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Jan 26 2009

30-year mortgage under 5%

By Steve Kerch & Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

Last update: 2:23 p.m. EST Jan. 15, 2009


CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- The benchmark 30-year mortgage fell below 5% for the first time ever in Freddie Mac's weekly rate survey as economic weakness continued to push interest rates lower, the mortgage agency said Thursday.


The national average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.96% in the week ending Jan. 15, down from 5.01% a week ago. That is the lowest on record. Freddie Mac began its rate survey in 1971. A year ago the loan averaged 5.69%.


Adjustable-rate loans also fell. The 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid mortgage averaged 5.25%, down from 5.49%. A year ago the loan stood at 5.40% and has not been this low since September 2005. The 1-year, Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.89%, down from 4.95%. A year ago that loan was at 5.26%.


The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, a popular refinancing choice, edged up to 4.65% from 4.62% a week ago. Last year at this time the loan averaged 5.21%. Refinancing activity has been strong as mortgage rates have plumbed historic lows. Read the latest mortgage application data showing record refinancing activity.



Jan 06 2009

The new york times - Your Money

It May Be Time to Think About Buying a House


Published: December 5, 2008

Five or 10 years from now, when the financial crisis has ended and housing prices are up smartly once more, we will look in the rearview mirror and realize that we missed a golden age for first-time home buyers.


Then, everyone who sat on their down payment savings accounts for a few years too long will kick themselves for not taking advantage of what may turn out to be the buying opportunity of a lifetime for those who can qualify for a mortgage.


Unfortunately, we do not know when this golden age will begin, because we will be able to identify a bottom to the housing market only with the benefit of hindsight. But as it does with the stock market, the moment will probably arrive when everyone is feeling the most pessimistic.


That moment is certainly getting closer. Housing prices have fallen drastically from their peak levels in many areas of the country. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are already close to 5.5 percent, and this week there were suggestions that the federal government might try to drive them down to 4.5 percent, a truly incredible figure to be able to lock in for three decades.


Meanwhile, first-time home buyers have the same advantage they have always had, which is that they do not have to sell their old place before buying a new one. That is an added advantage in areas where many available houses simply are not moving, because the people trying to sell them will not be bidding against you.


Dec 23 2008

Fed actions send mortgage rates tumbling, and refinancers searching

By Steve Kerch, MarketWatch


CHICAGO (MarketWatch) - The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage tumbled to a national average 5.17% this week, the lowest level since Freddie Mac began its weekly rate survey in 1971.

With the Federal Reserve cutting its interest rates to near 0% and a continued decline in rates on the long-term Treasury notes that mortgages closely track, rates on other types of mortgages dropped again this week, although not as much as the 30-year.


"Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates fell for the seventh consecutive week, moving these rates to the lowest since the survey began in April 1971," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist. "The decline was supported by the Federal Reserve announcement on Dec. 16, when it cut the federal funds target to a record low and stated it stood ready to expand its purchases of mortgage-related assets as conditions warrant."



Dec 09 2008

Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, and unfortunately it’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

Typically, troubles with radon in homes occur when the radon gas seeps up from the ground into the building through cracks and holes in the foundation and then becomes trapped in the home posing health risks to the occupants.

Fortunately, radon is an environmental hazard that can be corrected! The first thing you need to do is understand whether your home has radon levels that are hazardous and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is making that easy for you by offering a free radon test to all Idaho residents. Click here to fill out the form for your free test!

If you find that radon levels in your home are higher than what is recommended by the EPA, you can have it remediated by a professional contractor. The EPA generally recommends methods that prevent radon entry and these systems use a pipe to remove radon gas from below the concrete floor and the foundation before it can enter the home.

If you have additional questions about radon in your home or other potential environmental hazards, please send me an email and I can point you to some excellent resources!

Nov 25 2008

What will it take for me to get my home sold?


Well, fortunately for us, homes are selling – even in this market! So how do we sell your home? There are three things that affect the sale of a property: location, condition, and price.


While we can’t do much about the location of a property, there are many things that can be done to affect condition. After we’ve agreed to work together, the first thing we’ll do is go through the house with you from top to bottom to make sure it looks great. We’ll help you determine which deferred maintenance items need to be taken care of and stage the property to look its best. The way we look at it, you’re going to pay for those deferred maintenance items one way or the other – do you want to pay a little now? Or do you want to pay a lot at the closing table because of price reductions or a lower offer?



Nov 07 2008
Improved affordability sparks first upturn in home sales since 2005

Sales of existing homes shot upward in September, as buyers took advantage of price reductions, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.


Sales of existing homes rose 5.5 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million units, and up from 4.91 million units in August. September 2008 sales figures are 1.4 percent higher than the 5.11 million units sold in September 2007.


Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said more markets are seeing year-over-year gains. “The sales turnaround which began in California several months ago is broadening now to Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Rhode Island,” he said.


Also encouraging are the recent declines in inventory. Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.6 percent to 4.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.9-month supply at the current sales pace.  This is a decrease from a 10.6-month supply in August, and marks two consecutive monthly declines since inventories peaked in July of 2008.

Nov 04 2008

QUESTION: We’d like to take advantage of the buyer’s market and buy a new house but we’re afraid of selling our house and losing money, shouldn’t we wait to sell?

Actually, a buyer’s market is a great time to upgrade.

Sometimes people are nervous about selling in a buyer’s market because they worry they won’t get as much for their house. However, if you’re upgrading to a more expensive house, you often save money in a buyer’s market. Here’s an example:

Say your house is priced at $150k (for numbers sake!) and because we’re in a buyer’s market you have to take 5% off the purchase price in order for it to sell. You’ve “lost” $7,500 in that scenario. But if you’re upgrading to a $200k house, the sellers will need to take that same 5% off their house in order for it to sell. That’s a decrease off the purchase price of $10,000 which is a “gain” for you. So if you subtract your “loss” of $7,500 from that, you actually end up $2,500 ahead! And sometimes at the higher price points an even great percentage off is needed in order for the home to sell, resulting in greater gain for you.

So if your family needs are indicating an upgrade, now might be the perfect time!

Oct 16 2008

“The king of real estate's cashing out – Tom Barrack is selling most of his U.S. portfolio. Maybe you should be nervous too.” This is the headline of a Fortune Magazine article dated October 24th … 2005.


When most people were head over heels in love with real estate and investing every extra penny they had, the founder of the 25 billion dollar private equity firm, Colony Capital, was getting out. “There's too much money chasing too few good deals, with too much debt and too few brains.”


This brings up an interesting point that is important to the question of whether one should buy real estate now. Most people like to buy when everyone else is buying – they want to jump on the bandwagon for fear of missing out on a perceived ‘great opportunity’. That sense of urgency causes people, for example, to buy properties sight-unseen from several states away. But when no one else seems to be buying, people worry they’ll do the wrong thing and make a costly mistake.


However, Warren Buffett restated something he’s said many times in an interview on ‘Charlie Rose’ on October 1st of this year, “You want to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.” I think it could be said that many people are pretty fearful right now!


But the smart money is being invested in real estate. As Donald Trump said recently on Larry King Live, “It’s an unbelievable time to buy a house …”


Oct 10 2008

Boise's North End named one of 10 Great Neighborhoods in the U.S.

Statesman staff - Idaho Statesman

Edition Date: 10/09/08 


Boise’s North End neighborhood has been named one of the 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2008 through the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America program.

“As someone who grew up in the North End, it is an honor to be recognized as one of America’s 10 Great Neighborhoods," Mayor David Bieter said. “Residents of the North End have always taken great pride in their neighborhood. I think this is indicative of our entire city and what makes Boise the most livable city in the country.”

The association said the Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.

Association officials said the North End was singled out because of its community involvement coupled with the neighborhood’s enduring physical beauty and common-sense planning.

“What a great tribute to the residents of the North End,” said Boise City Council President David Eberle. “This designation is an excellent example of how city planning and neighborhood involvement can result in a beautiful area that is an asset to the entire city.”

The North End developed as Boise’s first suburb on a trapezoidal plot of land between Downtown, Camel’s BackPark and nearby foothills during the late 19th Century. A mixture of homes were built, including houses in the Queen Anne, Craftsman and Tudor Revival styles along with some Modern examples in later years.

Like many urban neighborhoods, the North End went through a sustained period of decline following World War II. Home ownership was low and many single-family residences were converted into apartment houses.

The first signs of renewed life for the neighborhood came with zoning changes in the 1970s that encouraged reinvestment in the area. The city made low-interest loans available to homeowners as an incentive for them to restore their homes. In addition, a series of “historic district” designations guaranteed the neighborhood’s character would remain intact.

Boise’s North End neighborhood has been named one of the 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2008 through the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America program.

To view the association’s full Great Places feature, go to