Promoting team building with our morning smoothies, great start to a day! Snap shot of our fruity goodness…Happy Friday!
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” — Joseph Campbell: Was an American Mythologist, writer and lecturer
NEWS & HEADLINES
U.S. Census Bureau reports that state government tax collections decreased about $14 billion to $705 billion in fiscal year 2010, following a drop of $66 billion in 2009. According to the survey, corporate net income tax revenue was $38 billion, down 6.6%, while tax revenue on individual income was $236 billion, down 4.4%. General sales tax revenue was $224 billion, down 1.8%. For more information about this survey Census.
Anyone needing presentation material on “the shadow inventory” may want to use NAR’s, which has a colorful state map:NARMap.
According to a story in the Financial Times, “The five biggest US mortgage servicers were told this week at a private meeting with regulators to consider paying delinquent borrowers up to $21,000 each as part of a broader settlement of the foreclosure crisis…The industry-wide “cash for keys” program would involve the biggest servicers paying borrowers as an incentive to leave their homes.” “Banks would pay borrowers who are more than 90 days behind on mortgage payments up to $1,000 to seek independent financial advice and up to $20,000 in cash as a “fresh start” payment towards living costs in a new home. They would have to vacate their properties quickly and leave them in good condition.” Sheila Bair, FDIC chairman, raised the idea but people involved said it was not an official government proposal and was rejected strongly by some of the banks.
Why is there so much press against the 30-yr mortgage? The 30-yr mortgage did not cause the credit crisis. This is yet another example of regulators not being able to find one single cause of the credit crisis, and swinging at different parts of our industry like they are some kind of piñata, and they have the blindfolds. If the banks want to better match their assets and liabilities by emphasizing ARM loans, that is fine, or if a borrower wants a loan to match their expected ownership period I understand, but saying that a 30 year term for a mortgage is bad is plain wrong.”
Yesterday MBS prices worse/down by about .250. Dick Lepre (LoanMine) writes, “Low Treasury yields are discouraging the addressing of the massive amount of public debt. Our nation is taking on debt at an unsustainable rate. The MegaMillions Jackpot last weekend was $201,000,000. Is that a lot of money? That is the amount of debt the Treasury Department will add every 70 minutes of every day this year. This week the House voted to cut spending $6 billion. That is 1.5 days’ worth of deficit…Congress recognizes that the country’s debt path is unsustainable. While the economics of the matter is straightforward – cut spending, raise taxes, or both – the politics is not. And if voters cannot insist, or are not going to insist, on fiscal sustainability, and if Congress is not going to control public finances on its own accord, then one must conclude that the fiscal process is lacking a necessary ingredient.
This morning’s 4th quarter GDP number was revised to +3.1% versus +2.8% previously reported. Later on we’ll receive a University of Michigan survey number, not exactly a market-moving volatile number especially given overseas events. But until then the 10-yr is sitting around 3.40% and MBS prices are not doing much.
DISTRESSED PROPERTIES: DISCOUNTS AND DIFFICULTIES
Most buyers want to make sure they get a “good deal” when they purchase something. Purchasers of real estate are no different. That is why many decide to buy a distressed property (a foreclosure or a short sale). The National Association of Realtors (NAR) last week reported foreclosures, on average, sell at a 22% discount and short sales at a 17% discount. It sounds like a pretty good decision to buy a property at those levels of discount.
However, the purchaser must realize that there are added obstacles in these type of transactions. Many foreclosures are left in less than pristine condition by the previous owner and some have title issues that must be corrected before they can change hands. Many short sales have multiple loans that must be negotiated before an offer is accepted by all parties to the transaction. This can take months in many cases. Purchasing a non-distressed property will probably have a lot fewer pitfalls.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t consider a distressed property? Not necessarily. Just understand that there is an additional cost to purchasing a foreclosure or a short sale: the cost of time. For some, the 17 or 22 percent discount is well worth the extra time they must spend on the transaction. We like to call that savings your “patience equity”. Patience equity will require you to be patient however. Realize going into the deal that there will be obstacles to overcome and make sure you give your real estate professional time to overcome these challenges. Again, patience equity will require your patience.
Buying a distressed property could make sense for you as long as you realize you will need to be VERY patient with your real estate agent throughout the process. If you are, you will own a home that has considerable equity the day you move in.
8 CAN’T-MISS REAL ESTATE TECH TOOLS
Here are some great free programs and services that I use every day, and most of them have been around for years and have a large user base.
1. Pixlr is a free photo editor that is a browser extension. You can use it to edit photographs right in your browser. I use it in Google’s Chrome browser, but it is also available for the Firefox browser. Pixlr has the look and feel of Photoshop Elements and similar features. It can even be used to create graphics. Also try Pixler Expressfor quick edits and Pixlr Grabber for screen prints that can be edited and shared and saved in the browser.
2. Chrome browser: I have recently switched to the Chrome browser by Google, mainly because it is a faster, smaller program and it doesn’t crash. I also use the Chrome Web store, which is full of free time-saving gadgets and Chrome browser extensions. I have found browser extensions and add-ons that replace services that I used to pay for.
3. Open Office: I stopped buying Microsoft Office. I think it is an expensive, bloated software package that takes up a lot of space and is CPU-intensive. Open Office is free, can be downloaded from the Internet, is a much smaller program, and the upgrades are free, too. Open office is compatible with Microsoft Office and cloud-based Google Docs, and is a complete office suite with word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation tools and even a drawing program.
4. Blogger: Maybe you’ve heard of tumblr, Posterous and wordpress.com— they are popular free blogging platforms. Blogger is also free and is great for mobile blogging or any kind of blogging. It can be used with a custom domain name and it is very easy to customize the look and feel and the functionality by adding free Gadgets and widgets.
I will always recommend running a free blog off of a domain name that you own so that it can be moved, if needed, without loss of traffic. Any of the free blog platforms can be used to create a free agent or brokerage website, or even an individual property website.
5. Google Sites: If you work on a team or maybe in a small office, you can use Google Sites to set up a company or team intranet. Forms and documents can be stored on the site and shared. The site is easy to build and share, and it is free.
6. CutePDF writer:A free and easy way to create PDFs. Install it on your computer and it becomes a PDF printer. Any file can be saved as a PDF file. Also check out the other CutePDF programs that cost far less than the programs they replace.
7.Scribefire: is a browser extension that is available for both Chrome and Firefox. I have used it for many years for writing blog posts. It is a full-featured blog editor. You can grab photographs, links and text from the Internet and compose and post to all of your blogs, all in one place. I like the writing interface, and Scribefire can be used offline and is a handy place to store notes and ideas for future blog posts.
8. Instapaper: My bet is that this tool will quickly become indispensable for you. With Instapaper I can easily save articles that I find on the Internet to read later. The articles can be organized into folders. The “read later” bookmark can be installed into any browser — even the Safari browser on the iPad.
Most brokerages cannot compete with companies like Oracle and Google to provide better free software for their agents, so even if you are getting free software from a brokerage it doesn’t hurt to check to see what the competition might be using.
HOUSING MARKET – COULD TAKE YEARS TO CORRECT
It was a big, bad and highly disappointing week for housing.
Existing sales fell 9.6% for the month of February to the lowest number seen in almost a decade.
Housing starts posted the biggest decline in almost 30 years in and home builders added the smallest number of new homes since 1967. Builders cut back due to rising foreclosures and high unemployment.
Meanwhile, supply ticked up to 8.9 months worth of new home inventory on the market.
The Daily Ticker gang talks about the overall grim reality of the housing market. Until the excess inventory is taken up — which could take five to ten years — there will be no price support, Dan says. Right now the market outright “sucks.” To Watch Video CLICK HERE