Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Psychological Cost of Debt

I found this interesting article centered on the relationship that we have with money - the good, the bad, how we see it and how we relate to it.

The Ascent Staff, from the Motley Fool, conducted a survey of over 1000 Americans to explore the links between happiness, fulfillment, self-esteem and financial distress.

In it, you read that Americans with mortgages have the highest level of life satisfaction compared with those with other forms of debt, such as medical, student loan, or credit card debt.  In other words, mortgages are the happiest type of debt (who knew?...).
also:
72% of people believed that incurring debt could be a good think when done responsibly.
63% of people believed that wealthier people were also happier - it seems obvious, but in fact, not so much in my opinion.

Can money buy happiness? 56% say money could buy happiness "to an extent", while 8% say: "not at all", and 17% say "absolutely yes".
And also:
97% of people with debt believed they would be happier if they didn't have debt - I wonder who are the other 3%  ;-).

Thank you for reading!  Share if you like, and contact me for your real estate questions!

Francis Rolland

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (low!)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Title, Escrow, Deed - What is that?

Title, Escrow, Deed - What is that?  - from a RISMedia article by Barbara Pronin, and Cornerstone Title blog.


For some first-time home buyers, understanding the difference between ‘title’ and ‘deed,’ and what happens when their home is ‘in escrow,’ can be puzzling - especially since title is not a physical document, but a deed most certainly is.

Here’s a simple explanation.



First, there are two parts to every real estate transaction. The first part, title, is research done by the title company to verify that the seller owns the property and has the full right to sell it.

During the title search, a reputable title agent examines all of the property’s legal records and documents, including prior deeds, liens, mortgages and releases, over an extended period of time. That’s to ensure the property is clear of liens incurred by previous owners, that the property lines are correct, and that the seller has clear ownership of the property and has the right to transfer ownership to the buyer.

A search performed by title experts is crucial to a transaction because it’s the only way to discover the legal status of a property and prove that it is free of liens.

The second part of the transaction is the escrow stage. At this point, title and/or escrow agents work with the buyer and seller to ensure that all the terms and conditions of the transaction are followed, and to receive and disburse funds as instructed for the transacting parties. Escrow is an impartial third party - the gatekeeper, you might say - of the financial process, the loan documents, and the legal documents to be recorded with the county when the transaction is concluded.

The deed, unlike title or escrow, is a written statement of property which contains the names of the seller and the new owner as well as a description of the property. It must be notarized and filed with the county and may require witnesses. Once your buyer holds the deed in their hands, they can prove legal ownership of the property.


Thinking of buying or selling? I like to explain how things work to my clients.

Thank you for reading!  Share if you like, and contact me for your real estate questions!

Francis Rolland

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (low!)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Pricey Permit... ;-)

PRICEY PERMIT

A rundown shack with a city view in San Francisco's Potrero Hill area is listed for $2.5 million. The seller has obtained a rare permit to tear down and rebuild on the site in a city that's historically opposed to building demolition. The planning commission has granted permission to build a four-story, 4,451 square foot home with a two-car garage and private elevators. The list price doesn't include teardown or reconstruction costs...
(this article seen on Sr Mortgage Advisor Connie Chronis' Newsletter).

Buying or selling?  Give me a jingle!

Thank you for reading!  Share if you like, and contact me for your real estate questions!

Francis Rolland

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Silicon Valley Real Estate Market

There is some confusion about the state of the real estate market in the Silicon Valley lately.  Are prices going up, are they going down? You hear anything and everything.

These two graphs show the average price per month since the beginning of 2018, one for houses, and the other one for condominiums and townhouses combined.  I show here the cities of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, and Menlo Park. (East Palo Alto for houses).
The Counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo as a whole are also shown, giving some perspective on the larger numbers.
For May, figures are just trends - it is as of 5/20/19





Click on the graphs to see larger


Conclusion? Prices are about at the same level. The reality is that there are segments of the market which are rather up, and some segments which are down from their highs of a year ago (which were the results of many multiple offers).  Small entry level condominiums would be in the "soft" category,  and I would consider them a deal right now. Remodeled homes in desirable areas would be in the "solid" category.

To know in which category you are and how to structure your offer, you definitely need a specialist.

Factors helping the market:
- low interest rates,
- more inventory for some categories

Factors keeping it competitive:
- very high job creation in the Valley - see this recent article from the Mercury News, by George Avalos.

Thank you for reading!  Share if you like, and contact me for your real estate questions!

Francis Rolland

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (low!)

Homeownership Rates in the US

According to the Census Bureau there are about 10 million people who lost their home during the last crisis.
The homeownership rate was at its highest in 2004, at 69.2%
After the crisis of 2008 and with so many people loosing their home, the rate dropped to right under 63%.
It was back up to 64.3 % in 2018.
Among the people who lost their home, 35% bought another home since then, and 65% did not...

Thank you for reading!  I'm here for your real estate questions!

Francis Rolland

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (low!)

Friday, May 3, 2019

Why aging homeowners are a big problem


This report from Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies finds that 63 percent of homeowners are now 50 or over.
This, plus the fact that more of them in this age group carry a loan, and for a larger percentage of their home value, is a "troubling trend" according to the authors of this study.
Finally, counting renters as well as home owners, the report finds that "the number of households age 65 and over with housing cost burdens continues to climb".  Nearly a third spent more than 30% of their incomes for housing, and about 1/2 were severely burdened, paying at least half of their incomes for housing.
(From an article from HOUSINGWIRE in November 2018 by Jessica Guerin)

Thank you for reading!  Share if you like the article (I find it thought-provoking), and contact me for your real estate questions!

Francis Rolland

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (low!)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Renters Confidence Index - San Jose

Renters Confidence Index - see: San Jose

48% of renters are determined to buy a home within 5 years, in the San Jose region of California. However, more than 1/2 think it is not a good time now to buy, mainly because of prices. Still, 70% think that buying a home is the best long-term investment.

In particular, 56% of Millenials are determined to own a home, and about 75% of them are pretty confident that they will have the ability to afford a home in the future.  About the same number think it is the best long-term investment.

Source: Pulsenomics - Renter Confidence Dashboard - See: San Jose

Thank you for reading,
Francis

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc... 
Current mortgage rates   (pretty stable, and low.. )

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Real Estate Price Seasonality - Bay Area of San Francisco

Santa Clara County:  As I regularly do every year, I look at the evolution of real estate prices from month to month, and compare that with the year prior.

I just finished putting down 2017 and 2018 on graphs, and until the end of February 2019 - shown below:


Click to see larger.


Several remarks:

We had a feeling in 2017 that prices were not slowing down during the usual slow periods of the year: in summer, and in winter.  Well it shows clearly here that July and August did not go down in value (whether it is in average, or as a median price), and hardly came down in Nov. and Dec.

This is to be compared with last year in 2018 which everyone identified as a "slower market": indeed, after May 2018 prices started to go down a bit, with a verifiable dip in July and August (showing a month later when properties close), a typical regain in activity in September, and then a continued soft market after that.  The end of 2018 was definitely a good time to get in the market.

February is showing us that, with the help of low mortgage interest rates, the market is picking up.

Currently, these gentle interest rates along with a fairly low inventory of homes for sale contribute to a rise in prices - right on cue... statistically.

Thinking of buying soon? Message me!

Thank you for reading,
Francis

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (pretty stable, and low.. )

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Advantages of a Local Lender

Advantages of a local lender, vs an online or out-of-the-area lender.

If you are considering purchasing a home, it will be to your advantage to work with a local lender.  There are several reasons for choosing a local lender:
- a local lender knows the local market, local conditions, requirements, and limitations better,
- the process is going to be faster, in particular for the appraisal.  Most likely, it will be a local appraiser who will be hired.  An out of the area lender is going to hire their "contacts" in the area, which could be quite a ways away. A local appraiser will know better the neighborhoods and the sales activity, which will result statistically in a more appropriate appraisal,
- very importantly, a local lender will be available to answer questions and concerns about the offer and the buyer, at the time the sellers and the listing agent are reviewing the offer.  This factor alone is of paramount importance, and will make or break a decision in your favor,
- it is usually easier to reach someone who is local and whom your agent knows, and doing business "in person" is still the best for these important steps in your life,
- in any environment, competitive or not, it will be in your favor if the listing agent knows the lender too, and their track record.


BTW, do you know that most people surveyed think that you need a 20% down payment to purchase a home, but that in fact the average down payment is 13% in the US, according to the National Association of Realtors?
If you are thinking of a purchase I can give you names of proven local lenders. This is definitely the first step in your journey and I can help with it.

Thank you for reading,
Francis

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   (pretty stable, and low.. )

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tiny Homes etc...

I have already written a post about Tiny Homes, in the US and in particular here in the Bay Area of San Francisco.  The concept and the idea is very appealing to the minimalist part of me that wants to get rid of unnecessary, costly material things.

Here are a few more examples of Tiny Homes, as shown on the Dwell website.
I believe there would be a large demand for small homes like these, located on small lots. The cost surely would be more accessible than the normal price of a small house on the traditional 5000 sq.ft piece of land, in our crowded local cities and counties.  A lot of the value is in the land in the Bay Area, and with this type of arrangement you can envision a subdivision of many smaller lots, costing a fraction of the current prices.

This other web page shows examples of Tiny Homes floor plans which could definitely be used elsewhere in small living spaces.

Thanks for reading! if you like the post, share it ;-)
Francis

My Home Valuation tool
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates   Pretty good right now!