Wednesday, April 29 2009
We are pleased to report that the March sales figures both for existing and new single family homes have increased in Vanderburgh and Warrick counties. We saw a 20% increase from the figures in February. Overall sales volume for the entire Multi List System rose by 32% with more than $ 26.6 million in sales for March compared to $ 20.1 million in February.
Even though we are not at the end of the month for April, we can report that April figures will turn out better than expected as well. We will report the April figures as soon as we have them.
Please call me at 812-499-9234 if you have any questions.
Source: Courier & Press
Tuesday, April 28 2009
Savings for your utilities bills
Home owners with older properties have a challenge far greater than those owners of newer properties, whose homes have been built with the latest construction methods. Older homes are just not as efficient. Insulation and replacement windows certainly will help in increasing the efficiency of a home.
In general, additional savings can be obtained by replacing the HVAC equipment, the hot water heaters and the kitchen appliances with energy saving ratings. The next step of savings will come with using the latest technology for certain components of the home. And her we can suggest Adjustable Universal Vacancy Sensor Light Switch.
Watt Stopper's universal application wall switch vacancy sensors replace standard wall switches. These switches offer convenient, cost-effective energy savings throughout the home. They are engineered to comply with California's rigorous Title 24-2005 residential energy code.
Universal application sensors can be used in virtually every room in a residence. Homeowners can select appropriate on/off mode, time delay and light level settings to maximize potential energy savings without compromising comfort or convenience. The RS-250 can be used in any space where residents want to select a specific time delay and daylight contributions are significant.
RS-250 wall switch vacancy sensors use advanced PIR (Passive Infrared) technology to sense the difference between infrared energy from a person in motion and the background space. They operate as vacancy sensors when utilizing the preset factory setting for manual-On operation. When programmed for automatic-On, they operate as occupancy sensors.
A setup button and two adjustment trimpots are conveniently located behind the On/Off button and allow for a variety of additional control options such as manual or automatic-On, time delay, and light level sensing.
We will certainly keep you up dated with other saving suggestions. Of course we would be happy to hear from you if you have a suggestion you would like to pass on.
Monday, April 27 2009
According to Freddie Mac, interest rates on 30 year mortgages fell slightly last week but remained a bit higher than the record low rates set earlier this month. Mortgage rates went down to 4.8% from 4.82 % least week. Just as a quick comparison, last years average rates at this time were 6.03%.
We do not anticipate the rates to decline further, unless there is an executive order from the Department of Housing. Our market is still doing well compared to the national market and we are continuing to see our month’s inventory rates to decline. We were at 15.11 months at the end of January 2009, 11.97 at the end of February 2009 and 9.64 at the end of March 2009.
We encourage all pur readers to take a look at your present mortgage rates and see if it does not make sense to re-finance. For those of you wanting to buy, we are still in a buyers market and there are plenty of homes to choose from. Please feel free to call me at 812-499-9234 if there are any questions you may have.
Saturday, April 25 2009
While surfing the internet for information and articles about real estate, I came across this site and was pleasantly surprised to see how simple, but yet far reaching the concept is for the business plan of www.nohome.org.
nohome.org is a company that builds websites and at the same time they build homes for the less fortunate. Their message basically is let us build your website, and at the same time, you will help to build homes for others.
If I had not already my website up and running, I would certainly check this out. I do wish all the best for nohome.org and applaud them for making a difference in this world.
Friday, April 24 2009
Existing-home sales eased in March but first-time buyers are responding to low mortgage interest rates and tax credits, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units in March from a downwardly revised level of 4.71 million in February, and were 7.1 percent lower than the 4.92 million-unit pace in March 2008.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market appears to be stabilizing with modest monthly ups and downs, and that first-time buyers are driving the market. “The share of lower priced home sales has trended up, indicating a return of many first-time buyers, which we also see in a parallel member survey,” he said. “Sales in the upper price ranges remain stalled because of higher interest rates on jumbo loans.”
Although prices rose from February to March, the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $175,200, down 12.4 percent from March 2008. The price increase from February to March was 4.2 percent, which is much higher than the typical 1.8 percent seasonal increase between those two months. Distressed properties, which accounted for just over half of all transactions in March, typically are selling for 20 percent less than traditional homes.
An NAR practitioner survey in March showed first-time buyers accounted for 53 percent of transactions, based largely on contracts offered before the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit became available. “Buyer traffic has been rising, and real estate offices are getting phone inquires about the tax credit,” Yun said. “By early summer we should be seeing a positive impact on home sales from record-low mortgage interest rates in addition to the stimulus provisions.”
NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said first-time buyers are crucial at this stage of a housing recovery. “The housing market always heals from the bottom up, and with large numbers of first-time buyers entering the market it will become a little easier for sellers to trade up or down, according to their needs,” he said. “Although homeownership builds wealth over the long term, buyers need to evaluate their options. In this market, buyers and sellers who use a REALTOR® to represent them are making a smart move,” McMillan said.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 5.00 percent in March from 5.13 percent in February; the rate was 5.97 percent in March 2008; data collection began in 1971.
“Record-high housing affordability conditions are helping markets recover, with home sales higher than a year ago in Minneapolis, Northern Virginia, Las Vegas, Phoenix and most areas of California and Florida.”
Total housing inventory at the end of March fell 1.6 percent to 3.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.8-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with a 9.7-month supply in February.
Single-family home sales slipped 2.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.10 million in March from a pace of 4.22 million in February, and are 5.7 percent below the 4.35 million-unit pace in March 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $174,900 in March, which is 11.5 percent lower than a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 4.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 units in March from 490,000 in February, and are 17.8 percent below the 572,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $177,600 in March, down 18.7 percent from March 2008.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 8.0 percent to an annual pace of 690,000 in March, and are 22.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $231,700, down 18.4 percent from March 2008.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest were unchanged in March at a pace of 1.04 million but are 11.1 percent lower than March 2008. The median price in the Midwest was $141,300, which is 6.1 percent below a year ago.
In the South, existing-home sales slipped 1.7 percent to an annual pace of 1.71 million in March and are 10.9 percent below a year ago. The median price in the South was $146,900, down 12.2 percent from March 2008.
Existing-home sales in the West declined 4.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.13 million in March but are 18.9 percent higher than a year earlier. The median price in the West was $252,400, which is 11.1 percent below March 2008.
Friday, April 24 2009
This article is very well written and explains well the relation Baby Boomers play in the recovery of the real estate industry. Baby Boomers comprise the largest population group and as they approach retirement this group will have significant impact on real estate by either downsizing, or relocating or buying a vacation home.
Baby Boomers Will Drive Real Estate Growth
Baby boomers, baby boomers, baby boomers; we all hear this term over and over again. So who are the baby boomers? Baby boomers are people in the United States who were born between 1946 and 1964. Approximately 78.2 million people fall into this category.
As a group, baby boomers comprise the largest population cohort in the history of the United States. The size of the group gives it vast influence over American politics, popular cultural, and of course, real estate. To evaluate the influence of the baby boomers on the future of real estate, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conducted a study in 2006. The findings of the research were published in report entitled Baby Boomers and Real Estate: Today and Tomorrow. Below are some highlights from the NAR study.
According to the NAR report, baby boomers now range in age from 42 to 60 years old. The typical baby boomer is 50 years old, and the oldest of the baby boomers turned 60 in 2006. About 46% of baby boomers are in their 40s, and about 25% are at least 55 years old.
As a group, baby boomers are in their peak earning years. In 2005, baby boomers had a household income of $64,700, and about 25% them had a household income of at least $100,000 per year.
About 78% of baby boomers own a home, which is higher than the national ownership rate of 69%. About 96% of baby boomers believe that home ownership is a good financial investment.
FUTURE REAL ESTATE PURCHASES
About 10%, or 7.8 million of all baby boomers, said they were likely to purchase additional real estate in the next 12 months. Of these potential buyers, two-thirds were planning on buying a primary residence, 26% want to buy land, 19% want rental property, 15% want a vacation home or seasonal home, and 14% want a commercial property.
WHAT FEATURES ATTRACT BOOMERS
When baby boomers were asked about what features are most important to them, 38% wanted a lower cost of living, 38% wanted to be near family, 38% wanted easy access to quality health care, 37% wanted a better climate, and 36% wanted to be near a body of water.
PREFERRED COMMUNITY AMENITIES
When baby boomers were asked about the type of community amenities that interest them most, about 18% wanted to be near cultural offerings, 9% wanted to be closer to their family, 4% wanted to be on a golf course, and 3% wanted easy access to educational facilities
WHERE DO BOOMERS WANT TO RETIRE
When baby boomers were asked about where they want to retire, 33% of them want to retire in a rural area, 30% in a small town, 25% in a suburban area, and only 12% in an urban community.
BOOMERS AND THEIR REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Baby boomers consistently use the services of a real estate agent. Approximately 60% of homebuyers and 79% of home sellers used a real estate agent in their last transaction.
The baby boomers have had and will continue to have a significant impact on the real estate market. As the boomers near retirement, they continue to value real estate and will continue to invest in properties and land. Real estate agents would be well served to understand what baby boomers want in terms of their real estate investments, and design strategies that target the needs of this enormous population cohort. For more information, read the NAR report entitled, Baby Boomers and Real Estate: Today and Tomorrow
Posted by kj1010 in Real Estate Investing
Source: The Experts In Real Estate And Mortgages
Thursday, April 23 2009
The R Factor
When selecting insulation, you not only need to look at R-value, but also at these materials’ relationship with the rest of the building envelope. Though the fundamentals of building science are unchanging, new products and evolving best practices allow insulation to play an increasingly important role in whole-house system design.
Source: Eco Home Magazine
Wednesday, April 22 2009
I certainly hope that no one gets burglarized, but I thought this information is strange enough that it is worth mentioning. To get an honest answer from a person who has chosen this line of work is a catch 22 situation. No pun intended with catch.
Home Burglar Survey
A survey of home burglars’ work preferences published in Whittle Communications’ Special Report magazine revealed that 32% like to browse through family photographs while on the job, 27% like to raid the refrigerator, and 7% watch TV.
Seventy percent of the 191 imprisoned burglars reported they like to limit their jobs to a 20 minute maximum, 17% wondered what their victims were like and 59% said a dog in the home was the most effective burglary deterrent.
Moral of the story: Get a Dog.
Tuesday, April 21 2009
This is a very well written article on hot water heaters and tips to save money operating the hot water heater. Did you know that for each 10F degree in water temperature, you can save 3% to 5% in energy costs? These and many other savings will make it easier on your pocket book.
Saving on water heating costs
Heating water or more accurately, keeping it heated, is an expensive process and especially unfriendly to the environment if you're not using solar energy.
I've always found it odd that we generally set our hot water services to a temperature that's too hot to immerse our hands in. Instead, we add a ton of cold water to achieve the desired temperature. Also, every time you turn off your hot water tap, there can be gallons of hot water still in the lines - the heat is wasted and your hot water service then needs to reheat the equivalent of the water lost.
Going green doesn't have to cost a lot of green
In addition, the hotter the temperature of your service, the less working life it will have.
For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs! As we're currently on bottled gas, we've certainly noticed a substantial saving just by bumping down the thermostat a couple of notches.
Other strategies for saving on hot water are to use faucet aerators and low flow shower heads. Check the laggings on external pipes regularly and you may also want to consider purchasing special insulation blankets which can help reduce heat loss (more suited to electric hot water systems).
Wherever possible, use cold water in food preparation cooking. Heating water on your stovetop consumes less gas/electricity as your water heater is likely to go into a heating cycle whenever hot water is used.
Likewise, use cold water for washing your hands - there are really no health benefits in using hot water as the temperatures that kill bacteria are also too high for human skin.
These days, with the improvements in laundry products, there's little need to use hot water in washing cycles. We use cold water for wash and rinse cycles and haven't experienced any problems with getting our clothes clean - and we use earth friendly, blackwater recycling system compatible detergents as well.
If you are in the market for a new gas hot water service, consider a tankless system. Tankless systems operate on an "on demand" basis; heating water when it's required. Anywhere up to a third of the energy used by standard water heater is consumed by maintaining water at temperature in between uses.
Source: Courier & Press
Monday, April 20 2009
Old National Leaving Treasury Program
Evansville-based Old National Bancorp (NYSE:ONB) is planning to end its participation in the federal Capital Purchase Program (CPP). It has informed the U.S. Treasury department of plans to essentially repurchase up to 813,000 shares of the company's stock issued to the Treasury last December. It is the second and final phase of Old National's move to end its involvement with the CPP.
Source: Source: Inside INdiana Business & Old National Bank
Thursday, April 16 2009
Since the mowing season has already started, we thought it would be well advised to get your mower in top shape, thus pro-longing the life of your mower. The article by Toro below has some great suggestions:
Time to get your mower in gear
Maintaining your lawn mower can also help maintain the health of your grass.
A sharp mower blade, part of routine maintenance, is essential to maintaining a healthy lawn, say the turf experts at Texas A&M University. Dull blades leave a ragged top, which turns brown and makes the lawn look tired. More important, "ragged tops are prime points of entry for many fungal pathogens and small turf insects," A&M says.
Shops that sell mowers also service them. If you’re not handy, getting them to do it could be a big relief.
A CLEAN MOWER IS A HAPPY MOWER
With the proper tools and the time, you can do routine maintenance yourself. Here are tips from DIY Network, Texas A&M and About.com:
1. Drain the gas tank, and run the engine until it stops.
2. Disconnect the sparkplug wire so there is no chance of the mower starting.
3. Remove the oil drain plug, and drain the oil into a drip pan.
4. Replace the plug securely.
5. With the mower on its side and using a putty knife, scrape matted grass from the underside of the mower’s deck, which is the housing for the blade. Use a hose sprayer to blast off remaining grass and dirt. If that doesn’t get it all, use a brush and soap and water.
6. Hold the mower blade with a rag or towel and, using a socket wrench, unscrew the mounting knob of the blade.
7. Sharpen the blade (see below), or have a lawn mower shop do it.
8. Turn the mower upright.
9. Clean or replace the air filter.
10. Find the spark plug, which will probably need to be removed with the barrel of your socket wrench.
11. With a wire brush, clean off carbon deposits. Or, replace with a new plug.
12. Screw in and tighten the sparkplug.
13. Fill the oil compartment with 30-weight oil (unless your owner’s manual recommends another kind).
14. Reconnect the sparkplug wire.
15. Lubricate all moving parts, including wheels. Tighten engine mounting bolts and any other nuts or screws.
16. Gas and go.
OTHER WORDS OF ADVICE
—When you turn the mower on its side, turn it so that the air-filter side of the machine is up. Otherwise, oil drains out of the filter and the mower won’t start.
—If your machine’s engine runs roughly, you may need an expert to adjust it.
—Dispose of the used oil and filter properly.
SHARPENING A MOWER BLADE
—A grinding wheel is handy, but you can use a file. Be sure to use safety glasses.
—Use smooth, quick swipes across the grinding wheel or with the file. Try to keep the original angle of the blade.
—Dip the blade in cold water every few swipes so the steel doesn’t get too soft.
—After grinding, test for balance. Place the center hole of the blade on your fingertip or on a screwdriver. If it balances, great; if not, the heavier side needs more work. If you’re satisfied with the sharpness, leave the angle alone. It’s best to grind a little steel off the back or a corner of the blade to balance it.
—Carefully file off any burrs left by the grinder.
—Oil the bolt hole on the blade and reattach.
Thursday, April 16 2009
Here is your chance to recycle old tires and make space in your garage.
Solid waste district collecting used tires on Saturday
Location: Civic Center Parking Lot
The Vanderburgh County Solid Waste District will be collecting used tires from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Civic Center Parking lot, Ninth and Walnut streets.
The first four tires will be accepted free of charge. A $1 fee will apply to any additional tires dropped off. Only tires from cars and light trucks will be accepted. Water and mud must be removed and the solid waste district prefers that rims are also removed. No commercial vehicles are allowed. The collection is open to households only. No commercial vehicles will be allowed.
For more information, call 436-7800.
Source: Courier & Press
Wednesday, April 15 2009
Here we have an interesting article from PropertyWire about green buildings. It is the first time we have seen a report showing the financial benefits of owning /building a green building. If property owners can make more money and help the environment it sounds like we will be seeing green properties increasing. Green trends will continue do evolve and we think that all large scale projects should undergo feasibility studies to way the advantages green buildings will have over present conventional buildings.
Green buildings in US attract higher rents and sell for more
Wednesday, 01 April 2009
US eco buildings attract more rentals Buildings in the US with a high energy star rating are attracting higher rental premiums than non green buildings of the same size, location and function, according to the latest research.
It is the first credible evidence on the economic value of the certification of green buildings in the commercial property sector, the research commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors shows.
Its report, Doing Well by Doing Good, shows that buildings with energy star ratings command a premium of 3% per square foot. In addition when looking at effective rents, the true rent of a property, considering rental concessions, spread over the life of the lease, the premium is at least double at 6% and above.
The researchers also examined the impact on the selling prices of green buildings, and here the premium is even higher, in the order of 16%. This implies that upgrading the average non-'green' building to a 'green' one would increase its capital value by some $5.5 million, the report says.
The results suggest that tenants and property investors are currently willing to pay more for an energy-efficient building, but not for buildings that are 'sustainable' in a broader sense, it concludes.
'This piece of research is an important first step in building an evidence base on the topic of the value of green buildings. Previously with only anecdotal evidence available on which to base decisions surrounding development of energy efficient buildings, it is understandable that the uptake of some measures has been frustratingly slow,' said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist.
'With more comprehensive evidence based research, such as this paper, the economic argument for having an energy efficient building will be strong. Any businesses wishing to maximise profits will have to start looking at increasing the energy efficiency of the buildings in order to remain competitive. By proving that green buildings are economically beneficial due to the savings they can make and the higher rental yields they attract, non-green buildings will eventually become an outdated model,' he added.
The research, carried out by Piet Eichholtz and Nils Kok of Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and John Quigley of the University of California, Berkeley, United States of America, is the first of its kind to examine the financial performance of green office buildings in the US.
Monday, April 13 2009
It is nice to see that the State of Indiana is a leading contender in the growth of wind energy. Wind energy will play an important factor in the future and all will benefit us all as a clean source of energy.
Indiana Leads Nation in Wind Energy Growth
This is a big week for Indiana's thriving wind energy sector. Groundbreakings are set for two wind farms and a third is expected to be brought online to provide electricity. Governor Mitch Daniels has proclaimed today through April 18 "Indiana Wind Energy Week." The events are being highlighted today by a national study from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) indicating Indiana is the state with the fastest wind power growth rate in the nation.
Phase I of Meadow Lake Wind Farm has an initial proposed installed capacity of 200 megawatts (MW) - enough to power 60,000 average Indiana homes with clean energy each year. The project has the potential to eventually reach 1,000 MW, ultimately powering 250,000 homes.
The first phase of Meadow Lake Wind Farm will prevent the annual emission of 640,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a contributor to climate change. The project will also help avoid nearly 2.3 million pounds of nitrogen oxide, which causes smog and 8.4 million pounds tons of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, helping meet the national reduction goals for those pollutants. The annual environmental benefits are equivalent to taking 64,000 cars off of the road.
Meadow Lake Wind Farm will yield significant economic benefits to the local community in the form of payments to landowners, well-paying jobs, local spending and annual community investment. Construction of the first phase of the wind farm will create about 400 temporary jobs and 20 permanent, full-time jobs.
About Horizon Wind Energy
Horizon Wind Energy develops, constructs, owns and operates wind farms throughout North America. Based in Houston, Texas with over 20 offices across the United States, Horizon has developed more than 2,500 megawatts (MW) and operates over 2,000 MW of wind farms.
Horizon is owned by EDP Renováveis S.A. (“EDPR”), a global leader in the renewable energy sector that designs, develops, manages and operates power plants that generate electricity using renewable energy sources. With a sound development pipeline, first class assets and market-leading operating capacity, EDPR has undergone exceptional development in recent years. Energias de Portugal, S.A. (“EDP”), the parent company of EDPR, is a vertically-integrated utility company, headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal. Through its various constituent businesses, EDP holds significant electricity and gas operations in Europe, Brazil, and the United States.
For more information, visit www.horizonwind.com and www.edprenovaveis.com
Source: Inside INdiana Business & Horizon Wind Energy
Friday, April 10 2009
The IRS has released IR 2009-30 to remind taxpayers of a temporary tax incentive that will be available to them for the purchase of a new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle during 2009. The deduction is available for the cost of all state and local sales and excise taxes paid on up to $49,500 of the purchase price. The amount of the deduction is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income is between $125,000 and $135,000 for individual filers and between $250,000 and $260,000 for joint filers. The vehicle must be purchased after Feb. 16, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2010, to qualify for the deduction. The special deduction is available regardless of whether a taxpayer itemizes deductions on their return.
The IRS reminded taxpayers the deduction may not be taken on 2008 tax returns.
Thursday, April 09 2009
Market Watch For April 2009
Last month I promised I would have some good news in this issue of "Market Watch". Here it is:
Closed transactions in our area (I use statistics from our local multiple listing service) were up 25.1% from January to February.
Closed transactions were up 22.5% from February to March.
And the best news, even though it is not yet official, is that closed transactions in April will be up substantially from March. (I will give you the exact number next month.)
What does this indicate for our market? .... The housing market HAS already turned. Interest rates are at exceptionally low levels. Home prices have not risen significantly. If you are thinking about purchasing a home, now is the time. If you are a first time buyer, the $8,000 tax credit makes the next few months a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
To make your home shopping easier, we have added some new tools to our marketing capabilities. You can now dial 437-0247, enter the house number of any listing in our multiple listing service (not just F.C. Tucker Emge listings) and receive recorded information about that home, plus request more information from one of our professional Realtors, if you wish.
Next month I will tell you about more Tucker tools to help both buyers and sellers and give you updated information about recent changes in our market.
In our continued quest to offer more services, Kathy and I would like to invite you to sign up for your personal up to date market information on your home and those surrounding yours. Just click on the link below:
Please feel free to call me at 812-499-9234 if you have any troubles with signing up for your personal report.
Thursday, April 09 2009
Economic recovery is about making people feel more confident, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com.
Wednesday, April 08 2009
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari's decision to introduce an allergen-friendly menu has led to a national honor. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network has named the Santa Claus operation a recipient of its "Making a Difference" Award. Holiday World is the only business to receive the honor this year. Several of the park's restaurants are planning to expand their menu of pre-packaged items that do not include some of the most common food allergens.
Holiday World Wins Award For Allergen-Friendly Menu
SANTA CLAUS, IN-----The world leader in food-allergy awareness announced today that Holiday World is recipient of its national “Making a Difference” Award this year.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) announced the winners of the 13th annual Mariel C. Furlong Award for Making a Difference this morning. Holiday World is the only business to be honored this year; other winners include 11 individuals and a non-profit preschool.
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari introduced an allergen-friendly menu last season. This year, several of the park’s restaurants will offer an expanded menu of pre-packaged food items which do not contain eight of the most common food allergens, namely: wheat, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, soy and eggs.
“Last season we started offering a special menu for our guests with food allergies, and the reaction was just about overwhelming,” says Holiday World & Splashin' Safari’s president, Will Koch. “We heard from parents who told us they cried when they learned we offered an allergen-friendly menu. This award means the world to us.”
Pizza, chicken nuggets, and turkey corn dogs which do not contain the most common food allergens are available at Kringle’s Kafé and Safari Pizza; those restaurants also have designated equipment for preparing gluten-free and dairy-free items. In addition, the park offers gluten-free sandwich bread. Pre-packaged applesauce and fruit cups are offered as an option to fries.
For dessert, snickerdoodle cookies which are free of the most common food allergens are available. Gluten- and wheat-free brownies are offered at Plymouth Rock Café and Mrs. Klaus’ Kitchen, which also features sucrose-free fudge. In addition, two types of dairy-free ice cream bars plus soy milk are now available.
A downloadable Allergen Friendly Information Guide is available on the “Restaurants & Food” page at Holiday World’s website; copies of the guide are also available for park guests to pick up at Guest Relations. Allergen-friendly meals may be ordered in advance by phone or in person.
Holiday World opens for the season on May 2 with the premiere of Pilgrims Plunge, the world’s tallest water ride. Both Holiday World and Splashin' Safari will be open daily beginning May 15. For more information, visit the parks’ website or call 1-877-463-2645.
Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Wednesday, April 08 2009
Pilot Project Explores Super Insulation for Older Homes
Retrofit reduces energy use by 60 percent at Massachusetts home.
You could call it an "Extreme Makeover: Energy-Efficient Edition."
In Arlington, Mass., Alex Cheimets and Cynthia Page live in a duplex that used to consume about 1,400 gallons of heating oil a year. Now their building will soon be one of the most energy-efficient in its New England neighborhood, thanks to a pilot project that retrofitted the structure with almost $100,000 worth of insulation and other products to increase energy efficiency and decrease utility costs.
The so-called Massachusetts Super Insulation Project seeks to determine the benefits and cost effectiveness of retrofitting old energy-wasting houses with insulation upgrades in key areas. Though the cost for the upgrades in the home were substantial, some of the techniques used—such as proper air-sealing and adequate moisture barriers—could easily be applied to new construction and for not much more money.
Massachusetts officials are keenly interested in the results of the project, which dovetails with the state’s efforts to become more energy-efficient. “Our governor, the state House and Senate, and the executive branch are aware that the nation’s energy strategy is not acceptable, and a big part of it is the existing housing stock,” says Philip Giudice, commissioner of the state's Department of Energy Resources.
“Nationally, buildings account for 40 percent of all energy consumption and one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions,” says Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, who chairs Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force. “This super-insulation project in Arlington promises to be a model for the type of innovation in the building industry that the Patrick administration hopes will soon be widespread across Massachusetts.”
The public/private effort includes the state Department of Energy Resources, the local utility NStar Electric & Gas, and a number of building product sponsors.
Bowles is right, of course. As green building practices spread through the new construction market, America’s existing housing stock remains an energy-use problem. Millions of these old structures lose large amounts of energy through leaky windows, inefficient heating and cooling units, and poorly insulated walls, all of which contribute to higher-than-necessary utility bills. The 3,200-square-foot Cheimets/Page building—divided into one condo for Cheimets and his family and one for Page—was one of these structures.
At one point when home heating oil in the Massachusetts area hit $4.69 a gallon, Cheimets says, the homeowners were paying a combined total of almost $6,500 a year for heating and hot water. “We needed to replace our siding and our roof soon anyway,” Cheimets says. “As a duplex, we could simply do the minimum or we could invest now to save later. Super-insulation was the better financial investment.”
The parties in the pilot wanted to demonstrate that it’s possible to bring an existing building up to the highest standards of energy performance. In addition to reducing energy use by between 65 percent and 70 percent, the group was also interested in exploring super-insulation as part of an overall program of energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Finally, it hoped to use the Arlington, Mass., pilot project to determine cost-effective retrofit recommendations for homeowner renovations; develop experience with and collect performance results for existing structures; and establish criteria for future state programs supporting residential super-insulation projects.
Before the work commenced, the project team consulted with Somerville, Mass.-based Building Science Corp., which performed energy parametric simulations, analysis, and economic payback comparisons of various energy retrofits options.
As a result, the extensive retrofit focused on tightening the building envelope, which included new doors and the replacement of the single pane windows. The team installed double-pane Pella fiberglass windows with low-E glazing, Tyvek stucco wrap, two layers of 2-inch Dow closed-cell foam board, furring strips, and NuCedar cellular PVC siding. They ripped off the old roof and installed two layers of 3-inch foam board on the roof deck, followed by plywood sheathing, and light-colored asphalt shingles. They also sprayed Icynene open-cell foam in the attic roof and in the basement rim joists and ceiling. Finally, the team installed a heat recovery ventilator and an on-demand water heater.
Cheimets says the upgrade have made a big difference in the comfort level of the units and in the performance of the building. “I felt the difference immediately,” he says. “There are fewer drafts and no cold spots; that’s all gone away, and we have seen about a 60 percent reduction in energy use.”
As part of the pilot project, DER and NStar have installed sensors to monitor real-time oil usage as well as temperature and humidity levels inside and outside the house. “We were using about nine gallons a day before, but now we’re using three on average,” Cheimets says.
The reduction in the building’s ongoing energy use has come at a steep one-time price tag. Overall, the retrofit cost more than $90,000, and like most renovation projects, ended up being more expensive than expected in different areas.
For example, the cost for the roof replacement was first estimated at $10,000, but the price tag nearly doubled by an additional $9,000 with the addition of super-insulation. Replacing the siding was projected to run $30,000, but it increased by $41,000 with super-insulation and re-flashing the windows. An additional $6,000 went toward the installation of expanding foam in the basement ceiling; $4,000 paid for heat recovery ventilators.
“If you look at the additional cost of super insulating (compared with just doing the required work in ‘standard’ fashion) doing this work is an additional cost of $50,000, or $25,000 per family” in the two-unit duplex, according to program documents.
While the costs are high, Cheimets says they should be taken in context of retrofitting an 80-year-old house that featured 50 windows and suffered from bad insulation from the start. Doing such upgrades in new construction would be cheaper. “If you’re building a new house, you would be taking certain things into consideration like facing the roof south, using fewer windows, and decreasing the amount of angles in the roof,” he says.
John Dennis Murphey agrees that using such strategies would absolutely make such a remodel cheaper. “That’s what we’re doing now on one house,” says the principal of Chevy Chase, Md.-based Meditch Murphey Architects.
There are also other ways to save money on such a project. Murphey, for example, has eliminated conventional sheathing from his houses all together. Instead, he uses 2 x 6 studs, spray foam insulation, and metal bracing to make the studs rigid. “The studs are energy highways,” he says. He then wraps his houses in 1.5 inches of foam board, which creates a thermal break.
Instead of simply balking at the added costs, though, Murphey says builders and consumers should look at the overall project and the long-term benefits. “Energy prices have come down, but who knows where the price of oil will go,” he continues. “My bet is that they will go up. I’ll take that bet every time.”
Members of the Super Insulation Project would probably agree. It is estimated that the annual savings to the homeowners will be $2,350 to $4,000 per year. “At the current heating oil cost of approximately $2.35 a gallon, it's a 20-year payback,” program documents say. “But a few short weeks ago the price was closer to $4 a gallon, and the price of oil is likely to rise again in the coming years, dramatically shortening the payback period.”
Wednesday, April 08 2009
Here we have a link to Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency. This site explains which tax credits are available and for which products. The information contained in this site is quite extensive so take your time to explore all available options.
Please note, not all ENERGY STAR qualified homes and products qualify for a tax credit. These tax credits are available for a number of products at the highest efficiency levels, which typically cost much more than standard products. If, for whatever reason, you decide not to purchase a product covered by the tax credit, you may still consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR product. ENERGY STAR distinguishes energy efficient products which, although they may cost more to purchase than standard models, will pay you back in lower energy bills within a reasonable amount of time, without a tax credit.
Tuesday, April 07 2009
We advise all our buyers to check the latest rates from at least 3 sources. The article below reflects the same and most important please ask for a goof faith estimate so you can compare all expenses charged by lenders.
Please call me at 812-499-9234 if you have any questions.
Finding the Best Mortgage Deal Takes Work
Home buyers who investigate mortgage options themselves as opposed to using a broker are likelier to get a better deal, according to a study for the Department of Housing and Urban Development published last year.
The study found that borrowers paid about $300 to $425 more in fees when they worked with a broker as opposed to working directly with a lender.
But comparison shopping can be tricky. Home buyers should try to devote a whole day to comparison shopping and include at least one credit union, a community bank, multiple national banks and an investment firms.
They should compare one type of loan at a time--for instance, a 30-year, fixed rate with no points. Their research should include a request for a guarantee that both the rate and the good-faith estimate will be exactly as initially presented. This standard could be difficult for a buyer to find, but it’s worth trying to find it, experts say.
Source: The New York Times, Ron Lieber (04/04/2009)
Tuesday, April 07 2009
EVANSVILLE - NEWS 25 learns big changes ahead for Lincoln Avenue on Evansville's Eastside. Plans to repave and expand the narrow stretch are all on the list of improvements. But what does this mean for local residents?
NEWS 25 got answers from City Engineer, Patrick Keepes.
Keepes tells NEWS 25 this project has been in the works for over a year.
He says once it's completed, the stretch of Lincoln between Martin Lane and Kirkwood will be safer, not only for drivers, but also residents and students.
"It's complete reconstruction," says Keepes. Stakes and yellow flags line Lincoln right now, indicating the start of an about $760,000 reconstruction project, paid by city taxpayers.
"We will be removing the existing pavement, which has outlived it's useful life," says Keepes.
"We'll be putting down new pavement, concrete curbs, gutters, and sidewalks as well as a left turn lane onto Fuquay Road."
At tonights Traveling City Hall, Keepes laid out the project plans. Keepes says adding right and left turn lanes onto Fuquay will smooth traffic flow, and widening Lincoln will give more room for bicyclists and safety for pedestrians. "These sidewalks were a key part of the project," says Keepes. "We've got Plaza School right here. We've got residential neighborhoods on both ends."
Rodney Rosenbury lives at the corner of Fuquay and Lincoln and says, "We have a lot of close calls out here at this corner." He tells NEWS 25 he's happy to see a left turn lane and sidewalks being added, but says with these improvements, comes a downside.
"They're taking most of my side yard," says Rosenbury. "I'm going to be backing out into traffic trying to back out of my garage."
An April 13th construction start date is already set, and Keepes says, "We know that's going to be an inconvenience. There's no easy way to reconstruct a road without imposing some inconvenience."
Reconstruction will happen one lane at a time. Keepes says, "We're going to try and maintain traffic through there as much as we can."
Keepes tells NEWS 25 most of the work will happen over the summer months when school is out, and hopes the project will be finished come fall.
Monday, April 06 2009
Evansville-based Atlas World Group has named Glen Dunkerson as its new chairman and chief executive officer. He succeeds Jim Stamm, who retired this month. Dunkerson previously served as the company's vice chairman and chief operating officer and also led Atlas Van Lines. In addition, the company has named Greg Hoover as president and chief operating officer. Hoover has served in several executive positions within the company and its subsidiaries, including chief marketing officer of Atlas World Group and president and chief operating officer of Atlas Van Lines.
Evansville, Ind. -- Glen Dunkerson and Greg Hoover have assumed new leadership roles at Atlas World Group, Dunkerson as chairman and chief executive officer, and Greg Hoover as president and chief operating officer. This change follows the retirement this month of former chairman Jim Stamm.
"Jim's leadership is a hard act to follow," said board member and Atlas agent John Westerberg, chairman and CEO of Nelson Westerberg. "But we know the company is in good hands."
Don Hill, a board member who is president of Atlas agent, Alexander's Mobility Services, agreed. "Glen and Greg have a combined total of 55 years in the household goods relocation and transportation industry," said Hill. "Glen's strengths on the operational side are a good match with Greg's expertise in sales. Together, they make an unbeatable team."
As chairman, Dunkerson manages all aspects of Atlas World Group and its subsidiaries, and he leads the Atlas World Group Board of Directors. Prior to assuming the role of chairman, Dunkerson was vice chairman and COO of Atlas World Group, following a stint as president and COO of Atlas Van Lines. During his career at Atlas, Dunkerson has demonstrated a special commitment to establishing key Atlas quality initiatives, including the World Class Commitment to Quality, the Milton M. Hill Quality Award, and Atlas Van Line's ISO 9001:2000 certification. Dunkerson has also served Atlas as senior vice president and general manager of operations for Atlas' Specialized Transportation Group; vice president of claims administration; and assistant vice president of Atlas' Relocation Services Group. He got his start with Atlas in 1978 as a dispatcher.
Before joining Atlas, Dunkerson--a native of Evansville, Ind.--pursued a degree in law enforcement at Eastern Kentucky University and worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Mayfield Kentucky Police Department.
In Hoover's new role, he oversees all facets of Atlas World Group's largest company (Atlas Van Lines), including both the Relocation Services Group and the Specialized Transportation Group operations; agency development and recruiting; sales development; and the administrative services group. Hoover is also responsible for strategic planning initiatives at all of the Atlas World Group companies, works closely with Dunkerson and the Atlas board of directors on special projects as assigned, and serves as an ex officio member of the Atlas World Group board. Prior to assuming his new duties, Hoover helped create an Atlas subsidiary, Avail Resource Management, and was named its president. He has also served as president and COO of Atlas Van Lines; chief marketing officer of Atlas World Group; and senior vice president, sales development. Hoover joined Atlas Van Lines in 1999 as vice president of sales for Atlas' Relocation Services Group.
Prior to joining Atlas, Hoover was president and COO of ABC Moving & Storage, an Atlas agent based in St. Louis, Mo. Born and raised in Mentone, Ind., Hoover graduated from Huntington University.
Atlas World Group is an Evansville, Ind.-based company that posted revenues of $908 million in 2008. Atlas World Group companies employ more than 700 people throughout North America. More than 500 Atlas agents in the United States and Canada specialize in corporate employee relocation and in the transportation of high-value items such as electronics, fine art and new fixtures and furniture. Visit www.atlasworldgroup.com for more information on the company and Atlas agents.
Source: Inside INdiana Business Atlas World Group
Sunday, April 05 2009
It seems that most of the severe storms passing through this area have some tornado activity. We thought it never hurts to go over safety actions taken when there is a tornado warning.
The motto is: Be Prepared. Act Now. Stay safe!
Taking Emergency Action Series – Tornadoes
A tornado is a violent storm with spiraling wind, often accomplished by hail, wind, and rain. Strong tornadoes can sweep houses off foundations, destroy brick buildings, and toss cars. The noise of a tornado has been described as a roaring sound – like a train far away.
In case of a tornado:
Grab your emergency kit and NOAA weather radio id you have time.
In homes or small buildings, take shelter in an interior part of the lowest level, including basement, hallways, and interior bathrooms.
In public areas, like schools or shopping centers, go to pre-designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are best. Stay away from windows.
In high-rise buildings, go to interior small rooms or hallways on the lowest floor possible with no windows. If you can see outside, you are not safe.
In vehicles or mobile homes, leave them and take shelter in a substantial structure. If there is no shelter, lie flat in the nearest ditch with your hands shielding your head and neck.
Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls. Try to protect your head.
Get under something sturdy or lie in the bathtub. Cover yourself with a blanket.
Do not wait! Prepare for tornadoes:
Have your home inspected and make sure it can withstand high winds.
Attach wind straps and tie-downs to reinforce your home or business.
Construct a “safe room” in your home. These are specially designed to protect you from tornadoes.
Install safety film over windows. This transparent covering helps protect you from flying debris.
Reinforce or replace garage doors and double entry doors to withstand high winds.
Brace gable framing to reinforce your roof.
Remove loose objects close to your home, such as trashcans, yard debris, or anything that can be picked up by a tornado. Inspect large trees and limbs that are close to your home.
Construct your home with insulated concrete forms. They make your home much stronger and more energy efficient.
Saturday, April 04 2009
SW Indiana to Unveil Retaining College Graduates Initiative
Economic and higher education leaders will launch the Southwest Indiana Education and Experience (E2) Initiative today in Evansville. E2 is designed to keep southwest Indiana's college graduates in that part of the state. The initiative will create a partnership among institutions, chambers of commerce, economic development and civic organizations.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (April 1, 2009) – A news conference will be held at Innovation Pointe in Downtown Evansville today to discuss a new initiative to retain Southwestern Indiana’s college graduates. The initiative will be called the Southwest Indiana Education and Experience (E2) Initiative.
The release of the Indiana Human Capital Retention Project in 1999 demonstrated that after graduation from college nearly 40% of Indiana’s homegrown talent left the State. This was in sharp contrast to its neighboring states that all retained more than 75% and the national average of 71% retention.
The continued loss of a highly-trained and skilled workforce can have serious implications as the economy continues to transition towards knowledge-based employment opportunities. Ranking 44th among states in the percentage of college graduates in our workforce not only hampers economic development efforts but hits Hoosier’s pocketbooks as Indiana residents only make 93.5% of the nation’s median household income ranking it 31st in comparison to the other states.
In an effort to encourage Indiana’s best and brightest to begin their professional lives here in Southwestern Indiana, the Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce Board, The Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana, University of Southern Indiana, University of Evansville, Vincennes University, Oakland City University, Ivy Tech Community College of Southwest Indiana and ITT Technical Institute have joined forces with area Rotary Clubs and business leaders to launch Southwest Indiana’s E2.
The initiative will create a partnership among the institutions of higher learning, chambers of commerce, economic development and civic organizations along with workforce professionals to actively recruit employers and encourage them to develop meaningful internship programs within their corporations while assisting university and high school personnel to prepare students for the rigors, realities and opportunities of today’s work environment.
A survey by Next Generation Consulting showed that 75% of interns accept full-time positions with an intern host company. E2 will provide for business representatives who will contact area employers and assist them in structuring internship programs that are meaningful to both the employer and the intern. Intern positions created will then be posted to Indiana INTERNnet.
By tapping into the state-wide high-tech support and resource materials of Indiana INTERNnet, students attending local universities and colleges have access to a more diverse listing of internships to better match their skills and interests; local students attending colleges and universities outside of the region can learn about possible positions back home; employers have a wider range of talent from which to choose; universities and colleges build relationships with a greater number of employers; and Southwestern Indiana builds a valuable asset for recruiting new economic opportunities.
For more information on the Southwest Indiana’s E2 initiative, contact Sara Huelsman at email@example.com or visit www.workonesouthwest.org
Source: Inside INdiana Business & Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce
Friday, April 03 2009
Old National Bancorp is among the first group of banks to give up money from the government’s Capital Purchase Program.
In December, Old National obtained $100 million by selling the government preferred shares of its stock. Since then, the bank has derived little benefit from the extra money, according to Bob Jones, Old National president and chief executive officer. Analysts weren’t looking more favorably on the company’s stock. And rating agencies weren’t raising their assessments, he said.
Holding onto the money longer would have forced Old National Bank to pay it back with interest.
“It became expensive to our shareholders,” Jones said.
Another concern was the public’s perception of the bank. At first, the government said it was using the money to encourage lending from sound financial institutions.
But that message got lost in the public furor over the large bonuses paid to executives at Merrill Lynch and other failed firms, Jones said.
“You really began to see all banks painted with the same brush,” Jones said. “We take pride in the 175-year history we have and didn’t want to see us associated with some of the bad behavior.”
Another consideration was the effect holding the money would have had on the pay of Old National executives, although Jones said it never really mattered. Under government rules, the bank couldn’t pay employees bonuses worth more than a third of their total yearly compensation. Jones and four other executives at Old National would have been affected.
The rules hadn’t existed when the bank first sold stock to the government. Congress passed them in February, as part of the $787 billion stimulus bill.
Since that change, several banks have talked about getting their stock back from the government. The first four to take that step took it Tuesday. Besides Old National, they were Iberiabank, of Lafayette, La.; Signature Bank of New York; and Bank of Marin Bancorp of Novato, Calif.
Jones said Old National never really needed the federal money. While many banks reported losses for 2008, Old National had a profit of $62.5 million.
Before buying back the stock, Old National had an independent firm give it a “stress test,” similar to the reviews large banks must now undergo. The test found that Old National is prepared to withstand the current economic difficulties. The government approved the repurchase, and the bank will incur no penalties.
Old National is not the only local bank reluctant to be owned in part by the federal government. This year, German American Bancorp, based in Jasper, Ind., and the Bank of Evansville declined to sell the government preferred shares of stock. Both said they wanted to avoid interference in their businesses.
Meanwhile, other banks have accepted the offer of money. Integra Bancorp, based in Evansville, has obtained $83.6 million and Fifth Third Bancorp, which as a local affiliate office, has gotten $3.45 billion.
Shares of Old National Bank closed at $11.17 Tuesday, up 81 cents from the previous close.
Thursday, April 02 2009
Come and join us at the Home Show at Roberts Stadium.
The Home show will be open April 3, 4 & 5, 2009 - Friday, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm - Saturday 10:00 am - 9:00 pm - Sunday, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm.
The F.C.TuckerEmge Emge booth is in the main hall booth #’s 36 & 37. Kathy and I will be there on Friday from 5.00 to 7.00PM and on Saturday from 4.00 to 6.00PM. We will have the latest real estate information with us. We look forward seeing you there.
Thursday, April 02 2009
EPA Challenges Americans by Launching National Cell Phone Recycling Week: April 6-12
100 million recycled cell phones save enough energy to power 18,500 homes
Contact: Latisha Petteway, (202) 564-4355 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C. – April 2, 2009) EPA is launching National Cell Phone Recycling Week as part of its efforts to celebrate Earth Day the entire month of April. The week, which runs from April 6 through April 12, is a joint effort between EPA’s Plug-In To eCycling program and leading cell phone manufacturers, retailers and service providers to increase national awareness about the importance of cell phone recycling.
“With Earth Day approaching, people are thinking about what they can do to give back to our planet,” said Matt Hale, director of EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. “Recycling your old cell phone is a great way to conserve resources and help make a greener world.”
To celebrate National Cell Phone Recycling Week, Plug-In partners across the country, including AT&T, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, are introducing a series of in-store promotions, contests, and giveaways. The partners will provide in-store and online recycling opportunities for consumers.
With only 10 percent of unwanted cell phones being recycled in 2007, EPA is encouraging consumers to increase the nation’s cell phone recycling rate. Recycling or reusing cell phones helps the environment by saving energy and keeping reusable materials out of landfills. Cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are made of precious metals, copper, and plastics. Recycling or reusing them not only conserves these materials, it also prevents air and water pollution and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that occur during manufacturing and when extracting and processing virgin materials. If Americans recycled the 100 million cell phones that are no longer being used, enough energy would be saved to power more than 18,500 homes for a year.
Donating cell phones or PDAs can also have social benefits for communities. In fact, many existing recycling programs donate cell phones that are in good working order to worthy charities, raise funds for charitable organizations, or provide them for discounted sale.
Plug-In To eCycling is a voluntary partnership between EPA and electronics manufacturers, retailers, and service providers to offer consumers more opportunities to donate or recycle their used electronics. In 2007, as part of their commitment to the program, retailers and electronics manufacturers voluntarily recycled more than 47 million pounds of electronics, mostly computers and televisions.
Information about EPA’s Plug-In to eCycling program: http://www.epa.gov/plugin
Information about cell phone recycling: http://www.epa.gov/cellphones
Thursday, April 02 2009
Thanks to historically low mortgage rates and deeply discounted prices, homes in much of the country are now the most affordable in decades. First-time homebuyers are now able to take advantage of a new $8,000 tax credit that runs until Dec. 1.
Still, any recovery for the spring selling season is likely to be modest. And it could evaporate if the economy, already mired in a severe recession, deteriorates much more.
If buyers return, it would be a great relief to stressed homeowners like Jennifer Folkerson, 42, who lives outside Salt Lake City. She and her family moved to a new home last fall but have had no luck selling the old one. Saddled with two mortgages, she now has both houses up for sale.
“There have been tons of lookers,” she said, but “not one single person who can get approved for a loan right now.”
Because of falling home prices and mortgage rates of around 5 percent or lower, homeownership is more affordable than it has been since at least 1970, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
Prices, however, are expected to keep falling in some parts of the country, and some analysts don’t see a national bottom in home prices until the second half of 2010. “We do expect the pace of decline to start to moderate over the next several months,” Barclays Capital analyst Michelle Meyer wrote this week.
Tens of thousands of homes are tied up in foreclosure and will be coming on the market. Plus, as the recession deepens and job losses mount, many buyers are likely to stay on the sidelines.
But there were indications Wednesday that a few more homebuyers are ready to take the plunge. The National Association of Realtors said its index of signed sales contracts for previously occupied homes rose 2.1 percent to 82.1 in February from January’s record low of 80.4.
Typically there is a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a done deal, so the index is a barometer for future home sales. However, some economists say the index has been an unreliable predictor in recent months.
Existing home sales rose 5.1 percent in February, the largest increase in nearly six years. Sales of new homes, meanwhile, rose 4.7 percent that month from January’s record low.
And March sales of new homes were up for Lennar Corp., the chief executive said Tuesday.
“While there are, to be sure, some indicators that suggest that the market is beginning to stabilize, they do not feel like they are defining a trend yet,” said CEO Stuart Miller.
Trying to unload its huge inventory of unsold homes, Lennar this week began advertising a 3.6 percent fixed-rate mortgage on its already-built homes.
Mortgage rates across the board fell dramatically over the winter, and fell further last month after the Federal Reserve said it would buy $1.2 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $300 billion in long-term government debt.
Most of the benefit from low rates has gone to buyers seeking to refinance their existing home loans, rather than new buyers.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday its weekly application index climbed 3 percent last week and was at the highest level since mid-January. Nearly 80 percent of applications came from borrowers seeking to refinance home loans at lower rates.
Wednesday, April 01 2009
INDIANAPOLIS — As the final month of this year's legislative session opened this morning, minority Republican members of the Indiana House ramped up their push for a vote on constitutional property tax caps.
While more than 20 House Republicans behind him at a Statehouse news conference signed a petition asking for a vote on the caps this year, Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, called on House Speaker Patrick Bauer to reverse his decision to hold off on the vote until next year.
"The only reason to delay is if you don't want them (the caps) enacted, and one man stands between the caps and a vote," Bosma said of Bauer, D-South Bend.
Responding to a statewide property tax crisis, the Legislature last year capped property taxes at 1 percent for homes, 2 percent for rental property and 3 percent for businesses. They also passed legislation to make the caps permanent by writing them into Indiana's constitution.
To amend the state's constitution, lawmakers would again have to pass that legislation either this year or next year. Either way, it would go to the voters in a statewide referendum in the November 2010 election.
Bosma, Gov. Mitch Daniels and Senate Majority Leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne, want to pass the amendment again this year. They say doing so would protect caps already in state statute from constitutional challenge.
But Bauer, who decides whether a bill receives a vote in the House, says lawmakers should wait until next year. That would give them another year to gauge how the caps affect local governments, and since the amendment wouldn't be in front of voters until November 2010 anyway, waiting an extra year wouldn't slow anything down.
Bosma said House Republicans aren't buying his argument.
"Waiting a year is wrong for Hoosier taxpayers," he said.
Freshman Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said he campaigned on supporting the constitutional property tax limits and is disappointed the House hasn't voted on them yet.
"I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful 100 percent," Clere said, channeling Dr. Seuss. "Mr. Speaker, let's keep our promise to taxpayers. Let us vote."
As Republicans have mounted pressure, though, Bauer has appeared no more willing to allow a vote this year. He said recently that those who demand a vote this year "can't tell time."