Don Alejandro’s Real Estate Blog


Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Near All-Time High in August

Alex Espinoza
November 1st, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index rose to a year-over-year home price increase of 6.10 percent as compared to July’s reading of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose to a year-over-year reading of 5.90 percent over July’s reading of 5.80 percent.

Home Prices Nearing Their Peak? 

Some cities that previously had high home price increases saw lower paces of growth. San Francisco, California, which reported double-digit home price growth rates in recent years, reported -0.10 percent growth rate month-to-month and a year-over-year home price growth rate of 6.10 percent. Home prices grew at a faster rate in nine cities as compared to year-over-year home price growth rates reported for July 2016 to July 2017.

David M. Blitzer, Operating Manager and Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said, “Price increases appear to be unstoppable, but rapid increases can’t continue forever. Measures of affordability are beginning to slide, indicating that the pool of buyers is shrinking.”

Factors pressuring home buyers include slim supplies of homes for sale, high competition for homes and affordability as demand increases and supplies of homes for sale decrease First-time and moderate-income buyers face additional challenges including the ability to meet mortgage qualification requirements and increasing amounts required for down payments.

Role of NonResident Foreign Buyers Minimal

Non-resident foreign buyers who buy U.S. homes on speculation and leave them vacant may contribute to the high demand for homes as the homes they buy may sit vacant and are removed from the supply of available homes. Such speculative buyers typically pay cash for homes which can sideline mortgage-dependent buyers.

The National Association of Realtors reports that approximately two percent of pre-owned homes are sold to non-resident foreign buyers; this suggests that the impact of such buyers on demand for homes is currently minimal. 

4 Things You Should Never, Ever Say If You Hope to Sell Your Home

Alex Espinoza
October 31st, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

4 Things You Should Never, Ever Say If You Hope to Sell Your HomeHave you ever had a conversation with a total stranger where you said something that you regret? If you are placing your house or condo on the market, you’re eventually going to end up having to chat with potential buyers. Yes, your real estate agent is likely to do most of the talking. However, you will still have to deal with buyers that want to grill you about the home’s history, condition and more.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at four things you should never say to someone who is interested in buying your home.

“We’re Not Accepting Offers Less Than…”

A good way to kill your sale and have a buyer walk away is to set a price floor on bids and offers. Even if the amount you are asking for is reasonable, many buyers will pass because they are offended that they’re being forced to bid above a certain price. Unless otherwise advised by your agent, it is best to let buyers feel in control of the offer process. You can always counter-offer later.

“Our House Has Been On The Market For…”

Stating how long your house has been on the market is rarely a good look. No matter how short or long the listing period has gone on for, buyers don’t need to know this. Moreover, if your home has been on the market for months, knowing that may scare potential buyers off.

“We’ve Always Meant To Renovate That…”

If you were going to fix, improve or even clean something in your home, you probably would have done it before inviting potential buyers in. Your goal is to present the house you do have in the best possible light. Try to avoid pointing out areas that a buyer is going to need to renovate or invest in later.

“We Need To Close The Sale By…”

The last thing you want to do is look desperate to close the sale and move on. Buyers and their agents are going to be looking for signs of weakness which will allow them to submit low-ball offers for your home. If you let on that you have to sell or move by some deadline, you can rest assured that you are not going to get as much when you sell.

There you have it – just four of the things you should not say to potential buyers of your home. For more tips and advice about selling your home, contact our professional real estate team today. We are happy to help.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 30, 2017

Alex Espinoza
October 30th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

Last week’s economic news included readings on new and pending home sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

New Home Sales Exceed Expectations; No Growth for Pending Sales

September sales of new homes reached a 10-year high with a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 667,000 new homes sold. Analysts said that high demand drove September sales past the expected rate of 555,000 sales and August’s reading of 561,000 sales of new homes. September’s reading was 19.9 percent higher than for August and was 17 percent higher year-over-year. September’s reading was 8.60 percent higher for year-to-date sales of new homes. This news may encourage builders to ramp up new home construction, but the widespread damage caused by hurricanes and fires will account for rebuilding thousands of previously-owned homes in the coming months.

The national average price for a new home was $319,700 as compared to $314,700 year-over-year. Real estate professionals said that it would take five months to sell all new homes currently available.

Pending home sales did not change from August to September. The Commerce Department reported no change from August’s reading of – 2.80 percent. Low inventories of pre-owned homes and affordability concerns may have sidelined would-be buyers as competition for available homes and home prices rose.

Regional results for pending sales were mixed. The Northeast region reported 1.20 percent growth in pending home sales, while the Midwest reported 1.40 percent growth and the West topped regional pending sales rates with 1.90 percent growth. The Southern region posted -2.30 percent fewer pending sales; hurricanes likely accounted for fewer contracts signed in September. Year-over-year pending home sales were lower in all regions.

Weekly Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that averaged rates for a fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points for 30-year and 15-year mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.94 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 233,000 claims, which matched expectations and exceed the prior week’s reading of 223,000 first time claims, which was a 44-year low. The jump in first-time claims is not due to layoffs as employers report shortages of skilled candidates to fill job openings.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on Case-Shiller home prices, construction spending and labor sector readings on private and public-sector employment. The national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

It’s Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Alex Espinoza
October 27th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemInvesting in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let’s take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city’s website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost.

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you’re changing and improve it for the better.

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you’re investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job.

Also, don’t be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn’t visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it’s an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you’re making in upgrading your home.

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

As the old saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change.

These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator. If you’re thinking about a major remodel, contact us first. Our real estate team can share which renovations have added value and equity to other local homes.

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Custom Home or Buy an Existing One?

Alex Espinoza
October 26th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Home or Buy an Existing One?Are you looking to buy a new house in the near future? If so, one of the choices you will face is constructing your own brand-new home or buying an existing home. The idea of building a new house on the right piece of land might sound enticing, but what if you could have a larger, more luxurious existing home in the same neighborhood for a much lower cost?

As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. In today’s blog post we will explore whether you should build a new home or buy an existing one.

Building Your Ultimate Dream Home

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If you can afford the combined cost of the land, the house and all of the furnishings, then building a new home is an amazing experience. It is the chance to completely customize everything about your home, right down to having your family put their handprints in the foundation. You will be able to design the garage, media room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and everything else exactly the way you want it. The house will truly feel “yours,” as it’s built in your vision.

Aside from the higher cost, there are other potential downsides to building a new home. Between permits, booking contractors, wrapping up all of the necessary paperwork and construction time, building a new home can be stressful. It can also take much longer than buying an existing home outright.

Well-Kept Existing Homes Have Lots Of Upside

Buying an existing home has its upsides as well. It’s almost certainly going to be a much faster process than trying to build your own home from scratch. As long as you can find suitable listings, you can typically purchase and move into an existing home within a few weeks. You can also customize it to your liking, although not to the extent that you would with brand-new construction. It’s also likely to be less expensive, although that depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the real estate market, the size of the home and more.

In the end, the choice comes down to budget, timing and personal preference. However, whether you decide to build new or you are okay with a lovely home that already exists, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us at your convenience and we’ll be happy to share local home and land listings that suit your needs and budget. We look forward to meeting you.

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Alex Espinoza
October 25th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home AutomationAre you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years so it might be time to invest. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it’s likely to be one of the older “set it and forget it” models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you’re gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what’s happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you’re not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon’s Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don’t forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It’s Easy To Use, You’ll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you’re unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you’re ready to look at high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional real estate team is happy to show you around.

The Quick-and-Easy Guide to Getting Started With House Flipping

Alex Espinoza
October 24th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

The Quick-and-Easy Guide to Getting Started With House FlippingInvesting in real estate is one of the oldest means of building and storing wealth. However, it is only just recently that “flipping” of houses – buying at a low price, renovating and selling at a higher price – became popular. For many, house flipping has become a full-time career and their primary source of income.

So, are you interested in learning what it takes to become a successful house flipper? Read on to learn more about this fun and exciting way to invest in real estate.

Research Local Regulations And Legal Requirements

The first thing you’ll want to do is start researching the local regulations and requirements for house flippers. You can either go online and read through the laws or call up an experienced real estate agent and ask them. Either way, you need to know the rules of the game you’re about to enter.

Gathering The Resources You’ll Need

Next, you’ll want to gather your resources – both financial and human. You will, of course, need to have some cash set aside for a down payment, or for buying houses outright. At minimum, you will also need a real estate agent, a mortgage professional and a real estate attorney. You may also need contractors to help you with renovations unless you have the skills and experience necessary for this.

How To Assess Potential Investment Properties

Successful house flippers develop an eye for undervalued properties. Your goal is to find a home that is listed low but has a lot of room for improvement. The fundamentals of the property, its location, the size of the land, the home’s foundation, etc. – should be good.

You will also want to get good at sourcing out homeowners that are willing to sell but haven’t listed their home yet. If you can secure a private sale, you’re going to save money and avoid having to bid against other flippers.

Making Your First Flip

You’ve built your team, learned the rules and have started to hunt for listings. Now, you need to decide and make your move. As foreclosure rates have trended down recently, it can be hard to find the perfect opportunity. However, as this is your first flip, your goals should be centered on learning the flipping process without losing any money. Keep an open mind and don’t worry about trying to score big. Instead, buy the right home, renovate to add value and relist quickly so you can move on.

When you’re ready to start your search for flip-ready properties, we’re here to help. Contact your local real estate professional and we’ll share a variety of local home listings that will be able to provide a healthy return.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 23, 2017

Alex Espinoza
October 23rd, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

Last week’s economic reports included NAHB Housing Market Indexes along with readings on housing starts, building permits and existing home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Jumps in September, Housing Starts and Building Permits Fall

The National Association of Home Builders reported a four-point increase in its Home Price Index for October. Builders surveyed reported higher confidence in overall market conditions, which resulted in a reading of 68. Analysts had expected no change in the September reading of 64. Natural disasters have raised builder opportunities for new projects, but the industry continues to be swamped with labor shortages and rising materials costs.

While stronger builder confidence is expected to impact housing starts and building permits issued, both reports had lower readings in September. Housing starts were calculated at 1.215 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. An expected reading of 1.170 million housing start was based on August’s reading of 1.183 million starts. Single-family housing starts were lower than for August but were 9.10 percent higher year-over-year.

Building permits issued fell in September; 1.215 million permits were issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to 1.272 million permits issued in August. Higher readings for building permits are expected in the aftermath of recent hurricanes and wildfires, but increased starts and permits will include replacing damaged structures as well as building new developments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Existing Home Sales Rise

Fixed mortgage rates were lower after the 10-year Treasury rate fell six basis points. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.88 percent the average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.19 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent, an increase of one basis point. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Sales of existing homes rose in September according to the National Association of Realtors®. Previously-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million sales. Which surpassed August’s reading of 5.35 million sales and expected sales of 5.30 million previously-owned homes. Any increase in sales is a welcome sign that the severe shortage of homes for sale may be easing. It’s too early to know how hurricanes and fires will affect housing markets and it will take months to rebuild all homes destroyed.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 222,000 and were lower than the expected 244,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 244,000 new jobless claims filed. Fewer jobless claims suggest that jobs markets continue to expand and may help renters decide to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic readings include reports on new and pending home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released. 

Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer Them

Alex Espinoza
October 20th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer ThemAre you listing your home for sale now, or in the near future? If so, you have probably come to terms with the fact that soon you’ll be having strangers tour through your home asking all kinds of questions about it. In today’s blog post we’ll take a look at three strange questions that buyers might ask and how to approach answering them.

“Has Anyone Died In This House Or Is It Haunted?”

You might have chuckled when you read that, but questions about paranormal activity are more common than you think. Many people have beliefs and superstitions about ghosts, ghouls, demons and other spirits that haunt homes. Learning that someone has died in your house – even if it was long before you owned the place – is enough for some potential buyers to pass and move on to the next listing.

“Is Anything Buried In The Backyard?”

Have you ever owned a pet that has grown old or otherwise perished? Think back to that experience and ask yourself: where did you bury them? Many families bury deceased pets in their backyard, thinking that it is a good final resting place. And that may be true if you own the house for the rest of your life. However, if you decide to sell, then you have passed on a backyard that has a corpse resting in it. That can end up as a startling surprise for the next family to live there, especially if they have a dog that enjoys digging up the turf.

“Have There Been Any Infestations?”

Asking about pest problems is a bit less on the weird side of things, but it is one question that is almost certain to come up. Visitors will want to know if your home has experienced mice, rats, termites, ants, cockroaches and a variety of other plagues. Some of these will make sense for your home or the area you live – termites in a wood-framed house, for example – while others will make no sense at all.

Rest assured that the above are just a handful of the many bizarre and strange questions you might get while showing your house to potential buyers. If you do encounter something that seems a bit funny, aim to be polite and answer thoughtfully. When you are ready to list your home for sale, or for more tips and real estate advice, contact us. Our professional real estate team is here to answer any questions you have.

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here’s What to Do

Alex Espinoza
October 19th, 2017 at 12:45pm • By: Alex Espinoza

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to DoWhether you are just about to graduate college or you have been out of school for a few years, there’s a good chance you’re carrying some amount of student loan debt. It seems that news headlines are regularly pointing out that the nation’s graduates are suffering from the stress of student debt. Moreover, that pressure can be even worse for those who are looking to buy a home and start putting some roots down in the local community.

Are you worried that past student loan debt will affect your chances of buying a home? Let’s run through a few tips that can help put your debt worries at ease.

Start A Budget And Embrace Using It

The first and most important step anyone with debt can take is to commit to a monthly budget. Managing your debts means living within your means. In turn, that requires careful examination of your income and expenses to ensure your debts are being paid down.

Also, in most cases, interest is being charged on outstanding student loan debt which makes it a high priority for repayment. The faster you can pay your student loan debt off, the less interest you will pay on top of it.

Check In With An Expert Advisor

If all of this seems confusing, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are expert debt and financial advisors that can help you to make sense of it all. They will help you to understand exactly where your money is going each month and what kind of financial discipline you’ll need to clear the path to home ownership. Many are provided by local or state governments at no cost, so be sure to check out your local options.

Reach Out To Friends And Family

Don’t forget that friends, colleagues and family members can be a great source of advice and support. Close family members may also be willing to lend a hand financially to get you out of renting and into your own home. Also, be sure to check in with former college classmates who have gone on to buy homes in the area. They’ll be a great source of information.

While past student loan and other debts can crimp one’s finances, they are no reason to put off home ownership indefinitely. For more information and to view affordable starter home options in the area, contact your local real estate professionals.