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Ben Lee on CBS Evening News 12/5

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Winning in a Seller's Housing Market

By Sarah Max @Money September 12, 2012: 5:53 AM ET From To their surprise, buyers in some housing markets are finding they're no longer in the power position. (Money Magazine) -- When Paul and Ieva Johnson moved from Minnesota to Florida, they were looking forward to warm weather and plenty of bargain-priced homes. But when the couple made their first offer earlier this year, they quickly discovered that they'd have to settle for the sunshine. Not only didn't they get the house, says Paul, but "we didn't even get a callback." Over the next two months they put in seven offers -- most at or above asking price -- before finally making a successful $365,000 bid on a Sarasota three-bedroom. To their surprise, buyers in some housing markets are finding that they're no longer in the power position. The reason is simple: too many bidders and not enough homes. A...
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FHA temporarily eases guidance on condo approvals

By Jon Prior September 13, 2012 The Federal Housing Administration eased some requirements for financing the purchase of condominium units through August 2014, according to a letter sent to lenders Thursday. The new guidance is effective for all project approvals or reconsiderations submitted for review going forward. To protect the dwindling emergency insurance fund, the FHA put stricter rules in place. According to the changes made Thursday, no more than 15% of the total units can be delinquent by 60 days or more on their condo association fees. This was eased from a 30-day delinquency threshold. No exceptions to the new rule will be granted, the FHA said. The agency still requires at least half of the units to be owner-occupied for projects completed more than one year ago. But the FHA released more specific guidance on how much investors can own on properties under construction or conversion. Investors can...
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Home price gains drive drop in underwater mortgages

A homeowner in North Las Vegas takes on the task of weeding the front yards of vacant homes in her neighborhood. Nevada had the biggest percentage of underwater homes at the end of the second quarter, at 59%; followed by Florida, 43%; Arizona, 40%; Georgia, 36%; and Michigan, 33%. ( Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times ) By Alejandro Lazo September 12, 2012 , 5:35 a.m. New data show the number of underwater borrowers in the U.S. is continuing to decline as home prices improve, meaning one of the most stubborn roadblocks to the housing market’s recovery is slowly lifting. The Santa Ana research firm CoreLogic estimates that the number of homeowners in the U.S. who owed more on their homes than those properties are worth totaled 10.8 million American households, or about 22.3% of all homes with mortgages, at the end of the second quarter. That was an improvement...
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Purchase offer likely to blame for lost bidding war

REThink Real Estate By Tara-Nicholle Nelson , Thursday, September 6, 2012. Inman News® Offer to purchase real estate image via Shutterstock. Q: I am a first-time buyer and I need all the experienced advice I can get. I lost "the perfect" place due to multiple bids. I panicked and made a second offer of more than I could really afford, but I still didn't get the place. My broker works hard for me, but I fear that another company has the lion's share of the listings in the market I'm interested in and suspect that I lost that first property because the other broker pushed the seller toward one of their buyers. I can't prove it, it's just a hunch. I would feel disloyal leaving my broker, but I may in the future, in order to find the right property and to have a real chance of my bid being taken...<a href=

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Spending spree forecast for homes, cars and restaurant meals

By Tiffany Hsu September 5, 2012 , 10:16 a.m. From Americans' penny-pinching is over, as the tightwad ways of the economic downturn make way for big-spender behavior, according to a new report from Santa Monica-based research group IBISWorld. Nearly five years after the recession began, consumers are tired of cooking at home, residing in cheaper and older homes and driving leased vehicles, according to IBISWorld. Though economic momentum is sluggish, the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.3% from more than 10% in 2009. Consumer sentiment and disposable income levels are gradually increasing. Big-ticket items were neglected as struggling buyers scaled back. Home-builders'  revenue slid 23.2% in 2007, 28.9% in 2008 and 29.5% in 2009. New-car dealers watched sales plunge 28% in 2009. Single-location sit-down restaurants stalled, losing ground to chains and their cheaper offerings. But now, such industries are expected to surge back, according to IBISWorld. Revenue from new homes...Spending forecast
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US Home Prices Make Biggest Jump in 6 Years

By Tiffany Hsu September 4, 2012 , 8:19 a.m. Nationwide home prices shot up 3.8% in July, making their largest year-over-year leap since 2006, according to real estate data provider CoreLogic. The gain marks the fifth straight rise in the gauge , part of a positive swing following a year and a half of slumps. The last time prices rose so much was in August 2006, when they jumped 4.1%. Prices in California bounded up 4.4%. Without distressed sales – including foreclosures and short sales – national prices were up 4.3% compared with last July. The report, coming as a glut of house-hunters clamor after a shrinking inventory, suggests that the real estate market is “clearly seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said CoreLogic Chief Executive Anand Nallathambi in a statement. Compared with June, prices got a 1.3% boost in July, according to Santa Ana-based CoreLogic. The...Home prices jump the most since 2006
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Home Prices Rise for Fourth Consecutive Month

By Kerry Curry August 28, 2012   U.S. residential property values gained more traction in June amid signs of slower economic growth and a stagnant labor market, according to FNC ’s latest residential price index. The index comes out on the heels of the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, which also showed rising prices. Home prices in June rose for the fourth consecutive month, FNC's RPI showed. They were up at a seasonally unadjusted rate of 1.1% from the previous month. The figure is based on recorded sales of nondistressed properties, including existing and new homes, in the 100 largest metros. On a quarterly basis, home prices rose 2.7% during the second quarter, the largest increase in six years. Year to date, home prices were up nearly 4% since January. Fewer sales of distressed properties continues to be an important factor in driving home prices higher. Rising demand has narrowed the gap...
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Obama to renew push for wider mortgage refinance plan

  From   By Jon Prior   August 20, 2012 2:39pm   The Obama administration will renew efforts to pass a wider refinance plan for more underwater homeowners when Congress reconvenes in September. "The housing market is beginning to pick back up. But there are a lot of people underwater," Obama said during a press conference Monday. Senate Democrats introduced three possible bills. Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would expand the Home Affordable Refinance Program again for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers. Some Republicans were on board with eliminating repurchase risk for new servicers who refinanced the old loan. The bill would also remove all appraisal requirements for any loans that still require it. Nearly 423,000 Fannie and Freddie mortgages refinanced under a partially expanded program in the first six months of 2012, more than all of last year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency....
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For renters, buying a home pays off after three years on average

From m August 2, 2012 , 5:00 a.m. By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times Real estate website Zillow has a provocative data point for every renter thinking about buying these days: That move pays off after just three years on average nationwide. The company, which lists for-sale and for-rent information on its site, has released a new analysis of what it calls the "break-even horizon," comparing what it would cost to buy or rent the same home in a number of U.S. markets over time. The rent-or-buy calculus varies widely depending on where you live. In the combined Los Angeles and Orange counties, the magic number is 4.3 years, assuming the buyer has made a 20% down payment. Buying wins out after only 1.6 year in the desert community of Banning. But Newport Beach residents must wait 14 years for buying to make more financial sense than renting. The analysis...Home buying versus renting
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Shrinking supply of homes for sale has upended market dynamics

From By Kenneth R. Harney July 29, 2012 WASHINGTON — Though many home shoppers who assume they are still in a buyer's market find it hard to believe, one of the sobering fundamentals shaping real estate this summer is shrinking inventory: The supply of houses for sale has fallen significantly in most areas compared with a year earlier, sometimes dramatically so. And that is having important side effects by raising prices and homeowners' equity stakes and reducing total sales. In major metropolitan markets from the mid-Atlantic to the West Coast, the stock of homes listed for purchase has dropped by sometimes extraordinary amounts — 50% or more below year-earlier levels in several areas of California, according to industry studies. In Los Angeles, available inventory is 49% lower than it was last summer, San Diego by 53%, reports Redfin, a national online realty brokerage. In Seattle, listings are off 41%. In...
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Home Values Rise for First Time in 5 Years

By Les Christie @CNNMoney July 24, 2012: 5:16 AM ET Home prices nationwide have hit a bottom, and home values are finally on the rise. NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home prices hit a bottom and are finally bouncing back, according to an industry report released Tuesday. Nationwide, home values rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter, the first annual increase since 2007, real estate listing site Zillow reported. Prices were up 2.1% from the first quarter. Even though June marked the fourth consecutive month of home value increases, overall home prices are still down almost 24% since April 2007, when Zillow began to track home values. "[I]t seems clear that the country has hit a bottom in home values," said Zillow's chief economist Stan Humphries. "The housing recovery is holding together despite lower-than-expected job growth, indicating that it has some organic strength of its own." Last winter,...Home prices nationwide have hit a bottom, and home values are finally on the rise.
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Goldman Sachs Sees ‘Strong’ Recovery Starting for Housing

By Prashant Gopal - Jul 23, 2012 1:28 PM PT From U.S. homebuilders are an attractive investment as the housing market starts a “strong” recovery that may drive a surge in new-home sales, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) said in a report today. Housing has a “long list of positives,” including rising prices , job growth, supportive government policies and a decline in the so-called shadow inventory of homes, Goldman Sachs analysts Joshua Pollard and Anto Savarirajan wrote in a note to clients. They raised their rating on the homebuilding industry to attractive from neutral. Public homebuilders, which have been taking market share from closely held companies, reported increasing orders this year as mortgage rates fell to record lows and the supply of existing homes for sale shrank. Construction of single-family houses rose 4.7 percent in June to a 539,000 annual rate, the fastest in two years, the Commerce Department...
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US homebuilder confidence vaults to 5-year high

by ALEX VEIGA - Jul. 17, 2012 07:18 AM AP Real Estate Writer Confidence among U.S. homebuilders is swelling to a five-year high, with many now anticipating that sales of new homes will strengthen this year even as signs point to a slowing economy. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index surged six points this month to 35, the highest reading since March 2007. It rose from a reading of 29 last month, marking the largest one-month gain in nearly a decade. The index, released Tuesday, has declined only once between January and July. Still, any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. In July, builders say they observed the best sales levels since February 2007. Their outlook for sales in the next six months also brightened to the highest level since March 2007. Read more:
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The U.S. Housing Bust is Over

From June 11, 2012 by David Wessel The housing market has turned—at last. The U.S. finally has moved beyond attention-grabbing predictions from housing "experts" that housing is bottoming. The numbers are now convincing. Nearly seven years after the housing bubble burst, most indexes of house prices are bending up. "We finally saw some rising home prices," S&P's David Blitzer said a few weeks ago as he reported the first monthly increase in the slow-moving S&P/Case-Shiller house-price data after seven months of declines. The U.S. finally has moved beyond attention-grabbing predictions from housing "experts" that housing is bottoming. The numbers are now convincing, according to David Wessel on The News Hub. (Photo: Bloomberg News) Nearly 10% more existing homes were sold in May than in the same month a year earlier, many purchased by investors who plan to rent them for now and sell them later, an important sign of an...

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California Foreclosure Overhaul Signed into Law

From By Alejandro Lazo July 11, 2012 , 11:08 a.m.   A major overhaul of foreclosure laws in the Golden State has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Last week, California lawmakers passed the legislation that would provide homeowners with some of the nation's strongest protections from foreclosure and aggressive bank practices. For instance, seizing a home while the owner is negotiating to lower mortgage payments will be restricted. At a boisterous signing ceremony in downtown Los Angeles, Brown said that the measures were an important step for an economy still suffering the fallout of the subprime mortgage crisis and housing bust. "This is a very important day, to sign a very important bill, to clean up at least part of the mess that has been created by all sorts of people in the mortgage, the banking and servicing business that caused untold suffering to millions of people,"...Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris
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U.S. home sales up 20% from last year: DataQuick

  From HousingWire   Posted by kpanchuk on 7/5/12 at 3:54pm   During the 30-day sales period ending July 5, approximately 211,000 homes were sold in 98 of the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas, research firm DataQuick said Thursday. Sales overall rose 12% from the same period a year earlier and 10.6% from 2009 levels. Home prices also went up with the median price hitting $193,000 on July 5, up 6% from a year ago and 4.3% from three years ago. In a little over a month, the median sales price rose from $186,000 to $193,000. The DataQuick report analyzes 66.25% of all U.S. home sales, excluding the key markets of Louisville and Wichita. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Core Logic: Home prices rise for third consecutive month

by Kerri Ann Panchuk When excluding distressed sales, May home prices shot up 2.7% over year-ago levels and grew 2.3% from April. The recent upward trend is an encouraging signal, CoreLogic said. U.S. home prices year-over-year rose 2% in May while also increasing 1.8% from April, CoreLogic ($19.45 -0.11% ) [2] reported in its May home price index. The Santa Ana, Calif.-based research firm said when excluding distressed home sales, prices actually shot up 2.7% over year-ago levels and rose 2.3% from April. Figures from May show home prices nationwide increasing for the third consecutive month in a row. "The recent upward trend in U.S. home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing a bottoming of the housing down cycle," said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. "Tighter inventory is contributing to broad, but modest, price gains nationwide and more significant gains in...
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Mortgage Rates Smash Old Record

  By Les Christie @CNNMoney July 5, 2012: 11:10 AM ET NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Mortgage rates fell again this week, smashing previous record lows, according to a regular weekly release from mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, the most popular mortgage product, dropped to 3.62% from 3.66% last week. The rate has matched or hit a new low for 10 of the past 11 weeks, Freddie Mac said. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed rate fell to 2.89%, down from 2.94%. "Recent economic data releases of less consumer spending and a contraction in the manufacturing industry drove long-term Treasury bond yields lower over the week, and allowed fixed mortgage rates to hit new all-time record lows," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among homeowners who are seeking to refinance or to trade-up and minimize their total interest payments. At the...To top of page
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The Housing Market's Latest Problem: Lack of Inventory

By Morgan Brennan June 28, 2012 When Janet Schindler snagged a listing in tony Presidio Heights last month, she was surprised to hear that her competition for the listing had valued the property at markedly less. Schindler, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in San Francisco, believed that with staging and some minor remodeling the single-family detached house could command between $5.4 million to $5.9 million in auction. The two agents she beat out for the listing had suggested price tags 10-15% lower than hers. It was an estate sale. The property sat on a double lot but it had no view. But the neighborhood was good and so was the home’s layout. After a brief flicker of doubt, she plowed forward with her initial valuation. Turns out even Schindler was modest in her assessment. “When we went on the market, 20 people wanted disclosure packages immediately and when...Cities Where Home Sales Are On Fire
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Ben Lee

Real Estate Broker
Licensed Attorney


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310.858.5489 direct

310.704.6580 cell


Coldwell Banker

Beverly Hills North Office
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Beverly Hills, CA 90210


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