Rate Update

After leading the US out of seven of the last eight recessions, the housing sector is poised to kill the current economic recovery. The impact of the expired federal home buyer tax credit alarmed investors and highlighted a week of dismal economic data. Existing Home Sales plunged by a record 27% in July, the biggest one-month decrease going back to 1968. Purchases fell to a 3.37 million annual pace, the lowest since May 1995. Supply of single-family homes swelled to 11.9 months, the highest since 1983. New Home Sales fell 12% to an annual pace of 276,000, the weakest since data began in 1963. The outlook for the overall economy is just as bleak. Gross Domestic Product estimates were cut to a 1.6% annual pace for the second quarter, after a strong 3.7% growth-rate in the first three months of this year, signaling a stalling recovery without government stimulus. Demand for Durable Goods, items made to last at least three years, fell nearly 4%, the most in more than a year. And while there was some good news with the first decrease in Jobless Claims in a month, the figure is still too high and expected to get worse. Economists fear that foreclosures will continue until the employment rate recovers. For the eighth time in nine weeks, mortgage rates have fallen to the lowest level on record, with the 30-Year Fixed briefly touching 3.875% (4.035% APR) on Thursday!! Currently, the 30-Year Fixed is at 4.000% (4.141% APR) and the 15-Year Fixed is at 3.500% (3.749% APR). This week will feature the employment report on Friday. We will also see Consumer Confidence, Pending Home Sales and manufacturing data.

Cultural Enrichment, Santa Maria, CA

On Friday September 10Th, 2010 , from 6-9 pm at the Veterans Memorial Community Center at 313 West Tunnell St. The event supports local recreational social and arts programs for the city.  Additionally, attendees will be able to sample some of Santa maria’s finest Mexican cuisine and beverages.  There will also be local entertainment and music.  Please save the date and don’t miss out!


This summer, for the first time, Hearst Castle offered self-guided tours of  the garden and outdoor pool areas.   

 At last, an opportunity to wander about and enjoy the ambiance and scenery at your own pace.  The “tours” opened at ~5:15 in the afternoon and continued until a half hour  past sunset.

     I do hope they offer these  self-guided tours again next year- they allow for an entirely  different experience of Hearst Castle.  The tour guides- however- seemed to struggle with simply standing about .


Oceanfront Villa Fractional Ownership Opportunity on the Central Coast

I have clients who contacted me on approx 4 months ago through this website wanting purchase a vacation home or condo on the Central Coast very close to the ocean with panoramic views. They have found a beautiful oceanfront condo they’ve fallen in love with in the Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach (www.thedolphinbay.com). It is currently on the market for $1,295,000. Now they are hoping to find one, two or three partners to form a shared ownership arrangement. Such partnerships are becoming more and more popular as a way of sharing the costs of a vacation home you will only use part time. If you are interested in learning more about this property and the fractional ownership concept, please contact me at (805)235-3795.

Housing Market News Articles

There have been some recent news articles about the nationwide housing market over the past few days. One talked about July being the lowest number of sales in many years and that the inventory was at its highest in a long time too. Another talked about a survey showing that foreclosures sold for 27% lower than comparable homes (this study was in Massachusetts). A third article I read blamed the slowness on the market on Buyers who were waiting for prices to drop more and Sellers thinking they could get more for their home and are pricing too high.

Nothing really surprising to me. I’ve already posted the July stats (scroll down to the bottom and click “older entries” to see statistics I posted towards the beginning of the month). We really didn’t see that much activity with the homeowner tax credit so the ending of that program didn’t really effect our area that much.

One thing wrong with the current media articles on median home prices is that they never break down the prices between foreclosures and non-foreclosures. With foreclosure rates nearing 50% of total sales in a given month in SLO County, not breaking down the median home prices to REOs, Short Sales, and non-distressed homes results in missing important data and I can’t see how anyone can comment on what’s going on in the market without seeing the breakdown and looking at trends.

I did see a prime example of overpricing lately though. A home in a neighborhood started out listed over $1 Million and was on the market for over 200 days. It finally ended up selling for a bit under $800K. A home a few doors down on the same street recently went on the market at $1.8 Million. It is a bigger house but a million dollar difference in a slow market with over 7 years of inventory of million plus homes??? I wonder if the Realtor is the one that suggested this price, thinking it will sell (and appraise) at that level.

I’ll be running the August stats early next week to see how all our local indicators are doing.


The Goleta Valley Cycling Club invites you to the 30th Annual People Powered Ride on October 10, 2010. The rides tour the scenic Santa Barbara County wine country and surrounding hills. The start/finish is at Hans Christian Andersen Park in the city of Solvang..

NO DAY-OF-RIDE REGISTRATION. Register online (no added fees) at www.goletabike.org
Single Rider: $50
Tandem: $100
Extra BBQ tickets for non-riders: $15 


Cabernet 100 Mile: From Solvang to Sisquoc, back through Los Alamos, on to Lompoc and return. This route has several challenging climbs. 

Merlot Metric: Solvang to Los Alamos joining the 100 mile route to Lompoc and return including some challenging climbs.

 Chardonnay 30 Mile: Although short, the ride is challenging and the route is new.

Rate Update

Mortgage rates ended the week slightly lower last week as weak economic data and continued low inflation kept investor demand high for US Treasury bonds. 10-year note yields hit the lowest level in more than 16 months as global demand for long-term financial assets rose and the Federal Reserve prepares to buy Treasuries to lower borrowing costs. Jobless Claims rose to 500,000 in the week ended August 14, the highest level since November 2009. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing index turned negative in August, signaling contraction for the first time in a year. Slower economic growth typically leads to less inflationary pressure, which is positive for mortgage rates. Currently, the 30-Year Fixed is at 4.000% (4.148% APR) and the 15-Year Fixed is at 3.625% (3.872% APR). Home sales in California were down 19.9% in July. San Luis Obispo County home sales were only slightly better, down nearly 19% from the month prior. State home prices were down 0.7% from June, while SLO County saw prices fall 2.6%. We will see more housing data this week with Existing Home Sales  released on Tuesday and Hew Home Sales coming out on Wednesday.

Relaxing Hot Tub

I took my wife to the Sycamore Mineral Springs for a relaxing hot tub. I’ve been going here since 1979 (WOW week at Cal Poly) and while the hotel wasn’t around back then, the hot tub hill is pretty much the same. I felt sooooooo relaxed after we soaked for our hour. We’ve had a busy summer with the kids home from college so we haven’t had an opportunity to go more.

I like going right at sunset and getting one of the higher tubs on the hill.  It’s so beautiful to sit back and enjoy the tree cover as dusk turns into night.

Prices are currently $12.50 per person (per hour) for Sunday-Thursday and $17.50 per person on Friday and Saturday.  I’d highly recommend calling them for reservations.