Wall Street Journal – first time homebuyers?

Today’s WSJ had an interesting article titled “The Brighter Side of Housing”. The secondary headline said “Amid downturn, ‘Unaffordable’ is within reach”.

Quoting them – “And now for the heartwarming side of the housing bust: It’s helping some people buy homes that they couldn’t afford a couple of years ago.

Michelle Dudley for years commuted 50 miles each way to her job as a civil servant in Anaheim, CA, because she and her husband, Don, didn’t feel they could afford a home near her office. This week, though, the Dudleys moved into a three bedroom house in Anaheim that they recently bought for $390,000, down from the original listing price of $445,000 in November. Similar homes in the area were selling for as much as about $600,000 two years ago…”

Last Sunday, Leslie had a first open house for a new listing at 5169 Creekside in Camarillo. Like the previous week at a different open house (Harvest Lane home), there were a flood of first time homebuyers coming through. Conversations with them mirror the theme – with prices coming down, now’s maybe the time to take a hard look at buying a home.

Filed under article topic: Home buyers,Market statistics/Trends
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What’s the OFHEO (and why do I care?)

A news release a couple of days ago from OFHEO stated that “U.S. home prices rose approximately 0.6 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis between January and February” of 2008. Who are these guys I wondered?

OFHEO is the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, an obscure agency tasked with the huge responsibility of monitoring and regulating the two huge companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So I jumped on the internet to check them out. With their vast resources, I’d have to assume their numbers are accurate – so are we beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel for declining real estate prices? Time will tell!

But check out their chart that tracks monthly appreciation rates – will this trend continue or is this just a sucker punch to values? Here’s the complete 3 page pdf file to check out.

Filed under article topic: The Fed & Housing policy
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“Speed dating” 9 REO’s (in 90 minutes!) yesterday – an update

Wow – we did it! In less than 90 minutes – but we hustled smartly along! With a group of about 15 in a caravan of cars, we only spent 4 – 5 minutes in each home.

The homes ranged from a 3,000 square foot executive home to a real “fixer-upper” in mid-town Ventura. We saw contrasts – a beautiful, completely finished home (never thought you’d see that in a bank owned foreclosure did you?) to that fixer-upper (it needed everything – new roof, kitchen, baths, carpentry to repair bad windows, etc). We saw condos, single family homes and ended up at a beautiful single family home in east Ventura.

The purpose was to see a range of homes, in a range of developments and neighborhoods, and to get an initial sense of value of the current marketplace.

We had some investors, a lot of first time homebuyers, and some potential current homeowners thinking of moving up.

Our next tour will be homes in the north Oxnard area in early May. Come join us! It’s fun!

Filed under article topic: Home buyers
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1:10 p.m. today – opinion from KNX1070 on market…

Coming back to the office just now, I was listening to the business report KNX1070 has everyday at 1 p.m. They interview expert market analysts on latest stock market trends, and all things business.

Ron Kilgore interviewed a John Augustine from Cincinnati who mentioned the big write down Wachovia Bank announced ($4.4 billion of bad loans), plus their raise of $7 billion of new capital. He stated that the big Wall Street investment banks have already taken their heavy “hits” in write downs and that banks (like Wachovia) will probably also have to do so. The thought is to write off all the bad stuff now and clear the decks as it were.

But now the interesting part. IF we entered a recession in late 2007 (only know with hindsight) and IF we are about half way through this recession (historically), then Wall Street is starting to think about the future and the stock market has already discounted the sub-prime mess, credit crunch, etc. Maybe this summer will see us starting to see light at the end of the tunnel?

Who knows? But once the general media starts these conversations, it tends to be self fulfilling.

But I found it interesting that the media and some analysts are starting to look ahead now and get out of the doom and gloom we’ve been hearing for so long.

Filed under article topic: The Economy/Economics
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Observations from open house yesterday.

Wow – what an afternoon! Who says the real estate market is “dead”? We did an open house yesterday for our new listing at 1891 Harvest in Camarillo. Yes, it’s a cute 4+2 home in a great area of Mission Oaks, but we were surprised at the turnout, and even more surprised at who was looking for a home to buy.

The first 4 or 5 “looky lou’s” were looking as investors, then no more for the rest of the afternoon (that seemed unique). But that seemed to us that if investors are out there actively looking for value, then: 1) home price points are starting to look attractive to these folks, and 2) they must think prices will some day head back up again (or why would they be buying?).

But the big surprise was that almost all of the remaining 25 or so parties that came were 1) first time buyers and 2) they didn’t fit the stereotype of a first time buyer. They were different age demographics, marital status and so forth. What fun to see excitement at the prospect of a first home!

It was a hot afternoon – temperature wise, but also with the crowds that came through.

Filed under article topic: Random Stuff
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