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Enewsletter June 28, 2010

by Harry Salzman

HARRY'S WEEKLY UPDATE

A CURRENT LOOK AT THE COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENTIAL real estate MARKET

 

IS THE ELEVATOR GOING UP OR DOWN?

It's almost impossible to tell if the economy is getting better or worse, by reading the papers. Within the last week, for example, some of the featured stories in The Gazette and in The Wall Street Journal were headlined, "Mountain West's Recovery Staggers", "Signs Signal Improvement in Local Economy", "Hiring Picks Up Only slightly", "Springs is 20th- best Among Nation's Metropolitan Areas", "Sales of New Homes Plunge", "Mortgage Rates Hit New Lows", "Occupancy Rates Leaping At Springs Hotels".

Now, there's a collection of headlines that would confuse anyone. But, here are some facts that tell a very clear story:

  • Mortgage rates are at an all-time low. You can now buy a home with a rate as low as 4%.
  • Home prices are very low. The foreclosures and short-sales that are now on the market have pulled down the price of every other listing. (To get an idea of how dramatic this is, call me about our Featured Listing shown at the end of this eNewsletter).
  • Inflation will almost certainly rise, as new government expenditures begin to affect the economy
  • Mortgage rates will eventually rise
  • Home prices will eventually rise

How can you benefit from these facts? Well, let's assume that five years ago you bought a home and created a loan for $250,000. Your mortgage payments are $1,580.17 per month for a 30-year mortgage with a rate of 6 1/2%. Your current balance is $234,027 which you will be paying on for the next 25 years.

Today, you could put that $234,027 towards a bigger home in a better neighborhood, refinance at 4%, and end up with a 15 year mortgage that would cost you $1,731.07 per month (only about $151 per month more than you are now paying). By doing this, you will be living in a better house, you will have taken ten years off your mortgage and, more importantly, you would be able to pay off your mortgage completely by the time you are ready to retire.

Prospective Homeowners and Investors may never have an opportunity like this again!! Call me.

 

FOOT-DRAGGING BY BANKS MAY HALT UP TO 140,000 CLOSINGS

As we all know, the recently deceased First-Time Homebuyers' Tax Credit was offered to Homebuyers who closed on the purchase of their homes by June 30th, 2010. Unfortunately, many eligible sales will have failed to close by that deadline, primarily because of the slow response time of their lenders. Now, Congress has chosen not to extend the closing deadline, thus voiding the tax-credit for the 140,000 Buyers involved. Unfortunately, many of these Buyers, if they do not get this tax-credit, may back-out of their contracts. This would be a very unfortunate problem for the already-strapped real estate market.

The federal tax credit proved to be a great incentive for Buyers and, since its expiration, home sales have dropped off by 32%. This represents a record-low seasonally-adjusted annual rate. The expiration of the tax-credit and an excess supply of existing homes for sale also lead to a decline in new-home construction and applications for home-buying loans.

 

NEW FEDERAL AGENCY TO BE CREATED TO OVERSEE BANKS AND FINANCIAL MARKETS

At a cost of only $19 billion per year, Congress is about to enact the most sweeping remapping of financial regulation since the 1930s. The overhaul will put U.S. banks and financial markets under tighter government control for years to come, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The legislation expands the regulatory reach of Washington's major agencies, including the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. It also creates, under the Federal Reserve, a new "consumer protection" agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with power to oversee all manner of financial products from mortgages to credit cards.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that it could restrict access to credit and enshrine the idea that the government won't allow big firms to fail. The bill sets stricter limits on prepayment penalties, fees for paying off a loan early. Banks say that potential for greater liability could lead to higher costs for borrowers and provisions that require stricter checks on a borrower's ability to pay could make it harder or more expensive for self-employed borrowers or for those who rely on commission or seasonal income to qualify for loans.

 

NEW SURVEY REVEALS TOP "MUST-HAVES AND BIGGEST "TURN-OFFS" IN A HOME

Forget that "man cave" or home theater room: what men crave more than women in a new house is a luxurious bathroom, a guest bedroom, a dining room and views. On the other hand, female house hunters value a home office more than a kids' playroom, dining room or luxurious bathroom. These are just a few of the more surprising findings of a recent survey of 1,000 house hunters by ZipRealty.Inc.

Other survey highlights:

  • Both men and women home hunters rated green features higher this year compared to 2008, with 27 percent of this year's respondents ranking a green home high priority.
  • The percentage of home shoppers ranking a home office as a high priority is up from 35 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2010.
  • The three biggest turn-offs when viewing a home in person are structural damage, bad odors, a busy street and an awkward floor plan. While searching online, lack of parking and few or no photos and low square footage are the biggest deal-breakers.
Top 10 Most Desired Home Features:     
 
1.       Garage or parking space            86.8%
2.       Master suite                            78.9
3.       Ample storage space                 72
4.       Large or walk-in closets             66.5
5.       Guest bedroom                         66.4
6.       Outdoor entertainment area        64.3
7.       Gourmet or updated kitchen        60.6
8.       Breakfast room or eat-in kitchen  55.8
9.       Large yard                               43.2
10.   Wood floors                                40.8
 
Male versus Female House-Hunting: 
Must-Haves and Deal-Breakers Differ 

"Overall, the same things you would always expect to top the list of 'must-haves' and 'deal breakers' for house hunters still show up, but it is interesting to see men place a higher priority than women on things often characterized as stereotypically female priorities, such as a luxurious bathroom and a dining room," said ZipRealty Vice President of Marketing Leslie Tyler. "Also, women's growing desire for a home office may speak to the fact that more women are working from home these days."

  • A higher percentage of women reported ample storage and a large yard as a high priority compared to men, and reported that when viewing a home in person they would be turned off by small bedrooms and a lack of common space more often than male respondents. In fact, 60 percent of women compared to 49 percent of men reported they wouldn't consider a home with small bedrooms.
  • Forty-four percent of men rated a home with a view as a high priority, compared to only 33 percent of women, while 28 percent of men reported a luxurious bathroom as a high priority, compared to only 23 percent of women, and more than 70 percent of men indicated a guest bedroom as a must-have, compared to only 63 percent of women.
  • A higher percentage of men reported when searching for homes online disdain for outdated furniture or paint and unkempt landscaping compared to women -- and men reported they're more likely to be turned off by a lack of curb appeal than women are.
Top 10 Features Desired by Men   
 
1.       Garage or parking space            85.5%
2.       Master suite                           79.8
3.       Ample storage space                71.2
4.       Guest bedroom                        70.2
5.       Large or walk-in closets            64.2
6.       Outdoor entertainment area       63.4
7.       Gourmet or updated kitchen       59.1
8.       Breakfast room/eat-in kitchen    55.2
9.       View                                     44.5
10.   Large yard                                43
 
Top 10 Features Desired by Women
 
1.       Garage/parking space               87.7%
2.       Master suite                           77.8
3.       Ample Storage Space               72.7
4.       Large or walk-in closets            68.7
5.       Outdoor entertainment area       64.2
6.       Guest bedroom                        63.9
7.       Gourmet or updated kitchen       61.8
8.       Breakfast room/eat-in kitchen    56.1
9.       Large yard                              43
10.   Wood floors                               40.9

 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 ANT and the GRASSHOPPER 


OLD VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. 
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: 

Be responsible for yourself!

 

MODERN VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. 
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the 
ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving. 

CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a 
video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. 

America is stunned by the sharp contrast. 

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? 

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.' 

ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We Shall Overcome." 

Political demagogs appear on TV to condemn the ant and blame President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper's plight. In an interview with Larry King, they fume that the ant has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and they call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share. 

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Grasshopper Opportunity Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer. 

The ant's taxes are retroactively raised by 50% and, because he cannot pay them, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper. 

The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while his new house (which happens to be the ant's old house), crumbles around them because the grasshopper can't get a government loan to pay for maintaining it. 

The ant disappears in the snow, never to be seen again.  

Eventually, the grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood.

The entire nation collapses, bringing the rest of the free world with it.

MORAL OF THE STORY: 


Fairy tales ain't what they used to be

Enewsletter June 21, 2010

by Harry Salzman

June 21, 2010

HARRY'S WEEKLY UPDATE

A CURRENT LOOK AT THE COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENTIAL real estate MARKET

PARDON US, IF WE BLOW OUR OWN HORN

Since 1977, Salzman real estate Services, LTD has been a proud affiliate of Leading Real Estate Companies of America. Leading RE members are independent Brokers who specialize in relocation and, as a member of this progressive organization, we are able to utilize their marketing concepts to provide the most aggressive, creative relocation services for individuals and corporations in our local market.

The top 12 real estate organizations in the U.S. were recently listed by "Real Trends 500" and the results show that, out of the top 12 producers in 2009, six were members of Leading RE. Furthermore, nationwide, Leading RE members sold more homes than any other Real Estate organization. In fact, Leading RE:

  • Is 27% ahead of its closest competitor in sales volume
  • Leads all national brands in total units sold, with nearly one million sales
  • Has 28% of the total home sales among the top 500 U.S. real estate firms
  • Has the #1 firms in sales volume, transaction sides or both in 41 of the top 90 American markets - almost twice the number of #1 market leaders than its closest competitor

For a breakdown of the top twelve real estate producers in 2009, Click Here.    

 

A JUMP IN COLLECTED SALES TAX INDICATES COLORADO SPRINGS IS ON THE MEND

In a sign that the local economic recovery is gaining strength, Colorado Springs sales tax collections jumped in May by the biggest percentage in 2 ½ years, when compared with a year earlier (The sales tax receipts in May, 2010, were up 10.22% from May 2009).

The jump was fueled by big gains in auto (+20.28%) and building materials (+20.91%). Terri Velasquez, the city's chief financial officer, stated, "While we are still down from pre-recession levels, this is a significant rise and shows we are experiencing a recovery in sales tax revenues."

Sales tax revenues are a direct reflection of the public's confidence in the economy and they fund more than half of the city's annual budget for services such as police and fire protection, parks and roads.

 

COLORADO NEEDS TO SELL ITSELF MORE EFFECTIVELY

The Wall Street Journal (June 19, 201) ran an article titled, "States See Growth in Jobs".  The article featured six charts and graphs and contained a "Recovery Scorecard" showing how effective each state was in attracting non-government jobs. The top six states for job growth were: Indiana, Wyoming, Delaware, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Unfortunately, Colorado was listed fourth from the bottom. Now, let's face it, folks. No matter how you slice it, Colorado is a better place to live than Indiana (unless you're a fan of humidity, bugs and flat landscapes). So, how does Indiana manage to attract businesses? Obviously, they do it by offering incentives that allow incoming businesses to make more profit in Indiana than in Colorado.

In these tough times, it's a shame that we don't seem to be attracting more new businesses (and jobs) to our state. Considering our quality of life, our natural attractions, our weather, our beautiful parks and the quality of our available workforce, the problem we should be facing is how to keep new businesses out of our state.

Maybe it's time for a high-level meeting of representatives from our state and local government, our business leaders and our Economic Development people, to plan and implement a strategy for getting our message out to prospective new businesses. There are plenty of businesses in states like California that are looking to relocate away from high taxes and congestion. Let's give them some financial reasons to consider Colorado for their new home.

If you would like to hear some examples of how other states have lured new businesses into their states, give me a call.

 

FANNIE AND FREDDIE TO DELIST FROM NYSE    

The federal regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ordered the two mortgage-finance giants to delist their common and preferred stock from the New York Stock Exchange, the latest example of how the mortgage giants are shedding their ties to private ownership.

The move came one day after the NYSE formally notified the government that Fannie Mae no longer met listing standards because its shares had fallen below the $1 share-price threshold maintained by NYSE Euronext. The FHFA said it decided to relist because it could not be sure it could bring the companies' share price above the 1$ threshold.

Most analysts who cover the companies have long assumed that the companies' common stock doesn't have any value because the government has had to pump so much money into the firms to keep them afloat.

But, don't be concerned that we will be losing the services of the people who drove Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the ground. The same individuals will still be in charge of our national economic development. So, the news isn't all bad.

 

FIVE-YEAR ARM HITS RECORD LOW OF 3.89%

The five-year adjustable-rate mortgage slid just enough to break its record low, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released last Thursday.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs averaged 3.89% for the week ended Thursday, down from 3.92% last week and 4.97% a year ago. It is the lowest the ARM has been since Freddie Mac started tracking it in January 2005.

Fixed-rate mortgages inched up. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.75%, up from 4.72% last week; it averaged 5.38% a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.20%, up from 4.17% last week; it averaged 4.89% a year ago.

It's still a great time to buy a house. Give us a call.

 

5 COLORADO SPRINGS SCHOOLS ARE LISTED AMONG THE BEST

Five Colorado Springs high schools are among the best in the nation, according to Newsweek's annual "America's Best High Schools List ", posted this week on the magazine's website.

The list of more than 1,600 schools, about 6% of the nation's public high schools, are ranked on how hard their staffs work to challenge students with advanced-placement courses and tests.

The local high schools cited were:

  • Rampart High School
  • Liberty High School
  • Pine Creek High School
  • Cheyenne High School
  • Palmer High School

The complete list is at www.newsweek.com/feature/2010/americas-best-high-schools.

Congratulations to our wonderful teachers and students.

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

Mr. Smith climbs to the top of Mount Sinai to get close enough to talk to God. 

Looking up, he asks the Lord... 'God, what does a million years mean to you?' 

The Lord replies, 'A minute.' 

Smith asks, 'And what does a million dollars mean to you?'

The Lord replies, 'A penny.' 

Smith asks, 'Lord, can I have a penny?' 

The Lord replies, 'In a minute.' 

 

Or, if you didn't like that one,

 

John was on his deathbed and gasped pitifully. 'Give me one last request, Dear,' 

'Of course, John,' his wife said softly. 

'Six months after I die,' he said, 'I want you to marry Bob.' 

'But I thought you hated Bob,' she said. 

With his last breath John said, 'I do!'  

Enewsletter June 14, 2010

by Harry Salzman

June 14, 2010

HARRY’S WEEKLY UPDATE

A CURRENT LOOK AT THE COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENTIAL real estate MARKET 

 

MORTGAGE RATES HIT LOW FOR YEAR

Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week to the lowest level of the year and were barely shy of the all-time low. Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac says the average rate sank to 4.72 percent, down from 4.79 percent last week. It was just above the record of 4.71 set last December.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.17 percent, down from 4.2 percent last week and the lowest on records dating back to August 1991.

Though mortgage rates are at attractive levels, the housing market hasn’t benefited. The number of customers applying for a mortgage to purchase a property fell to the lowest level in 13 years last week and was down 35 percent from a month ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That’s a sign the market is struggling without a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers, which expired at the end of April.

The government has taken massive steps to help the housing market recover. A campaign by the Federal Reserve to reduce borrowing costs for consumers pushed rates down to extraordinarily low levels last year. Rates were expected to rise after the program ended this spring, but have fallen instead over the past two months.

Investors, wary of the European debt crisis and the turbulent stock market, have shifted money into the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds. That has pushed down the interest rate, or yield, on U.S. Treasury debt. Fixed mortgage rates tend to track that yield.

More recently, the latest report on the U.S. employment picture showed that few private-sector jobs are being created. That made investors nervous about the stock market and pushed up bond prices, which pulls down rates.

“Following a relatively weak employment report, bond yields fell this week and mortgage rates followed,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day. Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.92 percent, down from 3.94 percent a week earlier. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 3.91 percent from 3.95 percent. That was the lowest average since May 2004.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount.

The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 a point for 30-year, 15-year and 5-year loans. The average fee for 1-year loans was 0.6 of a point.

Source: Associated Press/AP Online 

NAHB SAYS, “NOW’S THE TIME TO BUY A HOME”

David Crowe, Chief Economist of the National Association of Homebuilders, has made a video explaining why buying a home makes sense. In this video, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe explains the positive factors for home buyers in today's marketplace. Although the popular home buyer tax credit program has ended, he explains, there are still plenty of good reasons to consider homeownership -- including mortgage rates that are near historic lows, attractive home prices that appear to have stabilized in many markets, and an excellent selection of new and existing homes on the market. Click here to view this video.

And, keep in mind that Mr. Crowe is speaking to a national audience, so, if buying a house is a good idea for anyone in the U.S., it’s an even better idea for anyone in our local area. Our market numbers continue to outpace almost every other market in the country. Call us !!!

 

HOME REPAIR PROJECTS THAT MAKE SENSE

 If you are planning to remodel or add-on because it will increase your enjoyment of your home, that’s great. However, if your goal is to increase the resale price or marketability of your home, please give us a call to discuss it. It is not fun when you realize that a home repair project you just finished — and spent your savings and time on — either isn't going to save you money or wasn't even necessary to begin with.

Here are some of the more common repair/remodeling projects that we are asked about by our clients: 

  • roof change
  • deck change (increase size, replace with redwood or synthetic material)
  • landscaping
  • appliances
  • kitchen cabinets
  • bathroom cabinets
  • bathroom fixtures
  • new windows
  • new furnace/AC
  • fireplace change from wood to gas, etc.
  • insulation upgrade
  • wallpaper?
  • replace formica tops with corian or granite
  • upgrade exterior with stucco
  • new paint
  • new carpeting/floor covering
  • adding outbuildings (barn, workshop, etc.)

Some of these projects make sense from a ‘return-on-investment’ standpoint, but some don’t. We will be happy to discuss the benefits and/or disadvantages of your proposed project, from the perspective of our local market.

A good resource for evaluating the ‘return value’ of many remodeling projects is the book, "Green Sense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff From 50 Green Home Projects" (The Taunton Press; $21.95) by Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum. This book examines the issue and helps homeowners determine what projects make financial sense. Covering 16 projects you can do today (changing light bulbs or using less toilet water), 21 you can do tomorrow (adding solar power or installing a whole-house fan) and 13 you can do when building a new home (reclaiming your water and building with reclaimed or recycled materials), the book offers two different and sometimes opposing perspectives on each. An in-depth analysis breaks projects down according to their impact on the environment and, of course, your wallet.

Give us a call and let’s talk about the real market value of your project.

PROPOSED NEW TAX COULD CREATE MORE HARD TIMES FOR real estate

We try to remain ‘apolitical’ in our newsletters, but the following major issue could have a significant effect on everyone’s private property rights and we felt it should be brought to the attention of our readers. The following is excerpted from a June 8, 2010 article byJeffrey D. DeBoer, the President and CEO of The real estate Roundtable.

“Congress is seriously considering raising taxes on real estate at the exact moment that real estate is headed toward recovery. In a desperate search of revenue to pay for new government spending, the House last week passed an “Extender Package” that included a “carried interest” provision that would more than double the tax rate on a broad range of commercial and multi-family real estate owners of all sizes and property types.

real estate is a significant contributor to jobs and gross domestic product. This tax hike is being proposed at perhaps the worst possible time, as the industry and the economy continue to struggle to recover. Property values are down by at least 40 percent; the weak economy continues to hammer rents and occupancy rates in many markets; net operating incomes have fallen by 25-30 percent; and transaction volume is down by some 90 percent.

real estate makes up nearly 50 percent of all partnerships in America. While some will claim carried interest is a loophole, the carried interest tax hike now making its way toward the Senate floor is, more than anything, a tax on real estate partnerships large and small. It is not a tax on hedge funds that tangentially affects real estate; it is a real estate tax hike that tangentially affects hedge, venture capital and private equity.

The proposed increase to carried interest taxation would represent the largest tax increase for real estate in more than 20 years – since the Tax Reform Act of 1986, when property values plunged, pressure increased on savings and loan associations, there were forced government closures and ultimately the taxpayer was stuck paying to reset the system.

According to the IRS, these real estate partnerships hold over $1.5 trillion of commercial real estate assets throughout America, including: rental housing, office buildings, shopping centers, medical facilities, hotels, senior housing and industrial properties. The carried interest tax proposal would change the taxation of all these partnerships – for past and future investments.

This tax increase means fewer jobs to repair and upgrade buildings, when more than 2 million – or 25 percent – of Americans from the construction and building trades are out of work. It means reduced revenues to local governments for teachers, firefighters, roads and safe communities. It is impossible to understand how more than doubling the tax on the decision maker in a real estate partnership, as this proposal would do, will encourage any new business, put anyone back to work in construction, or shore up property values to help dig local budgets out of their deep holes.

In addition to hurting economic recovery and jobs, raising taxes on real estate hurts community banks. By most estimates, over $1 trillion in new equity capital is required to fill the equity gap. Now is not the time to destroy capital formation.

As Elizabeth Warren warns in the February Congressional Oversight Panel Report, today bank losses on commercial real estate loans could reach $300 billion, potentially wiping out "hundreds more community and midsize banks" and drying up the credit needed to restore the economy to health. Approximately $1.4 trillion in U.S. real estate loans will come due between 2010 and 2014, with nearly half of those loans currently "underwater." As defaults, foreclosures and mortgage losses continue to rise, a “significant wave of commercial mortgage defaults would trigger economic damage that could touch the lives of nearly every American.”

This proposal is a tax on real estate that is not only short sighted but is also coming at the worst possible time for the economy, jobs and the banking system. The Senate should reject this ill-conceived proposal.

Now is not the time to hit real estate because it is so important to the economy, jobs and the banking system.”

Our sources indicate that this proposed tax could happen with this congress.

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 

 

 

 

 

ENewsletter June7, 2010

by Harry Salzman

June 7, 2010

HARRY'S WEEKLY UPDATE

A CURRENT LOOK AT THE COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENTIAL real estate MARKET

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS SAYS THINGS ARE LOOKING UP

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, reported last week, "The second round of surging sales from the tax credit extension looks as strong as the original tax credit. Evidently, the tax stimulus, combined with the improved consumer confidence and low mortgage interest rates, are contributing to surging sales. The housing market now appears to be in a good position to return to sustainable levels even without government stimulus, provided the economy continues to add jobs."

NAR expects a net of 1 million additional jobs in the second half of this year and about 2 million in 2011.

"The Home Buyer tax credit brought close to 1 million additional buyers into the market, which is now helping the trade-up market and has significantly improved the inventory situation. This stabilized home prices more quickly and has preserved about $900 billion in home equity. In turn, that is keeping additional households from going underwater and risking foreclosure." Yun said.

"A big concern surfacing recently is insufficient time to close the deal at the settlement table. Under normal circumstances, two months would be enough time from contract to settlement date," Yun said. "However, the recent housing cycle has brought long delays related to the short sales approval process by banks, and from ongoing appraisal issues. There could be a sizable number of Home Buyers who responded to tax credit incentives, but who may encounter problems meeting the settlement deadline by June 30."

Distressed sales, i.e. short-sales and foreclosures, account for roughly one-third of all transactions and will likely continue to represent a sizable portion for the rest of the year. Why? Because mortgage delinquencies are still very high.

This delay by banks in the settlement process is the very reason we have urged Congress to establish some reasonable deadlines for banks and why NAR has asked Congress to provide flexibility on the deadline for closing.

Surprisingly, housing inventory - despite higher sales activity - has been rising. That is because fresh listings have been rising faster than the existing inventory has been absorbed. One reason for this rise is, apparently, that Homeowners who did not want to sell during the depths of the downturn last year are now putting their homes back on the market. As proof of this, see the numbers listed in our monthly PPAR report, later in this newsletter.

OUR LOCAL real estate MARKET CONTINUES TO CLIMB AND SHOW STRENGTH

This past Thursday, the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors announced figures for May, 2010. Home sales maintained a upward climb, despite the demise of the federal tax credit for Home Buyers which expired April 30, 2010.

Last month, total single-family home sales, including resale and new construction, totaled 888. That represents an increase of 6.7% over the same month last year. Of the 888 sales, 844 were resales, a 7.9% increase over May, 2009.

The median price for all homes sold was $194,450, an increase of 2.8% over May, 2009.

The number of single-family homes on the market as of May 31, 2010 was 5550, an increase of 10.1% over May 31, 2009, an indication that reluctant Sellers are regaining confidence in market pricing and they are putting their homes back on the market. Their confidence is well placed. The statistics show that, of the 888 homes sold last month, the "selling price to listing price" ratio was 97.6%, which means that Sellers received only 2.4% less than their asking prices. .and better yet, "sold" homes were on the market for only 77 days, on average.

We hate to tell Realtors in most other parts of the country how well our local market is doing. They always get so depressed.

MORE GOOD NEWS - BUILDING PERMITS ARE UP !!!

On June 2, 2010, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department published their monthly report showing the number of new home building permits. In May, 2010, single-family permits in El Paso County totaled 135, an increase of 25% over the108 permits issued in May of 2009. Furthermore, during the first 5 months of 2010, single-family permits showed an increase of 79.6% over 2009 (670 vs. 373).

Those figures represent an increase in single-family building permits for 11 of the past 12 months.  

WSJ SAYS RETAILERS ARE ALSO DOING WELL

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published figures showing that the major retailers are also feeling the growth in consumer confidence and loosening their purse-strings. Some of the retail outlets tracked in May showed the following increases over May of 2009:

  • Target + 1.3%
  • Macy's + 1.4%
  • Kohl's +3.5%
  • Nordstrom +3.7%
  • Costco + 5%
  • Saks + 5.8%

Overall, in May, the 28 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters posted "same store sales growth" of 2.5% over 2009. It looks like we are on our way back to normal.

MORTGAGE RATES - HOW LOW CAN THEY GO ???

We still can't believe it. Last week, we were able to negotiate a mortgage for a transferee coming to Colorado Springs that should make him happy for the next 30 years. How's this for a deal? The Buyer qualified for a VA Jumbo loan. The sales price was $439,900. Down payment on the 30 year fixed-rate mortgage was only $5,725, with no origination fee and no discount points and the rate was locked in at 4.75%. Wow !!! Things can't stay this good forever. Call me .  

THE PIKES PEAK REGION IS THE BEST PLACE TO BUY YOUR HOME

The Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation is promoting our area nationwide, but especially in those troubled areas of the country where businesses are fleeing from excessively high taxes. These overtaxed businesses are looking to relocate and the CSREDC is "selling" our area as the best place to live and work. We are linking here to their latest promotional piece, "The Top Ten Reasons to Locate Your Company in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region", to assist them in their efforts to attract businesses, but also to encourage any of our readers who are considering relocating here to buy now, while home prices and mortgage interest rates are low and inventories are high. It's a great place to live !!!   

GREECE AND OIL COULD BE BIG FACTORS IN THE housing market

The domino theory is at work again. If Greece is unable to raise money to pay for government spending, they could go bankrupt. (Hey, hold on, there! You mean countries actually have to pay for the programs their legislators pass. Bummer!!! With our luck, that might even happen here). However, Greece's traditional sources for borrowing are asking if they will ever get their loaned funds back from the Greek treasury. Germany, in particular, is irate that its citizens, who typically retire at a much older age than do Greeks, are being asked to provide pension money for Greek citizens.

If Greece defaults, then German banks will see their capital evaporate. That, in turn, will make it difficult for them to lend to other countries like Portugal or Spain to finance their budget deficits. If these countries also default as a result, then another major credit crisis will hit us. (Ireland would have been on this list of endangered countries, but they decided to reduce their unsustainable government debt by cutting government salaries, furloughing many government employees and convincing its investors that it will repay the loans. Where do those crazy Irish get these strange ideas?)

The bottom line for the U.S. would be that, because of our global linkages, our banks would also take a hit. This would make it very difficult to obtain Jumbo loans and second-home financing. So, if you're thinking of getting a Jumbo loan, or buying a second-home, it would be prudent to make your move right now.

The other source for concern is the oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obviously, the local economies that will be directly affected by the spill will have a hard time recovering from the effects of the spill. For the rest of us, the price of oil will rise measurably - or more oil will have to be imported. Either way, our cost of living will go up and the recovery from the recession will slow down. Slower economic growth will mean slower job expansion and a higher U.S. budget deficit.

Oh, for the days when worrying about Greece and oil just meant making an appointment to have the car serviced.

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

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 mpg."

Recently General Motors addressed this comment by releasing the statement: "Yes, but would you want your car to crash twice a day?"

Not only that, but....

  • Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.
  • Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.
  • Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause your car to stop and fail and you would have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you would accept this too.
  • You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT". But, then you would have to buy more seats.
  • Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five percent of the roads.
  • The Macintosh car owners would get expensive Microsoft upgrades to their cars, which would make their cars run much slower.
  • The oil, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light.
  • New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
    The airbag system would say "are you sure?" before going off.
  • If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.

June 1, 2010- Enewsletter

by Harry Salzman
  • June 1, 2010

HARRY’S WEEKLY UPDATE

A CURRENT LOOK AT THE COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENTIAL real estate MARKET

 HOW DOES “THE QUE” SAY WE ARE DOING ??

The “QUE” is the Quarterly Update and Estimates Report that is published by the Southern Colorado Economic Forum of the College of Business and Administration of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Salzman real estate Services, Ltd. has been a supporter of this important and informative project from its inception and we thought some of our readers might want to study the complete First Quarter Report for 2010, so we are linking here to it here.  

One of the significant sections of the latest report is the Business Conditions Index (BCI) which reports on such areas as:

  •            Single-family and Townhouse permits
  •             New car sales
  •             Employment rate
  •             Foreclosures
  •             Wages and Salaries
  •             Sales and use tax collections
  •             Airport emplanements

The encouraging “bottom-line” news is that the first quarter of 2010 in El Paso County shows a 15.7% increase in activity over the first quarter of 2009. Further, the report states that “The current flow information suggests the second quarter of 2010 will see modest gains in the BCI”. This re-emphasizes our previous observation that the Colorado Springs area is coming out of the Recession.

The “QUE” also has data derived from another project created by UCCS, namely, the Renewable Energy Survey. This survey contains such questions as:

  •             What is your monthly utilities bill?
  •             What is your household income?
  •             Are you willing to pay higher prices for renewable energy?
  •             Do you currently have renewable energy?
  •             Do you plan to install renewable energy?
  •             Would you pay extra for a residence/business whish uses renewable energy?

These data are reported and grouped by household income, sex, education, etc.

Some of the interesting highlights of the report findings are:

  1. Only 21.9% of the respondents were willing to pay higher prices for electricity from   renewable energy.
  2. Another 43.6% indicated they might be willing to pay higher prices for electricity from renewable energy.
  3. Lower income respondents were more willing than higher income respondents to pay higher prices for electricity from renewable energy. (Whooda thunk it?)
  4. Only 6.4% of respondents think solar panels are attractive. (Surprise, surprise)
  5. 20.4% of respondents think wind farms are attractive. (Are you kidding?)

To help promote the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, you can receive a free subscription to the “QUE” by sending an email to fcrowley@uccs.edu and entering the word “subscribe” in the Subject line.

As always, the University is always prepared to accept any donation you would care to make.

THE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT

Last week, the Gazette published some encouraging information about the economy of Colorado Springs. The data, provided by Summit Economics, Llc., compared April 2010 to April 2009 and  showed:

  • Initial claims for unemployment went down 22.7%
  • Single-family home permits were up 69.3%
  • New car and truck registrations were up 14.4%
  • Taxable retail sales were up 5.5%
  • Hotel occupancy rates were up 56%
  • Foreclosure filings were down 11.5%
  • The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.4%, but was still better than most other U.S. cities.

To add to the good news, the most comprehensive quarterly analysis of median selling prices for homes is the National Association of Realtors report. This report analyzes data from 153 of the largest multiple listing services in the nation. The most recent NAR report shows that existing-home sales in April 2010 were 22.8% higher than April of 2009.

And, on a personal note, when we have occasion to attend national meetings and conferences, we have the opportunity to compare our local conditions with other Realtors and relocation experts from around the country. During these discussions, we are consistently impressed with how well Colorado Springs is doing, compared to almost every other part of the U.S. We are the envy of almost everyone else at the meeting.

We are lucky to live here !!!

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT MORTGAGE RATES

Did you know that last week you could have obtained a 30 year, fixed-rate home mortgage for 4.5%?  The rates have not been this low since Dwight Eisenhower was president. What accounts for these low mortgage rates?

Well, the most commonly cited reason for our current low mortgage rates is the sad state of the European Money Markets. The sinking value of the European markets is pushing global investors to put their money into U.S. Treasury Bonds, which are viewed as a more secure investment. As a result, Treasury yields have fallen, which has taken our mortgage rates down, as well.

How long can this influx of foreign money into Treasury Bonds continue? ..Probably not much longer. Sooner or later, the European crisis will end and the big investors will probably move from bonds into stocks. When that happens, our mortgage rates will begin to rise.

As a prospective Homeowner or Investor, what does all of this mean to you? The bottom line is that you may never have a better opportunity to buy a home or an investment property. Give us a call and let’s discuss it.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A REALTOR?

Today, there are approximately 3400 Realtors in the Pikes Peak area. …and every one of them is willing to put a sign in your front yard. But, if you really want to sell (or buy) a home in the Pikes Peak area as quickly as possible, you should utilize the services of an effective, proven Realtor who knows how to negotiate the best deal possible for you. Here are some of the things you should look for:

  •  Does your Realtor know what you should do to your house in order to make it more saleable? There are some “improvements” you might make that would actually reduce the price of your home (e.g. adding a swimming pool). Other improvements might only allow you to recoup the actual price of the improvement, but would make your house more interesting to prospective Buyers. Some improvements will actually net you more money than the improvement cost. A good Realtor can also advise you whether you should actually make improvements, or, adjust your sales contract with ‘allowances”. There are some improvements like painting, that influence Buyers more than a simple ‘allowance’ at closing.
  • Does your Realtor know how to negotiate? Many contracts fall apart because of problems that a good Realtor can resolve. Tax implications, aggressive terms, allowances, are all specific items that can be negotiated in order to make the contract more appealing to both parties.
  • Does your Realtor have good relationships with lending institutions? All banks are not alike. Just last week, we developed a good working relationship with a bank on the East Coast that will offer mortgage loans to our clients who work in specific professions. These loans require no down payment and waive several normal loan requirements.
  • Does your Realtor know neighborhoods? Your Realtor should be able to give you a comprehensive view of the value of surrounding homes, tax histories, improvement histories, school systems, planned developments, etc.
  • Does you Realtor have relationships with local suppliers to obtain special pricing? As with many areas of our lives, it’s not a matter of “what you know”, as it is “who you know”. We have special pricing worked out with many local service and product suppliers in order to make the most effective deals for Buyers and Sellers. Some of our ‘preferred pricing’ relationships are with Lowe’s, LazyBoy Furniture, Floorcraft. Sherwin-Williams, Staging companies, etc.   

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

Three contractors are bidding to repair some minor damage to the basement of the White House, one from Texas, one from Boston and one from Chicago. They go with a Secret Service official to examine the basement.

The Boston contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says, "I figure the job will run about $100,000: $40,000 for materials, $40,000 for my crew, $10,000 for the union boss and $10,000 profit for me."

The Texas contractor also does some measuring and figuring, and then says “I can do this job for $70,000: $30,000 for materials, $30,000 for my crew and $10,000 profit for me."

The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the Secret Service official and whispers, "$72,000."

The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with your bid?"

The Chicago contractor whispers back, "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you, and we hire the guy from Texas to fix the basement." 

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Harry A Salzman
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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