Real Estate Market Snapshot – October ’08

  ACTIVE SOLD – w/in Last 6 Months
  Number of
Average Price Days on
Number of
Average Price Days on
Today 890 $1,342,177 100 962 $698,593 87
Last Year 1253 $1,187,099 88 973 $877,052 74
% Difference 71% 113% 114% 99% 80% 118%
GREEN Indicates an improvement from the previous year.
RED Indicates a decline from the previous year.
Information is gathered from the Ventura County MLS. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed to be accurate.

The spreadsheet above is updated almost daily by going to this link:

Not a whole lot happening this month. I think we are all waiting to see what is going to happen with the elections and the aftermath.

Inventory is still down almost 30% from last year. A couple good things to note… We only have 890 listings in the Conejo Valley and in the last six months we’ve sold 962. The time it takes to sell our current inventory is constantly shrinking. ALSO, notice how the number of sold listings in the last six months from today is quickly catching up to last years numbers. We expect to see the number of sales exceed last year’s figures by the end of next month.

On the other hand… Prices are still creeping (not sliding) down. We shall see what happens after the elections!

Fed Cuts Key Interest Rate to 1%

The Federal Reserve continues to shave points off the federal funds rate, reducing it by 50 basis points to 1 percent today, the lowest rate in half a century. Analysts characterized the move as another effort to stave off a prolonged downturn in the nation’s economy.

Unfortunately, this does not lower mortgage rates… yet. The real benefiters are those with a Home Equity Line of Credit, (HELOC). They should be seeing some reduced rates in the next couple of weeks.

Ventura County Assessor

We had a couple of representatives from the Assessor’s office come to visit us today. They had quite a few things to say about getting reassessed. Particularly about how they have been doing with this years assessment roll.

“The Assessor has completed the current 2008-09 assessment roll (lien date January 1, 2008) and is in the process of preparing the 2009-10 assessment roll (lien date January 1, 2009). In preparing the 2008-09 assessment roll, the Assessor reviewed over 43,000 residential properties purchased since 2004, to determine if they qualified for a Decline in Value (Prop 8) Assessment. Of the over 43,000 properties reviewed, over 34,000 received reductions in their taxable value.”

They also noted that homeowners who have been reassessed or have received a Prop 8 tax bill, will qualify for an automatic reassessment next year! Assuming prices continue to drop…

If you haven’t been reassessed or you are unsure if you fall under Prop 8, you can apply for a review by filling out the APPLICATION FOR “DECLINE IN VALUE” REVIEW. It’s a very easy, one page, application that you send to the County Assessor’s office. If you need help filling in the report with comparable sales, we will be happy to help!

The ABR® Designation

The M & M Team is proud to announce our newest real estate designation: ABR®

The Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®) designation is the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation. This coveted designation is awarded to real estate practitioners by the Real Estate BUYER’S AGENT Council (REBAC) of the National Association of REALTORS® who meet the specified educational and practical experience criteria.

REALTORS® must qualify for this designation by taking advanced, buyer representation classes and must have a significant amount of past work experience with buyers.

We are honored to attain such a level of service and are dedicated to continue providing excellent service to our clients.

Median Sales Price – September ’08

Here are the median sales prices recorded in September for single-family homes, condos and
new construction in the following communities:

Agoura Hills $540,000
Calabasas $875,000
Camarillo $420,000
Fillmore $278,000
Moorpark $425,500
Newbury Park $538,250
Oak Park $625,000
Oxnard $325,000
Santa Paula $228,000
Simi Valley $405,000
Thousand Oaks $460,000
Ventura $365,000
Westlake Village $845,500
Woodland Hills $500,000

Source: Data Quick

Winter To-Do List

Are you ready for a chilly winter? Here are a few things you can do around the home to prepare yourself:

  • Change the air filter in your furnace
  • Check doors and windows for drafts, then apply weather stripping, putty
    or caulking where the heat sneaks out
  • Insulate your hot water tank to retain heat – it’s better for the winter bills and the environment
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned if necessary

How to be a Competitive Seller

Shelter is one of the basic human needs. A house is the foundation of our lives, holds many memories, and in short, can be a saleable commodity with a lot of emotion attached. Especially in a contentious transaction, there is frequently an enormous amount of emotion involved. Experts estimate that seller emotion can get up to 90% in the way of making or breaking a deal. As a seller, you must understand that the sale of a home is a business transaction. Although it’s difficult, you can’t take it personally. Here is a critical selling tip — don’t make decisions when you are angry, upset, or fearful. That’s why it’s so important to have a real estate professional involved to serve as a mediator between buyers and sellers, and take the emotion out of the transaction.

That being said, frustrated sellers do have options to market their properties creatively and vie with the competition to a much greater degree. Here are a few thoughts…

If your home is paid for, you might want to consider offering “seller financing” to the buyer. It’s critically important to get your agent and other necessary experts involved with the paperwork, but if you hold the mortgage for your buyer, you might offer them 5% as opposed to the 7% we’re seeing on standard loans today. There are advantages for both buyers and sellers if this is done. For sellers: That’s a pretty nice return on your money! For buyers: it’s tough to get financing from the traditional lenders these days, not to mention 5% is considerably less than 7%.

Incentives work wonders. If you offer to pay for the buyer’s closing costs, for instance, or purchase a home warranty policy for your buyer, that’s a definite edge. If you want to separate yourself from the competition, work with your agent to start thinking outside the box. And increase your profit margin!

Work closely and agreeably with your Realtor. Understand that any suggestions made to renovate or beautify are not aimed at undermining your profitability. To the contrary, agents know that once you crunch the numbers, the expenditures increase the worth of the house to such a degree that you come out much better on your sale price in the long run. The overall selling strategy should also include a highly competitive marketing campaign. Again, your representative knows how to properly position your property to optimize its visibility in the market. Spend the money. It’s more than worth it.

All in all, the bottom line is to try very hard to extract your emotion from your business deal, and always work with a reputable experienced agent. You are a team. He or she genuinely has your best interests at heart.

Are All Housing Markets Local?

In this world of 24/7 news, global markets, and countless reports on the housing market, it is easy to be misled by information that may not be applicable to your local market area. Several outlets track national markets while others such as C.A.R. report both state and county-level market information. While national, state, and county reports describe general trends in the housing market, households and REALTORS® alike know that housing markets vary a great deal locally.

Is the California Market Ahead of the US Market?
Reports on the US housing market do not necessarily reflect what is happening in California. Existing home sales in California rose 57 percent year-over-year in August 2008, compared to an 11 percent decline for the nation. Statewide sales have increased 85 percent since reaching bottom last October, yet national sales have remained virtually unchanged over the same period. Movements in home prices over the past year have played a large role in driving California sales. The statewide median price declined by 40 percent in August compared to a year ago, while the US median price fell 10 percent over the same period. Yet, the supply of homes for sale in California is considerably lower than the corresponding national figure: 7 months versus 10 months. In short, real estate markets tend to be much more local than nationwide statistics or even statewide statistics can illustrate.

Housing Markets Vary Greatly at the Local Level
In fact, local market patterns frequently differ from state and national trends. Differences in housing markets become more apparent when you compare neighborhoods, communities, and counties. For example, in some markets home prices may have fallen by large margins, even as much as 50 percent from their peak. But other markets have experienced small declines, and a few markets have registered slight increases on occasion in recent months. The same is true of the share of distressed sales in different markets. In some areas, distressed sales (Short Sales, Foreclosures, and REOs or bank-owned properties) account for as much as three-quarters of market activity, while distressed sales in other areas may account for fewer than ten percent of the market.

Many areas reporting a large share of distressed sales of late have had a run up in building and home sales in recent years. It is important to note that for the most part, differences in the mix of homes for sale in the market are driven by local conditions. Even within a city, individual neighborhoods or subdivisions may be behaving quite differently. Because of the barrage of information out there with respect to real estate, it is best to turn to the expert in your local real estate market when considering purchasing or selling a home. In the end, while national and state trends are important, they do not necessarily reflect what is happening in the neighborhood or community where you want to buy or sell a home. Be sure to contact me to get the latest information in YOUR market when thinking about buying or selling a home!

Roof Inspections

It’s Fall in the Ventura County… Like every other fall we’ve had, you can probably bet that our yearly visitor, the Santa Ana Winds will be sure to arrive. It’s windy out there! Stay away from the dust and drive extra careful on the roads.

What do the Santa Anas have to do with roof inspections? Quite a few things actually. First, with all the leaves and dust blowing around, debris can get caught in your drains. Excessive build-up can cause leaks. If there are really strong gusts of wind, roof tiles can shift around or even blow away. Besides the wind, your roof could already have some problems that you weren’t aware of.

Although it hasn’t rained a whole lot in the last couple of years, rainy season is just around the corner. It’s better to be prepared than to get caught with some leaks.

We do have some wonderful recommendations for roofers if you need them.

Interest Rates Drop

The rates have been taking a roller-coaster ride for the last 30 days. If you remember, in the beginning of September we wrote about the Government Seizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and how this would probably lower the interest rates. It did! Back then they dropped to 5.625% for a 30-year-fixed loan.

In the last couple of weeks they shot back up to 6.5% for the same loan. Why? We think it has to do with the bank’s control of the money they received from the government and how strict they are being with qualifying new buyers. To be sure, you should consult with a financial advisor or lender to provide some insight.

Regardless, rates have magically dropped back down to 5.625% for the same loan. Check them out here. If you are thinking about buying, now would be a good time to consult with a lender and lock in these rates while they are low.

We have plenty of lenders and financial advisors that we highly recommend.