Friday, September 30, 2005

we have moved!


Thursday, September 29, 2005

High-cost housing markets score low on foreclosures

(From the Chicago Tribune)

You've probably seen the dire news reports:

American homeowners are becoming debt junkies, piling up record mortgage amounts, credit card bills, home equity credit lines. They are putting down less when they buy and borrowing a lot more.

Families in high-cost real estate markets are stretching their household budgets to the breaking point in order to buy even a modest home. Some families are devoting 40 percent to 50 percent of their monthly income just to hang on to their high-priced houses.

With interest rates certain to rise from 40-year lows, debt pressures on borrowers can only get worse, pushing some families to the brink.

Given all that gloom and doom, you'd think that homeowners' growing financial challenges would be visible in their payment performances on their mortgages. With such leadweight household debts, you'd think growing numbers of borrowers might be falling behind, paying their mortgage lenders late, and maybe even sliding toward foreclosure.

But the reverse is true...


Roberts sworn in as chief justice


John Roberts, a conservative former corporate lawyer and a counsel in the Reagan and first Bush White Houses, was sworn in Thursday as the 17th chief justice of the United States.

The swearing-in at the White House by Justice John Paul Stevens followed an overwhelming confirmation vote in the Senate, of 78 in favor to 22 against. Roberts succeeds the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the helm of the Supreme Court. At 50, he could lead the court for decades.

"The Senate has confirmed a man with an astute mind and a kind heart," President Bush said, praising what he called Roberts' reverence for the Constitution and personal decency.

Roberts spoke briefly and said that he took the Senate's vote as a confirmation of a "bedrock principle" for him -- that "judging is different from politics."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Roberts will be a "faithful steward" of the Constitution before casting a yes vote for the new chief justice.


3-year mortgage rates rise to highest level in 5 months


Rates on 30-year mortgages jumped this week to the highest level in five months, reflecting financial market anxieties about inflation.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the nationwide average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose this week to 5.91 percent, up from 5.80 percent last week. It was the third consecutive weekly increase and pushed the 30-year rate to its highest level since mid-April, when it was also 5.91 percent.

The increase followed the Federal Reserve's decision last week to boost a key short-term interest rate for an 11th time as central bank policy-makers focused more on the inflationary threats of rising oil prices than risks to economic growth from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Interest Rate Report - October


Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Alan Greenspan must be really frightened of inflation. At every opportunity, he raises short term interest rates.

But he seems to have no effect on longer term rates, like mortgages.

Why not?


Katrina, Rita, gasoline, and the economy.

Many economists believe that higher gasoline prices will divert spending, so the economy won't grow fast enough to spur rampant inflation. Of course, gasoline costs more and that IS inflationary, but food and energy have always been volatile. It is the REST of the economy that experts look at as a gauge of inflation.

Plus, Katrina packed a wallop. Rebuilding will take resources that could cause slower growth, too.

Then there are the fundamentals that have been discussed in this space for months -- lower wage growth because of illegal immigration, shipping jobs overseas because the internet has enabled a true worldwide economy.


10 Things to Check Before You Buy a Builder House


When buying a brand new builder house, potential buyers often think they can dispense with the need for a house inspector. If it’s new, it must be in good shape, right?

Not always true.

New homes can be just as problematic as old ones. In fact, because they haven’t been tested by years of use and abuse, they can be filled with problems, especially if the builder used any shoddy practices. Hiring a qualified house inspector before you buy is a major hedge against very expensive surprises.

Then again, a house inspector can be very costly—from several hundred to a thousand dollars or more. If you ultimately end up buying the house, this is money well spent. On the other hand, if the house has serious drawbacks, you’re better off saving the cost of the inspector and moving on to a better prospect.


Consider your home an asset if you plan to keep it

(From the Chicago Tribune)

You can't take it with you. But, if you're a homeowner, you might be planning to leave a sizable chunk -- namely your home -- behind.

Live long enough to deplete your assets and require nursing care, however, and it's likely that your heirs will inherit only memories.

Many people are aware that the federal Medicaid program will pay for their nursing home expenses if they can't afford the costs themselves, but they may not realize their home may be considered an asset that must be tapped before Medicaid picks up the tab, says Barbara Stucki, a consultant to the National Council on Aging. If they were aware of the role their homes could play, they might handle their personal financial planning differently, Stucki says.

Stucki is project manager for an effort to encourage senior homeowners to take a reverse mortgage and then use the money for purposes that will help them avoid or postpone going to a nursing home, like hiring help or making improvements that enhance home safety. The effort is spearheaded by the council on aging and funded by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Reverse Mortgages are going to be more and more popular as the Baby Boomers Age. They are well worth checking out, but certainly not for everyone.

$1 million homes no longer that rare

(From the Detroit News)

Everything about Frank Fazio's new two-bedroom apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side is decidedly average, including its price: a hair under $1 million.

For the first time, there are more than 1 million owner-occupied homes in the United States worth $1 million or more, according to a Census Bureau survey published late last month.

Once a symbol of unusual wealth, million-dollar dwellings seem like a dime a dozen in some places. San Francisco has more than 20,000 of them. There are another 46,000, or so, in Orange County, Calif.

In Manhattan, even someone with a million dollars in their pocket can't buy luxury. The average price for an apartment in all but Harlem and the borough's northern tip climbed above $1.2 million in the second quarter of 2005, said Gregory Heym, chief economist for Terra Holdings, an owner of real estate brokerages in the city.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New Flood Insurance Program Starts Oct. 1st


Coverage under the nation's flood insurance program will change as October 1st, a long-planned event not directly related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but one that will substantially impact those most likely to be flooded in the future.

Read More HERE...

U.S. Economy: Consumer Confidence, Home Sales Plunge


U.S. consumer confidence fell by the most in 15 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and pushed gasoline prices to a record this month.

The consumer confidence index dropped to 86.6, the lowest in two years, from 105.5 in August, the New York-based Conference Board research group said today. New home sales sold in August at the slowest pace since November, falling 9.9 percent to a 1.237 million annual rate, the Commerce Department said in Washington.