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Luxury Homes, Investment, and Property Management

By Fred Yancy, Broker | Broker in Woodstock, GA
  • 4 Signs Now's the Right Time to Sell Your Home

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  July 17, 2014 5:19 AM  |  5,274 views  |  No comments

    by Dave Ramsey
    The Tip



    Don't depend solely on market conditions to tell you when to sell. Make sure it's the right choice for you.

    If you've been on the fence about selling your home, we've got good news: It's a great market for sellers! Limited inventory continues to drive home prices up, and the latest data from the National Association of Realtors shows that 41% of recently sold properties spent less than a month on the market.

    Of course, the decision to sell your home isn't solely based on market conditions. You have to take your personal situation into account—and that's where expert advice comes in handy.

    We asked Linda Domis, a Los Angeles-area real estate Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) with 38 years of experience, to share her advice.

    "Now is a great time to sell," she says. "Longer days during the summer mean more hours for buyers to look at property. With less stress, buyers can think about a move more comfortably."

    Here are a few other things to keep in mind before planting a For Sale sign in your yard.

    You're Out of Debt With Cash in the Bank

    If you didn't have all your financial ducks in a row your first time around the home-buying block, you probably learned a few things the hard way. Like the fact that Murphy can smell broke from miles away. If it can go wrong, it will! Put those lessons to good use and be a money-smart home buyer the next go-round!

    Start by taking a hard look at your finances. If you've paid off all your nonmortgage debt and have three to six months of expenses in your emergency fund, that's a good sign you're financially mature enough to purchase a home again.

    You've Got Equity on Your Side

    When the housing bubble burst, home values plummeted, sending many mortgages underwater. Thankfully, the tide has turned: According to RealtyTrac, negative equity rates are at their lowest level since peaking in 2012. If you're not sure where your equity stands, ask an experienced real estate agent to run a free comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine an approximate value for your home.

    Linda says it's worth the sale "if your home has recovered enough value to provide at least 20% equity for your next purchase." Why is 20% the magic number? Because putting 20% or more down on a home keeps private mortgage insurance (PMI) at bay. That could save you hundreds of dollars each year!

    Your Home No Longer Fits Your Lifestyle

    Another factor to consider is how well your home meets your everyday needs. Perhaps you could use another bedroom (or even two) to accommodate your growing family. Or maybe your kids have all moved out and you're ready to downsize.

    "Empty nesters can really benefit from selling now while rates are low," Linda says. "It's very freeing to sell a large home, pay cash for a smaller one, and invest the rest in your retirement."

    Whether you're sizing up or down, make sure your mortgage fits your budget. Dave recommends keeping your monthly payment to 25% or less of your take-home pay on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

    You Can Actually Afford the Move

    Don't get so carried away by the excitement of your next home that you forget to account for the cost of leaving your current one. Hiring professional movers? Save up cash to cover the cost of packing up and hauling your stuff away.

    You should also invest a little to get your current place ready for prime time. Linda recommends focusing your home-improvement dollars on these areas:

    • Paint: "Paint is the number-one investment when upgrading," she says. "Buyers love the look—and smell—of fresh paint."
    • Curb appeal: You only get one chance to make a first impression. Linda suggests a three-pronged approach: "Plant flowers, trim shrubs, and paint the trim."
    • Kitchen and bath: "You don't need expensive appliances or countertops, but new faucets and fixtures go a long way," she says.

    Want a bonus tip that doesn't cost a dime? Clear out the clutter. "Neat closets and tidy shelves make your home look larger!" Linda adds.

  • Falling interest rates reflect need for jobs, income growth

    Posted Under: General Area, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  May 31, 2014 6:52 AM  |  8,836 views  |  No comments

    Falling interest rates reflect need for jobs, income growth

    Bond investors are not idiots, so stick with the simplest answer

    Lou Barnes Contributor
     

    Many threads, much confusion. Most important, a simultaneous event and indicator: the 10-year T-note broke below 2.47 percent, mortgages to low-fours. The chart could not be more dramatic; if not a temporary head-fake, long-term rates can fall a long way.

    We will know next week. Next Thursday the European Central Bank meets, and will announce new stimulus of some kind. Next Friday we’ll get U.S. May payroll data. A big 24 hours.

    Jobs image via Shutterstock.
    Jobs image via Shutterstock.

    Explanations for the drop in long rates are inventive. The favorite of gold bugs, central-bank haters, and inflation bogeymen: Bond investors are idiots.

    A more sensible thought, but likewise mistaken: “Geopolitical risks” have driven rates down. But Ukraine is suddenly off-screen: It has a new and capable president, and Vladimir the Stupid is in rapid retreat, covering failure with a giveaway gas deal with China. Today U.S. authorities confirmed Russian troops are headed back to their barracks.

    Stick with simplicity: Long-term rates follow long-term prospects for economic activity and inflation. They go down, rates go down.

    The U.S. is in the best shape of the four big global economic zones. That’s why our long-term rates are so high. German bunds today trade 1.36 percent, and Japanese government 10-year bonds are 0.575 percent.

    “Best shape” is relative. All here expected first-quarter GDP to be revised down, but negative 1 percent was steep. The usual suspects still say, “Nothing but weather.”
    The Democrats are going to run on inequality and carbon. They're not going to do anything about either, just run on them."

    We’ll see about that. April personal income gained 0.3 percent, a little under forecast, but April spending fell 0.1 percent. If there is a second-quarter snap-back of deferred demand, it’s mighty thin. April orders for durable goods appeared to hold the big March gain, but the April show was puffed by defense, a one-time order for 10 new Virginia class nuclear submarines, $1.7 billion apiece.

    No one knows what the European Central Bank will do next week. Mario Draghi has been in hold-me-back mode for years (Germans happy to comply).

    The euro bond market is shouting: no matter what, too little to late. The very worst financial marker for an economy is falling rates on sovereign debt while rates on private borrowing rise and lending contracts. European bank lending in April shrank for the 24th straight month.

    Japan is a hopeless case, held together only by internal solidarity, the legendary Mrs. Watanabe refusing to leave the yen for a real currency, the yen rising in relative value while China and Europe devalue.

    China’s newest rebalancing road bump: Prices of homes have begun to fall. The rest of the BRICS are too soft to pull anything, Brazil at the edge of recession and social trouble, South Africa in recession, and India embarking on reform unattainable for 55 years.

    Damned glad to be here! And to profiteer on the woes of others, but be suspicious of U.S. log-rolling. One source of optimism is the stock market, but bubbling to new highs despite shaky earnings and the largest fraction of negative-earning IPOs since the last tech collapse has more to do with stock buy-backs than an accelerating economy.

    It’s an election year, and every left-leaner on the econ beat is tub-thumping the economy to help floundering Democrats. The screwball theories of their counterparts on the right have long since drove away everyone but the choir, so mainstream publications are unusually tilted, The New York Times worst-affected. Monday brings a new econ-political circus: The EPA will join the carbon wars, unloading expensive rules on the nation’s utilities.

    The Democrats are going to run on inequality and carbon. They’re not going to do anything about either, just run on them. CO2 could be deadly, but we have no way to know at what pace or extent.

    The price mechanism since the 1970s has produced extraordinary conservation and substitution, and self-calibrated with incomes. Oil is too expensive for generation, so we stopped; renewables are up to 13 percent, gas 27 percent, nuclear 19 percent. Cheap coal is the tough one, still 39 percent, expensive to clean up or to squeeze out.

    Laudable efforts to wean us from carbon have always run the risk of cost beyond ability to pay, trebly so in a weak economy. At this moment this nation needs jobs and rising incomes more than anything, and without them can’t get done anything of importance.

    10year_treasury_2yrs_may30_2104

    10-year T-note last two years. It’s a reach to think we can go back to the all-time lows, having been there so recently.

    10year_treasury_1year_may_30_14

    For clarity, the 10-year in just the last year. Hold below 2.47 percent through next week’s news, and there is no chart support whatever between there and 2.00 percent.


    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Harry Norman Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    www.fred.yancy.harrynorman.com

    fred.yancy@harrynorman.com

  • Woodstock is Georgia’s 4th top city for homeownership

    Posted Under: General Area in Woodstock, Home Buying in Woodstock, Home Selling in Woodstock  |  March 31, 2014 1:04 PM  |  18,376 views  |  1 comment

    Woodstock is Georgia’s 4th top city for homeownership

    Cherokee Tribune
    Joshua Sharpe

    The city of Woodstock grabbed a top spot in a recent homeownership study of the best Georgia cities with more than 15,000 residents.

    Woodstock came in No. 4 on the list compiled by financial data and advice website NerdWallet.com for its high rate of homeownership and competitive costs for those who own homes.

    According to the website, Woodstock has a 71.5 percent rate of homeownership, with residents spending a monthly average of 27.4 percent of their income on homeowner costs.

    The study also notes Woodstock’s “quaint downtown shopping area,” the historic Dixie Speedway and the proximity to Lake Allatoona and Red Top Mountain State Park in Cartersville, which are “big perks for outdoor enthusiasts.”

    The city of Canton made it to the No. 16 spot on the website’s list, with a homeownership rate of 58.6 percent, and the city’s homeowners spending about 37.9 percent of their income on home costs.

    For the study, NerdWallet examined 68 Georgia cities with more than 15,000 residents and focused on their rate of homeownership, median home value and population increase from 2010 to 2012. Census data and population estimates were used, the website said.

    According to the study, Woodstock has a median home value of $188,200 and grew 8.3 percent in population between 2010 and 2012.

    Woodstock Economic Development Director Brian Stockton attributed the city’s success to a number of factors, including the variety of types of homes available, the local school system and recreation options.

    The city’s booming commercial developments don’t hurt either, he said.

    “People want to live where you can eat, shop,” Stockton said. “It’s not like you’re driving a long way to get to places (here).”

    For Lisa Morton, lead listing specialist for Keller Williams real estate team the Premier Group, it’s clear that people flock to Woodstock more than other nearby areas.

    One of the driving factors for that seems to be downtown, where Morton’s company chose to locate because of the “vibrancy” there. Morton said Woodstock’s center has been seeing success for years, even during the Great Recession, when other downtowns in north Georgia were struggling.

    The Towne Lake area is also a “very desirable place to live for all kinds of reasons, the amenities that are there,” she added. 

    Morton said part of Woodstock’s success for homeownership could also be driven by the city’s collaborative work with private businesses that come into the city and spur growth. 

    “I don’t see that these results are being replicated (elsewhere),” she said.

    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Harry Norman Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    http://www.fredyancy.harrynorman.com

  • First mortgage balances rose 2.8% in February

    Posted Under: General Area, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  March 24, 2014 10:37 AM  |  10,693 views  |  No comments

    Equifax: First mortgage balances rose 2.8% in February

    The housing market continued its improvement heading into the busy spring sales season.

    Jacques Couret

    Equifax Inc. uncovered some signs the housing market continued its improvement in February.

    The total balance of first mortgages hit $7.97 trillion in February -- the highest since December 2011, according to Atlanta-based Equifax’s latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report.

    The total balance of first mortgages also was up 2.8 percent -- the biggest year-over-year increase since September 2008, Equifax (NYSE: EFX) noted.

    Delinquent first mortgages (30 or more days past due) were 5.65 percent of outstanding balances, which is down more than 22 percent year-over-year in February.

    The total balance of first mortgages 90 days past due or in foreclosure was less than $270 billion -- a six-year low and a decrease of nearly 27 percent.

    “The decline in mortgage balances from accelerated amortization and foreclosure write-offs has finally been overcome by increases in mortgage debt due to home purchase lending,” said Amy Crews Cutts, Equifax chief economist, in a statement. “This trend should gain additional momentum as we head into the spring and summer home buying seasons, which increases the volume of new loans coming in, while at the same time rising home values and improving employment conditions should push down the incidence of mortgage defaults.”

    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Harry Norman Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    http://www.fredyancy.harrynorman.com

  • Just Believe Your Own Eyes

    Posted Under: General Area, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  February 26, 2014 5:15 AM  |  4,907 views  |  No comments

    Just Believe Your Own Eyes

    by Steve Harney


    2.26 Visual

    Many believe the housing market is in a full out recovery. Others are questioning that assumption. To find out, maybe the only thing we need to do is just open our eyes.

    When my wife and I visited Miami ten years ago, we were amazed at the number of building cranes that lined the streets along the beachfront. There was a wave of buyers descending on the city with pockets full of money. Everywhere you looked, there was a new condo complex going up and each building being constructed required a crane on the property. Back then, the city of Miami looked like the set of a Transformer movie with what seemed like hundreds of these huge mechanical machines marching through the city.

    Then the housing crisis hit.

    Miami property values dropped by over 50%. The buying frenzy cooled.

    The cranes disappeared.

    Today, Miami's house prices are beginning to rebound quite nicely. We purchased a condo in South Beach two years ago and have been happy to experience a nice bump in value already. However, this week we realized the Miami market is definitely back. Why do we know this?

    The cranes are back. 

    From the balcony of our waterfront home we can look at the city skyline. This week we saw a familiar sight. Building cranes dotted that skyline. New buildings are being built. There is a new buzz in Miami. Things are the way we remember them being ten years ago.

    It seems the market is back!

    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Harry Norman Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    http://www.fred.yancy.harrynorman.com

  • Home Prices Rise, Market Challenged by Tight Inventory

    Posted Under: General Area, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  February 22, 2014 4:23 PM  |  5,462 views  |  No comments

    Home Prices Rise, Market Challenged by Tight Inventory


    By: Dona DeZube

    Home prices are rising in many U.S. markets, but headwinds from winter storms, tight inventory, tough credit standards, and rising mortgage interest rates continue to hold back sales.


    A lack of houses for sale continued to lift home prices in much of the country, but also pushed down the number of existing homes sold in January, data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® shows.

    The weather wasn’t helping either. “Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Some housing activity will be delayed until spring.”

    He also blamed slower home sales on headwinds created by tight credit, limited inventory, rising home prices, and higher mortgage interest rates. “These issues will hinder home sales activity until the positive factors of job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact,” Yun said.

    The median existing-home price in January was $188,900, up 10.7% over the past year. The median home price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less.

    The number of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops sold in January dropped 5.1% from a year ago. Last month’s level of activity was the slowest since July 2012.

    Flood Insurance Woes

    NAR President Steve Brown said that in addition to disruptive weather, higher flood insurance rates are affecting the market in areas designated as flood zones, which account for roughly 8%-9% of all markets.

    “Thirty percent of transactions in flood zones were canceled or delayed in January as a result of sharply higher flood insurance rates,” he said. “Since going into effect on Oct. 1, 2013, about 40,000 home sales were either delayed or canceled because of increases and confusion over significantly higher flood insurance rates. The volume could accelerate as the market picks up this spring.”

    Congress is considering legislation to halt new flood insurance rates so the FEMA can complete an affordability study and determine the full impact of the law.


    One factor that’s helping boost prices is a decline in the number of distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — on the market. Distressed homes typically sell at a discount.

    • In January, only 15% of sales were distressed. At this point last year, 24% of sales were distressed.
    • Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16% below market value in January, while short sales were discounted 13%.


    How Long Does It Take to Sell?

    Even though the number of homes for sale rose a slight 2.2% in January, there’s still only a 4.9-month supply of homes for sale nationally at the current sales pace. A supply of 6.0 to 6.5 months represents a rough balance between buyers and sellers.

    Median time on market:

    • All homes: 67 days in January, down from 72 days in December, and 71 days on market in December 2013
    • Short sales: 150 days in January
    • Foreclosures:  58 days
    • Non-distressed homes: 66 days

    Thirty-one percent of homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month.

    Who’s Buying Homes?

    NAR noted some important changes among the population of homebuyers:

    1.  First-time buyers accounted for 26% of purchases in January. That’s the lowest market share for first-time buyers since NAR began monthly measurement in October 2008. In the past, about 40% of home sales involved first-time buyers.

    2.  One-third of sales were to cash buyers.

    3.  Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 20% of homes in January, compared with 21% in December and 19% in January 2013. Seven out of 10 investors paid cash in January.

    Other data from the NAR’s existing home sales survey showed:

     

    Percentage

    Up or Down


    Jan. 2014 Median Price

    Median Price Compared

    with Jan. 2013

    Single-family home salesDown 5.8%$188,900Up 10.4%
    Condo and co-op salesUp 1.8%$188,700Up 13.0%
    Northeast home salesDown 3.1%$241,100Up 6.6%
    Midwest home salesDown 7.1%$140,300Up 7.6%
    South home salesDown 3.5%$161,500Up 9.4%
    West home salesDown 7.3%$273,500Up 14.6%


    Fred Yancy, Broker
    Harry Norman Realtors
    (678) 799-4663
    http://www.fred.yancy.harrynorman.com
  • How to Sell a House With Tenants

    Posted Under: General Area, Home Selling  |  February 22, 2014 4:14 PM  |  782 views  |  No comments

    How to Sell a House With Tenants


    By Brendon DeSimone


    Lazy guy sleeping on couch
    After 2008, many would-be home sellers couldn’t get the price they needed to sell. Or worse, their homes were underwater. And so, some homeowners were forced to become “accidental landlords.”

    This year, as the real estate market continues to rebound in many parts of the country, millions of homeowners will consider getting back in the market. But this time, they’re trying to sell a tenant-occupied home.

    A tenant can make or break your sale. You have to plan well in advance and communicate openly with your tenant to have a successful sale. In some cases, you may even have to postpone it. If you’re the owner of a tenant-occupied property that you want to sell, you’ve essentially got two options. Here’s what you need to know about each.

    Option 1: Wait for the lease to expire

    Most real estate agents would argue that a seller should wait for the rental agreement to expire. Tenants can sometimes be a bit of a wild card in the high-stakes real estate game, so some agents feel it’s best to proceed after the tenant leaves. After that, make some cosmetic fixes to clean up the home and sell it vacant.

    This may be especially important if you have a difficult tenant or one who is unhappy that their home is “being sold out from under them.” The last thing you want, is to make showing the home more difficult — and a disgruntled tenant could easily do that by mucking up paint or leaving his place a mess. The result is that your property looks less appealing to potential buyers, which can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.

    On the other hand, selling a vacant rental unit isn’t always ideal for the seller’s finances. It can take months from the time the home goes on the market until it’s sold; that’s time during which the landlord receives no rent. This can be especially trying for sellers whose homes have been a long-term financial burden.

    Option 2: Sell while the tenant is still there

    It can be beneficial to keep your tenants in your home during the marketing and sales process, provided you have a good relationship with them. Homes show better with furniture, giving buyers a better feeling for what it would be like to live there.

    Ready to sell but have a tenant in place? Do your best to work with them. Most tenants, upon hearing that the landlord would like to sell, immediately start looking for a new place to live. They’d rather just move on and not have to deal with keeping their home clean all the time, showings and phone calls from agents.

    If your home is in a desirable neighborhood, you plan to price it right, and you believe it could sell quickly, use your tenant to your advantage. Lower their rent for a month or two leading up to the showing and/or selling. If you can get them to stay and cooperate through open houses and showings, tell them that you’ll guarantee them enough time to find another place and move. Also, if they’re helping you to get the home sold quickly, offer to help pay their moving costs.

    Give thought to the message, delivery

    Most tenants really don’t want to hold up your sale. Others will protest, and those are the ones who make the headlines or get talked about in real estate war stories.

    If you have difficult tenants and suspect they won’t be cooperative, simply let the lease run out. Or find a way to legally take the home back and sell it vacant. But if you have a good relationship with your tenant, try to work with them. No tenant wants to be surprised with little (or no) notice that they must vacate.

    Ultimately, the success of dealing with a tenant during a sale is less about the message itself, but in how the message is delivered.

    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Harry Norman Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    http://www.fred.yancy.harrynorman.com

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