Seriously!

3 years ago it was nearly impossible to find a property under $200,000 in Southeastern Connecticut–today the story is a little different:

Per local towns, priced $100,000 to 200,000 active listings:  (this does not include condominiums)

Norwich, 93; Lisbon, 5; Canterbury, 5; Voluntown, 7; Griswold, 24; Ledyard, 27; Montville, 22

It is not, however, a lack of opportunity that is stalling the first time buyers.  I would argue it has more to do with the economic news which I think we can all agree has been at best, bleak.  Consumer confidence is incredibly lacking.  But, for the first time buyer, I simply can not recall a time when the incentives and opportunities have ever been better, allow me to count the ways:

1.  Tax incentive up to $7500.00!  Yep, there are nuances to this but really it does have a very broad reach.

2.  The fixed rate is currently in the low 6 range (there are many who are arguing that it is time to raise the rates to fight ensuing inflation–but I suspect they are keeping them low to try and entice you into the market)

3.  Downpayments are still doable…CHFA 3%; FHA 5%, VA 0%  (yes, 100% financing is incredibly rare right now, but there are still reasonable options)

4.  Mortgage money is indeed still being lent!  In fact, lenders have never been more diligent about securing business and offering tenacious service.

5.  Sellers, REALTORS, lenders, the economy are all vying for the first time buyers business!  This is an envious position to be in…just ask the sellers of a few years back.  Sure, it is about making money but the bigger picture is for the economy to start to improve the buyers need to take advantage of this market just for them.

So, still sitting on the fence thinking prices will go even lower?  Excellent point and one it becomes harder and harder to debate.  How much lower do you think it will go?  5%, 10%, 15%?  In a buyers market, you are indeed free to make that offer now!

The economy needs you, please come out to play..

That would be me..you are very smart! 

I read the economy news, especially housing stuff (been watching Freddie and Fannie pretty closely), and I find myself wondering, if any of it makes sense to most folks?  So I shall attempt to (over) simplify:

NAR says it is a 11.1 month market and the Northeast has seen a 12.6 drop in activity year over year.  You can read all about it www.realtor.org , research department.  (just so you know I do not make this stuff up..)

What does that mean?  We have a lot of inventory because people are not buying.

Why are foreclosures bad?  While aside from the lose of someone’s home, they affect market value for mortgage paying citizens.  Uninhabited properties held in bank inventory must sell, usually at more modest prices.  Foreclosures cost everyone!

What is SubPrime lending and why did it melt down?  Loosy goosy lending parameters that let folks buy property they really could not afford, at higher rates, which made it that much harder to afford.  It melted down because the risk was passed down on investors then these mortgages stopped being paid, investors were losing money and locked up the breaks for obvious reasons.  No more loosy goosy lending.

What needs to happen for the market to improve?  I say consumer confidence needs to improve.  Yeah, I know it is all blamed on housing, subprime markets and rising interest rates…but I contend that steadily rising fuel costs were the starting point for our deflated perspective on our economy.  When gas went over 3 bucks per gallon, is when the wind went out of the sails.   The survey says that a new president will improve consumer confidence (as reported in Realtor Magazine).

And the good news is…we are a short 6 weeks from that!  Now, if only Wall Street could calm down..invest in real estate, it is a safer long term bet.

Ugh, I have written this post now 5 times, I am deeply disappointed in my own town.  Why?  The town of Lisbon, my town, is gearing up for its 4th referendum vote on an education budget.  After twice sending the same non-sensical budget to voters, it now has been slashed in a mean spirited fashion–the “we’ll show you” cuts have been made. 

It is likely that many probably have extended stays planned in town, but there are those who do not, some 34 properties are currently on the market..and our town’s public perception is in a free fall.  I could go on a tangent about my views on this issue (I did in the 4 previous writings…I have many and would love to talk personally with anyone who would like to hear), however the truth is businesses are suffering, property values are depreciating, we have a national election where the real estate industry is at the forefront of concern.  In a downsizing economy, where folks are taking pay cuts to keep their jobs and not even receiving the typical cost of living increases, asking your citizens to add another 8% to the budget may have been ill conceived.

My town should take responsible and considerate steps to ensure that what makes us grand is not further devalued…when you mess with schools and taxes…it is no wonder a town sits on the edge of its seat, feeling very feisty.

It is not about young versus old–please do not be sold that old bag of tricks.  We all pay, we all want a good reputation and accountability.  Our property values depend on it.

It is simply this, the people who run our boards work for the citizens of the town and no-one else.  Their focus should be legitimately on the good of the children and wallets of their tax paying citizens, nothing else.  Our money runs Lisbon, they serve at our request.  Why do they not mind the voters?

So, until a budget is produced that is citizen-centric…I vote NO, and No means NO!

September 23 is the next vote.

So it seems, I am alone amongst my peers on this issue…I worry about the 200 billion price tag..

On a Sunday the federal government decided it was time to step in and shore up these lending giants.  For the short term, most everyone agrees this is a needed and smart move.  Only time will tell if it is truly wise or a bandaid fix.

Who will benefit?

It is reported that consumers will benefit with a lower interest rate and more available cash for lending.  More liberal lending than the current credit crisis is allowing.  Hmm, isn’t that kind of thinking sort of what got us in this boat in the first place?

Who will lose?

Taxpayers!  Someone has to foot the bill, and the estimated number I saw is huge.  Small and community banks are also at risk…too much capital invested in Freddie and Fannie, with dividends no longer being paid.

Theory

To right the economy, the housing market must be stabilized.  The 9 % NATIONAL (not Connecticut) foreclosure rate is stalling the economy.  The home value free fall is impacting the homeowners net worth, the credit crisis is causing consumers not to spend and further eroding consumer confidence.

Opinion

Yes, foreclosures in vast numbers, in your neighborhood are bad for everyone.  Yet, I wonder are we fixing anything or simply trying to lessen the impact of a tough economy and trying to ease this recession (yeah, I said it!).  Now or later, someone is going to pay and my fellow citizens I guarantee it will be you and I!

So, I hope we all get a better rate now…I recommend you get it fixed!

It was the week of the mom!  And as I am one, I dig those folks.

But this week I simply must acknowledge my favorite mom of the week and her name is Stacy.   She is my lovely client who just sold her old house and slipped into her new condo.  No more mowing the lawn or shovelling for Stacy.

Stacy and I have been together since the end of April, through many showings, open houses and finally an offer, sale and purchase…it was a bumpy ride but through it all my girl kept her head and perspective.  Her goal was an easier place to live for her and her daughter, she accomplished her goal. 

She did it on her own.  She achieved it with class and efficiency–which given some of circumstances was not an easy task (3 weeks of delay, juggling moving, work schedules and the demands of motherhood).  And, of course, the unexpected…things not what they should be.

From home inspection repairs to moving dilemmas, Stacy kept her eye on the prize….even when we got to closing and there was not a smidge of paper to be found…we sat it out and a closing did indeed happen (though I suspect she may never eat Taco Bell again :-)!  Stacy knew what she wanted and went for it, got it and stayed the course.

I admire this mom and not just because she was my client, it goes to what she does everyday, she is a hardworking lady!  And very, very smart because she invested in her future.

Hats off Stacy…hope you love your new place and your world can get back to “normal” chaos!

I have always viewed Labor Day as the end of a fashion season…Oprah says it is a major fashion don’t to wear white after Labor Day…so I had to google to find out the true point.

Low and behold, it is suppose to be a “day off for working citizens” apparently all that hard labor, pays off at least once a year.  So despite what Labor Day ends…summer; it also starts a few things:

The NFL season and college football (NCAA)

The school season..officially, I say (those 2.5 days are a bit silly prior to Labor Day)

And, the 2nd new year for real estate…there is a lot of kickin’ it into high gear prior to the holiday season slow down.

So, relax!  Pat yourself on the back for all that hard work! (maybe that is why you look so tan?)  Put away the white!  And lets sell some real estate in the next 2.5 months :-)!

Happy Labor Day!  Happy Football Season!

Back to school!  Sweatshirt weather!  Football Season!

The Fall real estate market…it is a second new year!

And I believe it shall be a great 4th quarter.   Why, you ask?  Taxes and first time buyer incentives, of course.  Taxes are always a powerful motivator and the new $7500.00 first time buyer tax incentive is nothing to sneeze at…it has a limited time frame, expiring in July of 2009.

I believe it is safe to assume that the expiration date was put in place to provide a little kick to the motivation.  You can check out all the pertinent facts about this “credit” at www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com .

The basics:

First time buyers only

Maximum credit is $7500

Homes purchased between 4/9/08 and 7/1/09

There are income limits (surprise!)

Credit actually works like an interest free loan over 15 years

Whatever the reason, now is by far one of the best times to buy I have ever seen…and that is not REALTOR speak; that is the theory of supply and demand.