Mortgage rates at low for year; 30-year averages 4.12%

The cost of getting a home loan has slipped back to the lowest level of the year, with Freddie Mac pegging the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage early this week at 4.12% compared to last week’s 4.14%.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.24% compared to 3.27% a week ago, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of what lenders are offering to low-risk borrowers.

Freddie Mac’s report, released Thursday morning, showed the start rates for adjustable mortgages edging slightly higher.

Freddie Mac, the big government-sponsored buyer and guarantor of home loans, surveys lenders across the country each Monday through Wednesday morning, asking them about the terms they are offering on loans to solid borrowers with 20% down payments.

The borrowers in this week’s survey would have paid 0.6% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees and discount points to obtain their loans. Paying higher points can lower the interest rate.

Fixed mortgage rates, which started the year at 4.5% with expectations they would rise, have surprised economists by falling instead.

This week’s 4.12% for a 30-year loan equals the low recorded for a week in May and then for a week in July, Freddie Mac said.

Borrowers with unblemished credit often pay less than the rate Freddie publishes.

For the past month, these borrowers who pay 1% of the loan amount in upfront points have been getting 30-year fixed loans at 3.875% and 15-year fixed mortgages at 3.125%, said Jeff Lazerson at the Mortgage Grader brokerage in Laguna Niguel.

Follow @ScottReckard for financial news, including home loan trends

Zillow buys Trulia for $3.5 billion

Zillow will acquire Trulia in a $3.5 billion stock deal, the companies announced Monday.

The deal, approved by both companies’ boards, is expected to close next year.

The real estate brands will continue to operate under their individual names. Trulia CEO Pete Flint will maintain his position and report to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.

Trulia shareholders will receive 0.444 shares of Class A Common Stock of Zillow for every Trulia share they own. Trulia shareholders will own about a third of the combined company. The value of the deal is a 25% premium on Trulia’s Friday closing price of $56.35.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our resources and achieve even more impressive innovation that will benefit consumers and the real estate industry,” Rascoff said in a release.

Zillow co-founders Richard Barton and Lloyd Frink control a majority of the company’s shareholder voting power through their ownership of Zillow Class B shares, which carry 10 votes per share. They will vote their shares in favor of the deal, according to the merger announcement.

The companies expressed hope that the merger will provide better opportunities for leveraging ad sales, the primary source of revenue for both companies. According to a release, the combined revenue of both companies represents less than 4% of the estimated $12 billion that real estate professionals spend on marketing.

Now the two companies will be able to “go to our advertisers with one platform,” Rascoff said in a call with analysts.

The companies’ stock prices jumped last week on rumors that a deal was imminent. Zillow closed Friday at $158.86 a share.

Monday, Zillow shares closed up $1.46 to $160.32. Trulia stock gained $8.69 to close at $65.04.

Chinese drive surge in foreign home-buying in U.S., Southern California

Real estate sales to foreign buyers and new immigrants surged to new highs in the last year, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Assn. of Realtors, with the Southland being a prime destination.

Overseas buyers and newcomers to the U.S. accounted for $92 billion in home sales in the 12 months ending in March, NAR said. That’s up 35% from the prior 12-month period, and higher than the previous record of $82.5 billion set in 2012. These buyers made up roughly 7% of all U.S. home sales, by dollar value.

The increase was fueled by a 50% jump in activity from Chinese buyers, who bought $22 billion worth of U.S. real estate last year. Experts say many Chinese buyers see U.S. real estate as a better investment opportunity than is often available in China, and in some cases as a safe haven for cash. Many also buy homes here to put their children in U.S. schools.

And Chinese buyers, in particular, have an eye for Southern California. Los Angeles and Irvine were two of their top three destinations, according to the survey, with San Francisco ranking second. Chinese buyers have long been a factor in some parts of Southern California, particularly the San Gabriel Valley; as more come here, they’re spreading to new areas as well.

Los Angeles is the top choice for buyers of several other nationalities, too, according to data tracking searches of Buyers from India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Russia were also most likely to search here. For Mexican buyers, San Diego was the top choice.

The Realtors Assn. said it expects foreign interest in U.S. real estate will continue to grow as the economy grows ever more global.

“We live in an international marketplace, so while all real estate is local, that does not mean that all property buyers are,” said NAR president Steve Brown. “Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future.”

Keep an eye on housing and real estate in Southern California.

Downtown L.A. development spreading south with planned SoLA Village


A $1-billion residential, hotel and retail complex is being planned south of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles as robust development promises to spread beyond the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood.

The proposed project, called SoLA Village, would rise just south of Washington Boulevard on a block and a half next to the former LA Mart, a large design center and showroom for the gift, interior design, and home furnishing industries.

Now known as the Reef, the high-rise built in the 1950s also provides incubator space for new creative firms and artists. The planned project would be an ambitious addition by its owners into two parking lots covering 7.5 acres on both sides of Broadway.

Plans call for a densely developed complex with skyscrapers and low- and mid-rise residential buildings along with outdoor plazas and terraces intended to create a pedestrian-oriented community.

“SoLA Village will be about place making,” said Ava Bromberg, head of operations for the Reef and the SoLA Village project. “With the Reef, we are turning creative space into more of a community and connecting that community to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Bromberg oversaw development of Atwater Crossing, a mixed-use complex in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles that incorporates housing, offices, manufacturing, a restaurant and live theater in an environment intended to nurture young firms in creative fields.

Both projects are controlled by limited liability companies headed by Ara Tavitian, a Glendale physician who invests in commercial real estate.

The developers hired well-known architecture firm Gensler to come up with the design for SoLA Village that will be submitted to city officials for approval.

“We’re not looking at this project as a singular fingerprint,” said Shawn Gehle, a design principal at Gensler. “It’s multiple projects within one project with diverse forms and materials.”

Plans call for a 1.66-million-square-foot development to be built in stages, probably starting with a 19-story, 208-room hotel. Guests might include people doing business at the Reef or attending events at the Los Angeles Convention Center.


Malibu Village Shopping Center is Sold!

Ron Howard lists East Coast estate with farm at $27.5 million

16x9So proud that Steve Sawaii my partner is a part of this amazing listing!

By Lauren Beale, LA Times

Ron Howard, the Oscar-winning director, has put his family home and farm up for sale near Greenwich, Conn., for $27.5 million.

The lakefront estate is made up of 32 acres of land straddling the Connecticut and New York border. In addition to a working farm, the property includes a more than 17,200-square-foot main residence, a guesthouse, an indoor sports complex, an observatory, riding trails and woods.

Howard and his wife, Cheryl, raised their family in the classic New England-style home. Among the rooms are a two-story office/library, a 14-seat theater, six bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. The guesthouse has two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

There’s an indoor saltwater swimming pool, a gym and a yoga studio. The sports complex houses an indoor sports court and a basketball half-court.

Howard, 60, won Academy Award best director and picture honors for “A Beautiful Mind” (2001). In addition to scores of producing and directing credits, he is also known for memorable roles in “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s and “Happy Days” in the ‘70s and in the film “American Graffiti” (1973).

The Howards are selling now that their children have grown up.

Listing agents in the area include Lyn Stevens of Sotheby’s International Realty and Tamar Lurie of   Coldwell Banker. Steve Sawaii of Coldwell Banker, Los Angeles, was the referring broker.

Joe Hahn of Linkin Park sells his home in Brentwood

I am pleased to announce I represented the buyer on this recent sale!

Joe Hahn of the alt rock band Linkin Park has sold his home in Brentwood for $4 million.

Set in a six-home gated community, the contemporary house was built in 2002. Features include a rotunda staircase, floor-to-ceiling windows, solar power, an elevator, five bedrooms, six bathrooms, 6,893 square feet of living space and a three-car garage.,0,1424491.story#ixzz2zvW2lfiz