January 11, 2014

Online Realty Pricing Sites: Do They Work?

Yes, they work. But are the prices valid? That’s another story. Let’s listen in as the San Jose Mercury News (motto: We’re a newspaper just like Burbed is a real estate blog, haha!) explains why the valuation models don’t agree with each other.

Online sites can help tell you what your home is worth

141010-avm-unioncityBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
POSTED:   12/27/2013 05:00:00 PM PST; UPDATED: 12/28/2013 06:17:12 AM PST

You’re likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling if you look at what your home is worth on Zillow, Trulia or any of the other real estate sites that provide values for millions of houses. Home prices have risen rapidly, and the value these sites assign to your home is sure to reflect that.

But don’t carried away by a single Zestimate, SmartZip quote or Trulia estimate. While they are fine for spotting trends, these home valuation services come with a caveat: they offer rough approximations by computer programs. If you want a more precise estimate, hire an appraiser, talk to a real estate agent or check around your neighborhood and see what homes are selling for.

The sites all use what’s called "automated valuation models," or AVMs, to make sense of mountains of data, typically drawn from recent sales, property history, size and number of rooms, market trends and other factors that influence price.

We can’t believe they spent all that trouble writing an article that says, “If you want to really know what your house is worth, hire an appraiser.” There are multiple models out there, but this piece won’t tell you how they differ, or why. We did learn that Santa Clara County prices are more likely to be correct than Alameda County, but again, no explanation why.

We know why!  It’s because the Real Bay Area’s prices only go up, and all the models built that in.  Feel free to speculate on what’s going on with the AVM of your choice and why your house is So Special that the price estimates are Way Too Low.  Unless you’re buying, in which case they are Way Too High.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:11 am






March 31, 2013

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

130329-disposable-successLast week Richard Florida found himself defending his research from an amusing little pissing match started by Joel Kotkin. The argument was over whether “creative class” metros drive the economic engines (Florida) or whether suburban sprawl has it all (Kotkin).  Florida himself dubbed this dustup Flo-Ko. So instead of looking at just which areas are the most “economically advantaged” (a PC way of saying loaded with rich bastards), he addressed X’s objection and decided to subtract out the cost of housing from the index.

What’s left is a disposable income advantage index of the 20 metros with the most money left over after paying the housing nut.  And, you guessed it. Silicon Valley, as represented by the MSA called San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, is totally first on the list.  Let’s take a gander at the top five.

Rank Metro Name Income after Housing: Month Income after Housing: Year
1

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

$3,901

$46,812

2

Durham, NC

$3,513 $42,156
3 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA $3,441 $41,292
4 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $3,342 $40,104
5 Trenton-Ewing, NJ $3,270 $39,240

New York was Lucky #8, Seattle came in at Less Lucky #13 (right behind a couple of Connecticut metros), and Philly brought up the bottom at #20.  This scatter graph shows how the housing costs versus income data looks, and that’s Silicon Valley in the extreme upper right.  You should see datapoints labeled as you hover over them.

What makes a metro have so much disposable income?  There’s a high correlation between number of knowledge worker jobs (that creative class thing again), at 0.73, high incomes (0.60) and number of college grads (0.53).

Inotherwords, Florida 1, Kotkin 0.  x1000.

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

February 3, 2013

Top Ten Reasons You Should Ignore Realtard’s Columns

Today we’re going to have a look at a realtard’s piece over on Trulia’s blog.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Real Estater for letting us know about this essay.

Tough Year Ahead: Top 10 Issues Facing Bay Area Buyers

East Bay Real Estate Focus — Providing Definitive Information for the East Bay Area
By
Carl Medford | Agent in Fremont, CA
Posted under: Market Conditions in Alameda County, Home Buying in Alameda County, Home Ownership in Alameda County  |  January 26, 2013 8:22 AM  |  257 views  |  1 comment

“TWO recent national surveys of real estate agents suggest that first-time buyers are on the decline, their access to the housing market blocked by tight credit and eager investors,” states Lisa Prevost, of The New York Times (12/20/212).

Old news. In fact, I’ve been saying the same thing since August, 2012.

Truth is, no one knows exactly how many have decided to sit things out a bit until the market calms down. Although we’ve seen a decline in the number of buyers “actively in the hunt,” in reality, there are not “fewer” first-time buyers – if anything, there are more. LOTS more. The problem is that less of them are actually managing to buy a home, and, unfortunately, that’s the primary statistic that is being measured. No one is sitting outside open houses counting the bodies as they hit the front door and then compiling the numbers to a national database. If they did, a much different story would be on the evening news.

Buyers trying to purchase a home in the existing market conditions are facing into the teeth of a perfect storm, real-estate style, and it doesn’t appear that it will be ending anytime soon.

Here are the Top 10 issues facing Bay Area buyers:

130202-top10-suitcaseActually, as realtard happyprop goes, this is a little bit better informed than most.  It does say something other than “NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY,” and best of all, the disturbing faceless and sexless icons include the ever-popular, we swear we are not making this up, Dude With A Suitcase Full of Cash.  We know you won’t believe without seeing, so here he is.  (And from the minimal clothing, it’s either a Dude or it’s Annie Hall.)

Here’s that Top Ten list. If you’ve been a regular reader of Burbed, none of these should surprise you.

  1. Sorry, you missed the bottom.  Sucks to be you.  Medford says February 2012 was the official bottom.  Maybe it was… in the East Bay.
  2. Inventory? What inventory?  Raw meat, here’s the sharks.
  3. Prices are going up.  Some areas are up 40% from last year.  Actually, if Mr. Real Estate Person had read the actual data instead of just looking at a piece in the Chron, he’d have seen that some areas are up a lot more than 40%.
  4. Lots of cash buyers out there.  Yeah, and not just in the hellhole that’s the East Bay.  RBA too, only these aren’t investors.  On this item the realtard confuses the difference between “Central County” (probably Alameda County given the link) and the entire Bay Area in claiming 30% of all offers are cash.
  5. Crowds lead to multiple offers.  Take low inventory and desperate sellers, what do you expect, other than the author citing hard numbers with his opinion columns from a different site.
  6. FHA or VA buyer? Don’t even bother in this market; even conventional buyers are losing out to Mr. Suitcase.  And Mr. Suitcase doesn’t care about appraisals.
  7. 130202-top10-house-familyNew homes are in demand againaccording to CNN, that is. That doesn’t apply to the RBA because they still aren’t making any more land.  Why the realtard didn’t quote this local story in his own backyard is left as an exercise to the reader.
  8. Appraisers haven’t a clue prices are up, which is preventing prices from going up even faster.  Includes helpful link to another of his columns mostly about packed open houses with one throw-away graf about appraisers.  What stayed with us was the tsetse flies.  But there was something useful mentioned: appraisers were blamed for the last bubble, and they’re not ready for this one.  Yet.
  9. Banks are mucking up your loan even more than usual, although the link provided explaining the loan approval process doesn’t look to us like anything has changed much.  We suppose if you’re a realtard remembering the glory days of If You Can Fog This Mirror You Can Buy This House, you’d have a different opinion.
  10. Bank underwriters especially are being poopy-heads, and Medford’s happy to give some examples. Most of them look like underwriters working through a pile of documents, marking off inconsistencies, and resolving them later, where later is some period greater than the five minutes realtards think is appropriate.

While we are perfectly capable of posting house after house in the five mile radius of The Googleplex, we would never confuse the RBA with the entire Bay Area.  Just because an agent can write a column even longer than one of ours doesn’t mean he won’t commit the Fallacy of Composition.  The East Bay isn’t the entire Bay Area any more than the South Peninsula is.  Market conditions vary, so may your mileage, and definitely will housing prices. 

But we can guarantee there will always be some real estate professionals out there who take a few shortcuts.  Let’s give this one a golf clap for giving the appearance of a housing market review, even if he found ten different ways to say You Are Now Priced Out Forever.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

December 22, 2012

Are You Feeling Lucky?

121221-lucky-digitsWe sure hope so.  You survived the end of the world yesterday, didn’t you? (Those not surviving the end of the world, please stop interrupting.)  Now we’ve found a piece on Trulia on the numerology of home sales. 

This means you can continue your lucky lifestyle, thanks to Trulia’s research.  It turns out that a lot of home sellers put their favorite “lucky numbers” in their asking prices.

So what’s wrong with this pie chart at right?  Too many nines and fives, yet not enough eights, that’s what.  Everyone knows that eights are lucky.  Well, everyone in the Real Bay Area knows that.  The lucky numbers in the rest of the country say otherwise.

121221-usa-map

This consolidated map suggests that there aren’t any particular lucky numbers in the Midwest, the Plains, the Rocky Mountains or the Pacific Northwest, just a countrywide avoidance of the number 13 in prices.  And here’s some more on 8 as a lucky number.

121221-lucky-eights

121221-lucky-cupertinoWe took a spot-check of the asking prices in Cupertino, right now, over a million dollars (which is pretty much all of them).

We came up with one 1, one 2, one 6, three 9s, seven 5s, and a whopping ten 8s.    We just had to make a pie chart out of that.  Until today, we had no idea that donuts were a subset of pie.

If we then take the sub-million houses, we get an additional one 1, four 5s and two 8s.

We then compare with similarly sized cities (at least as to number of sales over a million) with rather different demographics.  San Rafael is majority white, and Oakland, while one of the most racially diverse cities, has a higher percentage of blacks than many other areas.

121221-lucky-sanrafael121221-lucky-oakland

Whoa. There’s 4s in Oakland, which is a very unlucky number in Cupertino.  All three cities have a strongly marked preference for 5 over 9, while nationally it’s the other way by almost 2 to 1.

We welcome your reasoning on why this would be, or anything else you wish to bring up in this Weekend-after-the-end-of-the-world Open Thread.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

November 10, 2012

“Home Prices Near Highs in Some Cities”

It’s been an emotional week, so let’s end on an upbeat, high note!

Home Prices Near Highs in Some Cities

By AMIR EFRATI

As housing prices nationwide start to recover from their depths, home prices in Silicon Valley are close to an all-time high.

Many Silicon Valley cities have come nearly all the way back from the real-estate bust of just a few years ago, in terms of how much buyers are willing to pay per square foot for existing single-family homes.

Driven by technology employees looking to buy and a constrained housing supply, Los Altos, Palo Alto and Burlingame have registered the strongest comebacks. During the third quarter of this year, home prices in those cities were just several percentage points away from peak levels in 2008, according to new data from research firm DataQuick

[snip]

20121108a

WOOT!

Congratulations Bay Area. We are officially back and on track.

This weekend, go out and put a bid on every house. I predict that 2013 will be the year that the starting price of every home will be $1,000,888!

If we all pull together, I know we can do it.

Nothing can stop us now!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:28 am

July 19, 2012

“San Francisco housing market booms bigger than ever”

San Francisco housing market booms bigger than ever

The average monthly price of an apartment lease has risen to $2,734 — up 12.9 percent since 2011 — according to data compiled by the rental data firm Real Facts. The spike in San Francisco rents seems to be spilling over to cheaper markets like Oakland, where the average rent is now $1,835 — up 14.4 percent since last year. Pacifica, where rents now average $1,908, has experienced a 15.6 percent increase.

A recent survey by Realtor.com shows that The City’s median listing price is up 15.4 percent since last year, which matches a similar upward tick in Oakland, where the average home is selling for $379,000. The number of homes for sale in San Francisco is down 40 percent since last year, and nearly 60 percent in Oakland.

Congrats to the Real Bay Area for this tremendous achievement!

You heard it here first! This site has been calling this since… oh… 1849. Finally we are back on track to overtake Manhattan, Moscow, Japan, and other world class cities in terms of being unaffordable (e.g. exclusively awesome)!

Let’s check in with an expert, shall we?

“With the rising rents, we’re definitely seeing some people get off the fence,” Kearney said. “But still, a lot more people can afford to pay rent on a monthly basis — even if it’s higher than a mortgage payment — than those who can come up with a down payment. So we’re seeing more and more of those down payments from parents.”

That’s right! Now’s the time to buy! Unlike when the market was tanking (that was also a time to buy BTW). If you don’t buy (with your parents’ money), you’ll be priced out forever!

 

Comments (56) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:49 am

May 19, 2012

CNN blogger creams himself over Facebook Effect

Have we discussed the price adjustments (up! up! up!) in both buying and renting in San Francisco due to the Facebook IPO?  Not enough!  Let’s see what happens when CNN lets one of its bloggers write a tl;dr post that makes our zip code pieces look like tweets by comparison.

The Facebook effect on San Francisco real estate

By Julian Hebron, contributor @CNNMoney May 17, 2012: 1:27 PM ET

120517-sf-facebook-effect(StockTwits) — The Basis Point is a popular mortgage and housing blog that tracks consumer critical issues and data. It is edited by Julian Hebron, a retail mortgage lender who runs the San Francisco branches of RPM Mortgage.

Three weeks ago, some clients wrote a $1.25 million offer on a 1,400 square foot 3-bed, 1-bath house with original kitchen and bath near San Francisco’s Dolores Park. They weren’t even close. There were 51 offers. It sold for $1.4 million and closed 8 days after offers were due.

That’s the most offers I’ve seen in 10 years. And a different property at that week got 23 offers.

Two weeks ago, another client offered $245,000 over list price on a 3-bed, 2-bath Pacific Heights condo. One of the other 9 offers was the winning bid in this $1.6 million to $1.9 million market segment. That was my client’s fourth rejected offer. He’s looking at two properties in this price range this week, and the listing agents are reporting similar demand: about 10 serious buyers circling.

That’s the norm. It’s what some are calling The Facebook Effect on San Francisco real estate.

That’s the norm: 10 serious buyers circling.  StockTwits goes on at very great length to explain why this is happening, and mentions “The Facebook Effect” as if the term were newly minted.  Here’s what Hebron said in much fewer words.  (The charts are all linked from his article.)

1. Everyone not already working for Facebook is trying to buy before millions of Facebook employees get their license to print unlimited money

You will love this quote from the article:

The San Francisco buyer mindset is that they want to get in before they’re priced out, but they either haven’t reaped their firm’s windfall yet or don’t expect much if any windfall from their firm.

That’s right.  They’re all worried about being Priced Out Forever.  And this has never, never, ever happened before!

120517-sf-facebook-house-prices

2. Ed Lee’s reelection as SF Mayor means tech employers can demand payroll tax adjustments

Twitter threatened to leave SF over the 1.5% payroll tax, what with all the high salaries and the stock option financials on top of that, Lee negotiated an adjustment with a maximum annual tax, and now all the other tech companies will expect similar easements.  Which means they’ll stay in SF, which means high-paid twentysomething technogeeks will continue to buy real estate there, which means you can’t afford anything.

And this is all very interesting, except Facebook is not in SF.  So why isn’t this article called “The Twitter Effect”?

3. Constricted housing supply.  Really, really, really constricted.  Plus rising rents.  Did we mention constricted housing supply?

120517-sf-facebook-inventory

The key takeaway is that there were only 500-600 annual SF home sales above $1.5 million.  Now, how many people do you think will be wanting one of those better places once the IPO cash hits?

120517-sf-facebook-sales

And is it maybe possible that more homeowners would cash out when they start seeing more of these prices? 

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

January 10, 2012

Fremont wants back into the RBA

We’ve had many discussions on what makes a place Real Bay Area (RBA) and more importantly, what makes a place Not.  Good schools, professionals for neighbors, and no uncorrectable deficits such as freeways, airports, and toxic waste dumps is a start.  But what’s a real tip-off that a place is in the RBA?

Not only is it way too expensive for what you’re buying, but the asking price has been increased.  Many thanks to Burbed reader Praveen for today’s featured listing.

 

42261 CAMINO SANTA BARBARA
Fremont, CA 94539
$10,998,000

image

 

BEDS: 4
BATHS: 2
SQ. FT.: 1,931
$/SQ. FT.: $5,695
LOT SIZE: 7,910 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STORIES: 1
YEAR BUILT: 1964
COMMUNITY: Alameda County
COUNTY: Alameda
MLS#: 81200779
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 1 day NEW LISTING (24 HOURS)

Very exclusive Mission Highlands East section of Chadbourne. One level four bedroom with huge remodeled kitchen and family room. Large master bedroom newly remodeled master bath. Large yard. Wonderful layout. Easy wlk to Mission High, Chadbourne elementary.

imageThis not particularly large home on a not particularly large lot was listed for $1,099,000 on EBRD, the East Bay multiple listing service, last Friday.  But when it appeared on MLS (used by the West Counties) the following Monday, the price had gone up tenfold.  What happened?

Simple. Houses marketed to East Bay buyers aren’t as Special as houses for Peninsula and South Bay buyers.  That’s why there’s one price for the East Bay and a higher, better, more exclusive, lots more Real Price for Silicon Valley lucky duckies.

And boy, some Silicon Valley home-owner-to-be is going to want this place!  Doesn’t that location, location, location suggest rural isolation and quiet evenings at home?

image

Absolutely!

image

Get your overbids ready, because photography like you see for this listing doesn’t come cheap!

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 18, 2011

Placing Blame for the Housing Bubble Where it Belongs

imageIf you want to test someone’s political orientation, ask what caused the housing bubble and subsequent crash (yes, we know, there is no housing crash in the Real Bay Area).

Conservatives blame the federal government (although I repeat myself).  In this case it’s a confluence of the GSEs, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and both Congress and the Executive for pushing homeownership on people who weren’t ready for the responsibility and couldn’t afford it anyway.  In particular, the guilty parties are Barney Frank and poor people.

imageLiberals blame Wall Street for blowing up the economy by securitizing mortgages and creating more and more leveraged and abstract financial instruments using them.  The products required a steady stream of mortgages, so brokers had every incentive to approve everything.  There was no risk to them because they weren’t keeping the loans.  Also, since Goldman Sachs ultimately shorted the entire market, they’re doubly responsible for talking it up to customers while doing their best to crater it.

A new Federal report points the finger elsewhere.  They blame a different kind of speculator.

Federal report: Home flipping drove housing bubble

Associated Press
Posted: 12/13/2011 06:33:47 AM PST, Updated: 12/13/2011 10:31:40 AM PST

LAS VEGAS — A new federal report shows that speculative real estate investors played a larger role than originally thought in driving the housing bubble that led to record foreclosures and sent economies plummeting in Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida and other states.

Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that investors who used low down payment, subprime credit to purchase multiple residential properties helped inflate home prices and are largely to blame for the recession. The researchers said their findings focused on an "undocumented" dimension of the housing market crisis that had been previously overlooked as officials focused on how to contain the financial crisis, not what caused it.

More than a third of all U.S. home mortgages granted in 2006 went to people who already owned at least one house, according to the report. In Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where average home prices more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, investors made up nearly half of all mortgage-backed purchases during the housing bubble. Buyers owning three or more properties represented the fastest-growing segment of homeowners during that time.

"This may have allowed the bubble to inflate further, which caused millions of owner-occupants to pay more if they wanted to buy a home for their family," the researchers noted.

imageThis report won’t satisfy either of the above groups, because it fails to place the blame where it belongs: on either Big Government, Big Business, or Big Poverty.  How could a bunch of onesie twosie speculators drive up home prices as much as they did?  That’s like blaming high coffee prices on just Seattle residents.

Please identify and complain about your favorite party to blame for the rest of the country’s housing market imploding while our home prices remain insanely delightfully high robust.

This is an Open Thread. 

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

December 3, 2011

Bay Area Prestige Home Index: Up from a Real Downer

If you’re interested in Bay Area real estate, you should be familiar with the Prestige Home Index.  Put together by First Republic Bank, the Prestige Home Index tracks the value of a number of “over $1 million properties” in eight Bay Area counties.  Burbed has a handy link to the index on our blogroll on the right; you’ll find it with the Real Bay Area links.

Earlier this week, the latest quarterly numbers ending September 30th were released.  Let’s take a look at First Republic’s exciting graph with the latest RBA domicile data!

image

While the index has risen to 437.48 (after dropping from 450 nine months ago, long down from its peak of 533.17 exactly four years ago) the little kick at the very end of the graph shows what could be the second dead cat bounce, or it could show we’ve hit bottom!  Then again, it could just represent a few LinkedIn types jumping into Palo Alto ahead of their stock coming out of the no-trading lock-up zone.

Then again, the above graph is the median value of their high-end home portfolio, which is currently $2,531,042.  Since they neglected to graph the index itself, I’ve thrown one together for you.

image

Oh, silly me, I didn’t pull the “let’s exaggerate the graph by chopping a whole bunch of numbers off the bottom of the Y axis” trick.  Fine, I can play that game too.

image

Can anyone figure out which Bay Area county is not represented in the First Republic Prestige Home Index, San Francisco Edition?  My money is on Marin!

In San Francisco, the higher end of the luxury market was active. “Above $5 million, the market is healthy,” said Mary Lou Castellanos of Sotheby’s International Realty. “Smart money is buying now and is taking advantage of lower prices and lower interest rates. At the same time, a growing number of sellers are getting more realistic about price.”

We’ve featured high-end properties before, and prices aren’t always realistic (take a look at both the homes in the zip code series and this collection of Santa Clara County astonishers if you don’t believe us).

This is an Open Thread.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am