Coastal San Diego Living

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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Economy | Buying Real Estate | Real Estate News | San Diego Real Estate

What Is The Future of FHA Financing in San Diego?

by Tisha Carney 7. April 2011 17:37
fha loans

Use of FHA-insured loans in San Diego has soared over the years because they're popular with first time home buyers. Also, the subprime lending meltdown and credit crunch made non-government-insured home loans, especially low-down-payment mortgages, more difficult to obtain, making FHA the best choice.

With FHA loans, borrowers still get the loan from a mortgage broker but the loan is insured by the federal government. Don Earman, the branch manager at Benchmark Mortgage Inc., explains the lender advances the money in the beginning but then it sells the loan to what's called Ginnie Mae, or the Government National Mortgage Association.  Ginnie Mae then reimburses the lender.

Earman says between 30 and 35 percent of the loans through his office are FHA insured.

"The basic FHA program, I don't see it going away, it should continue. It's a very good program, it helps a lot of people get into houses that otherwise wouldn't be able to," says Earman.

A conventional loan will generally start to tack on higher rates for someone with a credit score below 720. With an FHA loan, your score can be as low as a 640 without the higher rates low credit scores may cause.

FHA loans also allow for other perks such as smaller down payments and the ability to have the down payment paid by someone else as a gift.

Earman explains most lenders ultimately aren't going to lend any of the money unless the FHA insures them. "I'm hoping within a few weeks they'll get this done, but you never know," comments Earman.

Fewer borrowers in San Diego used FHA loans to buy homes in February, mirroring drops seen throughout the country.

fha updateIn the U.S., the percentage of people using the government-issued mortgages in February fell to its lowest point in 27 months, according to a DataQuick Information Systems review of 20 major metro areas. The company's analysts say the biggest reason for the decreases is stricter lending rules for low down payments loans.

FHA use was highest in Orlando, at 43.2 percent and lowest in Honolulu at 10.3 percent. San Diego's percentage was 24.4 percent, ranking it 16th among the 20 areas.

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