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No Happy Dance For Home Prices Until October—Or Later - 08/31/10 02:44 PM
While the Case-Shiller index reported that July home price gains exceeded expectations, the news may not be cause for celebration. The just-released numbers reflect the spring surge in home sales that resulted from the Housing Tax Credit.
Following the expiration of the tax credit, more recent sales have been abysmal. What we need to see are the numbers from the current period, which, unfortunately, won't be published until the end of October. Until then, we should save the champagne and hope for better news to come; however, I plan to keep my champagne on ice until I see a believable (9 comments)
Government Indecisiveness Is Destroying the Housing Market - 08/30/10 06:05 PM
In an interview on CNN’s program, “State of the Union,” as reported in The NY Times, HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, gave yet another indication that the Obama administration has yet to come to grips with the housing crisis. When asked whether or not the Housing Tax Credit might be revived, Donovan indicated that it was too early to make that determination.
Of course some were quick to jump onto the possibility that a revived Housing Tax Credit might be in the works. Those who support more government intervention feel it will help bring stabilization, while those in opposition, see it (13 comments)
The Best and Worst U.S. Housing Markets - 08/29/10 09:11 PM
Investors and home buyers seeking to capitalize on the dramatic drop in home prices should do their homework before taking the plunge. Not all markets offer opportunities, and some pose significant risks. A recent story on Yahoo News shows the markets most likely to have reached stabilization as well as those markets likely to see further declines in home prices.
Click HERE for story. The Housing Guru: The expert source for all your housing questions
Have Surge Protection for Delicate Electronics? Do They Work? - 08/29/10 08:29 PM
Losing valuable data due to an electrical surge or spike can ruin more than just your day, and most of us try to protect our sensitive electronics and computers with surge protectors. However, the surge protectors most of us purchase are inexpensive and subject to failure. Many are surprised to learn that most surge protectors wear out, and that they may give no indication that the protection is no longer available. Not only do the devices wear out, once they do so they may generate heat, which in some cases can pose a fire hazard.
And, since the inexpensive, (11 comments)
Should Anyone Buy a Home In Today's Market? - 08/28/10 07:24 AM
Recent headlines, as well as some of my own blog posts, have some consumers wondering: "Should anyone buy a home in today's market?" And the answer is a definite, but qualified, almost enthusiastic, yes. An article in the NY Times, points out some of the obvious benefits of home ownership: ● A mortgage can be a type of forced savings ● Home owners don't have to deal with the difficult or fickle landlords who may decide to sell or experience foreclosure ● Rental units may not be available in the area in which you wish to live.
Home Prices Must Fall - 08/27/10 06:34 PM
Recent news stories reporting the dramatic drops in both new and existing home sales seem to indicate that home prices must fall. While periods of low interest rates normally stimulate home prices to rise, the lack of demand will keep that from occurring. The powerful force that will drive home prices down is inventory. As home sales fall off a cliff, the absorption rate declines, causing dramatic spikes in inventory levels. The graph from Calculated Risk shows the severity of the current inventory spike.
Additionally, there are just too many negative factors weighing on the market: ● Mortgage purchase (13 comments)
An 'Overwhelming Supply' of Homes - 08/27/10 10:25 AM
A growing inventory of homes continues to press home prices downward. An article on HousingWire describes how home prices have remained virtually flat, following the expiration of the Homebuyer Tax Credit. The article states, Even those few markets still holding onto annual gains aren't likely to be healthy (such as) San Jose, San Diego, and San Francisco — the three most-improved markets year-over-year. Once analyzed, the recent gains seen in those areas appear to reflect nothing more than a depletion of low-priced inventory. Buyers, having scooped up the low-priced bargains, have now begun purchasing properties on the higher-end. Read the article (7 comments)
Schaumburg IL - We could use your help & vote! - 08/26/10 03:58 PM
Let's give Lyn Sims a hand and help move Schaumburg to #1 Via Lyn Sims - Northwest Suburbs (Schaumburg Homes - RE/MAX Suburban): Schaumburg's very own Awaking Muse is part of the Metropolitan Planning Council's "Secret Corner of Chicagoland" photo contest. With 25 entries up for consideration, here's your chance to vote. One vote per person is allowed through Friday, September 10. A fan favorite will be selected through online votes received, and three additional winners will be selected by a panel of "Placemaking experts." Winners will be announced on Friday, September 17 and be featured in an exclusive Chicago Architecture Foundation tour (0 comments)
Housing Isn’t Entering a Double-Dip; It’s Merely Continuing its Journey - 08/26/10 07:02 AM
While some point to the possibility that home prices and sales may once more turn down, the reality is that housing isn’t entering a double-dip; it’s merely continuing its journey. Homeowners or potential home buyers want to know what’s really happening; but the news is so confusing that it’s virtually impossible to tell. For many the confusion arises from the surge in sales and prices that began last fall and continued into the spring, a time when economists and pundits were quick to call the housing bottom.
● Jim Cramer even set the specific date for the bottom, June 30, (50 comments)
I See a Bad Moon Rising - 08/24/10 10:14 PM
In 1969, and during a time of national turbulence, the group Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) released the song, Bad Moon Rising which rose to the top of the charts. Some of the words remind me of where we are today.
I see a bad moon rising I see trouble on the way I see earthquakes and lightin’ I see bad times today.
Today bad news is breaking records: Home sales have fallen off a cliff; foreclosures are up; long-term unemployment is at record highs; consumer confidence is retreating; bankruptcy has climbed to highest since 2005. (23 comments)
CERT, A Great Way To Give Back To Your Community - 08/22/10 09:12 PM
Community Emergency Response Teams, CERT, are a great way to give back to your community. Established to provide immediate local help following a disaster, CERT trained individuals are folks just like you and me who have been trained by the local emergency responders in the proper ways to deal with emergencies until the professionals arrive.
Having just completed my first 8 hours of training this past Saturday, I can already see how preparing community members as “first responders” can both aid the local authorities and provide immediate help to those in need. I highly recommend that you check with your (8 comments)
Can’t Make Your Mortgage Payment? Fannie May Says, “Know Your Options” - 08/22/10 05:04 PM
A new Fannie Mae website, KnowYourOptions.com, provides help and answers questions for homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. With all the confusion surrounding foreclosure, mortgage modification, and short sales, the site can help keep homeowners away from the “vulture” businesses that spring up to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.
The recession and housing crisis have caused millions of homeowners to lose their homes through foreclosure, and many of those foreclosures could have been avoided. While the government may have done a poor job of offering solutions to those struggling to keep their homes, Fannie Mae’s new website, KnowYourOptions.com, changes (2 comments)
Where Are Home Prices Going? - 08/20/10 03:52 PM
We’ve all heard the news reports about the potential for a double-dip in housing, and perhaps, the overall economy. Unemployment seems out of control; debt levels are becoming unmanageable; and many are wondering what the future holds for the housing market. Where home prices going and what is the potential for prices to recover to the levels of 2005/2006?
There are lots of opinions, but here are some points to consider: ● The recent meeting to discuss the future of housing, including the GSEs Fannie and Freddie, while generating lots of news, was not expected to produce anything of (180 comments)
Rainwater Harvesting, Rain Barrels Gone Hi-Tech - 08/18/10 09:16 PM
Once an essential feature in most American homes, the old rain barrel placed below a downspout or area of roof runoff, is being replaced by a new breed of rain collection devices. More versatile and with dramatically more capacity, today's rainwater harvesting systems can be installed unobtrusively in crawlspaces, under decks, or buried underground.
The new systems come with filters, pumps and can supply all the watering needs of the average gardener without putting a "drain" on the wallet or increasing the demand on municipal water supplies. For more information, see the latest "Frugal Living" article on The Housing Guru. (17 comments)
Have a Question That Relates to Housing? Ask The Housing Guru - 08/18/10 06:29 PM
The Housing Guru has now added a section for asking housing related questions. Need to know how to repair a leaky faucet, which type paint to use, how to prepare your home for sale, or how to find the best housing deals. Drawing upon 4 decades of experience in buying, selling, building, and remodeling homes, The Housing Guru is available to answer your toughest questions.
Questions which may benefit others will be posted on the site. Have a question that relates to housing? Ask The Housing Guru.
The Housing Guru: The expert source for all your housing questions (0 comments)
The Negativity Associated with Housing Could Impact the Market for Years - 08/17/10 11:08 PM
The constant stream of news stories about foreclosures, increased housing inventory, and the virtual collapse of home builders’ confidence may foretell a disturbing trend; and the negativity associated with housing could impact the market for years. Once seen as a solid investment, residential real estate has lost its allure for those who saw it as an effortless means of enhancing retirement savings. However, with an economy still struggling to come out of the worst recession in three quarters of a century, many have changed their opinion.
Having lost much of its perceived investment potential, housing must now rely to its (10 comments)
Is There a Future for Fannie and Freddie? - 08/15/10 03:21 PM
As the housing market continues to struggle, with taxpayers carrying much of the burden for defaulting mortgages, many are asking: Is there a future for Fannie and Freddie? And eighteen months after their takeover by the government, Treasury has yet to propose an answer.
When the housing market crashed, it took down the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants that, at the time backed about a quarter of U.S. mortgages. Now, however, after less than five years, and because of the contraction of the private mortgage market, their portfolio has grown by almost 150 percent encompassing about (31 comments)
Should You Buy a Home if Prices are Likely to Decline? - 08/13/10 12:48 PM
Should you buy a home if prices are likely to decline? While it’s easy to provide a quick answer to that question, providing the best answer takes some consideration. Some who choose to purchase a home in today’s market will reap little more than disappointment, while others may reap huge rewards. There is no “one size fits all” answer. If you need shelter; if you like the advantages of home ownership; and if you’re willing to do your homework prior to purchasing, it could be a great time to buy. Part of that homework begins by considering the following: Read full (15 comments)
How Can Sellers Price Their Homes to Compete With foreclosures and Short-sales? - 08/13/10 12:14 PM
The effects of the recession and the dramatic declines in home values have caused lenders to price their REO inventory and short-sales at below market prices, so how can sellers price their homes to compete with foreclosures and short sales? Both homeowners and builders are facing stiff competition from lenders, and their options are few.
However, while sellers’ options are limited, they’re not nonexistent. Of course conditions vary around the country, but I’m addressing those areas where sales are sluggish and competition is fierce. There are three steps that I consider essential for those who must sell their home. (10 comments)
Tainted Drywall Settlement Offers $50 Gift Cards to Homeowners, Millions to Attorneys - 08/12/10 11:27 AM
Tainted drywall settlement offers $50 gift cards to homeowners, millions to attorneys. In one of the first cases to reach a settlement, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has agreed to offer customers who purchased defective drywall gift cards ranging from $50 to $2,500, depending upon the documentation presented. An article in ProPublica.org describes the Georgia based case now under review.
While most of the victims will receive Lowe’s gift cards, a few may also be eligible for an additional cash settlement of up to $2,500. However, the big winners in the case will be a group of attorneys who negotiated the settlement (51 comments)
Surprised That The Rental Market Is Improving? I’m Not. - 08/10/10 09:56 PM
An article on MarketWatch, "Apartment Market Shows Signs of Improvement," seems to indicate some confusion on the part of the writer who can’t seem to grasp the reasons behind the recent increase in the number of renters, ". . . with the job market still struggling, it isn't easy to explain the growing demand." And some apartment owners, following reports of a significant increase in demand over last year seem equally baffled. According to one, “it’s hard to fully explain where the demand is coming from.”
Some in the apartment industry seem to be "hypothesizing," inferring that the appearance (76 comments)
Customer Service is Insignificant - 08/09/10 07:53 AM
I recently commented on a post about the importance of providing “exceptional customer service.” As I composed my reply I recalled some of the discussions I led when I was in the corporate world of home building. During that time one of my chief responsibilities had been the training of new employees in the differences between customer service and customer satisfaction.
Businesses often stress the importance of having a great customer service team, of being committed to customer service, or how customer service is their number one priority. And while that may be a good point of beginning, many times (42 comments)
Residential Investment Still a Drag on GDP - 08/05/10 03:42 PM
An interesting look at the historic impact of residential investment on GDP has been posted on Calculated Risk Blog. The post includes this graph with comments on the analysis. What the graph shows is the disturbingly serious decline in total residential investment during the current recession. And if when one projects through the end of the current year and into the future, it seems obvious that housing will not be the engine that lifts us out of this recession.
Graph courtesy of Calculated Risk Blog.
The Housing Guru: The expert source for all your housing questions (8 comments)
Government Encouraging Fishermen to Give “Smell Test” to Gulf Seafood - 08/02/10 04:15 PM
While the “nose often knows” when it comes to detecting dangerous chemicals in the air, it may not be the best method of determining the safety of our food supply. But that’s exactly the method the government has recommended for determining the presence of the chemical dispersants used to break up the Gulf oil spill. And while the FDA has said it is working on a “tissue test,” they have yet to announce when such a test will be ready.
Skeptical consumers and fishermen are concerned that the dispersant chemicals as well as the millions of gallons of oil leaked (20 comments)
Residential Construction Spending Declines in June - 08/02/10 01:36 PM
Private residential spending declined in June according to the U.S. Census Bureau as reported on Calculated Risk Blog. The decline, though not dramatic, is probably the portent of an even greater decline in July due to the spring rush to beat the deadline for the Homebuyer Tax Credit.
Many homebuilders—those who remain in business—are either unable to get financing for new projects or are unwilling to add inventory to an already sluggish market. As reported in previous posts, builders were surprised by the extent of the drop in the market following the expiration of the Tax Credit; and many are (0 comments)
Bankers, a Builder’s Best Friend, or Worst Nightmare - 08/01/10 09:25 PM
As if home builders didn’t have enough problems, the continuing housing crisis has added a villainous competitor, their ex-best friend and banker. Not only are banks reluctant to lend, they are now competing with builders in the home selling marketplace. Weighing their options over increasing numbers of defaults and foreclosures, lenders now see the futility of waiting for the market to return; and more and more are dumping their REO inventories at prices well below the cost of construction.
Savvy purchasers, comparing product and prices, are often passing up the builder’s “specials” in favor of a bank’s “deal of the (7 comments)
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