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 Real Estate Blog 
Monday, January 31 2011

Pending home sales improved further in December, marking the fifth gain in the past six months, according to the National Association of Realtors®

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator, increased 2.0 percent to 93.7 based on contracts signed in December from a downwardly revised 91.9 in November. The index is 4.2 percent below the 97.8 mark in December 2009. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, credits good affordability conditions and economic improvement. “Modest gains in the labor market and the improving economy are creating a more favorable backdrop for buyers, allowing them to take advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions. Mortgage rates should rise only modestly in the months ahead, so we’ll continue to see a favorable environment for buyers with good credit,” he said.


“In the past two years, home buyers have been very successful, with super-low loan default rates, partly because of stable home prices during that time. That trend is likely to continue in 2011 as long as there is sufficient demand to absorb inventory,” Yun said. “The latest pending sales gain suggests activity is very close to a sustainable, healthy volume of a mid-5 million total annual home sales. However, sales above 6 million, as occurred during the bubble years, is highly unlikely this year.”

The PHSI in the Northeast increased 1.8 percent to 73.9 in December but is 5.3 percent below December 2009. In the Midwest the index rose 8.0 percent in December to 84.6 but is 5.1 percent below a year ago. Pending home sales in the South jumped 11.5 percent to an index of 101.9 and are 1.7 percent above December 2009. In the West the index fell 13.2 percent to 105.8 and is 10.7 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.

NOTE: Existing-home sales for January will be reported February 23 along with revisions for the past three years, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be released February 28. Fourth quarter metro area home prices and state home sales will be published February 10; release times are 10:00 a.m. EST.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 28 2011

The number of cars made Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana's Princeton facility more than doubled in 2010. The company also reports a slight decrease in Camry production at Subaru Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) announced today that the company’s assembly plants produced 1,456,887 vehicles in 2010, an 18 percent increase compared to 2009.

Toyota’s North American facilities assemble the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Venza and Lexus RX 350.

“The challenges presented by the economic downturn and our recalls made Toyota an even stronger company,” said Tetsuo Agata, president and COO of TEMA. “By retaining our team members and continually improving during the worst of times, we are well positioned for 2011 and beyond. We thank all team members and our hundreds of suppliers for their tireless efforts.”

In 2010, the following milestones, projects and initiatives were accomplished:
•The Canadian operation in September assembled its four-millionth vehicle.
•The Kentucky plant in July produced its eight-millionth engine.
•The Indiana plant successfully ramped up production of the Highlander and the all-new Sienna after a $450 million investment upgrade. Toyota’s total investment in Princeton is nearly $4 billion and total employment is 4,100.
•The Texas plant began production of the Tacoma, representing a $100 million investment and an additional 1,000 jobs. Toyota’s total investment in San Antonio is $1.4 billion and total employment is now 2,800.
•TEMA named four new American plant presidents and the Toyota Technical Center named three American chief engineers. This increased local leadership provides greater regional autonomy.

2010 Toyota North American Vehicle Production
Manufacturing Site Model 2009 2010
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) Avalon 27,513 40,155
Camry 225,524 253,098
Camry Hybrid 19,304 17,151
Venza 75,896 61,290
Total 348,237 371,694
New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.
(NUMMI)* Corolla 172,888 63,319
Tacoma 67,435 27,495
Total 240,323 90,814
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC) Corolla 138,650 192,271
Matrix 38,538 33,809
RX 350 64,282 81,618
RAV4 78,077 151,031
Total 319,547 458,729
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc.
(TMMI) Highlander 17,503 86,527
Sequoia 18,376 24,685
Sienna 72,205 132,780
Total 108,084 243,992
Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California (TMMBC) Tacoma 42,696 53,829
Total 42,696 53,829
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. (TMMTX)
Tundra 86,000 107,959
Tacoma 0 42,139
Total 86,000 150,098
Subaru Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA) Camry 87,926 87,731
Total 87,926 87,731
Total North American Vehicle Production* Grand Total 1,232,813 1,456,887

Toyota’s North American vehicle production – five year history:

Year Vehicle Production YOY Change
2010 1,456,887 18%
2009 1,232,813 (15%)
2008 1,454,958 (13%)
2007 1,671,009 8%
2006 1,553,790 (0.3%)

Toyota North American Engine Production
Manufacturing Site Engine 2010
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) 4-cylinder 272,833
V6 187,167
Total 460,000
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia, Inc. (TMMWV)* 4-cylinder 327,447
V6 236,431
Total 563,878
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc. (TMMAL)
V6 88,973
V8 133,803
Total 222,776
Total 2010 North American Engine Production 1,246,654

*TMMWV’s total automatic transmission production for 2010 was 284,543.

In addition to the above mentioned plants, Toyota subsidiary Bodine Aluminum, Inc., in Tennessee and Missouri, casts aluminum parts such as cylinder heads, intake manifolds, engine brackets and engine blocks. TABC, Inc. in Long Beach, California, manufactures truck beds, catalytic converters, stamped parts, coated substrates and steering columns. Canadian Autoparts Toyota, Inc. (CAPTIN) in Delta, British Columbia, produces aluminum wheels.

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in North America in 1957 and currently operates 14 manufacturing plants, including one under construction. There are more than 1,800 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in North America which sold nearly two million vehicles in 2010. Toyota directly employs more than 35,000 in North America and its investment here is currently valued at more than $23 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from North American suppliers totals more than $25 billion. For more information about Toyota, visit or

Source: Toyota & Inside INdiana Business


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 25 2011
The average sales price for residential homes in parts of the tri-state has jumped.

Local realtors say they are seeing an increase in demand when it comes to buying homes. With an increase of money people are getting for their homes, they say that combination could make for a strong housing market in 2011.

The Evansville Area Association of Realtors reports a 4.7 percent increase in both the average sale price and median sale price of homes sold in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson counties, from 2009 to 2010.

"The fact that these have gone up means that people are buying more expensive homes which is good and prices have stabilized in the area," says Chris Dickson, President of the EAAR.

Other realtors are also happy with the news.

"For sellers right now it's a good time to list your home because you can get a little more for you home than in the past," says Walt Caswell, a realtor with ERA.

On top of that, more buyers are now looking and willing to spend.

"Historically, the mortgages, the interest rates are really low, so a lot of people are capitalizing on that and it's just a really good time to buy a home," says Caswell.

"They seem reasonable to me. I'm not an expert but they do seem reasonable," says potential buyer Lori Scott.

Scott is on the hunt for a new house, and says despite the increase in price, she is still ready to move.

"I would like to move and just find something bigger but there would be the problem of could we sell our house right now and then the money that we need to get out of it in order to afford something a little bigger." 

Steve Minor and his wife just listed their home.

"Just got it listed this week and then, so there's an open house today. Hopefully there's a lot more movement," says Minor.

"It looks like 2011 is going to move in that direction. It's a good pace moving into 2011 so we're looking forward to it," says Caswell.

This also seems to be the trend nationally. Sales of existing homes jumped 12 percent in December.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 24 2011

2010 on par with 2009;
Median sale price of homes increases for the 13th month out of the last 15

Today’s release of the “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report” by the Indiana Association of REALTORS® (IAR) provides the usual month-over-month comparison and because of timing, also provides a comparison of calendar years that supports the association’s past recommendation for reviewing housing data in the long-term.

Statewide, when comparing 2010 to 2009:
The number of closed home sales decreased 6.6% to 57,765; and
The median sale price of homes increased 1.8% to $112,000.
The Report at a glance:
Statewide Housing Market Overview
(Monthly Indicators)
Sortable County Tables:
One-month & Year-to-date Views
Trailing three- & 12-month Views
"The Long View"

“The federal homebuyer tax credit was only in play for a third of last year.  And yet, the numbers show the market on par with 2009, which might take some who listen to non-local news by surprise,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer.
“Admittedly, activity is not as high as we want it to be,” he continued.  “The good news is that prices are up, which is important to not just homeowners and families, but also to communities and the state.  In fact, the median sale price of homes has increased 13 out of the last 15 months."

The usual month-over-month comparison shows that statewide, in December 2010:
The number of closed home sales decreased 8.9 percent from December 2009 to 4,288;
The number of pending home sales decreased 10.3 percent from December 2009 to 3,247;
The average sale price of homes increased 4.4 percent from December 2009 to $132,811; and
The median sale price of homes increased 3.9 percent from December 2009 to $109,000

“Again, the nation’s economic turmoil and the federal home buyer tax credit make it impossible to fairly evaluate the marketplace in the short-term, especially with regard to activity,” said Berron.  “That’s why we’ll focus on the long-term; at least until the impact of the tax credit recedes. 

“Most industry experts and the association’s leadership believe real estate markets will continue to improve, albeit slowly,” he continued.  “What we do know is that there’s no better time to be a buyer than now.  Interest rates remain low, though ticking upward, and there is a higher than normal inventory of homes available.”

Established in May 2009 and found online under the Reports tab of, the “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report” was the first-ever county-by-county comparison of existing single-family home sales in Indiana.  In March 2010, IAR added statistics on other types of existing detached single-family (DSF) home sales – condominiums, duplexes, townhomes, mobile homes, etc. – to the report.
This past August, the report became even more robust.  It now tells how the statewide housing market is performing according to eight different indicators, each with one-month and year-to-date comparisons, as well as a historical look.  It also provides specific county information for 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties in a sortable table format, allowing for consistent comparison between local markets.  IAR obtains the data directly from 26 of the state’s 27 Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), including the Broker Listing Cooperative® (BLC®) in central Indiana.

IAR represents approximately 16,000 REALTORS® who are involved in virtually all aspects related to the sale, purchase, exchange or lease of real property in Indiana. The term REALTOR® is a registered mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the world’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

Source: IAR


Posted by: AT 09:18 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, January 22 2011
Atlas gives you some tax information and tips related to moving.
If you are moving to a new home, you undoubtedly have a lot to think about, including whether you can deduct your moving expenses from your taxes. This brochure helps to explain who can deduct moving expenses and what expenses you can deduct.
Who Qualifies
Even if you don't file an itemized return, you can deduct moving expenses if your move meets these three conditions:
·         It is closely related to the start of work
·         It meets the distance test
·         It meets the time test
Move Related to the Start of Work — Generally, you can deduct moving expenses incurred within one year from the date you first report to work.
Distance Test — You may qualify for a deduction if your new job location is at least 50 miles farther from your former residence than your old job. For example, if your previous job was located three miles from your former residence, your new job must be at least 53 miles from your former residence. (See Federal Tax Form 3903 to see if you qualify.)
Time Test — You may qualify for a deduction if you work full-time for an employer in the general vicinity of the new job location for 39 weeks during the 12-months following your move. This condition is waived if you: 1) cannot satisfy it because of death, disability, or termination for reasons other than for willful misconduct, and 2) it is reasonable to expect that you would have otherwise fulfilled the condition.
If you are self-employed, you must work in the new location (as a self-employed person or as an employee) for at least 39 weeks in the first 12 months and 78 weeks during the 24 months following your move.
Keep in mind:
·    If you pay the expenses in one tax year, but do not satisfy the working requirements by the filing deadline, you may still deduct the expenses if you reasonably expect to satisfy the condition in the succeeding tax year. However, if you fail to satisfy the requirements in the next year you must either: 1) report an equal amount of income, or 2) amend the prior year's return.
·    Foreign moves and moves by military personnel are subject to some exceptions. In these situations, seek the advice of a professional tax advisor.
·    You may not deduct expenses in excess of a reasonable amount.
Deductible Moving Expenses
The non-reimbursed cost of moving household goods and personal effects to a new residence is permitted as a deduction in determining federal adjusted gross income. This includes the actual cost of transportation or hauling from your old residence to your new one; the cost of packing, crating and unpacking; storage-in-transit and valuation (each limited to 30 consecutive days). Report non-reimbursed moving expenses on Federal Tax Form 3903.
Deductible expenses include:
·    The cost of shipping your automobiles and boats
·    The cost of transporting your household pets, including dogs, cats, tropical fish, etc.
·    The moving related cost associated with connecting and disconnecting utilities
·    The cost of moving your personal belongings from a place other than your old residence (such as a summer home or relative's home), but not in excess of what it would have cost to move them from your old residence
·    The family trip to the new residence is deductible — this includes lodging but not meals
IRS Publication — 521 Moving Expenses
IRS Problem Solving Line —   1-800-829-1040
Select Libraries — audio and video recordings for help with Federal Tax Forms.
For tax publications, forms and instructions, call the toll-free IRS Tax Form  800-TAX-FORM  (800-829-3676).
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 21 2011
Existing-home sales rose sharply in December, when sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from an upwardly revised 4.70 million in November, but remain 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales are on an uptrend. “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $168,800 in December, which is 1.0 percent below December 2009. Distressed homes rose to a 36 percent market share in December from 33 percent in November, and 32 percent in December 2009.

“The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,” Yun explained.

Inventory Levels
Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 4.2 percent to 3.56 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.5-month supply in November.

NAR President Ron Phipps said buyers are responding to very good affordability conditions despite tight mortgage credit. “Historically low mortgage interest rates, stable home prices, and pent-up demand are drawing home buyers into the market,” Phipps said. “Recent home buyers have been successful with very low default rates, given the outstanding performance for loans originated in 2009 and 2010.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.71 percent in December from 4.30 percent in November; the rate was 4.93 percent in December 2009.

Transaction Types
A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 33 percent of homes in December, up from 32 percent in November, but are below a 43 percent share in December 2009.

Investors accounted for 20 percent of transactions in December, up from 19 percent in November and 15 percent in December 2009; the balance of sales were to repeat buyers. All-cash sales were at 29 percent in December, compared with 31 percent in November, but up from 22 percent a year ago. “All-cash sales have been consistently high at about 30 percent of the market over the past six months,” Yun said.

Single-family home sales jumped 11.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.64 million in December from 4.15 million in November, but are 2.5 percent below the 4.76 million level in December 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $169,300 in December, down 0.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales surged 16.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 in December from 550,000 in November, but remain 5.2 percent below the 675,000-unit pace one year ago. The median existing condo price was $165,000 in December, which is 7.4 percent below December 2009.

Performance by Region
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 13.0 percent to an annual pace of 870,000 in December but are 5.4 percent below December 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $237,300, which is 1.4 percent below a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 11.0 percent in December to a level of 1.11 million but are 4.3 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $139,700, up 3.3 percent from December 2009.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 10.1 percent to an annual pace of 1.97 million in December but are 2.5 percent below December 2009. The median price in the South was $148,400, unchanged from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West surged 16.7 percent to an annual level of 1.33 million in December but remain 1.5 percent below December 2009. The median price in the West was $204,000, down 5.6 percent from a year ago.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:18 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 20 2011
GET WINTER-WISE: Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather
December 22 is the first day of winter 2010/2011. In many parts of the country, cooler weather has already begun to set in. So before you curl up with a good book or head outdoors to enjoy the snow, take time to make sure your home is ready for cold weather so it can enjoy the winter as well.
Inspect your heating system.
Breathe easier this winter. Have an HVAC professional inspect your furnace and clean air ducts to remove dust. Then, make sure you have a good supply of furnace filters on hand and make a note to change them every month. Something as simple as changing a furnace filter can reduce heating costs by up to 5%. If you have hot-water radiators, bleed the valves.
Replace old thermostats.
Nearly 50% of the energy used in a typical American home is for heating and cooling. Think about replacing your thermostat with a programmable one, allowing you to keep your home a little cooler at night.
Ready your chimney and fireplace.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace that hasn't been cleaned recently, hire a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Chimneys should be capped or screened to keep birds or rodents from nesting there. Check your fireplace damper and make sure it still opens and closes properly. For brick chimneys, inspect the mortar and tuckpoint if needed.
Go outside. Weatherize the exterior, doors and windows.
Inspect the outside of your home. Look for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes and seal them. Weatherstrip around doors and gaps along the foundation helps to keep cold air out. Caulk around windows for the same reason. Switch out screens and storm windows in the fall, before it gets cold.
Do you need more attic insulation?
Although insulating or upgrading insulation can be a big step, it is relatively easy to add insulation to most attics. A poorly insulated attic can be a major source of heat loss.
Up on the roof.
Inspect your roof, gutters and downspouts. Replace roof shingles that are worn and check the flashing to make sure your roof is watertight. Clean leaves and debris from gutters and if you don't have them already, think about installing leaf guards. Clear downspouts with a hose.
No more frozen pipes.
You can prevent your plumbing from freezing with a few easy steps:
• Drain and detach all garden hoses.
• Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
• Drain air conditioner pipes. If your air conditioning system has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
• Leave heat on while on vacation (at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit).
When the Lights go out
Prepare for power outages ahead of time:
• Buy indoor candles and matches or a lighter.
• Keep a flashlight and extra  batteries on each floor of your home.
• Keep the phone numbers of utility companies near your phone or inside your phone book.
• Buy a battery-operated radio.
• Have extra bottled water and non-perishable foods on hand. Don't forget food for your pets.
• Protect computer and sensitive electronic equipment with a battery backup and/or surge protector(s).
• Keep blankets and a first-aid kid in a location that's easy to access and remember.
• Prepare an evacuation plan for emergencies.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 19 2011

Besides the annual inspection and sweep for your chimney, improve the function of your wood fireplace with responsible use. 

Ready for the colder months? You will be if you follow these simple guidelines to keep your wood fireplace burning brightly—and safely.

1. Only burn dry, cured wood—logs that have been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months. Cover your log pile on top, but leave the sides open for air flow.

Hardwoods such as hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple, and white ash burn longest, though dry firewood is more important than the species. Less dense woods like spruce or white pine burn well if sufficiently dry, but you’ll need to add more wood to your fire more often, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

2. Burn firewood and only firewood! Crates, lumber, construction scraps, painted wood, or other treated wood releases chemicals into your home, compromising air quality. Log starters are fine for getting your wood fireplace going, but they burn very hot; generally only use one at a time.

3. Close the damper when not using your wood fireplace to prevent warm indoor air—and the dollars you’re spending to heat it—from rushing up the chimney.

4. Keep bifold glass doors open when burning a fire to allow heat to get into the room. On a factory-built, prefab wood fireplace with a circulating fan, keep doors closed to prevent unnecesary heat loss.

5. Have a chimney cap installed to prevent objects, rain, and snow from falling into your chimney, and to reduce downdrafts. Caps have side vents so smoke escapes. A chimney sweep usually provides and can install a stainless steel cap, which is better than a galvanized metal one because it won’t rust. Caps cost $50 to $200.

6. Replace a poorly sealing damper to prevent heat loss. A top-mounted damper that also functions as a rain cap provides a tighter closure than a traditional damper for your wood fireplace.

7. Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your house—near your wood fireplace as well as in bedroom areas.

8. Get your chimney cleaned twice a year if you burn more than three cords of wood annually. A cord is 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or the amount that would fill two full-size pickup trucks.

9. To burn a fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats. Keep the damper of your wood fireplace completely open to increase draw in the early stages. Burn the fire hot, at least occasionally—with the damper all the way open to help prevent smoke from lingering in the fireplace and creosote from developing.

Wendy Paris is a writer in New York currently living in a home with a very smoky fireplace that has set off the smoke detector more than once. After finishing this article, she decided to schedule a chimney sweep. She’s written for This Old House magazine, as well as for The New York Times and

Read more:
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 18 2011

The University of Southern Indiana has become one of 10 national institutions selected to participate in the 2011 International Academic Partnerships Program from the Institute of International Education. Participation will allow USI to create new exchange opportunities with China, including training activities and a study tour this spring.


Evansville, Ind. -- University of Southern Indiana is one of 10 United States institutions of higher education to participate in a 2011 initiative of the International Academic Partnerships Program (IAPP) according to a news release issued by the Institute of International Education (IIE). USI and the other nine institutions were selected based on an interest in building ties with institutions in China, a dominant economic and world power. IAPP is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.


"The IAPP program is a perfect fit at a perfect time for USI," said Heidi Gregori-Gahan, director of International Programs and Services at USI. "A goal of the University's strategic plan is to enhance experiential learning experiences, including study abroad opportunities for all students. Student interest in studying in China has grown over the past three years at USI."


Mandarin Chinese was first offered in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages in the College of Liberal Arts in 2009 and enrollments in the programs have grown steadily. USI also offers a major in International Studies through the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Business is developing an International Business major.


According to Gregori-Gahan more faculty and students are interested in developing short-term programs ranging from business to public health to education.


"Education majors and area teachers are planning a global engagement program in Beijing this summer and faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Professions want to develop, in addition to exchange programs, joint courses that could be delivered to USI students and to students in China via the web," Gregori-Gahan said.


The IAPP will assist USI in establishing international exchange opportunities with China. They plan a series of training activities, focused on implementing and sustaining partnerships with institutions in China and a study tour to China in spring 2011 to meet with potential partner campuses. USI will be forming a campus task force to work on prospective partnerships with China.


Other institutions selected for the China initiative are Greenville Technical College, Jacksonville State University, Lake Washington Technical College, Marymount Manhattan College, Saginaw Valley State University, Southern Methodist University, State University of New York at Fredonia, The College of New Jersey, and Utah Valley University.


The IIE Center for International Partnerships launched IAPP in 2009 as a two-year initiative, with the pilot group focused on building partnerships between the United States and India. Ten American institutions participated in the first year, and their experience culminated with a study tour to India that coincided with President Obama's Indian visit in November 2010. IAPP China will build on the success of the first year with India, harnessing new lessons learned from year one and continuing to leverage IIE's expertise in international higher education.

Source: University of Southern Indiana & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 14 2011

Reporting from the 2011 International Builders Show, Erica Christoffer for HouseLogic

What do home buyers want today and in the future? The answer: smaller, more energy-efficient homes.

The average size of a new single-family home in 2010 was 2,377 sq. ft., down from 2,438 sq. ft. in 2009 and down from the peak of 2,520 sq. ft. in 2007 and 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau data presented yesterday at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando by Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research for NAHB.

And the trend will only continue, Quint said, with the 2015 new home size currently projected at 2,150 sq. ft. with fewer bathrooms and smaller garages.

It’s hard to say whether home sizes will decline to 1970 levels of 1,500 square feet. But Quint says she believes smaller sizes are here to stay based on demographics. The U.S. population was 310 million as of April 2010. That’s expected to rise to 322 million in 2015 and up to 422 million by 2050. The population is also getting older and more diverse. In 2010, 25% were over the age of 55, which is expected to grow to 31% by 3050.

This rising segment of older home owners who won’t want to care for a huge space, Quint said, and then you have Generation Y buyers who are very energy conscious. “People are coming to realize, ‘Let’s buy what we need,’” said Quint.

The Census Bureau data matches NAHB’s findings that builders expect to build smaller homes with more green features in the next five years. Low-energy windows, water-efficient features, engineered-wood beams, joints, or trusses, and Energy-Star ratings for whole home are expected to be more prevalent.

Builders also expect an increase in living room size as well as more planning for universal design features with homes more easily adaptable for future improvements.

Jill Waage, executive editor with Better Homes and Gardens, also presented her magazine’s 2011 consumer preferences survey, which was taken the first week of December. According to Waage, the top three improvement priorities home owners want were a laundry room, additional storage, and a home office.

“The connection to outdoor living space is also really important,” Waage says.

Other trends included in the Better Homes and Gardens study: built-ins, media space for flat screen TVs and gaming systems, and areas wired for technology. Buyers also want combined kitchen, family room, and living room open space. Universal design features, she said, will be incorporated in much more subtle ways.

Read more:
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:41 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 13 2011
Market Watch January 2011
The holidays are over. A new year has started and I know the snow won’t last forever. Every year The National Association surveys thousands of buyers and sellers who purchased or sold homes the preceding year. Below you will see the most recent chart detailing where buyer’s found the home they purchased. 
Over the past few years F. C. Tucker Emge Realtors and I have adjusted the way we market homes. These changes are based on buyer behavior. Not surprisingly, the biggest change in buyer behavior has been a shift away from print media toward the internet for their real estate needs. In 2001 only 8% of buyers found their home online. Now 37% find their home online. Over the same time period the number of buyers who found their home in the newspaper or some type of home magazine declined from 9% to only 2%. The only source helping buyers find homes more than the internet is their real estate agent. These are exactly the reasons that we have focused more of our advertising efforts on our web site and other tech tools instead of other less efficient options. Not only do we have the Tri-States leading real estate website but we are in the process of adding even more helpful features. I’ll discuss some of those changes next month. In the meantime stay warm and safe. I’m already working on improving my marketing efforts for 2011 and look forward to a great year.
Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions. You can reach me at 812-499-9234 or
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 11 2011

The Evansville City Council has unanimously voted to support a development agreement for a new hotel in the downtown area. Woodruff Hospitality was selected to build the $32 million Hyatt Place, which will be located adjacent to the new Evansville Arena. The hotel is expected to include 220 rooms and more than 300 parking spots.

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel applauds City Council’s unanimous vote this evening in support of a resolution affirming the Evansville Redevelopment Commission’s decision to move forward with an agreement to develop a new
hotel in downtown Evansville adjacent to the new Evansville Arena and The Centre.

“I appreciate City Council’s leadership in pushing this vitally important project to the next level,” said Mayor Weinzapfel. “A hotel of this caliber is essential to the continued revitalization of downtown Evansville and to our community’s ability to most effectively market The Centre and the new Evansville Arena to convention, trade show and event planners, not to mention tourists of all kinds.”

As Mayor Weinzapfel announced on December 21, 2010, the City is ready to finalize an agreement with Evansville firm Woodruff Hospitality to develop a new $32 million Hyatt Place hotel with 220 guest rooms and suites, as well as banquet and meeting facilities to complement those at The Centre.

“Not only is this a positive step for our community, but it’s shaping up to be a good deal financially, especially when compared to the incentives other communities have offered for similar projects. Plus, this project will create hundreds of good paying jobs during construction over the next year and its subsequent operation," Weinzapfel said at the time.

The agreement will stipulate that the hotel site include at least 305 parking spaces for its operation. Those spaces will also be available for arena functions. The developer will be responsible for all operating and other expenses of the new hotel and parking facility, as well as for the demolition of what remains of the former Executive Inn and its parking garage. If for some reason it is less expensive or otherwise more logical for the City to undertake the
demolition of the former Executive Inn, the incentives will be adjusted accordingly.

The City is in a position to offer public incentives not to exceed $3,500,000 from downtown economic development funds pledged by Casino Aztar; up to $4,500,000 in loans supported by the downtown TIF, not general property taxes; and up to a 10-year property tax phase-in schedule as allowable by law. In comparison, Fort Wayne officials provided a parking facility and more than $1 million for infrastructure improvements, an annual subsidy of $250,000 for at least 10 years, $6 million worth of income tax credits, the construction of a skywalk, and other incentives to spur the development of a new nationally-affiliated hotel near the new baseball stadium in downtown Fort Wayne.

The local development agreement will call for the utilization of local workers and the hiring of local construction companies, engineers and architects to the fullest extent possible. The City also will request that local minority- and women-owned businesses be utilized for a total of 21% of the work.

The development agreement is based on the responses to the initial request for proposals the Evansville Redevelopment Commission (ERC) issued in September to solicit concepts for the development, design and construction of a new hotel and determine the type and amount of public incentives that would be necessary for such a development in the current economic climate.

Woodruff Hospitality was one of four respondents to the initial RFP. Responses were also received from Browning Hotel Associates LLC (Indianapolis), White Lodging Services Corporation (Merrillville) and The Kunkel Group (Evansville), which joined Woodruff in its bid
for the hotel project shortly after the responses were received.

The ERC endorsed these incentives at its meeting on January 3, 2011, and will incorporate them into its final request for proposals for the hotel development as required by State law. The ERC
will consider all responses it receives to its RFP and expects a final agreement to be concluded in March 2011.

Woodruff Hospitality was formed approximately five years ago to acquire, renovate and manage hotel properties. Martin Woodruff, also a State Farm Insurance agent, is Woodruff Hospitality’s
majority owner and principle; and Jeff Stratton is Vice President of Finance. Woodruff Hospitality has engaged Evansville-based Landmark Design & Engineering, Inc., owned by David Stallings, to work with Hyatt corporate officials to design and engineer the new hotel facility.

Source: City of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 10 2011
Much of the U.S. economy has been slow to recover from the recession. That hasn't been true of farmland markets, which have continued to climb, a group of Purdue University agricultural economists says.

Strong crop returns, very low interest rates and a growing expectation that both might continue have had a positive influence on farmland values, said Mike Boehlje, Chris Hurt and Brent Gloy.

"Even while some residential and commercial real estate values have been falling, that has not been the case for farm real estate," Boehlje said. "Instead, we've seen some high prices for farmland in recent months, even exceeding $10,000 an acre in some extreme cases."

Boehlje, Hurt, Gloy and fellow Purdue agricultural economist Craig Dobbins examine farmland value dynamics in their paper "Farmland Values: Current and Future Prospects." The paper can be viewed online by going to and then clicking on the link.

The four economists and Bruce Erickson, Purdue's director of cropping systems management, will discuss farmland values during a free webinar 1-2 p.m. EST Monday (Jan. 10). To register for the online event, visit the website above.

Farmland values have risen steadily since 1987 but have shot up in recent years. Between 2000 and 2010 the average price per acre of average-quality Indiana farmland - land capable of producing an average corn yield of 155 bushels - rose from about $2,300 to just over $4,400 this past June, the economists said. Land values continued to increase even more dramatically during the last half of 2010.

"These higher prices aren't for development purposes," Boehlje said. "Many of the land sales in the Midwest are to farmers rather than outside investors, so it's farmers bidding against farmers. Not only is land demand strong but also supply is low as few families are willing to sell. Strong demand with limited supply makes farmland a hot commodity, both for its asset value and the income it can generate.

"In addition, low interest rates are making farmland attractive, and farmland is seen as a hedge against inflation. Farmland and real assets, whether they be land or commodities, are perceived by many to have more inflation hedge potential than financial assets."

Higher crop prices play a major role in farmland values as they increase returns, Hurt said. Global demand for grain is growing, brought on by higher world incomes and the increased use of crops for biofuels.

Two huge growth markets have been corn for ethanol and soybean exports to China, Hurt said. In 2005 those two markets required 16 million acres of production. By 2010 it took 41 million acres of the two crops to meet those market demands, he said.

"That's a startling 25 million-acre increase in the demand for land," Hurt said. "It represents about 10 percent of the U.S. crop base planted to major crops. That says we've had a very large increase in demand for land and is thus one of the primary contributors to surging land values on the demand side."

Crop prices also are getting an indirect boost from Federal Reserve monetary policy. Hurt said the second round of the Fed's buying of Treasury securities through so-called "quantitative easing" is conducive to weakening the U.S. dollar and creating inflation.

"The act of creating more money tends to depress the value of the dollar. That generally results in stronger commodity prices, which would then push up returns to farmland and be an added stimulant to land values," he said.

High crop returns also affect the rental rates landowners charge farmers to use their land.

"Cash rents are higher as a result of the greater returns to the land on which crops are grown, but farmland prices have been rising more rapidly than cash rents in recent years," Gloy said.

A 2010 Indiana farmland value survey conducted by Purdue indicated that average-quality Hoosier farmland was worth $4,419 per acre in mid-June. Cash rents on that land averaged $161 per acre, meaning buyers were willing to pay a price for land that was about 27 times the annual rent. By contrast, this "value-to-rent multiple" was 20 in 2000 and just 12 in 1986.

"The increased value-to-rent multiples suggest that both rising crop incomes and falling interest rates have been leading contributors to today's land values," Gloy said. "Future land values will largely be determined by the economic returns to farmland ownership, the level of interest rates and by expectations, including inflationary expectations, of both land buyers and sellers."

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 07 2011
Celebrate the Look of Hand Embroidery and Global Style With Gorgeous, Versatile Suzani Prints.
Last week when I presented ikat fabrics, I made a brief mention of suzanis. Suzanis have been burning up design blogs for at least five years, and thus their beautiful hand-embroidered patterns have been borrowed and evolved into printed products. This is a bit ironic, as the word suzani means "needle" in Persian, and the whole point of them was carrying on a tradition of showing off one's needlework skills and adding personality to each unique piece of fabric. However, we're not going to get all mired down in that, we're just going to admire them and look at how Houzz designers are using them.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 06 2011
·                     Make a list: Spend some time taking stock of the kinds of maintenance and improvement projects you'd like to begin. A well-considered list will help you to set reachable goals.
·                     Assess your skills: Make sure that you carefully consider which projects you are fully capable of completing. For example, unless you have sufficient experience with electrical, plumbing or construction work, you should probably leave those tasks to the professionals.
·                     Establish priorities: Which projects are most important to you? Which projects will be the most costly? Which is more important: timeliness, quality or cost? Before beginning any do-it-yourself project, it is always wise to determine specific goals and priorities so that you are fully prepared when it comes time to begin.
·                     Create a budget: For each project that you want to complete, make certain that you have a firm budget in place. Allowing for unexpected circumstances (such as errors or the need for additional materials) in your budget will keep you from overspending.
·                     One step at a time: When it's time to begin, remember to pace yourself! Rome wasn't built in a day, and your new garden terrace will take time as well. Complete one task at a time, and soon you'll feel the wonderful sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that doing-it-yourself can bring!
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 04 2011

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel says he will not seek re-election. The Democrat is leaving the door open for a political office in the future saying he's seeking new challenges. During a news conference to announce his decision, Weinzapfel did not mention the 2012 governor's race.

He was first elected Evansville mayor in 2003 and re-elected in 2007.

Weinzapfel has also served as a state representative.

He has highlighted some accomplishments in the mayor's office including the downtown arena project, a regional approach to economic development and the attraction of "tens of millions of dollars in investment" creating hundreds of new jobs.

He points to Berry Plastics, American General, Mead Johnson and AT&T who have continued to expand in Evansville over the past seven years.

The city also lost a major employer in that period when Whirlpool stopped refrigerator production in Evansville and moved most of those operations to Mexico.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 03:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 03 2011
Found adjacent to the kitchen and having access to any outdoor living space, family rooms are casual and informal where you sit and read a book or watch your favorite Thursday night sitcom with your three best friends. Recently with life being lived less formal, some new construction homes have the family room replacing the formal living room.
Find family room design ideas here.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 11:24 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 03 2011

Pending home sales rose 7.3 percent in November to the highest level since April 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. That is some good news for the local and national housing markets.

The Realtors also revised higher its pending home sales data for October, showing a gain of 10.4 percent the previous month.

“Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Some of the increase in pending home sales appears to be from buyers recommitting after an initial contract ran into problems, often with the mortgage.”

Pending home sales in the south, which includes the Washington area, rose 4.3 percent last month, and were up 8.7 percent from year-ago levels.

Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained below 4 percent for the ninth consecutive week this week, contributing to an increase in buyer activity.


Posted by: Rplando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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