Industry Watch

Industry Watch

April 18, 2004|By From staff, Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News reports

Bilingual workshop on buying a home set for Saturday

Baltimore's Hispanic Liaison Office will hold a bilingual homebuying workshop next weekend.

The session will include information about financing options, government incentives and the procedures involved in buying a home in Baltimore. Real estate professionals will provide information and answer questions.

The workshop will be the fourth held by the liaison office. It is aimed at increasing homeownership by Hispanics.

The event is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at St. Patrick's Church hall, 1728 Bank St. Information or registration: Lorena Beltran, 410-545-6532.

Homebuilders' index of optimism rises

An index of U.S. homebuilder optimism has risen this month to the highest level since January, reflecting the strengthening economy and mortgage rates low enough to attract buyers, a trade association's survey has found.

The measure of builder confidence in the market for single- family houses rose to 69 this month from 64 in March, according to the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders. Readings higher than 50 indicate that builders viewing conditions as good outnumber those viewing them as poor. The index has exceeded 60 since June.

Freddie Mac, the No. 2 purchaser of home loans, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group, raised their forecasts this month for home lending this year. They pointed to the economy's expansion and mortgage rates that even after recent gains are still close to historic lows.

"The economic and demographic foundations for housing are very solid, supporting both home sales and house prices," said David Seiders, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. "We expect the demand for single-family homes to remain quite strong in coming months, despite the rise in long-term mortgage rates."

A gauge of buyer traffic in the builders' survey fell to 48 from 49 last month. The index's measure of current sales rose to 76 from 70 in March, and a gauge of sales expectations in the next six months also rose to 76 from 70.

Realtors association grows to 1.01 million members

The National Association of Realtors has exceeded 1 million members, adding 100,000 agents in the past 12 months, as record-breaking home sales have supported growth in the industry in the past three years.

Membership has grown 40 percent since 1997, to 1.01 million from 716,078. Nationwide, 1.84 million people hold active licenses to sell real estate, the Realtors group said last week.

Julia Roberts, husband plan Malibu compound

LOS ANGELES - Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts and her husband, cameraman Danny Moder, are in the early stages of creating a Malibu compound with spectacular ocean views and a private beach.

The couple bought a home on more than an acre on a Malibu bluff late last year for $6.4 million. Now they have bought adjoining land, bringing their estimated costs before construction to more than $20 million.

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