Bainbridge Island, WA Real Estate News

Patience has certainly been needed to weather the ups and downs of the current U.S. housing market. But as we await strong recovery, we can take heart in positive signs when they show up. Last week we had the report that Pending Home Sales were up 2.1% in February. This measure of contracts on existing homes indicates sales should rebound in March following February's drop.Other tidbits of goodness included the news that the share of homebuyers for second homes held steady in 2010 versus the year before. But this report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) did show overall sales volume somewhat declining. Meanwhile, the reverse of that is occurring on the luxury end of the market, where sales of homes priced at $1 million and above were up 3.9% in February versus a year ago.T...
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By Paul Pival, A Realtor with the soul of a professor.
(Coldwell Banker Bain)
 Closed Transactions Month of March   Please note: we are comparing closings during this year's March and last year's March.   14% more homes closed in March this year.   Transactions closed 35 days faster.  The average selling price dropped 19 percent.      Sellers accepted 11% less than they originally asked. There are 167 homes in inventory at all price ranges (the highest listing is $4.1M).  Average listing  price is $831,643) , with half the inventory under $650,000.  These figures include two homes over $1.1M.   If you would like details of the home that closed in your neighborhood, call or email me.    
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This week we take another look at where inflation is heading, featuring Monday's Core PCE Prices, the key reading for the Fed. This "Core" number takes out volatile food and energy prices, which have lately been on the rise, but without them, inflation is still within the Fed's target range, where it's forecast to remain. Also on Monday, Pending Home Sales will report contracts signed in January, expected to be up ever so slightly from the prior month. But the big focus of the week will be Friday's Employment Report for March. Economists are expecting 185,000 new jobs created, down from February's 192,000. But the Unemployment Rate should hold at 8.9%. Jobs, so important to the housing recovery, are now being added, rather than lost, but everyone would prefer to see this happen at a fas...
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As of Friday, stocks were up six out of seven days, so all three major market indexes were up for the week again. This followed two straight weeks of stock declines, but 2011 was forecast from the beginning to be a very volatile year on Wall Street. Investors seemed less worried about Japan's nuclear problems, Middle Eastern unrest and European debt and put their money back into the riskier stock market.Economic news continued mixed. Durable Goods orders were down in February, although up 6% from a year ago. We covered the housing situation above. But manufacturing keeps growing fast, with the Richmond Fed index up solidly in March, following a strong February gain. New weekly jobless claims fell to 382,000, putting them below 400,000 for five of the last seven weeks. Friday the latest ...
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The famously successful Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway made his observation a month ago in his annual letter to shareholders. The Oracle of Omaha is certainly aware of the state of the housing market and added: "A housing recovery will probably begin within a year or so." These encouraging words play nicely against last week's news that Existing Home Sales dipped 9% in February, to just under 5 million annually. But this follows three months of substantial increases in existing home sales and experts still expect us to get back to the long-term trend of 5.5 million units annually, despite monthly fluctuations. New Home Sales dropped 16% in February, to a 250,000 annual rate. Observers feel the new home market is being slowed by too many existing homes for sale, which are almost new and ...
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Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months...There's a little more sentiment for a rate hike from the Fed in the second half of the year, as the economy slowly improves. But no change is expected in the near future. 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 Apr 27 0%-0.25% Jun 22 0%-0.25% Aug 9 0%-0.25% Probability of change from current policy: After FOMC meeting on: Consensus Apr 27      <1% Jun 22      <1% Aug 9      3%  From my weekly INSIDE LENDING enewsletter for real estate professionals, week of March 28, 2011
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 Economic news reports scheduled for this week:  Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact MMar 28 08:30 Personal Income Feb 0.3% 1.0% Moderate MMar 28 08:30 Personal Spending Feb 0.5% 0.2% HIGH MMar 28 08:30 PCE Prices - Core Feb 0.2% 0.1% HIGH MMar 28 10:00 Pending Home Sales Jan 0.3% -2.8% Moderate TuMar 29 10:00 Consumer Confidence Mar 65.0 70.4 Moderate WMar 30 10:30 Crude Inventories 3/26 NA 2.131M Moderate ThMar 31 08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 3/26 383K 382K Moderate ThMar 31 08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 3/19 3.700M 3.721M Moderate ThMar 31 09:45 Chicago PMI Mar 69.5 71.2 HIGH FApr 1 08:30 Average Workweek Mar 34.3 34.2 HIGH FApr 1 08:30 Hourly Earnings Mar 0.2% 0.0% HIGH FApr 1 08:30 Nonfarm Payrolls Mar 185K 192K HIGH FApr 1 08:30 Unemployment Rate Mar 8.9%...
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Fannie Mae's 3% down payment loan is making a comeback. after mortgage insurance firm Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Company (MGIC), has announced that it will issue mortgage insurance for the 97% LTV loans where the down payment was gifted.  That means a buyer can essentially buy a home with $0 down payment out of their own pocket if they can get a gift from a direct relative or qualified non-profit.  Sterling Savings will offer this option for home buyers.
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The Fed's FOMC Policy Statement last week said that they weren't worried about inflation and that although the economy is improving, the recovery isn't strong enough to withstand a rise in interest rates. So economists are forecasting the Funds Rate to stay where it is well into the second half of the year. 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 Apr 27 0%-0.25% Jun 22 0%-0.25% Aug 9 0%-0.25% Probability of change from current policy: After FOMC meeting on: Consensus Apr 27      <1% Jun 22      <1% Aug 9      2%   From my March 21, 2011 issue of "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletters for real estate professionals
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February isn't usually a top month for home sales and the experts don't expect that situation to change. Monday's Existing Home Sales for February are expected to be down from January, coming in at a 5.05M annual rate. But Wednesday's New Home Sales for February should be up slightly from the prior month, at a 288K annual rate. But the overall economic picture appears to be picking up. The Third Estimate of Q4 GDP is forecast up another 0.1%, to 2.9%, showing that the overall economy continues to grow. Consumers' attitudes are holding steady in the University of Michigan's Sentiment Index for March. From my March 21, 2011 issue of "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletters for real estate professionals
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By Kevin Hawkins
GDP is an acronym tossed out all the time and most folks know that it refers to Gross Domestic Product (once called GNP or Gross National Product). But what is GDP? GDP is the total final value of all U.S. goods and services produced in a year: all consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of all exports, minus the value of all imports. GDP growth is what counts, with 2.5% to 3.0% the historical average. From my March 21, 2011 issue of "Inside Lending" weekly e-newsletters for real estate professionals  
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As of Friday, a nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima complex had been averted, but that didn't stop stocks from having their own meltdown. Investors sold off holdings, worried over Japan's nuclear crisis, Libya's civil war spreading to other oil producers, as well as the European Union's lingering sovereign debt problems. The market did manage two good days at the end, but they weren't good enough to prevent another weekly drop in all three major indexes, although many people felt things could have been a lot worse.Economic news was mixed, the negative part being Housing Starts and Building Permits, covered above. On the very positive side was the Philadelphia Fed Index for March showing solid manufacturing growth in that region. Wholesale (PPI) and Consumer (CPI) Inflation were both u...
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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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