The latest San Diego Real Estate Market Update report from real estate tracker DataQuick paints a sunny picture for San Diego Real Estate in 2013. January’s figures show mortgage default rates in San Diego County at their lowest levels since mid-2005, and foreclosures at a six year low.
Impact of the Homeowner Bill of Rights
A big reason for these declines is the of the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a comprehensive update to California’s mortgage regulations championed by Attorney General Kamala Harris and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill includes provisions to stop dual tracking (a controversial procedure where banks went ahead with foreclosure against struggling homeowners in the middle of a short sale or loan modification procedure), stop robo-signing foreclosure documents and to streamlining loan modification applications to make it easier for borrowers.
Despite strenuous objections from industry groups like the California Mortgage Association, California Bankers Association and California Mortgage Bankers Association, the Homeowner Bill of Rights became law on January 1st and had an immediate effect on lowering foreclosures and mortgage defaults, although the jury is still out on long-term ramifications.
Short Sales Popular as Ever
Short sales, where the lender approves the sale of a property for lower-than-market-price and forgives the remainder of the debt, made up 25.9% of all homes sold in Southern California. San Diego short sales remain as popular as ever, as it gives borrowers the opportunity the chance to get back into solvency with minimum impact to their credit ratings, and lenders the chance of avoiding a messy, lengthy and expensive foreclosure.
A large part of the rise in popularity of short sales in recent months is due to the $25 billion joint state-federal settlement reached with the nation’s largest mortgage companies in February 2012. The settlement is meant to help homeowners struggling in the aftermath of the housing-collapse, and the majority of that help is coming in the form of short sales. Now is as good a time as any to get approved for a short sale, seeing as the nation’s largest mortgage servicers are obliged to help.
Tight Inventory, Seller’s Market
San Diego real estate’s lack of inventory has led to a steady increase in prices towards the end of December. The lack of inventory and rising prices have created the perfect conditions for a seller’s market in January, and many homeowners decided to sell their properties to take advantage of this sudden-price hike.
This increase in sales is reflected in January’s figures, which show a six year high in the number of homes sold for that month. Experts are already questioning whether this sudden price hike is sustainable, and if it could encourage short-term property speculators.
Cash is King!
34.9 percent of all homes sold in January were paid for in cash. Buyers are paying with cash in record numbers in San Diego and other real estate markets in Southern California. Jumbo loans, i.e. mortgages above $417,000, accounted for 21.6 percent of January’s home lending, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) made up 5.8 percent while government-insured FHA loans, popular with first-time buyers, accounted for 23.5 percent of home financing options for the month of January.
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