Monday, September 26, 2011

Fed Announces Operation Twist

New plan focuses on mortgage rates; experts’ response is mixed

After a two-day closed door policy meeting last week, the Federal Reserve announced its latest effort to stimulate the economy: “Operation Twist.”

The crux of the plan is to put downward pressure on long-term interest rates by shifting $400 billion from short term Treasury holdings to longer term Treasuries.

Writing for MarketWatch, David Weidner explains that driving long-term interest rates even lower than they have been could help banks by increasing financing activity and generating more fees and transactions. Moreover, he adds, “many homeowners on the edge of being underwater on their home loans would have an opportunity to cut their housing costs. What the banks lose in profit margins — they are currently borrowing for nearly nothing and lending for 4% or more — would potentially be offset by fewer bad loans.”

Economic and housing industry experts are not convinced the outcome is going to turn out to be what the Fed expects and wants it to be. Interviewed for an article in Forbes Magazine, Steve Blitz, senior economist at ITG Investment Research, said that “borrowing is about confidence. If I’m uncertain about growth in my income, I’m not going to go get a mortgage.”

At the same time, as noted in an article on Zacks,

“While all eyes remained fixed on the Federal Reserve’s announcement, data about a surge in the existing-home sales in August was hardly factored in. According to the National Association of Realtors: “Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 7.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million in August from an upwardly revised 4.67 million in July, and are 18.6 percent higher than the 4.24 million unit level in August 2010.”

Zacks’ article concludes with Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, observing that although some of the upswing in existing-home sales in August could be attributed to delayed sales from earlier in the year, “favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hi Everyone I'm privileged to be jointly presenting a real estate investing seminar with Michael Blanchard CPA of Johnson-Glaze & Co., P.C. This should be a time chock full of information about how you can take advantage of this real estate market and the investment opportunities. Topics will include an update of the Salem real estate market, evaluating properties and deal considerations, managing taxes, and more. Please consider joining's Free!

WHEN: September 28th, 2011 6:30 - 8:00 pm (doors open at 6:00pm)

WHERE: Best Western Mill Creek Inn (Across from Costco, off Hawthorne)
3125 Ryan Drive SE Salem, OR

WHO: RSVP PLEASE TO Michael Blanchard by telephone or email:

Can't wait to see you there!

Monday, September 19, 2011

NAR Offers Recommendations to Federal Agencies

A three prong approach to helping the housing market recover

In a recent article, the Associated Press reported that RealtyTrac Inc.’s latest data show bank actions against defaulting mortgage holders rose 33 percent in August from the previous month. As the existing and future inventory of foreclosed upon, or real estate owned (REO), properties continues to loom over the housing market, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued a letter to federal agencies urging more backing for loan modification programs, as well as lending initiatives and short sale support.

Responding to a request for input from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, NAR sent a letter strongly advocating that the government work to expand financing opportunities. NAR outlined three major areas it feels would have the most and best impact on the housing market:

  1. Providing financing opportunities to qualified borrowers — to both relieve the current REO inventory and help forestall adding to the inventory.
  2. Strengthening pre-foreclosure programs such as loan modification and short sales).
  3. Overseeing and encouraging the disposition of REO inventory — utiliizing local expertise (e.g., contractors, real estate brokerages, professional property managers) as needed.

While stressing that financing should be provided to qualified homebuyers according to strong underwriting guidelines, the letter pointed out that private capital supporting the mortgage market has all but disappeared in the last three years — and that the lack of financing opportunities powers lowering home values, which increases the volume of upside-down mortgages and thus the number of homeowners facing default and foreclosure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is A Low Appraisal Putting a Spoke in Your Deal?

5 tips from the experts to help keep your transaction alive

A recent article from RIS Media discusses the increasing percentage of real estate deals that are getting snagged when the appraisal comes in lower than expected. According to the article, this past June and July alone saw 16 percent of real estate professionals reporting a sale cancellation as a result of low appraisals.

What can you do?

1. Negotiate with the seller to lower the price — clearly the simplest solution, though not always the easiest. The earlier in the transaction you address this, the more leverage you may have. Consider that this summer the average home sale took 88 days. Your seller may be willing to balance time against dollars.

2. Ask the seller to carry a second mortgage for the difference — this solution means that the buyer incurs more debt, although it doesn’t cost the seller any more.

3. Do your research — do you have any reason to contest the appraisal? Check the appraisal management company and specific appraiser’s credentials. Find out what comparables were used and don’t be shy about asking to see a list of recent comparable sales that justify the agreed-upon sale price.

4. Ask for a new appraisal — if your research uncovers some doubt or discrepancy, ask the lender to conduct a second appraisal. You might be charged for it, but if your research is convincing enough to you to think one is warranted, it might be worth the money.

5. Order your own, independent appraisal — this can go either way, as the bank will most likely ask the original appraiser to say whether they agree or not with your new one. If they don’t agree, the bank could request another, third, appraisal, or just reject yours altogether. On the other hand, if they agree with your new appraisal and the disputed factors you present, the original appraisal might be adjusted.

For more information, read these articles:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Housing Market Once Again Regional

Mixed recovery signals a return to localized shifts and trends

The S&P/Case Shiller home-price index, released last Tuesday, showed a 3.6 percent increase in home prices from the first quarter of this year to the second. According to the index, however, the average home price year over year dropped 5.9 percent for the first six months of this year compared with last year.

Average home prices are performing differently across the country — The S&P/Case-Shiller index tracks 20 “MSAs” (metropolitan statistical areas), of which, according to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, “eight bottomed in 2009 and have remained above their lows.  These include all the California cities plus Dallas, Denver and Washington DC, all relatively strong markets. At the other extreme, those which set new lows in 2011 include the four Sunbelt cities – Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa – as well as the weakest of all, Detroit.”

Mortgage rates continue to stay at record lows for the entire country — Last Thursday, Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), which showed that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit an all-time low (at least as far back as 1971) in August of 4.15 percent.

Demand for purchase loans remains down — The Mortgage Bankers Association revealed in a separate survey that, despite record low mortgage rates, demand for purchase loans remains lower than it has been since the 1990s.

Blitzer also noted that “these shifts suggest that we are back to regional housing markets, rather than a national housing market where everything rose and fell together.” In this buyer’s market, that means paying more attention to local sale price trends as cities and areas rebound differently around the country.