Saturday, August 22, 2009

July Home Sales Mark Back-to-Back Improvement

Local home sales – for the second month in a row – topped sales from a year ago. Realtors sold 1,984 homes in July compared to 1,866 the previous July, for a 6.3% gain. In June, the year-over-year improvement was 1.3%.

Nationally, homes sales last month were 5% than one year ago, and 7.2% higher than a month ago.

Paul Jacob, president of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, said the current $8,000 federal housing tax credit program has been enthusiastically accepted. "People of all ages who haven't owned a home during the last three years or more, including first-time buyers, have run up the housing sales thermometer due to the tax credit program available to them," he said.

He also said that multiple offers on the same property for sale are happening again. "That hasn't occurred in a while," he remarked. The up-to-$8,000 tax credit has been a home run for buyers in this housing market. But that program expires Nov. 30. Buyers must close on their contracts by that date in order to qualify. Adding to the tax credit are low home mortgage rates, which now average 5.45% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, compared to 6.68% a year ago.

Further, the inventory of homes for sale gives buyers plenty of choices. But even those choices are becoming less, as the July housing inventory was 7.04 months. A year ago it was 8.94 months. A balanced market for buyers and sellers is about 6 months. A number less than 6 months could begin to tilt the market to a seller's marketing advantage.

"Don't let this opportunity pass you buy if you're a prospective buyer," Jacob said. "All the ingredients are in place for buyers to make successful home purchases if they take advantage of today's opportunities."

-Courtesy of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors-

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The bank says…I don’t want it either.

Chances are you have one in your neighborhood, you know that house that just looks vacant. Odds are, it is and will continue to be for some time. The foreclosure process is a lengthy and complicated one – it's that way on purpose. Homeowners are provided ample time to sort things out and keep the house, sort of like a government "for the people, by the people". So while the owners haven't been paying their mortgage the government believes it should be difficult for private enterprise or even government itself to take property from citizens; thus a lengthy and drawn out process with ample opportunities for the homeowner to maintain claim on the property, even though we know that 99% of the time they can't. Let's face it if people could keep their homes…they likely would.

So what happens to that home when no one wants it? The owners have since moved on, and the lender who has the opportunity to claim it at sheriff's sale is told that the property is worth practically nothing. They review the property and realize it will cost them more in legal fees to sell it than it would to just walk away. So what do they do? They walk away and leave the property to…well dissolve on its own I guess. More likely for the local community to condemn it and then deal with it themselves…yes, ultimately your tax dollars will have to take care of this now blighted home.

There is, however, a bright-side; a recent article by the Enquirer highlights a home in Wyoming that is being "recycled". Usually a home is demolished and the debris is carted off to a local landfill consuming up to 6,400 cubic feet of space. Instead, this home is being deconstructed and everything from lumber to nails is being shipped off to be recycled and used again – locally. The lumber saved here is the equivalent of 25 trees…you know, not cut down. The empty space will be filled with topsoil and become a new green space for the city. Cost to the city – about $11,500 – a traditional demolish job can be at least that much if not more. In fact, additional jobs are created to dismantle the home.

So while the process can be lengthy, and we don't always get it right we are trying and at least making some progress.