Monday, July 31, 2006 - "Tentative Lumber Agreement Would Destabilize U.S. Lumber Market" (7-31-06)

"A managed trade agreement to end the dispute between Canada and the U.S. over lumber duties that was initialed by both sides in Geneva earlier this month raises serious concerns for the nation’s home builders, Barry Rutenberg, a member of the NAHB Executive Committee and a builder from Gainesville, Fla., told the International Trade Committee of the House of Commons today."
Real Estate Journal - "The Benefits of Buying a Home In a Cooling Real-Estate Market" (7-31-06)

"You better figure on living there five or six years to make any kind of profit on the thing."
Real Estate Journal - "Be Wary of Signs and Ads Offering To Pay Cash for Your Home" (7-31-06)

"According to one formula in 'Buy It, Fix It, Sell It, Profit' by Kevin C. Myers (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2003), investors calculate their offer by subtracting costs for purchase, rehab, holding, sales, profit and unexpected contingencies (or the 'Oops Fund,' as the author describes it) from the maximum retail value of the house, as determined by comparable sales. As a rule of thumb, Mr. Myers writes, skilled foreclosure investors buy properties at savings of 20% to 50% off retail value. Some may offer a slightly better deal, but only if the seller finances the cost of needed repairs."
Inman - "S.F. Bay Area real estate sales fall from record highs" (7-31-06)

"Sales of existing single-family detached homes dropped 25 percent in the Bay Area from second-quarter 2005 to second-quarter 2006, Prudential California Realty reported, while the inventory of active listings increased 34 percent."

"The time on market for single-family detached homes increased from 27 days in second-quarter 2005 to 43 days in second-quarter 2005."

"Median prices for single-family detached homes, meanwhile, grew from $741,657 in second-quarter 2005 to $789,914 in second-quarter 2006, a 7 percent gain."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

LA Times - "Mixed picture for housing prices" (7-29-06)

"Fannie Mae chief sees an overall flattening of appreciation and a weakening of condo sales in many markets."

"Berson thinks the Federal Reserve "is not done tightening" the ratchet on interest rates, and will move up short-term rates again in August. After that, he says, rates are likely to stabilize, bringing at least a temporary cessation to rising home mortgage rates."

"He expects average home price appreciation, which had been running at a double-digit annual clip nationally for the last year, to drop to 3% or below by the end of the year. (On this point Berson is more bearish than most of his housing and mortgage industry colleagues, who project average appreciation in the 4% to 6% range.)" - "Housing Production Continues to Increase in June" (7-28-06)

"Housing starts continued to climb in June, suggesting that production is on target to reach expected levels for the year, the California Building Industry Association announced today."

"In June, building permits were pulled for 12,292 single-family homes statewide, up 2.9 percent from the previous month. It’s the fifth straight month-over-month gain in single-family production, according to statistics compiled by the Burbank-based Construction Industry Research Board."

"Multifamily housing starts — condos and apartments — totaled 6,883, up 97.6 percent from the previous month, however multifamily starts tend to be more volatile than single-family starts on a monthly basis. Overall for the month, builders pulled permits for 19,175 homes and apartments, up 24.3 percent from the previous month."
NY Times - "Housing Slows, Taking Big Toll on the Economy" (7-29-06)

"The biggest risk, economists say, is that the optimism that fed the real-estate boom will reverse dramatically. The number of homes for sale has surged in recent months, particularly in once-hot markets, like the Northeast, Florida, California and parts of the Southwest. As builders delay land acquisition and construction it could reduce employment and spending in the coming months."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

U.S. Census Bereau - "New Residentials Sales in June 2006" (7-27-06)

"Sales of new one-family houses in June 2006 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,131,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 3.0 percent (±12.0%)* below the revised May rate of 1,166,000 and is 11.1 percent (±9.8%) below the June 2005 estimate of 1,272,000."

"The median sales price of new houses sold in June 2006 was $231,300; the average sales price was $290,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of June was 566,000. This represents a supply of 6.1 months at the current sales rate."
Inman - "Housing slowdown takes pressure off mortgage rates" (7-27-06)

"Decline expected to impact consumer spending, economy" - "C.A.R. reports median price of a home in California at $575,800 in June, up 6.2 percent from year ago; sales decrease 26.3 percent" (7-25-06)

“Mortgage interest rates continued to edge up for the fifth consecutive month in June, contributing in part to a slowdown in sales,” said C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “June 2006 was the first time since late 2001 that the sales pace fell below 500,000 for two consecutive months. Home sales declined 26.3 percent last month compared with June 2005, when they hit the third-highest monthly pace on record.”
LA Times - "Earnings Fall 20% at Pulte Homes" (7-27-06)

"The builder says new orders dropped 29% in the second quarter. It again reduces its full-year forecast." - "Glut of unsold new homes across US hits record high" (7-27-06)

"The glut of brand new unsold homes for sale across the United States hit a record high in June, a government report showed, as some economists warned of a worsening market in coming months."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

CNN - "Most overpriced home markets" (7-26-06)

"100 cities ranked. Despite a slowdown, some values are still out of whack. Plus: where the bargains are."
CNN - "Fed sees signs of slowdown" (7-26-06)

"Beige Book: Economic growth in some regions cools; chance of August rate hike dips."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

NAR - "Existing-Home Sales Flattening, Prices Cooling – NAR" (7-25-06)

"Existing-home sales were down modestly in June, and home prices were up slightly from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®."

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said the housing market is flattening-out. “Over the last three months home sales have held in a narrow range, easing to a level that is near our annual projection, which tells us the market is stabilizing,” he said. “At the same time, sellers have recognized that they need to be more competitive in their pricing given the rise in housing inventories. Home prices are only a little higher than a year ago.”
CNN - "Realtors: Home sales now a 'buyer's market'" (7-25-06)

"Sales fell for third straight month in June; nearly flat prices make double-digit gains seem like a distant memory."
Inman - "California home sales plunge 26%" (7-25-06)

"Median price continues climb as more homes sit on market"

Monday, July 24, 2006

OC Register - "Orange County home prices and sales" (7-23-06) - "Estate tax elimination could cost heirs" (7-24-06)

"As is often the case in tax-law changes, when some taxpayers win, others lose. That will be the case in 2010 when, under current law, the estate tax disappears for that year only. Ironically, that same year some heirs will find they owe more in taxes than they would if the tax had remained in place."
Inman - "Oodle plans big expansion of real estate listings" (7-24-06)

"Partnership with iHomefinder gives brokers option to share MLS data"

Sunday, July 23, 2006 - "For-sale signs multiply; Phoenix area called 'bloodbath'" (7-23-06)

There is no sign of a broad collapse of housing prices about a year after the once-hot coastal markets entered a long-anticipated cooling phase. But the general level of prices is edging down in some areas and leveling off in others, while the supply of homes for sale keeps rising."

Saturday, July 22, 2006 - "Hold off on that panic attack" (7-23-06)

"The market's just returning to normal, experts say. Good news for buyers, but not that bad for sellers either."

"Even in a worst-case scenario, which is not expected, economists say homeowners will lose no more than 7% of their homes' value down the line," Karevoll said. So much for a real estate crash.
OC Register - "Real estate economist cuts O.C. price forecast" (7-22-06)

"Gary Watts now sees 11% to 12% growth in home values for 2006 instead of the 15% appreciation he previously predicted."

"I really think that we are pretty close to the bottom of our real estate prices," Watts said. "August ought to be the last month of weak appreciation numbers."

Fore reference sake:
"Housing evangelist still crying 'Hallelujah'" (7-23-05) - "30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgages Hit 6.8%" (7-21-06)

"Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to a nationwide average of 6.8%, up from 6.74% last week and the highest since the week of May 24, 2002, mortgage company Freddie Mac said."
LATimes - "Housing Expert: 'Soft Landing' Off Mark" (7-21-06)

"The chief economist of the California Assn. of Realtors has stopped using the term "soft landing" to describe the state's real estate market, saying she no longer feels comfortable with that mild label."

"The state Department of Real Estate recently reported that the total number of agents in the state passed 500,000 in May for the first time. That's one agent for every 55 adults in the state." - "The Area-Code Plot to Kill L.A.'s Housing Market" (7-21-06)

"The Fed's interest-rate hikes couldn't do it, but three little digits might. Would you pay L.A. prices to live in the 424?"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Inman - "Rental market rebounds in Western markets" (7-20-06)

"Northern California sees highest jump in rental rates, occupancy"
Inman - "Rental market rebounds in Western markets" (7-20-06)

"Northern California sees highest jump in rental rates, occupancy"
Inman - "Home builder D.R. Horton's earnings sink" (7-20-06)

"As we indicated when we reported our net sales orders last week, the current home sales environment is characterized by an increase in both existing and new homes available for sale, higher than normal cancellation rates and an increase in the use of sales incentives in many of our markets. Due to these factors, last week we reduced our guidance for fiscal year 2006 to $3.65 per diluted share or greater (based on approximately 317 million diluted shares) on approximately 50,000 homes closed."
CNN - "Mortgage rates return to 4-year high" (7-20-06)

"Freddie Mac reports 30-year rebounds to 6.80 percent, its highest level since May 2002."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - "Home prices head south" (7-19-06)

"An entrenched slowdown in sales and a pileup of resale inventory is taking its toll in the capital region as, for the first time since the late 1990s, median sales prices for homes in Placer and Sacramento counties dipped below the previous year's levels." - "Los Angeles Condo Conversions May Be Slowing" (7-19-06)

"The recent craze for converting apartment buildings to condominiums, which is drawing political heat in Los Angeles and elsewhere, may be slowed by market forces before City Hall has a chance to act." - "Home Sales Fall Again; Prices Rise" (7-19-06)

"Southern California's housing slowdown persisted last month as prices rose at their slowest pace in more than six years and sales fell for the seventh month in a row, data released Tuesday showed." - "Manufacturing sector growing in California, O.C." (7-19-06)

"California's manufacturing sector continued to grow at a faster rate than the nation's in the second quarter, according to a survey of purchasing managers released Monday by Chapman University's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research. Orange County's manufacturing industry also expanded." - "Slowdown leaves sellers with hard choices" (7-19-06)

"Some homeowners are cutting their asking prices, paying buyers' closing costs and beefing up their marketing in an effort to close deals." - "Homeseller sweetens deal with Hawaii trip" (7-19-06)

"Owner of Newport Shores house believes throwing in a vacation could lure a buyer in a climate of waning sales." - "Bay Area still isn't building enough houses" (7-19-06)

"Bay Area cities and counties built 83 percent of the homes needed to meet population and job growth over the last seven years, exacerbating the region's affordability crunch and lengthening many residents' commute times, according to a study by a business-oriented think tank." - "Housing Starts Drop 5.3 Percent In June" (7-19-06)

"Total housing starts dropped 5.3 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.850 million units, according to figures released by the Commerce Department today. This was 11.0 percent below the pace of a year ago." - "Mortgage Application Volume Declines in Latest MBA Survey" (7-19-06)

"The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 14 found taht the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 540.8, a decrease of 4.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 566.8 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 36.4 percent compared with the previous week but was down 31.3 percent compared with the same week one year earlier." - "To Buy Or Not To Buy; NAR Consumer Brochure Answers The Question" (7-19-06)

"Renting can cost more than seven times annually than owning, according to a newly revised consumer education brochure from the National Association of Realtors®. The brochure, “Why rent when you can buy?” challenges certain assumptions about renting versus buying and helps Realtors® evaluate with their clients and customers whether homeownership is right for them."
Inman - "Real estate slowdown continues in California" (7-19-06)

"Home sales dropped 24 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area in June compared to June 2005, and were down 17.5 percent in Southern California during the same period, according to real estate research company DataQuick Information Systems."
Inman - "Bernanke raises hopes of pause in interest-rate hikes" (7-19-06)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee today that a slowdown in the economy that would keep inflation in check seems to be underway, raising hopes on Wall Street that the Fed will keep short-term interest rates at 5.25 percent.
Federal Reserve - "Monetary Policy Report from Congress" (7-19-06)
Inman - "Fannie Mae forecasts 10% drop in 2006 home sales" (7-19-06)

"The number of homes changing hands in 2006 could decline by up to 10 percent next year, and mortgage originations could fall by 18 percent to $2.41 trillion in 2006, the top economists at Fannie Mae project."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - "Builder Confidence Slips Again In July" (7-18-06)

"Increased concerns about interest rates and housing affordability caused builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes to slip three more notches to 39, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July, reported today."
Inman - "Wells Fargo reports record profits despite losses on ARMs" (7-17-06)

"Wells Fargo says it generated record profits of $2.09 billion in the second quarter, despite taking a $250 million loss on the sale of $26 billion in adjustable-rate mortgages and other loans."
LA Times - "For San Diego Real Estate, the Skies Are Not So Sunny" (7-17-06)

"Signs of a chill are spreading in the state's hottest market. Care to speculate on the future?"

Friday, July 14, 2006

Inman - "Builder slashes earnings forecast" (7-14-06)

"D.R. Horton Inc., a large Fort Worth, Texas-based home builder, cut its 2006 earnings forecast Thursday due to the slower real estate market conditions. Quarterly home sales orders were down from a year ago, while orders in the first nine months of the fiscal year were up, the builder said."
Inman - "California proposes new rules for title insurance industry" (7-14-06)

"Claiming that there's not enough competition in the title insurance industry, California's Insurance Commissioner is proposing new regulations he says will result in rate reductions of at least 20 percent."
LA Times - "Bids on the Block" (7-9-06)

In a shifting market, property auctions are catching on with owners who want a quick sale and buyers hoping to find a bargain: Shades of EBay.
Real Estate Journal - "Home Builders Expect Slowdown For the U.S. Real-Estate Market" (7-14-06)

"The economic forecast for California isn't as positive because the state already has expensive home prices and an overall high cost of living, the report added."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Real Estate Journal - "Interest Rates, Fuel Costs Partner To Derail Housing Markets" (7-12-06)

"More far-flung than other Bay Area suburbs, California's Central Valley is experiencing a housing market downturn more pronounced than in the Bay Area, the Mercury News says. During the residential real-estate boom, home buyers were buying properties farther from San Francisco in exchange for cheaper price tags, and Central Valley communities proliferated, the paper says. But now, with higher gasoline costs, rising mortgage rates and significantly appreciated real-estate prices, homes in the region are harder to sell and prices are falling. The article reports that in California's San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, sales of new and resale homes dropped 29% in the first five months of this year from the same period last year, according to DataQuick Information Services. At the end of May, almost 4,000 houses were up for sale in San Joaquin County, a year-over-year rise of almost 250%, the Mercury News says. To get an idea of the commute between these communities and San Francisco, a calculation on shows that the driving distance between the San Joaquin town of Tracy and San Francisco is 62 miles."
CNN - "Mortgage applications up for second week" (7-12-06)

"MBA index sees a 1% increase from previous week; 30-year mortgage averaged 6.81%."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - "Home Sales Expected To Stabilize In The Months Ahead" (7-11-06)

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said the market is showing signs of stabilizing. “The major housing indicators have been moving up and down within a reasonable range, which means the market should even-out just below present levels,” he said. “At the same time, housing inventory levels are balanced in much of the country, so overall price appreciation will be at a normal rate. We should see home sales rise and fall month to month, but don’t look for any big shifts one way or the other.”

Inman - "Economists say housing market cooling, not crashing" (6-11-06)

"Housing sales and starts are down from last year's peaks, and will continue to decline in 2007 and perhaps into 2008, economists at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Home Builders predicted today."

Monday, July 10, 2006 - "Mortgage giants avert potential disaster" (7-10-06)

"A potential financial disaster that could have shaken the housing market was averted because regulators discovered accounting failures at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the new head of the agency that oversees the mortgage giants said Monday."
OC Register - "Refi loans could prove costly in foreclosure" (7-8-06)

"Law allows lenders to go after personal savings as well as the house, unlike original mortgage." - "KB Home Warns of Slower Sales as Inventory Grows" (7-11-06)

"Home builder KB Home said negative trends in the U.S. housing market could persist in 2007, as inventory accumulates amid higher interest rates, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday."
CNN - "Housing market slowing but strong" (7-10-06)

"Despite cooling economy, this year should still be the third-strongest year on record, according to Freddie Mac."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

LATimes - "30-Year Mortgage Rates Climb to 6.79%" (7-7-06)

"Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to a nationwide average of 6.79% this week, up from 6.78% last week and the highest level since the week of May 24, 2002, mortgage company Freddie Mac said."

"Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, increased to 6.44%, up from 6.43% last week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 5.83%, up from 5.82% last week. Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages were unchanged at 6.39%."

"The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The 30-year and 15-year mortgages carried a nationwide average fee of 0.5 of a point. The five-year ARM had a nationwide average fee of 0.6 of a point and the one-year ARM carried a fee of 0.8 of a point."
Real Estate Journal - "Cooling Home Market Spurs Interest in Foreclosure Sales" (7-7-06)
NYTimes - "Investors Lead Home Sale Boom in New Orleans" (6-9-06)

"In a market spurred by speculators and bargain hunters, an extraordinarily large number of houses in the flood-ravaged metropolitan area here are being sold, according to real estate analysts, who say volume and sales prices exceed levels before Hurricane Katrina."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Inman - "The next real estate boomtowns: Where are they?" (7-6-06)

"We're starting to see a pretty significant migration of California people not only buying property for investment but moving here to live." - "Pending Home Sales Index Leveling Out" (7-6-06)

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said the index appears to be moderating. “The slight change in pending home sales indicates the market is beginning to level out,” Lereah said. “This is consistent with our forecast, which is showing a soft landing for the housing sector. We are entering the second phase of the transition period from the housing boom, in which sellers are becoming more realistic about their expectations – sales are stabilizing and annual home price appreciation is returning to historic norms.”
Wall Street Jounral - "Surviving a Real-Estate Slowdown" (7-5-06)

"A 'Loud Pop' Is Coming,
But Mr. Heebner Sees Harm
Limited to Inflated Regions" - "Higher prices, higher rates: The 1st-time homebuyer squeeze" (6-5-06)

"It's never easy buying your first home. But in the past year, it's gotten a lot harder."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Star-Telegram - "Housing undervalued now, but maybe not for long" (6-5-06)

"Finally, it may be Texas' turn for a housing boom -- or at least a boomlet."
Real Estate Journal - "Sellers Find It Difficult to Set A Price in a Volatile Market" (6-3-06)

"A year or two ago, pricing a house was simple. Sellers only had to look at what their neighbors were charging, add 10% and wait for the bidding wars to begin."
Salt Lake City Tribune - "Utah escapes U.S. housing balloon" (7-1-06)

"Despite rapidly increasing prices, the market is not as overvalued as you might think"

Sunday, July 02, 2006

LA Downtown News - "The Coming of the Cranes" (7-2-06)

"The Downtown Boom Continues With 156 Projects"
LA Times - "What's really so bad about rental units in a condo complex?" (7-2-06)

"Our condo complex is 19% rental units. I want our association to prevent the future purchase of units intended to be rentals. I want the board to require a buyer to live in the unit for two years before it can be rented. I've heard that mortgage companies can refuse to finance condos and homes if more than 25% of the complex is used as rentals. Some of the other owners don't share my concern, but I'm worried about lowering property values. Can our board legally cap the number of future rentals while permitting the existing rentals to stay?"
OC Register - "Upwardly mobile" (6-30-06)

"Priced out of the traditional housing market, some Orange County consumers are turning to more affordable manufactured homes."

Inman - "Residential real estate construction slows in California" (6-30-06)

"Single-family housing starts down 22% from a year ago"
Daily News - "Housing future uncertain, but certainly not good" (7-2-06)

Bruce interviews about some of his finding in the California Crash report.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

OC Register - "Analysts say rate hike no big deal for mortgages" (6-29-06)

"30-year, fixed-rate loan hits 6.6% in O.C.; expect rates to inch higher over next year."

OC Register - "O.C. ranked near top for fall in home prices within 2 years" (6-27-06)

"Orange County's housing risk remains high on a national scale, says mortgage insurer PMI Group's math."
Real Estate Journal - "New Study Pinpoints Top Places Where Real-Estate Prices May Fall" (6-30-06)

"Some of the nation's hottest housing markets are cooling, but the strength of the economy is balancing the risk of home-price declines, according to PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., which released its U.S. Market Risk Index on Tuesday."
CBIA - "Housing Production Continued to Tick Upwards in May, CBIA Announces" (6-30-06)

"Overall Production Is on Track to Be the Fourth-Highest in 17 years"
Business Weekly - "Bernanke's Timely Balm" (6-30-06)

"The Fed chairman's indication of a willingness to moderate his tough stand against inflation reassured investors and sent stocks soaring"