Obama’s Plans for Housing & HUD Info to Prevent Foreclosures - Weekly Digest, 11/2/2008

Real Estate Agent with ChangHomes, in partnership with RE/MAX Select One

HUD Guide to Prevent Foreclosure - The guide provides consumers with information such as how to contact a housing counselor; when and how to talk to their lender, how to find foreclosure resources, tips on avoiding foreclosure and foreclosure scams, as well as information for consumers who cannot keep their home. The guide to preventing foreclosure can be accessed by visiting (CAR, 11/6)


In the continuing revamp of my blog sites, I will be adding more original articles and FAQ answers to my weekly digest. Next week I’ll spotlight “Hope For Homeowners” in detail, due to many questions I have received regarding people “wanting to refinance” their current property. Everything I know.


Obama Will Support Housing - President-elect Barack Obama is likely to make a housing market recovery a central part of his economic revival plan, says the National Association of REALTORS. Obama has long made housing a priority, said Illinois Association of REALTORS® CEO Gary Clayton, who knows the president-elect from his days as a state senator. Clayton said with a chuckle that he now regrets not joining Obama’s weekly poker game. In Illinois, Obama advocated tax credits for property owners and fought to end predatory lending, Clayton said. As a U.S. senator, he’s advocated for a stronger FHA and voted for the NAR-backed economic stimulus bill, which increased loan limits in high-cost areas.


Housing Moves Independently from the Economy - National Association of REALTORS Chief Economist Lawrence Yun releases an economic outlook in the same article. “We are in a recession,” Yun said. “In the next six months, we may lose up to 1 million jobs. But the good news is, historically housing moves independently from the economy. We are seeing a 20 percent improvement in home sales in states like California, Florida, and Virginia. The economy will not improve without a housing recovery.” See Last Week’s Blog regarding September home sales -


Finding an area with appreciation potential - Some real estate experts believe that home buyers who purchase a house during the current market will gain equity if they stay in the house for at least five years and purchase in a desirable neighborhood. (Chicago Tribune 10/31)

· Neighborhoods with strong employment bases, such as hospitals, universities, and government, tend to be recession-proof. People desire to live near their jobs, so housing that is in close proximity to these types of industries are generally in higher demand than those in other areas.

· High gas prices and roadway congestion have led many people to seek “walkable” communities - neighborhoods that offer both daily needs such as grocery stores and coffee shops to more specialty items like hair salons, all within walking distance. Walkable communities also provide public transportation, which is becoming more desirable to many home buyers and is increasing demand for housing in these areas. One Web site,, calculates the walkability of a community by locating stores, restaurants, schools, parks, and other attractions that are within walking distance. The scores are based on a 100-point scale with 100 points being a “walker’s paradise.”

· Home buyers who seek a new or nearly-new home should search in areas where the homebuilder is known for honoring warranties and building high-quality homes that are structurally sound. Homes in these areas are more likely to weather well and gain value in the future than homes in areas where the homebuilder is unknown.

· Homes in neighborhoods with sales momentum generally appreciate at a faster pace than areas where sales are flat. Some real estate industry consultants advise clients to pay close attention to the “list to sale” numbers, which reflect the difference between the asking price and the final closing price. Usually, if the gap in list-to-sale numbers is narrow, then the real estate market in that area is improving. (CAR, 11/6)


Meltdown 101: How we’ll know we’re in a recession - Recent economic reports and many news stories have led some Americans to believe the country is in a recession. Although unemployment is high and incomes have failed to keep pace with inflation, the country is not yet in a recession, which must be declared by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). (Washington Post, 10/31)

· The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the entity that officially declares the country is in a recession. Founded in 1920, NBER consists of more than 1,000 university professors and researchers who study the economy. The Business Cycle Dating Committee within NBER makes the call on recessions. Often times NBER doesn’t declare a recession until after it is over.

· Contrary to popular belief, a recession is not defined as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product growth. NBER defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months. This is usually based on reports such as the gross domestic product - a measure of the value of all goods and services produced within the United States; real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale and retail trade.

· A recession’s start and end dates are based on the high and low points within the nation’s “business cycle” - periods of economic growth and contraction. A recession begins when the economy peaks at the top of an expansion period. It continues as the economy contracts until it hits the “trough,” the lowest point in the downward cycle. After that, the economy begins to recover. The “peak” date is the beginning of a recession and the “trough” date is its end. The last official recession began in March 2001 and lasted eight months before ending in November 2001. (CAR, 11/6)


‘Green’ improvements can add to a home’s appeal - Many home buyers are seeking ‘green’ homes to offset their carbon footprints and pocketbooks. Although most green homes are new houses, owners of existing homes for sale can make “green” adjustments to be more competitive in the market. (Los Angeles Times, 11/2)

· C.A.R. recently launched a new Green Web site, “At home with green™,” which provides information to consumers and REALTORS® about how to find and sell green homes; how to make green home improvements; and other tactics for greening their homes, offices and lives. To visit “At home with green™,” please go to

· Consumers can work with their local utility company to conduct an energy audit to determine how green a home is and to get pointers on how to further green the home. Although the changes could be costly and the homeowner likely will not recoup all the money spent making the green upgrades, the home could sell faster with the improvements. Some home buyers may make an offer on the home as is, but might request a credit towards making the green improvements. Often times the credit will be nearly twice the amount that it would have cost had the homeowner made the improvements prior to listing the home.

· Homeowners can make green improvements in their homes by making simple changes, such as replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use only one-fifth the energy of regular bulbs and last almost 12 times longer, or more substantial improvements like replacing appliances with ENERGY STAR-rated ones, which can use as little as one-quarter the energy of older models. (CAR, 11/6)