Monday, October 17, 2011

The Viking Way...Thanks to Fred!

On my wish list...a Viking Range for my kitchen.  Stephen and I love to cook together...and we have discussed that in our next home we hope to be fortunate enough to have a Viking Range!  I also over research products that I am interested in eventually purchasing.  I ran across the story of how Viking got started!  Talk about an entrepreneur!  Check the story out here!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Monthly Reflection on the North Texas Housing Market

As expected, sales in the North Texas MLS system were much better than August 2010 (up 27% in volume and up 3% in average price, for a total dollar volume increase of just over 30%).  Granted, beating last August’s sales was a pretty easy task due to the 6/30/10 tax credit expiration and subsequent doldrums in the second half of 2010.  But even if the year-over-year improvement has to be taken with a grain of salt, the actual sales volume itself CERTAINLY IS something to get excited about.  As the chart shows, August’s sales broke out from the typical shape of the sales curve.  And as of 8/31/11, pending sales remained significantly higher, up 17% versus pending sales on 8/31/10.  So there is hope for continued improvement.

Clearly we still have our challenges in the North Texas housing industry.  But there are rays of hope for a turnaround.  We are very blessed to live and work in a relatively stable market, and there are elements of good news out there along with those challenges we are facing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Housing Market Update from My Loan Officer at Starkey Mortgage

Home Prices Up for Third Straight Month:
Spring buying pushed home prices up for a third straight month in most major U.S. cities in June.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index showed Tuesday that prices increased in June from May in 19 of the 20 cities tracked. Prices rose 3.6 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous quarter. Neither of those numbers is adjusted for seasonal factors.
Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington and Boston posted the biggest monthly increases. Metro areas hit hardest by the housing crisis, including Las Vegas and Phoenix, reported small seasonal increases.
Analysts say home prices have stabilized in coastal cities over the past six months. Seasonally adjusted prices have fallen a modest 1 percent over the past six months, according to the index. That's less than a third of the decline from the previous six months.
Foreclosures and short sales—when a lender agrees to sell for less than what is owed on a mortgage—made up about 30 percent of all home sales last month, up from about 10 percent in past years. And 1.7 million potential foreclosures are being held up, according to real estate firm CoreLogic, either by backlogged courts or lenders awaiting state and federal probes into troubled foreclosure practices.
What Happened to Rates Last Week:
Mortgage backed securities (MBS) gained +47 basis points last week which helped to move mortgage rates lower from last Friday to the prior Friday.  This more than made up for the prior week's -40 basis point loss.  We actually were on a downward trend for mortgage backed securities (higher mortgage rates) for much of the week after getting much better than expected economic news such as the Chicago PMI, Factory Orders and ISM Manufacturing.  But the market reversed course on Friday after the Unemployment report was released.  While the Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 9.1%, the market reacted very strongly to the data that showed that we created/added exactly zero jobs over the last month.  Economists believe that the U.S. needs to add at least 150K new jobs each month to get out of this stand-still.
What to Watch Out For This Week:The following are the major economic reports that will hit the market this week.  They each have the ability to affect the pricing of Mortgage Backed Securities and therefore, interest rates for Government and Conventional mortgages.  I will be watching these reports closely for you and let you know if there are any big surprises:
4-Sep20:00Labor Day
6-Sep10:00ISM Non-Manufacturing
6-Sep13:10Fed's President of the Minneapolis speech
7-Sep7:00MBA Mortgage Applications
7-Sep14:00Fed's Beige Book
8-Sep8:30Continuing Jobless Claims
8-Sep8:30Initial Jobless Claims
8-Sep8:30Trade Balance
8-Sep11:00EIA Crude Oil Stocks change
8-Sep13:00Fed's Bernanke Speech
8-Sep15:00Consumer Credit Change
9-Sep10:00Wholesale Inventories
It is virtually impossible for you to keep track of what is going on with the economy and other events that can impact the housing and mortgage markets.  Just leave it to me, I monitor the live trading of Mortgage Backed Securities which are the only thing government and conventional mortgage rates are based upon. 

Texas Economic Indicators Point UP

Texas existing-home sales were up 1.5% in July, and are up 22% over last year.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently reported good news for the Texas economy. In its "Texas Economic Indicators" published on September 7, 2011, The Dallas Fed reported that Texas gained 33,000 jobs in June, and another 25,900 jobs in July, bringing the Texas unemployment rate to 8.4%, well below the national average of 9.1%.
The overall economy in Texas continued to grow at a moderate pace, with Texas exports, crude oil prices, and Texas manufacturing all showing gains.
Only one state (North Dakota) has grown faster than Texas since 2009.
So, aren't we all grateful to be in Texas?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adorable Lease Listing - 5611 W Amherst - $1900/mo

Adorable Devonshire cottage. Light filled with fresh neutral paint and refinished hardwoods.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Energy Conservation

ERCOT (The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas) is encouraging Texans to conserve their electricity use through the next few days, as peak temperatures and energy demand occur throughout the state.

“We are requesting that consumers and businesses reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. today, particularly between 4 and 5 p.m. when we expect to hit another peak demand record,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations.  “We do not know at this time if additional emergency steps will be needed.”

For more information, see Aug. 1 news releases:
The Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) procedures are a progressive series of steps that allow ERCOT to bring on power from other grids if available, beginning with a Power Watch (Energy Emergency Alert Level 1).

If the situation does not improve, ERCOT escalates to a Power Warning (Energy Emergency Alert Level 2), allowing operators to drop large commercial/industrial load resources under contract to be interrupted during an emergency.

If the capacity shortage is not relieved by the contract demand response, ERCOT escalates to a Power Emergency (Energy Emergency Alert Level 3) and will instruct utilities to reduce demand on the grid by conducting temporary outages at the local distribution level.  These controlled temporary interruptions of electrical service - or rotating outages - typically last 15-45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood.

Consumers should contact the utility company/ transmission provider listed on their electric bill for information about power outages at their homes or business, or about rotating outage procedures for their area.

Conservation Tips

Consumers can help by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances between 3 and 7 p.m., and delaying laundry and other activities requiring electricity-consuming appliances until later in the evening. Other conservation tips from the Public Utility Commission’s “Powerful Advice”  include:
Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans in occupied rooms to feel cooler.
When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.

Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible. Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.