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Friday, August 31 2012

Pending home sales rose in July to the highest level in more than two years as the housing market continues showing sustained signs of recovery.

The sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, was up 2.4 percent to 101.7 last month, its highest level since April 2010, shortly before the expiration of a home buyer tax credit, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

The July figure is up 12.4 percent above the July 2011 level of 90.5.

"While the month-to-month movement has been uneven, more importantly we now have 15 consecutive months of year-over-year gains in contract activity," said Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief economist.

The data reflect contracts but not closings.

Limited inventory is constraining market activity, especially in the West, which is dealing with an "acute inventory shortage," Yun said.

Still, the other three regions experienced improvement last month.

The Northeast saw pending sales rise 0.5 percent to 77.0, 13.4 percent higher than a year ago, while the Midwest had a 3.4 percent improvement to 97.4, 20.2 percent above July 2011.

Pending home sales in the South rose 5.2 percent to 111.7, 15.6 percent above a year ago.

In the West the index slipped 1.7 percent in July to 109.9 but is 1.3 percent higher than July 2011.

Existing-home sales are projected to rise 8 to 9 percent in 2012, followed by another 7 to 8 percent gain in 2013.

Home prices are expected to increase 10 percent cumulatively over the next two years.

"Falling visible and shadow inventories point toward continuing price gains," Yun said. "Expected gains in housing starts of 25 to 30 percent this year, and nearly 50 percent in 2013, are insufficient to meet the growing housing demand."

Source: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/1091-housing/246381-pending-home-sales-hit-highest-level-in-more-than-two-years

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 30 2012

The latest industry reports are showing housing prices on the rise, and it has made more sellers want to raise their asking price, according to industry insiders.

Shrinking inventories of for-sale homes with pent-up demand is allowing sellers to charge about 5 percent more than they could have just six months ago, Everett King, president of ERA King Real Estate in Birmingham, Ala., told USA Today.

Real estate companies are reporting that sellers are having more luck with their higher asking prices, too. For example, in Tucson, Ariz., home sellers are getting 96 percent of their asking price on average, USA Today reports.

Still, others caution that sellers can’t get too unrealistic with their price expectations. The economy is still sluggish and unemployment is still high. Plus, Stan Humphries, Zillow.com’s chief economist, cautions that a shortage of lower-price homes for sale in many markets may be inflating asking prices.

Source: “Is Case-Shiller Home Sales Index Falling Behind the Times?” USA Today (Aug. 26, 2012)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 29 2012

Tuesday’s measure of June home prices from the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index is likely to turn positive when compared with one year ago for the first time in two years, according to a forecast by Zillow Inc.

Prices have risen this summer for a simple reason: more buyers have chased fewer properties. But the drop in supply and the boost in demand isn’t the only reason that Case-Shiller is now turning positive. Another related factor is that the share of non-distressed home sales is rising and the share of distressed sales—foreclosures and short sales, mostly—is falling.

(Case-Shiller reports prices using a three-month moving average with a two month lag. Several other home price indices have also shown bigger-than-usual price gains for the second quarter.)

The decline in the distressed share is important for the housing market, and especially for home-price indexes like Case-Shiller. Because banks are faster to cut prices to unload inventory than are mom-and-pop sellers, home values can fall further as the share of distressed sales rises. This was the case throughout 2008, as home price declines were in virtual free fall amid a cycle of rising foreclosures.

A report last week from economists at Goldman Sachs tries to quantify the share of the decline in home prices that can be attributed to the rise of distressed versus non-distressed homes. They conclude that this “mix shift” is responsible for around one third of the 34% decline in home prices since 2006.

While distressed homes normally account for around 5% of all home sales, the distressed share reached a peak of nearly 50% in early 2009, as the housing market unraveled. The share normally falls during the stronger spring and summer months, when there are more mom-and-pop home sellers, while it rises during the seasonally weaker autumn and winter—though it hasn’t gone as high as 50% since 2009.

The share of distressed sales is still high by any historical comparison. But importantly, it is falling when compared with one year ago, which is a big reason why home prices, as measured by the Case-Shiller index, are rising again. In June, the share of non-distressed sales, meanwhile, was at its highest level since August 2008, according to CoreLogic Inc.

In May 2012, around 25% of all homes were distressed sales, down from 31% one year earlier, according to Goldman. Moreover, Goldman estimates that banks are losing less money on distressed sales than they have in the past, in part because banks are pushing short sales more aggressively. The average distressed home sold at a 20% discount to comparable non-distressed homes, an improvement from discounts of 25% to 30% earlier in the crisis.

With distressed homes yielding smaller discounts and fewer distressed sales coming on the market, home prices have stopped falling. In May, for example, the Case-Shiller index showed that prices were down by 0.7% from one year ago. Without the change in the distressed share, prices would have been down by 2%, Goldman estimates.

Local markets provide even better examples of this. Home prices have risen most sharply in Phoenix, where foreclosures accounted for 27% of home re-sales in May, down from 50% one year ago and 66% three years earlier. Goldman estimates that of the 11% home price increase over the past year in Phoenix, around five percentage points—or 40% of the total—is due to the drop in the distressed share.

Goldman economists Marty Young and Hui Shan note that returning to a normal share of distressed sales “will take several years.” But they add that the market is moving slowly in the right direction, which is “one reason we believe the Case-Shiller house price index has passed its trough and is poised for modest growth going forward.”

So will prices soften later this year? Usually they do because there are normally fewer traditional sellers competing with the banks and other distressed sellers after the summer ends. In each of the last three years, rising prices in the spring has given way to falling prices heading into the fall.

But right now, low levels of homes for sale, particularly foreclosed properties, mean that prices “will not fall in this year’s off-season, or at least not as dramatically as in recent years,” writes Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic.

The lesson here: to figure out where home prices are headed, watch the share of distressed sales in your market. The pace at which banks move to repossess properties and the strategies they use to work out troubled mortgages will have great weight on home prices going forward. Even more important will be whether housing demand weakens, stabilizes, or grows stronger in the coming year.

Follow Nick: @NickTimiraos

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2012/08/27/why-home-prices-are-rising-the-distressed-share/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 28 2012
As regular readers know, I keep track of the national media spin on real estate matters because our Evansville home sales often reflects the tone we all pick up from the feel of the wider market. So let’s not beat around the bush: again in July, the residential real estate picture continued its rise. It has been sensible to remain cautiously optimistic about the direction of things for a good long while, but at this juncture, it’s finally beginning to look like a trend has taken shape.
 
“For the fifth consecutive month,” the Wall Street Journal reported in its news pages, “sales of previously owned homes notched another rise.” Evansville homeowners who have gone through literally years of sinking prices and moribund home sales must be worried as they read this –worried that someone will snap them out of this pleasant daydream. But it’s real: despite most of the other national economic news that remains considerably less encouraging, the real estate picture is heartening.   
 
The National Association of REALTORS®, agrees. They report that single family homes, condominiums and townhomes increased sales. Single family home sales rose 9.9% over last year, with condo sales jumping a full 14%.
 
A low inventory of homes for sale is believed to be at least partially responsible for strong new homes sales numbers. The nation’s biggest builder of luxury homes, Toll Brothers, reported a sales leap of 57% from last year. Meantime, the price picture showed the kind of growth you would expect: median prices were up over 9% from a year ago.
 
Supporting trends were also interesting. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) were down markedly, reflecting a tightening supply. This is probably an indication that the glut of such properties has finally worked its way through the market; certainly an encouraging sign for homeowners who have been waiting to list until the home sales market strengthens. The WSJ news story would likely provide some encouragement: they feature one would-be buyer who bid on a home, but lost it to a higher bidder. He and his wife had been viewing homes all summer before finally making their offer. “Maybe I stepped in a month too late,” he’s quoted as saying.
 
For local homeowners who have been biding their time, that kind of quote will surely be music to their ears. If you have been watching and waiting for your own entry into the Evansville market, I hope you will give me a call to investigate the latest comparables in your own neighborhood.  You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:58 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 24 2012
For everyone who rents (or leases) Evansville rental homes, it’s a choice that comes up every year: rent or buy. In addition to the common sense considerations everyone brings to that important decision, some financial measurements have been developed through the years that attempt to bring an element of rationality to a largely subjective decision.
Actually penciling out an answer isn’t always satisfactory because it is literally impossible to quantify elements like peace of mind. To some who own their homes, there is great peace of mind in controlling their own destiny. To others, the worry of being responsible for a home’s maintenance or taxes makes the ‘peace of mind’ factor a wash -- or even a negative.
Likewise, those who lease rental homes may find the lack of responsibility liberating…or the lack of control bothersome. It’s a personal preference. What makes it even less subject to mathematical measurement is that anyone’s preference is likely to change due to life and career factors. (Just try to measure that, bean counters!)
 All this is to introduce a new one of those metrics just introduced by Zillow this month. The metric, which is a pretty clever one, was introduced in an online article by Zillow’s Nalina Varanasi. Her all-but-hilarious introduction describes traditional methods used to try to quantify the rental homes vs. owned homes financial tradeoffs. The unintentional amusement arises from the 850 words and seven paragraphs it takes to describe just two of them. The mind-numbingly complex ratios-divided-by-more-ratios explanations are invariably followed by phrases like, ‘but the main problem with this’ or ‘still, this doesn’t account for…’
 Zillow’s new measurement is also exceedingly complex, but yields one simple number. They call it the ‘Breakeven Horizon.’ It's the number of years after which buying becomes more financially rewarding than renting. (At the exact number, it wouldn’t make a difference one way or the other). Since the Breakeven Horizon can’t take into account the very real personal value judgments, it’s as flawed as all the others. But it does yield an interesting nugget: in general, as a nation-wide average, it has been moving downward. Right now, the break-even point for most homes in the U.S. is around three years. In places like Miami-Fort Lauderdale, the break-even period comes in a scant 1.6 years.
Still, I have to admire author Varanasi’s boldly self-aware skill in her choice of headlines. Her announcement of the new Price Horizon metric is titled,
“Should You Buy or Rent? Depends on How Long You Want to Stay and Where You Want to Live (Of Course)”.
By the way, whenever you want to buy or rent, if it happens to be anywhere around Evansville, don’t hesitate to give me a call! We’ll find you the home that fits your needs (Of Course)! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 23 2012
Some of us have decided that life is too short to spend any time behind a lawnmower. Others decide that the real reason we have a mate is so that we can offer him or her the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and sunshine…to mow. Children can be the recipients of that very same opportunity, which will build character through hard work. Alternatively, a healthy lawn – especially a well-watered one in late August – provides an opportunity to keep the Evansville economy humming by employing a gardening service to keep it in top trim.
But for those of us who personally oversee our property’s greenbelt maintenance, earlier this month, CNN’s Money website put together a four-point tip sheet that caught my eye: it rounded up some of the best common sense lawn care ideas I’ve seen in one place. The author (Josh Garskot who wrote in @Money), claims that DIY lawn care keeps him handy and youthful. Although I could argue that a tall lemonade on the verandah might serve just as well, here’s a shortened version of what he came up with:
·         Edge twice. That is, turn the edger sideways to make a vertical slice, then do the regular horizontal trim (CNN even has a tip for precutting trimmer strings and keeping them at hand by attaching them with Velcro tape – but that’s a little too far into the weeds for me).
·         Let the pros fertilize. Seen as just too complicated to handle, CNN’s expert threw in the towel when it comes to trying to figure out those charts on the back of the bags. Recommendation: hire pros to fertilize (and aerate once a year). I concur.
·         Forget bagging clippings. Downside: since you probably remember the fact that you should never cut more than a third of the height of the grass, you have to mow often enough to follow through on that. Upsides: the clippings will be short enough that you can just let them recycle back into the soil. And your property will look great all the time!
·         Say goodbye to stale gas. Particularly after a long layoff, old gas can mean real arm-wrenching trouble getting a stubborn motor started. A few drops of fuel stabilizer is enough to keep mower and trimmer carburetors ungummed (and the air free of the bad language that can otherwise result).
            Lawns can be a real property value enhancer when they’re well maintained -- but the opposite when allowed to reach meadow length. And while we’re on the subject, I hope you will always feel free to contact me whenever you’d like to tap into my store of home maintenance referrals and ideas for keeping yourEvansville property at the top of the market. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 22 2012
Market Watch
     This month’s Market Watch is about mortgage financing and how it affects the housing market. We all know that our country suffered a terrible recession just a few years ago. Although we don’t hear as much as we used to no one disputes that the primary cause of the recession was mortgage loan defaults caused by lending standards that were far too lenient. The Federal Government, primarily through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not only loosened lending standards but in many instances mandated, through the guise of the Community Reinvestment Act, that mortgages be extended to unqualified buyers. In addition to being the biggest single cause of the recession Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sustained billions of dollars in losses on these loans. Since that time, lending standards have been made much more stringent. In my opinion, the pendulum swung too far one way and has now swung too far the other way. In addition to lending standards other restrictions and rules are inhibiting lending. The HUD disclosure, which was 3 pages, is being “simplified” to 8 pages, for example. The National Association of Realtors estimates that as many as 20% of potential buyers are being prevented from entering the housing market by unreasonable lending standards. Regulators are currently planning and implementing even more rules and restrictions. Clearly these are not only unnecessary, but are becoming oppressive and hurting the housing market. Although no one wants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lose money that is no longer a problem. Last quarter Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac combined made over $8 billion in profits. Lending standards already in place are more than stringent enough to generate a profit for these lenders. Further restrictions will slow the housing market, reduce lending and reduce profits because fewer loans will be extended. 
      Our local market had another acceptable month. This calendar year has been remarkably consistent and through July we are up 6.6% in closed units and up 2% in median price. Inventory levels are better here than in many parts of the country. Interest rates are still unbelievably low. These rates will not last forever. Buyers continue to remain selective about the condition and maintenance of properties they are considering. If you are selling make sure your property is neat, clean and well maintained. Call me if you would like some tips on preparing your house for sale. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 20 2012

Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.

1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.

Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.

2. Install motion detector lights.

All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.

3. Store your valuables.

Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns. 

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.

4. Secure your data.

While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.

5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.

  • Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
  • Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

Source: http://members.houselogic.com/start/??nicmp=rcrim&nichn=editorial&niseg=rmonews

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 16 2012
With tax deduction limits coming for 2013, medically related home upgrades are a smart project this year.

What a difference year makes.

For the 2012 tax year, you can take a tax deduction on medically necessary home improvements — like installing a wheelchair ramp and other projects that make life easier for an ill or injured family member — if you:

  • Itemize deductions
  • Spend more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income on the upgrades (10% of AGI if you’re subject to alternative minimum tax).

Starting in 2013, if you’re under age 65, you can’t take the tax deduction on medical expenses until you spend 10% of your AGI. But if you’re 65 or older in 2013, you can stick with the 7.5% AGI tax deduction threshold through the end of 2016.

The rules for tax deductions on medical home improvements are tricky:

1. Start with what it costs to modify your home.
2. Subtract the value the upgrades add to your home.
3. What’s leftover is your tax deduction — if you meet your AGI threshold.

How it works

Say you’re 45 years old and spend $20,000 to put a bathroom on the first floor of your home because your husband can’t climb stairs anymore. Your AGI is $100,000. A REALTOR® says the bathroom adds $10,000 to the value of your house.

1. Start with the cost of the improvements: $20,000
2. Subtract your added home value: $10,000
3. Of that $10,000 difference, you can only take a deduction for expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI or $7,500.

So if you itemize, you can take a $2,500 deduction for the 2012 tax year. Wait until 2013 and you get no deduction because your threshold rises to 10%. If you’re over age 65, though, you can claim a $2,500 deduction.

Tip: Doing all your improvements in a single year will help you meet the AGI threshold.

Some of the improvements that you can claim a tax deduction for, according to IRS Publication 502, “Medical and Dental Expenses”:

  • Entrance ramps for your home
  • Grading the yard before building a ramp, or to make it easier to get in your home
  • Widening exterior or interior doorways
  • Widening or removing hallways
  • Installing railings, support bars, or other bathroom improvements
  • Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment
  • Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures
  • Installing porch lifts and other forms of lifts (but elevators generally add value to the house)
  • Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems
  • Modifying stairways
  • Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether or not in bathrooms)
  • Changing door knobs
  • Upkeep of medically necessary upgrades, like elevators, and operating costs
  • Lead-based paint removal if your child has lead poisoning
  • Renovating an existing bathroom to make it handicap accessible or adding a new accessible bath

Will the tax change encourage you to make necessary changes this year?



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/tax-deductions/medical-tax-deduction-changes-2013/#ixzz23dg4PbL4
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 15 2012

“It’s hard to argue against buying a house now, assuming you can get a loan,” writes John Waggoner, a columnist with USA Today. Sure, Waggoner says that getting a credit check for approval of a mortgage can be a “only slightly less intrusive than a CIA background check,” but for those who are able to qualify, a lot of analysts say that now can be a good time to purchase a home.

1. The price is right. The median single-family home price hit its lowest in more than a decade when it reached $154,600 in January, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. That was the lowest since October 2001. During the height of the housing market in July 2006, the median home price for a single-family home was $230,900.

2. It’s cheaper to buy than rent. In nearly every major metro market, it is cheaper to buy a home than rent. Rents have been on the rise the last few years and are predicted to continue to rise. Meanwhile, home affordability is at record highs, which means that buying a home is more within reach to the median income family.

3. Inventories of for-sale homes are shrinking. Ned Davis Research estimates that excess inventories of homes to be eliminated by the end of next year. “When excess supply dries up, people start building more new houses, which has the virtuous effect of reducing the unemployment rate and increasing the economy generally,” according to the USA Today article.

4. Mortgage rates are at record lows. Mortgage rates have hovered near record lows for weeks, which has helped pushing housing affordability higher. For example, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is the most popular among home buyers, is 3.59 percent, according to Freddie Mac—just above its record low set on July 26 of 3.49 percent average. “It’s conceivable that at some point in the next 30 years, your interest rate would be less than the rate of inflation,” writes Waggoner for USA Today.

Source: “If You Can Pull it Off, a House is a Smart Investment,” USA Today (Aug. 9, 2012)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 14 2012
Uncertain economy or not, we Americans remain a highly mobile bunch. In fact, the Census Bureau says that no fewer than 6,700,000 Americans packed up and moved to a new state in the period between 2010 – 2011, the latest year on record. The study sheds light on the movement of people within the U.S. -- and it lets us know that of the most common reason for interstate relocation (43.9%) was for employment-related reasons. The official stats are not yet available for last year, but the relocation numbers are expected to increase as people continue to relocate in search of more stable economic environments.
 
For just about everyone, even thinking about relocating is a daunting proposition. Although it can turn into a planet-sized headache, if you are one of those considering relocation to our neck of the woods, the surest way to keep yourself sane is to connect with an experienced buyer's agent.
 
A buyer's agent can accomplish several momentous things to simplify your local relocation. He or she can take your "wish list" and find the available area properties that suit your needs. With a good working knowledge of what is available, your agent will provide guidance on the price similar properties have recently commanded. Buyer's agents are contractually bound to have your best interests at heart -- which is why having a buyer’s agent is preferable to using the seller's agent.
 
If you are starting from scratch, and don’t yet know anyone in Southwest Indiana, your new coworkers may be able to offer a referral. A thorough Internet search can turn up a stellar agent or two, as well -- bonus points if you can find a site where previous customers have supplied ratings.
 
As with any other key professional service provider, you shouldn’t be willing to settle for the first person you come across. Taking the time up front to find a sympathetic agent can wind up saving a lot more time in the long run. It is important to interview several buyer’s agents, asking enough questions to make sure you are both on the same page. One good question to ask is whether the agent tends to work with more buyers than sellers.
 
Where your new home is concerned, there is really no need to take chances. A great buyer's agent will help make your Evansville relocation as painless as possible. I hope you will include me on your interview list -- I’m here to help my clients every step of the way!
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 13 2012

A few major predictions came out of the panel discussion that kicked off Inman's Real Estate Connect event yesterday morning in San Francisco. The session, moderated by Inman News founder Brad Inman, featured experts from the worlds of real estate and finance. Here were some of the most important forecasts for the real estate industry:

1. Rates will remain low for at least another year.

Amy Brandt, CEO of Vantium Capital, offered the most conservative prediction: that rates would probably start to rise significantly by the summer of next year. Bill Emmons, assistant vice president and economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said he expects the Fed to do whatever it can to hold rates down until the end of 2014.

2. No matter what happens, the government will continue to play a major role in mortgage financing.

Brandt pointed out that more than 90 percent of mortgages are somehow supported today by the federal government. It will probably stay that way for a couple of reasons, the first being that investors want it that way, said Joel Singer, CEO of the California Association of REALTORS®. But another issue is that no private entity or group is big enough to fill that role right now. However, it's unclear whether the FHA or a reconstituted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would take the lead.

3. Hard assets such as oil, gold, and real estate will probably be on the rise for some time to come.

All of the panelists agreed, with some minor exceptions, that real estate is a good investment right now. And like other tangible assets, it will likely grow in value over the next few years.

They also all agreed that it will take some time before the economy returns to stable, long-lasting growth. The reason? The downturn was driven by major problems in the financial sector, and the broken system will have to be retooled before the economy can truly flourish, said Patrick Stone, president and CEO of the Williston Financial Group.?@

That rebuilding could take some time, Singer added. "This transition is going to take a while," he said. "The failure of institutions to grasp the problem and come up with solutions is what's caused this to last so long."

Emmons said the extreme aversion to risk among business right now -- causing capital to flow into low-risk, low-return assets -- should improve soon, but added that unprecedented levels of public and private debt could hold back growth. "There's still a lot of debt to work through," he explained. "In some respects, we look like Japan. Rather than take the 18 months of hell to get through that, we're just kicking it down the road."

However, the panel was generally optimistic about the long-term prospects of the economy.

"We train and educate the innovators of tomorrow," Stone said. "And no country is better at connecting capital and innovation."

Brandt also expressed confidence in the ability of most real estate professionals to adapt to any major economic shifts, just as they did with the advent of the Internet. "I think this is an innovative group that can come up with solutions," she said, but added that practitioners should raise their awareness of and involvement in the mortgage financing part of the transaction.

"If I were running a real estate company, I would try to be more tightly integrated with the financial side," she said.

- Brian Summerfield, REALTOR Magazine http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2012/08/02/3-big-predictions-for-real-estate

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 10 2012

Find out which remodeling projects will provide the biggest bang for your buck this year, according to Remodeling magazine.

Optimizing the use of space in a home will not only attract buyers but also give sellers more bang for their buck, according to Remodeling’s “2011–12 Cost vs. Value Report,” conducted in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine and NAR’s HouseLogic.com.

An attic bedroom addition costing $50,148 was expected to recoup 72.5 percent of the cost nationally—inching up 0.3 percent from the 2010–11 report. The minor kitchen remodel also fared well, returning an estimated 72.1 percent of the nearly $20,000 job cost.

The report looks at the estimated cost and expected resale return of 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects in 80 markets. The estimated costs and returns were derived from a survey of more than 3,000 REALTORS® conducted last summer. As in past years, REALTORS® picked exterior projects to recoup the most at resale. Among those, new fiber-cement siding was expected to provide the highest return, recouping an estimated 78 percent of the $13,461 cost.

Top 6 Returns

Siding Replacement (upscale) - fiber-cement
Job Cost: $13,461
Resale Value: $10,493
Cost Recouped: 78%

Entry Door Replacement - steel
Job Cost: $1,238
Resale Value: $903
Cost Recouped: 73%

Attic Bedroom Addition
Job Cost: $50,148
Resale Value: $36,346
Cost Recouped: 72.5%

Kitchen: Minor Remodel
Job Cost: $19,588
Resale Value: $14,120
Cost Recouped: 72.1%

Garage Door Replacement
Job Cost: $1,512
Resale Value: $1,087
Cost Recouped: 71.9%

Garage Door Replacement (upscale)
Job Cost: $2,994
Resale Value: $2,129
Cost Recouped: 71.1%

Remodeling’s2011-12 Cost vs. Value Report ©2011 by Hanley Wood, LLC. Republication or redissemination of the Report is expressly prohibited without written permission of Hanley Wood, LLC.“Cost vs. Value” is a registered trademark of Hanley Wood, LLC.Visit www.costvsvalue.com for information on all 35 projects. There, you can also download a free PDF providing information on average cost and resale value nationally, regionally, and in a specific market. Estimates for construction costs were compiled by HomeTech Publishing.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 09 2012
Biometric locks employ high-tech fingerprint recognition technology to verify your identity before allowing a locked door to be opened.

George Jetson would definitely be eyeing a biometric lock as a present for his boss, Mr. Spacely. In addition to keeping Spacely Sprockets safe from the prying eyes of rival Spencer Cogswell, a biometric lock will provides home security and ease of entry—no more fumbling with keys.

A biometric lock uses an optical or thermal scanner to read and memorize your fingerprint (and the fingerprints of other authorized users who you decide should have access to your home).

Opening a biometric door lock is typically a two-step process. First, press your fingertip—or hand—to the scanner, and the device identifies your unique characteristics. Next, you type an authentication code into a keypad to open the lock.

Biometric locks characteristics

  • Goodbye, keys. You’ll never leave your fingerprints in your other pants, so biometric locks offer convenience and fast entry for an authorized user.
  • Biometric power. Many biometric security systems provide alternate key access in case the battery-operated system fails.
  • The ouch factor. Some biometric scanners will no longer recognize your fingerprint if you get a cut or develop a scar.
  • Price particulars. Biometric door locks range from $69 to $350 or more, and are readily available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.

Three innovative biometric lock ideas

  • Safe keeping. The portable BioBox Fingerprint Safe is sized (about 7x11x2 inches) for stowing small items such as jewelry, cash, medications, or a firearm. Press your fingertip to the scanner on top for quick one-second access. Stores up to 30 fingerprints for multiple users, and operates on four AA batteries. Sells for about $200.
  • Computer critter. BioCert Hamster IV Optical Fingerprint Reader connects to any Windows PC as a security feature for your computer. The device is designed to work with special software to capture high-quality fingerprints from a wide range of traditionally difficult fingers, including those from dry, wet, scarred, or aged skin, and in bright ambient conditions such as under direct sunlight. Priced at about $100.
  • Alarming option. If someone tries to break the BioAxxis Biometric Deadbolt lock, an alarm sounds. Named the best fingerprint door lock by Good Housekeeping Research, the lock sells for about $69.


Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-security/what-are-biometric-locks/#ixzz22tIxfJWg
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 07 2012

1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.

Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.

2. Install motion detector lights.

All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.

3. Store your valuables.

Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns. 

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.

4. Secure your data.

While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.

5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.

  • Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
  • Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

Source: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/do-it-yourself-home-security-check-5-essential-steps/preview/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 06 2012

The homebuilding industry posted another gain in construction spending in June, marking the third consecutive month for increases, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

After a sluggish last few years, the homebuilding industry continues to dig toward a recovery, posting big year-over-year improvements that has many analysts saying the sector has finally reached the tipping point toward recovery.

In June, construction spending increased 0.4 percent. Last month, spending gained 1.6 percent -- an upwardly revised number -- which marked the largest one-month increase since December. The increase has been most driven by a rise in residential housing construction.

Overall, June construction spending was up 12.9 percent compared to February 2011, which at the time had marked a 12-year low for the sector.

However, economists warn that the homebuilding industry still has a long way to go. While there has been recent improvement, construction spending levels are still about half of what most consider healthy for the industry.

Source: “Construction Spending Rises in June, but Manufacturing Slows,” USA Today (Aug. 1, 2012)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 03 2012
Want to put a little pep in your porch? Here are 5 budget-friendly ways to add value and get more enjoyment out of your front-facing outdoor space.

Sprucing up your porch is more than a cosmetic upgrade — it’ll boost your curb appeal and help preserve the value of your home. As a bonus, you’ll even get some neighborhood bragging rights. Here are five simple porch pick-me-ups, each costing less than $500.

1. Adding architectural pizzazz

Sweeten your porch’s appearance with a wide variety of architectural trim pieces in weather-resistant wood or low-maintenance synthetics (PVC or polyurethane). They’re readily available at home improvement centers.

Most porch trim pieces install with nails or screws and require basic tools and moderate do-it-yourself skills. Or, hire a handyman for a few hours at $30-$60 an hour.

  • Add decorative brackets (starting at $20 each) where support posts meet the ceiling.
  • Span the space above porch stairs with a fancy fretwork spandrel ($200 for 6 feet).
  • Shapely corbels ($30 and up) lend charm under the eaves.

2. Painting the floor

You’re walking on sunshine when you splash color on a porch floor. Use good-quality exterior paint made for porch floors ($30-$45 per gallon) and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for prepping the surface so the paint won’t peel.

If the old paint dates prior to 1978, find out if the paint is lead-based. If necessary, remove lead paint.

Once the basecoat dries, you can add a painted design, such as a faux rug, using stencils. Or outline your motif with quick-release painter’s tape to ensure crisp edges.

3. Fanning a breeze

Stir up your own cooling breezes by adding a ceiling fan to your porch. Be sure to select a ceiling fan model designed for outdoor use ($75-$250).

Wiring a fan is a task you can do yourself in less than an hour if there’s an existing electrical box and you have the right electrical tools. Or, hire an electrician ($75-$200) to wire the fan.

4. Creating privacy

If your exposed porch leaves you feeling like a goldfish in a bowl, add home privacy using one or more of these makeover strategies:

Louvered shutters: Tall louvered panels, or shutters, filter light while allowing breezes to blow freely across your porch. Select shutters in wood, vinyl, or PVC; prices start at about $50 for a 12-by-64-inch shutter.

Install one or more shutters floor-to-ceiling or just above the rail to create a private spot on the porch. You’ll need an afternoon to install shutters, typically by securing wood cleats to the floor and fascia and fastening the shutters to the cleats with screws.

Outdoor fabric: Add a little romance, color, and pattern to your porch with fabric panels that draw closed for privacy. Weather-resistant curtain panels with grommet tops come in a variety of lengths, and start at about $60 per panel.

You’ll need a few hours to install a rod ($50 for a wrought-iron rod that extends to 130 inches) and hang the panels. Or, buy weather-resistant fabric (starting at about $10 per yard) and make your own panels.

Lattice: Like shutters, lattice panels allow filtered light and breezes onto your porch, while obscuring the view. You can install several panels in an afternoon using standard tools and fasteners. A 4-by-8-foot wood lathe lattice panel costs about $20. Decoratively patterned lattice PVC panels start at about $30. Visit a home center to find prebuilt wood or PVC privacy panels with custom looks, starting at about $200.

Plants: For botanical beauty, add a lush, living privacy screen. Trail flowering vines, such as fast-growing morning glory ($2 for a seed packet) or clematis ($15), up lattice panels; or plant tall but narrow-spreading evergreen, such as Thuja Green Giant ($100 for an 11-foot tree), beside the porch.

You can also use tall container plants on the porch and move them around where needed. Bamboo (about $40 for a 3-gallon container) grows quickly and provides leafy, light-filtering beauty.

5. Screening it in

Ban buzzing pests from your porch haven with screens. Use porch railings as the frame for supporting screens and staple screens in place. Use thin lathe strips or molding to cover staples and the screen edge.

Or, build frames using ¾-inch-thick, pressure-treated lumber. You can build a 6-by-6-foot frame for less than $15. Stretch the screen across each frame and staple it in place. A 100-foot roll of 4-foot-wide patio screen starts at about $55.

Mosquito curtains are another option that you can install yourself on a sliding track in 5 or 6 hours. Floor-to-ceiling curtains (less than 10 feet tall), which cover a 25-foot wide span, plus the track and hardware, cost about $475.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-improvement/porch-ideas/#ixzz22J3BBq23

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 02 2012

One of the most recognizable names in the clothing industry is scheduled to speak at the University of Evansville in October. Calvin Klein is slated to kick off The Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana's year-long speaker series that also includes a former Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) executive and a Tony Award winning producer.

 

The Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana, part of the Schroeder Family School of Business Administration at the University of Evansville, is proud to announce the 2012-13 Institute Speaker Series, sponsored by Old National Bank.

"Our primary objective at the Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana is to assist regional businesses in improving their global capabilities," said Dan Miller, the Institute's executive director. "The three speakers we are announcing today are recognized figures who will help us learn about global branding, transformation of businesses, and innovation, based on their first-hand experience and success in these areas."

The series begins Wednesday, October 24 with an appearance by Calvin Klein, an award-winning fashion icon recognized globally as a master of minimalism. His name ranks among the best-known brands in the world, with Calvin Klein Inc. reaching over $6 billion in global retail sales. Klein will speak in Indianapolis at noon and at Evansville's Victory Theatre at 7:00 p.m. (local times). His appearance is presented in partnership with the Rotary Club of Indianapolis.

The series' next event on Thursday, March 14, 2013 will feature Ken Schmidt. As the former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Schmidt played an active role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history — and got paid to ride motorcycles. He will speak in Indianapolis at noon and at Evansville's Aiken Theatre in The Centre at 6:00 p.m. (local times).

The 2012-13 Institute Speaker Series will conclude Tuesday, September 17, 2013 with an appearance from John Kao, an innovation activist who has been dubbed "Mr. Creativity" by The Economist. Kao, the chair of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, holds an MD from Yale Medical School and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also a Tony Award-nominated producer of Broadway plays and a jazz pianist. He will speak in Indianapolis at noon and at Evansville's Victory Theatre at 7:00 p.m. (local times).

Admission to all Evansville events is free and open to the public. Ticket information for Indianapolis events is forthcoming. For more information, please contact the Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana at 812-488-2455 or globalindiana@evansville.edu.

The core purpose of the University of Evansville is to provide students with life-transforming educational experiences that prepare them to engage the world as informed, ethical, and productive citizens.

Source: University of Evansvillle http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=54930

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 01 2012
Designers of today's local new homes are continuing to regard the kitchen as the functioning central gathering place – the family’s social hub, where a great deal more than meal preparation takes place. The trend toward bigger kitchens is on track: many feature kitchens designed with open space for family gatherings as well as multi-generational cooking. Many new homes deck out their kitchens in the hottest new colors (it’s become a widespread international fashion trend).
 
When you are making decisions about your own kitchen, if you decide to keep future home values in mind, your color choices may differ from what they might have been a decade ago. According to HGTV, "People are viewing kitchens that have too much of any one color as flat, so more color is definitely the way to go."
 
Earthy tones like golden yellow, mossy green and mocha brown are still prevalent in the kitchens of today's new homes. These tones blend well with black appliances and dark wood cabinetry. Many people choose these colors to go with an earthy, down-home, farm-inspired decorative theme. What’s different is the addition of accents that “pop.” Adding modest touches of colors like strawberry ice to predominantly tapenade green is one example.
 
Cerulean blue, bright white and seafoam green are more ‘new millennial’ color choices: they go well with stainless steel appliances and any sleek, modern decor. Many consumers are choosing blue handcrafted tiles for counter backsplashes in their new homes.
 
For the brave (and those with an excellent designer), purple paired with orange is the kind of decorative theme that uses color opposites to create a feeling of energy and vigor. Such combinations allow the color to pop against the relatively bland tones of the room's appliances and woodwork – they reflect the recent movement towards Middle Eastern inspiration in interior design. These pairings, known as “mystic” tones, are safest when they appear in modest doses.
In any of Evansville’s new homes, the perfect kitchen decor is the one the owners find fits their own family. When that dovetails with the 21st century kitchen’s position as the most prominent gathering place, one that most people find appealing and comfortable – it is also likely to be a choice that adds value for future owners. If you are considering a major kitchen overhaul and would like some expert advice on what sells, I can help with some ideas that have produced widely-appealing modern kitchen designs. 
Posted by: Rolando trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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The Trentini Team
F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
Evansville, IN 47715
Office: (812) 479-0801
Cell: (812) 499-9234
Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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