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Enewsletter - Dec. 28, 2009

by Harry Salzman

HARRY’S COLUMN

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!!

COLORADO NOW OFFERS INNOVATION INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT

The Colorado Innovation Investment Tax Credit provides a state income tax credit for qualified investors who make investments during calendar year 2010 in small, qualified Colorado businesses involved in research and development or manufacturing of new technologies, products or processes. This program is administered by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). The program is aimed at stimulating investment in innovative small businesses. For more information, contact OEDIT in Denver.

COLORADO SPRINGS IS RECOVERING FROM THE RECESSION

The December 19 issue of The Gazette reports that “the unemployment rate in Colorado Springs fell to 7.4%, the lowest level of the year”. Compared to the national unemployment rate of 10.4%, this would indicate that our local economy is 30% better off than the rest of the country.

The Gazette article goes on to point out that “most of the indicators, unemployment, sales tax collections, housing construction and sales show that the steep decline the local economy has experienced since 2007 is over”.

Although the article goes on to caution us that it will be a couple of years before we see a complete recovery, this is great news for all of us.

NAR PREDICTS A RISE IN HOME PRICES

The National Association of Realtors is predicting that 2010 will see an increase in the average price of homes. In 2008, the average home price was $198,100, which represented a decline of 9.5% from the previous year. In 2009, the average price went down again, to $172,600, a decline of 12.9%. However, for 2010, NAR is predicting an average home price of $178,800, which will be an increase of 3.6% over 2009. As the economy continues to improve, this increase in home prices is inevitable. Combine this increase in home value with the inflation that all of the experts are predicting, and your real estate investment is obviously your best vehicle for preserving and growing the value of your estate. And don’t forget that the recently extended and expanded federal tax credit for home buyers represents another incentive for buying a home now. Call me !!!

And, please remember, I would be honored to serve as your Broker for all of your residential real estate needs. I want to help you, my reader, make the most prudent and accurate Real Estate business decision.

Also if you know of anyone who desires to buy or sell local real estate, or, who is moving in or out of the Pikes Peak region, remember that, with over 37 years of providing relocation and Real Estate services to clients throughout the country, I am uniquely qualified to assist them with the relocation process, including buying and/or selling their homes on both ends of their move. Please allow me to implement my negotiating skills on your behalf.

 Just click on the icon at the top of this email to listen to my latest podcast. ….And, if you would like to learn more about our Job Loss Protection Program, or, about our CyberHomes Complete Market Analysis of a property, please contact us. 

FIRST ANNUAL SALZMAN OPINION SURVEY  

We read a lot about the various national polls that are supposed to tell us what people are thinking. Many times, it seems that these polls don’t reflect what our friends and business associates are saying. So….we are starting an annual poll of what the readers of this enewsletter are thinking. Please reply to the following question and we will publish the results in our next enewsletter.

1. What do you expect the economy to look like in 2010 ? 

            a. A lot better than 2009

            b. A little better than 2009

            c. About the same as 2009

            d. A little worse than 2009

            e. A lot worse than 2009

JOKE OF THE WEEK

A New Year Prayer for the Elderly

God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do, … And the eyesight to tell the difference

Dieting - New Resolutions

2006: I will get my weight down below 180 pounds.
2007: I will follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200 pounds.
2008: I will develop a realistic attitude about my weight.
2009: I will work out 3 days a week.
2010: I will try to drive past a gym at least once a week.

New Year's Day Prayer for One and All

Dear Lord

So far this year I've done well.

I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper. I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very proud of that.  But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed for the first time in 2010, and from then on I'm probably going to need a lot more help.

Amen

ENewsletter - Dec. 18, 2009

by Harry Salzman

HARRY’S COLUMN

WANT A HOT STOCK TIP?

If a friend recommends a stock to you, before you add it to your portfolio, the first thing you should do is to look at how the stock compares with other comparable stocks. What’s its history? What factors will affect its future performance? Does it represent a good value today and does it have a good potential for growth tomorrow?

O.K. Let’s pretend that your friend has recommended that you buy “stock” in Colorado Springs and let’s pretend that you are evaluating Colorado Springs as you would examine a publically-owned company as a potential investment. How does this community compare to the other cities that you might want to invest in? Here are some of the areas in which Colorado Springs stands out:

1. Our local unemployment rate is 7.2%, as opposed to the national rate of 10% …That’s 28% better than the rest of the country.

2. We are listed in all national surveys, such as Forbes and Money Magazine, as one of the top ten cities for quickest recovery from the recession.

3. According to the Consumer Price Index, we have a cost of living that is 5-8% lower than the national average.

4. The strong, military presence in our local economy provides a stable, reliable source of income and tax revenues. Furthermore, the scheduled addition of thousands of new troops into Fort Carson during the coming years will be a tremendous boost to our economy in the form of increased home sales, retail sales and tax revenues.

5. Our local workforce is skilled and well-educated (Our SAT and ACT scores are outstanding)

So, you would have to conclude that buying stock in Colorado Springs represents a great investment opportunity, right now and for the long haul.

And, to take this process one step further, if you are a potential Homeowner or a potential Investor, consider that home prices are now very attractive, interest rates are at an all-time low and the Federal Tax Credit which is now available to both First-Time and Repeat Home Buyers is just icing on the cake.

To sum it all up, considering all of the above, if this were a stock tip, you would be rushing to add it to your portfolio.

The moral of the story is: BETTER BUY NOW !!!

BROOKINGS SURVEY SHOWS COLORADO SPRINGS LOOKS GOOD    

The non-profit Brookings Institution, in partnership with the University of Nevada, has issued the Mountain Monitor, the first in a series of quarterly reports on the economic recovery in Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. According to the report, “Colorado Springs weathered the downturn better than the average U.S metro”.

 Some of the highlights of the report are:

 Between Sept. 2008 and Sept. 2009, Colorado Springs jobless rate rose only 1.6%, the fifth-best nationally.

Among the 10 largest metro areas, only Colorado Springs and Denver registered year-over-year increases in home prices by the end of the third quarter, primarily because they were not heavily involved in the excessive real estate speculation that caused the bursting of the housing bubble in some other cities.

The report goes on to state, “…Colorado Springs has weathered the recession significantly better than other Mountain metros on almost every measure” and our city “seems poised to renew its upward trajectory as the pace of recovery quickens”.

NEW MORTGAGE SECURITY GUIDELINES PROPOSED

The Federal Housing Administration is reportedly about to announce that the minimum down payment requirement for FHA loans will be raised from 3.5% to 5%. In addition, the monthly FHA mortgage insurance premium is scheduled to increase and the “FICO” score required for Borrowers’ credit worthiness will also increase. We will keep you advised about this issue, as more is announced.

And, please remember, I would be honored to serve as your Broker for all of your residential real estate needs. I want to help you, my reader, make the most prudent and accurate Real Estate business decision.

Also, if you know of anyone who desires to buy or sell local real estate, or, who is moving in or out of the Pikes Peak region, remember that, with over 37 years of providing relocation and Real Estate services to clients throughout the country, I am uniquely qualified to assist them with the relocation process, including buying and/or selling their homes on both ends of their move. Please allow me to implement my negotiating skills on your behalf.

Just click on the icon at the top of this email to listen to my latest podcast. ….And, if you would like to learn more about our Job Loss Protection Program, or, about our CyberHomes Complete Market Analysis of a property, please contact us. 

JOKE OF THE WEEK

The Devil appears to a Congressman and says, “Look, I can make you rich and famous, guarantee your re-election and make you the darling of the media.”

“Well,” says the Congressman, “what do I have to do in return?”

The Devil smiles, “Well, of course you have to give me your soul,” he says, “but you also have to give me the souls of your children, the souls of your children’s children and, as a matter of fact, you have to give me the souls of all your constituents throughout eternity.”

“OK” the Congressman says cautiously, “What’s the catch?”

Enewsletter - Dec. 14, 2009

by Harry Salzman

HARRY'S COLUMN

WE COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT ANY BETTER - BUSINESS WEEK SAYS, "BUY NOW" !!!

In a Business Week article of Dec. 8, 2009, Marc Roth, the founder and president of Home Warranty of America, dramatically made the following point. "If you want to buy a house, now is the time, and if you don't act soon, you will regret it. Here's why: historically low interest rates."

As of today, the average 30-year fixed-rate loan with no points or fees is around 5%. That is the lowest the rate has been in nearly 40 years and should make all current and prospective homeowners take notice of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF INTEREST RATE HISTORY

In 1970 the rate was approximately 7.25%. After hovering there for a couple of years, it began a trend upward, landing near 10% in late 1973. It settled at 8.5% to 9% from 1974 to the end of 1976. After the rise to 10%, that probably seemed O.K. to most home buyers. But they weren't happy soon thereafter. From 1977 to 1981, a period of only 60 months, the 30-year fixed rate climbed to 18%. And when rates started to decline after that, they took a long time to recede to previous levels. They hit 9% for a brief time in 1986 and bounced around 10% to 11% until 1990. For the next 11 years through 2001, the rates slowly ebbed and flowed downward, ranging from 7% to 9%. We've since spent the last nine years, until very recently, at 6% to 7%. So you can see why 5% is so remarkable.

So, what can we learn from the historical trends and numbers?

First, rates have far further to move upward than downward. For more than 30 years, 7% was the low and 18% the high. The norm was 9% in the 1970s, 10% in the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, 7% to 8% for much of the 1990s, and 6% only over the last handful of years.

Second, the last time the long-term trends reversed from low to high, it took more than 20 years (1970 to 1992) for the rate to get back to where it was, and 30 years to actually start trending below the 1970 low.

Finally, the most important lesson is to understand the actual financial impact the rate has on the cost of purchasing and paying off a home. Typically, for a $200,000 mortgage, if the homeowner were to keep the home for 30 years, each quarter-point move up in interest rates would cost that buyer $12,000.

Loan Costs

Stay with me now. We are at 5%. As the economy stabilizes, it is reasonable for us to see 30-year fixed rates climb to 6% within the foreseeable future and probably to a range of 7% to 8% when the economy is humming again. If every quarter of a point is worth $12,000 per $200,000 borrowed, then each point is worth almost $50,000.

Let's put that into perspective. You have a good stable job (yes, unemployment is at 10% nationally, but another way of looking at that figure is that most of us have good stable jobs). You would like to own a $240,000 home. However, even though home prices have steadied, you may be thinking you can get another $5,000 or $10,000 discount if you wait (never mind the $8,000 or $6,500 tax credit due to run out next spring). Or you may be waiting for the news to tell you the economy is "more stable" and it's safe to get back in the pool. In exchange for what you may think is prudence, you will risk paying $50,000 more per point in interest rate changes over the course of the loan, between now and the time you decide you are ready to buy. And you are ignoring the fact that according to the Case-Shiller index, home prices in most regions have been trending back up for the last several months.

If you are someone who is looking to buy or upgrade in the $350,000-to-$600,000 home price range, and many people out there are, then you're borrowing $300,000 to $600,000. At 7%, the $300,000 loan will cost just under $150,000 more over the lifetime, and the $600,000 loan an additional $300,000, if rates move up just 2% before you pull the trigger.

What I'm trying to impress upon everyone is that if you are planning on being a homeowner now and/or in the foreseeable future, or if you are looking to move your family into a bigger home, then pay more attention to the interest rates than the price of the home. If you have a steady job, good credit, and the down payment, then you really are being offered the gift of a lifetime.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL DEFINES THE AMERICAN DREAM 2:

DEFAULT ON MORTGAGE, THEN RENT

In the Dec. 10 issue of the Wall Street Journal, Mark Whitehouse describes the trend that is now becoming common throughout the country. Homeowners who face large mortgage payments for homes which are no longer worth what they paid for them, and whose income has been curtailed or eliminated by the recession, are walking away from their homes and are becoming renters. This creates a wonderful opportunity for prospective investors.

The article cites one homeowner whose monthly payments on his mortgage were $4,800. He short-sold his home and is now renting in the same neighborhood, for $2,200 a month. "I don't know if I'll buy another house again, because it's such a huge headache", he says.

Although this trend represents a very difficult adjustment for the homeowners and the lenders involved, it represents a wonderful opportunity for investors. These former home-owners are accustomed to living in good homes in good neighborhoods and have good renter profiles. Every one of them who walks away from their home puts another, well-maintained property on the market at a selling price that is very attractive to investors. Furthermore, these former-homeowners become the investor's next renters.

As a result of this trend, the pool of prospective renters has grown, thus creating an opportunity for smart investors to profit. Please call us, if you would like to discuss how investment property might help you attain your financial goals. We know the local market and are experts in investment property. We would be pleased to discuss this with you.

LATEST STATISTICS

Each week, we publish a link to our latest local Sales and Listing statistics. We should probably take a few minutes to discuss the relative strength of our local real estate market, based upon these statistics. The highlights of the latest statistics are:

                                         Nov. 2008         Nov.2009                    

Total Number of MLS Sales       499                   794                          

Average Sales  Price             $213,466              $214,062                                  

Median Sales Price                $187,000              $187,950                      

Note that the increase of 295 home sales from November of 2008 vs. November of 2009 represents an increase of +59.1% in MLS Sales. Also note that both the median price and the average price for homes in our area have stabilized; indicating that we have started to recover from the recession and real estate prices are on their way back up.

The statistics also list 28 statistical areas within the Pikes Peak area, plus Fremont, Lincoln, Park, Pueblo and Teller Counties.

Perhaps the most important numbers in the report are "SP/LP" (The relationship between the Selling Price and the Listing Price). This report shows that, as of November, 2009, the overall average of total sales prices were 97.4% of the list prices. This is a very strong relationship and a good indication that our local market is not as soft as the national market.

If you would like to discuss the local statistics in more detail, please give me a call.

POTPOURRI

COLORADO SPRINGS COST OF LIVING LOOKS GOOD

The latest statistics released by the Arlington-based Council for Community and Economic Research shows Colorado Springs's cost of living at 7.6% below the national average at the end of the third quarter of 2009. This is near the lowest level of the past 20 years. The index compares prices for 57 goods and services bought by households headed by middle managers.

According to Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Council, the latest figures indicate that the local economy has bottomed out and has begun to recover from the Recession.

Among other cities in the state, living costs in Boulder were 26.4% above the national average and Denver was 4.3% above the national average.

QUARTERLY UCCS STATISTICS ON LOCAL ECONOMY NOW AVAILABLE

The Quarterly Update on the El Paso County Economy as of September, 2009, issued by the College of Business and Administration at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has just been issued. Please give us a call and we will be happy to send a copy to you.

PAUL SAMUELSON DIES

Paul Samuelson, whose analytical work laid the foundation for modern economics, died Sunday in Belmont MA, after a brief illness. He was 94. His textbook, "Economics" which was published in 1948 and which was the most widely used college textbook on any topic, is still in use. Anyone, like me, who has suffered through Economics 101 has been influenced by that text. Mr. Samuelson's nephew, Lawrence Summers, currently runs President Obama's National Economic Council.

And, please remember, I would be honored to serve as your Broker for all of your residential real estate needs. I want to help you, my reader, make the most prudent and accurate Real Estate business decision.

Enewsletter - December 7, 2009

by Harry Salzman

HARRY’S COLUMN

HARRY’S PREDICTION FOR 2010 – (NOSTRADAMUS, LOOK OUT !!)

Like politics, all real estate is local. That’s why our annual prediction emphasizes the Colorado Springs economy, not the national picture. With that in mind, let’s review some of the factors that will affect our local Real Estate during the coming year:

1.       According to the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, the Colorado Springs unemployment rate is now 7.2%, as opposed to the national unemployment rate of 10%. Those figures demonstrate that the Colorado Springs area is now 28% better off than the rest of the country.

 

2.       Our local real estate Market is outperforming the national market.  Just last week, the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors (PPAR) announced that single-family home sales in November, 2009 totaled 794 (compared to 497 in November, 2008).  It was the biggest percentage gain in monthly home sales in the 15 years since PPAR began to keep records.

 

3.       Another, very significant NAR statistic from November of 2009 is that the median price for sold- homes in Colorado Springs was $187,950. The comparable number from 2008 was $187,000.This is a very persuasive indication that our local market has ‘bottomed-out’ and we are looking at a growing market in 2010. 

 

4.       With the extension and expansion of the First-Time-Home-Buyers’ tax credit, the government gives up to $8000 to first-time Buyers and up to $6500 to repeat Buyers, if they go under contract by April 30, 2010 and close by June 30, 2010. This is one of the reasons our local housing industry is poised to show growth in 2010. Call us to discuss the details of how the Home Buyers’ tax credit might help you.

 

5.       We are communicating with several hundred prospective buyers who are waiting for “Something to happen” to give them a more secure feeling about buying a home. In addition, Gen Y families (born 1977-94) are now at their peak time for buying their first home. This huge group of young adults is marrying and having children. In fact, many of these prospective home buyers are just waiting for the ‘trigger’ that will nudge them buy (e.g. finding a new job, having  a ‘trailing spouse’ find a job, waiting for their present house to sell or close, choosing the best school for their children, etc.) As these prospective homeowners begin to make their move, our local market is poised to really prosper.

 

6.       The present low interest rates for 30 year fixed-rate mortgages can’t stay low too much longer. When the looming inflation begins to raise these very favorable rates, the mortgage you get today will look like gold. An interest rate increase of even 1% takes many prospective Buyers out of the market.

 

7.       Building permits are up. Elected officials who are worried about declining revenues should keep in mind that every new home built generates between $6000 and $10,000 of sales tax revenue.

 

8.       Our inventory of homes for sale is declining. In November of 2008, there were 5547 homes for sale. In November of 2009, there 4301 homes for sale, a decline of 22.5%.

 

Add all of these factors together and it leads me to my prediction for 2010. !!

 

NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY !!

 

FHA CONSIDERING TIGHTER REGULATIONS

If you needed another reason to buy now, consider that the Federal Housing Authority is about to make buying a home more difficult. Because FHA reserves are dwindling, that agency is considering implementing the following ‘improvements’ to the present regulations:

1. Increasing the annual mortgage insurance premium that borrowers have

     to pay.

2. Increasing minimum down payment for FHA loans.

3. Setting a minimum credit score for all borrowers

4. Reducing amount that sellers can provide towards buyers’ closing costs from

    6% to 3%

For prospective homebuyers, the two rays of hope relating to these proposed changes are that they haven’t been approved yet and, if approved, it will take some time to implement them. 

 

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MILEAGE – THE RULES HAVE CHANGED

 

The IRS has announced new standard mileage rates for use of an automobile in business or moving beginning January 1, 2010. According to the IRS, these new, reduced rates are based upon the fact that the costs for operating a vehicle have gone down since last year. The new rates are 50. per mile (down from .55 per mile) for business and 16.5 per mile for relocation (down from 24 per mile  ..This is the lowest rate since 2005).

 

JOKE OF THE MONTH

 

As he’s driving through the woods, a guy has a flat tire. He stops, jacks up the car, takes off the wheel lug nuts, puts them in the hubcap and is getting the spare out of the trunk, when another car speeds by, hits the hubcap and scatters the lug nuts into the woods.  

 

After an hour of unsuccessful searching, the guy decides he might as well start walking the ten miles to town to buy some new lug nuts.  As he starts walking, he hears a voice say, “Hey, why don’t you just take one nut from each of the other three wheels, attach the spare tire with them and then drive to town?”

The guy looks around to see who is talking and sees a man looking at him through a chain link fence. A sign on the fence reads,” State Institution for the Insane”.

The guy says, “Hey, that’s a great idea. How did a smart man like you end up in there?”

The man behind the fence says, “Hey, I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid”.

And the moral for our times is ???????

 

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Harry A Salzman
ERA Shields / Salzman Real Estate Services
5475 Tech Center Drive, Suite 300
Colorado Springs CO 80919
719-593-1000 or Toll Free: 800-677-MOVE(6683)
Cell: 719-231-1285
Fax: 719-548-9357

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