Van Eck Hotline Foreclosure Update

Hi there,

   This is some great information on the current state of the market. If you have any questions give us a call. Have an amazing week!
– Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors

     Instead of admitting their mistake and telling people that it is a good idea to buy and invest in a new or existing home, most of the housing bears have gone in the opposite direction.  They have said that the bear cycle still has a long way to go and that they expect to see housing prices drop by another 10 percent from the recent lows.  Of course, some of them have been even more harsh with their negative rhetoric – calling for home prices to drop by at least 20 to 30 percent before a final low is put in place.  Too bad for them that the market has refused to cooperate with their fantasies.  Earlier today, yet another nail in the bears’ metaphorical coffin was securely put in place.  The March existing home sales report was released by the National Association of Realtors.  Not only was that report stronger than expected – it was filled with data that suggests the housing market is set to improve from here.  That is not what the bears had in mind.
     According to the NAR, existing home sales in March came in at an annual pace of 5.35 million units.  That was above the average estimate of about 5.30 million and it was up by nearly seven percent from the February sales pace of 5.01 million.  Even more encouraging was the year-over-year gain of 16.1% in existing home sales from March 2009.  Is this what the housing bears were telling you to expect six to twelve months ago?  Of course not.  The recovery to date in the housing market was once said to be impossible.  High unemployment and expectations for the recession to continue indefinitely were two of the main reasons offered up by the bears to back up their negative predictions last year and earlier this year.  And of course there is the foreclosure issue.  Those seized properties and distressed sales were supposed to dilute the available supply of housing and thus put persistent downside pressure on the industry and on home prices in particular.  So far though, all those foreclosures seem to have accomplished is to keep a relatively loose lid on the housing market recovery.  While there have been some major signs of improvement in the housing market, it has not experienced the kind of powerful takeoff that has often accompanied past housing recoveries.  If that is the best that the bears can hang their collective hat on these days, then I would have to say that all of their negative hype of the past year or so has been USELESS.
     If you want to hear even more encouraging news about the housing market – all you have to do is look deeper into this morning’s report on March existing home sales.  Some skeptics like to say that statistics are a tool of liars.  Just as with baseball though (one of my favorite personal hobbies) housing statistics can tell you a great deal about what is really going on with the market.  Despite all of the doom and gloom promises from the bears, the sales pace of existing homes has grown year-over-year for nine straight months.  And even with the millions of foreclosures that have been dumped onto the U.S. housing market, the inventory of unsold existing homes has declined during the past 20 months in a row!  How could such things be possible in the world that the housing skeptics have tried to conjure up via countless reports and commentaries?  The answer is that they should not be possible and that carries a powerful bullish message.
     It means that the bear market in housing has already ended.  Sitting around debating every little squiggle here or there in the economic data and foreclosure numbers to try and prove that housing is still in trouble is a waste of resources.  It is time to get back to looking at the housing market as a net positive for the U.S. economy.  I expect more and more people to come around to my way of thinking during the time ahead.  As I discussed last week, there are going to be plenty of foreclosures during the year(s) ahead.  The Obama administration is trying to reinvent the wheel in an attempt to help people avoid losing their home to foreclosure.  Looking at today’s existing home sales report though, I am beginning to believe that the market does not need any more help than has already been offered.  Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors had the following to say about the way foreclosures are being handled by the market.  “Foreclosures have been feeding into the inventory pipeline at a fairly steady pace and are being absorbed manageably.  In fact, foreclosures are selling quickly, especially in the lower price ranges that are attractive to first-time home buyers.”
     That sounds to me like the natural mechanisms of the marketplace are taking care of Obama’s problem for him.  The White House does not need to come out with some kind of radical plan where the amount owed on millions of mortgages is reduced permanently.  The fact is that the U.S. economy has been in a recovery for the better part of a year.  Job losses bottomed out right when the median price of existing home sales did in January 2009.  Prices are still low enough (and mortgage rates are still low enough) to entice buyers into the market.  That has resulted in a steady stream of demand for housing.  The foreclosed properties are almost always sold below what would be seen as fair market value for surrounding homes of like size and characteristics.  Those bargains are not chasing away buyers – they are bringing them to the market in the millions.
     There was another part of the March existing home sales report that I have not mentioned yet.  It deals with prices.  The March U.S. median existing home price was $170,700, up by 0.4 percent from March 2009.  That was the highest median price since October of last year.  I will have more on existing home prices next week.  Tomorrow, the government will be releasing the March new home sales report.  Current estimates are for an annual sales pace of 330,000 to 340,000 – up from the originally announced February number of 308,000.  I believe that the recent bullish trends in existing home sales are soon going to translate into the market for new homes as well.  Inventories of new homes remain ridiculously low – especially when the growth of the U.S. population during the past few generations is taken into account.  In a recovery that can only lead to more building.  The market seems to agree with me as the shares of most homebuilding stocks continue to move higher.

Van Eck Mortgage and Property Update

Greg and I subscribe to the Van Eck Mortgage and Property Hotline which provides an excellent source of information about our housing economy. Here is their latest helpful article that further examines the current housing trends.

The U.S. economy has been doing just fine in recent months.  GDP is already in its fourth quarter in a row of expansion.  A lot of big name analysts and commentators spent the past year saying that “this time is different” and that any recovery in the economy would fall far short of what has taken place in past recoveries.  While there is still a lot of heavy lifting ahead before such headline numbers as the unemployment rate make big improvements, the evidence to date has pretty much smashed away the bearish case on the economy.  Now the bears have been forced to push back their timetable of gloom.  They say that the economy has only been growing of late because of temporary stimulus measures and that it will fall flat on its face by later this year.  As we saw with the March report on new home sales that was released this morning though, new parts of the economic engine are beginning to move again.  This nation is facing an historic shortage of new homes for sale and today’s report shows that the industry is going to have to gear up and begin building at a faster pace to keep up with demand.  In the playbook of the bears, such things were not supposed to happen – but they are already here!

I ended last week’s Hotline with the following quote from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (he was testifying before Congress’ Joint Economic Committee), “Addressing the country’s fiscal problems will require difficult choices, but postponing them will only make them more difficult.”  The longer the politicians in Washington spend our money like there is no end to the supply, the harder it is going to be to reverse the process down the line.  Will the politicians continue their unchecked spending plans in an effort to make as many people (voters and big money interests) as happy as possible?  Or will the Congress (perhaps changed by the coming November elections) act more responsibly and thus make the hard decisions?  President Obama has already promised a lot of people a lot of money.  However, something is changing in America these days.  It is hard to put a finger on exactly what that change entails.  The election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate (a seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy) was certainly part of it.

A lot of people have lost their job in recent years.  Millions of families have lost their home to foreclosure.  Even if people were not directly touched by those forces, they certainly know friends and family that have been impacted.  All of that has leeched into the nation’s culture.  I believe a time is coming in this country when the voters will put people in power that will help to put an end to the skyrocketing deficits in Washington.  It is not the bailouts that account for the vast majority of the skyrocketing Federal budget deficit.  While they have played a role, it is going to be unchecked social spending programs that will push things to the breaking point down the line.  History has proven that simply throwing money at problems is not a good long-term solution.  At a time of relatively weak Federal tax receipts, the government certainly should not be setting up plans to increase spending across a wide spectrum of areas.

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, the annual Federal budget was near $1.4 trillion.  By the time he left office in early 2001, the budget was up near $1.9 trillion.  That was an eight-year increase of about $500 billion, or 36 percent.  In the eight years that George W. Bush held the presidency, the annual Federal budget went from about $1.9 trillion in 2001 to $3.1 trillion in 2009.  That was an increase of $1.2 trillion, or 63 percent.  Those are some big numbers and they really show how the Federal government has been expanding its size and reach for many years now – despite which Party held the White House.  During most of the Clinton and Bush presidencies though, at least there was some sense of balance in the political process – as those two presidents had to deal with a Congress that was controlled by the other Party or at the very least was relatively even between Republicans and Democrats.  That is not the case right now.

Barrack Obama took office a little more than a year ago.  He began with what was already a bloated Federal budget of about $3.1 trillion.  Right off the bat, he made plans to increase the size of government and thus the size of the budget.  The first budget under his presidency ballooned out to about $3.55 trillion.  That was an increase of about $450 billion, or 14.5 percent.  On a purely dollar for dollar basis (not inflation adjusted), Obama grew the size of the Federal budget in one year by nearly as much as Bill Clinton did over an eight-year period.  Now the president has laid out a political agenda that seems destined to grow the budget even more during the remaining two years and nine months of his term (and who knows, he might even overcome the recent plunge in his approval ratings and win a second term).  A poll released earlier today showed the president’s approval rating at a lowly 41 percent.  That is going to be a major obstacle for Obama during the time ahead as he tries to push through a myriad of reforms.

The same poll that showed the president has lost the faith of the majority of Americans also revealed that people remain quite sour on the Congress – which checked in with an approval rating of only 16 percent (although that was up from 10 percent the previous month).  It remains quite likely that voters are going to clean house in November.  Some of the biggest names in the Congress might not be returning to office next year.  The “throw the bums out” mentality will likely touch both Parties, but the fact remains that the Democrats have nearly complete control these days and therefore they are seen as a bigger problem in the eyes of angry voters across the country.  In the months ahead, I am going to be taking some time to study exactly what is behind the huge increases in the Federal budget deficit and thus the Federal debt.  A lot of everyday people believe it is all somehow connected to the bailouts of Wall Street and the automakers.  However, there is much more to the story.

It is not too late for America to make some hard choices of its own and beat back the planned deficits of the coming decade.  As with any hard decisions in life, there will be an outcome that carries some unpleasant consequences.  That sounds a lot like being a parent that must force rules on a teenager.  At first, the child will pout and complain that their life has been ruined by the boring and hardhearted parents.  In the end though, the child will be better off for it when they grow up and become an adult.  That is the same deal that America and its leaders are facing these days.  Far more importantly in my opinion is that these problems and hard decisions will still be there waiting for the next mix of political leaders in Washington in early 2011.

Outdoor Trips for the Whole Family to Love

As your children grow older, it can be difficult finding fun family vacations for everyone to enjoy together. Here are some tips to get out and have a pleasurable family vacation:

1. Go camping. Find a campground near scenic hiking trails, cool and refreshing lakes, or even extended ATV trails. This is a fantastic trip idea for the entire family, especially if each of you have different ideas about what you want to do on your vacation. For example, you can do some bird watching while your son attempts to cast for dinner. And your spouse might enjoy reading a book in a hammock strung between two trees while you r daughter chases fish through the lake using her snorkel and fins.

2. Travel back in time. Turn the vacation into a history learning experience by exploring the Old West, walking the streets of America’s founding cities or designing a road trip along the Mississippi River and popping into the small river towns teeming with river history. Educational vacations do not have to be boring – many communities in historical settings offer live recreations of the event or events, and if your children happen to be studying that era in school, it is an even better experience.

3. Take an off-road trip. The bonus is that several off-road vehicles seat four, which means your family saves money on renting multiple off-road vehicles. ATV and side-by-side trails allow your family to travel great distances off the main roads, giving you the opportunity to see new geography and potentially different wildlife which you would not be able to see from your car on the highway.

4. Visit one or several of the national parks stretching from coast to coast. You can take in the Atlantic Ocean from the cliffs of Maine in Acadia National Park, rare and endangered species in the waters of Everglades National Park, pretend you are part of the explorers following the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail that stretches through eleven states over mountains, through rivers, across prairies and all the way to the Pacific coast, or admire the architecture of more than 600 cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloans in Mesa Verde National Park. That is just to name a few of the hundreds of parks you can explore.

5. Organize an extended scenic drive. Plan a trip around one of the great lakes, or through a mountain range or even across the expanse of a desert. Research some of the small towns along the route for a new and interesting things to see. Try out new restaurants and ask the locals what some of the more popular dishes are. If you are on your trip during the harvest time, stop by a roadside stand and make a picnic or a tailgate party out of the fresh produce that is available.

When planning your next family vacation, make sure you pack plenty of food and beverages, as well as your camera. Encourage the kids to take along journals so they can document the sights they see and the new places they are experiencing. But most of all, enjoy the time spent together on vacation. – Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors

10 Secrets to a Perfect Lawn

The no-care lawn has not yet been invented (although you can now automate your mowing with robotic lawnmowers). Here are a few tricks that may make your neighbors green with envy.

1. Mow frequently with sharp blades
2. Do not go too short
3. Do not mow a wet lawn
4. Mulch clippings into the lawn

5. Water Deeply — and infrequently
6. Avoid nighttime watering

7. Do not overdo it
8. Do not mix your fetilizers

Pest Control
9. Grow thick grass — and stay on top of your weeds
10. Choose the right herbicide

Consider other options
If all this seems like just too much trouble, you can give up on the idea of the perfect lawn entirely, opting instead for a xeriscape or other no-mow options. – Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors

Lessons From the Housing Bubble Bust

The pop heard ’round the world when the housing bubble burst brought a lot of bad news – – from plummeting home prices to mounting foreclosures. But with all bad times comes a slew of good lessons to be learned.

Depressed home prices and low interest rates may have you wondering if the real-estate market has reached its bottom. Even if the worst is behind us, it makes sense to take in the lessons of the past few years so we can avoid making the same mistakes again.

Lesson No. 1: Adjust your expectations. Years ago, people purchased a home, lived in it all or most of their lives, passed it down their children and enjoyed a gradual increase in wealth as the home gained value. But in the last decade, people bought a house expecting it to increase in value about 5 or 10 percent in a couple of years, and they would move on to something bigger.

If the housing-bubble has shown us anything, it is that you can not count on a home to be worth more than you paid for it when you are ready to sell.

Lesson No. 2: You can not time the market. When home prices were skyrocketing, many people bought homes they could barely afford — or could not afford — thinking they would ride the wave of rising equity since the market was on the upswing. Likewise, today, many potential homebuyers are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the market to reach its ultimate low. Take a long-term approach to real estate and look for a home that enhances your life and will increase in value over time.

Lesson No. 3: Do not treat your home like a piggybank. At the height of the real estate market boom several homeowners were refinancing high-interest credit cards with a low-interest second mortgage on their homes. Today, some fo those people have lost their homes or are in danger of doing so because they were unable to handle th emortgage debt.

As the market rebounds, we need to go back to owning your home free and clear again, because residential real estate really is the backbone of our country.

Lesson No. 4: Think long-term financing. Adjustable-rate mortgages appealed to those who wanted teh lowerest possible interest rates and expected to be able to either sell their homes or refinance them before the martgages reset. However, after the real-estate market crash, many did not have enough equity to refinance and houses began to sit on the market as prices went into a free fall. When it comes to financing, you can not just look at the next six weeks or two months or next year. You have to ask yourself, “where will I be in five years?”

Ultimately, the real-estate market collapse was a lesson in learning to adapt, experts say. When you see frenzied market, expect that it is going to change. The only thing constant is change.

Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors

New Bank Owned Home in Dublin!

Check out this great bank owned home!

11222 Rolling Hills Drive

4 Bedrooms, 3 Baths, 2820 Square Feet, 3 Car Garage

Large yard, hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings and much more! 

If you would like to see this bank owned home or any others in the area, call me anytime!

Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors, 925-855-4046

New Bank-Owned Home in Dublin!

Check out this great bank-owned townhome in Dublin

10743 Dulsie Lane

2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, 1,103 Square Feet

Light and bright throughout.  Gorgeous views of the hills all around.  Good schools and much more! 

If you would like more information on bank owned homes, call me anytime!

Lisa Doyle- 925-855-4046- J. Rockcliff Realtors

Adding Condo Curb Appeal by Realtor Magazine

Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors


1) Make your front door shine.  Add a plant and a welcome mat.

2) Show off hidden treasures.  Highlight the pool or garden if your front part of building is blah.

3) Partner up with your HOA.  Attend a condo association meeting and discuss adding more flattering features to the outdoors (new flowers, plants, lighting, etc.)

4) Keep everything inside that belongs inside.  Don’t leave shoes or other items on the porch. 

If you or anyone you know has Real Estate questions or needs my help, call me anytime!

Have a nice day!

Lisa Doyle with J. Rockcliff Realtors