San Diego California Real Estate Home Values About to Drop

The good news is that San Diego home prices have increased for the past eleven months in a row. A positive outlook would suggest that the real estate decline bottomed in April 2009 and that housing prices will continue with, at least, modest appreciation.

Recently a local news headline noted San Diego home price appreciation outpaced the rest of the nation. Another headline stated that San Diego County house prices rose 11.7% in April 2010, as compared to April 2009. This was said to be the fastest rate of annual appreciation increase in the nation. Plus, San Diego County home prices have been rebounding for the past year after their 40% decline from the top of the market in 2005.

In light of the above news, one would be hard-pressed not to agree with the consensus opinion that the bottom has been reached in the San Diego real estate market; the current recovery seems to be outpacing the national averages.

In 2005, I wrote an article entitled “A trend to go national” where I predicted that the trends I saw occurring in our local housing market, which defined classic irrational exuberance, were not only about to take down the local market, but I believed, would affect the entire nation. I was not alone in raising the caution flags about the real estate market, and those who were caught up in the exuberance of the market as well as many media outlets, coined the term bubblehead to myself and others, to imply a certain foolishness to those who would speak out against such a powerful and (certain to be) continued annual double-digit home appreciation.

It was difficult to raise the caution flags in 2005. The San Diego real estate market from 2000 to 2005 appreciated on average approximately 20% per year. Until the summer of 2005, when the sales volume started to fall but the prices were still appreciating, there weren’t obvious signs of pending trouble, especially to the layperson. Most did not foresee a market collapse. Even in the latter part of 2005, while the slowing market became quite evident, the conventional consensus of opinion was that it was just a normal pullback. Most optimistic outlooks touted a strong market and a great opportunity for many to purchase real estate in San Diego before the upswing resumed.

Now it is July of 2010. Similar though different, market conditions make it again difficult to go against the conventional trend which is stating that a bottom has been put in place and we are on an upward rebound. I recently attended a seminar by a prominent real estate economist who forecast a slow but steady rise in local home values. His charts and facts presented at the seminar were quite impressive. Not being a real estate agent or broker “in the trenches,” I believe his data was not reflecting the most current conditions, especially after the expiration of the federal tax credits.

It’s hard to say exactly what effect the $8000 federal tax credit for home buyers had on the real estate market. Personally I believe it to be very similar to the government’s cash for clunkers program, whereby, it pulled buyers from future months into the current program. The result was an increase in the actual housing demand and values for people trying to get in before the credit expired. When the cash for clunkers program ended, auto sales took a nose dive for a number of months before finally stabilizing.

The federal $8000 credit ended on April 30, 2010. If you had a property in escrow on or before April 30, and closed it before the end of June (now extended through September) you would be eligible for the credit if you qualified. The housing figures now being reported reflect this activity created by the $8000 credit. As long as the property went into escrow by April 30, sales could close in May and June which still affects housing numbers. Housing sales reports are usually closed sales and unlike the stock market, it takes some time for a property to go through escrow.

The first housing numbers to be reported, that don’t reflect as much of the effect of the government’s $8000 tax credit will be sales for July, reported during August. California instituted its own tax credit which went into effect on May 1, 2010. Only 100 million was allocated for this and the California franchise tax Board reported that as of June 15, 80% of this amount had been allocated.

One could speculate that the current slowdown I’ve seen in San Diego neighborhoods would not be reflected in reports for closed sales until August. On July 1, the national Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes dropped 30% in May from April. For the Western states this drop was reported as 20.9%. Though the West obviously was doing better than the rest of the country, the huge double-digit declines are a major red flag that cannot be ignored.

Don’t be fooled by the media talking heads’ effervescent housing recovery rhetoric. Keep in mind that many of their sponsors and advertisers are from real estate related industries. Plus, many of the same media talking heads were the same folks who stated there was no real estate bubble and any slowdown was an opportunity to jump into the market in the summer of 2005.

As an active San Diego California real estate broker I could see a marked decline in real estate activity, in many local areas, right after the April 30 federal tax credit expiration. Homes listed for sale that just a few weeks earlier would’ve gotten multiple showings in one week, are now lucky to be shown once a week. Indications from local escrow companies and from a major San Diego mortgage company indicate that this slowing trend is significant and widespread throughout San Diego County.

What’s really troubling, is that the government tax credit was not enough to jumpstart our local housing market. Plus, the fact that this new downturn has started in the seasonally adjusted hottest marketing timeframe, coupled with historically low home mortgage interest rates, would indicate that as we approach Fall and Winter, this trend could easily accelerate and in a real real estate market bottom in late 2011 or 2012.

San Diego is the third most real estate dependent area in the country (with Orlando and Miami being the first and second respectively) the general San Diego economy should also experience a double-dip until the real housing market bottom is in place.

Real Estate Agents – What Sellers and Buyers Should Know About Them

For most buyers and sellers the prospect of dealing with a real estate agent brings forth unknown fears. While some agents are genuine and reputable and consider their clients best interest as their top priority, there is no dearth of unscrupulous individuals either who are just trying to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. As a buyer or sellers of a property, it is your responsibility to choose a estate agent prudently. So, here is a look at what you should know about real estate agents before you approach one.

What does a real estate agent do?

Depending on which side he is working for (the buyers or the sellers), the realtor acts as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller and helps to complete the sale of a property. For his services, he is offered a commission from his client (seller, buyer or both). When working on behalf of the seller, the agent is responsible for putting the details of a property in the multiple listing services of the area and undertaking other efforts such as home staging to market the property.

In case of a residential property, a real estate agent may start off by putting up the details of the property on his personal or company website depending on whether he is a part of a realtor firm or works on his own. The next step would be to market the property through postcards and advertisements in real estate magazines offline as well as online.

Besides marketing the property, the agent who lists your home is also responsible for following up with other agents who might have clients that may have expressed interest in the property. An agent is also supposed to help you negotiate the best deal possible. He/She is with you every step of the way till the home is sold; advising you on all matters including procuring the services of a lawyer.

The agent does not charge the client/home seller for his marketing efforts; however, you will have to incur any legal cost involved in the selling process

When working from the seller’s side, a realtor is responsible for rummaging through the property listings of an area that his client is interested in. He coordinates with the real estate agent handling the property on behalf of the seller and arranges to show the premises to his clients. A real estate agent from the buyer’s side also helps to negotiate the best deal for his client and is with the buyer through out the purchasing process. He is also responsible for approaching a professional to get a property evaluation done. Some real estate agents may also offer other services such as advice and help for procuring home loans.

Real estate agents not only earn commission from the sale and purchase of homes but also when a property is leased. Usually the commission is paid to the real estate agent at the final settlement of the deal.

Who should you choose to be your estate agent?

Real estate agent can don three mantles that of an intermediary on behalf of the seller, the buyer or a dual agent. When buying a house, it would be best to hire the services of an agent who can work on your side, the same holds true when selling a home as well; you would be better of approaching a real estate agent who works for sellers.

Although real estate agents who work from the sellers or the buyer’s side do not have different credentials, some agents choose to play on a single turf while double agents may work for both the seller and the buyer simultaneously earning commissions from both.

The Sellers Real Estate Agent: An agent working on behalf of the seller will have his loyalties towards his client an he/she will try his hardest to convince the seller to give his client the lowest deal. So, as a buyer if you were to ask the seller’s agent if his client would accept a higher deal, he will be obligated to not divulge this information to you.

The Buyers Real Estate Agent: Similarly agents who work on behalf of the seller owe their responsibility to their clients and will try to get their clients the highest deal possible. So, they will not be willing to offer information on how low their client will go in terms of the price.

A dual agent: A dual agent is obligated to keep the honest picture in front of both parties; since he is entitled to a commission from both parties, he owes his loyalties to both the buyer and the seller.

Most real estate agents have a list of buyers as well as sellers so it is not unusual for an agent to work on behalf of both parties or at least get another agent from his real estate firm to negotiate on behalf of the seller or the buyer.

The problem with real estate agents

While real estate agents are in the business of marketing properties, it is not uncommon for them to play up their credentials; after all, it is a dog eat dog world and there is certainly no dearth of realtors in the market. While this is acceptable, some individuals resort to lying blatantly about their accomplishments and often their customers end up paying for their tall claims.

So, make sure that you check all the claims that are being made by a potential estate agent. Do not hesitate to ask for references. If he has not mentioned his experience in the brochure, make it a point to ask him about it. Also, inquire about other properties that he may have sold which were similar to the one that you want to sell/buy; this would include properties in the sane area, of the same size and price range.

Finding a good and reliable agent can save you a lot of trouble while hanging out with the wrong guy can quickly turn into a nightmare so take your time when picking an agent to buy/sell your home.