Monday, April 27, 2009

Buying a House

By: Bovemsa Cheung

So you want to buy a house? There are many things to consider when making this decision because houses are one of the largest assets an individual will invest in. One of the most important things is location, location, location. Do not buy a house if you cannot stay at one place for at least a few years. If you are the type of person who likes to move around then owning a house may not be the right decision for you.

A great way to begin is to shore up your credit. Most people need a mortgage when purchasing a house and within this process one needs a good credit history record. The best way to go about doing this is, a few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report and check if everything is accurate and if not fix up all the problems.

Although there are very nice houses out there, one should buy a house that they can afford. Most people put a 20 percent down payment of the sale price however if you cannot afford this you can always try to apply for a loan. If you are purchasing a house for a family you also want to look into buying in a district with good schools. If you are having trouble finding a house or are clueless about the process you can always hire a professional.


Snag a great deal on a short sale

By: Bovemsa Cheung

(Money Magazine) -- When Brian Gavitt, a physician, and his wife Gayleen, a stay-at-home mom, started to eye homes in Sacramento last winter, they knew they were looking in the hardest-hit areas of the housing bust. So the couple, who were relocating from Lansing, figured they could land a fantastic bargain in no time at all.

The part about the bargain turned out to be true. The Gavitts bought a five-bedroom house in the upscale Natomas Park neighborhood ("Even now, you don't see FOR SALE signs up anywhere," says Gayleen.) And it was a steal at $300,000, a full $200,000 less than they would have paid just two years ago.

The amount of time it took to land the deal was another story. It was more than six months from when the Gavitts first saw their dream home to the moment they held the keys in their hands. The reason: The home they bought was a short sale.

Real Estate Industry trying to go to "Green" Homes

By: Brandon Zimerman

The two houses that sit off Illinois 19 in Wood River are a glimpse of the real estate industry's future.

The two homes will soon open to the public as models of upcoming development to be known as Rock Hill Trails. Trumpet Builders, of Festus, Mo., is building the 49-lot neighborhood with the environment and energy efficiency in mind.

Anthony Schroeder, president of the project's development company, Well Spring Development Co., said this approach is a holistic design for a sustainable community by building what it calls "high-performance homes."

click here to read more

Stabilizing The Housing Market

Posted by: Sarah Reilly

How To Save Your Home

By Rudy Armstrong

This video would not work on the blog, but is about the current real estate crisis and how this video can help you out with keeping your home. It was a very interesting video and gave great insight on what to do if you are about to loose your home. please feel free to click on the link here to see the homepage.

Click the "here" button to watch the video, the link would not work on

Real estate industry looks to 'green' homes

By Velida Alemic

The two houses that sit off Illinois 19 in Wood River are a glimpse of the real estate industry's future.

The two homes will soon open to the public as models of upcoming development to be known as Rock Hill Trails. Trumpet Builders, of Festus, Mo., is building the 49-lot neighborhood with the environment and energy efficiency in mind.

Anthony Schroeder, president of the project's development company, Well Spring Development Co., said this approach is a holistic design for a sustainable community by building what it calls "high-performance homes."

The land that has sat untouched and has been in Schroeder's family for 150 years. The homes to be built there are advertised as having less impact on the land than traditional houses. Air temperature, for instance, will be regulated by way of a geothermal system that captures the earth's natural core temperatures from a well 200 to 300 feet underground that pumps liquid beneath the ground and returns back to the surface. Builders also will use spray foam insulation that expands and helps seals spaces that traditional roll-out insulation cannot cover.

Click to read more.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Does "NIMBY" Mean?

By Michael Collins

The acronym “NIMBY” is used regularly in debates about land development to represent “Not In My Back Yard.” NIMBY development is something that, “though needed by the larger community, is considered unsightly, dangerous, or likely to lead to decreased property values.”1 Examples of this are prisons, airports, garbage dumps, and so on.

It is common for communities to come together to fight against the placement of a NIMBY facility in their neighborhood. While this is good for those residents, it can create a problem for the community. After all, garbage has to go somewhere. Unfortunately for citizens, if the NIMBY facility is not built somewhere in their vicinity, then they will lose access to important services. For example, cell phone towers are considered an eyesore, but without them, locals will lose their cell phone service. On the same note, there is great debate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the Cape Wind project, which if allowed, will result in the construction of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Although it will provide clean, cheap and renewable energy to the state, property owners simply don’t want to be forced to look at it and have their property values go down.

The popularity of the term NIMBY has spawned several other acronyms with similar meanings, including NIABY (Not In Anyone’s Back Yard), and NAMBI (Not Against My Business or Industry). While their meanings are similar to that of NIMBY, they serve niche purposes of their own.

When it comes to support for NIMBY facilities, politicians must be careful, as support for the wrong thing can be political suicide.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is HUD

Posted by: Sarah Reilly

HUD stands for Housing and Urban Development. It is a cabinet level government agency that was created in 1965 and is there to help American home owners. One of HUDs main functions is its role as a lending facilitator. It helps low and mid level income families acquire loans to buy homes. HUD offers counseling services, educational programs, grant help, and advice on foreclosures, defaults and renting. HUD also offers assistance in home ownership, home safety, repair and maintenance issues, insurance, and retirement housing. In many cases HUD can help first time homeowners who are low income and not fully capable financially or educational wise to purchase a home by themselves.

To purchase a HUD home the buyer must submit a bid to the department through an approved HUD real estate agent or broker. HUD homes are sold “as is” so the government will not pay to repair the property so it is up to the buyer to make sure that the home is properly inspected before they submit a bid to purchase the home. One benefit of a HUD home is that organization will pay most closing costs and broker commissions which in many cases can be a total in the thousands.


Tips for real estate

By: Bovemsa Cheung

NEW YORK (CNN) - This tax filing season you want to be sure to get all the breaks you can. Want to grab the biggest, most luscious tax credit you can?

"The most valuable credit this year will be the first-time homebuyer's credit, which is worth up to $8,000. So, if you're buying a house for the first time, you get a credit, plus you get the traditional deductions like your mortgage interest, your points, if you pay points, and your real estate taxes," said Bob Meighan, Vice President of TurboTax

But there are income limitations. This credit phases out for joint filers with income of more than $150,000 and single filers with income over $75,000.

How To Become a Real Estate Agent

By Velida Alemic

Real estate agents help people to buy, sell or lease their homes, buildings or land. There are two different types of agents: residential and commercial. Residential real estate agents concentrate in working with homeowners while commercial real estate agents deal with office space and buildings. The primary duty of a real estate agent is to provide their customer with all of the knowledge they need to set prices, make offers and negotiate deals. Real estate agents have to have a flexible schedule, they have to be able to meet with their clients when the clients need them. Some days real estate agents don’t have any appointments while other days they are swamped with them. Real estate agents are paid on commission. They get a percentage of the sale price for every home, property, land they sell. So the more they sell, the more they get paid! This means that there no set salary you will be getting. If you have a good year, you make a lot of money but the negative side is if you don’t make sales, you are not getting paid. In order to be a real estate agent, you have to be passionate about selling, that is the only way to be good at it and make money. The qualifications required to become a real estate agent are simple, have to be a high school graduate, 18 years or older, and pass a written test. Usually real estate agents get 60 to 90 hours of formal training before taking the test. Each state requires a real estate to be licensed. So if you are a great sales person, think about a career in real estate when opportunities are endless.


Foreclosure on The Rise

By Rudy Armstrong

Foreclosures reached their highest levels on record for the first quarter of 2009. Increased by 24%, an estimated 803,489 total foreclosure were filed by March of this year. This proves extremely problematic in an already trouble real estate market, where the plummeting prices of houses has placed many homeowners in dire straights. Coupled with mass lay-offs and pay cuts, unemployment leads to missed mortgage payments which only places people in danger of foreclosure.

Five states in particular were hit the hardest by the increase in foreclosure filing, with California, Florida, and Arizona leading the pack. California alone accounted for 29% of the total foreclosures, with 230,915 filed in the first quarter. With the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country, jobs are few and far between as the housing crisis continues to drag down the state’s economy.

Despite these setbacks, house repossession decreased in light of foreclosure increase. Falling 3% from February, banks tended not to repossess homes in financial danger. Similarly, with a positive look to the future, building is on the rise. With the housing market picking up, builder confidence made its most dramatic increase this April, the largest rise in the past seven years.


Foreclosures Hit "Sand State" Metros

By: Brandon Zimerman

The 26 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates during the first quarter were located in just four "sand states" -- California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona -- data aggregator RealtyTrac said today. Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate of 203 U.S. metro areas with populations of 200,000 or more, with one foreclosure-related filing for every 22 housing units. Following Las Vegas was Merced, California with one filing per 24 homes, and Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Florida with one filing per 26 homes.

The rest of the top 10 includes Stockton, California with one filing per 27 homes, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California with one filing per 28 homes, Modesto, California one filing per 29 homes, Bakersfield, California one filing in 37 homes, and Vallejo-Fairfield, California with one filing per 37 homes, Phoenix, Arizona one filing per 40 homes, and finally Port St. Lucie, Florida with one filing per 46 homes.

Thirteen of the top 26 metro foreclosure rates were in California, nine were in Florida, and two each in Nevada and Arizona, RealtyTrac said. RealtyTrac reported on April 16 that a record 803,489 U.S. homes were subjected to a foreclosure-related filing during the first quarter, up 9 percent from the previous quarter and 24 percent from a year ago. With real estate in these countries becoming less expensive, these numbers are expected to decrease over time.



Why REITs?

By: Tsu-Han (Ina) Chang

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a real estate company, private or public, that has a fixed number of shares which are traded in a secondary market. REIT mainly invests in real estate or real estate mortgages and its shareholders are paid in dividends. In the U.S. REIT are required to distribute approximate 90% of its taxable income in dividends to its shareholders every year.

There are two major categories of REIT; Equity REIT and Mortgage REIT:
Mortgage REIT, makes loans secured by real estate, but they do not actually own or operate the property, reducing risk and liability faced by the firm. However, Equity REIT is different from Mortgage REIT in that it takes ownership of the property, taking on the liabilities associated with the investment. However, it is important to remember that investors only hold shares of the firm, and not shares of the individual investments made by the firm.

What are some of the reasons for investors to think about investing in REITs?
1. Diversification: The properties associated with the REITs are tangible assets so it is considered to be more secure than other publically traded stocks. Therefore, REIT stock prices react differently to the entire stock market in that if the general market is doing poorly, REITs may actually be doing well. Therefore, including shares of REIT in an investment portfolio is a good way to minimize losses in the overall stock market.
2. Dividends: REITs must distribute approximately 90% of their taxable income which allows REITs to avoid corporate tax rates, as well as guarantee the investors or returns on their investments.
3. FFO: Is the measure used to evaluate the performance of REITs, because this measure is based on the operations of the firm, it is considered to be a more accurate measure of the performance of the company.


Freddie Mac's CFO Found Dead

Written By: Madeleine Brooks

Breaking news this morning, April 22, 2009, Freddie Mac's Chief Financial Officer, David Kellerman, was found dead in his home early this morning. Freddie Mac is a government sponsored enterprise that was created in 1970. Freddie Mac expanded the secondary mortgage market by buying mortgages on the secondary market and sells them as mortgage-backed securities for people who are in investing in the open market.

David Kellerman was Freddie Mac's CFO and was in charge of the company's financial controls. David was working at the company for 16 years as an auditor in 1992. Before becoming the chief financial officer, David Kellerman also had job positions such as Freddie Mac's controller and principal accounting officer. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have been investigating Freddie Mac's financial statements and seeing that there are possible accounting violations that were produced for the first quarter of this year.

Freddie Mac had disclosed in its recent SEC filing that the company received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office searching documents pertaining to accounting and the disclosure of corporate-government matters. The subpoena was later withdrawn and Freddie Mac disclosed that information and it got turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Virginia, where David Kellerman lives.

David Kellerman's wife reported to the local police that his death was a committed suicide. The police are doing a full investigation on the possible death of David Kellerman. David Kellerman is assumed to most likely have had a meltdown in regards to the $60 billion bailout and the accounting errors representing Freddie Mac.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Renting vs. Buying

Posted By: Madeleine Brooks

2nd Largest Mall Operator Files For Bankruptcy

Written by: By Michael J. de la Merced and Terry Pristin
Posted by: Connie Yee

Fifty-five years ago, Martin and Matthew Bucksbaum built one of the nation’s first shopping centers, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Soon they built another, and another, and another — transforming their family company, now known as General Growth Properties, into a colossus of the American mall.

General Growth Properties, which operates 200 malls, including the Westlake Center in Seattle, above, was unable to cope with debt as it grew into the second-largest mall operator.

But early Thursday morning, after months of increasingly dire warnings, this giant on the retail landscape toppled. General Growth, whose malls include Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Water Tower Place in Chicago and the Westlake Center in Seattle, filed for bankruptcy.

It was the biggest commercial real estate collapse in American history, and, analysts said, a harbinger of the troubles to come in that market as the recession drags on.

Click here to read more.

Unleash the Mortgage Police

Posted By:Sarah Reilly
Originally Posted By: Michael McAuliff

Chuck Schumer so likes the taste of one bit of federal pork he got, he wants the whole country to enjoy it.

The project in question is a $875,000 program he got funded for the Brooklyn DA to set up a unit of investigators to crack down on mortgage fraud by unscrupulous lenders.

At a time when millions of people across the country are desperate for mortgage help, they make easy prey for scammers, the senator reasons. So Schumer is proposing a bill to spend $100 million for prosecutors all over to hire investigators, forensic accountants, and attorneys dedicated to real estate con artists.

Click to read more

Las Vegas is at the top of Foreclosure & others

By Rudy Armstrong

As i looked apon under real estate I came across this article "Las Vegas tops foreclosure list," which is about how Las Vegas is now one of the highgest cities with foreclosure. Within the Nation there are 26 cities with the highest foreclosure rate and they are all located in four hard-hit states, with Las Vegas a the top of the list, according to a report released Wednesday. If you'd like to find out more and which states are highest in foreclosure. read this article. click here to read more

Opportunity Abounds in Real Estate Trust Market

By: Brandon Zimerman

When a seasoned real estate investor like Ross Meredith admits to being scared, you know it's time to do your homework before leaping back into a battered market.

Meredith, a 63-year-old retired bank examiner from Salt Lake City, has traded shares of real estate investment trusts for more than three decades. REITs are companies that own, and often operate, income-producing real estate. If you own REIT shares, you can buy into the commercial real estate market, without worrying about keeping tenants or wheeling and dealing in huge sums like Donald Trump.

Click here to read more

How Low Will Real Estate Go?

Posted By: Tsu-Han (Ina) Chang
Written By: Matt Woolsey

Two weeks ago, Joyti Goundar, an agent at Redfin, a residential real estate brokerage, entered a bid of $420,000 for a three-bedroom, 1,625-square-foot La Crescenta home outside of L.A., listed at $299,000. When she lost the bid, she wasn't surprised. In July of 2008, Goundar bid $559,000 for a two-bedroom Arcadia house, also outside L.A., listed by Wells Fargo for $459,900. That one received 105 bids, driving the price up to $628,000, according to Los Angeles County records.

"Sellers want to generate a bidding war, and it's working," she says.

So does this mean Southern California prices have reached bottom?

Not by a long shot. Even with the bidding wars, prices aren't nearly as high as they were at the peak of the real estate boom. Values plummeted 31% in the L.A. metro area in 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors.

And values still have a long way to go. Based on historical balances of employment, housing sales, income, lending availability, foreclosures and vacancy rates, all dating back to 1982, home prices in the Los Angeles metro area still have 29% further to fall, according to Moody's
The best real estate deals, it seems, are yet to come.

Crafting the Right Contract

Posted By Michael Collins

With the economy still shaky, many potential home buyers are sitting on the fence, especially when it comes to so-called "common-interest" communities like master-planned communities, condominiums and mixed-use developments. Would-be buyers are worried that they won't be able to cancel a contract if prices of similar unsold units fall, or that they'll buy a home in a failing development.

We talked to Roger Winston, a real estate attorney at Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll who specializes in common-interest law, at his office in Bethesda, Md. Here are excerpts from the conversation:

The Wall Street Journal: Many people are walking away from deposits that they've made on new condos or homes, because prices fell while their place was being built. How much of that are you seeing?

Mr. Winston: I have been seeing a lot of contract defaults. People who put down $50,000 on a $750,000 unit see that they could buy the same place now for $600,000. The money that they could lose by going through with the deal is greater than the deposit, so they walk away. Morally, they shouldn't, but from an economic standpoint, they may be better off.

Click to Read More