Month: January 2009

The Housing Market Can’t Rebound Until Interest Rates Drop Below 5%

In my opinion….as long as interest rates stay above 5% the housing market cannot rebound.  Tim Geithner should be pushing banks, especially banks that accepted TARP funds  to lend money below 5%.  Read article below released by the Mortgage Bankers  Association.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 28, 2009) — The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending January 23, 2009.  The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 732.1, a decrease of 38.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 1195.3 one week earlier.  This week’s results included an adjustment to account for the shortened week due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 46.5 percent compared with the previous week and 40.4 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.

The Refinance Index decreased 48 percent to 3373.9 from 6491.8 the previous week and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2.9 percent to 294.3 from 303.1 one week earlier.  The Conventional Purchase Index decreased 7.8 percent while the Government Purchase Index (largely FHA) increased 8.8 percent.
The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is down 10.5 percent.  The four week moving average is down 2.1 percent for the Purchase Index, while this average is down 12.7 percent for the Refinance Index.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 72.8 percent of total applications from 83.3 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 2.4 from 1.5 percent of total applications from the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.22 percent from 5.24 percent, with points decreasing to 1.05 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.98 percent from 4.99 percent, with points decreasing to 1.13 from 1.20 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs increased to 5.96 percent from 5.89 percent, with points decreasing to 0.06 from 0.07 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.

A Response to Zip Code Matters

Today’s Boston Globe had an article about the performance of real estate by zip code.  I posted this article on December 18th breaking down Newton by zip code.


In view of the fact that Newton is so large and the villages quite diverse, I was curious to see if Newton housing performed as a whole or did certain villages operate on their own.  The results are somewhat surprising…all information was obtained from MLS on December 18, 2008.  The numbers will change very little at the end of the year, since there are few homes pending.


Zip code                          Village                                                     2007 vs.2008               % Change                  

02458                              Newton Corner                              $1,046K       $1,106K           + 6%

02459                              Newton Centre                              $902K             $924K        + 2.5%                                                 

02460                              Newtonville                                     $779K             $813K            + 5%                                                

02461                              Newton Highlands                         $714K             $720K    +1                                                 

02462                              Newton Lower Falls                      $685K             $518K             -24%                                                

02464                              Newton Upper Falls                     $522K              $461K         -11.5%                                                                        

02465                              West Newton                                 $542K              $523K           -3.5%                                                

02465                              West Newton Hill                      $1,451K            $1,641K       +13%                                                  

02466                              Auburndale                                  $761K              $706K             -7%                                                    

02467                              Chestnut Hill                               $1,528K          $1,230K       19.5%                                                   

02468                              Waban                                         $1,118K             $977K       -12.5%                                                  



So what information can we garner from these stats?  Since West Newton Hill and Chestnut Hill have the highest priced homes, one would think that they would have similar numbers, yet they do not; West Newton Hill is up 13% and Chestnut Hill is down 19.5%.  It is worth noting that West Newton Hill had a 40% decrease in homes sold in 2008, 51 in 2007 vs. 30 in 2008.  Chestnut Hill stayed about even, 31 vs.27.  It could mean we may see an increase in new listings on West Newton Hill in 2009.  One measure worth mentioning is that a few of these zip codes encompass a very large geographical area of Newton; Newton Centre and Newton Corner specifically.  Newton Corner consists of Nonantum, Hunnewell Hill, Farlow Hill, the area surrounding the YMCA and the Park Street neighborhood.  The Newton Centre zip code runs all the way from Cabot Street on the north side to south of Route 9 to Dedham Street.  These two zips are probably the most economically diverse of all the zip codes, so they might offer the clearest picture of Newton as a whole.  Newton Upper and Lower Falls are the smallest zip codes, and the had the least amount of homes sold; a change of a  few houses could alter these numbers considerably.


               Overall, Newton has weathered the housing crisis plaguing the rest of the US quite well.  I expect to see lower interest rates and less restrictive lending, however, less restrictive does not mean loose.  Lower interest rates combined with job security will hopefully translate into buyer confidence.  Stay tuned.

Newton Homes are Starting to Sell

It looks like the spring market is starting…the phones in the Coldwell Banker, Newton Centre office are ringing again.  Cynthia and I are working on a few deals right now as both buyer and seller agents’, we are currently representing a buyer in a bidding war!  Since the beginning of the year Newton has had 26 sales.  15 single family homes, 7 condos and 4 multi family homes have gone under agreeement.  Stay tuned.

Seller Capitulation-Too Little too Late?

Do home sellers that refuse to lower their price help help prop up home values or do they hurt the market ?  I have often thought about this and did a little research, one thing is clear; they hurt themselves.  I realize that not everyone is able to sell at lower prices for a variety of reasons but most apparent- they owe more on their mortgage than the house is worth.  Just a few years back in a rising market, a home got swept up in the frenzy and buyers paid more than they should have and sellers received more than the home was worth.  So in a good market  it didn’t matter as much.  Well has that changed….in a declining market the last thing a seller wants to do is react to what has already happened around them.  Playing catch up and chasing the market down is a nightmare, a game a seller will surely lose.  While seller A is holding out for his price, seller B has just signed papers at a price seller A “won’t give the house away at”,  a comment we hear that all the time, however, Seller B has just made seller A’s house worth less.  Buyers will now be using Seller B’s house as a comp.  Seller A is actually advertising for every other house on the market, his house makes the competition look better!  I believe in a declining market, hold out sellers do not prevent the market falling  to it’s natural level.  As soon as realistic sellers properly price their homes and sell them, high priced homes just stagnate and eventually sell for lower than the “I’m not giving it away price”.  Homes on the market for more than 120 days generally sell for 80-85% of their original list price.

Newton Condo’s 2008 Sales

A happy new year to all.  The 2008 numbers are tallied and the reults are below.

  • Average Sale Price
  • 2007/2008
  • $543,000/$502,313 
  • Number of Units Sold
  • 2007/2008
  • 293/259
  • Average Days on Market
  • 2007/2008
  • 133/95

The average sale price is down about 7% from 2007.  The number of units sold is down 11% in that same period.  The average days on the market was down 28%.  This is considerable, and one can only conclude that sellers were more realistic in their pricing.

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