Real Estate Roundup: Facebook Pushes for More Housing in Silicon Valley

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

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An aerial view of Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.

FACEBOOK PITCHING MORE HOMES FOR INVENTORY-STARVED MENLO PARK
The planet’s best-known social network has big expansion plans in the works, with an additional Menlo Park campus opening that can hold 2,800 more workers. But with housing in Silicon Valley already a scarce commodity, the company’s employees could have a difficult time finding a place to live near the office.

To that end, Facebook has funneled money into one residential development in Menlo Park and is hoping to kick-start another, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

According to the article, Facebook has funded a 394-unit development dubbed Anton Menlo, which is currently under construction. Rental prices in the $120 million development, which will open next year, has yet to be determined, though Facebook has funded 15 below-market-rate apartments.

The social-networking behemoth has an even more ambitious plan for a 56-acre parcel that it purchased from real estate developer Prologis, where the company has said it would like to build 2,000 more units. Facebook also wants to construct 1,500 units on its existing campus to house company interns.


FORECLOSURE LEVELS LOWEST SINCE BEFORE THE HOUSING CRISIS
U.S. foreclosure activity dropped on both a monthly and annual basis in February, returning to levels not seen since before the housing market collapse.

RealtyTrac’s most recent Foreclosure Market Report says there were 101,938 foreclosure filings in February — down 4 percent from January and 9 percent from February 2014 — to reach lows not observed since July 2006, near the apex of the housing bubble. In a statement accompanying the report, RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said the numbers are a sign that the nation’s foreclosure activity is normalizing.

“Given that August 2006 was the peak of the housing bubble, this eight-and-a-half-year low in foreclosure activity is a significant milestone and a sign that nationwide foreclosure activity is on track to return to historic norms this year — and is possibly even headed below historic norms, given the skinny-jeans-tight lending standards over the past five years,” Blomquist said.


THE HOME IMPROVEMENT SELLERS SHOULD TACKLE FIRST
Home sellers hoping to maximize their home’s value should prioritize the roof, says a blog post from the National Association of Realtors.

A San Francisco-based real estate professional told NAR that he advises his seller clients to focus on four key areas of the home when allocating improvement funds: the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, and the electrical systems. Of those, the roof is the most crucial, as a leaky roof can cause other problems such as damage to plumbing and electrical outlets.

NAR lists a number of other things that home sellers can do to boost their property values, including adding drought-resistant plants — particularly relevant to Bay Area homeowners given the region’s prolonged rain shortage.


MORTGAGE RATES DROP AS SPRING OFFICIALLY ARRIVES
Spring made its official debut on Friday, accompanied by falling interest rates — promising news for anyone who is considering a home purchase this spring.

According to Freddie Mac, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 3.78 percent for the week ended March 19, down from 3.86 percent the previous week. Rates for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages also declined from a week earlier, falling to 3.06 percent.

In a statement accompany the report, Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer said that while housing starts across the country declined by 17 percent in February, permit activity increased by 3 percent, which should buoy builder confidence about home sales in the coming months.

(Photo: Flickr/Jitze Couperus)

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