Bainbridge Island, WA Real Estate News

Well, journalists had plenty of their kind of news to write about with last week's housing reports. The bad stuff began with February Housing Starts dropping 22.5% to a level close to the April 2009 low, which was the lowest on record. Most of the drop was from multi-family starts, which are volatile on a monthly basis. Single-family starts were down 11.8%. New Building Permits fell 8.2% for February. This gauges activity a few months out, indicating starts in the Spring ought to be up a bit from now. Nonetheless, experts feel building and sales activity should normalize to much higher rates in the next few years. The population is growing and aging housing stock needs to be replaced. Analysts say builders usually need to put up at least one million homes a year to keep up with these de...
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 Economic Calendar for the Week of March 21 - March 25  Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact MMar 21 10:00 Existing Home Sales Feb 5.05M 5.36M Moderate WMar 23 10:00 New Home Sales Feb 288K 284K Moderate WMar 23 10:30 Crude Inventories 3/19 NA 1.745M Moderate ThMar 24 08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 3/19 384K 385K Moderate ThMar 24 08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 3/9 3.700M 3.706M Moderate ThMar 24 08:30 Durable Goods Orders Feb 0.9% 3.2% Moderate FMar 25 08:30 GDP-Third Estimate Q4 2.9% 2.8% Moderate FMar 25 08:30 GDP Deflator-Third Estimate Q4 0.4% 0.4% Moderate FMar 25 09:55 Univ. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment-Final Mar 68.0 68.2 Moderate  From my March 21, 2011 issue of "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletters for real estate professionals  
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Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months...Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been adamant about his commitment to keep rates where they are until he sees greater job growth and more traction in the economic recovery. The experts are talking about a rate hike later in the year, but the chances of that now are next to nil. Literally. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% certainty the rate will stay the same. Current Fed Funds Rate: 0%-0.25% After FOMC meeting on: Consensus Mar  15 0%-0.25% Apr 27 0%-0.25% Jun 22 0%-0.25% Probability of change from current policy: After FOMC meeting on: Consensus Mar  15      <1% Apr 27      <1% Jun 22      <1% From my "Inside Lending" e-newsletter for real estate professionals, March 14, 2011
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This week highlights three favorite topics. Wednesday we see how homebuilders are feeling, as reflected by February Housing Starts, expected to be down a little, and Building Permits, showing builders' sentiment further out, which should be up a bit. Tuesday we'll have the FOMC Rate Decision from the Fed. Economists don't expect the Funds Rate to move off its rock-bottom level, but they'll dissect the Policy Statement coming out of the confab for signs of when the rate may go up. Rising inflation can hike the rate, but Wednesday's wholesale inflation (PPI) and Thursday's consumer inflation (CPI) readings are expected to hold steady. From my "Inside Lending" e-newsletter for real estate professionals, March 14, 2011
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Amidst slipping stocks, bond prices held up, with buying driven by the turmoil in the Middle East and strong auctions. The FNMA 4.0% bond we watch ended up .01 for the week, closing at $98.15. As noted above, Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgages showed national average mortgage rates still at historically low levels. But buyers should not expect these rates to last forever, as the economic data continues to improve. Key: watch the job numbers. Good news for job creation is bad news for mortgage rates. From my "Inside Lending" e-newsletter for real estate professionals, March 14, 2011
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STOCKS SLIP...All three stock market indexes registered their second weekly decline in the past three weeks. The Middle East continued to concern investors as the disturbances expanded to Saudi Arabia where no one on Wall Street wanted to see them go, fearing even higher oil prices. But Friday we were all shocked by the devastation of Japan's worst earthquake in over 100 years. Oil prices seemed far less of a worry and they actually wound up down for the week. Economic news was light but net positive. New weekly unemployment claims were up a bit, after dropping the week before, but the four-week moving average is now 392,000, quite a bit below last summer's readings. Continuing unemployment claims dropped to 3.77 million, its lowest level since October 2008! These trends are in the righ...
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Last week there was no guessing involved in the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) report that applications for purchase mortgages hit their highest level of the year. The MBA credited this to the improving job market and mortgage rates remaining at super low levels. This demand for purchase mortgages was up 12.5% from the week before and at its highest level since last May. Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgages showed mortgage rates pretty much unchanged, at historically low levels for the third week in a row. Another UCLA Anderson Forecast came out, reporting that the economy is growing and employment should soon pick up steam. But this somewhat pessimistic group of West Coast economists feel housing will continue to lag behind other sectors. Nonetheless, they see a "mod...
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By Maureen Buckley, Managing Broker/ Owner
(Buckley & Buckley Real Estate)
 The inventory of island Residential Homes continues to be lower than expected with 156 properties offered for sale.  Currently 48 homes are under contract and 28 have closed since the first of year with a median sale price of $505,625. Several nice homes that recently came on the market had multiple offers so buyers are definitely anxious to see new houses. We have been encouraging anyone thinking of putting their property on the market later in the spring to consider accelerating their schedule and doing it now while interest rates are still good and demand seems to be relatively high.  
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By Brenda Prowse
(Prowse and Company)
Bainbridge Island residential properties were selling for a February median price of $505,625, about 12% higher than in January and 24% lower than a year ago. The more stable three month moving average closed sale price fell less than 1% from last month to $503,375 and is 12% lower than a year ago.  The Kitsap County 3 month moving average median price is about 1% higher than it was a year ago. The 3 month moving average for Bainbridge Island's number of closed sales is 6% higher than a year ago. The 3 month moving average of closed sales is down 7% Countywide from a year ago. The 3 month moving average number of Bainbridge pending sales in February was up 4% from a year ago. The number of active listings on Bainbridge (160) fell 2% from January and is about 11% lower than a year ago.  ...
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Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months...Last week Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Finance Committee that even though economic conditions were improving, rates should stay low for his familiar "extended period" until he sees stronger job creation. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% certainty the rate will stay the same. Watch for more buzz on the next FOMC meeting next Tuesday, March 15.  Current Fed Funds Rate: 0%-0.25% After FOMC meeting on: Consensus Mar 15 0%-0.25% Apr 27 0%-0.25% Jun 22 0%-0.25% Probability of change from current policy: After FOMC meeting on: Consensus Mar 15 <1% Apr 27 <1% Jun 22 <1% From my "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletter for real estate professionals, March 7, 2011
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Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates. Economic Calendar for the Week of March 7 - March 11 Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact WMar 9 10:30 Crude Inventories 3/5 NA 0.364M Moderate ThMar 10 08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 3/5 382K 368K Moderate ThMar 10 08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 2/26 3.750M 3.774M Moderate ThMar 10 08:30 Trade Balance Jan -$41.5B -$40.6B Moderate FMar 11 08:30 Retail Sales Feb 1.0% 0.3% HIGH FMar 11 08:30 Retail Sales ex-auto Feb 0.6% 0.3% HIGH FMar 11 09:55 U. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Mar 76.5 77.5 Moderate FMar 11 10:00 Business Inventories Jan 0.8% 0.8% Moderate From my "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletter for real...
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So What's up with the consumer? Frankly, it's a pretty quiet week for economic news, but there are a few significant readings on the state of the consumer at the very end. Friday we see February's Retail Sales reports, which are expected to show continued growth, both with and without auto sales included. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index should show consumer confidence holding pretty steady. Thursday, you'll want to take note of Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims, as jobs remain key to the economic and housing market recovery. From my "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletter for real estate professionals, March 7, 2011
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Bond prices were hurt by the improving economic data, but went back up as a result of the safe-haven buying driven by continuing tensions in the Middle East and rising oil prices. The FNMA 4.0% bond we watch ended down slightly for the week, closing at $98.14. Mortgage rates dropped for the third week in a row according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgages. But buyers should note that these low rates will not last forever, as the improving employment picture will eventually edge them back up. From my "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletter for real estate professionals, March 7, 2011
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Investors who were worried about oil prices hitting two-year highs amidst Libyan turmoil sent stocks down Tuesday. But economic data continued to portray a steady if slow recovery. So stocks shot back up Thursday by enough to put all three indexes ahead for the week, even after dipping a bit on Friday.Encouraging economic news appeared on all fronts. The ISM Services index, tracking the sector that employs over 85% of our workforce, reached its highest level since 2005. ISM Manufacturing also hit a multi-year high. Meanwhile, inflation measured by Core PCE Prices, was up just 0.1% in January and 0.8% the past year, well within the Fed's acceptable range. Then Friday we had the February Employment Report with 192,000 new jobs overall. The private sector contributed 222,000 jobs, its 12th...
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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) index of signed contracts on existing homes slipped in January for the second month in a row. But the drop wasn't as bad as expected and, as the NAR's chief economist said: "We should not expect the recovery to be in a straight upward path--it will zig-zag at times." We should be especially careful to not erect barriers to our progress just because of a minor setback, like the this one. The latest NAR overall forecast gave an interesting picture of that recovery. Existing home sales should grow 8.1% this year and another 5.2% in 2012, with the median price essentially flat in 2011 before gaining over 3% next year. New home sales are forecast up about 5% this year, then up over 55% for 2012, with the median price up a bit in 2011, then up 3.5% n...
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It seems everyone wants to be "green" these days. It's good for the environment and in some cases good for the pocketbook. I found this story online at CNNMoney.com. It offers ten tips to help make a home green and at the same time, help the environment. These tips can be beneficial for someone who is purchasing a starter home, are trying to sell a home or getting ready to remodel a current home.  10 easy ways to green your home at http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/real_estate/0808/gallery.green_homes.moneymag/index.html  
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By Paul Pival, A Realtor with the soul of a professor.
(Coldwell Banker Bain)
 Closed Transactions Month of February   Please note: we are comparing closings during this year's February and last year's February.   17% more homes closed in February this year.   Transactions closed three months faster.  The average selling price was less by 25 percent.      Sellers accepted 26% less than they originally asked (the average sale price is skewed because of an unusually high number of $1M+ homes selling in February 2010).   There are plenty of homes in inventory at all price ranges ($170,000 - $4,275,000). Average asking price is $878,838, with half of the 157 homes under $650,000.   If you would like details of the home that closed in your neighborhood, call or email me.    
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Everyone on Wall Street had Presidents Day off Monday, but the bulls never really showed up for work the rest of the week either. Well, bulls did stage a bit of a comeback on Friday, but it wasn't enough to bring stock prices up to where they were the week before. So after three weeks of charging higher, the markets fell off, as all three major indexes went south for the week. The Middle East continues to trouble investors, with Libya the latest focal point for that region's violent uprisings. There was a sympathetic jump in oil prices, never a good development for our economy, and the week ended with the second estimate for Q4 GDP revised DOWN to a 2.8% growth rate from the original 3.2%. Weighing in against these negatives, the latest Consumer Confidence Report showed people's attitud...
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This week there's a wide range of economic news, but it's all expected to be a bit bland. Core PCE Prices, the Fed's favorite inflation measure, should drift up a little, but stay well within the target range. The ISM and Chicago PMI indexes are forecast to show manufacturing growing, though at no faster a rate. Pending Home Sales, a measure of signed contracts for closings a few months out, should be down a bit in December after being up a bit the previous month. Q4 Productivity is expected to hold steady. The big news of course will be the February Employment Report come Friday. But again, steady progress is predicted, not the dramatic boost in jobs we need. With 180,000 new jobs forecast, the unemployment rate will actually inch up because of workforce expansion. From my "Inside Lend...
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Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months helps if you track the trends weekly. You hear a lot more experts now disagreeing with Fed policy, including some Fed members. But Fed Chairman Bernanke seems determined to keep the Funds Rate at its rock bottom level until we see stronger signs of economic growth and jobs recovery. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% certainty the rate will stay the same.   
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