Housing News

Folks who read my blog know that we’re in the 2nd of two house hunts: the first was for ellipticcurve, and this one is for us. Right now, we’re trying to decide between two houses (Friends-Only: I’d Like Your Opinion). As such I read the papers for housing news, so here is today’s installment:

  • The Daily News is reporting that the median price of a California home hit a record $495,400 in March. Sales increased 7.5% from their year-earlier level and were 6% ahead of 2004’s record pace for the first quarter. The median price jumped 15.7%, its smallest leap since June 2003. In Los Angeles County, the median price increased an annual 19%, to $466,250, and slid 1.5% from February. Sales increased 12.9%. Nationally, according to the LA Times, sales of existing U.S. homes rose 1% in March to the third-highest level on record as an increase in single-family sales offset a dip in sales of condominiums. The national median home price jumped 11.4% to $195,000 from the same month a year earlier. That says a lot about the Southern California Market: Median is almost $500K, vs. a national median of almost $200K.
  • The Daily News is also reporting that tougher bankruptcy laws and skyrocketing home values have increased the need for earthquake insurance even as fewer Californians are purchasing the coverage. According to the article, fewer than 15% of the state’s homeowners buy earthquake insurance. they say. “Many people, after an earthquake, walk away and declare bankruptcy. But that’s changing, too, after the signing of the new bankruptcy law,” said Pete Moraga, spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. As for us, we’ve been buying our EQ insurance through Geovera, which has been cheaper than the state administered plan.
  • On the school front, the LA Times is reporting that LA Unified is considering an academic reform plan that would require all high school students to complete a set of rigorous courses needed for college admission, a proposal some critics say is overly ambitious. Specifically, the plan would require students — beginning with the freshman class of 2008 — to complete what is called the “A-G sequence” of 15 high school courses needed for entry into the University of California or Cal State University systems. The college track program includes four years of English, a recommended four years of math and at least two years of history, science and foreign language. I think this is a great idea, but I get worried when I see statements from the head honcho of the district, Ray Romer, such as “we need to raise the level of rigor in our curriculum.” That level, sir, should have been raised years ago! The article noted that San Jose Unified School District implemented a college preparatory curriculum five years ago, and its graduation rates increased from 73% in 1999 to 79% in 2003. As a member of the advisory board for CSUN, I know the importance of such a curriculum well: I hear regular reports of students entering CSU unprepared.

That’s the housing news for today. Please remember, if you’re on my friends list, to provide me with comments on the house selection. This is a hard decision.