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Rain Rain . . . Hey, It's Sunny!

by Buddy Frey

I thought it was April showers bring May flowers...not this year!  What a month.  So far here in the Charlotte area, Mother Nature has sent us 6.8 inches of rain.  A normal May month for us here in the Queen City is 3.3 inches.

May has been crazy wet.  Events like Quail Hollow, Coca-Cola 500, my Golf Game and others have been delayed, postponed and cancelled due to the over abundance of rain.  This month the precipitation has come in what I call the soothing mist form, the all day drizzle and like last night, the monsoon down pour...you know, the kind of storm when you're driving and can't see 50 yards in front of you!

Year to date, we are actually 1 inch above our 18.19 average yearly precip.  Most lakes around the here are getting close to "Full Pool".  And the air quality...Good to Excellent with little to no readings on the allergy index. 

All this rain has but ended last year's drought conditions and water restrictions.  My lawn has made an almost full recovery from last season...(thank goodness for all this rain 'cause I'm not the best lawn farmer in the world).  And across the Piedmont Region...green, green, green.  I can't remember when I've seen it so lush around here. 

So I say enjoy, enjoy all this rain!  Get out there and get wet and muddy.  Hey you know "Singing in the Rain" and "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head" (anyone else have others?) just enjoy.  A few sunny days though would be nice too  :-)

Buddy

 

 

MJ

by Buddy Frey

Home Prices Inch Up A Bit In March

by Buddy Frey

Considering our unemployment situation here in the Charlotte Region, it is surprising...pleasantly surprising, to see a modest gain in housing prices. 

Of late, the area's deep housing decline has shown signs of slowing.  And while overall sale's volume is still way off, we are actually seeing signs of the decrease slowing.  March's little price hike of 0.3% marks the first housing improvement in a while. 

Nationally though, prices are still down significantly compared to 2008.  "The S&P/Chase Shiller Home Price Index (Top 20 Markets) shows Charlotte remained in 5th place in March, one of a handful of urban areas with losses less than 10% (-9.3%)."  Denver was the best of the bunch at -5.5% from March of 2008 and Phoenix ranked last at -36.0%

Persaonally, I am very optimistic as I feel at least the pulse is back.  Most of Realtors I speak to echo the same thing that the phones are beginning to ring again and sales are picking up...big improvement over even 45 days ago.  Stay cautious though and price your home competitively...we're not out of the woods yet.

If you would like a comple list of the YTY top 20 markets, please shoot me an email and I will be happy to forward!

Buddy

My Refi - What a Nightmare

by Buddy Frey

So back in January of this year my wife and I decided to try and refinance.  I had 2 MTG brokers watching rates and I was waiting for a 30 year, with zero points at 4.5%...mid month on a Friday morning I got a call from BB & T that the rate was there and did I want to lock.  Of course I said, LOCK IT...we were very excited!

Application made and fully documented, I checked in mid February to see how the loan was moving along.  I was told slowly but not to worry, they will get to it as soon as humanly possible and that they were just swamped and under manned.  OK

Now comes early March nearly 2 months later...I called to get an update.  I was told that the appraisal was finally ordered and that I would be contacted when that got back.  Appraisal comes back fine (better than expected) but now they tell me the guidelines have changed because I have a job related to the housing industry and they may not make the loan after all.  Loan officer tells me they want to see 2008 tax returns.  Not great since very few people I know in this industry actually made more in '08 than '07 

Scramble to get tax returns done and send those in.  Mid May now and I finally get an approval but now they won't allow an equity line behind it.  WOW...here's the dilemma:  do I do the refi and basically lose the equity line or do I sit tight with the mortgage that I have and keep the equity line in tact (prime -1/2).  Really don't use it but these days who knows?  May come in handy...

It's been a long frustrating road for us.  I feel like been dragged through the mud and the muck.  It's clear for sure that BB & T was at fault for this whole mess.  In the end though, we went through with the refi because the smart move was obtain the lower mortgage rate and increase our payment contribution towards principle.

I write about this only because many of the stories you hear out there are real (and I could go on about my ordeal in more detail) but the point is, banks just are not lending like they used to.  New and mostly stricter guidelines is making it tough if not impossible for a lot of people.  I just hope things loosen up soon for every one's sake.

Buddy 

 

Housing: Most Affordable In Decades!

by Buddy Frey

U.S. home prices are their most affordable in at least 18 years, according to a report released Monday.

Nearly 73% of all homes sold in the United States during the first three months of 2009 were considered affordable. That was the highest percentage ever reported by the 18-year-old Housing Opportunity Index, an analysis of markets compiled quarterly by the National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo Bank.

To be deemed affordable, a family making the median national income of $64,000 must be able to buy the property and devote no more than 28% of their income toward housing costs.

Plummeting home prices were primarily responsible for sending affordability soaring from just over 60% in last three months of 2008 to 72.5% in the first quarter of 2009. Sinking interest rates also contributed to affordability. A 30-year fixed mortgage averaged less than 5% during much of the quarter, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

"Underlying the increase in affordability are lower home prices and record low interest rates," NAHB Chairman Joe Robson said in a prepared statement. "Combined with the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, consumers are beginning to return to the marketplace."

Most affordable city

For the 15th consecutive quarter, Indianapolis led the nation's large cities (population 500,000 and up) in home affordability. The Indiana capital tops the list due to very reasonable home prices and relatively high median income: Nearly 95% of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the metro area's median income of $68,100.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 21% of the homes sold in the New York/White Plains metro area were affordable to those earning the median income of $64,800. Even there, affordability jumped seven percentage points compared with the last three months of 2008.

Rust-belt cities dominated the most affordable list, with Youngstown Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Syracuse, N.Y., all near the top. Joining New York at the bottom were: San Francisco; Los Angeles; Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.; and Honolulu.

Several smaller cities were even more affordable than Indianapolis. In Sandusky, Ohio, about 98% of homes sold were affordable to those earning the local median income. Monroe, Mich., and the Ohio towns of Mansfield, Springfield and Canton all exceeded 95% affordability.

Less affordable small markets were led by Ocean City, N.J.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Hanford, Calif.

Markets still slow

Despite the record affordability, both existing and new home sales are still slow. New homes have been selling at an annualized rate of 350,000 for the past few months. Existing sales have been consistently running at an annualized pace of less than 5 million units - about two/thirds the boom-years rate.

And increased affordability is not enough to drive sales quickly upward, according to Ken Goldstein, an economist and real estate analyst for the Conference Board.

"What really hurts is that people are losing their jobs now," he said. "The unemployment rate is at 9% going to 10%. That means that 90% of people still have their jobs but everyone is looking over their shoulders wondering if they're next."

As a result, there's still a double-digit inventory of homes on the market. Plus, a large proportion of recent sales have been foreclosures, homes repossessed from defaulting borrowers and put back on the market, often at fire sale prices.

Still, homebuilders are taking some heart in the improved affordability stats and other data indicating that perhaps the worst is over. Pending home sales were up slightly last month, and new home sales have risen off their bottoms.

Those trends have buoyed industry confidence slightly. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, an indicator of builder sentiment that was also released Monday, inched up two points in May to 16 after jumping five points in April.  To top of page

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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