City council

Newton Real Estate: More Good News!


Newton MA. Realtor, Newtonmasshomesforsale.com

 

The Newton real estate market is definitely humming.  The average number of homes sold August 2011 vs. August 2012 is up 18% and the median sale price for the same time period is up 13%!

This is a simple supply and demand business….seller’s — inventory is very low.  Call me or e-mail to see what your home will garner in today’s market!  617-921-6860  margaretszerlip@gmail.com

August 2011

67 Sales

$905,000 Average List price

$877,000 Average Sale Price

$760,000 Median Price

 

August 2012

81 Sales

$1,168,000 Average List Price

$1,111,000 Average Sale Price

$875,000 Median Price

Mortgage Rates Crush Previous All-Time Lows


 

Newton, MA.  real estate, newtonmasshomesfor sale.com

 

Mortgage Rates Crush Previous All-Time Lows

Mortgage Rates are on an undisputed tear, moving more today than any day in the past 3 weeks of progressive movement into new all-time lows.  The week began much like the previous week ended, with concerns over the European financial system pulling all manner of ‘safe-haven’ bond yields lower, among them MBS (the Mortgage-Backed-Securities that most directly influence mortgage rates).

Once again, there was nothing on the domestic economic calendar and corporate earnings had little effect next to news that a third region in Spain will now request assistance from Spain’s central government.  Combined with a glut of generally gloomy news overnight, 10yr Treasury yields hit new record lows before domestic trading commenced.  The balance of the day has simply seen rates move in narrow, sideways patterns near these extreme levels.

 

Even though Friday had been fairly brisk in terms of the pace of improvement for mortgage rates, today was brisker in most cases.   Best-Execution rates for 30yr Fixed, Conventional loans are a foregone conclusion at 3.5% and there’s an even stronger case for 3.375% at some lenders.  That said, 3.5% continues to be a more efficient combination of rate and fee at most lenders.

(Read More:What is A Best-Execution Mortgage Rate?)

Long Term Guidance: We’d continue to advocate against trying to “get ahead” of current market movements due to the high degree of uncertainty.  In the past, we would have interpreted that advice as a suggestion to lock, but in the recently “low and sideways” environment, it’s probably better-read as a suggestion to go with the flow of gradually lower rates until we see the pattern definitively break.  It’s a reasonably safe assumption that European concerns will generally continue to apply downward pressure on rates although there are no guarantees that the right piece of news or economic event couldn’t mark “the turning point” at which rates bottom out.  On any given day, rates have been at or near all-time lows and in the grand scheme of things, unable to move lower as quickly as Treasuries for example.  So although there is potential gain from floating, it’s still a historically excellent time to lock if you’d prefer to take the risk off the table.

Loan Originator Perspectives

Ira Selwin, Vice President Of Secondary Marketing, US Mortgage Corporation

I have officially changed my thoughts from “Lock” to “Float”. I feel that right now is the time to float, but always have your Loan Officer ready to lock your loan at a moments notice in case things turn the wrong way.

Victor Burek at Benchmark Mortgage

If you have been following my advice(i said Friday don’t lock anything), it is the same today as it has been. Float until you are within 15 days of closing, then lock. Yes, rates might edge a little lower during that 15 days, but at some point you must lock. Don’t make the mistake of trying to time the bottom as the only way to know rates are at rock bottom is once they have passed, but then it is too late.

Julian Hebron, Loan Agent, Branch Manager, RPM Mortgage

Sticking to the plan I laid out last with all clients. It’s the safest way to manage a declining but unpredictable rate environment. Here it is: Locking purchases as they ratify to capture current lows for clients whose purchase contracts dictate a specific timeline. Decisions to lock refis are specific to each client. If they’ve recently closed a purchase or previous refi (thus rate is only slightly higher than current market), it’s either a float or a no-cost refi depending on breakeven math for closing fees spent previously. If they haven’t refinanced in awhile (thus rate is much higher than current market), it’s a lock—whether those locks are cost or no-cost also depends on math best suited to client profile and expected time horizon in the loan and/or home.

Today’s BEST-EXECUTION Rates 

  • 30YR FIXED –  3.5%, Some Approaching 3.375%
  • FHA/VA – 3.25-3.5% (varies more between lenders than conventional 30yr Fixed)
  • 15 YEAR FIXED –  2.75 – 2.875%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  2.625-3. 25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations 

  • Rates and costs continue to operate near all time best levels
  • Current levels have experienced increasing resistance in improving much from here
  • Rates could easily move higher or lower, but given the nearness to all time lows, there’s generally more risk than reward regarding floating
  • But that will always be the case when rates operate near all-time levels, and as 2011 showed us, it doesn’t always mean they’re done improving.
  • (As always, please keep in mind that our talk of Best-Execution always pertains to a completely ideal scenario.  There can be all sorts of reasons that your quoted rate would not be the same as our average rates, and in those cases, assuming you’re following along on a day to day basis, simply use the Best-Ex levels we quote as a baseline to track potential movement in your quoted rate).

 

 

 

Stunned Buyers are Finding Bidding Wars Are Back!


 

Newton, MA. Top Realtor, Newtonmasshomesforsale.com, Buyer and Seller Agent, Newton, MA

WSJ

A new development is catching home buyers off guard as the spring sales season gets under way: Bidding wars are back.

From California to Florida, many buyers are increasingly competing for the same house. Unlike the bidding wars that typified the go-go years and largely reflected surging sales, today’s are a result of supply shortages.

[BIDWARS] Peter Earl McCollough for The Wall Street JournalDebbie and Bill Wetherell received multiple offers for their home.

“It’s a little surprising because we thought bidding wars were done with,” said Andy Aley, who is looking to buy his first home in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The 31-year-old attorney was outbid this year when he offered up to $23,000 above the $357,000 listing price and agreed to waive inspections and other closing conditions.

Competitive bidding in the current environment isn’t producing huge price increases or leaving sellers with hefty profits, as occurred during the housing boom. Still, the bidding wars caused by tight inventory provide the latest evidence that housing demand is starting to pick up after a six-year-long slump.

An index that measures the number of contracts signed to purchase previously owned homes rose in March to its highest level in nearly two years, up 12.8% from a year ago and 4.1% from February, the National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday.

“We very much believe we’ve hit bottom,” said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of a research firm, who was among the first to warn of a downturn seven years ago. Earlier this week, she raised her home-price forecast for the year, calling for a 1% annual gain, up from a 1% decline.

The Wall Street Journal’s quarterly survey found that the inventory of homes listed for sale declined sharply in all 28 markets tracked. Real-estate agents consider a market balanced when there is a six-month supply of homes for sale. At the height of the housing crisis, in 2008, there was an 11.1-months’ supply. In March, there was a 6.3-months’ supply.

Inventory levels in many markets were at the lowest level in years. At the current pace of sales, it would take just 1.5 months to sell all the homes listed in Sacramento, Calif., and 2.4 months to sell all the homes listed in Phoenix. San Francisco and Washington, D.C., each have 3.4 months of supply, while Miami has 4.1 months of supply.

Other markets have plenty of homes. Chicago, for example, has 9.4 months of supply, while New York’s Long Island has 16.1 months of supply. Even in those markets, the number of houses for sale is edging down.

Increased competition is frustrating buyers and their agents. “We’re writing a record number of offers, but we’re not seeing a record number of closings and that’s because it’s so competitive,” said Glenn Kelman, chief executive of real-estate brokerage Redfin Corp. in Seattle with offices in 14 states.

Nearly 83% of offers that Redfin agents have made on behalf of clients in the San Francisco Bay area this year and 71% in Southern California have had competing bids. Redfin represented a buyer that made the winning bid on a Gaithersburg, Md., home earlier this month after agreeing to adopt the dog of the seller, who was relocating and looking to find a new home for “Buddy,” a white toy poodle.

Inventories are declining for a number of reasons. Some sellers, unwilling to accept prices that are still down from their peak by one-third, are taking their homes off the market in anticipation of higher prices down the road. Meanwhile, investors have been outmaneuvering consumers for the best properties, often making cash offers that are quickly accepted by sellers.

In addition, some economists say that inventory levels are being held artificially low because Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the nation’s biggest banks have been slow to list for sale hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes they currently own. The lenders slowed down foreclosure sales and repossessions after record-keeping abuses surfaced 18 months ago.

Banks and other mortgage investors owned nearly 450,000 foreclosed properties at the end of March, and another two million mortgages were in some stage of foreclosure.

Inventories could rise, putting more pressure on prices, if the banks and other lenders step up their efforts to sell their properties. Real-estate agents say they aren’t concerned. “There’s an enormous appetite for foreclosures. Release the inventory. It will sell,” said Richard Smith, chief executive of Realogy Corp., which owns the Coldwell Banker and Century 21 real-estate brands.

[BIDWARS]

The declining inventory of older homes is spurring sales of new homes. New home sales are up 16% so far this year, compared with a year ago, while inventories of new homes fell in March to their lowest level since record keeping began in 1963.

Meritage Homes Corp., a builder based in Scottsdale, Ariz., reported Thursday a 36% increase in orders for the quarter ending in March versus the previous-year period.

Even though bidding wars are pushing prices higher, many homes are still selling for prices far lower than a few years ago. Increased demand is “entirely affordability driven, which tells me there will be strong resistance to price increases” by buyers, says Jeffrey Otteau, president of Otteau Valuation Group, an East Brunswick, N.J., appraisal firm.

Rents are rising at a time when mortgage rates have fallen to very low levels. The result is that the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home is lower than any time since the 1990s. Freddie Mac reported on Thursday that mortgage rates fell to 3.88% for the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage, near its lowest recorded level.

Rates are “so low that we can afford a house that was out of our price range before,” said Aarthi Srinivasan, who is looking with her husband for a home around Palo Alto, Calif., one of the country’s hottest real-estate markets.

Ms. Srinivasan says she fears that prices are being bid up too quickly. She says she had her “aha moment” earlier this year while touring a 50-year-old house that needed extensive remodeling. The home, listed at $1.1 million, received nearly 10 offers and eventually went under contract for more than $1.3 million to a buyer who hadn’t even viewed the property.

“There are only so many buyers who are going to be in such a hurry, so we’re hoping it’ll top off soon,” she says. On Monday, they offered to pay more than the $1.2 million list price for a four-bedroom, bank-owned foreclosure. They haven’t found out if they made the top bid.

On the other side of those transactions are sellers like Debbie and Bill Wetherell, who had 17 offers in four days for their four-bedroom home in Danville, Calif. “I was floored. It was so fast, it was surreal,” says Ms. Wetherell. The home sold on Wednesday for $796,000, more than $50,000 above the asking price.

Still, the sale is for nearly $180,000 less than what they paid for the house in 2005. Ms. Wetherell’s husband has commuted to Reno, Nev., for five years and they have decided to relocate.

Housing markets face other headwinds. More than 11 million homeowners owe more than their home is worth. It is a big reason that the “trade-up” market has been stalled. These homeowners can’t sell their current homes, let alone come up with the down payment for their next home.

Mortgage-lending standards remain tough. Real-estate agents say an unusually high share of deals are falling apart because homes won’t appraise at the price that buyers have agreed to pay sellers.

Still, borrowers with stable jobs are looking to make deals. Kelly Pajela-Fu and her husband offered to pay the asking price of $600,000 for a four-bedroom home in Marblehead, Mass., within a day of the property hitting the market.

“We just knew this house would go quickly,” says Ms. Pajela-Fu, a 31-year-old doctor who had lost out on an earlier offer. Their strategy to avoid a bidding war paid off: The sellers accepted their offer before having an open house.

 

 

Positive Thinking: 7 Easy Ways to Improve a Bad Day


Newton, MA.  Realtor, Newton, MA. homes for sale, Top Realtor Newton, MA.

I needed to hear this today…….

Positive Thinking: 7 Easy Ways to Improve a Bad Day

Don’t let a bad morning ruin your entire day. Use these mental tricks to change your momentum.

Positive Thinking Hot Air Balloon

 

Had a lousy morning? Things looking grim?

Not to worry. The rest of your day need not be a disaster. It can in fact become one of your best, providing you take these simple steps:

1. Remember that the past does not equal the future.

There is no such thing as a “run of bad luck.” The reason people believe such nonsense is that the human brain creates patterns out of random events and remembers the events that fit the pattern.

2. Refuse to make self-fulfilling prophesies. 

If you believe the rest of your day will be as challenging as what’s already happened, then rest assured: You’ll end up doing something (or saying) something that will make sure that your prediction comes true.

3. Get a sense of proportion.

Think about the big picture: Unless something life-changing has happened (like the death of a loved one), chances are that in two weeks, you’ll have forgotten completely about whatever it was that has your shorts in a twist today.

4. Change your threshold for “good” and “bad.”

Decide that a good day is any day that you’re above ground. Similarly, decide that a bad day is when somebody steals your car and drives it into the ocean. Those types of definitions make it easy to be happy–and difficult to be sad.

5. Improve your body chemistry.

Your body and brain are in a feedback loop: A bad mood makes you tired, which makes your mood worse, and so forth. Interrupt the pattern by getting up and moving around.  Take a walk or eat something healthy.

6. Focus on what’s going well.

The primary reason you’re convinced it’s a bad day is that you’re focusing on whatever went wrong. However, for everything going badly, there are probably dozens of things going well.  Make list, and post it where it’s visible.

7. Expect something wondrous.

Just as an attitude of doom and gloom makes you see more problems, facing the future with a sense of wonder makes you alive to all sorts of wonderful things that are going on, right now, everywhere around you.

POSSIBLE NEW ZONING ORDINANCE IN NEWTON


The Zoning and Planning Committee of the Board of Aldermen will hold  a public hearing on a proposal to amend the Zoning Ordinance (section
30 of the City Ordinance) as it relates to residential Floor Area
Ratio (FAR), which regulates how much mass may be built above grade in
one and two family homes in residential zoning districts. The proposal
has two main parts: it recommends a new sliding scale of FAR limits
that are tied to lot size and zoning district, and it recommends
counting more elements (such as detached garages and portions of third stories and basements) in the calculation of FAR. The Committee encourages you to attend this public hearing to learn about the proposal and to offer your feedback. Details about the proposal can be found at http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/Aldermen/Agendas/ZoneAgenda.htm.