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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

Oct 07 2008

The independent real estate market forecasting organization, Housing Predictor, recently ranked Boise in it's top 25 markets for forecasted appreciation. See the table below for the full list! 

The once top-rated housing market Yakima, Washington is beginning to run out of gas, and falls from the number #1 forecast position in Housing Predictor's Top 25 markets for 2008.

After years of strong sales and appreciation, the Yakima market is slowing and is forecast to slide over the rest of the year. A ripple effect of tighter mortgage lending standards and increasing inventory is beginning to impact the marketplace.

Biloxi, Mississippi all but destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, is in the number one position. A government sponsored program is helping the area rebuild what was once the second largest casino business in the country to Las Vegas.

The Top 25 with the highest forecast appreciation have the greatest probability of reaching their forecast of the more than 250 local housing markets Housing Predictor forecasts.

Conservative North Dakota with one of the strongest statewide economies nationally, and the lowest subprime mortgage activity in the country, placed three cities on the list. Four states each placed three communities on the list.

Interestingly, the top markets for 2008 are scattered throughout all parts of the U.S. from the west to the east and into the southern states. No particular region of the country was more dominate than another as more and smaller communities based on population made the Top 25, which have less appreciation forecast than earlier in the year.

Top 25 Appreciating Real Estate Markets
 Rank    Real Estate Market   2008 Forecast
    1.    Biloxi, MS        4.9%
    2.    Salem, OR        4.7%
    3.    Bismarck, ND        4.6%
    4.    Spokane, WA        4.4%
    5.    Yakima, WA        4.1%
    6.    Austin, TX        4.0%
    7.    Grand Junction, CO        4.0%
    8.    Fargo, ND        4.0%
    9.    Mobile, AL        3.9%
   10.    Idaho Falls, ID        3.8%
   11.    New York, NY        3.8%
   12.    Glen Falls,NY        3.8%
   13.    Salt Lake City, UT        3.8%
   14.    Grand Forks,ND        3.8%
   15.    Pascagoula, MS        3.8%
   16.    Hattiesburg, MS        3.7%
   17.    Albuquerque, NM        3.5%
   18.    Kellogg, ID        3.5%


   Boise, ID


   20.    Provo, UT        3.1%
   21.    Ogden, UT        2.7%
   22.    Edmond, OK        2.6%
   23.    Oklahoma City, OK        2.5%
   24.    Amarillo, TX        2.4%
   25.    Lubbock, TX        2.3%

Sep 29 2008
An emerging story beneath the headlines

By Dave Jenks, Vice President of Research and Development and Jay Papasan, Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor, Keller Williams Realty

Amidst fears of a financial market freefall, the real estate market is emerging as a bright spot. Indicators are pointing to an end to the bust; in fact, real estate may be poised for a bounce.


While consumers are scrambling to diversify their saving and investment accounts and retreating from paper assets (e.g. stocks) into hard assets (e.g. gold), the savviest among them are looking deeper than morning’s headlines and realizing that real estate is a solid investment option in the current market.


Home prices have corrected and fallen back into alignment with historic trends. The inventory of homes for sale is finally shrinking from the June 2008 peak. Also, based on year-over-year comparisons, housing affordability is now higher than it’s been for the past five years. All signs point to the real estate market turning the corner. So for investors seeking a safe haven in this financial storm, housing emerges as a surprisingly good choice—an undervalued hard asset with upside potential.


As the following chart illustrates, the unsustainably high run-up in home prices between 2001 and 2005 is coming back in to alignment with the historic 4 percent trajectory in home price appreciation. Indeed the market has corrected. While it is quite possible that the market will continue for a time to “over correct,” the important point to realize is that no one can ever predict or time the floor—until after the fact when opportunity has been lost.


Is Housing Headed for a Turnaround?
Home prices falling back into alignment with historical trends




Source: Keller Williams Realty, Inc.

The long-term affordability trend of 4 percent appreciation has been recovered after a five-year period of unsustainable growth (2001 to 2005) followed by a three-year market correction (2006 to 2008).

Now is the time to buy and the reasons are many:

  • Real estate remains one of the most stable long-term investments with relatively modest fluctuations in annual gains.
  • The extensive housing inventory in most markets is providing great choices for investors.
  • Mortgage money is available to financially stable buyers and interest rates remain attractively low.
  • Real estate investments tend to bring a greater annual return on investment (ROI) than stocks, gold or commodities, because they are leveraged (buyers put 20 percent down, and receive appreciation on the entire value of the property).
  • Just as the late 1980’s and early 1990’s provided a massive opportunity for real estate investors to make great buys and build wealth, the current market will do the same. Smart money is already back in the market buying up the distressed properties.
  • There is a simple formula for investing in real estate – Criteria, Terms and Network. That formula and the step-by-step process for using it are clearly described in the best-selling book, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor.


Sep 25 2008

The county seat of Ada County is headquarters to Micron Technology and Hewlett-Packard's LaserJet division. This year, anointed Boise the nation's No. 3 launching pad for high-tech companies, after Bellevue, Wash., and Portland, Ore.


It's also known for a pleasing quality of life, with skiing, trout fishing and water rafting, along with relatively low smog, traffic, crime and living costs.


"Boise is fortunate to have an amazing confluence of positive attractions," says Marc Lebowitz, executive officer of the Ada County Association of Realtors.

"We have incredible natural beauty," he says. "We have some of the lowest taxes in the country and pretty solid employment."

Still, Boise's growing attraction never led to an outsized housing boom of the kind that some other areas experienced.


As a result, it has side-stepped any resulting collapse in the mortgage market.


"We did not have a bubble that really burst," says Dan Hernandez, a real estate agent. "The correction here in the last couple of years has been relatively mild."


That doesn't mean home sales haven't hit a rough spot. In particular, high-end houses — $750,000 or more — have languished, Hernandez says.


But more modest homes that are selling for $100,000 to $275,000 are still moving briskly, he says.


Though Boise has suffered some foreclosures, they've involved mainly new homes that builders hadn't been able to sell, Lebowitz says, and so haven't tended to force families out on the street.


Month over month, area home sales are starting to climb back up. But the weak economy is making many people nervous.


The monthly sales volume for city and county is down 24.2% from a year ago — very close to the statewide sales decline of 24.4% — while the median price, $208,000, is down 8.7% for the same period, compared to a 9.2% decline for the state.

The most expensive


Bill and Debi Carpenter are selling this home, a 5-acre secluded property built in 1996 on the Boise River, which is heavily wooded and full of wildlife.

Price: $4.25 million
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Size: 1,648 square feet
Features: Log exterior, exposed beams, rock floors, vaulted ceilings, wood stove fireplace, den, family room, formal dining room, covered patio, corral and dog run.

Median-price home


This house, built in 2004, is on the market.

Price: $207,999
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2
Size: 1,778 square feet
Features: Great room, master bath with soaker tub, fully fenced and landscaped yard, 2½-car garage with workshop.

Sep 20 2008

Well, most likely no.


When a real estate agent lists someone’s house for sale, they negotiate how much commission they are going to charge the seller. The agent and the sellers also determine how much of that commission they are going to offer to the agent who brings the buyer.


For example, Joe Agent has decided to list a house at 1234 N 4th Street for Mr. and Mrs. Smith and he has negotiated that he will charge a 6% commission to the sellers. He also indicated that he will offer 3% of that commission to whichever agent brings a buyer for the Smith’s home.


So, what happens if you approach Joe Agent without your own real estate agent? Some people think that they have saved the 3% that Joe was going to give to the buyer’s agent. However, this is not the case. Joe will keep all 6%!


And that’s fine in some respects, because Joe is doing all the work for both sides of the transaction. However, Joe’s legal and ethical responsibility in this scenario is to do what’s in the best interests of HIS clients – Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And that is probably not getting you the best price for their house.


But what if Joe lowers his commission to 4% instead of 6%? Do you save the additional 2%? Possibly, however, it may be that his lack of negotiation on your behalf – due to his responsibility to his clients – may more than counter the 2% you theoretically saved.


Now, if you sign a Buyer Representation Agreement with Joe, he is legally and ethically obligated to do what’s in YOUR best interests, as well, and his job will be to negotiate a win-win scenario for you and the Smiths. There is nothing wrong with this situation. However, if you don’t know Joe from Adam, wouldn’t you rather have someone you know and trust represent you in the purchase of your home?


We would be more than happy to help you and we promise to always look out for your best interests!


Sep 17 2008

 Posted by: Lauren Young on September 08

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNM), nicknamed Fannie Mae, was a depression-era institution created to make homeownership affordable for the working-class. Freddie Mac (FRE) was created in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the housing market.

Today, Fannie and Freddie guarantee or own over half of U.S. mortgages valued at $5 trillion. But with the credit crunch, too many of those loans started going into default, hurting the companies’ financial reserves and driving up borrowing costs.

Now that the U.S. government has taken control, here’s what should happen:

What Will Happen
Mortgage rates will drop. The 30-year fixed is at 6.08% today, more than a quarter of a percentage point lower than Friday,
according to

Update: Rates took a big dive downward on Monday, with the national rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 5.75%, according to Zillow Mortgage Marketplace. At a state level, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate in Arizona saw the most significant drop from 6.35% to 6.13%, while Michigan saw the smallest decline from 6.30% to 6.25%.


The takeover will shore up financing for buyers with stellar credit. (“Stellar” is defined as folks with credit scores above 700.)

It will hurt performance in mutual funds that invest in the stocks of Fannie and Freddie. It will also help funds that invest in their debt.

What May Happen
The takeover could have a domino effect: It could help stabilize housing prices, which have been falling, by allowing people with weaker credit to buy homes. (Home prices have fallen almost 16% nationally in the past year, according to the S&P/Case-Schiller index.)

It may stem the tide of foreclosures.

What Won’t Happen
The takeover will not cut rates on jumbo mortgages. A jumbo mortgage is defined as a loan of more than $417,000 in most parts of the
U.S. But jumbos are much higher in expensive housing markets. For example, a jumbo loan is up to $729,750 in the Los Angeles area.

It will not reduce home equity loan or line of credit rates.

It will not immediately eliminate fees for borrowers with weaker credit histories. Fannie Mae recently announced higher borrowing costs for loans to borrowers with weak credit. Applicants with credit scores between 640 and 659 who are putting down 15% to 20% now pay an additional 2.25% charge. Mortgage experts are hoping these fees will be dropped as the dust settles.