2/19/2010

Is This the Shift in the Down Cycle?

After three years of shrinking equity and, at the same time, the expansion of the number of homeowners underwater in home value, the Federal Reserve economists, who conduct "massive research" into mortgage balances and home value changes, have some better news. According to their "flow of funds" survey, "homeowners' net equity grew by nearly $1 trillion" from 1st through 3rd quarter of 2009, and in the 3rd quarter of 2009, net equity increased by $418 billion. The down cycle could be shifting, per this article in the Washington Post (see link).

According to Zillow, the percentage of homeowners with negative equity is on the decline in many housing markets including Los Angeles. Riverside, heavily impacted by foreclosures, also saw improvement.

The median Southern California price for houses and condos in January, per Dataquick, was $271,500, up 8.6% from one year earlier, and buyers who paid all cash accounted for almost 29% of January sales, the highest such figure since 1988. FHA loans accounted for almost 37% of all home purchases. Loans over $417,000 accounted for only 14% of all home loans in January.

In Long Beach, probably thanks to the first time buyer tax credit (which expires in April), and to growing recognition that current prices are the best real estate opportunity in years, properties in escrow (up 36%) and median sales price (up 6%) have both risen overall in the period since one year ago.

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