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Updates Coming for North 7th Avenue

by Tim Hart

City officials met this past week with professionals from California in the hopes of updating and renovating North 7th Avenue.  The California company, the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, helps prepare mayors to become the chief designers of urban areas, and they will be begin by focusing on the 7th Avenue area that stretches from Main to I-90.  The area could see zoning changes as well as aesthetic updates. For property owners in the area, the new focus on 7th and its neighboring streets could really improve home values in the future. Now may also be the time to grab up any open real estate in the area, as improvements could lead to higher prices later on.

 

http://www.kbzk.com/news/a-new-vision-in-the-works-for-bozeman-s-north-7th-avenue-corridor/

Three new hotels are sprouting up in downtown Bozeman.  The first hotel, named the ‘Etha’ will be an eight story, 102 room hotel above the historic National Guard Armory at 24 W. Mendenhall.  It will be viewed as much a community gathering place as a hotel with a 10,000 square foot ballroom to attract bigger groups than the hotel itself can fit.  One key to the success of the Etha will be professional management by LaTour Hotels and Resorts, a San Diego based company that specializes in operating ‘boutique’ hotels.  Most of the boutique hotels operated by LaTour are in major markets such as Salt Lake City, Seattle and Washington, DC.  Bozeman, being a small town, is unique among small markets for this concept.  But as CEO Thomas LaTour quoted  ‘Bozeman does not act or react like other small markets. There's something unique going on there. Just look at the airport. The airport activity given the size of that town is really out of whack.  When those doors swing open, it's for Bozeman.’ he said

The Etha is expected to open in the early fall, 2015.  Next month will focus on the ‘other’ big downtown hotel project.

Allowing MLS to Take the Lead

by Tim Hart

  

“The power balance in the real estate world is shifting faster than ever. Travel titans, search engines, investment oracles and government entities all want to change the way we do business. Most just want to control a larger piece of the pie.” (Source)

 

In the everyday functioning of a real estate office, attracting and retaining agents is a top priority. Real estate, although a volatilemarket, is a rather stable numbers game when it comes to the number of agents entering versus retiring. With that being said, the ability of a broker or agent to increase sales production and income often comes at the expense of competing agents and brokers.

The common element in this competitive personal marketplace is the multiple listing service [MLS]. “The multiple listing service could be called the referee for our regional activities.” (Source) MLS standardizes practices and creates/enforces a plethora of rules. Some agents appreciate the consistency. Some agents loathe the rules impeding into their business. That very tension is where the greatest value of MLS is hidden. An authoritative entity used for the creation of industry wide standards is crippled if it is not also give the ability to enforce. Because of this, MLS is a uniquely powered organization. Realtor organizations, a variety of brokerages, part-time and full time agents, and the MLS staff all work together to generate consistency within real estate listings—the driving force for all real estate movement.

As the real estate industry is becoming increasingly more technologically driven, the tech driven entrepreneurs within the agent community seem to be leaning more toward unified solutions grounded in the network already in place—MLS.

 

The future of MLS may very well be a more regulated national oversight service. Many pressures on the real estate community are encouraging MLS to get more teeth. The alternative would be that brokers could forge different agreements with the same portals like multiple buyers competing for a home. Everyone could begin undercutting everyone else. There would be no uniformity of goal. So keep your eye on the real estate Multiple Listing Service… I am interested to see where this goes. 

Investing Options: Tapping into Your Home’s Equity

by Tim Hart

When the housing market is in a full swing recovery like it is today with interest rates still historically low and inventory changing daily, it is a good time to see how you, the ‘happy in your current home and not looking to move,’ can tap into the market through investing.

Usual Methods of Real Estate Investment: These include: financing a new purchase with a mortgage or selling some stocks and bonds, taking money out of your IRA or from your 401(k). These are hit and miss and sometimes turn out to be not-so-smart moves but they seem to be the methods by which most investors fund their second (or third, or fourth…) purchases.

An Unusual Proposal: Some investors have begun to start using the equity they have built up in their own home as the launch point for an investment property! Home equity, the difference between what a person owes on their mortgage versus their home’s market value, rises with the strengthening real estate market. The increasing value of your home’s equity can be monetized through a home equity loan (a call-out refinance) allows home owners to use their current home’s value to pay for a second home. This, like the methods above, does has pros and cons to it.

  • Pros: Lenders are more willing to lend on more favorable terms because the home owner has more skin in the game. The costs on borrowing will be lower as well since this form of loan does not involve paying for title searches or the transactional cost of a new mortgage.
  • Cons: Your monthly payments will increase and if you cannot pay, you may lose your primary home to foreclosure. In addition, this is an eggs all in one basket approach—you will be investing in one type of asset.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/16/pf/expert/home-equity/index.html

New Chapter In Housing Market Recovery

by Tim Hart
 

The nation experienced a 5.24% decline in housing inventory this July. At the same time, the national median listing price increased by 5.27%.

“The recovery is entering a new phase where inventory shortfalls are no longer the driving force behind changes inhousing prices in many markets. Larger inventories, especially in the hotter markets that experienced rapid price increases in the spring, are expanding buyers’ choices and helping to moderate price increases,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc. “This month’s report also underscores the uneven nature of the housing recovery and its dependence on the strength of the local economy.”  

This new trend boasts the following highlights:

  • No More Year-Over-Year Inventory Declines

  • Local Markets Inventory Declines Decrease Leading to Slower Price Growth

  • Mortgage Rates Rise/Plateau

 

Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/housing-inventory-declines-are-easing/

Eminent Domain Plan and Real Estate

by Tim Hart

Freddie Mac is making a bold move by threatening legal action against the city of Richmond, CA because they are planning to use eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages.

  • Richmond’s Stance: In offering to buy troubled loans at below market value from mortgage companies, they are then able to write down the loan balances for the new home owners and refinance the loans into government-backed mortgages. IF the mortgage companies refuse to allow them to buy the loans, they city will play the eminent domain card and seize them. This whole plan is theorized to help residents curb the loan debt and avoid foreclosure. Circumventing the federal government in this process is the key point. Richmond officials hope this new method will speed up the currently stagnantly moving foreclosure aid assistance. “We’re not willing to back down on this,” says Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. “They can put forward as much pressure as they would like, but I’m very committed to this program, and I’m very committed to the well-being of our neighborhoods.”

Richmond is not the only city considering this option for their residents. About two dozen local and state governments — including Newark, N.J., Seattle, and several other cities in California — have been considering similar uses of eminent domain. 

  • Freddie Mac’s Stance: Voicing cautionary rhetoric, Freddie Mac feels the loan sales will be made only under pressure instead of being clean, tidy, and voluntary as assumed by Richmond. Freddie Mac and its backer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, are considering taking legal action against such a plan.

This new method of circumvention may threaten real estate recovery. "We are concerned that the proposed use of eminent domain would slow the return of private capital to the housing finance system, and threaten our fragile housing recovery," writes California House Republicans John Campbell, Gary G. Miller and Ed Royce in a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. "We do not believe this is appropriate public policy, even if this use of eminent domain were to survive the inevitable legal challenges that would follow any decision to seize mortgages.”  

Freddie Mac Considers Legal Action to Block Eminent Domain Plan

http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/06/13/congress-hud-eminent-domain-proposal-threatens-recovery

http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2012/06/13/can-eminent-domain-be-used-take-over-mortgages

Back to School and the Real Estate Market

by Tim Hart

After the thralls of summer begin to fade into the dry grasslands that signal in fall, parents start thinking about the school season. In fact, a recent realtor.com survey found that school districts impact 60% of home buyers. This carries so much clout with some buyers that are willing to spend more in order to buy within a the district they want their children to belong in. This oftentimes takes a higher priority than parks, trails, and other amenities.

A majority of the home buyers surveyed said that school-district boundaries will have an impact on their buying decision:

  • 23.59 percent would pay 1-5 percent above budget
  • 20.70 percent would pay 6-10 percent above budget
  • 8.98 percent would pay 11-20 percent above budget
  • 40.33 percent would not go above budget

For home buyers who said that school-district boundaries will have an impact on their decision, the majority rated the boundaries as an “important” consideration:

  • 90.53 percent said school-district boundaries are  “important” or “somewhat important”
  • 2.04 percent were “neutral” about the importance of school-district boundaries
  • 7.43 percent said school-district boundaries are “unimportant” or “very unimportant”

 

Data Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/back-to-school-home-search-tips/

Healthy Real Estate: Bursting Bubble Fears on the Rise

by Tim Hart

“Prices are increasing quickly, though that may not always be the most healthy development for the economy. Also, banks may soon loosen overly strict requirements, but a choke point remains in new-home construction.(source)

“The median home price jumped 8% from the previous month to $208,000, according to NAR. While month-to-month price swings are not unusual, the year-over-year rise is now 15%, and prices are at levels last seen in the summer of 2008, just before the bursting of the housing bubble.” (source)

The housing recovery is in full swing. The surge in themarket caught many by surprise with how fast and how swiftly demand for new homes and the selling of homeshappened. There are still too many buyers seeking to buy in a market with too few homes for sale. For most, all this news is vibrant and wonderful.

There is always caution that must be mixed into the equation when it comes to the real estate market.

  • Although fast-rising home values are great for home owners, price increases that go beyond the growth of income create a weak point within the economy that will have to balance itself out eventually.
  • The potential loosening of underwriting restrictions will normalize the lending environment but this too will contribute to a faster price growth. Making it easier for buyers to buy will only put stress on the already limited inventory on the market.
  • New-home construction breached the 1 million mark for the first time in five years in March. Currently, 1.5 million new housing units are needed annually to keep pace with the price gains to keep the market stable and healthy.

All of these currently optimistic headlines the real estate world is seeing are all red flags in and of themselves as well. The market is amorphous unit and will adjust to re-balance itself in time. Too fast of a recover can potentially mean an equally fast decline when the market constricts. One eye on the present and one eye on the future. 

Bid Adieu to 3% Mortgage Rates

by Tim Hart

In this week alone, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 10 percentage points to 3.91% and are up from 3.3% seen in early May. 15-year loans are up from their 2.56% to 3.03% as well. This trend does not look like it will change. “It’s unlikely that rates will ever be that low again.” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • THE FED

The Fed has been stepping in and actively keeping rates at rock-bottom levels by buying up to $85 billion/month of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. This purposeful manipulation of the market has enabled lenders to sell mortgage loans at lower interest rates and recoup their money plus profits. Now with the market recovering, the Fed will stop purchasing the securities and private investors will have to pick up the slack.

  • THE ECONOMY

Economic conditions have improved severely compared to the recession of four years ago. With the economic health on the mend, it is creating a tailwind of interest rate increased. Low rates happen in a time of distress to stimulate. Higher rates happen when the market improves in order to stabilize.

  • 3.3% RATES ARE UNPRECEDENTED

 Even if the rates increase by a percentage or two, those new numbers will be comparatively low to the average. Historically, 30-year loans are above 5.5%. “For clues to the direction of mortgage rates, look at the daily movements in 10-year Treasury bond yields. Mortgage rates track Treasury yields with the difference between them holding fairly constant. Today, Treasury bonds have been on a jumpy uphill climb, with the 10-year hitting 2.21% on May 31, its highest closing since April 2012. On Thursday, the yield was about 2.10%. Since the interest rate on a 30-year is usually 1.7 to 2 percentage points higher, it indicates that mortgages should be at between 3.82% and 4.12% this week.” http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/06/real_estate/mortgage-rates/index.html

 

Real Estate Recovery: Good and Misunderstood

by Tim Hart

Misunderstood News:

April saw a sharp fall in housing starts primarily due to apartment and condominium declines. The Census Bureau reported a 17% reduction for the month with a 38% drop in multi-family units. This emphasizes the volatility of the market since each livable unit with such buildings counts as an individual statistic. New building starts boasted gains of 14%--much coming from the building of large apartment buildings.

 

Straight–Forward Good News:

The two more stable measurements, single-family home starts, fell only 2% allowing the overall stat to remain 21% above last year’s levels. In addition, near-record low mortgage rates in combination with the drop in foreclosures and by extension a constricting of the new home supplies available for sale have all been positive strengthening influences on the housing market and national economic growth.

Take the good news with the bad but don’t get too carried away by either side!

http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/30/real_estate/home-lotteries/index.html?iid=EL

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/16/news/economy/home-building/index.html

 ATHOMEINBOZEMAN

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 34

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