surprisingly strong rebound in California’s real estate market helped
lift a key home price index for the eighth month in a row.
good news for people who plan to sell their homes this spring. Prices
are now up almost 4 percent from the bottom in May 2009, but still
almost 30 percent below the May 2006 peak.
rose 0.3 percent from December to January on a seasonally adjusted
basis, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home
price index released Tuesday. Prices increased in 12 cities in the
biggest monthly gain was in Los Angeles, where prices rose 1.8 percent
from December. And real estate agents say there’s a distinct sense the
worst of the downturn is over.
are “seeing that prices are creeping up,” said Tony Middleton, a real
estate agent with ZIP Realty who concentrates on the San Fernando
Valley. “They’re losing bids on homes and they have to bid again.”
Prices in San Diego, meanwhile, rose by almost 0.9 percent. Phoenix had the third-largest gain at 0.8 percent.
with the same month last year, the 20-city index was off just 0.7
percent from last year at a reading of 146.32. That was the smallest
decline in almost three years and in line with analysts’ expectations,
according to Thomson Reuters.
home prices also could boost consumer optimism. For most Americans,
their home is their largest asset, so as values climb from the depths
of the housing bust, homeowners feel wealthier and more comfortable
spending. And, for homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than
their properties are worth, rising prices rebuild equity.
confidence rebounded in March after a February plunge, according to a
survey released Tuesday. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence
Index rose to 52.5 in March, recovering about half of the nearly 11
points it lost in February.
shoppers remain cautious and there are signs that last year’s housing
rebound won’t last. Home sales sank during the winter, and government
incentives that have propped up the market are ending.
reason for the positive news is simply that the Case-Shiller index
measures a three-month average of home prices. So January’s report
included November’s strong home sales.
bargain-hunting homebuyers continue to pack open houses in California,
often facing off with investors for foreclosed homes.
seeing multiple offers in most of the markets here in the San Francisco
Bay area,” said David Kerr, an agent with ZipRealty in Oakland, Calif.
“People are getting off the fence.”
February, bank-owned properties made up 44 percent of all resales in
the state, according to MDA DataQuick. In Southern California, they
accounted for more than half of resales.
With such high demand, supply is dwindling, driving prices higher.
the state’s unemployment rate has flat-lined of late, and that’s made
buyers more comfortable about purchasing a home than they were just six
months ago, said Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real
Estate at the University of Southern California.
California home sales will likely get a boost in coming months thanks to a new serving of government stimulus.
week, state lawmakers enacted a tax credit of up to $10,000 for
homebuyers that kicks in May 1. The state allotted $100 million for
first-time buyers and another $100 million to anyone who buys a newly
built home. California had a round of tax credits last year that proved
to be popular; that program ended in July.
latest incentive picks up where a federal first-time homebuyer tax
credit of up to $8,000 is scheduled to leave off when it expires at the
end of April. Should the Obama administration extend the federal tax
break, that could give homebuyers in California even more reasons to
there remain pockets of weakness. Sales of homes priced above $500,000
are sluggish. And despite rising prices, more than one-third of all
homeowners with a mortgage still owe more on their loans than their
homes are worth, according to First American CoreLogic.
the cities showing monthly price declines in January, the biggest drop
was in Portland, Ore., where prices fell 1.8 percent from December.
Chicago and Seattle saw declines of 1.7 percent, while prices in
Atlanta fell 1.5 percent.
LOS ANGELES - Courtesy of Huffingtonpost.com, 3-30-2010 –