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Showing posts from January, 2011

The Real American Idol--HOMEOWNERSHIP!

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Simon Cowell would have to be considered congenial compared to the critics of real estate in the last few years. But like the popular TV show, where the ultimate winner is not chosen by a select few but instead by the vote of the nation, homeownership again has proven to be the choice of the people. There have been numerous survey’s and polls done in the past 90 days that confirm this.

American Attitudes About Homeownership is a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the National Association of Realtors. The findings of this survey combined with the findings of Fannie Mae’s November National Housing Survey and last week’s Gallup Poll paint a clear picture that the majority of Americans still value homeownership and believe in its benefits. In the latest survey, America’s belief in owning a home came through loud and clear.

Here are a few of the findings:

Homeowners and renters agree that owning a home is a positive choice. A majority of homeowners and a sizable percentage of rent…

Does It Make Sense to Buy A Home?

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The financial turmoil we have experienced over the last five years has definitely taken it’s toll. It has especially been a difficult time for real estate. Nationally, values have fallen over 25% and there may be more softening in prices to come. We realize that this has caused difficulty, and in some cases, heartbreak for many families. People unable to make their mortgage payments have been forced to sell or, even worse, have faced foreclosure.

However, the thing that has continued to amaze us is the country’s steadfast belief in the benefits of homeownership even in these most difficult of times. The vast majority of Americans still realize that the value of a family owning a home goes far beyond just the financial considerations.

There have been three major surveys done in the last 75 days delving into Americans’ current belief in the value of owning a home:

1. The National Housing Survey by Fannie Mae this past November.
2. The Housing Survey by the Gallup Organization completed last…

Gorgeous Home For Sale in Colorado Springs

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Gorgeous Home in School District 20 that has been Beautifully Updated Throughout. Tour This Home Today! Perfect for the First Time Home Buyer, if you are Relocating to Colorado Springs or simply moving up. Featuring 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, 2 Car Garage and nearly 1,900 Square Feet. New Furnace, A/C, New Windows, New Carpet, New Hardwood Floors on Main Level, New Interior and Exterior Paint, New Trim, New Lighting and New Blinds. The Feeling of Being Home Envelops you immediately as you enter this home. The Spacious Living Room is Light and Bright with Beautiful Hardwood Floors that flow into the Perfectly Appointed Kitchen. The Open Kitchen Provides Plenty of Surface Space for Food Preparation and is open to the Large Eating Area. The Lower Level Family Room is the Perfect Space for Entertaining with a Cozy Gas Fireplace and Walk Out to the Large Deck. The Fully Finished Lower Level Recreation Area is the Perfect Space for a Home Gym, Theater Area or Office. Escape the Frantic Pace o…

Is the Housing Market Starting to Come Back?

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It seems that the housing market is finally showing signs of a recovery. We are not suggesting that it will come roaring back and we will see 2006 numbers again. However, the National Association of Realtors released their December Existing Home Sales Report yesterday. The report showed a 12.3% increase in closed transactions over the month before. Earlier in the week the Census Bureau reported that:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 635,000. This is 16.7 percent above the revised November rate of 544,000.

Should we believe that real estate is starting to make a comeback? To some degree, we think yes. Both of the above reports are promising.

However, not all the news in the reports was positive. Existing home sales were slightly down from the same month last year. Housing completions were down 22.2% from last year’s numbers. Yet, we must also factor in that the numbers from the end of last year were artif…

What IS Risk Retention & How Will it Effect You?

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The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. The law’s far reaching impact will take years to understand, but as professionals we do know that Title IX (Risk Retention) will have a dramatic impact on consumers and the mortgage industry.

What is Risk Retention?

Risk Retention is a new burden for those who securitize mortgages- those entities that bundle closed loans into pools and sell them in the secondary market. These are typically Wall Street style entities. They have little to no direct impact with the consumer, but play a vital role in maintaining liquidity in the housing market. Their role is to replenish the cash available for lenders to lend by buying closed loans from lenders (thereby providing new cash for lenders to lend again). As intermediaries between lenders and long term investors, securitizers perform a much needed function.

While it seems that loans guaranteed by the government (FHA, VA,…

Home for Sale in Colorado Springs

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Nice 2 Story Home For Sale in Colorado Springs Perfect for the First Time Home Buyer or if you are Relocating to Colorado Springs. Located in a Great Location with Easy Access to Shopping, Dining, Schools, Parks and Military Bases. Tour this Home Today! Featuring 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, 2 Car Garage and 1,439 Square Feet. Cozy Three Sided Fireplace in the Light and Bright Living Room, Large Eating Area off of the Perfectly Appointed Kitchen. The Eating Area Boasts Walk Out to the Expansive Deck. The Upper Level Features the Spacious Master Retreat, 2 Additional Bedrooms, and 2 Full Bathrooms. The Large Deck is Perfect for Summer BBQ's.

If you are interested in this Home for Sale in Colorado Springs or would like more information on Homes for Sale in Colorado Springs, Contact Mike MacGuire, your Colorado Springs Real Estate Expert!

Most Americans Say It Is a Good Time to Buy A Home

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We have been making two major points for several months. If you are selling a house, you must do it now AND if you are buying one, you must also do it now. This sounds crazy – but it is true. PRICE is the most important thing to a seller. With prices projected to fall through the first half of 2011, if you want to sell, do it now. The alternative might be to wait over a year just for prices to recover to current values.

The second point revolves around the fact that buyers are more concerned about COST (price AND interest rate). Fannie Mae, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the PMI Company are all projecting interest rates to rise this year. If you want to buy, your best time to purchase could be right now.

We have had people question us on the second point. We truly believe it is a good time to buy however. And a new survey says that the majority of Americans agree with us. Gallup just released a poll showing that 67% of Americans think this is …

Buy or Rent? Play Chess, Not Checkers

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A number of pundits are saying that now is NOT the time to buy a home. They look at how prices have fallen over the last four years and claim that investing in real estate is too risky. However, we must also look at the gamble one takes in not buying to determine which is the riskier of the propositions. The cost of renting today verses the cost of purchasing a home today must be compared. We must also consider probable future costs in order to fully calculate the risk. We must think a few moves ahead.

We must play chess, not checkers.

There is much to consider in the rent/buy decision. If you own a home, your mobility is curtailed to some degree. If you rent, there is less stability in the household as the landlord, not the tenant, determines if or when the house must be vacated. For the sake of today’s debate, we will only look at the financial aspects of this decision.

Renting
In a growing number of regions, homeownership is already less expensive than renting. And, it looks like rents…

Tips for Interviewing a Realtor

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Whether you’re buying or selling a home, ask your REALTOR®:

Can you explain in detail the process from contract to closing?
Specifically describe how you will represent my interests above yours throughout the process?
What is the process you use to negotiate on my behalf?
What is your real estate background and experience? How will it help me?
Are you a REALTOR®?
Do you work in real estate full-time? How accessible are you? How can I reach you?
For which aspects of the home buying process are you available? If you are unavailable, will someone else be available to work in your place? (presenting offers, inspections, closings, etc.)
How will you assure that deadlines are meticulously met?


Planning to buy a Colorado Springs home?

Tell me in detail the type of information you can gather for me about a home listed for sale that may be of interest to me.
What type of assistance do you provide in finding a mortgage lender?
Do you have any financial affiliations with mortgage lenders, and is that a conf…

Why Prices Will Soften in the 1st Half of 2011

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The big question facing real estate in 2011 is which direction are home prices headed. We agree with most experts who believe prices will continue to soften for the first half of the year. Supply and demand will determine this. Let’s look at where real estate sits entering this year compared to the beginning of 2010.

Demand

1.) Last year, The Home Buyers Tax Credit was both extended to the end of April and expanded to include move-up buyers. This increased demand to some degree. However, most now believe that the tax credit simply dragged demand forward from later in the year. What took place was a surge in sales prior to the deadline and then a dramatic fall off after April.

This year, there is no such tax credit in place to drive demand. It also seems that there is no political will to revisit a homebuyers’ tax credit at this time.

2.) Last year, the Fed’s purchase of mortgage-backed-securities was extended to the end of March. That increased demand by guaranteeing low interest rates th…

Oswald Acted Alone and We Did Land on the Moon

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We believe that things are usually as they seem. We are not the type of organization that believes in conspiracies. However, there is something interesting in some of the housing price studies we are seeing in our research. It seems that some of the groups making the predictions are the same ones that have the greatest power to affect the prices they are projecting.

Most housing analysts warn that the heaviest downward pressure on prices will be created by distressed properties and the speed at which they will be released to the market. Research shows that ‘short sales’ sell at a 20% discount and foreclosures sell at a whopping 40% discount. Obviously, when and how much discounted real estate enters the market will have a major impact on prices of surrounding properties.

Back to our research

We are now seeing that a certain segment of those projecting future pricing have two things in common:

1. They believe prices will fall rather dramatically in the first half of 2011
2. They have c…

Are Short Sales the BIG Solution?

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My blog yesterday discussed the challenge that banks are facing in their attempt to complete foreclosures. Some courts are attempting to void the foreclosure if the bank did not properly transfer the mortgage from one bank to another. The courts are claiming that, if you didn’t ‘legally’ transfer ownership of the loan documents, then you don’t ‘legally’ own it. If you don’t own the debt instruments, you can’t foreclose on them. What does this mean to banks when they handle future foreclosures?

One possibility is that banks may start favoring ‘short sales’ over foreclosures in more cases. The ‘short sale’ option has already been gaining momentum. The OCC and OTS Mortgage Metrics Report shows foreclosures are up 57.5 % year over year; ‘short sales’ are up 82.9%.

Now, with courts scrutinizing the foreclosure process, it may make more sense for banks to work with the current homeowner to sell the home even if it is at a price less than the amount owed on the mortgage. Adding to this possibi…

Will Foreclosures Be Erased?

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A court in Massachusetts voided two bank foreclosures this past Friday. The decision has already created a ripple effect across the banking community. Will other courts also decide to void local foreclosures? Does this put an added burden on banks when they are trying to complete a foreclosure process? What will it mean to the real estate market? Let’s take a look.

What actually happened?

Though the challenges addressed yesterday might have been brought to light by the robo-signing mess, that situation was not involved in this ruling. The question addressed here was much deeper than someone not checking paperwork. The question was whether the bank could prove they owned the mortgages they were foreclosing on.

There are set legal procedures that must be taken to transfer a mortgage from one person/entity to another. It seems that these requirements were not fulfilled by many banks over the last several years when mortgages were transferred quickly and often.

The court decided that, since p…

Rent vs. Buy: Do the Math and Then Ask Mom

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A growing number of purchasers are young adults being persuaded to buy now.... who are the people selling them on the American Dream? Their parents! It seems that parents of some adult children are strongly suggesting that their children take advantage of the low cost of homeownership available today. Some moms and dads are helping financially and are even co-signing for the mortgage.

At first, we found this to be rather surprising. However, after thinking about it, it made complete sense. Here are the reasons why.

Do the Math

Let’s look at the financial aspects of renting vs. buying. With house prices falling and rental prices rising in many markets, the possibility that owning a home could cost less than renting one is growing.

In an article from CNN Money earlier this week, they looked at this issue as we move into 2011:

Perhaps not surprisingly, it makes more financial sense to rent than buy today in many U.S. cities…

But that may finally be about to change. Moody’s chief economist Mark…

Would You Hire a Fat Personal Trainer?

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Imagine you decided to get into great physical condition in 2011. It was your most important New Year’s resolution. Would you hire an out-of-shape trainer to help you achieve your goal? Of course you wouldn’t. You would want to take advice from a person that already is in the physical condition you hope to attain.

Shouldn’t the same principle apply when considering the financial risks involved in purchasing real estate in today’s market? We should want to follow the people who have already reached a good financial position in their lives.

How do we get the wealthiest people in the country to advise us as to whether or not now is the time to buy a home? It’s actually rather easy. Just look at what they are doing and do the same.

Right now the wealthiest people are investing in real estate. It was recently reported that sales of condos over $4 million have skyrocketed. Crain’s NY Business explains:

Nine apartments asking more than $4 million went into contract last week, according to broke…

3 Questions You Must Answer Before Buying a Home

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If you are thinking about purchasing a home in Colorado Springs right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. And most of that advice is probably negative. Why buy now with prices still falling? Don’t you realize real estate is no longer a good investment? Don’t you know that people who bought five years ago lost their shirt? We understand the concern your friends and family have. However, let’s look at whether or not now is actually the perfect time to buy a home.

There are three questions you should ask before purchasing a home in today’s market:

1. Why should I buy if house prices are still depreciating?

We believe that in most parts of the country prices will in fact soften in 2011. Price is the major concern for anyone selling a home. When you are buying, COST should be your primary concern however. Your monthly payment (cost) is definitely impacted by the price of the home you purchase. The other major component is the interest rate. Waiting for prices to bottom out while rat…

What You Want to Hear vs. What You Need to Know

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A new year brings changes. Some homeowners will decide that this is the year to move on with their lives in some way. Some will move south to join children and grandchildren. Others will move either east or west in search of a better career opportunity. Growing families may decide to purchase a larger home with a bigger back yard. Empty nesters may determine to downsize and begin to prepare for their retirement.

Often, the families will need to sell the house they are currently living in. In this confusing and rapidly evolving housing market, the vast majority will take on the services of a professional real estate agent (88%).

According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Home Sellers the number one thing the seller wants from the agents is “help pricing the home competitively”. And therein lays the dilemma.

What You Want to Hear
Every homeowner wants to maximize the sale of their house by achieving the highest price possible. Every truly professional…