Wednesday, May 30, 2012

National Doughnut Day!

OK. I have to admit it - I LOVE doughnuts. My favorites? Krispy Kreme. The sugary glaze that slightly hardens on those fresh, warm doughnuts is pure heaven. Every time I eat dinner at El Mariachi (on Thompson Lane), I head over to Krispy Kreme to grab a doughnut - or two.

My favorites are maple iced glazed, chocolate iced glazed, chocolate iced cream filled, and the original glazed. What foodie or dessert connoisseur wouldn't indulge in these delectable sugary sweet delicacies?

Well, now doughnut fans all over the U.S. can indulge in one free doughnut in celebration of National Doughnut Day, June 1. Did you know that National Doughnut Day was established 75 years ago to commemorate the work of the "doughnut lassies" from The Salvation Army to thank them for serving doughnuts to soldiers during World War I? Follow this LINK to the world of Krispy Kreme for details.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In Dire Straights and Need a Short Sale? (Part 2)

The reasons that most people sell their homes short are: (1) they believe it is more ethical/moral to help the bank get back as much money as they can (instead of losing more in foreclosing on the property), (2) they can live there without paying the mortgage (but need to continue paying the HOA fees and utilities), (3) they believe it's better for their credit.

A short sale WILL have an affect on the seller's credit. Although experts believe that a short sale is not as devastating as a foreclosure, that remains to be seen.

When you find an experienced short sale agent, and provide that agent with the third-party authorization letter, this is just the beginning. Remember that time is VERY SHORT on these because a foreclosure can be looming overhead.

Once the agent has the letter in hand, he or she needs to fax (send) it to the bank. It takes roughly two to five days to get that letter uploaded into the electronic file that the bank has on your loan. Once that is done, some or all of these things can happen: (1) the bank can order an appraisal; (2) the seller will have to complete a short sale packet to be faxed to the bank; (3) both (1) and (2). If the agent is savvy, he or she can usually come very close to the listing price that is needed for the property. The comps should be those that have sold at short sale and foreclosure prices, taking into consideration the condition of the house.

If the bank quickly orders an appraisal, then the agent can help the seller price the house accordingly until the appraisal comes back. At that time, the appraisal amount will dictate the amount the bank is willing to accept. The listing price should reflect that amount PLUS all commissions, seller closing expenses, and any concessions that the buyers will need to buy the house. A little extra should be included to cover any property taxes that would be due for six or so months beyond the initial listing date.

Condition is a major factor in a short sale. I've listed short sales that were in very dogged condition with the need for a new roof, carpet, paint, etc. That home needed to be (and was) listed at the lowest point possible to get it sold. In another situation, the house was in a neighborhood where new homes were still being built and the house was in impeccable condition. The seller was able to finance a new kitchen floor (the vinyl had been burned by a dropped iron, and it also had rips and tears in it), and that garnered a much higher price for the property, close to what the new construction was selling for.

Each bank has its own policies and procedures for maneuvering through the short sales process. Reputationally, Bank of America is considered the worst, but they have actually gotten much better. BOA provides an Advocacy Line to agents to get help when the short sale rep does not return calls or move quickly on the sale. Thankfully, this agent has had the opportunity to work with two representatives in the short sale area who actually take phone calls and get things moving toward closing the sale. They are my "go to" people when I need to get the sale closed on time.

CHASE is another large bank dealing with multiple short sales right now. CHASE has its own way of conducting the short sale procees. Right now they have limited employees to handle the large number of short sales, so they will not honor a request to consider a short sale until there is an offer on the table.

Local banks move much quicker and are more apt to work with the incoming buyers. In one instance with a local bank, the sellers were bankrupt, so they negotiated a lease/purchase with a buyer. The buyers moved into the house (which they loved and wanted to buy outright), and they made their payments directly to the bank. The twist in the story is that the buyers had just come out of a bankruptcy and the agents negotiated with the seller's bank to give the bankrupt buyers a new loan. Since they had a glowing payment history with this bank already, the bank was more willing to do the loan to save itself from a severe short sale and a foreclosure.

Miracles like this do not happen every day. These are the types of things that agents just stumble on.

If you are going through a short sale right now, make sure that your agent is on top of it, and not just "hoping" the bank will allow it to be a short sale.

Later this week ... Short Sales part 3.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Dire Straights and Need a Short Sale? (Part 1)

It seems like more and more short sales are coming on the market. Are they here to stay? If not, they're here for a little while, at least.

Because foreclosures are already owned by the bank, the buyer (or buyer's agent) is dealing directly with the bank. Short sales, on the other hand, are quite a bit different. They are not owned by the bank.

Short sales can happen at any point. If the seller is upside down in his/her mortgage and needs to sell the home to move away, then the short sale process can begin even though a seller has never missed a payment. If the seller is behind in his/her mortgage payments, then the short sale can occur within just a month or two into that situation, or it can occur later on. The third situation for short sales is when the seller is upside down in his/her mortgage, and is also behind in payments. Some short sale properties are candidates for foreclosure.

While this blog article is about short sales, let me mention a few things about foreclosures: (1) Tennessee law allows for a bank/mortgage lender to foreclosure very easily. If a seller is behind even one month, then the lender has to give notice of a foreclosure sale three weeks in a row in a public forum (i.e. newspaper) to be able to foreclose. (2) Banks are NOT in the real estate business and do not really want to be. Taking a house/property back so they can sell it again is NOT in their best interest. (3) It costs a mortgage lender approximately $40,000-$50,000 to foreclose on a property. Foreclosure is a legal process that takes the home away from the borrower because of non-payment, and banks always lose in this process.

Every short sale is different. Things that determine the situation are: (1) How far behind the seller is in his/her mortgage payment; (2) The type of loan the seller has on the house; (3) The mortgage investor and what their policy on short sales is.

If you are behind in your payments, NOW is the time to contact a real estate agent. Don't wait! Your agent will give you all of your options!

If you decide on a short sale and have a good agent, the first thing the agent will do is draft a third-party authorization letter which you need to sign in front of a notary public. That letter should contain the loan number, the address of the property in peril, the bank name and address (where the monthly payment is sent), and the social security number of the borrower(s). This needs to be done immediately so the agent can get on the phone with the bank to find out where this house is in the process and what can be done at that point.

The agent will contact the bank to find out where to fax or email the letter. Once that is taken care of, usually a week later, the bank will communicate with the agent when the agent calls.

Part 2 on Short Sales will be posted tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bouncing Back

Just a few years ago, the naysayers and doomsdayers were prophecying about the failed housing market. Today, they're being proved wrong. With sales in the area on the rebound, agents are seeing an upward swing indicating more confidence in the housing market. In the first quarter of 2012, Middle Tennessee saw 4,855 closings, up 24.2 percent from the 3,908 closings during the same quarter of 2011.
Of the 2012 numbers, 3,959 were residential sales, 484 were condo sales, 76 were multi-family sales, and 336 were farms/lands/lots. The greatest increase was in farms/lands/lots, which was a 187% increase over 2011. This indicates a confidence in new construction as builders are building on those lots. Inventory, on the other hand, was down to 18,984 at the end of March 2012. At the end of March last year, the inventory level was at 21,647. Some may think this bad, but in reality, this is good as sellers who don't have to sell are staying away from the market, resulting in true and honest price increases. There are currently less than 10 months of inventory overall. In the single-family residential market, there is a less than eight months inventory. A balanced market is represented by a five to seven months inventory. Anything less than five months is a seller's market; anything greater than seven months is a buyer's market. While the overall market still reflects somewhat of a buyer's market, buyers and agents need to look at each neighborhood and each price range separately, away from the overall market.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Barbara's is More Than I Can Describe

A friend recently recommended Barbars's Home Cookin' in the Grassland area of Franklin, Tennessee. Little did I know just how delicious it was.

Today, friends from church decided to give Barbara's a try. It's a traditional Meat 'n Three. The menu today consisted of Fried Chicken, Roast Beef (more like pot roast), Poppyseed Chicken, Crab Cakes, and more. Along with those entrees came the veggies: green beans, creamed corn, pineapple casserole, black-eyed peas, fried okra, cole slaw, cinnamon apples, and a host of other things. My order: Poppyseed Chicken, green beans, and pineapple casserole. Of course, the warm homemade rolls with a melt-in-your mouth consistency made it even better.

Little did anyone know just how wonderful Barbara's would really be. It was delectable, delicious, and to die for (at least for us foodies). The portions were so large that I asked for a "to go" box early on to save for tomorrow's lunch.

If you'd like to check out Barbara's menu, click HERE. Try it out. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why I Love Franklin So Much

When I moved to Franklin in October of 2009, I never thought I'd fall in love with this charming Civil War town. I live only nine-tenths of a mile from the Franklin square, and frequently walk to downtown to enjoy the festivals, eateries, or just to look around.

Franklin, TN Gray's Pharmacy

Franklin's latest announcement is the renovation/rehab of the old Gray's Drugstore on Main Street. The new venture will be a food and music establishment, opened by Andy Marshall and partners.

Another eatery, you say? That's right - it's just what Franklin needs to continue it's appeal to people from all across Middle Tennessee.

For more information on this venture, click HERE.

And when September rolls around, come on down to Franklin.

Spring Hill GM Plant Revitalizes Spring Hill

Just a few years ago, we saw GM shutter its Saturn division. Along with it went jobs at the Spring Hill GM plant. The plant never quite shut down all the way, but the layoffs in record numbers put a dent in the area's economy and housing market.

USA Today ran an article about the reopening of the plant. You can read it HERE.

Welcome back, GM, Spring Hill, and the housing market! We're glad you're coming back!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nashville Has the Fifth Fastest Growing Job Market

We may not have immediate access to the ocean, and we may not be right around the corner from a ski resort, but we have a lot going for us. One thing is our stability. While other cities have had rapidly declining job markets, Nashville did not see those same results. We have plenty of people to work, and we are transitioning - two key ingredients to job growth.

The result? Increased sales in our housing market and a fairly stable one. While some skeptics in the area keep asking, "When's the market going to return?" I would say that it's here. It's not the rapidly increasing market of yesteryear, but it's increasing steadily. My listings have sold quickly (unless a short sale), and at higher prices than previously thought.

If you want to read the article in, click HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tennesseeans Can Claim Highest Drop in Credit Card Debt

Tennessee residents have the highest drop in credit card debt in the US, as reported by the Nashville Business Journal. Way to go, Tennessee!

Since our economic downturn, people have come to the sober reality that they need to change their spending habits. And, personally, I despise debt. At one time, I lived with plenty of debt. Yes, my credit score was in the mid-700s, but divorce created havoc with that high score. As a result, I decided to make a change in my financial life.

I'm not one to tout celebrities or to endorse anything frivilous, but today I can wholeheartedly recommend Financial Peace University. Dave Ramsey, FPU's creator, has lived through several bankruptcies, high debt, and the loss of lucrative income. People have learned, like Dave, that living in and with debt is not the best way to go.

Last fall I enrolled in an FPU class at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin. I was skeptical at first, because I'd dealt with some Dave Ramsey disciples - people who think that they should always buy real estate low and sell real estate high, regardless of the market. After a few weeks, I was SOLD! The principles are timeless and trustworthy. Now my goal is to get completely out of debt and enjoy my life.

Since that class, I've made a conscious effort to pay off every debt, buy only what I need, and to strictly budget for any and all expenses. Retirement is only 20 years away, so planning for that is crucial.

If you're in a predicament, or if you just want to live a clean financial lifestyle, take a chance on the FPU class. You won't go wrong. To find out more about Dave Ramsey and FPU, click HERE. Like me, you will definitely feel better, more at ease, stress free, and relaxed when you start chipping away at the burden of debt.

So, how is Tennessee climbing out of debt? The ARTICLE doesn't state how or why, but we can only hope that people are waking up to the reality that debt is not the way to live.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Like That Payroll Tax Cut?

Well, it's here. President Obama has signed into law a payroll tax cut for Americans. This cut was spurred on by a weak economy. The President has said that he wanted to help Americans bring home more money monthly. The average increase in take-home pay is approximately $40 per month.

However, what is given away must be paid for. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be collecting this difference beginning April 1, 2012. The charges will be in effect through 2026.

If you're looking at buying a house, then you need to do it now. The average increase for a $200,000 will be approximately $15 per month. That means buying power will decrease slightly for all home buyers.

For more information, check out this LINK.