2009 End-of-Year Roundup: L.A. County Home Values

Image via Wikipedia

Say it ain’t so!! Sorry, but all those  rumors that home values are finally rising again are just silly rumors. Values are slipping less than before, but, countrywide, values continue to decline by about 1/2% per month.  As always, location is terrifically important. It matters greatly where your home is located or where you want to buy. Some areas are tanking while others are increasing slightly.

So, which is which? Do we want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s mix it up a bit. S0me local areas that continue to sink in value include Pomona down around 10% in all ZIPs to around a median of $200,000. El Monte took a pretty big hit dropping about 18% to a median of around $250,000 in all ZIPs. Remember the Station fire? Buyers apparently do as La Canada Flintridge values are down 27% to a median of $876,000. La Puente which has already lost huge value has sunk to a median of about $250,000 across all ZIPs. Trendy during the boom, both Highland Park, Eagle Rock are down substantially [18% and 32% respectively, to medians of $286,000 and $365,000].

So, is there any good news? Well, yes, some local areas are doing quite well, thank you very much. Glendora has slipped less than the county average to a median of $378,000 in 91740 down 2% while 91741 is down almost 7% to $470,000. LaVerne is down 4%, less than the county average to a median of  $420,000, though San Dimas has sunk 25% to a median of $378,000. Covina dropped by about the county average across its ZIPs to about $330,000.

But, there are a few standouts. Altadena has posted a healthy 23% gain over last year to a median of $517,000. Alhambra in 91801 and Monrovia are  up by about 1% to a median of $549,000 and $490,000 respectively. Alhambra’s other  ZIP is down about 1% to $426,000. But, buyers are also flocking to Arcadia, up 8.5% to $807,000 and up 17% to $970000 in 91007.

 

Then, there’s Pasadena also a winner overall. This is where buyers seem to want to live and they are driving up the prices. 91103 is up 5% to $405000, 91104 and 91107 are  up by whopping 23% and 26% to  medians of  $550,000 and $670,000, 91106 is up 1% to a median of about $1.1 mil–not bad! 91105 is the only Pasadena loser, down by a substantial 28% to $675,000.

What about trends? Any new trends across the county? It’s a bit early to say, but it looks as though more pricey areas, especially at the beach are starting to lose value. Palos Verdes is down 44% to a median $1.17 mil along with Rancho Palos Verde down 20% to $850,000. Manhattan Beach is down slightly to a median $1.139 mil. Malibu is down 36% to a median of $1.363 mil. 

Why might this be happening? Rich folks may be different from you and me, but they can count pretty well. Being underwater by $200,000, $300,000 orn $400,000 just doesn’t make economic sense even if you can afford the payments. Better to just walk on by, and that’s what many wealthy home owners are now doing. My big prediction? More will do the same in 2010 as prices continue to decline.  Buyers today, rich or moderate income, are all interested in only one thing: value for their money. Pasadena appears to offer that–at least for the time being–while Malibu does not.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

L.A.County Home Prices: April 2009

:en:Category:Images of Pasadena, California
Image via Wikipedia

Well, the beat goes on and on…Home prices are still falling, marginally, and the spring/summer sale mood has definitely kicked on. Some, highly desireable, areas, such as Pasadena, are experiencing fast sales and multiple offers, but mainly in the starter homes which in the Rose City means $300,000-$400,000.

For the county as a whole, median values are now $295,000 which, as mentioned frequently here, lacks much meaning for those living in the so-called “desirable” areas since that depressed figure is largely generated from massive losses in a localities-Palmdale [down in one ZIP 57% to an incredible $53,000 median home price], Watts [down 50% in one year to median $130,000], Littlerock [down 52% to $100,000 median] or Compton [down 60% to about $140,000]. In other words, the main pain is being felt either in outlying areas of the county or in traditionally lower-priced sections. These massive drops in value are forcing the median of the whole county down.

So, where are the “desirable” areas which have suffered less? Well, La Verne, for one, is down only 4.6% since last April with a median of a healthy $475,000. Claremont is down only 2% with a median of $545,000. Arcadia is down 7.4% to a median $766,000 in 91006 and UP 11% to a median $929,000 in 91007! Temple City is UP 3.9% to a median of $530,000. Other cities in L.A. County, too, are either showing positive gains over last year or only modest losses–Alhambra is up a tick to median $520,000; Sherman Oaks is up 3.2% to a median of $813,000; Van Nuys is up 4.4% to a median of $473,000 in ZIP 91411, though, admittedly its other ZIPs are all showing losses between 25% to 30%.

Other “desirable” area are quite predictable. Most beach cities are up: Malibu, up 5% to a median $2,000,000; Manhattan Beach up 6% to $1,500,000 median; Redondo, up about 10.5% to a median $990,000 in ZIP 90277 and $708,000 in Zip 90278; Marina Del Rey, up 21% to $955,000, Palos Verdes Peninsula is up 16% over last year to $1,825,000. Only Hermosa Beach has declined a smidge [-5%] to a paltry $1,785,000, based on very few sales. Must be tough!

See the trend? Southern California property is still hot, just not all of it. People are running like mad to buy beach city properties which haven’t been this low-priced in awhile. In fact, there’s a bit of a buying fever in these areas which is also reflected in other affluent cities, such as San Marino [down only 3% to $1.4 million median], parts of Pasadena [91106 up over 60% to a median $800,000, based on very few sales] and certainly Glendale which over its seven ZIPs ranges from up 10% [91202 median $692,000] to down 33% [91204 median $399,000 based on too few sales] to down 4.5% [91205,91206 with medians $528,000 and $578,000] . All of these cities are making respectable showings with hefty median prices, especially when compared to the rest of the country. We are still prohibitively expensive for transferees from other states.

Other parts of the county are down, just moderately…Glendora is down in its two ZIPs about 20% to a median of about $400,000, and sales are numerous and brisk. San Dimas is a great bargain–down 35% to a median $350,000, again with brisk sales. West Covina is down in its three ZIPs about 20% to a median of around $350,000 also with brisk sales. Covina is down a tick below 20% to a median of about $360,000 across its three ZIPs, again with eager buyers recognizing a bargain when they see one.

The worst-hit areas in the eastern part of the county are traditionally working-class where unemployment has hit the hardest–Azusa, down 25% to a median of $250,000. Baldwin Park down 29% to $255,000. El Monte, down about 25% to about $265,000, Duarte down 41% to $260,000. As we have noted over the past year, Pomona leads the way downward with huge drops across its three ZIPs [91768 down 28%, 91767 down 32%, 91766 down 42%] giving medians of $175,000.$205,000 and $159,000–some of the lowest values in the entire county…

The pain is not over, though we can see tiny points of light here and there. Homeowners who are not “upside down” or owing more than the value of their home are well advised to sit tight. Living in a hard-hit area, though, many homeowners have seen their down payments and equity vanish as if by magic. For these homeowners, loan modification or short sale are probably the best bets. Homes that the first to decline and which decline the most are usually the last to recover…unfortunate, but true….

Thanks to The L.A. Times and MDA Dataquick for the data.

How To Buy A Repo

Elden P. Bryan Residence
Image by Floyd B. Bariscale via Flickr

Everybody wants to buy a repo? What’s a repo? It’s a lender-owned home, a repossession. What’s so special about a repo, you may ask?  Main difference is the price, the price, the price. Lenders have no emotional attachment to a property. They just want it off their books as quickly as possible. To that end, repos are frequently, but not always [pay attention: NOT ALWAYS] priced below market.

So, that’s good, right? What’s not to like? Buyers get a below-market home. Lender/seller gets the property off its books. What’s the problem here?

There are a few issues when buying a repo.. Here are a few for buyers to consider.

Condition

By law, lenders are not required to offer the usual transfer disclosures required in California and most other states in which the seller discloses all the material facts about the home, including any known defects.  Why do lenders not have to disclose? Because the bank has never lived in the home and, in fact, most likely knows nothing about it or its history.

Buyers of repos get none of the detailed information sellers love to impart to buyers about what was done to the house, by whom and when.  Frequently, repos are not in great condition, truth be told, though most of them will have been cleaned of debris and tidied by the listing agent’s cleaning crew.

Remember: the former owners lost the house because they couldn’t make the payments. More than likely, they couldn’t pay for furnace cleaning or roof leak repairs or any of the multitude of tiny and large repairs that homes we live in get from us every day. This deferred maintenance  can cause hidden damage.

Remedy: Get a thorough home inspection from a competent home inspector. If further inspections are suggested in the report–plumbing, HVAC, roof or whatever–get them. This property may be offered as a  may be a bargain price, but it’s still a lot of money. It may wind up as no bargain if the pool equipment is broken or the roof leaks.  Do yourself a favor and spend the money to get the suggested inspections.

The Negotiations

Another area of difference concerns the actual negotiations in purchasing the home. Normally, you make an offer, submit it to the seller, get an acceptance or a counter offer and then go into escrow. The procedure for a repo is relatively the same except the seller is a faceless bureaucracy and usually you and your agent have no communication whatsoever.

It’s often even difficult to get in touch with the “listing” agent because frequently these “agents” are faceless themselves, communication through websites, email and voice mail.  These companies often list   hundreds of repos,   each one as lovingly treated as a disposable fork on a picnic.

Each bank and each “agent” has a different technique in negotiating with buyers. And the strategy also depends on the property. If the property is among hundreds of other repos, as in, say, Moreno Valley or Fontana, it’s all about the numbers and getting a buyer quickly if at all.  If it’s a desirable property in a good area of Arcadia, for instance, it’s a different story, though, again, it’s really about the amount of money involved.

So, for some repos, you make your offer, the agent submits it to the bank quickly, it’s accpeted, and escrow begins. For others, many offers are received, so then the agent ,in consultation with the bank,  takes one of the offers and works with it, going straight to escrow. Sometimes in this scenario, the agent comes back with a multiple counteroffer from the bank asking all buyers for their “highest and best offer”. Then, from  those that come back, the bank selects the best and opens escrow.

What to beware of here? The auction effect…we all became familiar with this during the boom market and it’s far from dead. Buyers will always vie to get a good property at a good price. Prevent yourself from paying too much by keeping your emotions out of it, if possible, and setting a price beyond which you won’t go, no matter what. That will immunize you against the auction effect.

Financing

Is financing any different for a repo? Will I have to use the bank which owns the house? The short answer here is NO and No. Some banks will require that you pre-qualify with a specific lender in order to have your offer considered, but no one can require you to use that lender. As with new homes, though, sometimes the lender will offer more favorable terms just to have control of  the situation. Should you do it? By all means…more favorable terms are always good.

Repos are a bit different as far as the transaction goes. Many banks require their own forms which, of course, are there to minimize the bank’s liability.  California, in particular, has many buyer-protection laws. Banks cannot require you as part of the transactions to give up your rights.

But, the bank may require a shorter inspection term [the normal is 17 days] or provide stringent conditions if the buyer’s loan isn’t funded in the agreed-upon number of days, especially if the buyer is not using the bank’s lender.  That’s not so bad. It may keep your lender and your agent on their toes.

Another issue is termite inspection. Many buyers assume that a termite clearance is required by law. Not so–it’s often required by the terms of the buyer’s loan, but many loans don’t require it.  Many repo listings specifically say that the bank-owner will not provide a clear termite. In this case, it’s up to the buyer to get a termite inspection and pay for any damage.

Got your heart set on a repo? Get over it. Set your heart on a good deal whether it ocmes from a bank or a short sale or even a savvy seller. In fact, buying from a seller who prices his home to sell quickly is the best way to go. At least, that seller isn’t going to walk off with the kitchen faucet or leave a big hole punched in the bedroom door…

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

L.A. County Home Prices: February 2009

South Pasadena City Hall
Image via Wikipedia

The news is still grim and grimmer for February 2009. L.A. County median home value has now sunk to an almost unbelievable $295,000. This represents a 37% drop over the previous year, but that’s only part of the story as prices had already sunk more than 10% by that date. Remember prices started to slide in September, October 2007.

Part of the reason for the precipitous drop in home values, as mentioned here repeatedly, is the wipe-out occurring in outlying areas, such as Lancaster [over 50% decline] and Littlerock [64% decline] which were offering many new homes to commuters. These homes are now almost worthless and dropping all the time due to adjustable mortgages, sub-prime loans and repossessions, in short the panoply of ills we have all learned about in the last year as our economy has tanked. Other areas of massive decline in L.A. County include Watts [61% down], Firestone Park [-52%], Eagle Rock [-51%] and Boyle Heights [-55%].

In the San Gabriel Valley, the eastern part of the L.A. County, the situation is not so bad, though, as always, working-class areas are hardest hit. In fact, only Pomona in the San Gabriel Valley comes close to the dire drops of northern L.A. County. Across its three ZIPs, Pomona has lost 40% to a median of $200,000 in 91766, 37% to a median of $195,000 in 91767 and in 91767 anothrer 37% drop to a median of $185,000.  Marching these declines are only Azusa at 47% drop to $235,000, followed by South El Monte at negative 38%.

The biggest surprise has to be  La Verne down 38% to a median of $369,000. If this trend holds, in fact, this would make LaVerne the biggest bargain east of the 605 because it has housing stock that is for the most part very well maintained along with a very good school system and plenty of infrastructure support.

For the rest of the east, Baldwin Park is down 31% to a median of $255,000,  Covina is down about 20% to a median of about $350,000 except in the South Hills where it’s down barely 2% to a median of $478,000 with just a couple of sales. Sales are weak  in Glendora 91740 where the median has dropped 25% to  $350,000; even more anemic sales in 91741 show a rise of 36% to a median of $660,000. Neither figure is reliable as sales are too scanty to know what is going on there.

Rounding out the east, Claremont has essentially held its own for the year with a median of  $570,000. Diamond Bar has dropped 11% to a median of $451,000. San Dimas has gained 10% over last year with a median of $543,000. Over its three ZIPs, West Covina has lost over 25% of its home values falling to a median of about $410,000.

On the west side of the 605 Sierra Madre has gained 2% to a median of $745,000. San Marino has gained 36%, but that is based on only 4 sales and so means little. South Pasadena has remained stable with a median of $725,000, again based on only a couple of sales. Arcadia has taken quite a dip-42% in 91006 to $485,000 and 14% negative in 91007 to $750,000. Some of these medians may seem high,but when you’ve paid more than a million dollars for your property, it’s no picnic watching it plumment to even $750,000.

Duarte is down 27% to $295,000 while Monrovia is down 30% to a median $400,000–both based on quite a few sales. Altadena is down 19% to a median of $443,000. Our major city, Pasadena, as always shows mixed results. In prestigious 91106 the median value is still over $1,000,000, a slight increase, again based on a negligible number of sales. 91107 shows a drop of 10% to $630,000, 91105 a 16% drop to $773,000, 91104 13% negative to $557,000 and 91103 a 34% drop to $310,000 median.

The situation does not appear to be improving significantly, but I can say that many of the stats were based on so few sales as to make them meaningless.  Few sales is also a negative in itself, of course, but  the coming of Spring to the Southland also opens the homehunting season for buyers who this year have an amazing array of help available to them in tax credits, higher FHA loan limits, and various city and county grants.

On the positive side,  perhaps Obama’s Plan will help some of these underwater homeowners. I am always available for discussion at 626-641-0346 or email at drdbroker@yahoo.com. The new administration has presented some plans to help those suffering from the precipitous drop in home values.

Figures are courtesy of MDA DataQuick in LaJolla, supplied by L.A. Times.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

L.A. County: December 2008 Home Values

Seal prior to 2004 lawsuit threat
Image via Wikipedia

You guessed it–home values are still going down. December home sales for L.A. County show a median home value of $320,000, down from the $340,000 of november and 36% lower than November of 2007. Of course, neighboring counties are doing worse, some by a wide margin, but that is hardly cause for joy. There’s no doubt we’re all in this together.

As always, some areas are in worse shape than others. By now, we expect to see huge price drops in North L.A. County and we surely do: Lancaster shows medians of $115,000 and $116,000 [93534,93535], representing drops of 50% and 38% respectively over last year, while 93536 shows a median of $199,000, 35% less than last year. This is grim news as it most certainly means foreclosures and short sales for many. Those that remain must somehow deal with a loss of up to 50% of their home’s value over last year. Sadder still is the story in Palmdale where one ZIP[93591] has lost a spectacular 74% of its median home value in one year to arrive at a crushing $65,000.  Other Palmdale areas show losses of 46% to a median of $116,000 [93550]and 35% to a median of $225,000 [93551].

Other areas hard hit by the home value drop include many areas in Los Angeles City, including Hawthorne, Watts and Compton along with others. In our own area, Pomona continues to lead the way down with a 50% drop in 91768 to a median of $173,000, 41% in 91766 to a median of $223,000 and 38% in 91767 to $216,000. Other large drops occurred in Baldwin Park [42% to $235,000], South El Monte [41% to $270,000], Whittier 90602 [47% to $318,000], but, for the most part, the San Gabriel Valley‘s median home values are higher than the county median and have dropped less.

San Dimas, for instance, shows a 14% drop over last year to $465,000, though that is based on very few sales, itself a poor harbinger for the future. Arcadia dropped about 24% to a median of about $750,000 across its two ZIP codes. Monrovia is down 11% to $478,000, again well about the County median.  Covina has lost around 20% to a median in the high $300,000s.  Walnut has actually gained value to a median of $634,000. Guess you’re doing something right, Walnut. Glendora is down a bit over 20% in both 91740 and 91741 to medians of $343,000 and $419,000 respectively. La Verne is down 6% to $465,000 which represents very good value. Buy in LaVerne. Claremont is down a measly 2% to a median of $525,000.

Many of these medians are based on very few sales, so we can expect them to change, possibly radically, inthe near future. South Pasadena, for instance, now is up 11% to a median of $1,200,000, but that is  based on only 3 sales for the whole month. Condo sales have been abysmal, as expected, and many median values are based on 1 or 2 sales. The median condo price in L. A. County is $290, 000, down 25% over November 207. Sales, though, are way off.

It’s clear that the pace of decline is slowing and the median for L. A. County is dragged down by horrendous numbers in some parts of the City of L. A. as well as Palmdale, Lancaster and the high desert areas  like  Littlerock [down 51% to a median of $140,000]. Established suburbs, such as those in the San Gabriel Valley, with good schools, well-managed city governments and alreay-built and paid-for infrastructure are doing much better than outlying districts. It is also true, though, that if our Current Recession deepens cities will be less able to maintain these infrastructure amenities in the face of shrinking  tax base  from closing auto malls, lost retail outlets and rising unemployment.

Statistics provided by MDA DataQuick and are printed in the L.A. Times.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

November 2008: L.A. County Home Prices

los-angeles

Well, as we’ve all been hearing, it’s been another bad month for the nation and for L.A. County. Prices are heading–you guessed it!–DOWN, DOWN, DOWN.  In fact, year over year, prices have fallen 35.7% countywide. The median home value is now $340,000.

Of course, the drops are greater in some areas than in others. In general, working class areas are most likely to show the greatest declines and more affluent areas the least. Statisticians are telling us that until now lower-priced areas have lost 44% of value while upper-income areas have lost 22%. That is a reflection of the ability of the rich to cushion the blow. They have more resources to call upon when times get tough. Lower-income folks are more likely to live paycheck to paycheck with no real savings in case of a downturn.

Thus, we note that in our San Gabriel Valley Azusa is down 30.9% to a median of $280,000; Altadena is down 28% to a median $420,000. Baldwin Park dropped 31.9% to $274,000, Covina is down over 30% to $330,000, Duarte has dipped a whopping 42% to a median of $280,000, and La Puente is down over 32% to a median of about $275,000. Pomona is still Heartbreak City for our area, though, with drops of 49%  and 40%  to a median of $230,000 in 91766 and 91767,  and to  44.6% in 91768 to a median of  $210,000. This is truly horrible and is producing a sea of human misery.

Still and all, other areas of L. A. County are doing far worse. In one ZIP in Palmdale prices are down 64.9% to a median of an unbelieveable $80,000. Other Palmdale areas clock in a medians of $253,000 and $129,000. With prices like these, you know that remaining home owners are going to bail either letting their homes go to short sale or into foreclosure.

The lower-priced homes are now in many areas priced below replacement value. So, in other words, prices cannot fall too much further.  So the previous situation of lower-priced homes taking the greater hit in home values  we are told, is about to change. This downturn is so severe and so intense that now the wealthy are also starting to lose their homes in greater numbers.

Some of that is due to true economic hardship. After all, the wealthy are the business and shop owners whose sales are down the drain and the executives who are being downsized. Eventually, with businesses failing, they run out of money as well.  And, as homes in more affluent areas begin to lose value, many owners question themselves: why am I sitting here paying on a $600,000 mortgage when my home is now worth $350,000? Sometimes it’s a business decision to let the home go…It is cheaper to rent the same house, perhaps as much as half as cheap, especially in good areas which have many foreclosures, such as Corona or Rancho Cucamonga. Fear not, though, these massive foreclosures are coming to L.A. County as well.

Areas in L.A. County which until now have maintained are starting onto that downward spiral. In our area,  affluent Arcadia has declined 22.5 % in 91006 to $420,000 while 91007 is down 26.2 to $830,000. These are significant drops.  San Marino with only a few sales is also down 25.5% to a median $1,250,000.  Sierra Madre is down 24.6% to a median of $660,000. Glendora 91741 is down 31.8% to a median of $505,000 while 91740, only partly in Glendora school district, is down 18.7% to $386,000 median.

San Dimas is down only by 9.8% to a median of $508,000. LaVerne is down only 13.9% to a $439,000 median.  Claremont is down 9.6% to $520,000. These postings show these cities are holding their value well in comparison to the rest of the county. For this, east Valley residents can be grateful despite losing whopping amounts of equity in their homes.

What does the near future hold for our county? I’m afraid it’s more drops in value, especially among the more affluent areas.  Until January 9th, Freddie and Fannie have declared a moratorium on foreclosures both to get everyone through Christmas as well as to allow banks to catch up. Once the moratorium period is over, we will see a tsunami of foreclosures right here where we live. Even a new President will be powerless to stop it.

Where Are Those Foreclosures? An Update

Locally, the rate of foreclosures continues to rise. Previously, the worst of the crisis seemed limited to Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, but, little by little the foreclosure boom has extended to the San Gabriel Valley as well.

For some quick examples, let’s look at one of the worst hit areas, Azusa with 27 foreclosures priced from $159,900 to $659,000. As noted here previously, an obvious place where foreclosures will be widespread is anywhere with many new homes. Voila Azusa where home builders have flooded the market in the past 5 years. This is one reason so many foreclosures are occurring there.

Covina is another foreclosure hotspot with 30 currently on the market ranging in price from $184,900 to $729,000. Single family homes priced below $200,000 are still  a rarity, so  the lower figures are usually condos. In West Covina currently 48 repos are on the market, priced from $205,000 to $527,000. Even pricey Walnut has 6: $209,900 to $994,900. Prestigious Claremont has 9 priced from $237,500 to $489,900.

LaVerne has 6 foreclosures for sale. San Dimas has 8 priced from $269,900 to $631,659. Glendora also has 6 with prices starting at $297,000.

In the western San Gabriel Valley fewer new homes can be built as the area has been built up for a long time. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere, foreclosures are abundant. Our largest city, Pasadena has 32 on the market ranging from $219,000 to $649,000. Monrovia has 10: $220,000 to $579,000. Altadena shows 12 REOs, priced from $190,000 to $565,000. Tiny South Pasadena has 3 and Arcadia has 4.

Economic woes have hit Duarte a bit harder and it shows. Duarte has 16 foreclosures ranging from $106,900 to $474,000.

As always, though, the title of Heartbreak City goes to Pomona which now has 119 foreclosure listings, priced from $106,600 to $454,000 for a lovely 4-bedroom in Phillips Ranch.

Besides our own misery, we also know now that nationwide 12 million homeowners are underwater or owing more than their homes are worth. That is definitely true here as well where on average prices have dropped 25% to 30% over the last year, creating many more “underwater” homeowners.  Of course, that presages more foreclosures in the future as these homeowners bail out of their now way overpriced homes.