Posted: 28 Mar 2013 04:00 AM PDT
Limited inventory and a very strong demand for housing has created an environment where bidding wars are commonplace in today’s real estate market. Homes priced properly are getting multiple offers within a short time of coming to market. This brings about a dilemma for the agent: How should they advise their client who is about to make an offer when other offers will also be presented?
Over the last several years, there wasn’t any pressure on the buyer to adjust their offer for three reasons:
- There were plenty of homes for sale
- Prices were falling
- Mortgage interest rates were falling
They buyer could find another home easily for probably less money and a lower mortgage rate. There was no downside to not ‘upping the ante’. However, in today’s market, things have dramatically changed.
A normal real estate market has between 5-6 months worth of inventory. Over the last several years, the inventory of homes for sale had skyrocketed to 10 months. Most buyers in almost any price range had a multitude of houses to choose from. Today, the national month’s supply of inventory has fallen below five months. In many markets, there is not enough housing inventory to satisfy the current demand.
Conclusion: If the buyer loses the house they are bidding on, there is no guarantee they will find a similar home anytime soon.
Becausemof the limited inventory, home prices are again appreciating. The Case Shiller Pricing Index revealed that house prices rose by 6.8% in 2012. Experts are projecting home prices to increase by 5% to 8% in 2013.
Conclusion: If the buyer doesn’t get this house, there is a good likelihood that a similar home will cost more in the future.
The ‘cost’ of a home to a buyer is determined by the price of the house and the expense associated with the financing. Mortgage rates are projected to inch up in 2013. In a recent forecast, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicted that rates could climb as high as 4.3% by the end of the year.
Conclusion: If interest rates do inch up, the ‘cost’ of the next home could be impacted significantly.
If a buyer truly loves the house they are bidding on, it probably makes sense to raise their bid now instead of waiting for another dream house to appear.
Shared from http://www.kcmblog.com
Many homeowners are waiting until the Spring ‘buying season’ to list their homes for sale. Here are five reasons why that might not make sense this year:
1.) Demand Is High
Homes are selling at a pace not seen since 2007. The most recent Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that annual sales in 2012 increased 9.2% over 2011. There are buyers out there right now and they are serious about purchasing.
2.) Supply Is Low
The monthly supply of houses for sale is at its lowest point (4.4 months) since May of 2005. The current month’s supply is down 21.6% from the same time last year. Historically, inventory increases dramatically in the spring. Selling now when demand is high and supply is low may garner you your best price.
3.) New Construction Is Coming Back
Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block. As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in. These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative to many purchasers.
4.) Interest Rates Are Projected to Inch Up
The Mortgage Bankers’ Association has projected mortgage interest rates will inch up approximately one full point in 2013. Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.
5.) Timelines Will Be Shorter
The dramatic increase in transactions caused many challenges to the process of buying or selling a home in 2012. We waited for inspections, dealt with last minute appraisals and prayed that the bank didn’t ask for ‘just one more piece of paper’ before issuing a commitment on the mortgage. There are fewer transactions this time of year. That means that timetables on each component of the home buying process will be friendlier for those involved in transactions over the next 90 days.
These are five good reasons why you should consider listing your house today instead of waiting.
In November, 59 percent of Mukilteans supported Prop. 1 the bond measure on the ballot with the goal to obtain 100 acres of Japanese Gulch property on the west side of the gulch in order to make it into a regional park.
In fact we were only 158 votes shy of the super majority needed to pass this measure. This is a tremendous accomplishment and a meaningful election margin. Clearly the community has spoken, but the vote fell short, so what do we do now?
On Feb. 9, the Japanese Gulch Group is holding its second Mardi Gras Dinner and Auction at the Rosehill Community Center. Proceeds from the event will go toward saving the gulch.
Some in the community are questioning why, with the ballot measure defeated, we should continue supporting this group. The fact is that supporting the Japanese Gulch Group is more important than ever because we are very close to accomplishing our goal of purchasing and preserving the gulch property forever.
Let me explain to you why your help and donations are still needed and what happens to the money that is donated.
Thanks to your support, our fundraising auctions raise tens of thousands of dollars each year. Unfortunately, the purchase price of the Japanese Gulch land is going to be in the millions.
At the current rate, it will take more than 10 years to raise enough money through auctions alone to purchase the property. By that time the land will be sold and developed.
By donating to the Japanese Gulch Group, your money is helping us build the community and political support needed to raise the funds necessary to purchase the gulch property.
We know we can’t save the gulch on fundraisers alone, so we need to find other ways to fund the purchase price of the property now. Your donations help us move toward our goal of purchasing the land by helping us find and access alternate sources of funding.
So far we’ve built awareness of the gulch through events and projects. There was the Gulch Cup race that involved 300 kids and seven schools; Trail-A-Muk, a non-competitive 5K run/walk; and the LEAF School conducted an archeological exploration project in the gulch.
We have applied for numerous grants, many of which are still in the approval process. We applied and got accepted to Leadership Snohomish County, which will help the group by working on a capital project to bring in donations from outside the city of Mukilteo.
Some have complained about Mukilteo taking on the tax burden of the gulch. What you may not know is that in 2010 the state of Washington gave $1 million toward the gulch, and in 2011, Snohomish County gave $500,000.
We have applied and received approval from another Snohomish County grant that will come to fruition in 2013. Grants and bond measures on the state, county and local levels will all combine to help us purchase this property.
The group is working to obtain funding through every source possible to make the gulch into a regional park.
Many people who live outside of Mukilteo have expressed the desire to donate funds directly toward the purchase price of the gulch property. These funds would be used in conjunction with any future levy or bond measure that we get approved in Mukilteo.
Through our Capital Fund Drive non-residents can now donate directly to the purchase of the gulch property. This “community” money will be specifically earmarked toward buying the land. Please come to the auction for more specific information.
This year’s Mukilteo Mardi Gras Dinner and Auction will be better than ever. We have an all-new caterer this year, Shawn O’Donnell, who will be providing options like Caesar, house, and succotash salad, cornbread with honey butter, as well as Cajun favorites, such as chicken jambalaya and bourbon glazed sweet potatoes.
The caterers will have more staff available for better service and two buffet tables this year to keep things moving smoothly.
We will have many wonderful auction items to bid on, through both live and silent auctions, and are always looking for more. You can buy things that you normally wouldn’t buy, such as tickets to a Cirque Zuma Zuma show or you can be practical and buy things like carpet cleaning or a kid’s birthday party that you are going to spend money on anyway, so you might as well help the gulch!
Grab your friends, get a table together and come out to Rosehill for a wonderful night where you can feel good about spending money on a cause that really matters! Last year’s event sold out so please go to www.Japanesegulchgroup.maestroweb.com to purchase your tickets in advance.
We need your support now as much as ever! We are close to achieving the dream of turning this land into a regional park. We live in Mukilteo because of the wonderful quality of life here. The purchase of Japanese Gulch can only add value to our community.
If you would like to learn more about Japanese Gulch Group or have any other questions regarding the auction or how you can help the cause, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please come and support our community!
For over a year, we have been reporting on the impact that the new regulations being created for the Qualified Mortgage (QM) and the Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) would have on the housing market. Last week, the Consumer Finance Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced its rules for a qualified mortgage. Let’s take a look at what it will mean to housing.
Let’s Begin with ‘Simplified’ Definitions
The idea of a QM is to assure the “ability to pay” — what standards a bank must follow to make sure a borrower has the ability to make the mortgage payments before offering a loan. An over-simplified explanation would be “the things a bank can’t do”.
The idea at the center of QRM is to determine the standards that a buyer must meet before getting a mortgage. An over-simplified explanation would be “the things a buyer must do”.
What Happened Last Week?
The CFPB issued their QM rules which will be effective January 10, 2014. The rules determine the limits on the loan types which can be offered by banks, the fee structures which can be charged by banks and other such issues. (For more details, you can download the 7 page summary or the 804 page full document issued by the CFPB).
The biggest news impacting a potential mortgage applicant is that the allowable back-end-debt ratio was set at 43% which is more lenient than the discussed 36% limit. The back-end-ratio is explained by Investopedia as:
“A ratio that indicates what portion of a person’s monthly income goes toward paying debts. Total monthly debt includes expenses such as mortgage payments (made up of PITI), credit-card payments, child support and other loan payments. Lenders use this ratio in conjunction with the front-end ratio to approve mortgages.”
This will result I more buyers still being able to qualify for a mortgage.
What DID NOT Happen Last Week?
The QRM rules were NOT released. The QRM rules will be set by several different Federal agencies, such as the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, FHFA, HUD, and OCC. These rules will be announced later this year and may include:
- A maximum “front-end” monthly debt-to-income ratio (which looks at only the consumer’s mortgage payment relative to income, but not at other debts) of 28 percent;
- A possible 20 percent down payment requirement in the case of a purchase transaction
- New minimum FICO scores established
These QRM rules will also have a big impact on future lending. We will try our best to keep you abreast of any updates.
The FAA decision that many airport area residents feared but expected came down Tuesday: Permitting commercial passenger service at Paine Field will not have significant adverse effects on the community.
The decision reinforced the agency’s previous conclusion that pollution, traffic, noise and other consequences of commercial jet traffic would not be significant enough to require a thorough environmental review.
Two airlines had previously indicated an interest in using Paine Field for commercial service – Alaska/Horizon and Allegiant.
During the three years the FAA took to come to its decision, Horizon decided it was no longer interested, and would focus on Sea-Tac instead.
But Las Vegas-based Allegiant continues to express interest. A spokesman said they would like to start with four flights per week, increasing to about 20 per week over the next five years.
In September, the FAA said adding up to 23 flights per day would not have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding communities.
Needless to say, opponents of the decision have a different view.
The city of Mukilteo, which has set aside a legal fund of more than $150,000 to fight Paine Field expansion, will likely appeal the decision, Mayor Joe Marine said.
But their approach won’t be known until city officials sit down with their attorney on Thursday, he said.
“I think that it’s what we all expected, and they’ve taken close to three years to do what we anticipated that they would, which is tell us no significant impact because they didn’t fully study all the projections for commercial flight activity, so of course that is the conclusion they would come to,” Marine said.
Greg Hauth, vice president of the citizens’ group Save Our Communities, was even more critical.
“I think the FAA has just completely failed to follow environmental law,” Hauth said.
He pointed out the FAA looked at a limited number of flights in reaching its conclusion, but now the door is open to many more flights than the FAA considered.
“Their studies finding that there is no significant impact is egregious, because they have not done the studies properly at all,” he said.
“They are charged to do reasonable foreseeable accumulative impacts, and all they did was take a tiny slice of activity and conclude no significant impacts. It’s the willful ignorance of the environmental law that is egregious.”
Hauth urged the city to take legal action.
“We expect the city of Mukilteo to fight this, and we’re going to fight it and we hope citizens will respond and fight it as well,” he said.
College towns are often more well known for their hole-in-the-wall joints than their culinary hotspots, but there are several college towns that are an oasis for lovers of great food. Thanks to culinary schools, increasing interest in farm-to-table dining, and pairings with local beer, wine, and spirits, these college towns are great places for foodies to study and enjoy good food. Check out our picks, listed in no particular order, for the best foodie college towns, and be sure to share your favorite in the comments.
Nestled in between Seattle and Portland, the home of Whitman College and Walla Walla University also happens to be an incredible wine and food destination. There are more than 100 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, and Walla Walla Community College offers an associate’s degree in wine making and grape growing through its own commercial winery, College Cellars. In addition to the growing wine scene, town favorites like the fish tacos at the Green Lantern college pub make Walla Walla a great place to eat, drink, and of course, study.
Walla Walla may have wine, but the foothills college town of Boulder certainly has a lot of beer to satisfy University of Colorado students. As a state, Colorado ranks 4th nationally in craft breweries per capita, and many of those are located in the Boulder area, including Avery Brewing Company and Twisted Pine Brewing Company. But it’s not just the beer that makes Boulder a great food town: a focus on healthy living, fresh foods including seasonal local ingredients, and vegetarian-friendly dining really make it a unique place to catch a great meal.
This New England town, home of University of New England, is simply one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood. Lobsters, oysters, scallops, mussels, and cod are all plentiful in this seaside town, and Portland serves up losts of them. The local visitor’s bureau reports that per capita, more money is spent in Portland restaurants than any other city (short of San Francisco and New York). It’s no wonder, considering that Portland ranks among the top U.S. cities in restaurants and bars per capita, many of which cater to niche markets. Like Boulder, Portland is also host to many notable breweries and brewpubs, including Allagash Brewing Company and Shipyard Brewing Company.
The Texas capital and home base of the University of Texas has a fun and funky food scene that leaves students, politicians, locals, and tourists satisfied. Popular local food trucks gather at “trailer parks” to dish up everything from tacos to gourmet donuts, and the BBQ in Austin is nothing short of legendary. Long known as a drinking town, Austin is home to a trifecta of craft cocktails, an exploding craft beer scene, and close proximity to Texas hill country wineries to complement food offerings that are cutting edge and often, charmingly weird.
Another coastal New England college town that’s great for student foodies is Providence, Rhode Island. This small town is big on education, with Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, to name a few. But it’s big on food, too, with a great “boat-to-table” seafood culture that offers fresh catches at some of the best restaurants in the country. And thanks to the world-renowned College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University, students can enjoy both food and learning at the same time.
Wine and beer may be the beverage darlings in the foodie world, but in this Kentucky college town, bourbon takes center stage with the Urban Bourbon trail that takes whiskey lovers on a tour full of whiskey-infused sauces, desserts, and other culinary delights. Sullivan University’s culinary school has had a lot to do with Louisville’s rise as a foodie town, as it has a farm-to-table program and excellent local farmers’ markets.
Wichita, Kansas is the home of Wichita State University as well as the loose-meat sandwich created by local fast-food chain Nu Way Cafe. Plus, a growing food truck culture means WSU students can find a great meal on the go. Students craving something sweet don’t have to go far to find satisfaction: Wichita is home to two great candy makers, Cero’s Candy and Cocoa Dulce.
In Eugene, Oregon, you’ll find not only the University or Oregon, but also what’s been called an “organic paradise.” Eugene has the longest-standing farmers’ market in the U.S., a huge collection of wineries, and a focus on slow food. Plus, there’s a virtually endless supply of organic restaurants, artisan chocolates, and pinot noir for student foodies to enjoy.
Kansas City is most famous for its legendary steak and barbeque, and has been crowned as a “world capital of barbeque” thanks to its unique style and preparation. But KC is surprisingly well-rounded, offering University of Missouri and DeVry University students plenty of options off the grill. Fried chicken dinners, hot cinnamon rolls, and even apple cider donuts are some of the treats that are available to foodies in this college town.
Asheville has begun to call itself “Foodtopia,” a title that is well deserved thanks to a great farm-to-table scene, farmers markets, award-winning chefs, gourmet shops, and numerous breweries. Students at Warren Wilson College are able to regularly enjoy locally-grown, seasonal cuisine that’s not only good, but good for them. And we’re sure that the city’s five annual beer festivals are well attended by students as well.
I can vouch for the wine as I go every year for Spring Release in Walla Walla and we always have great wine and food while we’re there. We’re so lucky to have our Washington version of Napa Valley so close to home!
Mukilteo has recovered almost all of the data lost after a recent crash of the city’s computer system.
The city found out recently that it will get more than 95 percent of its information back, which includes its financial system, criminal evidence photos, audio recordings, grant information and other city files.
“There is relief,” City Administrator Joe Hannan said. “Most people have been saying, ‘Let’s not have that happen again.’”
It cost the city $36,000 to retrieve the information from five failed hard drives, Finance Director Scott James said.
The city is now looking to spend an estimated $171,500 on a new system, James said.
The system failed back in April, resulting in the loss of about 1.5 terabytes of data.
At first, the damaged hard drives were sent to the company Secure Data Recovery, which has an office in Seattle. The company “called it quits” after a month, but charged the city $6,000 for trying, said James, who oversees the IT department.
The hard drives were then sent to Kroll Ontrack in Minnesota, which had been recommended by the failed system’s manufacturer, Dell.
James said staff had decided to go with Secure Data Recovery first because it was local and less expensive. They later found out, however, that the company actually has offices all over the United States.
The City Council plans to discuss the new system at the July 2 meeting, Hannan said. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall, 11930 Cyrus Way.
“That goes to relieving some of the fears of having a meltdown again,” James said. “That’s one of our biggest concerns.”
Councilmember Kevin Stoltz, also an IT expert, said an even bigger concern should be figuring out what caused the crash.
“Without identifying a path and actually what caused the other system to go, I think that’s kind of reckless to spend $170,000-$180,000,” he said. “It’s a lot of money to throw at something when you haven’t really identified what caused the problem.”
James said the city’s plans to replace and upgrade the computer system – which includes off-site backup – would help prevent or limit data loss in the future. The previous system did not have off-site backup.
For now, he said, the city is reconstructing some of its lost data, including tape and virtual backups.
Stoltz said he would like to see more options and a phased approach to replace the computer system.
“We need off-site backups,” he said. “You should never be without an off-site backup.”
The crash was triggered by a cooling system failure last summer that led to the overheating of the server room, where the city’s hard drives are stored. Five hard drives, nine virtual servers, and at least two backup devices failed on April 4.
Stoltz said a system had been set up to give email notifications to staff if drives start to fail, but “nobody was looking for the notification.”
“You have to look at your email,” he said. “That’s not a reason to go out and buy all new equipment.”
James said he, other IT staff and the city administrator would get the notifications with the new system.
Two months before the crash, the city’s network engineer left for another job. The IT manager – the only other information technology staff member – had been busy working on the city’s fiber-optic line, Hannan said.
City staff had included requests for help in previous budgets, but they were not included in the mayor’s budget and were not seen by the City Council.
One request was for a temporary help-desk position that now has been approved, Hannan said. The other was for $3,000 for off-site backup, he said.
Before he left, the network engineer, who has yet to be replaced, demonstrated the city’s vulnerability by hacking into the city’s network and accessing files containing social security numbers and other information.
A temporary network engineer has now helped to secure city files with personal information, Hannan said.