Money Matters

Optimism Builds in Housing Market

January 18th, 2012 by Katie K Team

More promising news today from Daily Real Estate News!

Several recent indicators for the real estate industry are pointing to a market that is on the mend and entering recovery mode.

Housing experts’ predictions for the new year tend to center around a market stabilizing before entering a gradual, albeit very slow, recovery. However, the tone is more upbeat than it has been in years for the housing market.

Here are a few of the signs that are showing the market moving in a more positive direction:

Home sales: Existing home sales are expected to increase 12 percent this year, following a 2 percent jump last year, Moody’s Analytics predicts. The signs are already showing: In November, pending home sales — a gauge for future home buying — reached its highest level in 19 months, the National Association of REALTORS® reported.  Read the rest of this entry »

Grand Rapids joins the “Improving” Housing Market List!

January 10th, 2012 by Katie K Team

Great News for the Grand Rapids Real Estate Market . . . We’re #20 on this list!

More Cities Join ‘Improving’ Housing Market List

from the Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The National Association of Home Builders’ list of improving housing markets nearly doubled this month, as more cities showed signs of a rebound with their real estate markets.

The list now contains 76 improving markets, up from 41 in December, according to NAHB’s and First American’s Improving Markets Index, a monthly gauge that measures a city’s improvements in housing permits, employment, and housing prices for at least six months.

“The fact that the list of improving housing markets nearly doubled this month shows that a significant, positive trend is developing, and is even more relevant when you consider the expanding geographic distribution of the list — which now includes 31 states and the District of Columbia,” NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement.

Follow this link to see the cities that were added to the list in January: Read the rest of this entry »

Some Good Signs for the Real Estate Market

December 28th, 2011 by Katie K Team

This report on National market conditions published on the National Association of Realtors’ website (NAR) is consistent with what we’re seeing in the local market. If you or someone you know is thinking about buying or selling a home in Grand Rapids, contact us today to get the edge!

Sales ticked up for existing homes and new homes, several real estate market indicators revealed last week, pointing to a housing market that may finally be entering recovery mode.

In the most recent report, the Census Bureau reported that the new-home market continued its rebound, with sales of new houses once again inching up last month. New-home sales rose 1.6 percent from October to November to an annualized rate of 315,000, and sales were up nearly 10 percent compared to November 2010.

The median sales price of a new home in November was $214,100, the Census Bureau reported, and the inventory of new houses nationwide decreased to a six-month supply at the current sales pace. Read the rest of this entry »

New-Home Market Shows Signs of Stabilizing

July 27th, 2011 by Katie K Team

New-home sales dropped in June, but a sharp increase in prices and declining inventories may be signs that the sluggish new-home market is finally rebounding, the Commerce Department reported.

Sales of new homes dropped 1 percent in June, reaching an annual rate of 312,000 — less than half the 700,000 rate that most economists consider healthy for the new-home sector. New-home sales fell to record lows in the Northeast and were also particularly sluggish in the West.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Grant for Military First-Time Home Buyers

July 26th, 2011 by Katie K Team

A new program is offering financial assistance to first-time home buyers who are veterans or active-duty military members. The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation, a nonprofit national organization, is offering the assistance through its Dream Makers program.

Active duty personnel, veterans, retired members of the military, and employees of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security may be eligible for a grant up to $5,000 to use on down payments and closing costs when buying their first home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Housing Shortage Is Likely Coming, Report Says

June 30th, 2011 by Katie K Team

Within the next decade, 16 million new housing units will be needed to meet population growth and shifting demands, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies in its latest annual “State of the Nation’s Housing” report.

That means household growth, which has dropped drastically in recent years, will need to greatly reverse its trend to meet the forecasted spike in demand. From 2007-2010, household growth averaged about 500,000 per year–less than half the 1.2 million annual pace averaged prior from 2000-2007.

Read the rest of this entry »

My Dad, The Price of Gas, and a Lesson on Relativity

May 12th, 2011 by Katie K Team

By Sharon Sikkema,
Realtor and Closing Specialist, Katie-K Team

Just like me, many of you who are reading this are at an age where you have or are currently helping and caring for elderly parents or grandparents. My Dad (a/k/a “Coop”) was one of my best mentors throughout life, and although he became  physically frail toward the end,  he remained one of the smartest people I’ve known. His humor and wit were sharp as a tack, and I’m still learning from his wisdom everyday.

I remember one of my visits with him where I mentioned that the price of gas had just reached an ‘all time high’ of over $3.00 per gallon. One would think that to someone who was at the time 93 years old, in a nursing home, and hadn’t filled his car up with gas in at least 10 years, this would have come as a huge shock. Rather, “Coop” shrugged indifferently and replied, “Ya, but then everything is relative . . . I remember the days when you could get 10 gallons for a buck, but then I didn’t have a buck!” Today, with prices hovering over $4.00 a gallon, I suspect he would be equally nonplussed.

As I was tuning into NBC’s national news coverage that same night and once again heard the “gloom and doom,” about the US housing market, I couldn’t help but compare this situation to my Dad’s rationalization about the price of gas. Is the fair market value of your home less than it was five years ago? Unfortunately, yes. That’s the downside of the real estate market these days. But, there is a logical upside to this! If you choose to buy a home today, the fair market value of that home you want to buy will also be less than it was one or two years ago. And the “Up-Up” side is, interest rates are at historic lows. Not only is it a great time for first time home buyers, now is a great time for anyone to buy up or buy down! I have to admit, I’m a news junkie, and I love watching and reading the news. However, I believe that many times when there’s a positive side to a story, we only hear and read the negative spin, and that negativity only becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe good ol’ “Coop” could give the news media a lesson on relativity! Debunks The Return on Equity Myth — Again

April 1st, 2011 by Katie K Team

This insightful analysis By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine, explains sometimes there more fiction than fact in magazine articles…

Take out the pocket calculator again?

Paul Starobin in his piece “Should Owning a Home Still Define the American Dream?” in the Spring 2011 issue of The Next Economy (a special supplement of the National Journal) asks us to consider whether it’s time to remove home ownership from the pedestal it’s occupied since the 1920s. His piece is part of a growing genre of articles and TV stories questioning home ownership in the wake of the housing meltdown, probably the most well-known of which is a September 2010 piece in Time magazine called “The Case Against Homeownership” by Barbara Kiviat. These pieces have done much to encourage action by members of Congress who are predisposed to remove the federal government from anything having to do with home ownership. For these members of Congress, taking such action is their right and indeed their responsibility. But these anti-home ownership pieces occasionally rely on arguments that have long been picked apart by critics and shown to be misleading if not outright incorrect. Read the rest of this entry »

New Poll Shows 89% of homeowners would buy again

April 1st, 2011 by Katie K Team

According to this article Posted by Teresa at MSN Real Estate, even underwater owners don’t regret buying. Only 9% say they bought more home than they could afford.

Here’s an interesting piece of information: Despite all the problems in the housing market, despite the loss of equity and proliferation of foreclosures, 89% of Americans who own a home would buy a home again

That’s one of the finding of the Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, a quarterly survey that measures sentiment on the economy. The current poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, focused on homeownership, its role in the American dream and the U.S. government’s role in encouraging homeownership. Read more at MSN Real Estate.

Mortgage Purchase Activity at Highest of Year

March 11th, 2011 by Katie K Team

Here’s another little sign that our economy and the housing market is improving!

Mortgage applications for purchases rose to their highest level of the year last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports. Purchase applications for mortgages increased 12.5 percent from one week earlier, and on an unadjusted basis, purchase application activity is the highest since last May.

“An improving job market is beginning to pave the way for an improving housing market,” says Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics. “Additionally, mortgage interest rates remained below 5 percent for a second week, maintaining affordability for buyers and leading to an increase in refinance applications.”

Refinancings also were on the rise last week, increasing 17.2 percent from one week prior. It was the highest the Refinance Index had been in over a month. Overall, mortgage applications increased 15.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending March 4, compared to one week prior, according to MBA.


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