1st Quarterly Update 2015
It’s April Fool’s Day. Taxes are due in two weeks, no foolin’!!!
April is a heavy tax month, with the second half of your property tax delinquent if it has not been paid by the 10th of April (it was due the 10th of February), and the tax man cometh each April 15 for our income taxes….. this year it will be no different. If you don’t make the April 15 deadline, you won’t be alone: 12 million taxpayers asked for an extension last year.
What is happening on the real estate front?
We have noticed a significant slowdown in transactions in some of our Westside communities — notably Beverly Hills which has experienced a decrease in sales volume (-15%) and median sales prices (-32%). We are seeing a somewhat stable condition in the other four communities I report on — Beverly Hills Post Office, Bel-Air, Brentwood and Westwood/Century City…. but total sales activity is down almost 11% through the first two months of this year. What we are seeing is not a slowdown in demand — but a lack of inventory. It’s that simple. We are seeing large sales over $10 million and under $2 million, but for homes priced in between, sales are lagging.
Another reason for the lack of sales is that the US dollar is riding high, making it more difficult and challenging for foreign buyers to get the bargains they have enjoyed since the bottom fell out in 2007. The bottom is gone…and frankly, we are re-adjusting to a more normal market, and I am confident that inventories will improve and our median sales prices will remain steady.
On a national front, mortgage rates may rise this coming June, but it’s too early to tell if the Fed is going to open that door — depends on what happens between now/then. For now, mortgage rates continue to rise and fall, but basically, the rates are still quite low. There are still excellent loans out there….existing home sales rose a meager 1.2% in February, just below expectations, and the final economic scorecard for 2014 was also meager — 2.2% growth which was well below the 5% earned in the third quarter. California, however, is leading the nation in job growth — our rate is 3.1% increase last year compared to a national rate of 2.3%. This is great news — it’s a turnaround from a year ago when California’s employment picture was bleak.
The past few months, have been particularly fun for me as I have been working and selling homes and condos outside of our wonderful area, the Hollywood Hills, Venice, Westwood, Palms/Mar Vista and Santa Monica. It has given me the opportunity to once again explore those areas that I frankly have not crawled around in for a while. I have missed that. Please follow me on Facebook, linked in, and twitter. I look forward to hearing from and working with you.