Some observations from this evening’s perusal of the news:
- The Daily News is reporting that California will begin offering two products structured to help first-time home buyers — free mortgage payment insurance and a 35-year, fixed-rate interest-only loan. The interest-only PLUS loan will reduce mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars per month. Borrowers just make the interest payment for the first five years, then the principal plus interest kicks in. HomeOpeners is a free mortgage protection program. If a borrower loses a job, the monthly payment is automatically covered for six months. CalHFA’s below-market mortgage rates are available to first-time home buyers who meet certain requirements, including income and home sales price limits. There are separate price limits on new and used homes in what the agency calls targeted areas, census tracts where 70 percent or more of the families have an income equal to 80 percent or less of the state median. For example, in Los Angeles County the purchase price limit is now $549,601 for a new house and $671,735 for one in a targeted census tract, 22 percent higher than the year-ago level. For a resale house, the price limits are $457,608 in nontargeted areas and $559,298 in targeted areas, the agency said. To qualify for the program, a single person or couple cannot earn more than $78,600 and for a family of three or more, the cap is $91,700.
- But we can be glad we live in Los Angeles. CNN is reporting that the average sale price for a Manhattan apartment topped $1.2 million in the first quarter. In the condominium sector, the average sale price jumped to $1.55 million. The median sale price — the point where half the sales are higher and half are lower — climbed to $705,000. The average sale price of a cooperative apartment, in which an owner holds shares in the building and does not own the individual unit, rose to $988,746. Did you ever think you would be glad to be in the LA housing market?
- As I write this, the Pope is about go to meet Frank Purdue, Jack Keller, and Terri Schaivo. What I’m impressed with is how the Vatican leadership is referring to the Pope’s situation: Monsignor Angelo Comastri, the vicar of Vatican City, said that soon “Christ will open the doors to the pope”; and Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar of Rome, said John Paul had “abandoned himself to the hands of Christ, with whom he has always lived, worked, suffered and had joy.” Although I’m not Christian, it is a very comforting way to put what is a very sad situation for many around the world.
- Lastly, the San Fernando Valley has been invaded by Painted Ladies, according to the Los Angeles Times. No, not the type that used to walk Sepulveda Blvd in the late night many years ago, but rather a lady named Vanessa Cardui. I remember seeing a photo spread on her once. Maybe you’ve run into her?