the weakness as just a payback to warm winter weather. Rather, it appears increasingly likely that labor market fundamentals have deteriorated amid the slowdown in the global economy and the intensified European sovereign debt crisis, which likely made businesses more cautious,” the report said.

“In his testimony before Congress on the economic outlook in early June, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted weather-related payback and seasonal adjustment issues, but reiterated his theory delivered earlier this year that strong gains in hiring late last year and early this year were ‘catchup hiring.’ That is, businesses may have aggressively laid off workers earlier in the cycle, prompting them to catch up later on — a process that has largely been completed.”

This is the third straight year to see a spring slowdown in economic activity, said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, in a statement.

“Our view is that the underlying resilience of the economy and of consumers, in particular, that has been demonstrated during the past couple of years will persist,” he said.

“However, the magnitude of the uncertainties surrounding the European debt crisis and our fiscal condition here in the U.S. implies that the risks to the outlook are clearly tilted to the downside.”

Nevertheless, the slowdown in the labor market and uncertainty about European solvency “should not derail the housing recovery if hiring picks up again as expected,” the report said.  

Fannie Mae anticipates an average 8.1 percent unemployment rate this year, followed by an average 7.8 percent rate in 2013. The mortgage giant also forecasts a moderate 2.2 percent increase in gross domestic product for all of 2012, up from 1.6 percent in 2011.

Where Have All the Foreclosures Gone?

The inventory of foreclosed homes for sale has been dwindling for almost six months. Everyone is wondering if the worst of our challenges with distressed properties are behind us. We are sorry to report that isn’t the case. We must realize that the problems banks have experienced with their paperwork on these properties has done nothing but delay them from coming onto the market.

The robo-signing blunders and then the MERS mess have caused the banks to slow down the foreclosure process dramatically.  Just last week, the Office of Thrift Supervision released their Mortgage Metrics Report covering the 4th Quarter of 2010. In that report, they showed how foreclosure completions fell sharply because of these paperwork complications. Here are the numbers:

 

Foreclosures are not disappearing. They are just being delayed.

Bottom Line

If you think that waiting to sell your home makes sense, you may not be correct. Check with a local real estate professional to see how this will impact your market.

Brea vs. Foothill 9/30/10

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Brea vs. Diamond Bar 9/23/10

Hello freshmen football parents,

This week all videos are combined in one embedded YouTube box. I was running short on time and this was a quick fix. However, all football highlights from last week’s game are included in the video mix. If you didn’t find a particular play/highlight, please send me a comment below and I’ll try to include it.

Also, your comments and thoughts are welcomed. So we may get some conversations going amongst the parents, I encourage all to leave at least one comment below. Thanks for your support.

Roy Hernandez

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