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Last Updated:
November 23, 2009

November 2009 Summit County Real Estate.Net Notices

Reports on housing, manufacturing, jobs, and inflation are a big part of what will guide the Fed’s ultimate decision regarding the next round of Quantitative Easing (QE2), and a formal announcement is expected during the Fed’s next meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on November 3rd. Remember that QE is the concept of the Fed becoming a buyer of Treasuries and Bonds, in a bid to keep interest rates low and therefore stimulate the economy. It’s important to note that QE may also devalue the Dollar, and boost our economy through making our exports relatively cheaper for foreign buyers. And this is not a bad thing, but we have to be aware that while more QE might provide an initial decline for home loan rates, the devaluation of the Dollar will ultimately drive rates higher. I will be watching this situation closely in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, last week’s news caused both ups and downs for Bonds and home loan rates, and they ultimately ended the week about the same as where they began. If you – or a client, friend, family member, neighbor, coworker – would like to learn more about taking advantage of historically low home loan rates, please don’t hesitate to call or email me. It would be an honor to provide a free consultation for you or any of your contacts.

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A Big Tax Deduction: One of the largest tax deductions available is the amount of interest paid on a mortgage. In fact, a $150,000 home at a 5.50% interest rate can add up to approximately $8,000 in first year's interest. This amounts to a significant savings - effectively reducing the amount of a homeowner's monthly loan payment. Long-Term Appreciation: Over the last few years, home prices have corrected and become more affordable. While that's good news for potential buyers, it has overshadowed the long-term appreciation of a home's value. The reality is, despite market ups and downs, real estate historically appreciates around 6% per year. Even if you calculate a modest appreciation of 3%, a home purchased today for $150,000 should grow in value to $364,000 over 30 years.

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"Don't believe the hype!"

The words from Public Enemy's hit song title rang true once again last week when the Commerce Department reported the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 3rd Quarter. GDP rose by 3.5% for the first gain in a year and the strongest reading in two years.

While most media outlets were giddy about the news and started the hype that the recession is behind us, it's important to remember that there's more to the economic data than just the headlines.

The temporary "Cash for Clunkers" program has now expired, but was a big part of last quarter's GDP gain. If we remove it from the total, the reading would have been a more modest 1.9%. But there is even more to the rise in the latest GDP number that is just temporary...

Also bolstering the economy has been the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit - which is set to expire at the end of this month. Many home buyers have been taking advantage of this program - and wisely so.

New Home Sales were reported last week, showing a 7.5-month supply of inventory. While that number is slightly worse than last month's 7.3 reading, it's still a big improvement from where we were in January. Back in January, inventory levels reached a high of 12.4-month supply! The improvement in housing inventories has been due in large part to the $8,000 First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, which is set to expire on November 30.

There is a real possibility of an extension of this program through a proposed Bill, but it is not yet a certainty. The extension Bill still must be reconciled between the House and Senate, and then voted on for final approval. Under the current extension proposal, sales with signed purchase agreements by April 30th that close before June 30th, 2010 would qualify for the credit.

Another positive element would be the possible addition of $6,500 tax credit for other primary home purchasers, meaning the tax credit would no longer be limited only to first-time homebuyers. There is also a possibility that qualifying income limits could increase from $75,000 to $125,000 for singles, and from $150,000 to $250,000 for joint tax filers.

We will be keeping an eye on this for you, so stay tuned.

After all last week's news and movement in the markets, Bonds and rates ended the week slightly better than where they began.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS SECTION BELOW FOR THE FORECAST FOR THIS WEEK!

Rate Review

In Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Mkt Survey (for the week ending October 30) in which the 30-yr fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) avg. 5.3%.  Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM avg 6.46%.

The 15-year FRM this week avg 4.46%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM avg 6.19%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) avg 4.42%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM avg 6.36%.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM avg 4.57%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM avg 5.38%.

FORECAST FOR THE WEEK

This week brings us new employment numbers...and a chance to see if the labor market is showing signs of recovery. The employment news begins Wednesday with the ADP National Employment Report. Sandwiched between that report and Friday's Jobs Report, is the Initial Jobless Claims report on Thursday.

The big news comes on Friday, when the all-important Jobs Report will be released. Last month's report underscored the struggling labor market, as the Labor Department reported 263,000 jobs lost in September and an increase in the unemployment rate to 9.8%. The report due out this week is expected to show 166,000 jobs lost in October, which would be significantly better than the previous month if it happens. However, the Unemployment Rate is expected to continue its climb to 9.9%.

In addition to employment news, we'll also see the ISM Index on Monday. This is the king of all manufacturing indices and is considered the single best snapshot of the factory sector.

Finally, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) holds its two-day meeting this week, with an announcement of the Fed Rate Decision and Policy Statement due on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. (ET).

 

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"If you're in real estate, politics is your business"

 

AROUND THE MOUNTAINS.....

Glenwood Planning and Zoning Commission To Look At Open House Sign Policy Tuesday

Late tomorrow night, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission will make its recommendation to the City Council as to whether directional open house signs should be allowed with the city of Glenwood. The Glenwood Springs Association of REALTORS has asked the city to allow 3 directional open house signs to a listing. The ordinance as drafted by planning staff, allows 2 directional signs and the signs must be placed 30 feet back from an intersection. The ordinance also does not allow for balloons or any other item to be attached to the open house sign. GSAR will argue at the commission meeting the importance of open house signs, but also argue that 2 signs are two few to get to an open house. More importantly, a 30 foot setback will make seeing the signs very difficult, and may cause traffic problems from drivers looking for the signs. REALTORS are encourage to attend the meeting and lend their support for an ordinance that allows 3 directional open house signs and no setback requirements.

Avon Short Term Rentals Approved In Town With Exception of PUD's

The Avon Town Council has approved short term rentals of 30 days or less in areas town core of Avon. The very confusing and legally defined debate centered on whether short term rentals should be allowed across the town as a blanket policy or if short term rentals should be allowed under a special review process that would require homeowners to apply for a special use permit, which would have required a lengthy process of 1 Planning Commission meeting and two town Council meetings before approval. In the end, the Council voted 4-2 in favor of a simplified process that would require less oversight and financial responsibility by the town. Council member Kristy Ferraro led the charge in favor of the most lenient policy, arguing that short term rentals are no worse than long term rentals, or even homeowners. Council members Buz Reynolds, Dave Dantas and Amy Phillips voted in favor of the ordinance. Brian Sipes and Rich Carroll opposed the measure.

The new ordinance is as follows: All areas north of I-70, and all Planned Unit Developments(PUD)within the town are not included in the ordinance. Wildridge, Brookside Park, Nottingham Station, Canyon Run, Avon Crossing, EagleBend and Stonebridge, are not included in the ordinance because they expressly disallow short term rentals. If a PUD mentioned above wishes to allow short term rentals, property owners may do so by applying for a PUD amendment to the Town. The amendment is a simple administrative form with a short, easy process. All applications will have fees waived if applied for by February 12th, 2010. Areas that already already allow short term rentals will not be affected by the new ordinance. All short term rentals must have sales tax licenses, which can be obtained at town hall.

The ordinance will go into effect on October 20th. Tell your clients they can start taking reservations for the ski season!

Steamboat 700 Annexation Approved, So Far

It?s official, the proposed Steamboat 700 development project is now annexed and part of the City of Steamboat. The project includes more than 2,000 homes and over 350,000 square feet of commercial space intended to be built over 30 years. Dissenters have 30 days from approval of the project (October 12) to petition for a referendum. If a petition is filed, the issue would go back to the city council for a reconsideration. If the Council upholds its annexation approval, then the issue would go to the ballot for a vote by residents of the city. The city clerk?s office says that would happen in January or February. The referendum process is not unheard of. Last summer, the Breckenridge Town Council approved a policy that would have required home owners to cut down trees within 30 feet of their homes to create a firebreak. A petition was presented to the town by concerned citizens, and the town reconsidered and did not uphold the law they approved.

Parking, Conference Center Funds, Big Issues Discussed at VBR Candidate Forum

This morning at a candidate forum hosted by the Vail Board of REALTORS(R), the Vail Town Council candidates bantered about many issues, including affordable housing, developer impact fees to pay for the newly-approved West Vail firehouse, potential annexation of Eagle-Vail, and other issues. But the most debated topics were how to deal with parking in Vail, and what to do with nearly $10 million dollars in tax revenue that had been earmarked for an unbuildable Vail Conference Center. Mores bus shuttles along the frontage road, satellite parking, parking under Ford Park, and other parking garages were debated. Many ideas were thrown out for how to use the $9.6 million dollars that had been earmarked for the Conference Center. Many of the candidates argued that the monies should be used along the lines of the "history" of the funds- saying it should be used to bring more guests to Vail, and get them to spend more money in town. Ideas ranged from a Cultural Center at the CMC, to health and wellness facilities, to a new floor for the Dobson Ice Arena to bring more world Class skating events to Vail. The elections are Tuesday, November 3rd. There are 9 candidates running for 4 open seats: Michael Charles, Kerry Donovan, Kevin Foley, Mark Gordon, Ludwig Kurz, Buddy Lazier, Kim Newbury, Scott Proper, and Susie Tjossem.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- LOCAL ELECTIONS BUZZ.....

Contentious Eagle-Vail Ballot Initative 5A Would Impose Property Tax Increase To Pay For Community Pool; Other Facilities

On Tuesday, November 3rd, Eagle-Vail voters will decide whether to increase property taxes in the community to pay for capital improvements for the swimming pool, parks, trails, and golf course. The Eagle-Vail Metro District Board has determined that with decreases in property values, and Eaglebend becoming a part of Avon, the District's revenue stream has deteriorated and new revenue sources must be determined to pay for these capital improvements. The metro District is asking for $7 million dollars from voters in Eagle-Vail. The property tax increase would equate to $40 a year per $100,000 of home value. For a home valued at $500,000, the property tax would be about $200 a year for the capital improvements. The metro district is arguing the pool needs a minimum of $25,000 in repairs to get it working again, and much more to be a sufficient communtiy pool. They are recommending a brand new, state of the art community pool that would be nicer than most community pools in the mountain region. Some locals, however are concerned that if the property tax increase is approved, the monies raised would not be required to be used for recreation improvements. The town could use the money the way they see fit, and would also be allowed to impose a tax increase. Others argue that the new pool and recreation facilities are within the towns long-term planning, and are essential to keeping Eagle-Vail competitive with other communities in the county.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- IN OUR NATION'S CAPITOL.....

NAR CONTINUES CALL FOR ACTION ON HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT! THERE'S STILL TIME FOR YOU TO HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The National Association of REALTORS? is continuing its call for action to ?expand and extend the homebuyer tax credit? to keep the housing market moving in the right direction. This is an extremely important issue to home buyers and the real estate community. Please be sure to take the time to "click and send" a message to your legislators! If you have not received the call for action, you may participate by going to www.realtoractioncenter.com .

IVPI Interim Complaint Process Available in November 2009 (from NAR)

The Independent Valuation Protection Institute (IVPI) was announced as an integral part of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). The purpose of the IVPI is to receive complaints from appraisers and users of appraisal services on the improper influence or attempted improper influence of appraisers. The IVPI has not yet been established, but an interim Web site is currently under development.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a complaint form that will appear on the interim Independent Valuation Protection Institute (IVPI) Complaint Web site. The complaint form is for demonstration purposes only and is not available for filing a complaint until the Web site is publicly available in November 2009. The Web site, ivpicomplaint.org, will collect complaints from any party about noncompliance with the HVCC or attempted improper influencing of appraisers or the appraisal process.

FHA Further Delays Implementation of New Condominium Rules Until December

On Wednesday, the FHA announced plans to delay the effective date for the new condominium project approval and financing rules until December 7th, 2009. The new guidance, to be issued within the next two weeks, will: 1) offer additional leniencies to address the difficult market conditions and 2) augment some portions of FHA Mortgagee Letter 2009-19, providing additional information and clarification. Until the new guidance takes effect on December 7th, 2009 lenders may continue to use the Spot Loan Approval guidance issued in Mortgagee Letter 1996-41. Further, the site condo and manufactured housing condo project changes that have already been implemented are not affected by this delay. To read FHA Mortgagee Letters 1996-41 and 2009-19 please visit: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/

On July 31, 2009, NAR President Charles McMillan sent a letter to FHA Commissioner David Stevens recommending enhancements to the new condominium rule. McMillan also discussed NAR's recommendations at a meeting with the commissioner on September 8, 2009. NAR is calling for: 1) a reduction in the owner-occupancy requirement, 2) eliminating or increasing the FHA concentration limit, 3) reducing the pre-sale requirement, and 4) clarification of the reserve study requirement. NAR had recently contacted FHA asking the agency to consider allowing spot loans under the new condominium rules when they go into effect.

As it is currently written, the policy would:

? Only allow 30% of a condo project to have FHA mortgages

? Half of the project?s units must be sold before FHA will ok any mortgages

? Owner must occupy 50 percent of a condo?s units ( was 51 percent)

? Spot approvals are eliminated, and the entire project must meet FHA approval before a borrower can get an FHA insured loan.

Healthcare Still 800 Pound Gorilla in Washington

Congress is still working to get a comprehensive healthcare bill done yet this year. The Senate legislation took one step forward last week when the Senate Finance Committee passed its bill on October 13 by a vote of 14-9. There?s still a lot of work to be done and a lot more debate before a final product is completed. Because there are so many bills still in consideration, NAR has not taken a position on a single bill. They are advocating the interests of small business owners, and working to ensure they are included in any bill that moves forward for consideration. There?s some great new information up on the healthcare page on REALTOR.org: www.realtor.org/healthreform .

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HAPPENINGS......

Thompson Divide Creek Gas Leases To Be Discussed at GSAR Memebership Luncheon

Oil and gas issues in Garfield County are always of interest to REALTORS in the community. At this month's membership meeting on November 11th at 12:00 at the Ramada in Glenwood, gas leases in the Thompson Divide Creek Area will be discussed by Jock Jacobener, president of the Thompson Creek Divide Coalition, Judy Jordan, GarCo Oil and Gas Liason, Stephen Bershenyi, an affected land owner, and Glenwood City Council member. Representatives on behalf of the leaseholders in the area have also been invited. If you haven't already RSVP'd, do so now! The last oil and gas panel was left with standing room only!

REALTOR ACTION ALERT!

Tell Breckenridge To Support Private Property Rights & Short Term Rentals!

THE ISSUE:

It is becoming clear that out of control HOA's in Breckenridge are taking away the right to rent short term, the right to rent long term, and the right to sell fractional shares. HOA's may impose unconscionable fines for the mere advertising of a property for vacation rental, and impose high interest on fines not paid. These HOA's are taking away the private property rights of investment buyers and homeowners who may want to rent their properties. The prohibition of short term rental rights is well-evidenced to be one of the most devastating occurrences to property values and marketability.

As REALTORS selling second homes, retirement homes, 1031 exchange investment properties could involve taking on added risk of liability if HOA's can destroy an investment with an amendment to their governing documents. REALTORS may need to disclose to buyers that the facts on which they are basing their investment decision might not be the reality in six months, a year, or five years from their purchase.

The effect of prohibition of short term rentals will affect the entire Breckenridge community: Real estate sales will falter as investment buyers look elsewhere for "safe bets", property prices will drop as home sit on the market longer waiting for a buyer not interested in short term rentals, the towns real estate transfer tax, sales tax, and ad volorum taxes will drop, and jobs will vanish as the need for real estate brokers, property managers, and construction trades vanish with the diminishing short term rental market. Families who visit Breckenridge will have difficulty finding homes to rent for ski vacations, and they, too, will head to other communities to vacation.

TAKE ACTION!

On Tuesday, November 10th at 7:30 PM, at 150 Ski Hill Road, the Summit Association of REALTORS will bring the issue to the Breckenridge town council to ask them to consider an ordinance that would prohibit the prohibition of short term rentals unless prescribed in the original HOA documents.

Attend the Town Council meeting on Tuesday! We need a full room to show the importance of the issue to the Town! Send a letter of support for an ordinance! You can do it with 2 clicks!

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Vail Town Council Candidates Announced

The Vail Town Council race is gearing up to be an interesting election year with 9 candidates running for 4 open seats. Incumbents Mark Gordon, Kim Newbury, Kevin Foley are running for re-election. Farrow Hitt is not running for re-election. In addition, Michael Charles, Ludy Kurz, Scott Proper, Buddy Lazier, and Susie Tjossem are all running for the seats. Vail elections will be held on Tuesday, November 3rd. The Vail Board of REALTORS? is hosting a candidate forum on Monday, October 26th. See event details below.

Steamboat REALTORS? Host Successful Candidate Forum

On Oct 2nd, the Steamboat Springs Board of REALTORS?, in conjunction with the Steamboat Pilot, and the Routt County Republicans and Democrats held a candidate forum at the community center in Steamboat. Well over 100 citizens were in attendance and included County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, State Representative(HD-57) Randy Baumgardner, and former State Senator Jack Taylor. The forum included candidates for the RE-2 School Board, and City Council. Not surprisingly, the hottest issue was the Steamboat 700 annexation. The candidates were evenly split on the issue, and debated water, traffic, and affordable housing and its relation to the annexation. The budget was another big discussion, as was the issue of whether to bring big box stores to Steamboat.

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Policy Details:

Floor Area Ratio based on individual subdivision characteristics.

Applies to above ground square footage only.

- Does not count above ground square footage for garages up to 900 square feet (typical 3 car garage).

-Unlimited below ground square footage.

-Maximum square footage allowance for larger lots.

-NEW: 500 square foot allowance for existing homes which are limited under the proposed policy.

As an example from the town, if a lot is 0.50 acres (21,780 square feet) in the Weisshorn subdivision, the F.A.R. for that particular subdivision is a 1:4 F.A.R. With this proposal, the square footage would apply only to above ground square footage and a 900 square foot garage is exempt. Ultimately, with the proposed policy direction, the property owner would be permitted 5,445 SF above grade home+ 900 SF garage= 6,345 total above ground and unlimited below ground square footage.

The maximum home sizes in the town of Breckenridge would be 9,000 sq ft. in the Goldflake and Highlands neighborhoods.

Last week, the Summit Association of REALTORS? voted to support the proposal. While the Board continues to be concerned about violations of private property rights, and land and home owners abilities to do what they wish with their properties, the Board agreed that the proposal has made significant strides from the original proposal in allowing larger homes. In the original proposal, home sizes would have been limited to 6500 square feet in the largest subdivisions. The proposal is expected to be approved by the Council.

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REALTORS WANTED FOR COUNCIL RACES NEXT SPRING!

Ever thought of running for City or Town Council? Next April, elections will be held in Silt, New Castle, Carbondale, Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, and Silverthorne. We need REALTORS to sit on these Councils to fight on behalf of our industry. You can make a difference by influencing private property rights, zoning issues, impact fees, tax increases, water issues, business incentives and more! If you are interested, please contact Sarah Thorsteinson, your Government Affairs Director at sarah@coloradorealtors.com or 970.393.3939.

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FEDERAL UPDATE

NAR CONTINUES CALL FOR ACTION ON HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT! THERE'S STILL TIME FOR YOU TO HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The National Association of REALTORS® is continuing its call for action to “expand and extend the homebuyer tax credit” to keep the housing market moving in the right direction. This is an extremely important issue to home buyers and the real estate community. Please be sure to take the time to "click and send" a message to your legislators!

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"AN OPTIMIST STAYS UP UNTIL MIDNIGHT TO SEE THE NEW YEAR IN. A PESSIMIST STAYS UP TO MAKE SURE THE OLD YEAR LEAVES." Bill Vaughan. 2008 turned out to be a historic year on many counts, and optimists and pessimists alike were glad to close the books and say goodbye to the old year. In observance of the New Year's holiday, the Bond market closed early last Wednesday and was closed all day Thursday, but there was still plenty of time for volatility due to several noteworthy news items. With a great deal of midweek activity, Bond pricing ended the week slightly worse with home loan rates about .125% higher than where they began.

Early last week, a renewal of military conflict between Hamas in Palestinian Gaza and Israel sent crude oil jumping higher on concerns of supply disruption, causing volatile activity in both Stocks and Bonds. The strife in the region continues, and may cause more movement in the financial markets over the coming weeks.

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The cost of installing a well and/or septic system will vary with the lot. In the Quandary area, well and septic can get expensive. This is particularly true for the less expensive lots there because of potential wetland issues. And, just building a home on many of these lots can involve issues because of the slope of the land. This is why the lots are priced as they are.

Quandary Village is located about half-way up the hill on the way to Hoosier Pass which is south of Breckenridge.

If you were to look at a home, what price range, size, age, location(s), etc. would you consider? Once I know, I will send you listing details for some homes that might be of interest.

I have been working with real estate buyers in this area for over 10 years. This is the market I know and I am not sure how it may differ from other markets. I expect looking for real estate here would be similar to looking elsewhere. What are your main questions about considering mountain real estate?

Once I know more about the kind of property you are looking for and your intended use for it, I will be able to advise you better on finding the right property.

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NAR CONTINUES CALL FOR ACTION ON HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT! THERE'S STILL TIME FOR YOU TO HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The National Association of REALTORS? is continuing its call for action to ?expand and extend the homebuyer tax credit? to keep the housing market moving in the right direction. This is an extremely important issue to home buyers and the real estate community. Please be sure to take the time to "click and send" a message to your legislators! If you have not received the call for action, you may participate by going to www.realtoractioncenter.com .

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HAPPENINGS......

VBR Hosting Vail Town Council Candidate Forum

Put it on your calendar now! On Monday, October 26th, VBR will host a Vail Town Council candidate forum from 8-10 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in West Vail. Breakfast will be served from 8-8:30 am, with the forum to follow. With 9 candidates for 4 open seats, the debate will surely be interesting!

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When it comes to really understanding the various reports and events unfolding in the economy, it's important to take a look at the details - not just the headlines.

Here's what you need to know.

On the inflation front, the Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale inflation, unexpectedly fell due to a drop in energy prices. While that seems like good news on the surface, keep in mind that next month's number could climb higher again, as oil and natural gas have both been on a tear higher lately.

In housing news, Housing Starts and Building Permits both came in a bit below expectations, but this may be a sign that builders are exercising some caution - particularly in the face of the $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers that is presently set to expire on November 30th. Existing Home Sales came in better than expected - and a whopping 45% of those homes were sold to first time homebuyers - rushing to move in on that credit. Recent studies have shown that many who qualify for this tax credit aren't even aware of it...so please let us know if you or someone you know needs more information - the clock is ticking!

Additionally, the level of existing homes inventory shrunk to a 7.8 month supply, down from a recent high of 10.1 months in April.

In other news, 3rd quarter earnings season continues, where companies report their status as of the end of September. While many companies are beating expectations, it's important to realize that many of those companies achieved better earnings by cost cutting and layoffs, not from increased sales. This is a big disconnect between Wall Street and "Main Street". Stocks are rocketing higher based on these "positive" reports, but the cost cutting and job cutting measures can only go so far...you can't simultaneously grow the ranks of unemployment - and then grow your business, hoping for increased sales to those same people who are without jobs.

Last week's Jobless Claims numbers seem to confirm this as Initial Jobless Claims rose more than expected. In addition, the number of individuals continuing to receive unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since March, but this is likely the result of people's unemployment benefits expiring, without them having been able to find jobs.

Also worth noting is the news that ratings agency Moody's lead analyst, Steven Hess, said that the US needs to cut its deficit or it could lose its "AAA" rating in the next 3 to 4 years, which we have maintained since 1917! Think of all we've been through - two World Wars, the Depression, three Wall Street collapses and major terrorist attacks...yet our credit quality has maintained that AAA rating, allowing us to issue debt at the most favorable rates. Hess went on to say that if the US doesn't "get the deficit down in the next 3-4 years to a sustainable level, then the rating will be in jeopardy." And just like on a mortgage when the credit rating gets reduced, interest rates move higher. This will definitely be something we'll keep an eye on in the months ahead.

After all the week's action, Bonds and home loan rates ended the week slightly worse than where they began.

Rate Review

In Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Mkt Survey (for the week ending October 23) in which the 30-yr fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) avg. 5.0%.  Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM avg 6.04%.

The 15-year FRM this week avg 4.43%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM avg 5.72%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) avg 4.40%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM avg 6.06%.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM avg 4.54%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM avg 5.23%.

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A new field called "Deed Restricted," was added to the system today.  When entering or changing a listing the field will prompt you to add a value and ask you to put details of the deed restriction in the Agent Remarks.  If you have a deed restricted property listed, please modify your listing accordingly.  Upon the updating of all listings you will be able to successfully search for or filter out deed restricted properties.

Creating the Perfect Home Office


These days, more and more people are working all or part of the time from home, making a home office a necessity. Here are some tips for creating the perfect home office.

Layout - There is no bigger mistake you can make than purchasing office furniture or equipment without knowing exactly where you'll be placing it in the room. Before you buy any new furniture, make sure you measure and plot where each piece will go, and don't forget to account for electrical and cable outlets.

Furniture - A desk that's roughly 60-inches wide, 30-inches deep, and 29-inches high is not only conducive to work, but it's highly functional in terms of storing the items you use regularly. Your chair should be comfortable, but its primary function should be to promote healthy posture. Good posture will facilitate strong mental focus and will help to alleviate back and neck pain.

Lighting - Don't underestimate the importance of quality lighting. If you're lucky enough to have a window in your office, this should serve as your primary light source during the day. Natural light is easy on the eyes and promotes physical energy as well as a good mood. It's also free. Large lights like floor lamps and ceiling lights should have the ability to be dimmed. Also, make sure your desk lamp is equipped with a light bulb that's easy on the eyes. These "soft" light bulbs can be found anywhere, from office supply stores to grocery stores.

Storage - Identifying the type of items you need to store, as well as the quantity, will help you to determine an appropriate course of action. Here are a few helpful hints.

Closets are great for storage. Not only can they house filing cabinets, but they are also perfect for storing the items you don't need to access on a regular basis. This helps to maximize the actual workspace of your office.

Shelving is one of the most versatile options for storage. Shelves can be purchased cheaply and come in a variety of sizes. They are easily installed and take up zero floor space.

Don't forget about your garage. When it comes to older files or anything that is rarely accessed, a garage can provide ample storage space. Word to the wise, however, the garage can be a dirty place. Plan accordingly by storing paper items in boxes and wrapping equipment in protective plastic.
Visit a store that's dedicated to home organization. Nowadays it seems like nearly every mall has a store of this kind. You'd be surprised at some of the inexpensive, space-saving storage options available.

Wall Organizers - Dry erase boards, chalkboards, corkboards, and magnetic boards are fantastic tools for keeping clutter off your desk. They are inexpensive and available everywhere in a variety of sizes. There are even combination boards that provide countless options.

Cords - Never underestimate the importance of power strips as they provide the ability to plug multiple devices into one outlet. The better power strips also provide surge protection to the equipment that's plugged into them. In addition, cord covers are a great way to not only hide cords but to keep them from becoming a tangled mess. They can be purchased quite cheaply at any electronics store.

Décor - Last but not least, once you've got all the necessities in, don't overlook decor. Certificates, diplomas, awards, trophies, and pictures not only complement an office, but they also help to personalize it.

Follow these simple steps, and more organization, function, and focus could be right around the corner.

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