Foreign Buyers on the Rise in California

Real estate sales to foreign buyers and new immigrants surged to new highs in the last year, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Assn. of Realtors, with the Southland being a prime destination.

Overseas buyers and newcomers to the U.S. accounted for $92 billion in home sales in the 12 months ending in March, NAR said. That’s up 35% from the prior 12-month period, and higher than the previous record of $82.5 billion set in 2012. These buyers made up roughly 7% of all U.S. home sales, by dollar value.

The increase was fueled by a 50% jump in activity from Chinese buyers, who bought $22 billion worth of U.S. real estate last year. Experts say many Chinese buyers see U.S. real estate as a better investment opportunity than is often available in China, and in some cases as a safe haven for cash. Many also buy homes here to put their children in U.S. schools.

And Chinese buyers, in particular, have an eye for Southern California. Los Angeles and Irvine were two of their top three destinations, according to the survey, with San Francisco ranking second. Chinese buyers have long been a factor in some parts of Southern California, particularly the San Gabriel Valley; as more come here, they’re spreading to new areas as well.

Los Angeles is the top choice for buyers of several other nationalities, too, according to data tracking searches of Realtor.com. Buyers from India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Russia were also most likely to search here. For Mexican buyers, San Diego was the top choice.

The Realtors Assn. said it expects foreign interest in U.S. real estate will continue to grow as the economy grows ever more global.

“We live in an international marketplace, so while all real estate is local, that does not mean that all property buyers are,” said NAR president Steve Brown. “Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future.”

Source: LA Times Online

Top Reasons to Opt for Seller Financing!

Seller Financing

Top Reasons to Opt for Seller Financing

Seller Financing has benefits for both the buyer and the seller

A recent experience of mine reminded me of the importance of seller financing. The son of a longtime friend of mine recently caught me at a Friday night high-school game and informed me he and his wife had turned down an older home in the neighborhood they always wanted, for a new home in a subdivision.

They also declined the possibility of no-cost seller financing from the owner of the older home because the builder offered a slightly lower rate on the new home.

“We just felt like we wouldn’t have to do anything on the home for years,” Patrick said. “We couldn’t afford any expensive surprises.”

While I disagreed with him on both topics, I kept my opinions to myself because he had already made his decision and was looking forward to moving into his new home. Here’s why I would have chosen differently.

First and foremost, you can always repair or remodel a home, but you can never single-handedly fix a neighborhood. If you know the schools, churches and streets that are important to you, it’s usually best to buy where you have done your primary research. And, new homeowners often underestimate upkeep.

But just as important are the credit and cash needed to get a loan today. Lenders are being more cautious and are demanding more skin in the game.

Recently, Fair Isaac Co., the developer of FICO scores, revealed that 78.5 percent of all consumers have scores that fall between 300 and 749. The FICO score ranges from 300 to 850. So only about one in five American have a FICO score of 750 or higher.

Ellie Mae Inc., a provider of mortgage origination software to lenders, reports that borrowers approved for mortgages in September had an average FICO score of 750. What message does that send to prospective home buyers?

Besides high credit scores, borrowers are coming in with higher down payments to satisfy lender requirements. According to Ellie Mae, home buyers who used a Fannie or Freddie loan had, on average, a 21 percent down payment. Homeowners who refinanced had average equity in their homes of 30 percent.

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, recently said he thought that loan standards will eventually ease as banks reduce some extra risk-based fees that they have added to benchmark quotes since the mortgage meltdown.

But is there a viable plan B? What if you didn’t have to go to a lender for a home loan?

Seller financing is an underestimated benefit not only because of today’s increased lender scrutiny, but also because the buyer dodges most all the fees associated with the loan. For example, in Patrick’s case, he decided on a 3.5 percent loan from a lender rather than a 4 percent loan from the homeowner.

Let’s say the total costs of a $200,000 loan come to 2 percent of the loan amount, or $4,000. The monthly difference between a 3.5 percent loan and 4 percent loan is approximately $57 a month. Not only would Patrick have to borrow more or come out of pocket with the extra funds (in addition to the down payment needed on the house), but he would also need more than seven years to make up the monthly difference.

While many owners make “cash-out, conventional” financing a requirement when selling a home, others are more than willing to negotiate price and terms. Homes are selling quickly in many neighborhoods, but others continue to sit. It’s those owners who can be “all ears” if it means closing a deal and moving on with their lives.

And, some sellers, particularly seniors with no high-rate place to park their cash, are not opposed to accepting a healthy down payment and “carrying the paper” on their real estate as long as they are guaranteed 4 percent interest on their money. In most cases, it’s difficult to get that rate in non-risk accounts.

Buyers and sellers can build in safety features to make carrying the paper palatable for both sides. If you are a buyer, there’s no harm in asking. You could save time, anxiety and a lot of cash — an inexpensive surprise.

If you’re looking to buy, lease, or lease – please contact me at 310.402.8181 or jkryukova@gmail.com

Click here to visit my website

Source: Inman news

Housing industry recovering faster than many economists expected!

Housing is snapping back faster than many economists had expected, with home builders stepping up production of new homes nationally and fresh foreclosures in California falling to their lowest level since the early days of the bust.

Demand for housing has surged as interest rates have plummeted and home prices in many markets appear to have bottomed, particularly in states such as California where inventories of foreclosures and other lower-priced homes have sunk. The turnaround in prices and record-low supply of newly built homes also are luring builders back after six years of pain.

“The numbers are strong in September, and that is definitely a positive sign,” said Celia Chen, a housing economist with Moody’s Analytics. “It is confirmation that housing is lifting off the bottom.”

Residential construction starts rose 15% nationally last month from August to their highest annual rate in more than four years. A separate report showed that the number of troubled California borrowers entering foreclosure hit its lowest level in the third quarter since the dawning of the mortgage meltdown.

If the gains in housing hold, they could give consumer confidence a boost and help the broader economy recover. Housing has played an important part in lifting the nation out of past downturns but was hampered this time by the severity of the Great Recession and the huge number of vacant and foreclosed homes dragging down the market for years.

Now rising prices are helping homeowners in properties that for several years have been underwater, in which the house wouldn’t bring enough in a sale to pay off the mortgage. Rising values could play a role in lifting household finances if families feel more secure about the direction of the economy.

Any positive economic news presumably would be a boost for President Obama‘s reelection campaign, though both he and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have largely avoided a detailed debate on housing policy. Many on the left have said that Obama’s tepid and patchwork response to the housing downturn resulted in a slower recovery while the right has decried his policies as interventionist failures.

Michael D. Larson, a housing and interest rate analyst for Weiss Research, said the Federal Reserve‘s policies to keep mortgage interest rates low and Obama’s foreclosure prevention efforts have played some role in the recovery — but the improvements can mostly be attributed to natural market dynamics.

“It is certainly encouraging; housing has been this lead anchor around the economy’s neck,” he said. But “most of this is just the passage of time. I think if the Fed or the government had done absolutely nothing … we still would have seen some demand return.”

Several recent trends have underscored improvement in housing. Nationally, home builder stocks are up, prices have begun a modest recovery, and sales of newly built and previously owned homes have risen.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that construction of houses and apartment buildings rose in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000, marking the third straight month of improvement. The figures surpassed economists’ expectations of about a 770,000 annual rate.

September had the best monthly performance since July 2008, when housing starts were on an annual pace of 923,000. Compared with September 2011, new housing starts jumped 34.8%, the Commerce Department said.

Last month’s growth was “surprisingly strong,” said David Crowe, chief economist at the National Assn. of Home Builders. “As consumer confidence rises and jobs return, more local markets and more consumers will join the buyer market, and I expect housing construction to continue a modest but fairly steady rise throughout 2013 and into 2014.”

The annual rate of new home groundbreaking still is far below the peak of more than 2.2 million units reached in early 2006 during the housing bubble. But the pace has picked up dramatically from the low of 478,000 in April 2009, and is up sharply from the 706,000 annual rate in May. Building permits for private housing construction, a sign of future activity, also jumped in September, up 11.6% from August and 45.1% from a year earlier. The annual rate in September was 894,000 building permits.

Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight, said the increases were likely due to gains in household growth after years of people doubling or tripling up to wait out the worst of the downturn.

“What’s kicking in right now is simply the demographics,” Newport said. “We have been building at too low a rate for four years, and so demand has been suppressed because of the recession, and now it is starting to kick in.”

On the other side of the housing pipeline, the shortage of cheaply priced homes in California appears poised to continue. The number of Californians entering foreclosure dropped in the third quarter to its lowest level since early 2007, according to a report from real estate firm DataQuick. Foreclosure filings have fallen as banks work toward completing more loan modifications and short sales. An improving economy and rising prices have also helped.

“Prices in most areas today are up significantly from their low point in early 2009,” said John Walsh, president of DataQuick. “Additionally, during the past year, we’ve seen short sales overtake the foreclosure process as the procedure of choice to deal with homeowner distress.”

Notices of default fell 10.2% from the prior quarter and 31.2% from the same period last year, DataQuick reported. A total of 49,026 notices of default — the first stage of foreclosure in California — were filed on homes in the Golden State last quarter.

That was the lowest number since the first quarter of 2007, and a 63% decline from the first quarter of 2009, when notice of default filings peaked in the state.

The number of homes lost to foreclosure rose 5% from the prior quarter and dropped 41% from a year earlier. A total of 22,949 homes were lost to foreclosure last quarter.

Source: LA Times