Recovering Housing Market to Spur Economic Recovery in New Year


Next year will likely be the first year since 2000 that home purchases outpace refinances, according to Freddie Mac’s expectations. Furthermore, the rallying housing market should set the broader economy on a brighter path, according to Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for November.

“Led by a resurgent housing sector, 2014 should shape up to be better than 2013,” Freddie Mac stated in its outlook.

Housing starts, which have been slow, should rise to a pace of about 1.15 million in 2014, according to Freddie Mac.

This is more in line with the historical average of 1.1 million per year reported by the Census Bureau. In comparison, the Census Bureau recently reported household formation over the first three quarters of this year at just 380,000.

Freddie Mac expects home sales to increase 5 or 6 percent in the new year, but tight inventory will prevent further increases.

Home values will continue to increase, albeit at a slower pace. Freddie Mac expects home price growth to be about the same as home sales growth—5 or 6 percent.

Rental prices will also continue to rise, but like housing prices, their pace will moderate. Freddie Mac expects rents to rise at a pace of about 5.3 percent next year.

Mortgage rates will reach about 5 percent for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages by the end of 2014, according to Freddie Mac. While this will not threaten affordability in most markets, it may dampen affordability in a few higher-priced markets, according to the outlook.

Also, Freddie Mac noted there may be “some volatility in the short-term” resulting from uncertainty surrounding fiscal policies, such as the debt ceiling and the Federal Reserve’s tapering of its MBS purchases.

The overall good news for the housing market translates to good news for the broader economy, according to Freddie Mac.

The rise in housing starts should translate to 700,000 new jobs, according to economists at Freddie Mac.

These new jobs will help bring the unemployment rate below 7 percent “perhaps by mid-2014,” Freddie Mac stated.

Economic growth is expected at 2.5 to 3 percent for the year, which is “more than 0.5 percentage points better than is projected for 2013,” according to Freddie Mac.

If you’re looking for real estate assistance, commercial or residential, please contact me directly at (310)402-8181 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (310)402-8181 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting or

Source: DSNews

Home Prices Continue Rising, Sales Steady

West Hollywood Properties

Home sales continue to seesaw—while levels increased from the previous year, they dipped from previous month. Following historic seasonal trends, October home sales edged 2.8 percent lower than September, but still pushed 2.2 percent higher than sales in October 2012. Median home prices were 11.9 percent above prices seen last October.

“What we’re seeing now are predictable seasonal cycles, which is just another sign that the housing recovery is bringing us back to a more normal market,” said Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX. “Home sales are expected to slow down during the holidays and winter months before returning to the next growth cycle in the spring.”

Home sales have experienced year-over-year increases in both sales and prices for 21 months now. The median price of all homes sold in October was $179,950. Inventories of homes for sale were 12.2 percent lower than the levels in October last year. For the last 29 months in a row, inventories have declined at a slower rate.

The October inventory drop is half of the annual loss seen as recently as June. At the current rate of sales, the number of months required to sell the entire inventory of homes on the market was 4.9. A 6-month supply is recognized as a balanced market with an equal number of buyers and sellers.

For the most part, normal seasonal trends are responsible for slowing month-to-month changes in home sales. Of the 52 metro areas surveyed in October, 35 reported higher sales than in October 2012, with 19 reporting double-digit gains. New York, New York experienced gains of 32.6 percent; Trenton, New Jersey experienced gains of 32.5 percent; Anchorage, Alaska experienced gains of 24.2 percent; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania experienced gains of 18.2 percent; Wilmington, Delaware experienced gains of 18.1 percent; and Manchester, New Hampshire experienced gains of 17.1 percent.

In the month of October, homes stayed on the market for an average of 66 days. This is one day higher than the average seen in September, but is 16 days lower than the average seen in October 2012. An average this low is the direct result of continued high demand and a reduced inventory of homes for sale, according to RE/MAX.

The housing market has been plagued by a low inventory environment, but for seven consecutive months, inventory has declined at a slower rate than during the same month of the previous year. While not yet adding inventory, the situation is improving. In October, there were 5.1 percent fewer homes for sale than in September, and 12.2 percent fewer than in October 2012. At the rate of home sales in October, the Months Supply of inventory was 4.9.

If you’re looking to purchase, sell, or lease commercial or residential real estate please contact me at (310)402-8181 or

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source: dsnews



West Hollywood offers a gorgeous living experience

West Hollywood (WeHo) offers a unique living experience with a variety of famous restaurants and shops as well as eccentric nightlife. The rich history of WeHo characterizes it as one of the best places to live in the Los Angeles Area.

Chateau Marmont

Chateau Marmont

The suburban community has a population of over 34,000 people located in Los Angeles and is nearby cities like Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Westwood, and Santa Monica.


Sunset Blvd. in WeHo

With household sale prices increasing by 3.8 percent compared to the last quarter, and 17.6 percent compared to last year, now is the time to buy. Interest rates are lower than ever, and home prices are starting to rise. The number of home sales is up 6.6 percent. The average listing price for homes for sale  was over $1.1 million for the last week of October. Now is the best time to lock in those interest rates and invest in a WeHo home.

West Hollywood

WeHo offers the best WalkScore in all of California based on its walkability. This is perfect for those of you looking to have a fun night out and who want to leave the car behind or for those of you who love the city life.  With Santa Monica Boulevard, the Sunset Strip, Melrose Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, there is ample supply of art, dining, and nightlife available.

Distinct architecture, famous music venues, elaborate hotels, and a number of celebrity hangouts make WeHo a notable area.

Sunset Plaza

Sunset Plaza

WeHo offers lots of things to do and is a great place to live if you seek entertainment. Comedy clubs like the Laugh Factory can be found throughout the area. The epicenter for designer showrooms and unusual exhibits can be found at the Pacific Design Center. And if that isn’t enough of a wow factor, historic celebrity mansions can be found in the area.

Pacific Design Center

New Listing Alert: Stunning Spanish in the Grove Area of LA $1,749,000

435 N Martel Ave

435 N. Martel Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Walking distance to The Grove – lovely location)

3bedrooms/3.5bathrooms/2,500 Sq. Ft

ASKING PRICE: $1,749,000

Please contact me at or call (310)402.8181 for more information or to schedule showings:

This rebuilt, remodeled, redesigned three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Spanish residence in the heart of The Grove/Melrose area sets a high standard for the neighborhood. Walk to everything or stay home and enjoy a sequestered life behind gates and mature ficus hedges. Amazing finishes, fixtures and top-of-the-line stainless-steel appliances reflect a Hollywood era gone by, but provide a complete set of today’s most sought-after elements–including a built-in Miele espresso machine.

An elegant light-filled living room with extra tall and wide picture windows, wood-burning fireplace and barrel ceiling offers ample room for formal entertaining.

Just outside the living room is a lofty combination of rooms in the center of the house. A chef’s eat-in kitchen, dining area, media room and powder room form an axis of activity for residents desiring an open floor plan conducive to contemporary living and entertaining.

The chef’s kitchen features Caesarstone counter tops, custom Downsview cabinetry, a professional-grade Wolf range (multiple burners + griddle + grill + double ovens) and a stainless-steel Wolf hood. The room’s over-sized center island provides that hard-to-come-by space for cooking and entertaining while also keeping an eye on the game on the media room’s flat-screen television. Upper and lower cabinet lights and recessed halogens provide multiple options for mood lighting. Stainless double sinks with filtered water system, an appliance lift door (for microwave or toaster oven), Miele dishwasher and Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer make this kitchen one of the best in the area.

Bonus alert! A designated media/family room in three-bedroom Spanish homes around The Grove is a rarity. This room adjoins the dining area and provides a sight line into the kitchen area. Five-speaker surround sound makes watching screeners a theatrical experience. Custom floor-to-ceiling blackout draperies (throughout the home) convert this area into a true home theater.

Two guest suites (each with their own sparkling bathrooms) and a massive master suite with a huge spa-like bathroom and a giant walk-in closet provide plenty of private living space. The master bath has an over-sized step-in rain shower, a separate extra-deep tub, Carrara marble counters, Walker Zanger and Ann Sacks tiles, custom wood Downsview cabinetry, mirrors, double sinks, in-wall speakers and a TV monitor. Can you say “Mandarin Oriental” or “Ritz-Carlton”?

The master bedroom’s walk-in closet/dressing area has a floor-to-ceiling built-in closet system by California Closets including hanging areas, dressers and storage cabinets. Each of the other two bedroom closets also has built-in storage systems. One of the two guest rooms has a built-in “office wall” with upper and lower custom wood cabinetry by Downsview and a Caesarstone counter/desktop, a perfect work-from-home or study area.

A laundry room (with king-sized side-by-side front-loading washer/dryer) provides built-in storage shelves for cleaning supplies. A media cabinet and linen cabinet augment the house’s storage components.

The home has a security system, Harman/Kardon sound system (with individual room-by-room volume controls), climate control, art lighting, double-paned E-glass windows and French doors. A “California basement” houses some of the home’s systems, as well as additional long-term dry storage.

Outside is a restful, private backyard retreat with a pool, waterfall and spa. A shady, luxury hotel-style cabana with a vaulted ceiling creates opportunities for an outdoor living/dining room, game room or carport.

A driveway gate can be operated electronically and provides access to off-street parking. There is additional off-street space for two cars in front of the gate. Access to the grassy hedged-in front yard and front door is through an electronically-secured pedestrian gate.

This home is a rare example of an extensive renovation done right. Impeccable attention to detail and not a single thing to change. Move in, unpack and enjoy California indoor/outdoor living at its best.

NOTE: Assessor’s interior sq.ft. is 2,300. A recent floor plan draft from R.E.S.T. calculates interior sq.ft. at 2,439. Outdoor cabana is not included in these calculations. [Buyer to verify square-footage.]

Report: Home Prices Poised for Growth in 2013

In stark contrast to this time last year, the housing market is chugging into 2013 with a head of steam.

Home-listing prices were up 5.1% nationally in December on a year-over-year basis, according to data released Thursday by real-estate listings and data company Trulia. Out of the 100 major metro markets covered by the report, 82 of them saw year-over-year gains. At the end of 2011, asking prices had fallen 4.3%, and only 12 markets had posted positive price changes.

“Prices are going into 2013 with strong tailwinds,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia. He cites a general strengthening of the job market, which in turn means more families able to cover a sizeable down payment. An increase in household formation, which is also the product of improving job prospects, and home construction could further bolster demand.

Mr. Kolko notes that the sharpest tightening of inventory is taking place in Western states. Four of the top 10 cities to see the largest asking price recovery were in California, including Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and Fresno.

Las Vegas, which was hit hard after the bubble burst, came in at the top of the list with a 16.3% year-over-year listing price increase. In the same period in 2011, prices dropped 11.2%.

To be sure, even among the markets with major gains, some are better positioned for a sustained housing recovery than others.

While Las Vegas may have seen the largest asking price turnaround, it remains far below pre-bust levels. The problem, Mr. Kolko says, is that the market remains unstable, with high vacancy rates, lingering foreclosures and subpar job growth.

On the other hand, metros like Seattle, which came in second on the list of cities with the highest asking-price recovery, are on a smoother path to growth because of their strong economic fundamentals, he said.

Meanwhile, rents rose nationally 5.2% in the same period. In 17 of the 25 biggest rental markets, home prices are rising faster than rents, according to Trulia. Whereas ownership was typically more affordable than renting in most markets in recent years, as sales demand rises, that edge is becoming less apparent, Mr. Kolko said.

Bill would encourage foreigners to buy U.S. homes

American consumers and the federal government haven’t been able to bail out the sinking U.S. real estate market. Now wealthy Chinese, Canadians and other foreign buyers could get their chance.

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would allow foreigners who spend at least $500,000 on residential property to obtain visas allowing them to live in the United States.

The plan could be a boon to California, which has become a popular real estate market for foreigners, particularly those from China.

Nationwide, residential sales to foreigners and recent immigrants totaled $82 billion in the 12-month period ended March 31, up from $66 billion the previous year, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. California accounted for 12% of those sales, second only to Florida.

“Overall, Los Angeles is the perfect place for investors,” said YanYan Zhang, an agent with Rodeo Realty in Beverly Hills, who travels to China several times a year to meet potential clients.

Sandra Miller, a broker at Engel & Volkers in Santa Monica, an international real estate firm that caters to foreign clients, said about 10% of the luxury market now is composed of foreign investors. She estimated that offering them U.S. visas would triple that figure, as well as help sales elsewhere.

“California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Hawaii and Texas — those states will see a huge increase in demand,” she said. “The whole Westside would certainly benefit.”

The bipartisan proposal, part of a package that also would make it easier for international tourists to visit the U.S., is similar to an existing program that puts foreigners on a fast track to a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in an American business that creates at least 10 jobs.

“Many people want to come and live in the United States,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who introduced the legislation Thursday along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “They will be here spending money and paying taxes, and the most important thing is they’ll sop up the extra supply of homes we have right now compared to demand, and that’s what’s dragging our economy down.”

The legislation would create a new homeowner visa that would be renewable every three years, but the proposal would not put them on a path to citizenship. To be eligible, a person would have to buy a primary residence of at least $250,000 and spend a total of $500,000 on residential real estate. The other properties could be rented.

The program would come with several restrictions.

The purchase would have to be in cash, with no mortgage or home equity loan allowed. And the property would have to be bought for more than its most recent appraised value, Schumer said.

The buyer would have to live in the home for at least 180 days each year, which would require paying U.S. income taxes on any foreign earnings. Buyers would no longer be eligible for the temporary visa if the property were sold.

The buyer would be able to bring a spouse and minor children to live in the U.S. but would need to apply for a work visa to hold a job. Neither the buyer nor dependents would be eligible to receive Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security benefits.

“The bill does not limit people from being productive,” Schumer said. “It simply prevents them from coming here and taking jobs that otherwise would go to Americans.”

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett and others have advocated boosting the U.S. economy by attracting foreign investment.

The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT-USA Act, aims to do that by also making several other changes to visa policies.

Among them are allowing Chinese tourists to receive a five-year visa that permits multiple visits. They now must apply for a new visa every year. Canadians would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for more than 180 days without having to obtain a visa.

Schumer and Lee have lined up support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Assn. and the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. Schumer said he was working to get the backing of the Obama administration, which received the bill’s details Thursday.

“For too long, we have created barriers, and too many hoops and hurdles, which act to deter visitors from other countries coming to the United States to spend their money and create jobs,” said Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. “This is a loss we can ill afford in today’s economy.”

Robert Toll, executive chairman of Toll Brothers Inc., a Pennsylvania builder of luxury homes, joined Schumer on a conference call with reporters to back the foreign home-buyer proposal. He said it was no different from tax breaks designed to attract businesses.

Lee described it as a free-market way to boost demand in the real estate market after “big-government programs have failed to work.”


Financing Game Changer to Affect All Buyers and Sellers!

If you’re a buyer or seller on the fence about making a move, October 1st could be a game changing date.

Starting October 1, 2011 “Conforming” (think Fannie and Freddie) and FHA loan limits are set to be lowered nationwide as the federal government looks to lessen its footprint in the business.  This means the current loan limit of $729,750 in Los Angeles that we’ve gotten used to in the past several years will be reduced to $625,000 this fall. So why does that matter to you? Since most buyers rely on the low rates, smaller down payment requirements and the easier underwriting guidelines offered by these government backed loans, the market is going to lose a tremendous amount of its purchasing power. When purchasing power decreases it puts downward pressure on sale prices. For sellers in certain price ranges this means less qualified buyers this fall. For buyers this will put many properties out of reach. For example:  With the conforming loan limit at the current $729k the average buyer with 20% down payment can buy a $910,000 house.  When the conforming loan limit decreases back to $625k, the average buyer with 20% down payment can only buy a $780,000 house using conforming financing. Today an FHA buyer with the minimum 3.5% down payment has the power to buy a $755,000 property. After October that max purchase price drops to $646,000. If you’re planning on buying or selling you may want to accelerate your timeline.   Of course there is and will continue to be financing far above these loan limits. However, these “non-conforming” or JUMBO loans may have higher interest rates, are more difficult to qualify for, require a larger down payment, and require more post closing cash reserves by the borrower.

It’s also important for you to know that this is not being backed by the government so in turn the Jumbo loan product varies significantly from one bank to the next and one lender to another. It is not “one size fits all” when it comes to jumbo loans. That’s why it is so important to have a mortgage consultant who is skilled in jumbo financing, not only understanding the different programs and guidelines but having access to all of those choices. Please don’t hesitate to call for any additional information on these upcoming changes or any property sales questions you may have.