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California home sales hit six-year low

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Despite the happy-talk from realtors, the housing recovery flounders on low volume, sustained only by low inventory. Most housing analysts expected sales to increase in 2014. They believed an increase in sales and an increase in price would represent “escape velocity,” a virtuous circle where rising prices increases demand and causes more sales and rising prices; in the past, this would have worked because lenders would extend toxic financing terms to new buyers to keep the party going, but the new mortgage regulations changed how real estate markets work. With those products now... [Read More]

California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights increases foreclosure timelines

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California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights compels banks to foreclose through courts and take more time to complete. The housing bubble and bust exposed many flaws in our property finance system. The Dodd-Frank reform corrected many of these problems, and I believe the new mortgage regulations will prevent future housing bubbles. It's rare, but occasionally legislators and regulators get it right. The California Homeowner Bill of Rights was not one of those occasions. The California Homeowner Bill of Rights supposedly corrects flaws in the foreclosure processing system exposed by the... [Read More]

Fixing the broken lower rungs of the property ladder

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Decimated during housing bust, first-time homebuyers and first move-up buyers struggle to buy homes, breaking the chain of move-ups. Houses are expensive. Most renters who would like to buy a home lack the down payment necessary, and many are early in their careers when their income is lower. As a result, first-time homebuyers are forced to buy the lowest cost properties available for sale in the housing market, and they must use the highest cost financing options due to their low down payment. Assuming they sustain ownership, assuming they have an amortizing mortgage, and assuming... [Read More]

Weak Job and wage growth hobbles housing

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Weak job growth creates persistent unemployment and slows wage growth, which delays a durable housing recovery based on fundamentals. For the housing market to really improve, the fundamentals underpinning the market must improve because manipulating inventory and interest rates can only carry the market so far. The recent house price rally had little or no fundamental support; even housing bulls acknowledge that fact. Although housing bulls like to ignore or downplay the record lows in purchase mortgage originations, this is a sign of just how weak the housing market fundamentals... [Read More]

Freddie, Fannie reform will foil housing reflation efforts

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Attracting private equity to housing finance without GSE loan guarantees will raise lending costs and lower loan balances, hindering bubble reflation. Since many borrowers at the margins borrow the maximum allowed based on their income, any increase in borrowing costs decreases their borrowing power, lowers their bids for houses, and ultimately hinders efforts to fully reflate the housing bubble. For lenders and underwater loan owners who want prices as high as possible, higher borrowing costs imposed on new borrowers is a bad thing. Unfortunately, it's impossible to reform Freddie Mac... [Read More]

My Sundays at Disneyland

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I spend nearly every Sunday morning at Disneyland with my son James. It's the best time of my week, something I always look forward to. I've been a season passholder as Disneyland for several years. My son and I go nearly every Sunday morning, arriving just as the rope drops on Main Street in the happiest place on earth. We have our routine; we go to Space Mountain, Star Tours, Astro Blasters, then make our way over to Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. If you arrive just as the park opens, there are no lines, so it's easy to... [Read More]

Frustrated home shopper takes revenge on new homeowner

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San Diego woman who didn't get her dream home made fake sex ads for new owner's wife telling johns to "force their way in and take me while I say no." Warning! This post has sexual language. If this is potentially offensive, read no further. We've all wanted something badly and didn't get it. Most of us get over it and move on, but some people can't accept being thwarted in their desires and launch into irrational and truly outrageous behavior. A woman in San Diego missed getting what she considered the house of her dreams, a common disappointment. Most people have the wisdom to... [Read More]

Toxic loan peddlers failed to foresee the housing crash

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People erroneously believe professionals who packaged toxic mortgage-backed securities knew the housing market would crash and profited from bad loans. Matthew 15:14 "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." When the housing market collapsed under a pile of toxic mortgage paper, many ordinary people lost money on their investments, their properties declined in value, and many others lost their homes in foreclosure. With all this pain, people want someone to blame -- some nefarious person must have foreseen... [Read More]

California housing market update: affordability marginal, prices flat

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House prices reached levels of payment affordability relative to rents last seen in the 1990s, with few sub-markets overvalued or undervalued. The last nine months were boring... thankfully. House prices stabilized after the extreme volatility of the last seven years. House prices rose rapidly from March 2012 through June of 2013, then abruptly stopped rising when mortgage interest rates went from 3.5% to 4.5%. House prices moved little since then. The financial media still touts the large year-over-year price gains, but these slowly evaporate because the spring house price rally was... [Read More]

Are convicted sex offenders living in your neighborhood?

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Many websites now publish lists of convicted sex offenders, a valuable public service. How close are your children to a sex offender? Find out here. As a society, what should we do with dangerous criminals and sex offenders after they serve their sentences? We can't lock them up forever, nor is there a deserted island we can deport them to. We must try to reintegrate them back into society while making sure they don't repeat their heinous crimes, no easy task. As one might expect, nobody wants sex offenders living in their neighborhood. Most people imagine the people on these lists... [Read More]

Six reasons higher interest rates hurt house prices

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Higher interest rates reduce housing demand by causing mortgage applications to decline, reducing loan balances, harming employment, and suppressing wages. The federal reserve establishes interest rate policy, and for the last six years, the federal reserve held the benchmark federal funds rate to zero to stimulate the economy. Also during the period when interest rates were held at zero percent, the federal reserve applied stimulus through a policy known as quantitative easing, a fancy term for printing money. Quantitative easing and mortgage interest rate stimulus were designed to... [Read More]

How to use the OC Housing News to find your new home

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This site provides the tools house hunters need to find their next home. To get the most out of the available resources, follow the step-by-step instructions below. 1. Register with the site. Registration provides unlimited access to all the features of the site. We distribute handy guides on the rent-versus-own decision, home finance, and other topics. We publish monthly housing market reports detailing the best locations to find deals, and we even publish a guide on it's interpretation and use. Registered users review unlimited numbers of property details with calculations on cost... [Read More]

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