Check out David Woods new Crib! 

It is Bad ass!

Be sure to watch this Video 1 of 3 to get some value!

Video 2 and 3 will follow shortly!

Enjoy, and just get in already!

The Majestic Creation Of My Unconscious Mind (message from Dave's new house)

Badass, isn't it?

This was my attempt at creating a kind of MTV cribs style video of my new headquarters (house) here in Escazu, Costa Rica.

Let me know what you think of the new place.

Starting now, I'm going to be running a kind of 'show' from my house here, indefinitely - with people inside of Empower Network.

I want to teach you guys, something of value - daily.

What I'm going to do, is teach you how (for free) to create the lifestyle that you want to live.

I'm going to be bringing people out from all over the world, and interviewing them on how they create magical results (inside & outside of Empower Network).

Now pay attention as this is important:

If you're in Empower, I want you to:

  • Come to the blog every day (5 days/week) & watch the videos.
  • Re-blog the videos by hitting the re-blog button.
  • Leave me your thoughts & comments below.

Love ya, and see you in the next video.

- David Wood

P.S. Pay close attention to the blog in the coming days and weeks - you're going to learn something of value every day.

P.P.S. Got your event ticket yet? If not, make a decision- login to the members area, grab your ticket right now and come hang out with us in Miami, I'll see you there.

-The EN Team



363 homes entered foreclosure last month across the
Tulsa Oklahoma metro area. The resulting foreclosure
rate of one for every 1,121 households
is 5.2% below
September and down 37.1% from October 2012.  That
compares with a national foreclosure rate of one for
every 978 households, up 2.1% from September and down
28.2% from a year earlier.  Oklahoma as a whole, with
one foreclosure for every 1,842 households, now has the
30th-highest rate of foreclosure.  Fewer homes are
going through the foreclosure process and ending up
repossessed by banks because investors are increasingly
buying up properties when they go on sale at public
auction, industry analysts say. The trend reflects a
growing appetite among investors for buying homes
before they exit the foreclosure process and end up on
the market.  Daren Blomquist, vice president of Irvine,
Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc., said in a news release
that the increase in foreclosures nationally was merely
due to a backlog continuing to work its way through the
courts.  "Lenders are likely moving these properties
more rapidly to the public auction given that there is
strong demand from institutional buy-to-rent investors
at the auction and that rising home prices mean more of
the loan losses can be recouped, either by selling to
an investor at the auction or by repossessing the
property and reselling as bank owned," he said.
Manufacturing down

The New York Fed's "Empire State'' general business
conditions index contracted to minus 2.21 from 1.52 in
October. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast an
index of 5.00. A reading above zero indicates
expansion. Friday's was the first negative reading
since May.  The report underscores some of the
headwinds facing the world's largest economy, where the
recovery remains fragile. A federal government shutdown
in October had been expected to drag on growth, but
data in the wake of that congressional impasse has been
mixed.  The new orders index slid to minus 5.53 from
7.75, and shipments dropped to minus 0.53 from 13.12.
Labor market conditions also weakened, with the index
for the number of employees slipping to 0.0 from 3.61
in October.  The average employee workweek index also
sank to minus 5.26 from 3.61.  The index of six-month
business conditions edged down to 37.51 from 40.76.
The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one
of the earliest monthly guideposts to US factory

DataQuick - Bay area home sales ease back; median sale
price edges higher

The Bay Area housing market continued its
fits-and-starts march toward normalcy last month with
ho-hum sales counts and continued price appreciation.
Various below-the-surface technical indicators show a
market still transitioning from a severely atypical
state a few years ago to something more in line with
long-term norms, a real estate information service
reported.  A total of 7,595 new and resale houses and
condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area in October.
That was up 6.4% from 7,141 the month before, and down
3.9% from 7,902 for October a year ago, according to
San Diego-based DataQuick.  Last month’s number was
11.2% below the October average of 8,553 since 1988,
when DataQuick’s statistics begin. Bay Area sales
haven’t been above average for any particular month
in more than seven years. The most active October was
in 2003 when 13,392 homes sold; the least active was in
2007 with 5,486 sales.  The median price paid for a
home in the Bay Area last month was $539,750. That was
up 1.8% from $530,000 in September, and up 29.7% from
$416,000 in October 2012.  It appears that roughly
three-fourths of last month’s 29.7% year-over-year
rise is the result of an increase in home values. The
rest reflects a change in market mix – more mid- to
high-end sales and fewer low-cost inland distressed
sales.  The peak Bay Area median so far this year was
$562,000 in July – the highest for any month since
the median was $587,500 in December 2007. The Bay
Area’s all-time peak median was $665,000 in June and
July 2007, after which it dropped to a low of $290,000
in March 2009.

The number of homes sold for less than $500,000 dropped
26.4% year-over-year, while the number sold for more
increased 15.9%, DataQuick reported.  Last month
distressed property sales – the combination of
foreclosure resales and “short sales” – made up
about 14% of the resale market. That was about the same
as in September and down from about 35% a year ago.
Foreclosure resales – homes that had been foreclosed
on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 3.6% of
resales in October, the same as the month before, and
down from 11.7% a year ago. Last month’s level is the
lowest since 3.5% in June 2007. Foreclosure resales
peaked at 52.0% in February 2009, while the monthly
average over the past 17 years is 10%.  Short sales –
transactions where the sale price fell short of what
was owed on the property – made up an estimated 10.3%
of Bay Area resales last month. That was up from an
estimated 10.2% in September and down from 22.9% a year

In October, Bay Area home buyers put $2.1 billion of
their own money on the table in the form of a down
payment or as an outright cash purchase. That number
hit an all-time high of $2.6 billion in May. They
borrowed $3.0 billion in mortgage money from lenders
last month.  The most active lenders to Bay Area home
buyers last month were Wells Fargo with 14.8% of the
purchase loan market, RPM Mortgage with 3.8% and
Stearns Lending with 3.6%.  Jumbo loans, mortgages
above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted
for 46.7% of last month’s purchase lending, roughly
even with a revised 46.8% in September, and up from
39.5% a year ago. Jumbo usage dropped as low as 17.1%
in January 2009.  Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), an
important indicator of mortgage availability, accounted
for 20.5% of the Bay Area’s home purchase loans in
October. That was the highest since 20.7% in August
2008. It was up from a revised 20.2% in September, and
up from 11.8% in October last year. Since 2000, ARMs
have accounted for 47.5% of all purchase loans. ARMs
hit a low of 3.0% of loans in January 2009.
Government-insured FHA home purchase loans, a popular
choice among first-time buyers, accounted for 11.0% of
all Bay Area home purchase mortgages in October, up
from a 10.5% in September and down from 15.8% a year

Last month absentee buyers – mostly investors –
purchased 21.8% of all Bay Area homes. That was up from
20.8% in September, and down from 23.7% a year ago.
Absentee buyers paid a median $420,000 in October, up
28.6% from a year earlier.  Buyers who appear to have
paid all cash – meaning no sign of a corresponding
purchase loan was found in the public record –
accounted for 22.8% of sales in October. That was down
from 23.0% the month before and down from 29.6% a year
earlier. The monthly average going back to 1988 is
13.3%. Cash buyers paid a median $439,500 in October,
up 33.2% from a year earlier.  San Diego-based
DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and
provides information to consumers, educational
institutions, public agencies, lending institutions,
title companies and industry analysts. Because of late
data availability, sales were estimated in Alameda, San
Francisco and San Mateo counties.  The typical monthly
mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed
themselves to paying last month was $2,109. Adjusted
for inflation, last month’s payment was 26.1% below
the typical payment in spring 1989, the peak of the
prior real estate cycle. It was 45.4% below the current
cycle's peak in July 2007. It was 67.3% above the
February 2012 bottom of the current cycle.  Indicators
of market distress continue to decline. Foreclosure
activity remains well below year-ago and far below peak
levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is very low,
and down payment sizes are stable, DataQuick reported.
Export prices down

Prices for US exports unexpectedly fell in October, a
worrisome sign of global economic weakness, while the
cost of imports into America declined due to a sharp
drop in the price of oil.  Export prices dropped 0.5%
last month, the seventh decline in eight months, the
Labor Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by
Reuters had expected a slight increase in export
prices.  The decline suggests that consumers in
crisis-stricken Europe and other major trading partners
are struggling so much that American producers have
little leverage to raise prices.  The European Central
Bank, which is struggling to support a recovery, cut
interest rates earlier this month in part over concerns
the region's weak economy is weighing too much on
prices. The Labor Department's report also showed that
prices for US imports fell 0.7% in October, which was a
sharper decline than expected.  A 3.6% fall in
petroleum imports, which was the sharpest decline in
over a year, drove the drop in overall prices. However,
there were signs that weakness abroad was also fueling
price declines.  Prices for imports from Japan dropped
0.2% last month, a possible sign that Japan's extremely
accommodative monetary policy was putting downward
pressure on its exchange rate and making its exports
more competitive abroad.  In a possible sign of
Japanese competitiveness, prices for auto imports fell
0.1% and were down 1.4% in the year through October.
The 12-month decline is the biggest drop since the
Labor Department began tracking it in 1981.

MBA - new home applications up

MBA’s Builder Application Survey data for October
2013 shows that mortgage applications for new home
purchases increased by 11% relative to the previous
month. This change does not include any adjustment for
typical seasonal patterns.  By product type,
conventional loans composed 67.5% of loan applications,
FHA loans composed 17.8%, RHS/USDA loans composed 0.9%
and VA loans composed 13.8%. The average loan size of
new homes increased from $289,650 in September to
$294,480 in October.  In Texas, Florida and California,
the top three states by new home purchase application
volume, mortgage applications for new home purchases
increased over last month by 9.5%, 9.3% and 4.6%
respectively.  Utilizing information from the BAS, as
well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other
factors, MBA estimates that sales of new single-family
homes were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate
of 509,000 in October 2013.  On an unadjusted basis,
the MBA estimates that there were 40,000 new home sales
in October 2013.

RealtyTrac today released its US Foreclosure  Market
Repor for October, which shows foreclosure filings —
default notices,
  scheduled auctions and bank
repossessions — were reported on 133,919 US
properties in October, a 2 % increase from the previous
month but a 28% decrease from a year  ago. The report
also shows one in every 978 US housing units with a
foreclosure filing during the month.
High-level findings from the report:

-  There were a total of 30,023 scheduled judicial
foreclosure auctions (NFS) nationwide in October, up
10% from the  previous month and up 7% from a year ago
— the 16th  consecutive month where judicial
foreclosure auctions increased from a year  ago.

-  States with the biggest annual increases in
scheduled judicial foreclosure auctions included
Maryland (up 177%),  Delaware (up 142%), New York (up
98%), New Jersey (up 97 %), Pennsylvania (up 58%),
Connecticut (up 35%), and  Florida (up 32%).

-  There were a total of 58,939 US properties that
started the foreclosure process for the first time in
October, up 2%  from the previous month but still down
34% from a year ago — the 15th  consecutive month
where foreclosure starts have decreased on an annual

-  Foreclosure starts were up from the previous month
in 22 states, including Colorado (up 124%), Florida (up
36%), and Illinois (up 30%).

There were a total of 37,775 bank repossessions (REO)
nationwide in October, down 1% from the previous month
and down 29 % from a year ago — the 11th consecutive
month where bank repossessions have decreased

-  Bank repossessions increased from a year ago in 15
states, including Oklahoma (up 59%), Maryland (up 54%),
Virginia (up 47%), Ohio (up 30%), and Washington (up

-  States with the five highest foreclosure rates in
October were Florida, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio and

-  Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, the
highest foreclosure rates were in Miami, Tampa,
Chicago, Baltimore and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
The biggest annual increases in foreclosure activity
were in Baltimore (up 296% for 13th consecutive month
with an annual increase), Washington, D.C. (up 48% for
fifth consecutive month with an annual increase), New
York (up 20% for 16th consecutive month with an annual
increase), Philadelphia (up 15% for eighth consecutive
month with an annual increase), and Miami (up 7% for
first annual increase after two consecutive months of
annual decreases).

Bitcoin...wave of the future?

Bitcoin doesn't exist, except in the virtual world, and
can only be passed from one person to another
electronically. Its origins are murky: Conventional
wisdom says a man or group of people going by the name
Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin in 2009, stoking
demand by making it obtainable only through complicated
algorithmic searches by powerful computers.  But in the
past 12 months, the bitcoin zeitgeist has taken on a
life of its own. The currency is discussed at investing
conferences now. The Winklevoss twins, known for their
fight with Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, have
started a bitcoin fund. It also has gained the
attention of regulators who worry it can be used to
launder money.

Foreclosures and short sales fall in Sonoma County

For the first time since housing prices crashed, the
rate of distressed home sales in Sonoma County has
fallen to single digits.  Just 9% of the single-family
homes sold in October were foreclosures or short sales,
according to The Press Democrat's monthly housing
report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice
President Rick Laws. A year ago, such properties made
up 29% of county sales.  Overall, buyers purchased 430
single-family homes last month, a decrease of 13.5%
from a year earlier.  The median price rose to $466,750
in October, an increase of 3.7% from September and
27.2% from a year earlier.

Home prices peaked in Sonoma County in August 2005,
when the median hit a record $619,000. But prices began
a steady slide in the last half of 2007, followed by
large numbers of owners who were upside down on their
mortgages and either unable or unwilling to make
further payments.  In 2008, a record 2,800 county homes
were lost to foreclosure. In the last seven years that
number has grown to more than 11,000 homes.  The houses
and condos that were repossessed by banks, known as REO
properties, short for “real estate owned,” flooded
the market in late 2008. Distressed sales peaked at 76%
in February 2009, the low point in a historic housing
crash. By then, the median price in Sonoma County had
fallen to $305,000, the lowest level of the crash.
Foreclosures and short sales have been a significant
part of the market for most of the past five years.
Until June 2012, the portion of distressed sales never
fell below 40%.

WSJ - Escape form Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act appears to be misfiring in
every imaginable way, and Democrats are having second
thoughts about serving as human shields for White House
ineptitude. If they really want to make amends, they'll
join Republicans in trying to repair some of the damage
they caused.  The first act of penance is modest
legislation the House will vote on Friday that would
try to honor President Obama's promise that people who
liked their insurance could keep it. The one-page bill
would allow insurers to continue offering for sale in
2014 the policies that ObamaCare terminated, exempting
them from federal regulatory edicts.  The Keep Your
Plan Act is poorly titled. Nearly all 2013 plans cannot
be renewed next year even in the absence of federal
obstacles. Insurers obeyed the law, and unlike the feds
they prepared competently for years for ObamaCare's
debut.  They thus shut down the plans they were told to
shut down and set new rates in expectation of the new
rules and mandates—a complex process that takes
months to plan, negotiate with doctors and hospitals
and earn state approval. Reinstating plans, to the
extent possible, would be difficult to price amid the
insurance market convulsions ObamaCare is causing.
Still, insurance regulation was largely a state
obligation before ObamaCare, and the GOP bill is a
useful federalist housekeeping. Insurance commissioners
in states with refugee crises in their individual
markets could work with the companies they regulate to
make a stopgap accommodation.  Given the lead times
that insurance contracts require, Congress would need
to act quickly. Every day of delay waiting on the
website to work or another excuse makes a potential
solution less likely before year-end.  The results are
likely to be modest, but the bill could help some
people, as well as prevent the millions of additional
cancellations that will start to emerge over the coming
year. House Republicans are obeying the axiom that
Democrats read as a suggestion to do the opposite:
First, do no harm.

Over in the Senate, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and
fellow Democrats including a new cosponsor, Oregon
liberal Jeff Merkley, aren't changing their habits as
they try to inoculate themselves from a midterm
backlash in 2014. Their bill would order insurers to
continue to offer the dumped plans that in many cases
no longer exist. This is also a substantive due process
violation for business and unconstitutional
commandeering of state regulators.  The particular
irony of this Democratic flight for the exits is that
their bill would make ObamaCare even less viable. If
people are allowed to choose a competitive insurance
alternative, the exchanges are unlikely to survive
financially. That's why the White House is trying to
stuff in as many people as possible, however
unsuccessfully (see editorial below).  House
Republicans have the better argument. There's a
substantive difference between letting people keep
their plans through deregulation and through a new
mandate that is supposed to counteract the damage from
the old mandates. They should build on this insight and
promote more ways for people to elude ObamaCare if they
prefer.  To the extent Republicans can, at the state
and federal level, they should try to revitalize and
improve the old individual insurance market as one
escape route. If Republicans want to get ambitious,
they could even propose redistributing the government's
existing health-care subsidies instead of other
people's income. The tax benefit for employer-based
insurance totals about $250 billion in foregone revenue
a year, but individuals get no such subsidy.  Putting a
cap on this open-ended benefit could fund universal tax
credits for people of all ages, incomes and job
situations to buy insurance outside of the ObamaCare
exchanges. Four of five workers would do better than
they do now.

Mr. Obama isn't about to endanger his place in liberal
history by agreeing to any of this, much less to save a
Louisiana Senate seat, but then ObamaCare is unlike any
previous entitlement. It passed with no GOP votes, so
Democrats own it in toto and the rank and file are
figuring out they are being volunteered as sacrifices.
Republicans have an opportunity to poach the
health-care issue that liberals have dominated for
decades. Amid the rollout debacle, the polls show
Democratic credibility and trustworthiness are in free
fall, and voters may be open to innovative market
reforms. Health choices and incentives are no longer
abstractions but tangible things consumers are losing.
Instead of a backward-looking promise to let Americans
hold on to what they had, Republicans could offer the
opportunity to buy a new plan that they like.

DataQuick - California October home sales

An estimated 36,468 new and resale houses and condos
sold statewide last month. That was up 1.2% from 36,027
in September, and down 7.1% from 39,254 sales in
October 2012, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
October sales have varied from a low of 25,832 in 2007
to a high of 70,152 in 2003. Last month's sales were
15.4% below the average of 43,092 sales for all the
months of October since 1988, when DataQuick's
statistics begin.  The median price paid for a home in
California last month was $357,000, up 0.6% from
$355,000 in September and up 25.3% from $285,000 in
October 2012. Last month was the 20th consecutive month
in which the state's median sale price rose
year-over-year, and the 11th straight month with a gain
exceeding 20%.  In March/April/May 2007 the median
peaked at $484,000. The post-peak trough was $221,000
in April 2009.  Of the existing homes sold last month,
6.6% were properties that had been foreclosed on during
the past year. It was the lowest level for foreclosure
resales since June 2007, also at 6.6%. Last month’s
figure was down from a revised 7.1% in September and
17.1% a year earlier. Foreclosure resales peaked at
58.8% in February 2009.

Short sales - transactions where the sale price fell
short of what was owed on the property - made up an
estimated 12.6% of the homes that resold last month.
That was down from an estimated 13.1% the month before
and 26.7% a year earlier.  The typical monthly mortgage
payment that California buyers committed themselves to
paying last month was $1,395, down from $1,437 the
month before and up from $1,009 a year earlier.
Adjusted for inflation, last month's payment was 39.7%
below the typical payment in spring 1989, the peak of
the prior real estate cycle. It was 51.1% below the
current cycle's peak in June 2006. It was 51.2% above
the February 2012 bottom of the current cycle.
DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and
provides information to consumers, educational
institutions, public agencies, lending institutions,
title companies and industry analysts.  Indicators of
market distress continue to decline. Foreclosure
activity remains well below year-ago and peak levels
reached in the last five years. Financing with multiple
mortgages is low, while down payment sizes are stable,
DataQuick reported.

NAHB - housing affordability continues to slide in
third quarter

Strengthening house prices and increased interest rates
in metros across the country contributed to lower
housing affordability in the third quarter, according
to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells
Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released today.
In all, 64.5% of new and existing homes sold between
the beginning of July and end of September were
affordable to families earning the US median income of
$64,400. This is down from the 69.3% of homes sold that
were affordable to median-income earners in the second
quarter, and the biggest HOI decline since the second
quarter of 2004.  “Housing affordability is being
negatively affected by a ‘perfect storm’
scenario,” observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home
builder from Charlotte, N.C. “With markets across the
country recovering, home values are strengthening at
the same time that the cost of building homes is rising
due to tightened supplies of building materials,
developable lots and labor.”  “The decline in
affordability is the result of higher mortgage rates
and the more than year-long steady increase in home
prices,” observed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.
“While affordability has come down from the peak in
early 2012, the index still means a family earning a
median income can afford 65% of homes recently sold.
Some of the decline in the affordability index could be
the result of a loss in some more modest priced home
sales as tight underwriting standards have limited the
purchases by moderate income families.”

Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind., and Syracuse, N.Y. were tied
as the nation’s most affordable major housing markets
as 93.3% of all new and existing homes sold in this
year’s third quarter were affordable to families
earning the areas’ median incomes of $65,100 and
$65,800, respectively. Meanwhile, Kokomo, Ind., claimed
the title of most affordable smaller market, with 96.9%
of homes sold in the third quarter being affordable to
those earning the median income of $60,100.  Other
major US housing markets at the top of the
affordability chart in the third quarter included
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.;
Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; and Buffalo-Niagara Falls,
N.Y.; in descending order.  Smaller markets joining
Kokomo at the top of the affordability chart included
Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J.;
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.; Bay City,
Mich.; and Springfield, Ohio.  For a fourth consecutive
quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.
held the lowest spot among major markets on the
affordability chart. There, just 16% of homes sold in
the third quarter were affordable to families earning
the area’s median income of $101,200.  Other major
metros at the bottom of the affordability chart
included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; Santa
Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; New York-White
Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa
Clara, Calif.; in descending order.

All of the five least affordable small housing markets
were in California in the latest quarter. At the very
bottom of the affordability chart was Santa
Cruz-Watsonville, where 20.3% of all new and existing
homes sold were affordable to families earning the
area’s median income of $73,800. Other small markets
at the lowest end of the affordability scale included
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Napa
and Salinas, respectively.

Zillow - days on market, the long and the short of it

With our extensive database of home sales and listings,
we’ve long wanted to provide comprehensive and
detailed data on the number of days it takes to sell a
home. Well, that day has finally come. Not only have we
computed this metric for all of our markets, but we
also track its value over time from the beginning of
2010 in order to surface the seasonal nature of the
housing market and reveal just how quickly homes are
selling these days relative to the not-so-distant past.
The hot metros in the West have the shortest days on
market. In San Francisco, it only takes 48 days to go
from listing a home to signing papers. In San Jose,
days on market is even quicker at only 43 days. This is
in sharp contrast to some metros further East like New
York (151 days), Fayetteville, NC (174 days), and
Jacksonville, FL (174 days).  From a simple snapshot of
current days on market, it’s hard to draw conclusions
over what drives these differences. For example, days
on market varies across the country due to regulation
and procedural differences, not just because of market
conditions. This is where year-over-year changes or
time series data for days on market is incredibly

For example, during 2011, the median days on market
significantly increased in Fayetteville, and is
currently 16% (24 days) longer this September than
last. Jacksonville’s days on market dropped
precipitously in from January 2010 through December
2010, only to increase dramatically so far in 2013 (20%
year-over-year for homes sold in September 2013).
While it may still take a while to sign papers in New
York, days on market of homes sold in September is
actually 11% shorter (19 days) than last year. This
decrease in time on market is modest compared to the
rapid changes in California metros. Days on market was
practically cut in half in Napa, CA where homes sold in
September took only 57 days to sell, which is down from
110 days compared to last year and 181 days in December
2010. Modesto and Stockton have also seen dramatic
changes (down 47% and 45% year-over-year,
respectively).  What can explain all this moving and
shaking? Since 2012, many metros have seen strong
rebounds in housing demand as investors and home
shoppers are finding great potential in fallen home
prices. But underwater homeowners, who can’t always
afford to sell so low, put off selling their homes
until prices make more financial sense.  This has
constrained inventory in the same places where people
are ready to buy. Put it all together and you’ve got
metro areas where some homes are flying off the market
almost as soon as they’re listed.

Apple has a number of patents on wearable computing, but a new application spotted by AppleInsider blends some old and some new tech to provide a vision of what it might conceivably look like as a shipping product. The patent in question describes a wrist-mounted flexible screen, built on a support structure that closely resembles the “slap bracelets” children of the nineties will likely recall. When worn, the screen could provide an unbroken display that wraps all the way around the wearer’s wrist.

Apple even uses the slap bracelet directly as an example of how the device would work in its patent filing. Besides provoking nostalgia in people my age, the design would make it possible to use the device in both curled (worn) and flattened forms, acting as a different kind of display in either scenario. When on the wrist, Apple describes a sensor that would allow the watch to recognize where the end is, so that it can manage universal sizing while still wrapping a display around the wrist without any overlapping visuals.

The patent describes some software functionality, which begins to get at what an Apple iWatch might offer that others building smart watches can’t or don’t yet do. It could be used to “adjust the order of a current playlist,” review “a list of recent phone calls,” type out a message reply via a “simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.” Apple even suggests using it as an input device for controlling and navigating apps like Maps. If you had trouble conceiving how an iWatch might actually revolutionize wearable computing, this patent’s description of features begins to answer that.

Apple’s patent describes making use of solar power and kinetic energy to help prolong battery life, and it includes provisions for a number of other ways to affix it to a user’s wrist, including snaps and velcro, meaning the slap bracelet look could give way to something much more in keeping with traditional watch design. But what’s most interesting is the functionality described in the patent: it shows how Apple, working with its own hardware and software in ways that third-party manufacturers aren’t able to could greatly extend the usefulness of a wrist-mounted, smartphone connected device.

The iWatch is rumored to be in production, with reports from Bloomberg, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal all surfacing recently. We’ve seen iWatch-related patents before, including ones that describe elements of this slap bracelet system, but this is the most complete patent to date and the timing feels more than coincidental as a result.

Southern California home buying picked up last month
compared with September but fell short of a year
earlier as sales in inventory-starved,
markets continued to lag far behind 2012 levels. For
the fourth month in a row the region’s median sale
price more or less moved sideways, though it was still
nearly 22% higher than October last year, a real estate
information service reported.  A total of 20,150 new
and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles,
Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and
Orange counties last month. That was up 5.4% from
19,112 sales in September, and down 4.4% from 21,075
sales in October 2012, according to San Diego-based
DataQuick.  On average, Southland sales have declined
1.1% between September and October since 1988, when
DataQuick’s statistics begin.  Last month’s sales
were 14.4% below the average number of sales – 23,572
– in the month of October. Southland sales haven’t
been above average for any particular month in more
than seven years. October sales have ranged from a low
of 12,913 in October 2007 to high of 37,642 in October

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and
condos sold in the six-county region last month was
$383,750, up 0.5% from $382,000 in September and up
21.8% from $315,000 in October 2012. The $385,000
median this June, July and August was the highest in
more than five years.  The median price has risen on a
year-over-year basis for 19 consecutive months. Those
gains have been double-digit – between 10.8% and
28.3% – over the past 15 months, and they have been
greater than 20% for the last 10 months.  October’s
median price remained 24.0% below the peak $505,000
median in spring/summer 2007.  “Our read on the
market is that after playing some rapid catch-up, home
prices hit a bit of a mid-summer wall. It took a very
specific set of circumstances to trigger price gains of
20% or more over the course of a year. We had a
pitifully low number of homes for sale, incredibly low
mortgage rates and unusually high levels of investor
purchases. In recent months each of those drivers has
reversed somewhat,” said John Walsh, DataQuick
president.  Walsh said it’s still unclear how much
the housing market was affected by last month’s
partial shutdown of the federal government and fears of
a default on the national debt.  “Given the uptick in
home buying between September and October, it would be
difficult to argue that the latest sales figures
reflect a pullback by home shoppers,” Walsh said.
“However, we’re reporting deals that closed in
October; so it’s possible it will take another month
to pick up on any sort of pronounced sales drop-off
triggered by last month’s debacle in Washington D.C.
Also, mortgage rates drifted lower and the most recent
job reports have been decent. Those positives would
help offset any negative impacts on housing demand in

It appears that almost all of last month’s 21.8%
year-over-year increase in the Southland median sale
price reflects rising home prices, while a small
portion reflects a change in market mix. (This mix
change consists of a large increase in mid- to high-end
sales over the last year and a big decline in sales of
lower-cost distressed properties.)  In October, the
lowest-cost third of the region's housing stock saw a
20.0% year-over-year rise in the median price paid per
square foot for resale houses. The annual gain was
20.9% for the middle third of the market and 20.2% for
the top, most-expensive third.  Sales activity in the
middle and upper price ranges continued to outpace
sales in more affordable markets.  Last month the
number of homes sold from $300,000 through $800,000 –
a range that includes many move-up buyers – rose
15.5% year-over-year. The number that sold for $500,000
or more jumped 28.5% from one year earlier, while
$800,000-plus sales rose 32.9%.  In October, 32.1% of
all Southland home sales were for $500,000 or more,
down from a revised 33.2% of sales the month before and
up from 23.7% a year earlier.  The number of Southland
homes sold below $200,000 last month dropped 39.6%
year-over-year, while sales below $300,000 fell 32.2%.
Low-end deals have been relatively weak largely because
of an inadequate supply of homes for sale. Many owners
still can’t afford to sell their homes because they
owe more than they are worth, and lenders aren’t
foreclosing on as many properties, further limiting

Foreclosure resales – homes foreclosed on in the
prior 12 months – accounted for 6.3% of the Southland
resale market in October. That was down from a revised
6.4% the month before and down from 16.3% a year
earlier. Last month’s foreclosure resale rate was the
lowest since it was 5.5% in May 2007. In the current
cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7% in
February 2009.  Short sales – transactions where the
sale price fell short of what was owed on the property
– made up an estimated 12.9% of Southland resales
last month. That was the lowest since October 2008,
when it was 12.7%. Last month’s short sale figure was
down from an estimated 13.3% the month before and down
from 27.2% a year earlier.  Absentee buyers – mostly
investors and some second-home purchasers – bought
26.5% of the Southland homes sold last month, which is
the lowest share for any month since it was 25.1% in
November 2011. Last month’s absentee level was down
from a revised 26.9% the month before and down from
28.4% a year earlier. The absentee share has dropped
each month this year since hitting a record 32.4% in
January. The monthly average since 2000, when the
absentee data begin, is 18.4%. Last month’s absentee
buyers paid a median $316,000, up 1.9% from the month
before and up 30.8% from a year earlier.

In October 6.5% of all Southland homes sold on the open
market had previously sold in the prior six months.
That’s up from a flipping rate of 6.1% in September
and up from 6.0% in October 2012. Flipping peaked at
7.0% in February this year and had trended lower most
months this year until September. (The figures exclude
homes resold after being purchased at public
foreclosure auction sales on the courthouse steps).
Buyers paying cash accounted for 27.5% of last month's
home sales, down from 28.5% the month before and down
from 32.8% a year earlier. The cash share of purchases
has declined each month since hitting an all-time peak
of 36.9% this February and in October was at its lowest
level since it was 26.2% in September 2010. Since 1988
the monthly average for cash buyers is 16.3% of all
sales. Cash buyers paid a median $337,000 last month,
down 0.4% month-to-month and up 34.8% from a year ago.
Last month Southern California home buyers put $4.3
billion of their own money on the table in the form of
a down payment or as an outright cash purchase. They
borrowed $5.7 billion in mortgage money from lenders.
The most active lenders to Southern California home
buyers last month were Wells Fargo with 8.1% of the
purchase loan market, Bank of American with 2.7% and
Prospect Mortgage with 2.2%.

There was little change in credit conditions
month-to-month in October but the change from a year
earlier was significant.  In October 12.0% of Southland
home purchase loans were adjustable-rate mortgages
(ARMs) – the same as in September, exactly double the
year-ago level, and the highest for any month since
ARMs were 12.6% of the market in July 2008. Since 2000,
a monthly average of about 31% of Southland purchase
loans have been ARMs.  Jumbo loans, mortgages above the
old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 26.3%
of last month’s Southland purchase lending. That was
down a hair from 26.5% the prior month and up from
20.7% a year earlier. In the months leading up to the
credit crunch that struck in August 2007, jumbos
accounted for around 40% of the home loan market.
Government-insured FHA loans, a popular
low-down-payment choice among first-time buyers,
accounted for 19.7% of all purchase mortgages last
month. That was up from 19.0% the month before and down
from 25.7% a year earlier. In recent months the FHA
share has been the lowest since early 2008, mainly
because of tighter FHA qualifying standards and the
difficulties first-time buyers have competing with
investors and cash buyers.  The typical monthly
mortgage payment Southland buyers committed themselves
to paying last month was $1,499, down from $1,547 the
month before and up from $1,115 a year earlier.
Adjusted for inflation, last month’s typical payment
was 37.5% below the typical payment in the spring of
1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was
48.8% below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.
Indicators of market distress continue to decline.
Foreclosure activity remains well below year-ago and
far below peak levels. Financing with multiple
mortgages is very low, and down payment sizes are
stable, DataQuick reported.

Green energy kills prairie

Robert Malsam nearly went broke in the 1980s when corn
was cheap. So now that prices are high and he can
finally make a profit, he's not about to apologize for
ripping up prairieland to plant corn.  Across the
Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the
Great Plains are giving way to corn fields as farmers
transform the wild expanse that once served as the
backdrop for American pioneers.  This expansion of the
Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy
policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions
of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline. In
2010, fuel became the No. 1 use for corn in America, a
title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost this
year. That helps keep prices high.  "It's not hard to
do the math there as to what's profitable to have,"
Malsam said. "I think an ethanol plant is a farmer's
friend."  What the green-energy program has made
profitable, however, is far from green. A policy
intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a
farming practice that actually could worsen it.  That's
because plowing into untouched grassland releases
carbon dioxide that has been naturally locked in the
soil. It also increases erosion and requires farmers to
use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals. In
turn, that destroys native plants and wipes out
wildlife habitats.  It appeared so damaging that
scientists warned that America's corn-for-ethanol
policy would fail as an anti-global warming strategy if
too many farmers plowed over virgin land.  The Obama
administration argued that would not happen. But the
administration didn't set up a way to monitor whether
it actually happened.  It did.

Mortgage applications down

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally
adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which
includes both refinancing and home purchase demand,
fell 1.8% in the week ended Nov. 8.  The index fell a
revised 2.8% in the previous week. That drop had
previously been reported at 7%.  The figures came
against continued uncertainty over when the US Federal
Reserve will begin to slow its stimulus program.  The
Fed is currently buying $85 billion per month in
Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, and recent
comments from the central bank raised concerns that
policymakers could taper those purchases this year.
Surprisingly strong nonfarm payrolls data on Friday
reinforced those concerns.  Previously, it was expected
that those accommodative monetary policies would last
into 2014.  MBA data showed 30-year mortgage rates
edged up 12 basis points to 4.44%.  The refinancing
index fell 2.3% in the latest week, and was revised to
a decline of 3.9% in the Nov. 1 week from a previously
reported fall of 7.9%.  The purchase index, a leading
indicator of home sales, dipped 0.5%. That was revised
to a drop of 0.7% in the Nov. 1 week from a previously
reported fall of 5.2%.  The mortgage survey covers over
75% of US retail residential mortgage applications,
according to MBA.

Clinton joined the GOP attacks on the law.

President Barack Obama should consider changes to his
health-care law to honor his pledge to allow consumers
to keep their health-care plans if they so desire,
former President Bill Clinton said in an interview
released Tuesday.  "I personally believe, even if it
takes a change in the law, the president should honor
the commitment the federal government made to those
people and let them keep what they got," Clinton said.
The former president was referencing the pledge Obama
made repeatedly during his sales job of the health-care
law that if individuals liked their current health-care
plan, they could keep it. Those impacted are Americans
who purchase their own insurance.

MBA - mortgage credit availability up

Mortgage credit availability increased slightly in
October according to the Mortgage Credit Availability
Index (MCAI), a report from the Mortgage Bankers
Association (MBA) which analyzes data from the AllRegs
Market Clarity product.  The MCAI increased 0.7% to
111.5 in October following two consecutive months of
decline in August and September.  A decline in the MCAI
indicates that lending standards are tightening, while
increases in the index are indicative of a loosening of
credit.  The index was benchmarked to 100 in March
2012.  If it had been tracked in 2007, it would have
been at a level of roughly 800, indicating the credit
was much more available at that time.  Mortgage credit
loosened slightly in October relative to September.  In
October, some investors reduced minimum credit scores
on certain products.  At the same time, other investors
reduced the availability of cash-out refinances and
limited other programs to primary residences in
programs which previously allowed for second and
investor homes.  The net impact was a slight increase
in the index for the month.

Investors pitch a takeover of Fannie and Freddie

A group of hedge funds and private equity companies is
preparing a proposal to take over large parts of Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac, in an attempt to end a bitter
dispute with the Treasury, which has controlled the US
housing finance agencies for five years.  The plan is
being pitched as a way to bring tens of billions of
dollars of private capital into the US mortgage market
and to speed housing finance reforms that remain bogged
down in Congress.  The investor group includes holders
of more than half the $34.6 billion of preferred shares
in Fannie and Freddie, who have been fighting to
restore some value to the shares after the terms of the
government conservatorship, rendered them worthless.

Mishandling the future of the two agencies, one of
Washington's biggest pieces of unfinished business from
the 2008 credit crisis, could jeopardize America's
housing recovery and rattle the wider economy as they
guarantee 85 per cent of US mortgages.  Numerous plans
to reform Fannie and Freddie have circulated among
politicians, investors and academics but the latest
proposal is likely to spur intense debate.

WSJ - three factors that could shape the fate of
housing overhaul

At last month’s annual mortgage-industry trade show,
most political and industry analysts agreed that there
aren’t great odds that Congress will pass a bill
addressing the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
before 2014, let alone 2016.  But several developments
unfolding right now could make the next five or six
months among the more consequential periods for
housing-finance policy since the companies were taken
over by the government five years ago. Here are three
reasons why:

First, Fannie and Freddie are now reporting large
profits. This could make it easier for the company’s
defenders—who were silent when the firms were
hemorrhaging cash during the bust—to more forcefully
lobby in favor of less dramatic changes. By next
February, when both companies report their fourth
quarter earnings, both firms should be able to say that
they’ve sent more in dividends to the US Treasury
than the amounts they were forced to borrow over the
previous five years.  Rising profits could also trigger
an important but obscure change in federal budgeting,
where congressional accountants “score” the firms
as revenue-generating entities. If that happens,
Congress would either have to raise revenue or cut
spending elsewhere as part of any overhaul.

Second, the Obama administration is moving ahead with
plans to install a permanent director to the
independent agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie,
the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The director of the
FHFA is an incredibly powerful job because it can stand
in the shoes of the shareholders and board of directors
of companies, plotting long-term strategy and making
day-to-day management decisions. President Obama’s
nominee for the job, Rep. Mel Watt (D., N.C.), failed
to win enough votes to overcome a procedural hurdle for
his confirmation vote last month. The White House
appears to be focused for now on getting Mr. Watt
confirmed this year, dislodging Edward DeMarco, the
agency’s acting director. With Congress at least a
year—and possibly several more—from getting a bill
to the president’s desk, the FHFA director will have
considerable sway shaping the transition process.  Mr.
DeMarco has stoked some concerns within the housing
industry over his decision to wind down the companies
footprint in single-family and multifamily lending.
Current and former administration officials in recent
weeks have suggested that Mr. Watt might bring a more
transparent and deliberate approach to such
transitional steps.

Third, the Senate Banking Committee is working in a
bipartisan fashion towards constructing a comprehensive
housing-finance overhaul bill that will address the
future of Fannie and Freddie. They’re building on the
work of Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Mark Warner
(D., Va.), who have introduced a bill with support from
five other Republicans and four other Democrats. The
heads of the committee, Sens. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.),
and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), have made clear that they
hope to reach agreement on a bill this year.
Bipartisan agreement is far from assured. It involves
threading a needle between three general groups: the
centrist supporters of the Corker-Warner bill, liberal
Democrats who want to see a larger government role
(particularly in affordable housing), and conservative
Republicans who are wary of continued, heavy federal
involvement in the mortgage market.

Whatever the committee produces will essentially mark
the starting point for what, if anything, Congress is
able to pass in 2015 or 2017. In other words, even if
this is only the first inning, a number of key
decisions could get made here that define the
boundaries for the rest of the game.  House Republicans
have advanced their own bill with no Democratic
support, which should serve as one end point for any
overhaul. How far the more-conservative House
Republicans are willing to bend to support a greater
federal role in housing could determine how soon a bill
arrives on the president’s desk.  Lawmakers further
out on the left, meanwhile, are likely to insist that
this new system provides sufficient credit access to
low- and moderate-income households. They’re wary of
any market in which government guarantees mostly serve
the borrowers that arguably need them the least. Among
the key questions to unfold: what does the White House
do if liberals decide that the centrist Senate bill
doesn’t go far enough?  The upshot is that the next
few months could show whether there’s any reasonable
chance of getting legislation passed while Mr. Obama is
in office, or whether these decisions will get kicked
down the road beyond 2017.

Zillow - experts predict us home value appreciation to
slow in 2014, beyond

Our most recent Zillow Home Price Expectation Survey
(ZHPES) results were released last week on Nov. 7.  The
survey asks professional forecasters to provide
predictions for housing market growth in the near term.
The average prediction for annual appreciation in 2013
is 6%, down from 6.7% the last time the survey was
conducted in August.  The lowest projection predicted
1.4% depreciation for 2013 and the highest predicted
15.6% appreciation. This edition of the survey was
compiled from 108 responses, including the projections
of economists, market and investment researchers and
real estate experts.  For 2014, the panel predicted, on
average 4.3% annual appreciation in home values with a
low of 5% depreciation and a high of 8.4% appreciation.
For 2015, the average predicted appreciation is 3.8%,
and for 2016 it drops to 3.5%.  Overall, in the next
five years, experts predict 4.2% annual appreciation,
which amounts to a total 28% gain in home values.  The
survey mean predicts above average home price
appreciation until the end of 2018, when the median US
home value is expected to be $200,000. The survey
predicts that national home values will surpass their
2007 peak in 2018.  The most pessimistic survey
quartile expects home values to be $182,500 by the end
of 2018, a 16.8% gain from current values.  The most
optimistic quartile expects home values to rise to
$218,900, 40.1% above today’s levels.

A number of public and private plans for overhauling
the nation’s mortgage finance system and reforming
government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac have been proposed, all of which seek to reduce and
redefine the government’s role in the mortgage market
to some degree. As these policy conversations begin,
panelists were asked how involved they think the
federal government should be in any re-imagined
mortgage system. Among those panelists expressing an
opinion, the majority (58.4%) said the federal
government’s involvement in the conforming mortgage
market should be “somewhat significant,”
“significant” or “very significant.” Only 8% of
respondents said the federal government should have a
“non-existent” role in the conforming market.
Panelists were also asked to define an appropriate
level of government-backing for mortgage loans going
forward. Among those panelists expressing an opinion
about what maximum percentage of all new mortgages
should be backed by the federal government, the median
response was 35%, roughly the level seen in 2006 at the
height of the housing bubble.

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