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Inventory Watch

A bit of a breather this week, which Doug would find humorous.  But there was also another round of graduations that probably slowed the activity too.  We should see a surge over the next 2-3 weeks as the selling season wraps up!

New Listings
New Pendings
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Feb 13
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Feb 27
Mar 6
Mar 13
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Mar 27
Apr 3
Apr 10
Apr 17
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May 1
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Jun 19

There are 15% fewer homes for sale today than there were this time last year – 23% fewer houses for sale that are priced under $1,400,000, and 12% fewer that are priced over $1,400,000.

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Inventory, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Floating Homes

Floats engineered specifically to support homes are crucial to the design.

We should do these everywhere – hat tip daytrip:

“There’s a lot of action and fun when you’re building a floating home,” says builder Marc Even.

“There are also a lot of logistics,” he adds with a chuckle.

Even is owner of Even Construction and builder of one-of-a-kind homes that live on the water in Portland, OR. “My in-laws’ home was the first floating home I built, 20 years ago, and I fell in love with the process,” he says.

A love of water runs deep in his history. His father was a Navy captain who started building homes for entertainment after he retired. Those were “land homes,” as Even says.

Even grew up in San Diego’s surfing culture, and he has brought that sport’s upbeat attitude to his homebuilding career. Although he does build custom land homes, he says constructing floating homes is more exhilarating. “I build homes for people who want some excitement in their lives,” he explains. “The river is a unique environment.”

He’s built floating homes for doctors, lawyers, judges, hospital presidents and comedians — anyone looking for a different way of living.

From start to finish, the building process takes Even and his crew eight months to a year. Log float homes are built on the water at the company’s facility in St. Helens, OR, and concrete float homes are launched after they are built.

While a concrete float might seem counterintuitive, it’s not a new concept — just one that is increasing in popularity. These floats are specifically engineered to suit your home, and can even incorporate radiant floor heating. They have superior support, and last for decades with little maintenance.

The trickiest part is maneuvering the home from the company’s building site to its new moor. The river has its ways, but so do Even and his crew.

Building floating homes takes a lot of patience. Not many builders are willing to tackle the task. “Everything is moving and bouncing around,” Even says. “It’s a lot of work. Land homes don’t move, and they’re level. There’s no such thing as level on the river.”

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Interesting Houses, Jim's Take on the Market | 4 comments

‘Craziest’ Markets


“With a record number of home buyers out there, this is officially the most competitive, fastest-moving spring housing market in decades,” said Javier Vivas, manager of economic research at “Following a furious start to the season, the median days on market for homes on in May is the lowest since the end of the recession, and marks the first time that 1 in 3 homes is selling in under 30 days nationally.”

The median age of properties on in May is 60 days, which indicates that properties are selling five days (8%) faster than this time last year, and two days faster than last month.

“The lack of affordable inventory remains a critical issue, particularly for a growing number of first-time home buyers and millennials lining up for starter homes and urban dwellings.”

So where in the U.S. are things the craziest—those places where homes fly off the market the fastest, and buyers are up all hours, clicking on listings? When we pulled together this month’s list of the hottest markets in the country, the top markets were a one-two punch for the Bay Area, with San Francisco (including nearby Oakland and Hayward) at No. 2 and Vallejo, just to the north, at No. 1.

I don’t think a faster-moving market is crazy – instead, the tight inventories have caused us to naturally evolve to quicker pace.  It’s not just the buyers – agents, lenders, appraisers, and inspectors all move faster now, and you could say, ‘it’s about time’.

Words like ‘craziest’ are just headline porn – the market evolution is on track.

Is there a potential benefit to slowing it down?

Agents dig the face pace – buyers and sellers have less time to think, and deals close quicker so we can get on to the next one.

How would sellers and buyers benefit from slowing down the process, and how could it happen?

Imagine if we eliminated the ‘Coming Soon’, ‘Sold Before Processing’, and other ways that agents wrongly tilt the table.  Instead, we adopt an industry-wide standard process for selling homes so everyone has a crack at buying each house.  After all, shouldn’t that be in place already?

If everyone knew that the seller would pick the buyer on Friday afternoon (or some other deadline), then we’d have an open, honest, and predictable marketplace.  If we added a open bidding process at the deadline, the resulting transparency would help even more.

The frantic running-around today is from agents abusing the system, which causes buyers to pull their hair out every time they lose a property unfairly.  They are determined to get the next one, no matter the cost, because they abhor the way they are treated.

You could say that the realtors’ unethical behavior that has helped to create the frenzy does benefit the sellers.  Most will say that as long as sellers benefit, then all is good.

But is it a long-term solution?

We will eventually run out of buyers who are willing to put up with this environment.  Then what, another dip?  Great.

The conversion to The Slow-Down Plan outlined above (adopting a industry-wide process for selling homes) is our soft landing.  If we continue at a break-neck speed with no solution in sight, won’t we crash….again?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor Training, The Future | 5 comments

If There Was No Bubble

What would have happened if we didn’t have the bubble/burst?

This graph suggests we would have gotten here anyway, and it’s probably true.

The national 3.6% annual appreciation rate sounds a little rich, but we would have had strong demand from baby boomers setting up their kids lately.

What else?

  1. We probably wouldn’t have sub-4% mortgage rates.  The jury is still out on whether the Fed can navigate this through to the other side, so there could be further prices to pay later.
  2. If the fixed-rate on mortgages wasn’t so low, we might still have ARMs.
  3. We’d still have foreclosures.
  4. Kamala Harris wouldn’t be so famous.
  5. The Tan Man wouldn’t have been sent to early retirement, and his golf game would have suffered slightly.
  6. wouldn’t be here!

I’m grateful we are here together trying to figure it all out!

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market | 3 comments

Fed Raises, Mortgage Rates Drop

Rates are under 4.0%, no points! From MND:

Mortgage rates fell convincingly today, though not all lenders adjusted rates sheets in proportion to the gains seen in bond markets (which underlie rate movement).  Those gains came early, with this morning’s economic data coming in much weaker than expected.  Markets were especially sensitive to the Consumer Price Index (an inflation report) which showed core annual inflation at 1.7% versus a median forecast of 1.9%.

Core annual inflation under 2.0% is a hot topic–especially today–considering that’s one of the Fed’s main goals.  This afternoon’s Fed Announcement did acknowledge the recent drop in inflation, but continued to suggest it was being held down by temporary factors.  The Fed also officially unveiled its framework for decreasing the amount of bonds its buying (though it didn’t announce a start to the program yet).

Bottom line: Fed bond buying is one of the reasons rates are as low as they are.  Markets know the Fed will eventually enact this plan and they’ve accounted for that to the best of their ability.  But as the Fed actually goes through the steps toward enacting the plan, it causes some upward pressure for rates.  That was the case this afternoon, but bond markets were nonetheless able to hold on to a majority of improvement seen this morning.  As such, the day ended with most lenders offering their lowest rates in exactly 8 months (a few days following the presidential election).

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Interest Rates/Loan Limits, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, Mortgage News, Mortgage Qualifying | 0 comments