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Surfers abound near Huntington City Pier

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The Huntington Harbor real estate market, part of the larger Huntington Beach and Orange County housing markets, saw a decrease in the median sales price and quantity of homes sold towards the end of 2010. According to statistics reported by the OC Metro and provided by MDA DataQuick, the housing market in Orange County trended downwards in the last month of 2010, largely as a result of a stagnant job market and hesitant lending practices. DataQuick’s figures indicated that the median sales price of a property in Orange County was $410,000, marking a decrease of approximately six percent compared to the same time last year. The decline of about six percent also represented a fall from month-ago levels. Orange County performed considerably more poorly than the larger Southern California housing market, which saw both year-over-year and month-over-month increases in median price. Interestingly, the falling median price did not boost the quantity of sales over the same time period. Although there was a fairly substantial uptick in monthly sales figures, the number of home sales fell by almost thirteen percent between December 2009 and December 2010. Additionally, the month-over-month increase can at least partially be understood as a predictable seasonal trend.

December of 2010 also marked the first time in nearly two and a half years that Huntington Harbor and Orange County homes for sales saw a fall in both median price and quantity of homes sold. The larger Southern California region saw a substantial decline in the number of properties purchased during December 2010, according to MDA DataQuick and the Orange County Register. There were less than twenty thousand single family homes purchased in the six-county Southern California region, marking a fall of almost thirteen percent from last year and a decline of more than twenty percent from an average December. One partial explanation for the quantity of home sales relative to the same time last year is the fact that the federal and state housing tax credits were still having a positive effect on the housing market in December of 2009, artificially inflating the sales figures for that particular month.

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Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, county seat of the ...
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The Cave Creek real estate market, a small residential market enclosed within the larger Phoenix area and Maricopa Valley markets, seemed to be showing signs of a potential recovery while still remaining quite weak. According to a May 22, 2010 article from the Arizona Republic, “April figures for existing-home sales in metro Phoenix reveal several promising shifts for those searching for signs of a housing-market recovery. The overall number of home sales in the region continued to hover near record lows last month.” The piece by Catherine Reagor continued to note that “The return of average buyers to the market suggests more people are buying for the long haul rather than for a quick resale. The shift away from foreclosures also means more Valley homeowners were able to sell their houses last month.”

The rate of foreclosures in the greater Phoenix area, which previously had been seriously harming Cave Creek homes for sale, declined relative to the number of home sales. According to a June 1, 2010 article from DQ News, “Phoenix region home sales rose to a four-year high in April and posted an above-average gain over March as first-time buyers and investors continued to dominate the sub-$200,000 market. The region’s overall median sale price rose above the year-ago level for the second consecutive month, reflecting widening price stability and fewer foreclosures and other properties selling below $100,000, a real estate information service reported.” The article, also published in the NuWire Investor, went on to say that “Buyers paid a median $135,889 last month for all new and resale houses and condos that closed escrow in the Phoenix metro area, up 0.7 percent from March and up 8.7 percent from $125,000 a year ago, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego, which tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.”

The commercial aspect of the Cave Creek and Phoenix real estate markets may still be in serious trouble, according to a May 30, 2010 article from the Arizona Republic. This piece, written by J. Craig Anderson, noted that “Arizona’s housing market is deep into the process of flushing out its bad mortgage debt. But lenders and borrowers of troubled commercial real-estate loans continued to live a lie. Commercial real-estate brokers have coined a phrase, ‘extend and pretend,’ to describe lenders’ sluggish response to the billions of dollars in bad commercial mortgages on their books.”

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Seal of San Mateo County, California
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The Atherton real estate market, a portion of the larger San Mateo and Silicon Valley real estate markets, showed a trend towards stabilization and growth in recent months. According to a May 20, 2010 article in the Mercury News, “In San Mateo County, the median price of houses sold in April was $638,000, up 16 percent from a year earlier and down 9 percent from March. The median marks the halfway mark, meaning half the homes sold in April cost less than the median figure, and half cost more.” The piece, composed by Sue McAllister, went on to say that “The number of houses sold in San Mateo County rose 21 percent from April 2009, with 442 houses changing hands…Vicki Moore, an Alain Pinel agent in San Mateo, agreed, saying that homes in the $500,000 price range in San Mateo County ‘are getting snapped up pretty fast.’”

The effect of San Mateo foreclosures on Atherton homes for sale likely diminished in the months of May and April, as they showed a strong decline in the most recent tracking figures. According to a May 11, 2010 article in the Mercury News, “Foreclosure filings in San Mateo County tumbled 25 percent last month compared to the same time last year, a sign the worst of the housing crisis has passed, according to a report released Tuesday.” The piece, written by Sue McAllister, went on to say that “April marked the third time in five months that default notices declined compared to their year-earlier levels, according to data from ForeclosureRadar, a Discovery Bay company. A total of 327 notices of default were filed in San Mateo County in April, down 25 percent from April 2009, and down 18 percent from March 2010.”

Atherton real estate, along with nearby Santa Clara and surrounding San Mateo counties, may have hit a bottom in terms of home prices, which would increase the likelihood of a continued rebound. According to a May 10, 2010 article in the Mercury News, “In San Mateo County, home values in the first quarter were flat compared with a year earlier, and the median estimated value was $638,800.”

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El Dorado Hills, CA Panorama
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The El Dorado Hills real estate market, an outlying portion of the Sacramento Metropolitan Statistical Area market, has been facing continued difficulties in the first half of the 2010 fiscal year. According to a June 3, 2010 article from the Central Valley Business Times, “The rate that families are losing their homes to foreclosure is easing in some parts of the Central Valley, especially where the mortgage meltdown came first and was the most ferocious, according to figures Thursday from real estate information company CoreLogic of Santa Ana.” The piece went on to note that, in a more negative development for the narrower Sacramento region “Foreclosure rates in the Sacramento metropolitan statistical area, which includes the Arden-Arcade and Roseville areas, increased in April over the same period last year, according to CoreLogic.”

The number of El Dorado Hills homes for sale which actually went into escrow declined in the month of April along with the rest of the Sacramento Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to a May 20, 2010 article from the Sacramento Business Journal, “Home sales in the four-county Sacramento region were slightly lower in April than the same month last year, according to figures released Thursday from real estate information company MDA DataQuick.” The piece, written by Michael Shaw, went on to say that “There were 2,873 home sales of all types, including new homes, and existing homes and condos, in April compared with 3,036 sales a year ago, the company reported. Home prices remained relatively unchanged from a year ago, with Sacramento County prices 4.5 percent higher than a year ago at a median $172,500. Placer County median prices were at $287,000 in April, down 2.7 percent, while El Dorado prices were down 4.5 percent to $300,000.”

Foreclosures in the El Dorado Hills region spiked considerably in the month of April, according to a May 11, 2010 report on All Things Considered. This piece noted that “Foreclosures increased 46 percent in April, compared to a year earlier with almost 1,800 homes going back to lenders or sold at auction in the Sacramento region. Foreclosures.com says Sacramento County accounted for almost half of those foreclosed homes, with Elk Grove, North Natomas, and south Sacramento among the hardest-hit communities. But El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties also had more foreclosures last month than a year ago.”

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Big single-family home
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The Scottsdale real estate market, which is often analyzed together with the larger Phoenix area and Valley real estate markets, continued to face a number of serious problems as the first half of the year comes to a close. According to a May 14, 2010 article from the Arizona Republic, “Scottsdale home prices continue to fall even as the Valley resale housing market has seen a 5.5 percent increase in prices from January to April. Scottsdale’s median home price was $360,000 in April, down 10 percent from a year ago and a dip of 3.2 percent from January, according to an Arizona State University Realty Studies monthly report released this week.” The piece by Peter Corbett went on to say that “Foreclosures, short sales and fix-and-flip deals on recently foreclosed properties continue to drag down the Scottsdale market, making it harder for traditional sellers to get good prices for their homes.”

Although the number of foreclosures in the Phoenix area and the Valley remains high, their effect on Scottsdale homes for sale may be less pronounced than previously, according to a May 13, 2010 report from KTAR News. This piece found that “Arizona continued to rank high in housing foreclosures – second only to Nevada – but there is one indication the situation may be getting better. Notices of foreclosure sales – the early stage of foreclosure – in Phoenix were down 17 percent from a year ago in the latest report from RealtyTrac.” The piece, written by Jeremy Foster, continued to note that “The number of properties actually in foreclosure are up nearly 60 percent from this time a year ago, but the number of people entering foreclosure is down almost 20 percent…He believes foreclosure numbers in the Valley will remain high for the rest of this year.”

The rate of home resales in the Scottsdale and Valley real estate markets increased slightly in the month of April, according to a May 12, 2010 article in the Arizona Republic. This piece, written by Dawn Gilbertson, noted that “There were 6,765 resales of detached single-family homes in the month, up nearly 2 percent from 6,640 in April 2009, according to the monthly Realty Studies report from Arizona State University.”

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The San Bruno police station next to the BART ...
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The San Bruno real estate market, a subsidiary and large component of the Bay Area real estate market, faced mixed signals today, with prices and sales moving in opposite directions and foreclosures shifting to different sectors of the market. According to a May 20, 2010 article in the Contra Costa Times, “Bay Area home sales in April were down slightly from a year ago while the median sales price rose sharply. The sales slowdown was tied to some buyers delaying escrow until May 1 to get a bigger home-buying tax break.” The piece, which was written by Eve Mitchell, continued to say that “A total of 7,003 new and existing single-family houses and condominiums closed escrow last month, up 0.2 percent from March, but down 1.9 percent from a year ago, said the MDA DataQuick report released Thursday. The slowdown in home sales stems from more people delaying escrow until May to obtain a state tax credit as well as a reduced inventory of homes for sale, which helps push up prices, observers say.”

The average price of a pre-existing San Bruno home for sale rallied strongly in the month of April, according to a May 21, 2010 article in the San Francisco Chronicle. This piece noted that “Median resale home prices in the Bay Area rose 30 percent in April compared with the prior year, in a market that featured few foreclosures and more activity in higher end neighborhoods, according to a real estate report released Thursday.” The article, written by Robert Selna, continued to note that “Meanwhile, the total number of homes resold in the Bay Area – that is, not newly constructed – fell slightly year-over-year as the higher-priced sales activity could not offset declines in the more affordable areas, according to data analyzed by MDA DataQuick, a San Diego real estate research firm that produces monthly market updates.”

San Bruno foreclosures were shifting to wealthier parts of the city, according to a June 1, 2010 article from the San Francisco Chronicle. This piece, written by Carolyn Said, noted that “Foreclosures are going upscale across the Bay Area…A significant share of high-end foreclosures were valued above $1 million.”

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DuBourg Hall serves as the administration buil...
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The Saint Louis real estate market is showing signs of solid improvement, with home sales increasing dramatically and foreclosures remaining relatively static. According to a May 25, 2010 article in the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, “St. Louis-area home sales surged in April for the second straight month, as buyers took advantage of rock-bottom interest rates and the expiring $8,000 tax credit. Sales were up 25 percent compared with the same month last year, according to data compiled by the Post-Dispatch, and prices climbed across much of the region, a sign that foreclosures are making up a smaller share of the housing market.” The piece, written by Tim Logan, continued to note that “The news comes on the heels of a 22 percent bump in March, and it echoes a trend being seen across the country. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales were up 22.8 percent from the same month last year, and rose 7.6 percent from March on a seasonally adjusted basis.”

The Saint Louis real estate market also recently benefitted from a spike in construction downtown, according to a May 28, 2010 article from the Saint Louis Business Journal. This piece found that “Three former Pyramid properties – The Laurel, One City Centre and St. Louis Centre – have closed on financing since the start of the year, totaling $243 million in redevelopment. Add to that The Lawrence Group’s $109 million Park Pacific redevelopment, which closed on financing in April, and it totals $352 million in redevelopment downtown.” The piece, written by Lisa R. Brown, continued to say that “Combined, the projects will create more than 1,600 construction jobs and set in motion the biggest construction boom downtown has seen in several years.”

The effect of foreclosures on Saint Louis homes for sale remained static throughout the month of March, according to a May 7, 2010 article in the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. This piece, written by Tim Logan, continued to say that “A troubling trend continued in March. The share of St. Louis-area mortgages that are at least 90 days behind, already at record levels, notched up yet again, hitting 6.22 percent, according to real estate data firm Core Logic.”

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Entrance to Fort Worth Stockyards, 1999
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Located just outside of Dallas, Texas, Fort Worth has faced its fair share of real estate problems, similar to that of Dallas.  Many real estate experts have noted that the Dallas-Fort Worth region has been plagued by sluggish real estate activity and low median sales prices.  However, recent months have shown that some neighborhoods throughout the region are showing improvements in both home sales and median sales prices.  Nevertheless, the Fort Worth real estate market has shown inconsistent fluctuations, making it difficult for real estate experts to find any trends in the Fort Worth real estate market and determine when the Fort Worth real estate market will begin a full recovery.

According to The Dallas Morning News, many real estate experts and local realtors have found 2009 to be a strange year for the Fort Worth real estate market due to the inconsistency of the market and inability for experts to find and trends to determine the path the market will take in the coming months.  Many realtors believe that one of the main obstacles to the recovery of the Fort Worth real estate market is the lack of consumer confidence, despite favorable interest rates, negotiable sellers, and already discounted home prices.  Many people expect the job market in the area to rebound in 2010, hopefully bringing an increase in real estate activity along with it.

The Dallas Morning News has also reported that the commercial real estate in Fort Worth is also suffering from the highest vacancy rates in the decade, with only 86.4 percent of total retail space leased.  There are also very few retail development projects planned for the 2010 year.  Many commercial real estate experts are telling people to expect another year of struggles of the Fort Worth commercial real estate, as it might take five years for the commercial real estate market to correct itself as opposed to the typical two-year cycle.  Financial analysts also estimate a total of about $4.5 billion worth of distressed commercial real estate suffering from delinquency, default, bankruptcy, or foreclosure.

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Palm Springs, California
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Located in Southern California, Palm Springs has suffered from a struggling real estate market over the past several years as a result of the economic recession that began in the fall of 2008, as well as real estate problems that began in 2007, prior to the recession.  Real estate experts have optimistic views of the future of the real estate in Palm Springs, as Southern California has maintained year-over-year gains in both the number of home sales and median sales price.  Experts also believe that the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, as well as greater affordability of housing and an easier ability to get credit will play major roles in the recovery of the Palm Springs real estate market throughout the coming months.

According to DQNews.com, Southern California has maintained its year-over-year gains in home sales  for the 18th consecutive month, and has posted its first year-over-year gains in median sales prices since the summer of 2007.  In December of 2009, Southern California posted a total of 22,238 new and resale houses and condos, which was a 16.4 percent increase from that of the previous month, and a 12.1 percent increase from that of December of 2008.  However, real estate experts weren’t too surprised by the increase in sales prices since the region tends to post an average increase of 13 percent in home sales as shown by historical data trends.  Experts are confident in the market, though, since even the luxury real estate markets of high-end communities such as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Newport Beach are showing major improvements in their real estate markets.  The median sales price for Southern California was about $289,000, a 1.4 percent increase from that of the previous month and a 4 percent increase from that of the previous year.  Experts believe that the median sales price will continue to rise as the inventory of distressed and previously foreclosed properties declines.

The Desert Sun has also reported that the market for apartments in Palm Springs has also shown major improvements during the recent months.  Shortly after the recession, many apartments fell into foreclosure, but as the apartments moved back onto the market at much more affordable prices, the market improved.  Realtors have noted that primarily only the lower-end affordable apartments have accounted for the majority of the apartment sales over the past few months.

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The most expensive real estate in the Bay Area
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Located at the northern end of the Bay Area in California, Marin has shown some major improvements in its real estate market throughout the past year.  The Bay Area has shown increases in both the number of home sales and median sales prices, and Marin has shown even greater improvements in its number of home sales, while falling just short of the average increase in median sales prices for the Bay Area.  Real estate experts have very optimistic views of the future of the Bay Area real estate market, as well as that of the Marin real estate, especially with incentives for prospective home buyers such as more affordable housing options, the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, and an increase in the credit available for homebuyers.

According to DQNews.com, the Bay Area in California posted major improvements in its real estate market during the year of 2009, with home sales being the strongest seen in three years.  The Bay Area real estate was struggling prior to the economic recession that began in the fall of 2008, and the recession only worsened the real estate struggles that actually began in 2007.  The Bay Area posted a total of 7,828 new and resale house and condo sales, which was a 13.8 percent increase from that of the previous month and a 13.6 percent increase from that of the previous year.  Marin real estate posted an even greater increase in home sales between 2008 and 2009 by 60.6 percent.  The Bay Area’s median sales price increased by about 15.20 percent between December of 2008 and 2009, while Marin’s median sales price increased by a slightly smaller value of 12.90 percent during the same time period.

The Contra Costa Times also reported on the recent improvements in Marin’s real estate market through its increases in both its home sales and median sales price.  During December of 2009, Marin posted a median sales price of about $755,000 for a single family home, a 12 percent increase from the $675,000 average posted in December of 2008.  The median sales price for a condo in Marin was $319,500 in December, an increase from the $301,000 median from that of the previous year.

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