While becoming a homeowner is a dream for many, it can also be seen as a tool and a very useful one at that.
When viewed through that lens, housing professionals realize homeownership helps strengthen and revitalize communities, while building wealth and providing a home for families to grow and thrive.
That potential to do good is what makes the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s HHF Down Payment Assistance so important for many hardworking families in the Volunteer State.
Equipped with an allocation of $60 million from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, THDA was able to target 55 ZIP Codes – just under seven percent of those in Tennessee – that have been slow to recover from the housing downturn that occurred almost nine years ago. The targeted areas include ZIP Codes in East Tennessee. Many homes in Clinton ZIP Code 37716 are eligible and seven ZIP Codes stretching into Jefferson and a tip of Sevier County have neighborhoods that could be helped.
The full list of ZIP Codes can be found online at GreatChoiceTN.com by clicking on the Down Payment Assistance box.
The program works like this: as of March 1, 2017, homebuyers purchasing an existing home in one of the eligible ZIP Codes can apply for a $15,000 forgivable second mortgage to cover the downpayment and closing costs.
The ZIP Codes being targeted are among those hardest hit during the housing crisis based on a variety of factors identified by the U.S. Treasury. The goal of the program is to spur economic activity and help stabilize property values by boosting home sales in those neighborhoods that have not fully recovered.
Still the biggest hurdle to homeownership for hard-working folks: saving money for the required down payment and closing costs to purchase a home. Without this helping hand, many deserving Tennesseans wouldn’t be able to make the jump from renter to homeowner.
Since it was announced in early February, a flurry of media coverage and social media buzz has helped raise awareness about the new program. Due to its popularity, many people have expressed interest. All the information is available at GreatChoiceTN.com.
Many wonder if it’s a deal that’s too good to be true, but it’s real, and it’s ready. As housing professionals, we should help our clients clear up any confusion about where the program is available and who benefits, and always strive to do what is best on their behalf by matching them with the product that serves them best.
With this powerful tool, we have a chance to help build the foundation for a positive future for thousands of Tennessee families.
By Mark Griffith
Mortgage Investors Group
Branch Manager- Oak Ridge
Co-Host of The Housing Hour-THDA Advisory Board
In 1921, it was considered the most horrifying, gruesome murder in East Tennessee history.
Starting in Knoxville, with a sickening murder in Robertsville, Tennessee (pre-Oak Ridge), to an attempted bank robbery in Oakdale-this story has it all- ending with four men executed in Tennessee’s electric chair on the same day (a dark state record).
Murder Will Out
Co-Host Mark W. Griffith
(Click on ‘DOWNLOAD’ under thumbnail of book-cover)
It seems like every 100 years, or so a sensational trial occurs in communities across the country. Most of them maintain only a local level of interest but occasionally some reach the attention of the national media. The story of George Lewis and Andrew Crumley reached a national audience; its horrific tale of a brutally cruel murder and attempted murder caught the ire and sympathy of the nation. After the sensational trial, verdict and death sentence, the country seemed to wait in anticipation for the execution. On March 1, 1922, Tennessee executed four men; national news headlines exploded with the news.
In the trials closing augments, prosecuting attorney W. H. Buttram predicted the trial would be, ‘….remembered a hundred years hence.’ But in reality, with justice being served quickly and inexorably, memories of the horror soon faded.
Murder Will Out rekindles some of the emotions undoubtedly felt at the time and attempts to honor the memories of two innocent lives that fell victim to such a despicable plot.
The housing crisis is an issue that needs to be faced and tackled by the next administration. Both presidential candidates have contrasting stances on the issue along with different backgrounds. Trump, a real estate mogul, should be better for housing, but his history in the industry is questionable. Eighteen months before the housing crash, Trump started a mortgage company that would go on to fail. The company offered residential mortgages with quick approval, and aggressive salesmen; the same kind of mortgages that led to the housing crisis in the first place. After it failed, Trump distanced himself from the company and claimed he wasn’t involved with it, blaming the people he hired to run the business. The failed business left behind unpaid employees as well as unpaid taxes. Today, he claims that he predicted the housing crisis, but the facts tell a different story.
On the other hand, Clinton has no background in real estate but experts believe that she would be better for the housing industry. Her biggest challenge is getting voters to trust her.
The question then becomes: with a unique track record for Trump, and a general sense of mistrust surrounding Clinton, who would be better for the housing industry and why?
Housing Crisis Background: The current housing crisis, while not as bad as the one from last decade, is still an issue. One of the biggest issues is the lack of affordable housing. The current housing market isn’t in bad shape, but there is a problem with inventory.
What are the challenges facing the next administration when it comes to housing?
11 million households spend more than half of their income on rent
There is a shortage of affordable rental homes
The available houses are being rented by higher-income households making it so only 3 in 10 extremely low income renters have access to affordable housing
Millennials aren’t buying homes
More people are remodeling than buying
Which candidate do voters believe will be best for the housing crisis?
33% of current homeowners believe Trump would be better, while 31% believe Clinton would be better
35% of perspective homeowners believe Clinton would be better, while 27% believe Trump would be better
According to a survey conducted by Berkshire Hathaway in June, 66% of existing homeowners see the current market as favorable, which is up 5% from the spring
Housing Plan Comparison Background: the next president has to deal with the current housing issues. Clinton has laid out a specific plan, and Trump has mentioned what he would but has no released a plan.
In an address to the National Association of Home Builders Board of Directors, he said he plans to slash regulations to give the housing industry a boost by:
Getting rid of any regulations that kill jobs
Reducing income taxes on businesses up to 15%
Removing bureaucrats who have implemented regulations that hurt job growth
Appointing Supreme Court Justices who would have a positive impact on the industry
Help responsible homeowners save for a down payment by providing funding initiatives in underserved communities to match up $10,000 in savings for “responsible homeowners who earn less than the area median income to put towards a down payment on a first home”
Increase funding and broaden credit terms for housing counseling programs shown to help borrowers become sustainable homeowners
Update underwriting tools to reflect today’s job market by pushing congress to government agencies to use a new generation of credit testing tools
Clarify the rules to expand access by giving every government agency that supports mortgage lending 90 days to present a plan to clarify their lending terms
For renters, she plans to reduce the cost by defending the current supply of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and providing additional credits to communities where demand for the credits exceeds the supplies
Construction Background: one of the issues facing the housing industry is a problem with inventory. Because construction relies heavily on foreign born workers, the candidates’ policies on immigration is very important.
What does the construction industry currently look like?
The business is four years into a shortage of framers, roofers, dry-wallers, and painters
This has rained the cost of construction, as well as slowed it down
This was caused by the decrease of illegal immigration vs a few years ago
Mexicans are returning home in huge numbers; more Mexicans have returned home since 2009 than there were when migration peaked in 2006 (Pew Research)
14% of construction jobs go to undocumented workers
As of August, there are 454,000 unemployed construction workers in the US
This is the lowest number for the month of August in more than 16 years
Which candidate is better for construction?
Clinton because Trump’s plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants would have a huge, negative impact of the construction industry
According to Mark Boud, the Chief Economist at Hanely Wood, deporting the millions of undocumented immigrants who stayed would result in “fewer homes built in an industry already short in terms of housing supply”
The National Association of Home Builders has even been lobbying for a new guest worker program where foreign nationals would be allowed into the US for temporary stretches for jobs, including construction
David Weekely, of David Weekely Homes, claims that reporting all of the laborers would put various different industries in bad shape
The Fr*ee Architecture Firm has proposed that instead of building a wall, build a border city to accommodate the 100 million people living there
Overall, most housing professionals agree that Trump’s stance on immigration is problematic for housing and will have negative long term effects
Solar Energy Background: Solar energy is and housing are intertwined and a hot-button issue with long-term repercussions. The GOP and the Democratic Parties have always have very different views on this issue, and it has become increasingly important in the past few years.
Where does the solar power industry fit into the election?
Democrats back government incentives and funding, which is opposed by Republicans who believe in market-based mechanisms
Currently at the federal level, there is a 30% solar investment tax credit which is the most important policy mechanism for supporting the solar energy sector
There are also state-level regulations like net metering and renewable portfolio standards which require/encourage utility companies to derive a certain minimum of their electricity supply from renewable sources
The federal government plays a role by incentivizing renewables by lowering emissions for conventional fossil fuel sources
What is the future of solar energy?
Solar is becoming increasingly economically feasible, reaching grid parity in many southwestern US states
Where does each candidate stand in terms of solar energy?
Plans to install 500 million solar panels during the first time
Intends to defend, implement, and extend pollution and efficiency standards, including the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan
Part of her plan requires congress approval but would be very good for solar demand and boosting near-term pricing
Has not outlined specific agenda or target for renewables, and has expressed skepticism about man-made climate change
Intends to rescind the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan and potentially cancel the Paris climate agreement that world powers signed in December 2015
This would be beneficial for the oil and coal industries
Which candidate is better for solar energy?
Clinton has better solar power policies that if implement could provide long-term effects and essentially lead the path for other countries to follow suit
Trump would have no negative sort-term implications but would have negative long-term implications because the US is a world leader – if the US is against solar energy, other countries are likely to follow our lead
Overall, who would be better for the housing industry?
Trump has not released a plan for dealing with housing
While Trump has a background in real estate, Clinton’s proposed housing policies would be more beneficial for dealing with the housing crisis
Natural stone is one of the most beautiful materials available for residential and commercial design. Each piece is unique, not man-made, and can fit effortlessly into a variety of decors, making it a top choice for consumers and designers. While natural stone is a popular material, there are several myths surrounding its use that cause homeowners to question its practicality.
Myth #1: Natural Stone Stains Easily.
Staining is a big concern for many homeowners considering natural stone. A common misconception is that common products like red wine, cosmetics, or coffee will stain natural stone countertops beyond repair. While staining can occur on any light colored material, including some lighter stones, Carl Vona Jr., president of Paramount Stone in Stamford, Connecticut, says that most stains are treatable: “We can always troubleshoot the problem. If you know the origin of the stain, you can care for it.”
Jennifer M. Foresman, owner of Madison & Wells Design in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends being mindful of material choice if stains are a concern: “If a client wants white marble for their bathrooms, I would recommend using it in the master bath rather than a child’s bathroom. White granite would be a beautiful option for a child’s bathroom—it gives a similar look but is more stain resistant.”
Myth #2: Natural Stone is Expensive.
Natural stone is often found in high-end projects, but that doesn’t mean it is out of reach for more modest budgets. The cost of natural stone depends on a variety of factors, including availability and demand.
Susan Thiel, founder of Susan Thiel Design in Los Angeles, remarked that natural stone is often in a similar price range as many man-made materials. “Prices vary depending on the movement of the slab and the color. Sometimes we find that natural stone is less expensive than man-made materials.”
Myth #3: Natural Stone is Delicate and Requires Too Much Maintenance.
Softer stones, such as marble or limestone, can be susceptible to etching or scratching. However, this can be prevented by taking simple preventative measures. Always use a cutting board when preparing food on natural stone countertops, especially with acidic foods such as tomato sauce or lemons. Consider using coasters and trivets under glasses and hot pans. Clean up spills as quickly as possible. Do not use harsh cleaning products on natural stone—instead, choose a gentle cleanser and a soft cloth.
Myth #4: Natural Stone Goes Out of Style.
While particular colors and finishes may come in and out of fashion, natural stone is a timeless, classic material. “You can’t go wrong,” says Thiel. “Natural stone is beautiful and durable.” Natural stone also adds a level of romance not found in any other product, adds Foresman: “It offers a sense of history, nature, or drama to a space while always feeling authentic,” she says. “Stone also brings depth and texture to a space that is hard to replicate. It’s been used for centuries as a building material; while it can change in appearance over time, most styles age very gracefully.”
For more information on natural stone care and maintenance, and to find a stone supplier in your area, visit www.usenaturalstone.com.
The State of South Carolina prepares for the 6th annual, ‘Salute from the Shores’, on July 4th. This event gives family, friends, and the country a chance to honor our Armed Forces on Independence Day. Various WWII vintage aircraft escorted by F-16’s will fly the coastline of South Carolina, from slightly North of Myrtle Beach to just a little south of Hilton Head. Beach-goers have the opportunity to watch the historic flight while waving flags and writing encouraging messages on the sand.
Having participated in the solute for the past five years, I can tell you there is nothing more exhilarating than holding the US flag, high overhead as then planes roar down the coast. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime.
Mortgage Investors Group and The Housing Hour would like to celebrate our countries independence by thanking all our military veterans and those who are currently serving our country. We understand and are so grateful for the sacrifices you have made for her freedom. MIG would also like to honor the memory of those who have died defending our nation and their families who have given so much for her defense. Happy 4th of July and God Bless Our Country!
By the summer of 1945, WWII was over in Europe. Hitler and Mussolini were dead, and the German armies had surrendered. However, the war was still waging in the Pacific, and uncertainty was felt throughout the world. By mid-July, Oak Ridge, TN was going to supply enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb to be tested in the New Mexico desert; this test would change the course of history and usher in a new age.
July 4, 1945 was a time of paramount celebration. Life for Oak Ridgers was reshaping. As they worked tirelessly on their contributions to ending the war, plans were also being developed for leisure activities in their Secret City. The large spring located across the street from Grove Center was converted to a public pool and was scheduled to open mid-week, on the 4th of July, for the week-long festivities. Life in Oak Ridge had ushered in a new age: an age of freedom, growth, prosperity and inexplicable joy.
For years to come, the new Oak Ridge community swimming pool had bragging rights. However, at that time the Secret City was still on lock-down. If allowed, Oak Ridge could have boasted on having the largest swimming pool in the world with over 2 million gallons of refreshing cool spring fed water and over an acre of surface area to splash, dive and swim.
Keeping the two plus million gallons of water clean was quite difficult. Due to lack of proper valves (the plants were using them) a filtration system was not available, that would come later. By the end of the swimming season, after long hot summer days, the increasing algae levels would turn the water green. But the former Recreation Director for the City (and a major party responsible for the pool creation), Carl ‘Rabbit’ Yearwood had devised a chlorination plan and method. After buying thousands of gallons of liquid chlorine, recruiting three lifeguards, obtaining two sets of swim fins, and procuring one boat, the chlorination system was ready to be deployed. Two lifeguards would swim alongside the boat, pulling and guiding it while one would sit at the stern and pour the chlorine into the water. They would have to crisscross the one acre of surface area until the proper amount of chlorine was determined. They would repeat this process constantly. Obviously, it wasn’t the most effective method, but like everything else about that generation, whatever it took, that’s what they did.
There have been several improvements to the pool over the years with the latest major renovations occurring in the early 90’s.
During a renovation project in 1955, the city had to order paint for the pool bottom. After placing the order, the paint company called the city back to confirm the quantity amount. Certain there had been an extra zero mistakenly added to the number of gallons needed, the city confirmed the amount was correct (900 gallons). The company informed them that this was the biggest order in their history. As things would turn out, an additional 300 gallons had to be ordered to finish the job. Whatever project the city planned for the pool, it was certain, that it would be on a big scale.
The spring filled pool has certainly been refreshing for Oak Ridgers from the early days of the Manhattan Project, but many may not realize the natural spring lake has been refreshing people for hundreds of years. The history of the area around the city pool is fascinating. The pool, located on Robertsville Road, was originally granted to its namesake, Collins Roberts in the early 1800’s. Collin Roberts was given 4000 acres(a disputed number perhaps more like 400 acres) to settle in that East Fork Valley area of Poplar Creek. Robertsville Road used to be called East Fork Valley Road and was a part of the historic Emory (Emery) Coach Road. The Oak Ridge pool used to play an important part in travel history. The large fresh spring fed lake, called Cross Springs (quite possibly named after farm owner and revolutionary drummer boy, William Cross ), was a stopping point for travelers to water their horses and refresh themselves. Emory Road ran from Blaine, TN, through Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs, Wartburg and crossed into the middle part of that state at Lansing. The road eventually made its way to Monterey, Tn. The eastern section of Emory road was blazed by Peter Avery and sometimes was referred to as the Avery Trace Trail and known originally as the Indian trail, Tahlonteeskee (originating from a Cherokee Village in present day Rockwood, Tn). An original section of the road can be found hidden in the tree line of Oak Ridge next to the Oak Ridge High School football practice field just north of the Oak Ridge Turnpike. A State Historical Marker on the Turnpike describes the location as being, ‘…60 yards north-northeast.’In that location, you can find the historic Rock Pillar Bridge. The bridge was built in the early 1900’s, and the asphalt road bed is still partially visible a few yards to the west. The partial route of Emory Road through Oak Ridge has been recreated on google maps starting from the Bull Run Steam plant, through the center of Oak Ridge, past the Oak Ridge pool onward toward Oliver Springs. (Map of OR section of Emory Road)
So as the Oak Ridge pool reaches its 70th birthday and you and your family visit for its cool refreshing waters, be sure to reflect on the rich history of the area, and the wonderful men and women that have maintained the splendor of the body of water once secretly known as, ‘the largest pool in the world’.
Also by Mark, a 1921 murder in pre-Oak Ridge, Tn.
The spring also used to be referred to as ‘The Duck Pond’ in the late 30’s. (per Eva Wells McCarty)
Oak Ridge Public Library Digital Collection and Teresa Fortney, Library Assistant, Reference, Tennessee Certified Archives Manager (Teresa found the rare, hardly ever seen before, photo of the springs from the Ruth Carey collection.)
joins The Housing Hour to discuss the big change in home loan closing procedure issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that will take effect August 1st. The change may seem to be confusing and cumbersome but with the experienced team at Mortgage Investors Group, our customers closing will remain smooth and worry free.
For more than 30 years, Federal law has required lenders to provide two different disclosure forms to consumers applying for a mortgage. The law also generally has required two different forms at or shortly before closing on the loan. Two different Federal agencies developed these forms separately, under two Federal statutes: the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA). The information on these forms is overlapping and the language is inconsistent. Consumers often find the forms confusing, and lenders and settlement agents find the forms burdensome to provide and explain.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) to integrate the mortgage loan disclosures under TILA and RESPA Sections 4 and 5. Section 1032(f) of the Dodd-Frank Act mandated that the Bureau propose for public comment rules and model disclosures that integrate the TILA and RESPA disclosures by July 21, 2012. The Bureau satisfied this statutory mandate and issued proposed rules and forms on July 9, 2012. To accomplish this, the Bureau engaged in extensive consumer and industry research, analysis of public comment, and public outreach for more than a year. After issuing the proposal, the Bureau conducted a large-scale quantitative study of its proposed integrated disclosures with approximately 850 consumers, which concluded that the Bureau’s integrated disclosures had on average statistically significant better performance than the current disclosures under TILA and RESPA. The Bureau has now finalized a rule with new, integrated disclosures – Integrated Mortgage Disclosures Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulation X) and the Truth In Lending Act (Regulation Z) (78 FR 7973, Dec. 31, 2013) (TILA-RESPA rule). The TILA-RESPA rule also provides a detailed explanation of how the forms should be filled out and used.
First, the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the initial Truth-in-Lending disclosure (initial TIL) have been combined into a new form, the Loan Estimate. Similar to those forms, the new Loan Estimate form is designed to provide disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding the key features, costs, and risks of the mortgage loan for which they are applying, and must be provided to consumers no later than the third business day after they submit a loan application. Second, the HUD-1 and final Truth-in-Lending disclosure (final TIL and, together with the initial TIL, the Truth-in-Lending forms) have been combined into another new form, the Closing Disclosure, which is designed to provide disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding all of the costs of the transaction. This form must be provided to consumers at least three business days before consummation of the loan.
The forms use clear language and design to make it easier for consumers to locate key information, such as interest rate, monthly payments, and costs to close the loan. The forms also provide more information to help consumers decide whether they can afford the loan and to facilitate comparison of the cost of different loan offers, including the cost of the loans over time.
The final rule applies to most closed-end consumer mortgages. It does not apply to home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), reverse mortgages, or mortgages secured by a mobile home or by a dwelling that is not attached to real property (i.e., land).
The TILA-RESPA rule is effective August 1, 2015.
A long time East Tennessee appraiser, Tom has seen market chances and fluctuations that most professionals don’t see in a life time. His experiences give our listening audience a unique perspective of home values.
Home Values With Tom White
On this weeks show, we discuss Collateral Underwriter (CU). CU is a proprietary model-driven tool developed by Fannie Mae that provides an automated appraisal risk assessment to support proactive management of appraisal quality. CU is now available in to provide transparency and help lenders more effectively and efficiently identify issues with appraisals. Tom unwraps the particulars regarding CU and helps us understand how this FNMA system will benefit the home valuation process.
TFW Appraisal Services provides dependable and accurate appraisals in Oak Ridge and Anderson county.As a licensed appraiser, I have the education and qualifications to provide the type of reliable home values that banks and major lending institutions require for home loans. And with years of experience behind me, I’m prepared to handle a variety of property types.
In addition to mortgage appraisals,
my services are also available for:
Removing PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)
Tax Assessments (reducing your property taxes)
Setting a home’s sales price
Legal matters such as divorce settlements
My investment in technology means faster turn times for you and lower costs for everybody. I take pride in providing personalized customer service whether I’m on the phone, sending e-mail or communicating through this website which you can use 24/7 for placing orders, checking status or downloading completed reports.Thanks for taking time to visit TFW Appraisal Services. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
REASONS TO GET AN APPRAISAL
Every year, countless people in the United States buy, sell or refinance their own slice of the American Dream. Most, if not all, of these transactions include a simple line item for an appraisal. It has become an understood and accepted part of a real estate transaction. “Let’s bring in the expert and make sure we’re not spending too much on this property.”
But is this the only reason to get an appraisal? Are there other times when the services of a certified, licensed, independent real estate professional might come in handy? You bet.
PURCHASE OF A HOME One of the most important issues involved in purchasing a property is developing an opinion of what it’s worth so that you can make an informed offer to purchase. A professional appraisal report performed by a qualified, state-licensed appraiser can provide you with an objective, third party opinion of a property’s current Market Value. And for the small price of this service, you can give yourself “peace of mind” prior to making an offer to purchase that you’re offering a fair price for the property.
REFINANCE OR GET A HOME EQUITY LOAN
If you need to consolidate bills, have a college tuition to pay, or just want to tap into the equity of your home, you’ll need a new loan, which oftentimes requires a new appraisal of the property.
Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is the supplemental insurance that many lenders ask home buyers to purchase when the amount being loaned is more than 80% of the value of the home. Very often, this additional payment is folded into the monthly mortgage payment and is quickly forgotten. This is unfortunate because PMI becomes unnecessary when the remaining balance of the loan – whether through market appreciation or principal paydown – dips below this 80% level. In fact, the United States Congress passed a law in 1998 (the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998) that requires lenders to remove the PMI payments when the loan-to-value ratio conditions have been met.
Many appraisers offer a specific service for home owners that believe they have met the 80% loan-to-value metric. For a nominal fee, the appraiser can provide you with a statement regarding the home value. Some will even take the next step and help you file a challenge with your mortgage company. The costs of these services are very often recovered in just a few months of not paying the PMI.
DIVORCE SETTLEMENT A divorce can be a particularly traumatic experience for both parties and is often further complicated by the difficult decision of “Who gets the house?”. In most divorce cases, the Court won’t usually force the parties involved to “buyout” the other party’s interest but it may however order the sale of the home so each party gets an equal share of the equity. Regardless of the situation, it’s a good idea to order an appraisal so both parties are fully aware of what the true market value is.
If the parties want to sell the home, they’ll have a better idea of what price to set. And on the flipside, if a “buyout” is the chosen option, both parties will feel like they’ve gotten a fair assessment.
ESTATE LIQUIDATION The loss of a loved one is a difficult time in life and settling an estate from a death, or probate, often requires an appraisal to establish Fair Market Value for the residential property involved. The ethics provision within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds us with confidentiality, ensuring the fullest degree of discretion.
Unlike many wealthy individuals, the majority of Americans do not have dedicated estate planners or executors to handle these issues. Also, in most cases, a home or other real property makes up a disproportionate share of the total estate value.
Here too, an appraiser can help. Often the first step in fairly disposing of an estate is to understand its true value. Where property is involved, the appraiser can help determine the true value. At this point, equitable arrangements can more easily be arrived at among disputing parties. Everyone walks away knowing they’ve received a fair deal.
RELOCATION We understand the stress involved with an employee relocation. We take great care in establishing a convenient appointment time for the appraisal inspection. During our thorough inspection, we encourage relocating employees to provide input on the positive attributes of their property along with information about any recent sales or listings in their neighborhood that they want considered.
HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO ADD VALUE
Before you decide to sell your home, there are several decisions to be made. First and foremost: “How much should it sell for?” But don’t forget there may be other equally important questions to ask yourself such as “Would it be better to paint the entire house before we sell it?”, “Should I put in that third bathroom?”, “Should I complete my kitchen remodel?” Many things which we do to our houses have an effect on their value. Unfortunately, not all of them have an equal effect. While a kitchen remodel may improve the appeal of a home, it may not add nearly enough to the value to justify the expense.
SELLING A HOME
Whether you choose to sell your home on your own or use the assistance of a real estate agent, a professional appraisal can help you make a better educated decision when determining your selling price.
Unlike a real estate agent, an appraiser has no vested interest in what amount the house sells for. It’s easy for them to step in and give you the information to help you make your decision. Appraiser fees are based on efforts to complete the report and not a percentage of the sales price. So seeking a professional appraisal can often help homeowners make the best decisions on investing in their homes and setting a fair sales price.
When the Federal Reserve met earlier this week the governing body did not rock the boat and kept with previous statements and posture. They left rates unchanged, however the statement was tweaked in a way to allow them to start rate hikes (normalizing monetary policy) later this year. They said that economic activity was expanding at a “solid pace” with strong job gains.
Words are powerful: One tool the Fed has is “forward guidance.” This is “wording” that tells markets what to expect in the future. Mrs. Yellen has said that the Fed can be “patient” in raising rates and indicated that “patience” means no changes for at least two more meetings. By including it Wednesday the Fed took rate hikes off the table at their March and April meetings leaving the June 16-17 meeting in question.
Not all Fed meetings are created equal. The governing body meets every six weeks, however they do not always include a press conference and updated economic projections from the members. The meeting this week was one without a press conference or projections, leaving Mrs. Yellen without a soapbox to explain any changes in stance. This was one reason few expected much change from the statement. However the March 17-18 meeting brings updated projections and a press conference. Mrs. Yellen will not remove the “patience” wording without an opportunity to explain her position. Global market participants will be on edge as the meeting approaches.
Data Dependent: As Mrs. Yellen has said repeatedly, any changes to Fed policy will depend on the economy. If inflation remains well below their 2% target or the economy stumbles the Fed will delay rate hikes. One metric they are laser focused on is jobs. As the economy moves to “full employment” (the condition in which virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed) with an unemployment rate of 5.2%-5.5% any sign of wage inflation will pressure them to increase rates.
Global economy: The US is the shining light for economic activity around the world. As central banks of other countries continue to add accommodations, the Fed is poised to move to hike rates. We are seeing bond buying (quantitative easing), rate cuts, and other activities to combat deflation and rising currency values from Europe to Canada to Asia. It is rare to see so much disjunction between central banks.
What about rates: Despite the fact the Fed is jawboning higher rates, yields in the US are falling. One reason is the Treasury rates in the US are much higher than yields available from other strong countries such as Germany. In Germany the 10-year Bund yields 35bps (1/3 of 1%) and the 30-year bund is less than 1%. Rates in Germany are expect to fall further as the European Central Bank kicks off their own QE. That makes a mortgage backed security yielding 3% or a 10-year Treasury bond yielding 1.75% a deal.
What to expect: In a word, volatility. There is no reason to believe mortgage rates will rise substantially in 2015 and they could fall as we have seen recently. Keep an eye on the economic data calendar and prepare yourself and your borrowers for the possibility of rapid rate movements. Not all volatility is bad, however all volatility is disruptive.
The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year. The origins of the term ‘Black Friday’ have become legendary all on its own. Some people point to the massive chaotic shopping mobs that would invade large cities hunting deals and the local law enforcement agencies pointing to the day as ‘Black’ because of the massive difficulties that it would create. While some point to an accounting ledger entries with ‘red’ meaning negative in earning and the day after Thanksgiving going from ‘red’ to positive earnings or ‘black’. Still others point to a nebulous article printed in some unnamed industrial magazine sighting the epidemic of employees ‘calling in sick’ the day after Thanksgiving as being, “a disease second only to the bubonic plague” implying the day that the population succumbs to Black Death..
Regardless of where the term originated the season typically begins with retailers inserting advertising pieces into local Sunday newspapers around the country. Avid shoppers will prepare their meticulously detailed shopping list weeks in advance, some lining up days before, braving all sorts of weather conditions, just to be one of the first of the stampeding hoards through the front doors.
It is curious, with all the elbows being thrown and shoppers being trampled the name Black Eye Friday doesn’t catch on. Regardless of what it’s called, the day after
Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is the mother of all shopping days.
But how did this most exciting, yet life threatening, shopping day start?
Hist oric fingers loosely point to one of the largest retailer of its day, Macy’s. The Macy’s Christmas Day Parade began in 1924 on Thanksgiving day as a way to honor their immigrant workers who wanted show to their thankfulness to the country that had given them a new beginning. But once the iconic retailer realized the power of the parade, the event became an annual celebration with the focus on retail marketing. What better way to bring thousands of potential shoppers to your front door, the day before the official Christmas shopping season starts, than by offering a wonderful parade full of clowns, balloons and candy? The parade was renamed to The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with its purposeful marketing angle at the end of the parade with that unspoken but very clear, message from Santa, ‘Thanksgiving is over, let the shopping begin!’