Coastal San Diego Living

81% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is Still the Best Long-term Investment

by Tisha Carney 18. April 2011 10:43

The real estate bust appears to have done little to alter Americans' confidence in the investment value of homeownership. A robsan diego american dreamust 81% of adults said buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

"Owning a home is really a part of the American dream, and that is just part of the American psyche and something that people aspire to," said Kim Parker, associate director for the center and one of the study's authors.

The study's results were unexpected, given the deep plunge in home prices and the fallout from the mortgage crisis, she said. Homeownership topped the list of long-term financial goals for Americans, according to the study; respondents rated homeownership, as well as living comfortably in retirement, more important than sending children to college or leaving offspring an inheritance.

The public's faith in real estate has been bruised since the last time a comparable survey asked people about the wisdom of investing in real estate. A total of 37% of respondents said they "stronglyBUYING A SAN DIEGO HOME agree" that homeownership is the best investment a person can make while 44% said they "somewhat agree." The same question was asked by a CBS News/New York Times survey in 1991, and at that time 49% "strongly agreed" and 35% "somewhat agreed."

While home prices have entered a renewed decline after showing some improvements last year, many economists believe that the worst of the housing crisis is probably over. That sentiment could help to explain the resiliency in Americans' optimism.

"People may have the feeling that the worst is behind us," Parker said.

Though other investments such as stocks tend to produce a better return, the housing market has generally avoided the wild swings that the stock market has over time, potentially helping to explain real estate's lasting allure, Parker added.

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Coastal Commission Approves First Phase of San Diego Bay’s Embarcadero Improvements

by Tisha Carney 15. April 2011 09:00

The California Coastal Commission has approved first-phase plans for the long-discussed renovation of San Diego’s North Embarcadero waterfront district. San Diego port district officials said construction on the nearly $30 million first phase is expected to get under way by year’s end.

Meeting in Santa Barbara, commissioners voted 8-1 on April 13 to back an earlier recommendation by coastal commission staff to approve the project with conditions.

The Coastal Commission denied a development permit last year, saying a previous plan for the first phase was inconsistent with the Unified Port District of San Diego’s long-term master plan for port development, and lacked elements including sufficisan diego embarcadero, san diego waterfrontent park space.

The port district has since worked with coastal commission staff and project opponents to address those concerns.

The North Embarcadero renovation is a public improvement project covering about 1.5 miles of waterfront along Harbor Drive from Laurel Street to Navy Pier. It includes plazas, public art, improved landscaping and improvements to adjacent roadways.

The first phase incorporates Harbor Drive from Navy Pier to the B Street Pier, and a small portion of West Broadway.

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Foreclosure Filings Drop to Lowest Level in Three Years

by Tisha Carney 14. April 2011 07:28

Foreclosure filings in the U.S. fell in the first quarter to the lowest level in three years as lenders worked through their backlog of flawed paperwork related to home seizures, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

san diego foreclosure filingsDefault notices fell 17 percent from the previous three months and 35 percent from a year earlier, while auction notices dropped 19 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

A total of 681,153 U.S. properties received default, auction or repossession notices in the three months through March, down 15 percent from the fourth quarter and 27 percent from a year earlier, the Irvine, California-based data seller said today in a report. Delays from the documentation scandal accounted for the low tally, the smallest since the first quarter of 2008, RealtyTrac said.

“It may take another quarter to work itself out,” Rick Sharga,  the company’s senior vice president, said in a telephone interview. The extended crisis means “a longer period of high foreclosures, and that portends a longer downturn in housing,” which may not end until 2015, he said.

An agreement with regulators announced yesterday requires the 14 largest U.S. mortgage servicers to identify and pay back homeowners who lost money from mishandled foreclosures or loans. The banks that are party to the settlement, which outlines the first penalties related to the scandal, didn’t admit or deny findings of faulty mortgage processing.

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San Diego Real Estate: It's Time To Buy Again

by Tisha Carney 11. April 2011 15:34

Forget stocks. Don't bet on gold. After four years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing.

If all the noise you're hearing about housing has you totally confused, join the crowd. One day you'll read that owning a home has never been more affordable. The next day you'll see news that housing starts have plunged to nearly their lowest level in half a century. After four years of falling prices and surging foreclosures, it's hard to know what to think. In an interview with Fortune, Karl Case (creator of the widely followed S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indices) indicated "The lack of new home building is a huge help that a lot of people are ignoring," says Case. "People think I'm crazy to be optimistic, but housing is looking like the little engine that could." San Diego Housing is back

To see where real estate is truly headed, it's critical to keep your eye firmly on the fundamentals that, over time, always determine the course of prices and construction. During the last decade's historic run-up in prices, Fortune repeatedly warned that things were moving too fast. In a cover story titled "Is the Housing Boom Over?," this writer's analysis found that the basic forces that govern the market -- the cost of owning vs. renting and the level of new construction -- were in bubble territory. Eventually reality set in, and prices plummeted. Our current view focuses on those same fundamentals -- only now they're pointing in the opposite direction.

So let's state it simply and forcibly: HOUSING IS BACK!

A recent study by Metrostudy covers 19 states, or around 65% of the U.S. housing market, including all the ones hardest hit by the crash: Florida, California, Arizona, and Nevada. The company's client list includes virtually every major homebuilder and bank. The key figures that Metrostudy collects, and that those clients prize, are the number of homes that are vacant and for sale in each city, and the number of months it takes to sell all of them. Together those figures measure inventory -- the key metric in determining whether a market has a surplus or a shortage of new housing.

San Diego housing is back

Today we are witnessing an extraordinary reversal of the new-home glut that helped sink prices just a few years ago. In the 41 cities Metrostudy covers, a total of 78,000 houses are now either vacant and for sale, or under construction. That's less than one-fourth of the 343,000 units in those two categories at the peak of the frenzy in mid-2006, and well below the level of a decade ago. That means we are going to see an incredible shortage of inventory in the near future.

Two basic factors are laying the foundation for dramatic recovery in residential real estate:

  1. The historic drop in new construction.
  2. The second is a steep decline in prices, on the order of 30% nationwide since 2006, and as much as 55% in the hardest-hit markets.

The story of this downturn has been an astonishing flight from the traditional American approach of buying new houses to an embrace of renting. But the new affordability will gradually lure Americans back to buying homes. And the return of the homeowner will result in raising prices in the San Diego real estate market.

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