I work with words a lot, but I wouldn’t love real estate the way I do if I didn’t have a feel for numbers too. So over the past week, as I’ve been reading news stories, I’ve been making notes about some interesting numbers that have popped up here and there. Sometimes my curiosity would lead me to track down another number — all data is as current as possible.
1.17: the percent of prime jumbo loans made in the beginning of 2007 that are expected to lose money for their investors, according to Standard and Poor’s rating agency. That "vintage" has a projected loan loss rate greater than the vintage of 2006 (0.81 percent) and 2005 (0.32 percent) indicating that loan standards got looser as the party wore on. The projected loss rate from similar subprime loans? 27 percent.
4: the number of houses Sen. John McCain’s campaign initially guessed that he owned (as opposed to his answer, "I can’t tell"). The actual number, according to news reports, is seven. Zero is the amount that Sen. Barack Obama paid for his garden, which The Times U.K. notes was sold for $625,000 to a political ally. The Senator reportedly paid $300,000 less than asking for his house. The next time I want to move, remind me to become a senator/presidential candidate first.
21 percent: the amount that the U.S. dollar has risen versus gold in the past month. According to the New York Sun, the stronger dollar is expected to hurt U.S. exports, currently a bright spot in the economy. Benchmark mortgage interest rates, meanwhile, are at 6.66 percent, eight basis points above a year ago at the start of the credit crunch.
21.4 percent: percentage of sales in the Phoenix market that were flips made in the last year, according to Forbes.com. Housing prices? Down 22 percent. Percentage of sales for a loss? 52.1 percent. The good news is that while foreclosures climbed 6 percent, to 3,470, preforeclosures in that market dipped slightly in July from the previous month, a sign that the market might be finding its bottom.
71: percent of Coldwell Banker Realtors surveyed who noted that first-time buyers were looking for larger homes than they were 10 years ago. The survey also noted that 81 percent of these buyers considered "move-in conditions" to be very important but only 1 percent of them made the initial contact because they needed help navigating the mortgage market. Welcome to a group whose expectations for product are high — perhaps unrealistically so!
71: percent of respondents surveyed by Consumer Reports who said that they were "very satisfied" or "completely satisfied" with their brokers. That’s about the same share as the percentage of buyers who asked for a commission discount and succeeded (the magazine doesn’t point out whether it’s the same set of people). Number of respondents who thanked me for posting this article on my local real estate chat boards? Five.
499,248: amazon.com sales rank of "World’s Greatest Wealth Builder," a book by real estate investor guru Carleton Sheets emphasizing his "no down payment" philosophy. That arguably reflects the change in the credit markets from an easier time. Number of current VA loans made with no down payment, according to the department of Veterans Affairs: more than 2 million. For the year pre-credit crunch, 45 percent of first-time buyers still went with zero down, according to NAR. Post-credit crunch, 3 percent to 10 percent is more typical, says Marketwatch.com.
1.2 milllion: the number of current members of the National Association of Realtors, a slippage from the peak membership of 1.36 million in 2006, according to USA Today. That number was itself an 89 percent increase from membership in 1998, so if you’ve got 10 years under your belt, give yourself a hand. As far as social networking goes, approximately 56,000 real estate agents are on activerain.com, which is around 4 percent of the agents (including non-Realtors) in the U.S.
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