Survey: Most Homebuyers Want an All-Digital Mortgage Process

  • A poll of recent homebuyers found that excessive paperwork is the biggest pain point in applying for and closing on a loan.
  • Sixty-six percent of homebuyers would prefer a mortgage process that was conducted entirely online.
  • Homebuyers still need human contact throughout the mortgage process, with 65 percent saying that they want a person to explain options and terms.

Most people shopping for a home loan would prefer to avoid mountains of paperwork, and Fannie Mae has plans to bring the mortgage-application process into the digital age.

In a survey of 3,000 recent homebuyers, the company found that most borrowers want to speed up the process of obtaining a mortgage to one month. Currently, Fannie Mae says that it takes a median of 35 days to close on a home loan.

When asked what could make the mortgage process easier, 27 percent of homebuyers said that reducing paperwork would be the top priority. Twenty percent of those polled would prefer a better way to shop and compare products from different lenders, while 16 percent want less exchanges with a lender before closing on a mortgage.

A full two-thirds of recent homebuyers would prefer a mortgage process that was handled entirely via the Internet. Even more — about 70 percent — would like to fill out and submit a mortgage application online. Fannie Mae notes that younger homebuyers and those in higher income brackets tend to prefer an all-digital mortgage process more than others.

Even if most homebuyers desire the convenience that would come with Internet-generated mortgages, they still need a personal touch that the digital realm cannot provide. Sixty-five percent of respondents want a fellow human to explain mortgage options and terms to them. Nearly 60 percent would prefer help reviewing and signing final loan documents.

Fannie Mae says that it is actively working with lenders of all sizes to receive online data that will help the company more quickly review loan applicants’ incomes, assets, and employment details. While Fannie Mae does not offer specifics about how its digital mortgage program will work or when it will launch, it says that it has already been able to reduce the current 35-day cycle by one week. The company’s eventual goal is to reduce the entire mortgage-application and closing process to just 10 days.


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Which California Neighborhoods Are Millennials Flocking To?

  • Downtown Los Angeles’ Historic Core neighborhood saw its millennial population nearly double between 2011 and 2016, the highest rate of growth in the U.S.
  • In San Francisco, The Castro and Glen Park are among the top 20 neighborhoods in America to experience the largest millennial population growth.
  • More than 30,000 millennials live in Los Angeles’ South Park neighborhood and San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

Millennials walking in a cityThe Golden State is home to the nation’s largest share of millennials, and they are gravitating toward Downtown Los Angeles and neighborhoods in southeastern San Francisco.

Between 2011 and 2016, Los Angeles’ 90014 ZIP code, also known as the Historic Core, saw its millennial population increase by 91.4 percent, the most of any area in the 30 largest U.S. cities included in an analysis by RentCafe. During that time period, 3,300 millennials — defined here as those born between 1977 and 1996 — moved to that part of Downtown Los Angeles, which the company identifies as America’s fastest-gentrifying neighborhood since the turn of the century.

Millennials are also beginning to gentrify Los Angeles’ 90013 ZIP code, otherwise known as Skid Row. That neighborhood had the nation’s second-largest increase in millennial residents in the five-year period — 60.0 percent, which translates to 4,700 people.

Two San Francisco ZIP codes rank in the top 20 for millennial population growth: 94114 (The Castro) and 94131 (Glen Park). The former enclave saw 37.4 percent (12,500 people) more millennials set up shop, while the latter posted a 35.5 percent increase (9,000 people).

San Francisco’s booming Mission Bay neighborhood ranks among the top 20 U.S. neighborhoods with the largest share of millennials, where 3,800 residents of that age group comprise nearly two-thirds of the population. Millennials who call Mission Bay’s 94158 ZIP code home are almost certainly earning handsome paychecks; according to a separate RentCafe analysis, it’s the second most expensive neighborhood in the Bay Area for renters, with monthly payments averaging $4,336.

New York and Chicago ZIP codes dominate the rankings of the 20 U.S. places where the most millennials live, but two Golden State neighborhoods make the list. In Los Angeles, 33,500 millennials reside in the 90011 ZIP code (South Park, just south of Downtown), while 30,500 live in 94110 in San Francisco’s Inner Mission.

Despite the Bay Area’s sky-high home prices, millennials have gained a surprisingly large foothold in the real estate market. According to a February analysis of Pacific Union data by Chief Economist Selma Hepp, homebuyers aged 35 and younger accounted for more than one-third of purchases in San Francisco and Silicon Valley between August 2017 and January 2018.

(Photo: iStock/ViewApart)

Shared with permission from the Pacific Union Blog

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Pacific Union Joins Compass

Pacific Union is pleased to share the news that our firm has joined Compass, a real estate technology company that operates in more than 30 regions throughout the U.S.

REAL Trends currently ranks Pacific Union as the No. 5 residential real estate brokerage in Americaand the No. 1 independent brokerage in California based on 2017 sales volume of $14.1 billion. With the addition of Pacific Union, Compass’ national team will grow to over 6,400 real estate professionals representing $28 billion in sales volume in 2017.

Pacific Union was founded in 1975 and acquired by CEO Mark A. McLaughlin in 2009. The San Francisco-based brokerage has more than 50 offices and nearly 1,700 real estate professionals throughout California. Pacific Union’s deep commitment to professionalism and client service make it an ideal strategic and cultural fit for Compass.

“In recent years, agents and brokerage firms have been reacting to the world others are attempting to create,” Compass CEO Robert Reffkin says. “I believe the combination of Compass and Pacific Union will be a definitive step in building a company that can ensure the future of real estate is driven by the vision and aspirations of agents.”

“We have worked alongside our agents to create powerful technology that helps them grow their business and are excited to scale that to new agents everywhere,” Compass Founder and Executive Chairman Ori Allon notes.

“This is an exciting time as we embark on this partnership with Compass,” McLaughlin says. “” look forward to working alongside the Compass team to continue to improve the lives and businesses of our real estate professionals.”

Compass committed to opening in the top 20 cities in the United States and expanding to over 65 new offices this year. In addition to San Francisco and Los Angeles, Compass currently has a presence in New York City, Orange County, San Diego, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Philadelphia, Aspen, The Hamptons, Miami, Philadelphia, Westchester, Greenwich, Naples, Santa Barbara, and Marin County.


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Bay Area Posts Double-Digit Percent Home Price Gains for the 13th Straight Month in July

  • The median sales price for a single-family home in California was $591,460 in July, down from June’s all-time high but up by nearly 8 percent year over year.
  • The nine-county Bay Area ended July with the median sales price at $980,000, an annual increase of more than 10 percent.
  • Diminishing affordability in job centers helped drive double-digit percent year-over-year increases in sales activity in Contra Costa, Alameda, and Napa counties.

The nine-county Bay Area continued to record substantial year-over-year price gains in July, further shutting out more buyers and causing sales activity to spike in some of the region’s relatively more affordable markets.

That’s according to the California Association of Realtors’ latest home sales and price report, which puts the median sales price for a single-family home in the state at $591,460 in July, down from its record high in June but up by 7.6 percent on an annual basis. Statewide, condominium prices hit a new peak in July, climbing to $486,330.

For the 13th consecutive month, the Bay Area recorded double-digit percent annual appreciation, with the median single-family home price ending July at $980,000, up by 10.1 percent from one year earlier. All nine counties saw year-over-year price gains, ranging from 0.8 percent in Sonoma Countyto 16.0 percent in Santa Clara County.

Robust appreciation and high prices in Bay Area job centers such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley, along with rising interest rates, is squeezing many buyers. According to a separate CAR report released earlier this month, just 14 percent of households in San Francisco and San Mateo counties could afford to purchase the median-priced home in the second quarter, making them the state’s least-affordable housing markets behind Santa Cruz County.

CAR notes that difficult market conditions in job centers are driving upticks in sales activity in the Bay Area’s more affordable pockets. In Contra Costa County, where the median sales price was $680,000 in July, home sales increased by 10.6 percent year over year. In Napa County, which had a July median sales price of $727,000, home sales rose by 13.9 percent.

Though both California and Bay Area housing markets remain heavily tilted in favor of sellers, July did bring a bit of inventory relief. Statewide, active listings rose for the fourth straight month — 11.9 percent from July 2017 — after having declined for a nearly three-year period. California’s monthly supply of inventory improved slightly from the previous July, inching up to 3.3, while the nine-county Bay Area had a 2.2-month supply of inventory.

Still, even with a few more homes on the market, Bay Area counties remain the state’s most inventory-starved. San Francisco and San Mateo counties had the fewest homes for sale in California, both with a 1.6-month supply, followed by Alameda (1.7), Contra Costa (2.0), and Santa Clara (2.2) counties.


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Another Survey Highlights the Importance of Schools in the Homebuying Process

  • Half of Americans with children say that the quality of the school district is important when shopping for a home, compared with only about 10 percent of those without kids.
  • More than one-quarter of homebuyers who have kids delayed a real estate purchase because of child-care expenses.
  • Regardless of whether they have children, 87 percent of all homebuyers employed the services of a real estate professional.

Survey results released earlier this summerA group of schoolchildren standing in front of a bus with a teacher showed that nearly 80 percent of recent homebuyers sacrificed some amenities to purchase a property in their desired school district, and now another poll echoes the importance of education in the real estate decision-making process.

The National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Moving With Kids Report found that 50 percent of homebuyers with children under the age of 18 said that the quality of the school district was important when shopping for a home, compared with just 11 percent of those without kids. Similarly, 45 percent of families prioritized convenience to schools when purchasing a home, while only 6 percent of childless buyers did the same.

Perhaps because of school schedules, buyers with children showed more urgency than those without when selling their current home. More than one-quarter of families said that they were in a rush to unload their home, compared with 14 percent of homeowners without children.

Both buyers with and without children prefer detached, single-family residences, but the former group predictably wants more room than the latter — four bedrooms and 2,100 square feet of living space. In fact, the need for more space was the biggest reason that families said they sold their homes, cited by 24 percent of those surveyed.

Child care expenses caused 27 percent of homebuyers with kids to delay a real estate purchase. The cost of caring for kids also forced families to make substantial sacrifices when making a final real estate decision; about 30 percent compromised on the home’s size and price, while 22 percent gave up proximity to work and the home’s condition and architectural style.

Even if homebuyers with and without kids have different preferences and constraints when choosing a neighborhood and a home, there are a couple of points where both groups are exactly alike. Fifty-four percent of families and households without children said that finding the right home was the most difficult part of the process, likely a byproduct of the nation’s ongoing housing inventory crunch. And 87 percent of both groups employed the services of a real estate professional to help them navigate the process, with referrals from family members or friends the most common method of locating a professional.

(Photo: iStock/monkeybusinessimages)

Shared with permission from the Pacific Union Blog

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More Than One-Third of America’s Fastest-Growing Luxury Housing Markets Are in California

  • The Golden State claims seven of the 20 U.S. counties with the fastest-rising luxury home prices.
  • Santa Clara County is California’s fastest-appreciating high-end real estate market, with prices up by 14 percent year over year.
  • San Mateo County is the most expensive luxury housing market in the U.S., with prices at $3.5 million.

Nationwide, luxury homes are selling faster than ever this spring, with California counties well represented on a list of markets where prices for high-end properties are appreciating the most.

That’s according to’s 2018 Luxury Home Index, which tracks data for the top 5 percent of residential real estate sales in 91 U.S. markets. Prices for luxury homes rose by double-digit percent in about one-fifth of those counties, with high-end homes selling in an average of 91 days, the fastest pace of sales recorded at that segment of the market since began tracking that data point.

“The strong economy is bolstering demand for luxury homes,” Chief Economist Danielle Hale said. “They are selling fast and demand for these homes has pushed the entry level price point to more than $1 million in half of the markets studied.”

California counties account for seven of the nation’s 20 fastest-appreciating luxury markets, led by Santa Clara. Luxury home prices there are up by 14.0 percent year over year to $2,807,000, making it America’s fourth fastest-growing housing market for high-end properties.

Santa Clara County has been posting robust appreciation regardless of price point. According to a new analysis by Pacific Union Chief Economist Selma Hepp, home prices in the county were up by 20 percent year over year in July, the largest increase in the Bay Area.

Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties also cracked the top 10 on’s list, with respective annual price growth of 12.9 percent and 12.8 percent. San Mateo County has the most expensive home prices of any of the top 20 luxury markets, at $3,500,000.

The Golden State’s other top-performing luxury housing markets: Sonoma (9.9 percent growth), San Luis Obispo (9.8 percent growth), Sacramento (9.7 percent), and Marin (9.4 percent). While Sacramento County is one of the most affordable luxury markets on the list, at $678,000, Marin was the only one besides San Mateo where prices for high-end homes exceeds $3 million. attributes the Bay Area’s luxury home price gains to two major factors: the region’s prosperous tech sector and interest from international buyers.


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What Do Americans Want in Their Ideal Home?

  • More than half of all Americans would prefer to buy a new home.
  • Waterfront homes are the most popular with buyers, while properties near golf courses are the least.
  • Nearly 80 percent of Americans say that their ideal home includes central air conditioning.

An oceanfront home in Malibu, California.While a home’s perfect location, size, and amenities are unique to each buyer’s personal situation and budget, about half of respondents to a recent survey agree on a few key points.

That’s according to a poll conducted by, which asked both Americans and Europeans to describe their perfect home. About 54 percent of both nationalities state a preference for a new home, and 51 percent think a suburban property is ideal.

Roughly half of Americans and Europeans believe that a waterfront location is perfect for a home, followed by about one-third who want a view of the coast, a city, or hills. The least-popular location is near a golf course, cited by less than 4 percent of both Americans and Europeans. That latter trend should come as little surprise, considering that golf is losing popularity with millennials and other younger Americans.

The classic ranch-style home is the No. 1 choice for both Americans and Europeans. Craftsman-style and Mediterranean homes are also popular with both groups, though Europeans are more likely to prefer Art Deco homes, which Americans put at the bottom of the architecture-style list.

Brick is the preferred construction material for Americans, with 27 percent saying it is part of an ideal home. Similarly, nearly 30 percent voice a preference for composition shingles for the roof.

Inside the home, 42.1 percent of American respondents said that granite kitchen counter tops are ideal, and 30.1 percent want tile floors in that room. Nearly half prefer that the rest of home have wood floors, though 40 percent feel that carpet is the best flooring material in a bedroom.

When it comes to home amenities, Americans overwhelmingly want central air conditioning, cited by nearly 80 percent of those surveyed. About two-thirds think that an ideal home has a deck and a laundry room, and 60 percent point to a finished basement and solar panels as key features.

(Photo: iStock/benedek)

Shared with permission from the Pacific Union Blog

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17 Pacific Union Professionals and Teams Named Among the Bay Area’s Best

Pacific Union would like to extend hearty and well-deserved congratulations to 17 of our real estate professionals and teams for being named among the Bay Area’s most productive in 2017.

Now in its third edition, the Luxury Marketing Council’s 2018 Leading 100 rankings honors the top-producing Bay Area real estate professionals and teams based on 2017 sales volume. Seventeen Pacific Union professionals and teams were named to this year’s list, which uses sales data from last month’s annual rankings of America’s best real estate professionals as published by REAL Trends.

“Every day in this business I am amazed at the combination of grace and fortitude that our people possess,” Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin said after July’s REAL Trends rankings. “Their commitment to client service and pursuit of excellence is what their clients revere. I extend special congratulations to each of our recognized professionals.”

In addition to the 17 individuals and teams named below, the Luxury Marketing Council bestowed special honors on two of our San Francisco-based professionals. The organization named Nina Hatvany as 2018’s Real Estate MVP and recognized Val Steele as San Francisco Market Maker for being co-seller of the biggest home sale of the year.

Here are the Pacific Union professionals and teams named to the Leading 100 list:

Individuals by Sales Volume

  • Dana Green, Lafayette ranks No. 4, with $199.3 million in sales.
  • Tracy McLaughlin, Ross, ranks No. 8, with $155.1 million in sales.
  • Shana Rohde-Lynch, Belvedere, ranks No. 16, with $124.1 million in sales.
  • Kate McCaffery, Alameda, ranks No. 18, with $115.2 million in sales.
  • Raziel Ungar, Burlingame, ranks No. 51, with $81.1 million in sales.
  • Steve Mavromihalis, San Francisco, ranks No. 65, with $73.7 million in sales.

Individuals by Sales Volume

  • Nina Hatvany Team, San Francisco, ranks No. 5, with $226.2 million in sales.
  • LeMieux Associates, Menlo Park, ranks No. 18, with $142 million in sales.
  • Watson-Marshall Group, Burlingame, ranks No. 20, with $124.9 million in sales.
  • Barr + Whitney | Team Own Marin, Larkspur, ranks No. 26, with $117.3 million in sales.
  • The Kehrig Team, Danville, ranks No. 53, with $100.9 million in sales.
  • Payton + Binnings, San Francisco, ranks No. 65, with $72.2 million in sales.
  • McArthur + Love, Larkspur, ranks No. 67, with $69 million in sales.
  • Bartlett Team, San Francisco, ranks No. 73, with $64.9 million in sales.
  • Maurice Tegelaar & Matt Sevenau, Sonoma, ranks No. 76, with $63.7 million in sales.
  • The AW Team, Palo Alto, ranks No. 92, with $57.6 million in sales.
  • Laura Reinertsen & Kristin Sennett, Ross, ranks No. 95, with $56 million in sales.

Congratulations to this year’s honorees for their outstanding achievements!


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