Homes for Sale

Monday, January 30, 2017

Is 2017 The Perfect Time to Sell Your Home in Los Angeles?

If you are planning to sell your home and then buy another home in Southern California there is no wrong time to sell your home. If you buy and sell in a strong market you’ll get top dollar and pay top dollar. If it is a low point, then you will buy in a low market, but have to take a low amount for your home.

When you sell and buy, you do have three major cost considerations: The cost of the transaction, the differential in interest rates, and the Prop 13 effect. The costs will include real estate fees, costs of fixing up your home to sell it, mortgage and other fees related to purchasing the new home, and moving expenses.

The differential in interest rates will likely still be quite modest in 2017. If you are fortunate enough to have a mortgage at around the lows of 3.5%, you are likely to end up paying around 1% more in 2017. Many homeowners do not have such low rates. The real cost of that extra 1% on a $600,000 mortgage is about $375 a month. Most will not pay even that much. You could mitigate this quite a bit by using one of the many adjustable rate mortgages available today.

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The proposition 13 effect will depend on when you bought your current home and how well the State of California has kept up with your property value increases. If you purchased between 2008 and 2012 and paid a very low price, you will likely see an increase. If you are over 55, Proposition 60 and 90 can help you to eliminate this difference.

Are you selling, but not buying another home?

Maybe you are selling your home and thinking about living full-time on a cruise ship or at an island resort. Or you might be retiring to a senior living situation, or just want to rent now. Even if you are planning to buy something else, maybe you are going to play the market, selling high, renting for a while, then buy when things cool off.

After a thorough review of expert opinion including Zillow, the UCLA Anderson School Report, and various others, here is a good look at the LA forecast for housing in 2017 and beyond. We will break down the situation into the primary factors affecting real estate prices.

Inventory – The primary mover of housing prices for the past five years has been historically low inventories of residential housing. Current construction underway or in the planning phases offers no relief to this shortfall. In some areas in SoCal the shortage is acute with days-on-market averaging 61 during all of 2016. Most pundits see no reason for optimism in this regard even into the next decade due to California State, regional, and local regulations, taxes, and even shortages of places to build new housing.

Affordability – There is little doubt that the average Angelino is having problems buying or renting housing that fits the affordability models of the past. Over 30% of all families are paying more than 50% of their earnings on housing expenses.

On the other hand, there continues to be an influx of new families from Northern California and other high-tech centers that can afford Los Angeles more readily than their current neighborhood, and/or like the weather better. In general, salaries seem to be headed upward due to increases in minimum wages and a tightening labor market. Affordability is an issue that could restrain future increases in pricing, but seems more likely to be merely a restraint, not a block.

Historical comparisons – While pricing in LA is high, it has not yet quite reached the historic highs of 2007. Even though overall inflation has been restrained since then, there still has been some inflation. On an inflation-adjusted basis, there is probably 20% more to go in most markets to return to 2007 levels.

Population and other demand aspects – The population is still growing, though modestly, in Los Angeles County and all of SoCal. Demographically, LA is becoming older with more seniors and fewer young children, households are smaller, and a growing percentage is Latino. Residential housing starts are only 50% of what is needed to keep up.

Mortgage rates – after almost a decade of amazingly low mortgage interest rates, the improving economy and Federal Reserve adjustments are beginning to move interest rates upward. At under 4.5% for a 30 year fixed loan, interest rates remain at historic lows other than the past 10 years. However, as interest rates increase, the cost of ownership does increase. There is no doubt that this will impact pricing and could slow overall purchase activity. If we push past 6% in 2018 or 2019, pricing might be forced down to some degree, though with no inventory this is unlikely to become a spiral.

The overall economy – The bad news. We are overdue for a recession. This is the third longest period ever recorded for the US economy to go without a correction. This may be explained in part by the depth of the 2008 recession and the slow recovery since. But the fact remains that something could push us into recession. Most recessions result in significant trimming of housing prices in Los Angeles.

The other big potential negative for the World economy would be a credit bubble crash. Governments, businesses, and individuals have been living on credit at rates as low as 0% for a very long time. As these rates increase, all three groups will see costs rise substantially. There is no precedent for this type of unwinding, so we have no idea what could happen. But it could be worse that 2008.

The good news. The stock market is generally considered to be an economic barometer that predicts about six months out. If that is true, the US economy is going to have a great first half of 2017. This will create demand. In addition, most economic pundits, even those who aren’t fond of the new POTUS feel that policies being implemented by the new government are likely to be stimulating to the economy. Some are predicting that the current good times may extend for another three or four years.

Government regulations – Many are predicting that the Dodd-Frank legislation which limited the ways that lending institutions are allowed to sell loans, will be repealed by the new Congress. This may lead to some easing by mortgage lenders and banks. This could result in more completion for scarce properties.

Foreign buyers – A recent poll placed LA in the top five cities worldwide that are likely to benefit from rich foreign buyers purchasing real estate for personal use or investment. This has been, and is likely to continue to be, a major factor in pushing LA housing prices upward.

If you would like to find out what your house is worth and to discuss your options in this red hot market, call Whit Prouty today: 310-962-6942


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