rising (2)


After the election I started watching Bloomberg TV instead of the news/opinion channels I had been watching.  I guess I just got tired of all the yelling, in addition to the fact that I felt the need to try and get some clarity on what might happen to the economy, and more specifically the Silicon Valley housing market.


Besides the much needed civility I found on Bloomberg, I quickly came away with the understanding that no matter who the different reporters and commentators said they thought would be winners and losers in a new political environment, there was one thing everyone agreed on. Interest rates are going up. PERIOD, end of story. Janet Yellen was going to raise interest rates anyway, due to the favorable economic environment. But added to what would have happened, regardless of the election outcome, everyone agrees that we appear to be headed for an inflationary period.


I am old enough to have purchased my first home when interest rates were 19% and the most valuable homes were those that had assumable mortgages as 13% or less. Hopefully we are not going back to those days.


But we are going from interest rates in low 3% to now over 4% and presumably still rising. So what does this mean to the Silicon Valley housing market?


Common wisdom is that as interest rates go up housing prices go down since the ability for a borrower to pay also goes down. We have seen this in the past, but the decrease in price is not always proportional to the increase in rate.


Take this example.


A Million dollar loan: 30 year fixed


At 4.150%:  $4861 a month


At 5%:  $5368


At 6%:  $5996


At 7%:  $6653


The difference for each jump of 1% in interest translates into about a 10% increase in monthly payment.


For a conforming loan of $400,000 30 year fixed


At 4%:  1910

At 5%:  2147


At 6%:  2398


At 7%:  2661


Again, the difference for each 1% in increased interest rates equates to about a 10% increase in monthly payment.


So, in order to make waiting a money saver, If interest rates go up 1% pt. housing prices must go down over 10%. At a 2% pt hike housing prices must go down over 20%, and at a 3 pt climb they must go down over 30%.


Do we expect this to happen in the Silicon Valley housing market in the near future?


No one can say for sure, but let’s look back at housing rate drops during the big crash of 2008-2010/2011 in some different neighborhoods.


These are average prices for all residential real estate. Some segments fell more than others, but on average I looked at what the mean sale was for single family homes, town homes and condos in four locations: Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, 94087 (Sunnyvale west of El Camino), and Willow Glen.


Palo Alto


High before crash:  $1.3 million


Low after crash       $1.2 million



East Palo Alto


High before crash:   $628,000


Low after crash:       $295,000





High before crash:    $779,000


Low after crash:        $717,000



Willow Glen


High Before crash:     $793,000


Low after crash:         $637,000




What so these numbers tell me about the Silicon Valley housing market, and by extension you?


If you are planning on buying in one of the areas where prices held up fairly well during the crash, then waiting for prices to drop as interest rates rise may not be to your advantage.


If you are planning on buying in a location that did not hold up well during the crash then an increase in interest rates may get you some savings in the long run or maybe bigger, better property.


My only concern would be that places like East Palo Alto that suffered so badly during the crash may not drop as much with higher interest rates since the location is so convenient to Facebook and Google. That may put enough pressure on these east of 101 neighborhoods to keep the prices supported more than they were in the crash.


I believe the same may be true in San Jose as companies like Google and Apple move south where there is more available space. In neighborhoods like Alum Rock or South San Jose where there is a lot of investor activity it may be better to wait until prices fall.


If you have any questions about buying or selling a home in the Silicon Valley please feel free to contact me.


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Thousands of homes Foreclosed; Can you afford a Risky Loan?

The adjustable rate mortgage has been around for a number of years and it has helped a number of people afford the purchase of their first home. However, in the late 90’s and early part of the 2000’s some people took advantage of the low rates offered by ARMS and got in over their head. Before buying a home people should really look at all the factors involved with an adjustable rate loan and make sure it is right for them.

Fixed Period Varies

photo credit: nikcname via photopin cc

The vast majority of current ARM’s offer a well-defined period in which the interest rate is fixed. The defined period typically lasts from 3 to 7 years and can be as long as 10 years. After this defined period the interest rate will adjust based on the index used to calculate the interest rate.

Some people have well defined plans and can use the fixed period for meeting their goals. For instance, a military couple that has an assignment to a particular area could purchase a home using a 5 year ARM and use the time to live in the home with no worries about a change in interest rate.

However, people that are just looking at the low rates of the ARM’s and “hoping” that their income will rise in future years are taking a big gamble.

Rates Will Rise

Years ago when the ARM was first introduced it was always explained the same way. When the market took a dip the interest rate would lower accordingly and the opposite would happen when the market improved. However, the last few years have seen nothing but historically low rates. Getting an adjustable rate loan now ensures one thing; the interest rate will rise once the fixed period ends. The current rates cannot get much lower.

Thankfully, an adjustable rate mortgage will have some safeguards to protect borrowers. The amount of increase for the rate is usually capped each year as well as a cap for the duration of the loan. For instance, most ARM’s will not adjust more than 1% in one year and no more than 5% or 7% over the course of the loan. However, a 5% increase in rate on a $250,000 loan can increase a loan payment by over $700. Keep in mind that when the interest rate adjusts the new payment is factored over the remaining loan term. This can drive up the payment as well.

Plan Accordingly

All of this information points to one simple fact. People considering an adjustable rate loan need to plan accordingly. You should have some type of exit strategy in mind, whether it is selling or refinancing or paying off the loan in order to avoid some potentially hazardous conditions in the near future.

This communication is provided to you for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon by you. Rock Realty is not a mortgage lender and so you should contact a lender directly to learn more about its mortgage products and your eligibility for such products.

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