Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS
 
Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS

Jeff's Blog

Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Continues to Improve

November 12, 2012 4:32 am

Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market for single-family homes showed significant improvement in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) latest 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI). The index more than tripled year over year from a level of 12 to 36, which is the highest third-quarter reading since the inception of the index in 2008.

“Many builders and developers in the 55+ housing segment are reporting an increase in demand from consumers,” said NAHB 50+ Housing Council Chairman W. Don Whyte. “We are seeing improvement in certain parts of the country where people are moving off the fence and either purchasing a home or renting an apartment that is designed to more specifically suit their lifestyle.”

There are separate 55+ HMIs for three segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes, multifamily condominiums and rental apartments. Each index measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number below 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as poor than good.

Although all components of the 55+ single-family HMI remain below 50, they at least doubled from a year ago: present sales climbed 25 points to 36, expected sales for the next six months increased 27 points to 42 and traffic of prospective buyers rose 20 points to 33.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI had a significant increase of 13 points to 23, which is the highest third-quarter reading since the inception of the index in 2008; however, condos remain the weakest segment of the 55+ housing market. All 55+ multifamily HMI components increased considerably compared to a year ago as present sales rose 13 points to 22, expected sales for the next six months jumped 19 points to 29 and traffic of prospective buyers climbed 11 points to 22.

Meanwhile, the 55+ multifamily rental indices, which already recovered substantially last year, showed continued but more modest increases in the third quarter: present production climbed six points to 31, expected future production increased nine points to 35 and current demand for existing units and expected future demand improved two points to 42 and 44, respectively.

“Like other segments of the housing industry, the market for 55+ housing is continuing on a steady upward path, driven by improving conditions in additional markets around some parts of the country,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “While we expect the upward trend to continue as the recovery broadens, the speed of the recovery is being constrained by factors as tight mortgage credit, making it difficult for potential 55+ customers to sell their current homes, and shortages of inputs to construction such as buildable lots that are beginning to emerge in some market areas.”

Source: National Association of Home Builders

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Mortgage Rates Settle in Near Record Lows

November 12, 2012 4:32 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates mixed following the monthly employment report but continuing to hover near their record lows over the past six weeks. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99 percent, dropping below 4.00 percent for the first time since Freddie Mac started reporting its weekly mortgage rates survey in 1971.

News Facts
• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.40 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending November 8, 2012, up from last week when it averaged 3.39 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent.
• 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.69 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.70 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.30 percent.
• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.73 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.74 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.98 percent.
• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.59 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.58 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.95 percent.
• Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

"Mortgage rates remained near record lows following the employment report for October. The economy added 171,000 jobs, above the market consensus forecast, and the two prior months were revised up a combined 84,000. The Labor Department also reported that the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent and that average hourly wages were unchanged," says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac.

Source: Freddie Mac

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More Cash Sales, Shrinking Time-on-Market Show Changing Buyer Dynamics

November 12, 2012 4:32 am

All-cash buyers have surged since the housing downturn while the typical amount of time it takes to sell a home is shrinking, revealing the changing dynamics of today's homebuyers and sellers.

Academic experts took a closer look at cash buyers and how time-on-market impacts home sales during the "Changing Dynamics of Recent Home Buyers and Sellers" session at the 2012 REALTORSs® Conference and Expo. Funding for the research was provided by the REALTOR® University Center for Real Estate Studies.

"We've seen a tremendous increase in cash buyers since the housing downturn that we haven't seen before in history," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®. Yun said a decade ago all-cash home purchases were less than 10 percent of the market but have increased steadily since 2008, to as much as 30 percent of sales.

Yun said the increase in more buyers paying cash for real estate reflected tight lending conditions and an increase in investor sales, which account for the bulk of cash sales. Increases in the number of international buyers, who often have financing difficulties when purchasing a home in the U.S., are also adding to the rise in cash sales. NAR research shows that 62 percent of international purchases were all cash; the percentage has continually increased since 2007.

Recent NAR research on down payment sources may offer insights into how cash buyers are receiving funds for home purchases. According to the 2012 NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 40 percent of repeat buyers use the proceeds from the sale of their primary residence as a source of down payment, but downsizing boomers may have enough equity left from their home sale to pay all cash for their next purchase. Yun also noted that one in 10 buyers rely on proceeds from the sale of stocks or 401k disbursements for down payments; those with stable jobs and who saw investment gains in recent years may be using those cash funds to buy a home outright rather than financing the purchase.

Dr. Grant Ian Thrall, president of the American Real Estate Society, agreed that cash sales have increased dramatically in recent years. Thrall spoke at the session and conducted an in-depth market analysis to gain greater insights into cash buyers.

"Research shows a bias toward cash sales for newer and lower priced homes," Thrall said. "Many of those sales are occurring within the first 60 days that the home is on the market, and more than half sold within the first 120 days."

Thomas Springer, professor of Finance and Real Estate at Clemson University, discussed how time-on-market responds to employment changes and varies with shifting market and economic conditions. Springer analyzed market data from more than two dozen metro areas. His findings indicate that, at the property level, time-on-market is a function of property characteristics, price and market factors; however, at market level, time-on-market is a function of local, national and global economic and market factors.

Springer determined that time-on-market is a possible indicator of market conditions or risk and that in a vibrant market, time-on-market is shorter, whereas distressed markets often have a longer average time-on-market.
Yun said that tightened inventory conditions are also impacting time-on-market, which has steadily decreased nationally since the start of the year, as are homebuyers' search processes.

"Tightened inventories in some places mean homes are selling more quickly and reducing time-on-market," Yun said. "Our research shows that last year, homebuyers saw 10 homes before buying, down from 12 the year before, and more than half of buyers reported that finding the right home was the hardest part of the home search process."

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Foreclosure Data - September 2012

November 2, 2012 4:22 am

CoreLogic® has released its National Foreclosure Report for September that provides monthly data on completed U.S. foreclosures and the overall foreclosure inventory. According to the report, there were 57,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in September 2012, down from 83,000 in September 2011 and 59,000 in August 2012. Prior to the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month between 2000 and 2006. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 3.9 million completed foreclosures across the country.

Approximately 1.4 million homes, or 3.3 percent of all homes with a mortgage, were in the national foreclosure inventory as of September 2012 compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, in September 2011. Month-over-month, the national foreclosure inventory was down 1.1 percent from August 2012 to September 2012. The foreclosure inventory is the share of all mortgaged homes in any stage of the foreclosure process.

"The continuing downward trend in foreclosures along with a gradual clearing of the shadow inventory are signs of stabilization and improvement in the housing market," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Increasingly improving market conditions and industry and government policy are allowing distressed homeowners to pursue refinancing, loan modifications or short sales rather than foreclosures."

Homes lost to foreclosure in September 2012 are down 50 percent since the peak month in September 2010 and 22 percent less than the beginning of the year. While there is significant progress to be made before returning to pre-crisis levels, the trend is in the right direction as short sales, up 27 percent year over year in August, continue to gain popularity.

Highlights as of September 2012:

• The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in September 2012 were: California (108,000), Florida (92,000), Texas (59,000), Georgia (55,000) and Michigan (51,000). These five states account for 47.7 percent of all completed foreclosures nationally.
• The five states with the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in September 2012 were: South Dakota (20), District of Columbia (58), Hawaii (436), North Dakota (583) and Maine (625).
• The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Florida (11.5 percent), New Jersey (7.3 percent), New York (5.3 percent), Illinois (5.2 percent) and Nevada (4.9 percent).
• The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Wyoming (0.5 percent), Alaska (0.7 percent), North Dakota (0.7 percent), Nebraska (0.9 percent) and South Dakota (1.1 percent).

Source: CoreLogic

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Top 5 Fall Rodent-Proofing Tips

November 2, 2012 4:22 am

Some parts of the Northwest have already seen snow, and as the cool temperatures start to settle in for the next few months, homeowners are advised to pest-proof their homes now, because fall is when most insect and rodent pests seek shelter for the winter months.

As the weather starts to cool, rodents and other pests move inside to overwinter and breed. A pregnant female mouse can produce an average of eight pups in a litter, and a rat, seven pups on average, and there are typically four to five litters per year. Their gestation period is about a month, so before you know it, one mouse can turn into a major problem for homeowners.

Mice can fit through an opening the size of a dime, so it is important to fix any cracks in and under siding, doors and windows. In addition to warmth, rodents enter homes looking for food and water. They prefer cereals and grains, but will eat just about anything.

As you prepare your home for winter, here are five recommended tips:

• Make sure all holes, gaps and cracks larger than a quarter of an inch are sealed.
• Replace door sweeps and make sure doors and windows close tightly.
• Clean out gutters and install gutter guards to prevent leaves and debris from accumulating.
• Store firewood as far from the home as possible.
• Trim branches, plants and bushes that hang over the home.

With the recent increase in the number of vector borne diseases caused by Hantavirus and Bubonic plague, it is extremely important to be proactive in protecting your home this winter against mice and rats. Both diseases tend to occur more frequently in rural parts of western states, which are where rodent activity is higher this year.

Source: Orkin

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New Home Sales Hit Two-Year High

November 2, 2012 4:22 am

If you think housing news is full of nothing but doom and gloom these days, think again. There's actually a lot of great news on the housing front – new home sales hit a two-year high in September!

And, don't worry, this isn't one of those fraction-of-a-percent increases that doesn't seem like a whole lot to get excited about. Instead, the number of brand new homes sold around the country went up 5.7 percent when compared to August. Even better, they went up a whopping 27 percent since September 2011.

Want some more good news? The median price of those homes went up, too – all the way to $242,400. That's almost 12 percent higher than it was this time last year. In fact, the sales numbers are the highest they have been since April 2010. And back then, sales were up because people were taking advantage of the homebuyer tax credits that were about to expire.

This time around, though, there's no tax break to spring people into action. So, what's behind the increase?

Low interest rates

This reason shouldn't come as much of a surprise though, as mortgage rates have been hovering at or right above record lows all year long. As was expected, mortgage rates continued to drop in September. In fact, before the end of the month, the average rate on a fixed 30-year mortgage was 3.49 percent (a record low), and the average rate on a fixed 15-year mortgage was all the way down to 2.77 percent (another record low). When you combine that with the appeal of a shiny, brand new house, it was simply too much for some buyers to turn down.

Fewer foreclosures
In the months leading up to September's better numbers, a majority of the country saw fewer foreclosures. Specifically, during the third quarter (which runs from July 1st to September 30th), foreclosure activity was down in 62 percent of U.S. cities. In fact, in some of America's biggest cities – including Los Angeles, Detroit, San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Diego – foreclosures have dropped more than 25 percent over the past year. With fewer bargain-basement foreclosure homes to choose from, buyers had to look at more traditional options. In the end, they wound up buying new homes.

Source: RealtyPin

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Natural Food Brands on the Rise

November 1, 2012 4:22 am

Natural raw organic foods are on the rise in the U.S. According to Super Market News, recent information released at the Canaccord Genuity Global Growth Conference indicates a growing and prosperous healthy food industry in the United States. Whole Foods Market, which recently announced plans to triple its number of natural food store locations, boasted a 36 percent gross margin over the last two quarters. General Mills announced that 68 percent of its retail products have been made healthier this year, touting reduced sodium and more whole grains, and Annie’s, an organic snack food line, released plans for two new products set to launch in early 2013. Natural food producer Wholesome Goodness also recently announced plans to sell products in Rite Aid stores nationwide.

While recent business performance seems to indicate a positive outlook for the healthy food industry, here are the top 10 superfoods recommended for those interested in natural, health or raw food options:

1. Walnuts
2. Blueberries
3. Avocados
4. Broccoli
5. Spinach
6. Whole grains
7. Yogurt
8. Salmon
9. Dark chocolate
10. Flaxseed

Source: MassageSchoolSanDiego.com

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10 Trends for Baby's Room

November 1, 2012 4:22 am

If your spare room or study is destined to become baby’s room soon, you may want to consider some of the latest trends in nursery design, where fashions change as frequently as in any other room of the house.  From major baby furniture and design professionals, here are the top ten new trends: 

The old and the new – Some designers are mixing it up by setting a sleek, modern crib between two ornate period chairs spray–painted to match – or making an antique cradle the centerpiece in an ultra-contemporary setting. 

Ditch the area rugs – Consider soft, vibrantly colored peel-and-stick floor tiles, which may be cleaned with a damp sponge and/or replaced as needed. Choose a single color or do something fun with alternating squares or patterns. 

Try faux leather – One designer recommends gluing faux leather, available in many colors and patterns, on the sides of old baby furniture or even on the walls for a washable, practical designer look. 

A second place to sleep – Practical designers are putting a crib and a bed in baby’s room. The bed is great for a visiting Grandma or a Mom who needs to crash in baby’s room once in a while. Later, simply remove the crib and your toddler is good to go. 

Scrap the pastels – For a sleek look, use a dark wood crib with crisp white linens and matching dark wood furniture, some of which may be converted for later use. 

Think orange – At least one designer has ditched pale pink or blue walls in favor of citrus-y, gender-neutral orange – with accents and furniture in white, grey, or aqua for a sweet, sophisticated look. 

Comfy armchairs – Many Moms are ditching the rocker or glider for a plush, comfy armchair that will “grow” with the child – and be a favorite spot for story-reading. 

Use real art – Hip designers are choosing real artwork – selected serigraphs, watercolors, even inexpensive originals instead of traditional A-B-C or baby animal wall décor. Or use kid-friendly maps and charts. 

Bold light fixtures – Mobiles should not be the only thing baby can stare at. Choose bold, colorful or shiny Lucite light fixtures to add accent and interest. 

Garden shop – Earthy designers are choosing white walls and furniture accented with bright garden colors and patterns – like blooming plants painted on the walls and flowery designs in pillows, curtains, and rugs.

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Tips on How to Avoid Common Locksmith Scams

November 1, 2012 4:22 am

There are several things that homeowners and drivers can do to ensure the locksmith they employ is legitimate so that they don’t fall prey to a scammer.

When a consumer calls a locksmith, the first thing to notice is how the call is answered. If the person answering the phone says something general such as "locksmith services," hang up. A legitimate locksmith will identify the name of their company. The reputable locksmith will discuss the services needed, provide a quote over the phone and will stand by the quote once the work is completed with a receipt showing all charges. Beware of the "too good to be true" lowprice scammers will offer - it usually is.

Also, check the yellow pages of the phone book. Local locksmiths will usually have an ad that contains information about services they offer, a local phone number/address, and professional organizations they belong to such as the Better Business Bureau or Associated Locksmiths of America. If there’s no ad, check for a listing that has a local address.

While doing research online, go to sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and Service Magic. These sites offer real reviews by real people. Companies are not allowed to review themselves on these sites or buy advertising. Also, go to findalocksmith.com/search for listings in your area.

When ordering service from a locksmith, notice the vehicle they arrive in and how the locksmith is dressed. Scammers will arrive in unmarked vehicles and not in any kind of uniform. A reputable company will have clearly marked vehicles and uniforms with identification.

When it comes to finding a reputable locksmith, always remember these tips and trust your instincts.

Source: Pop-A-Lock

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5 Travel Tips for Family Vacation

October 31, 2012 4:20 am

While most people equate vacation with summer, many families are busy preparing for their winter holidays. Here are a few tips for making things go a little more smoothly.

Plan for down-time. Even though you may want to pack your itinerary to the brim with activities, be sure to allow for down-time daily, to avoid exhausted and cranky kids—and parents!

Be a good guest. Are you staying with friends or family? Then plan some activities where just you and your immediate family are together. This gives your hosts a breather, and allows your family more bonding opportunity. Also, consider exchanging some info with your hosts ahead of time, like the rules of their house, and your kids’ sleep habits, to make transitioning easier for everyone.

Include a date night! Quality time with the kids is awesome, but remember to get some one-on-one time with your honey, if you can manage.

Talk before you go. To anticipate future travel bumps, talk with your kids about what they can expect on the trip—good, and bad. Talk about the length of the flight, or lines at the amusement park, table manners at restaurants, etc.

Ease back into it. After you have returned from your trip, your kids are likely to be exhausted. Leave room for at least one day of adjustment before sending them back to school to avoid cranky behavior and frustration. Family trips are the stuff that memories are made of, and this list will help to make sure the memories are great. Bon Voyage!

Source: Swparents

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