Archive for April, 2012

Pending home sales up 4.1% in March to 23-mo. high (Marketwatch)


By Steve Goldstein

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — An index of pending home sales climbed 4.1% in March to reach the highest level since April 2010, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The index rose to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February, which represents a 12.8% gain from March 2011. February’s pending home sales index was initially reported to be 96.5. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing. Sales of existing homes during the first quarter were the strongest in five years, and the trade group said the pending home sales data suggests the second quarter will be equally good.

TMN Comments:  Interesting article.  We are actually seeing the same trends in the Vail Valley.  Our Under Contract properties for the 1st quarter are nearly 30% higher than the number of properties that went under contract in the 1st quarter, 2011.  I attribute this activity to 4 things:

1.  Pent up demand.  People are still getting married and having kids. 

2.  Record low interest rates.  You can get new financing (assuming you qualify) for about 4%.

3.  General perception that we have hit the bottom in the local real estate market.

4.  The large number of distressed properties hitting the market.

It is still a rough time for sellers and will continue to be difficult until we flush out the distressed properties. 

 

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

We Just Refinanced and are Saving Over $400/mo!


I was somewhat shocked when a few months ago Wells Fargo (they hold our 1st mortgage) called and asked if I wanted to refinance at a rate about 1% below where I was at.  They said the closing costs were minimal and an appraisal wasn’t needed.  I just needed to confirm that our employment situation hadn’t changed for Kim and I.  I asked what was the catch?  It seemed rather strange for a bank to call me and ask if I wanted to lower my interest rate on my mortgage so they would make less money.

I started thinking about it and realized they were concerned about losing my business.  I had been considering refinancing with another lender. It probably helped that we had high credit scores and no missed payments.

So we signed our name a few times and sat back while Wells Fargo did their thing.  After about 6 weeks, they said the docs were ready and we could close.

We went to the title company yesterday and lowered our monthly payments by over $400!  Yeeeee Hawwww!  Our closing costs were so low we can pay those off in about 4 months.

It is a strange world to say the least.  People wanting  new loans struggle to qualify in this lending environment but then lenders are turning around and giving away money at lower interest rates.  There is something seriously wrong with this picture.  I think I know the answer but I don’t want to get political, only celebrate that we were on the right side of this transaction.

, , , , , , ,

3 Comments

Housing Affordability Index Hits Record High (NAR)


Housing affordability conditions have reached the highest level since record keeping began in 1970, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

NAR’s Housing Affordability Index rose to a record high 206.1 in January, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate. The higher the index, the greater the household purchasing power.

An index of 100 is defined as the point where a median-income household has exactly enough income to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced existing single-family home, assuming a 20 percent downpayment and 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest payments. For first-time buyers making small downpayments, the affordability levels are relatively lower.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, said this latest data underscores buyer opportunities in today’s market. “This is the first time the housing affordability index has broken the two hundred mark, meaning the typical family has roughly double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home,” he said. “For buyers who can qualify for a mortgage, now is a very good time to become a homeowner.”

NAR projects the affordability index for all of 2012 will be at an annual high, with little movement in mortgage interest rates or home prices during the year. “Housing inventory levels have declined to a point where conditions are becoming much more balanced in much of the country,” Veissi said. “If access to credit improves, we could see a much more meaningful increase in home sales and broader stabilization in home prices with modest gains in areas with stronger job growth.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

 

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Sales of U.S. existing homes fall 2.6% in March (Marketwatch)


Best first quarter in five years; prices climb due to sales mix

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Sales of existing homes fell 2.6% in March, the second monthly drop, though the sales pace for the first quarter of 2012 was the best in five years, according to data released Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors said sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million, compared to 4.60 million in February. The NAR had previously estimated sales of 4.59 million in February.

Economists in a MarketWatch-compiled poll had expected a sales pace of 4.63 million for March.

On a year-over-year basis, sales were up 5.2%, the ninth straight month of year-on-year gains.

By region, March’s sales tumbled 7.4% in the West, fell 1.7% in the Northeast and slipped 1.1% in the South. Midwest sales came in flat.

The first-quarter average was 4.57 million — a figure that would mark a five-year high in activity if sustained. Last year, the sales rate slowed in the second and third quarter, according to NAR data.

Access to credit’s an issue … for builders

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the trade group, doesn’t expect that to occur this time around, citing buyer interest, better economic fundamentals, low interest rates and less expensive homes.

Yun also noted a shortage of inventories — particularly in places like Miami and Phoenix — which he said is holding back sales.

While major builders such as Toll Brothers Inc. TOL +1.72%   and Lennar Corp. LEN -0.14%   LEN.B -1.59%  have access to credit, smaller builders are having difficulty getting credit, Yun said. Publicly traded builders represent only about 20% of the overall market.

March’s inventories fell 1.3% to 2.37 million, or 6.3 months supply at current sales rate. Compared to a year ago, inventories are down 22%.

“Builders want to respond, but they cannot respond because they cannot get construction loans,” he said.

The median existing-home sales price was $163,800, an increase of 2.5% on a year-on-year basis. Price gains may due to the types of homes that were sold, Yun said.

He also said the upper-end market is beginning to move, while houses for under $100,000, a previous hot spot, aren’t being sold as often. Yun speculated that recent gains in the stock market are helping the upper end of the market.

Meanwhle, distressed sales accounted for 29% of all transactions, down from 34% in February and 40% a year earlier. Foreclosures typically sold for 19% below market price and short sales were discounted 16%, the NAR said.

All-cash transactions accounted for 32%, and first-time buyers represented 33% of all buyers. Investors accounted for 21% of all transactions.

Leave a comment

Beaver Creek confirmed as finish for Stage 4 of USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August


We are really excited about having the pro racers finish in our little Beaver Creek Village.  I’m not sure exactly where the finish line will be but I’ll be up here to watch the climax.

By RealVail
April 6, 2012

Contenders for a stage win during the fourth day of competition at the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will need to remember to keep some leg and lung power reserves in the tank as Beaver Creek Resort today identified the route for its Stage 4 mountaintop finish. The stage will take place on Thursday, Aug. 23, day four of the week-long 2012 edition.

The day’s stage, a 97.2 mile route to Beaver Creek from Aspen, includes 75 miles of climbing at altitudes of 9,000 feet and above, plus a sprint competition, all before landing at the base of Beaver Creek for the final climb to the mountaintop finish.

As the riders approach the finish, they will take a sharp left from Highway 6, dashing south through the Beaver Creek Welcome Gate on their 2.5 mile final climb that rises almost 1,000 feet to the finish line, which will be located just beyond the skier bridge at 8,100 feet in Beaver Creek Village.

“Beaver Creek’s mountain top finish promises to provide not only thrilling racing action,” offered Doug Lovell, chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort and president of the Beaver Creek Resort Company board, “but we also expect that this will be one of the largest crowds of the mountain stages, given our close proximity to the Front Range. With so many avid cycling fans in our community, we’re incredibly excited to host this stage, while also providing race fans with the resort’s signature hospitality and an enhanced Expo area that will contain events and activities leading up to and following the race. This is a day not to be missed in the Vail Valley.”

Beaver Creek Mountain will provide a stunning backdrop as riders climb past the Beaver Creek Golf Club and private homes, with cheering spectators lining every inch of the route. Shortly before the finish line, the route will narrow and riders will need to remain focused on the last 100 yards, crossing the uphill finish line near the Centennial Station skier drop-off point.

“Given the location of the final climb in the grand scheme of the day’s race,” explained Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, “it will provide not only exciting racing action, but it will also definitely have an impact on who emerges from the stage with the leader jersey.”

Complete details for where to watch Beaver Creek’s Stage 4 finish, events throughout the day and race-day logistics will be released in the weeks ahead. Stay up to date with local race news, including the local poster contest winner, @beavercreekmtn on Twitter or facebook.com/Beavercreek. For more information visit http://www.beavercreek.com/ and http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com/city/beaver-creek

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Housing Starts Slightly Down, Building Permits Up (Marketwatch)


U.S. housing starts fell 5.8% in March to an annual rate of 654,000 from a slightly revised 649,000 in February, the Commerce Department reports. Economists had forecast an increase to an annual rate of 703,000. However, building permits climb 4.5% to 747,000 from a revised 715,000 in February.

Leave a comment

Romney Talks of Ending Some Tax Deductions for Wealthy, NY Times


People continue to wonder how we will cut our deficit which is currently running over $1 trillion/year.  In the following article, Romney gives some clues as to what he is thinking regarding raising revenues and cutting expenses.  One idea in particular could harm our local economy.  Romney says he will consider eliminating tax deductions for wealthy second home owners.  He doesn’t give details of his idea but it probably includes not allowing folks to deduct interest payments on second homes.

Terry

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Mitt Romney inadvertently offered a public preview of some of his economic plans on Sunday, revealing to high-dollar donors at a private fund-raising event that he wants to eliminate tax deductions for wealthy people who own second homes.

Mr. Romney’s comments were overheard by reporters standing outside the event on a sidewalk and first reported by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News. During the event, Mr. Romney also told the donors that he might eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development and reduce the size of the Education Department.

Mr. Romney told the donors that the housing agency “might not be around later” and said the Education Department would be “a heck of a lot smaller” even if it wasn’t eliminated altogether, The Journal reported.

“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Mr. Romney said, according to NBC. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I’m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we’ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.”

The overheard comments offer a first glimpse of the kind of specific policies that Mr. Romney might pursue as president. Publicly, Mr. Romney has hinted that he would limit deductions for wealthy homeowners,  but has not said how he might do that. And in his remarks Sunday, he also hinted that he might curtail deductions for state and property taxes for the wealthy.

And Mr. Romney has resisted offering many details about the cuts to government spending that would allow him to achieve the kind of deficit reductions he has projected considering the cuts in taxes that he has talked about.

Officials with the Republican campaign said Mr. Romney was just tossing out ideas at the fund-raiser, not unveiling new policies. They accused Democrats of using the incident to try to distract attention from the economic situation under President Obama.

“While President Obama is interested only in offering excuses and blaming others for his failures, Governor Romney is discussing some of the ideas he has to tackle the big issues facing America,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney. “Governor Romney has also laid out a bold set of policy proposals that will grow our economy, cut spending and get our massive debt under control.”

At the fundraiser, Mr Romney and his wife, Ann, offered candid and casual observations that did not appear intended for wider public consumption. Mr. Romney, instance, remarked that Fox News was watched by “true believers,” and that the party needed to broaden its appeal to women and independents, according to the NBC account. And Mrs. Romney said she “loved” the fallout generated when a Democratic political operative say that Mrs. Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”

“It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment,” NBC quoted her as saying.

Mr. Obama’s campaign quickly pounced on the remarks, describing Mr. Romney as willing to reveal his intentions only to well-connected donors, not to the public.

“Apparently, Governor Romney believes only high-dollar donors have a right to know what programs he will cut,” wrote Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Mr. Obama’s campaign, in an e-mail to reporters. “Education. Housing. To pay for $5 trillion tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”

Democrats have already been trying to convince voters that Mr. Romney is hiding things from voters. They point to the fact that Mr. Romney has not identified his “bundlers,” the handful of donors who gather up contributions from their wealthy friends. And they have criticized Mr. Romney for releasing only two years of tax returns.

An e-mail Monday morning from Brad Woodhouse, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, was headlined: “In case you’re keeping count at home: Things Mitt Romney Hides.”

To that list, Mr. Woodhouse added, “Now we learn policies he’d pursue as president (unless you’re a high-dollar donor, of course).”

The Romney campaign quickly sought to play down the new proposals on Monday, suggesting that the candidate was simply bouncing around a few ideas with donors, not laying out new policy.

During a Romney campaign conference call focused on President Obama’s tax proposals, former Senator James M. Talent of Missouri said Mr. Romney “was discussing ideas that came up at the meeting, which happens a lot when you are on the stump or doing interviews with the press.”

When it became clear that questions from the news media about Mr. Romney’s remarks at the Florida fund-raiser would dominate the conference call, an aide to Mr. Romney ended the session after three questions.

, , , , , , ,

2 Comments