South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 24, 2014

Whats-Ahead-Mortgage-Rates-7Last week’s economic data supported recent reports indicating that housing markets are slowing, The National Association of Home builders/Wells Fargo Home Builders Index (HBI) dropped by 10 points to a reading of 46 for February.

Home builder confidence dropped to its lowest reading in nine months,  and fell below the benchmark of 50, which indicates that more builders are pessimistic about current market conditions than not.

Severe weather was blamed for the lower builder confidence reading, which fell below the expected reading of 56.

Regional readings of builder confidence were also lower:

  • Northeast: Builder confidence fell from 41 to 33 points. This suggests that weather is a major concern as this area has experienced a series of nasty winter storms.
  • South: The HBI reading fell from 50 in January to 46 in February and was the smallest decline among the four regions. Fewer index points lost in the South appears to support builder’s concerns about bad weather in other regions.
  • Midwest: Builder confidence dropped from 59 points to a reading of 50.
  • West: Builder confidence fell by 14 points to February’s reading of 57. Desirable areas in the West had been leading the nation in home price appreciation. February’s reading may signal an easing of buyer enthusiasm as rapidly rising home prices have reduced affordable options for first-time and moderate income buyers.

Builders also cited concerns over labor and supplies as reasons for lower confidence readings.

Housing Starts Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for January were released. Although analysts predicted a figure of 945,000 housing starts as compared to an upwardly adjusted 1.05 million housing starts in December, only 880,000 housing starts were reported for January.

The Department of Commerce also cited extreme winter weather as a cause for the drop in housing starts, which reached their fastest pace since 2008 in November. There is some good news. Economists said that housing starts delayed during winter could begin during spring.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, average mortgage rates rose across the board. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan rose by 5 basis points to 4.33 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.35 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage moved up by three basis points to an average rate of 3.08 percent. Discount points for all three products were unchanged with readings of 0.70 for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that weekly jobless claims came in at 336,000 against expectations of 335,000 new jobless claims. The prior week’s reading was for 339,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that job growth may be slowing after last year’s growth, but also noted that winter weather had slowed hiring in labor sectors such as construction and manufacturing.

Existing home sales fell by 5.10 percent in January according to the National Association of REALTORS®, which reported a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of home sales at 4.62 million sales against expectations of 4.65 million and December’s reading of 4.87 million sales of pre-owned homes. The national average home price rose to $188,900, which was 10.70 percent higher year-over-year.

January’s inventory of available existing homes was 1.9 million homes; this represented a 4.90 month supply of existing homes for sale. Real estate pros prefer to see at least a six month inventory of available homes for sale.

What’s Ahead

Next week brings a series of economic reports and opportunities for good news. The Case Shiller Home Price Indices, FHFA Home Price Index will be released. Consumer Confidence and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment report along with New and Pending Home Sales reports round out next week’s scheduled news.

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5 essential rules of buying real estate

5 essential rules of buying real estate  By Chris Birk, of Credit.com, 2/19/14

Home-Buyer-Tips-1Spring signals the start of two hallowed seasons: home buying and baseball.

Like the national pastime, purchasing a home supposedly comes with its own set of “unwritten rules.” Conventional wisdom and considered opinion have long led consumers to believe you never make an offer on the first home you tour, or you always close at the month’s end.

The reality is the only rules you have to follow relate to mortgage fraud (one might regard them more as federal statutes than rules). Home buyers and real estate agents routinely flout common “Never this or that” industry truisms when the need arises.

But make no mistake. While there aren’t hard-core “rules” to follow, there are absolutely best practices and proven precepts that you should carefully consider. Here’s a look at five big ones.

1. Don’t make an offer without pre-approval

Getting pre-approved means a lender has vetted your credit and financials and is so far willing to continue the mortgage dance. Pre-approval letters detail your purchasing power and provide sellers and real estate agents a degree of confidence they won’t get anywhere else.

“I don’t accept an offer without a pre-approval letter,” said Bill Gassett, a realtor in Franklin, Mass., with Re/Max Executive Realty. “People are more cognizant of how important it is to have a qualified buyer. Without an actual pre-approval, you’re really gambling.”

The chicken-or-egg debate will rage on regarding whether to talk first with a real-estate agent or lender. Either way, you may not want to start touring homes or making offers without a pre-approval letter in hand. ( From Bob Phillips: I have a few great lenders I can wholeheartedly recommend.)

2. Use a real-estate agent

For many consumers, buying a home is the single biggest purchase they’ll ever make. It’s something you’ll do maybe a handful of times. It can pay to have an expert in your corner. ( From Bob Phillips: I have over 37 years of experience in helping Orange County buyers & sellers.)

Real-estate agents show homes, negotiate contracts and close deals every month. They can help identify red flags and potential problems, all the while working to best match up properties to your unique needs.

The Internet has certainly helped demystify and democratize the homebuying process. But consumers may still want an industry professional on their side. Nearly 90% of home buyers use a real-estate agent or a broker, according to the National Association of Realtors.

3. Put down earnest money

It’s customary, if not legally required, to provide a deposit when you make an offer on a home. Known as earnest money, this deposit is typically 1- 3 % of the purchase price, although the amount can vary by location and other factors. ( From Bob Phillips: 3% is the MAXIMUM allowed by California law.)

Consult with your real-estate agent regarding the right amount, and quibble if you dare. Earnest money follows in line with loan preapproval—it’s another way to show a seller you’re a serious, legitimate home buyer.

Be sure your agent includes contingencies in the sales contract that allow you to recoup the deposit in case the deal falls apart. Common reasons include a bad appraisal, inspection issues or your inability to sell your current home. ( From Bob Phillips: The California purchase contract contains a boilerplate 17 day contingency period, although some listing agents attempt to negotiate that down to as few as 10 days.)

4. Sell yourself

Don’t just submit a solid offer and cross your fingers if you’re shopping in a competitive real-estate market. Take every opportunity you get to tell your story and sell yourself.

Include a handwritten letter with your offer. Ask your real-estate agent to convey your admiration for the property and your hopes and dreams to the listing agent.

“If you really want a property in a competitive environment or you need some special conditions, the personal touch still works,” said Brian Icenhower, CEO of Keller Williams Realty Kansas City North and national real estate trainer. “Sellers don’t always just want to get the most proceeds out of their house. Certain types of sellers want to know their home is going to a good family.”

5. Tour homes in person

Photographic and video technologies are ushering in a new era for home tours. Cool tech and new apps can be a huge help for consumers moving to new states or service members purchasing homes during a deployment.

These tools will continue to supplement the shopping experience, but nothing quite compares to the in-person experience, Gassett said.

“People will use them to enhance what they’re already doing,” he said. “There’s never going to be anything that will completely replace the touch and feel of going to a house.”

[Editor’s note: Before you start shopping for a home, it’s a good idea to know what shape your credit is in. Check your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies—which you can do for free once a year—for errors or other problems with your credit that could hurt your chances of getting a mortgage. You can also check your credit scores for free using a tool like Credit.com’s Credit Report Card, to see whether you need to do work to build your credit before you apply for a mortgage.] ( End of Chris’ article.)

Get ready! Get set! Now let’s go home shopping!  Give me a call or text, ( ( 949) 887-5305 ) or shoot me an email. ( BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.)

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What Is A Mortgage Pre-Approval?

What Is A Mortgage Pre-Approval?When you are purchasing a home, your Realtor may strongly recommend that you obtain a mortgage pre-approval before you even start looking for the home of your dreams.

There are some huge benefits to being pre-approved before you find a home, but oftentimes, people confuse pre-qualifications with pre-approvals.

So the question many buyers have is what exactly is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, it’s when the lender provides you (the buyer) with a letter stating that your mortgage will be granted up to a specific dollar amount.

What Do I Need For Pre-Approval?

In order to obtain a pre-approval for your home purchase, you will have to provide your lender all of the same information you would need to show for qualifying for a mortgage.

This means providing tax returns, bank statements and other documents that prove your net worth, how much you have saved for your down payment and your current obligations.

What Conditions Are Attached To A Pre-Approval?

Generally speaking, a pre-approval does have some caveats attached to it. Typically, you can expect to see some of the following clauses in a pre-approval letter:

  • Interest Rate Changes – a pre-approval is done based on current interest rates. When rates increase, your borrowing power may decrease.
  • Property Passes Inspection – your lender will require the property you ultimately purchase to come in with a proper appraisal and meet all inspection requirements.
  • Credit Check Requirements – regardless of whether it’s been a week or six months since you were pre-approved, your lender will require a new credit report. Changes in your credit report could negate the pre-approval.
  • Changes In Jobs/Assets – after a pre-approval is received, a change in your employment status or any assets may result in the pre-approval becoming worthless.

Getting pre-approved for a home mortgage will usually allow you more negotiation power with sellers and may help streamline the entire loan process.

It is important however to keep in mind there are still things that may have a negative impact on actually getting the loan.

It is important to make sure you keep in contact with the lender, ( And your Realtor.) especially if interest rates increase or your employment status changes after you are pre-approved.

Thinking of buying a home in 2014? I have a couple of lenders who I highly recommend, to get you that pre-approval for your purchase. Give me a call or text – (949) 887-5305 – or shoot me an email – BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com – and let’s get started.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 18, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 18, 2014Last week’s economic news was dominated by the first address by the new Fed chairperson, Janet Yellen. Tuesday’s news included the Jobs Openings report for December 2013, which matched November’s reading of 4.0 million jobs available. This information was taken from a gauge of competition for available jobs; in December, competition for job openings fell to its lowest level in five years.

Fed Chair Janet Yellens First Address to House                                                                                                  Janet Yellen addressed the House Financial Services Committee for the first time on Tuesday as Chair of the Federal Reserve. Ms. Yellen indicated that she expected “a great deal of continuity” in terms of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy direction, and noted that markets should expect the FOMC to continue its support of low interest rates.

Chairman Yellen emphasized that the FOMC’s current tapering of its quantitative easing program was expected to continue, but is not on a pre-determined course. If economic conditions change, the Fed’s monetary policy would be adjusted according to such developments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed According To Freddie Mac According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 4.28 percent from the prior week’s 4.23 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgage mortgages was unchanged at 3.33 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 3.08 percent to 3.05 percent. Discount points for each category were unchanged at 0.70 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

In other news, Weekly Jobless Claims were higher last week at 339,000 against a forecast of 330,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 331,000 new jobless claims. Analysts cited bad weather and the possibility of slower economic growth as factors, but said that it was too soon to tell if economic growth is slowing down. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index beat expectations with a reading of 81.2 against expectations for a reading of 80.0. February’s reading was unchanged from January.

Whats Coming Up This week’s economic news includes the NAHB Home Builder’s Housing Market Index on Tuesday. Wednesday’s events include Housing Starts and the minutes from January’s FOMC meeting. In addition to Freddie Mac’s PMMS, Thursday’s scheduled reports include Weekly Jobless Claims, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI. Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January will also be released. The National Association of REALTORS® will release data for existing home sales in January on Friday.

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What To Consider When Buying A Fixer-Upper

Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Home How To, Home improvement, Homebuyer Tips, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on February 14, 2014

What_To_Consider_When_Buying_A_Fixer-UpperIn your imagination it seems like a great idea – you purchase an older run-down property and you have the chance to fix it     up and turn it into the home of your dreams.

To Renovate, Or Not To Renovate

However, the renovation project that is simply a quick montage in your imagination will actually take several months or    years and thousands of dollars in real life.

The concept of renovating a “fixer-upper” property is exciting, but the reality is a lot of work and investment. How can          you make sure that you are making the right choice for you?

One of the main advantages of buying a fixer-upper property is that you will usually be able to get the property for a much cheaper price. But is it worth it for the amount of time and money you will need to invest in the property?

Here Are Some Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself When Making Your Decision:

  • Do you (or your friends and family members) have the skills to be able to perform most of the renovations yourself? If you do the labor yourself, you will be able to save thousands of dollars that you would have spent hiring contractors, which will make the renovation a much more profitable project.
  • Are you comfortable with the idea of living in a construction zone, perhaps for several months or more? There will be dust and noise everywhere and you might have to cope without a kitchen or a shower for a while.
  • Make sure that you have a thorough inspection of the home performed so that you can see whether the home has a sturdy foundation, good wiring and plumbing, etc. If your inspection reveals any structural issues or water damage, you might be in for more than you bargained for. You need to start with a house that has “good bones”.
  • If the home has serious structural, plumbing or wiring problems you should stay away – these repairs are very expensive but “invisible”, so you are unlikely to recoup your costs when you sell the home.
  • Add up the estimated costs for renovating the property along with the cost of the home – does it still work out to be a better deal or would you be better off buying a turnkey property – one that doesn’t require repairs.
  • What is your strategy for financing the renovations? If your only option is putting it on the credit card, you might want to think twice because this is a very high interest option. ( There are special loans, FHA and otherwise, that can help with such a project.)

Buying a fixer-upper property can be a great investment and can give you the opportunity to transform a run-down old house into the property of your dreams. Make sure, however, you that you consider the choice carefully before making your decision.

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How A Mortgage Pre-Approval Can Help You Get A Better Deal On Your Home Purchase

Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Home buying, Home Financing Tips, Home Mortgage Tips, Homebuyer Tips, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on February 13, 2014

Home_Buyer_Tips_3Oftentimes, when you are searching for a new home, it may seem like obtaining a pre-approval for your mortgage loan is a waste of time and energy. However, there are some significant benefits to a pre-approval which should not be overlooked.

In many cases, buyers can use a pre-approval for leverage when negotiating with sellers and may wind up buying a home for less than the listed price.

Knowing Your Limitations

One significant benefit of a mortgage pre-approval is knowing exactly how much money you will be able to borrow. This  means you will be looking at homes you know you can afford.

Whether you are working on your own or you’ve sought the assistance of a real estate broker, there will be no question in your mind how much money you can spend.

Approaching A Seller

When someone is attempting to sell a home, chances are they are either buying a new home or they are relocating. This means they may be facing certain time constraints which can be difficult when they list their home.

When sellers are faced with multiple offers, chances are the potential buyer who has a pre-approval will often be the offer that is accepted, even if it’s slightly lower than other offers.

Benefits For The Seller

It may seem the seller has nothing to gain if they are taking less money for their home simply because you have a pre-approval. However, this is typically not the case.

Keep in mind the usual process is the buyer makes an offer, they search for a loan and they may eventually get turned down for a mortgage. This means the seller has to start the process all over again; typically 30 to 60 days after they received the first offer.

A pre-approval can give you a great deal of negotiating power simply because your lender has already validated your credit information, your employment, debt and income.

This means when you begin negotiating with a seller, the time from signing a purchase and sale agreement to closing your loan is typically significantly shortened.

The Bottom Line

My best advice?  First, get pre-approved for a loan, and then, give me a call and let’s start looking at houses.  The house “looking” stage can be as little as one day, but typically you’ll spend at least a few weeks, and sometimes months, until that perfect property appears.  The trick is to be in a position to pounce on it, once you’ve found “the one”.

If you don’t presently have a preferred lender, I have a couple who I can wholeheartedly recommend.  Give me a call, or shoot me an email, and let’s talk about your real estate goals.

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Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage?

Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage Loan?Like credit cards or car loans, some mortgages allow borrowers to have co-signers on the loan with them, enhancing their loan application.

However, a co-signer on a mortgage loan doesn’t have the same impact that it might on another loan. Furthermore, it poses serious drawbacks for the co-signer.

What Is A Mortgage CoSigner?

A mortgage co-signer is a person that isn’t an owner-occupant of the house. However, the co-signer is on the hook for the loan.

Typically, a co-signer is a family member or close friend that wants to help the primary borrower qualify for a mortgage.

To that end, he signs the loan documents along with the primary borrower, taking full responsibility for them.

When a co-signer applies for a mortgage, the lender considers the co-signer’s income and savings along with the borrower’s.

For instance, if a borrower only has $3,000 per month in income but wants to have a mortgage that, when added up with his other payments, works out to a total debt load of $1,800 per month, a lender might not be willing to make the loan.

If the borrower adds a co-signer with $3,000 per month in income and no debt, the lender looks at the $1,800 in payments against the combined income of $6,000, and is much more likely to approve it.

CoSigner Limitations

Co-signers can add income, but they can’t mitigate credit problems.

Typically, the lender will look at the least qualified borrower’s credit score when deciding whether or not to make the loan.

This means that a co-signer might not be able to help a borrower who has adequate income but doesn’t have adequate credit.

There Are Risks In CoSigning For A Mortgage

Co-signing arrangements carry risks for both the borrower and the co-signer.

The co-signer gets all of the downsides of debt without the benefits. He doesn’t get to use or own the house, but he’s responsible for it if the mortgage goes unpaid.

The co-signer’s credit could be ruined and he could be sued (in some states) if the borrower doesn’t pay and he doesn’t step in.

For the borrower, having a co-signer may an additional level of pressure to make payments since defaulting on the loan will hurt him and his co-signer.

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3 Important Credit Considerations Before You Apply For A Mortgage

3 Important Credit Considerations Before You Apply For A MortgageBefore applying for a mortgage, borrowers need to build a plan for how they are going to manage their credit both going into the mortgage process and as they navigate through it.

Lenders like to know that borrowers have a strong likelihood of repaying the loans they take out and, as such, look carefully at an applicant’s credit.

Here are three must-dos that can help an applicant turn into a home owner.

PreChecking Credit Reports

Before even starting the home loan application process, borrowers are well served to check their own credit reports and see what appears. If everything is correct, their credit score can help them understand what type of loans are open to them and what they might cost.

When errors come up, pre-checking gives the applicant time to have the errors corrected before applying for a loan.

When an applicant has credit issues, knowing gives him time to fix them. He can pay down balances, add new lines to his report or take other action in advance of applying.

Manage The Debt To Income Ratio

Mortgage lenders calculate a borrower’s ability to borrow based on the debt-to-income ratio. They add up the proposed mortgage payment and the other debt payments and divide them into his monthly gross income.

If he has too much debt or not enough income he won’t get the loan he wants.

To manage this, borrowers have two choices.

One is to earn more by taking on a second job. The other is to have lower payments.

Paying down credit cards can be a quick way to solve this problem.

Avoid Taking On New Debt

When an applicant takes on more debt while applying for a home loan, it can cause three problems:

  1. The inquiry can drop his credit score.
  2. The payments can change his DTI.
  3. The lender might not feel good about a borrower taking on more debt.

Getting a mortgage can be tough. The key is to understand what lenders want to see and give it to them.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 10, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 10, 2014Residential Construction Spending Up

Last week’s mortgage and housing-related reports began with Construction Spending for December, with a reading of 0.10 percent or a seasonally adjusted $930.5 billion. December’s reading fell short of an expected increase of 0.40 percent.

Spending for private sector projects rose by 1.00 percent; of this amount, residential construction spending increased by 2.60 percent and private sector spending for non-residential construction fell by -0.70 percent.

Although construction spending posted a fractional gain, the good news is that construction spending is currently dominated by residential construction and that due to inclement winter weather, any gain in construction spending during December could be considered positive.

Jobs and Unemployment Data Mixed

Employment related reports dominated the week’s economic reports. The ADP employment report for January indicated that only 175,000 new private sector jobs were added for the lowest reading in five months.

December saw 227,000 new jobs. Severe weather conditions were the cause of lower than expected jobs growth. Month-to-month job reports can be unpredictable, but quarterly results provided positive information as the three month period ended in January 2014 saw average monthly job growth of 230,000 jobs as compared to an average reading of 220,000 jobs added during the same period a year ago.

New Jobless Claims came in at 331,000, significantly less than the prior week’s reading of 351,000 new jobless claims, and also lower than the forecast reading of 337,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that these readings supported gradual improvement in the economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Non-Farm Payrolls report for January, which indicated that 113,000 new jobs were added during the first month of 2014.

This reading was better than December’s reported 75,000 jobs added, and suggested to economists that bad weather was not the underlying cause of the dip in jobs growth. Healthcare and government sectors cut jobs in January.

With lower job growth, a higher unemployment rate would seem likely, but the national unemployment rate dropped to 6.60 percent from last week’s reading of 6.70 percent.

The Federal Reserve’s FOMC Committee has established a benchmark reading of 6.50 percent as one of the economic indicators it uses in decisions concerning federal stimulus programs.

Readings for labor and unemployment are important for the overall economy and housing markets; consumers worried about jobs that they might lose or jobs they cannot find likely won’t be buying homes in the near term.

Mortgage Rates Drop

According to last week’s Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, average mortgage rates dropped across the board. The reported rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.23 percent, down from the prior week’s 3.32 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70 percent.

The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.33 percent. Discount points ticked upward from 0.60 to 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.08 percent with discount points unchanged.

Whats Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Weekly Jobless claims, Freddie Mac’s report on average mortgage rates, along with retail sales and retail sales except automotive sales.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report will be released Friday.

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O.C. house prices show biggest jump in 9 years

Posted in Existing Home Sales, Home Values, Housing Analysis, Real Estate Trends by southorangecounty on February 8, 2014

From the Orange County Register, by Jeff Collins, February 4, 2014

“Orange County house prices rose faster in 2013 than in any year since 2004, CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

2013-appreciation-ocr

A new report from the Irvine-based real estate tracker shows single-family home prices jumped 19.7 percent during the 12 months through December.

That’s the highest year-ending appreciation rate for the county since December 2004, when CoreLogic recorded gains of 22.9 percent.

On the other hand, appreciation rates have moderated somewhat since this past year’s peak of 23 percent annual gains in August, and they are forecast to drop back into the single digits this year.

“We expect the rising prices to attract more sellers, unlocking this pent-up supply, which will have a moderating effect on prices in 2014,” CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming said.

Soaring demand and bidding wars drove up home prices last year. Low numbers of homes were offered for sale, while at the same time investors were buying heavily and renewed confidence in the market boosted home buying among owner-occupants.

CoreLogic bases its report on paired sales of single-family homes, comparing each home’s sale price to its previous sale price. The process is considered more reliable than other pricing methods since it is less influenced by last year’s big drop in foreclosures and short sales and rising sales of pricier homes.

Elsewhere in the region, year-ending appreciation rates hit 22 percent in the Inland Empire and 19.1 percent in Los Angeles County, CoreLogic figures show.

Nationwide, house prices increased 11 percent in December from December 2012 levels. That’s the highest national rate of annual increases since 2005. Nevada had the nation’s highest appreciation rate at 23.9 percent.” ( End of Jeff’s article.)

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