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Is the Media Trying to Ruin My Life?......

by Jeremy Larkin

I guess they may not MEAN to ruin our lives.....they just want to sell papers, TV time, increase Internet viewing. But they are ruining our lives anyway.

If you don't belive me, consider the following "incident" experienced by one of my Seller clients this week:

  • They listed their home with us a few months back and after a relatively short time on market, we placed the property "under contract" with a ready, willing and able buyer to close yesterday, October 9th.
  • They day before closing, October 8th, all parties were ready to go with a fully approved loan, documents waiting at the title company. My clients had moved 90% out with the exception of their beds to a rental home.
  • Mid morning the Buyer's agent recieved the following letter from their buyer: 

My husband and I have been watching the news very closely and it seems just too risky to buy a home. We know that the appaisal came in above the purchase price but we heard that houses went down 16% yesterday making this purchase worth way less than the price before we even buy it. For this reason I do not want to go through with buying the home."

Wow.

THE OUTCOME: Since (like most normal people) the Seller couldn't afford to pay both rent and a mortgage payment, they are now moving BACK in to their home without the proceeds they really needed to pay off some debt, etc. The Buyer missed out on a great buy on that home (truly), neither agent got paid, nor did the mortgage lender, nor did the title company, and the profit that everyone DIDN'T make DIDN'T go back into the economy.

Oh and by the way, houses didn't fall 16% in 1 day, nor have they ever done so in 1 single day, but the Buyer thought they heard that and the rest is history. That's a funny statement though.

As if the Country isn't already facing a huge economic crisis, the Media compounds the issues 40x over by printing headlines such as:

  • "Is your Wall Street Money Safe?" (CNBC.com) - How do you think that headline affects the markets? Do you think many people ran to their broker and said "CASH OUT!!"?..I'll bet so.
  • And my personal favorite: "Credit Markets Frozen!" (just about every news outlet in the world....) - How many totally able people may decide to not even try to make a home or other purchase by hearing that? "What's the use?" they probably say...

That's strange about the credit situation..my credit card still works, my home equity line is still completely open to me and people continue to buy and sell homes, cars and everything else under the sun right now.

Let's take this 1 step further. Been to Wal-Mart lately? How about In-N-Out Burger? What did you find? TONS of people spending money, that's what. People washing their cars, shopping at Kohls, fueling up, going to movies, going to DISNEYLAND!! (I LOVE Disneyland). I was in Costco today and the place was ABSOLUTELY PACKED.

The world of commerce has not stopped turning as near as I can tell.

Look, I DO NOT have a crystal ball, but many of us may be wishing we had lots of cash to buy up real estate, stocks, diesel trucks, whatever during this period. There are GREAT buys in the market on alot of items.

The world has not ended. On the contrary, it is actually revolving quite normally in so many regards. But we DO face some tough challenges in the short term. You may just have to unplug the news and stop reading the paper to survive this moment in time.....I know I have.

Borrowing Buyers From the Future: A Real Estate Time-Travel Drama

by Jeremy Larkin

So a lot of people (see: "Sellers") have been wondering what the *$%! happened to their home equity and this crazy housing market in general, and for many months now I have been repeatedly put to the test of "describing" the status of the current housing market, which to fully explain requires some time travel.  

Well, yesterday in a Keller Williams sales meeting the Universe smiled upon me and gave me the gift I had been looking for....NO, not a week in Hawaii far from the foreclosures, short sales and general cry of pain I hear on a daily basis. Rather, a CARTOON depicting the history of the housing market and what led us to this deep, dark place called a....(shhh, keep this to yourself...)..."Housing Crisis."

**IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST AT ALL IN THE HOUSING MARKET, THIS IS FOR YOU. IF YOU HAVE LOTS OF INTEREST IN THE HOUSING MARKET, THIS IS REALLY FOR YOU. IF YOU WANT TO LOOK SMARTER THAN ANY OF YOUR FRIENDS, THEN THIS CLIP IS REALLY, REALLY, REALLY FOR YOU.**

So sit back, make sure the Flux Capacitor is calibrated, set the dial to the 'funk' of 1970, and enjoy 7 1/2 minutes of the absolute BEST explanation of this housing mess I've EVER SEEN, courtesy of John Burns, a Real Estate Consultant who spends his days analyzing housing data all over the country.

I WOULD LOVE to get some of your opinions on this clip...please feel free to comment below!

 

Aspiring First-time Home Buyers who have been sitting on the proverbial real estate fence may see their "ship" coming in this year in the form of a new Federal Housing initiatives.

In the latest move by the U.S. government to stop the national housing & economic bleed, first-time buyers will be able to take advantage of a temporary tax credit of up to $7500.00.

The stipulations look like this:

-Home must be purchased between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009

-Single taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for full credit

-Only primary residences qualify (no 2nd homes, rentals, etc)

It's no doubt that one of the challenges the encomy faces in getting jump-started is that of fewer financing options for today's buyer. The Media isn't helping either, but despite their mass over-dramatization of the issue, we have to expand rather than contract to beat this current situation. One of the best ways to do that is to get first-time buyers off the fence and into the equity-producing tax shelters we call home ownership.

Don't Forget New FHA Limits
One program that has made a HUGE comeback this year and, quite frankly, seems to work on 99% of the deals I've seen it used in, is the FHA loan. New loan limits for FHA will be the greater of $271,050 or 115% of an area's median home price.

Conforming loan limits for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will be the greater of $417,000 or 115% of the an area's median home price; up to $625,000. In Washington County this will be $417,000.

Get detailed info here: http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com/.

 

IS THE HOUSING CRISIS REALLY A "CRISIS"?

by Jeremy Larkin

So you ask, "how low do you think prices will go?"......"have we hit bottom?" You may even ask, "is the world coming to an end?" Ok, well I haven't been asked that, but I've been asked something similar during the woes of the current market.

Now CNBC Analyst Dennis Kneale raises what may be the most critical question of all: Is the current housing crisis really a "crisis?", or just a problem blown out of proportion? Take 2 minutes 28 seconds and see if his answer to the question matches yours by clicking the link below:

So the Summary looks something like this:

-1/3 are owned 'free & clear'

-1/2 of the remaning 80 million were bought before the year 2000

-The median home price is up 53% since then

-Overall, 95% of all mortgage holders still pay on time.

-That leaves us with maybe 4 million homes in trouble.

-Moreover, only 2% of the households in America are actually in foreclosure!

Hmmm......is this really a crisis, or the proper adjustment necessary to get home buyers back in the game?  You make the call!

 

Housing Crisis Over? Hmmm.......

by Jeremy Larkin

I just came across a very interesing Wall Street Journal opinion column titled as much: "The Housing Crisis Is Over," stating that April 2008 may have been the "bottom" of housing crash that started in late 2005. A pretty wild healine indeed, yet if you take the time to read it I think you will see that this guy's opinion is largely based on fundamentals, not just the wishful thinking of another housing crash victim.

Let's just say that he is right.....prices should start coming back, right? Not so, says the writer: "For starters, a bottom does not mean that prices are about to return to the heady days of 2005. That probably won't happen for another 15 years. It just means that the trend is no longer getting worse, which is the critical factor."

His logic is based on the following key points:

  • The current housing bust is nearly three years old (no longer a new thing)
  • New home sales are down a staggering 63% from peak levels of 1.4 million & ousing starts have fallen more than 50% and, adjusted for population growth, are back to the trough levels of 1982.
  • Residential construction is close to 15-year lows at 3.8% of GDP; by the fourth quarter of this year, it will probably hit the lowest level ever.
  • The very same thing that caused the bust will bring it back to life: Affordability. 

"Mortgage rates have come down 70 basis points from their highs. As a result, it now takes 19% of monthly income for the average home buyer, and 31% of monthly income for the first-time home buyer, to purchase a house. In other words, homes on average are back to being as affordable as during the best of times in the 1990s. Numerous households that had been priced out of the market can now afford to get in."

I see some major logic in this guy's argument, and he certainly supports my personal theories that even if sales do increase, values will take a LONG time to recover. (See http://www.gostgeorge.com/blog_post.asp?post=14411)

By posting this I don't for a second imply that I agree with this opinion, but it makes for great conversation. What do you think? Somebody give me their take on this thing!

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Photo of Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group Real Estate
Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group
Keller Williams Realty
50 E 100 S, Suite 300
St. George UT 84770
435.767.9886
Fax: 435-359-5085

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