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New home sales: 'Really good news'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of newly constructed single-family homes spiked 11% in June to an annualized rate of 384,000 homes, according to a report released Monday.

The gain over May was much greater than expected. A consensus of housing industry analysts had forecast seasonally adjusted sales of 352,000, according to Breifing.com.

However, sales are still 21% below the levels of a year ago, when new homes sold in June at an annualized rate of 488,000, according to the report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Four years ago, during the height of the housing boom, the sales rate for June was 1,374,000, nearly three-and-a-half times higher than last month.

Still, the report was very positive, according to Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland who had forecast June sales to be at the 350,000 level. "That is really good news. Considering what's going on in existing home sales, with all the foreclosure activity sending down home prices, for new homes to jump like that is a good indicator that the economy is bottoming out."
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Vacation Home Blog and News

November 16, 2008

Does Anyone Know What to do in a Buyer’s Market?

Filed under: Vacation Home Market — Jim Marks @ 10:29 am

Generally, this is the best time to buy real estate. That’s why they call it a “Buyers’ Market”! Real estate has gone down substantially over the last two years. In fact, a major correction (more substantial than many in the past) has already taken place throughout most of the country. Those markets that were hottest in 2005-2006 have dropped the most. A few markets such as in North Carolina, Texas, Washington state, and many local markets have actually gone up. The rest of the country has faced a correction in varying degrees, and will probably not experience that much of a further downturn in prices. There are plenty of deals out there.

One thing about a Buyers’ Market – buyers are fewer. Most aren’t sure whether prices will fall further or not. And, there are economic trends to consider. Can anyone tell what the immediate future of the economy is right now? While the real estate market is beginning to chug along again, my guess is that a lot of buyers are still standing on the sidelines, waiting to see how this economic crisis turns out. Those who are already financially sound, regardless of further downturns in the economy, are now snatching up all the bargains. A lot of “cash deals” are coming in, and the banks and mortgage companies are being bypassed altogether.

At the same time, the mortgage companies and banks have become much stricter in their guidelines, slower in the process, and, perhaps through cutbacks and layoffs, much less competent in their dealings. This may be a buyer’s market for “cash buyers only” during the first phase. Mortgage companies and banks are still reeling from their past bungling, and are now stumbling through the aftermath. In many cases, it’s almost like they forgot how to process a mortgage! If you’re planning on getting a mortgage for any property, make sure you have a competent real estate agent representing you as a buyer. And take their advice when they recommend a good lender.


November 15, 2008

What’s Your Idea of a Vacation Home?

Filed under: Choosing a Vacation Home — Tags: , — Jim Marks @ 7:00 am

Most people think of a vacation home as something for the rich. Absolutely not true. In fact, most vacation home owners earn an average yearly household income, or just above. Sure, many people want that luxury seaside mansion in the Hamptons, or a luxury home on a groomed ski trail, but for many people, it’s a small cottage to fix up and get away on vacations and weekends… or just a parcel of land to camp on.

Some people like the idea of buying a large piece of wilderness, perhaps on a mountain, or by a stream. From there, they could build their own vacation home, furniture and all. Something the family builds and everyone has a hand in. You camp out for the first year or so, and gradually move into your vacation home, then expand it.

Another option is to buy a resort condo, perhaps with just one or two bedrooms. Many places have affordable condos (not timeshares), with onsite rental programs. When the market’s good, these are the first properties to appreciate, so if you want to move up, catch the beginning of a seller’s market. Condos usually have little maintenance, and often generate income to pay for condo fees, taxes, and whatever mortgage you might have. Typically, onsite rental programs split the rental fee with the owner.

You could also sell your current home, move to where you like to vacation, and find employment there. That way, you’re already living in the area you enjoy most, and vacations are spent outside your door.

What’s your idea of a vacation home, and how do you plan to accomplish your goal?


November 8, 2008

Is now the time to buy a vacation home?

Filed under: Vacation Home Market — Tags: , , — Jim Marks @ 1:38 pm

Prices have dropped in many places to where they were prior to 2005. Demand is pent up for both first and second homes, and inventory is beginning to fall off. For many builders, material costs have gone up so much that they can’t make a profit in this market – existing homes on the market provide too much competition.

It remains to be seen as to how the foreclosure scenario will play out over the next several months. If the government and banks do nothing, I’d expect home prices and vacation homes to depreciate a bit further. If they begin renegotiating these loans in terms of interest rate and loan extensions, then we could see a bounce off the bottom of the housing market that will begin a new round of modest appreciation in housing prices.

If you need to sell your vacation home, hold on for as long as you can. Rent it, cut more on your budget, or whatever is necessary to avoid selling at the bottom of the market. You’re close right now, and if you could hold on for a few years, it could make a huge difference, not only in the selling price, but in negotiating the sale,  the time involved in selling your property, and buyer ability to secure a loan – yes, banks are denying many buyers right now.  If you are selling now, make sure you get a very good escrow check with any offers, perhaps in the 10% range. This is the minimum most banks are accepting as a downpayment on a second home.


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