first_imgIt’s a price sign of the times. During March there were more home sales above $1 million than in three price ranges under $450,000. In March, the latest numbers available from the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, buyers bought 154 single-family homes costing more than $1 million. There were 61 sales of homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000; 48 sales of homes priced between $250,000 and $350,000; and just 14 sales of housing costing under $250,000. Most of the sales, 431, came in the $450,000 to $600,000 range. That’s the price sweet spot in this current market. And it’s a pretty striking example of how hard it is to find a great deal at the top and bottom of the San Fernando Valley market. That million-dollar home today was likely in the $800,000 to $1 million range a year ago. It wasn’t that long ago that $450,000 got you a nice home. Today that buys you a smaller home than it did a year ago. It might need some work, too. Anyone who sat on the sidelines over the past couple of years waiting for prices to fall is now looking at less home for the money if they can even get into the market now. And even prices going sideways monthly on a consistent basis won’t offer much relief. Economists and market watchers continue to point out that mortgage rates still look attractive historically. That’s true. But when your reference point is rates under 6 percent not too long ago, today’s level just means more cash out of pocket when paying the mortgage. Last Thursday mortgage giant Freddie Mac’s weekly survey had the 30-year fixed rate at its highest level in nearly four years. For the week ending May 4, the company had the benchmark rate at 6.59 percent, just above the 6.58 percent the prior week. That’s the highest since 6.63 percent the week of June 20, 2002. A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 5.75 percent. Current rates will get buyers’ attention. Rates have now gone up for six weeks in a row. It’s happening in part because of worries over inflation. When inflation increases, long-term rates usually follow. So playing a waiting game might get more expensive. “We expect that the mortgage rates will continue to trend upward over the coming year, but that upward trend will be modest at best,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. Expect some financial fallout. Nothaft predicts there will be fewer refinancings. But when owners do refinance, a larger percentage will be drawing some equity out of their homes, many to pay off previously existing home-equity loans and lines of credit as they become more expensive, he said. Today, at least according to March’s price snapshot, it’s easier to find a real expensive home than a real inexpensive home. And despite interest rates heating up and price cooling off, that disparity will likely continue for a while. greg.wilcox@dailynews.com (818) 713-3743 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Patience not a virtue in housing

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