Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bay Area Ranks as Nation's Most Competitive Real Estate Market

The San Jose metropolitan area posted the nation’s steepest year-over-year plunge in the number of homes for sale in October — falling by a precipitous 51.6 percent.
With buyers competing for so few listings, San Jose also posted the nation’s sharpest year-over-year rise in the median cost of a home: up 19.2 percent to $1,049,000. That’s according to a new analysis by Redfin, which analyzed 74 U.S. housing markets with populations of 750,000 or more. Nationally, the home supply shrank for the 25th consecutive month, down 12.2 percent from a year earlier.
“Buyers are just flocking from one property to the next,” said Kevin Swartz, a Saratoga-based agent for the Sereno Group. “We’re at this point where they’re just making offers on whatever is available, because it’s so limited.”
The Redfin report also ranks the Bay Area’s three main metro areas as the most competitive markets in the U.S. Combining data for single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses, it ranks San Francisco as the nation’s most competitive market, with 78.6 percent of homes selling for above the list price in October. San Jose ranked second, with 76.3 percent of homes going for above list, and Oakland ranked third, with 63.7 percent of homes selling for more than the asking price.
Bay Area markets also figured among the five “fastest” metro areas in the U.S.
The speediest market was Seattle, where homes typically sold in 10 days, according to Redfin. Second speediest was San Jose (12 median days on market) and third was Boston (14 days). Oakland and San Francisco tied for fourth place; homes spent 15 median days on the market in both metros. Nationally, the typical home spent 44 days on the market, down from 49 in October 2016.
Underlying all these trends are the chronically low levels of homes for sale. Thursday in all of Santa Clara County, Swartz pointed out, only 620 single-family homes were on the market. Adding condominiums and townhouses to the mix, the total still only grew to 745 listings.
San Jose’s 51.6 percent year-over-year tumble in the number of homes for sale was unmatched, though San Francisco had the second steepest decline in the U.S., 28.5 percent. Oakland was close behind, with a 25.5 percent year-over-year drop. As the supply of available homes contracts, buyers keep putting pressure on prices. The median price of a home in the San Francisco metro area hit $1,282,200 in October, up 4.7 percent year-over-year. In the Oakland metro area, it climbed 13.1 percent year-over-year to $690,000, according to Redfin.
Only eight of the 74 metros showed year-over-year increases in inventory. Those were mostly in the South and Midwest. Raleigh, N.C., had the largest jump in the number of available homes, up 16.1 percent, followed by Baton Rouge, LA (12.9 percent), Austin, Texas (8.8 percent), New Orleans (7.5 percent) and St. Louis (4.8 percent).
With home supplies chronically low in most U.S. metros, sales “are sputtering,” said Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. “The last time we saw a substantial increase in the number of homes for sale, Donald Trump was a candidate in a Republican field of 11.”
Also on Thursday, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) issued its October report on the statewide housing market.
Looking at existing, single-family homes, C.A.R. reports that the median price in the nine-county Bay Area is $892,720, up 11.1 percent year-over-year.
County by county, again for single-family homes, here are a few more numbers.
The Contra Costa County median was $615,000, up 6.1 percent, while the Alameda County median was $862,450, up 11.3 percent. In Santa Clara County, the median was $1,242,500, up 18.6 percent. In San Mateo County, the median climbed 12.8 percent to $1,522,500, and in San Francisco County it rose 13.3 percent to $1,594,000.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Proposed Mortgage Cap Tax Cuts Could Hit Bay Area Homeowners Hard

WASHINGTON - House Republican leaders on Thursday proposed legislation that would overhaul the U.S. tax code and jettison numerous tax breaks that Americans and businesses have used for years to limit their taxable income.
The release of the proposals launched into motion a frantic political effort that could impact almost every American. In a number of cases, the tax plan cuts back on tax benefits for families and individuals while expanding tax benefits for companies.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and collapse the seven tax brackets paid by families and individuals down to four. It could create giant new benefits for the wealthy, cutting business taxes, eliminating the estate tax, and ending the alternative minimum tax.
It would also jettison numerous tax breaks that Americans and businesses have used for years to limit their taxable income. in half the popular mortgage interest deduction used by millions of American homeowners, capping this tax deduction at new mortgages of $500,000 or less. Presently, Americans can deduct interest on mortgages of up to $1 million from their income.
This change could have a particularly big impact on high cost areas, such as San Francisco, New York, Boston, and the Washington D.C. area, and housing groups and lawmakers will likely try to defeat it. The bill would allow people to deduct their local property taxes from their taxable income, though this benefit would be capped at $10,000.
The bill's true impact on the middle class will be difficult to immediately measure. The bill would create a new "Family Credit" and expand the child tax credit used by working families. The child tax credit would grow from $1,000 per child to $1,600 for each child.
The bill would nearly double the standard deduction that many Americans claim on their taxes, raising it from $12,700 to $24,000 per family. But this benefit would be partially offset by the personal exemption many Americans can claim, which can be large for families with multiple children.
Families would also no longer be able to deduct their state income taxes from their federal taxable income, another change that would have a particular impact on places like New Jersey and New York, where state taxes are higher than in other areas.
And Americans would no longer be able to deduct their medical expenses or property and casualty losses, according to a document outlining the plan.
The legislative fight over the tax bill has become the Trump administration's biggest political goal, after failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. President Donald Trump wants the legislation to pass the House and the Senate by the end of the year, though they must resolve numerous differences.
The bill would add $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years, but Republicans believe the changes would trigger a surge in economic growth, higher wages, and job creation.
Other changes in the bill would be far reaching. It would, for example, make changes to college savings programs and have new requirements for tax-exempt organizations like churches and charities.