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By Kyle Jancovech | Broker in Austin, TX
  • 9 Reasons to Buy a House Now !! - Forbes

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Texas, Home Buying in Texas, Financing in Texas  |  November 3, 2011 2:38 PM  |  1,492 views  |  No comments
    If you sleep on it, you won't sleep in it!


    Call Kyle @512-487-0284

  • Austin predicted a "Boom Town" for the next Decade?!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Texas, Home Buying in Texas, Home Selling in Texas  |  July 8, 2011 3:46 PM  |  2,378 views  |  No comments
    Joel Kotkin, New Geographer writes on Forbes.com:


    The Next Big Boom Towns In The U.S.

    Jul. 6 2011 - 2:38 pm | 29,107 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

    What cities are best positioned to grow and prosper in the coming decade?

    To determine the next boom towns in the U.S., Forbes, with the help of Mark Schill at the Praxis Strategy Group, took the 52 largest metro areas in the country (those with populations exceeding 1 million) and ranked them based on various data indicating past, present and future vitality.

    We started with job growth, not only looking at performance over the past decade but also focusing on growth in the past two years, to account for the possible long-term effects of the Great Recession. That accounted for roughly one-third of the score.  The other two-thirds were made up of a a broad range of demographic factors, all weighted equally. These included rates of family formation (percentage growth in children 5-17), growth in educated migration, population growth and, finally, a broad measurement of attractiveness to immigrants — as places to settle, make money and start businesses.

    We focused on these demographic factors because college-educated migrants (who also tend to be under 30), new families and immigrants will be critical in shaping the future.  Areas that are rapidly losing young families and low rates of migration among educated migrants are the American equivalents of rapidly aging countries like Japan; those with more sprightly demographics are akin to up and coming countries such as Vietnam.

    Many of our top performers are not surprising. No. 1 Austin, Texas, and No. 2 Raleigh, N.C., have it all demographically: high rates of immigration and migration of educated workers and healthy increases in population and number of children. They are also economic superstars, with job-creation records among the best in the nation.

    Perhaps less expected is the No. 3 ranking for Nashville, Tenn. The country music capital, with its low housing prices and pro-business environment, has experienced rapid growth in educated migrants, where it ranks an impressive fourth in terms of percentage growth. New ethnic groups, such as Latinos and Asians, have doubled in size over the past decade.

    Two advantages Nashville and other rising Southern cities like No. 8 Charlotte, N.C., possess are a mild climate and smaller scale. Even with population growth, they do not suffer the persistent transportation bottlenecks that strangle the older growth hubs. At the same time, these cities are building the infrastructure — roads, cultural institutions and airports — critical to future growth. Charlotte’s bustling airport may never be as big as Atlanta’s Hartsfield, but it serves both major national and international routes.

    Of course, Texas metropolitan areas feature prominently on our list of future boom towns, including No. 4 San Antonio, No. 5 Houston and No. 7 Dallas, which over the past years boasted the biggest jump in new jobs, over 83,000. Aided by relatively low housing prices and buoyant economies, these Lone Star cities have become major hubs for jobs and families.

    And there’s more growth to come. With its strategically located airport, Dallas is emerging as the ideal place for corporate relocations. And Houston, with its burgeoning port and dominance of the world energy business, seems destined to become ever more influential in the coming decade. Both cities have emerged as major immigrant hubs, attracting on newcomers at a rate far higher than old immigrant hubs like Chicago, Boston and Seattle.

    The three other regions in our top 10 represent radically different kinds of places. The Washington, D.C., area (No. 6) sprawls from the District of Columbia through parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. Its great competitive advantage lies in proximity to the federal government, which has helped it enjoy an almost shockingly   ”good recession,” with continuing job growth, including in high-wage science- and technology-related fields, and an improving real estate market.

    Our other two top ten, No. 9 Phoenix, Ariz., and No. 10 Orlando, Fla., have not done well in the recession, but both still have more jobs now than in 2000. Their demographics remain surprisingly robust. Despite some anti-immigrant agitation by local politicians, immigrants still seem to be flocking to both of these states. Known better s as retirement havens, their ranks of children and families have surged over the past decade. Warm weather, pro-business environments and, most critically, a large supply of affordable housing should allow these regions to grow, if not in the overheated fashion of the past, at rates both steadier and more sustainable.

    Sadly, several of the nation’s premier economic regions sit toward the bottom of the list, notably former boom town Los Angeles (No. 47). Los Angeles’ once huge and vibrant industrial sector has shrunk rapidly, in large part the consequence of ever-tightening regulatory burdens. Its once magnetic appeal to educated migrants faded and families are fleeing from persistently high housing prices, poor educational choices and weak employment opportunities. Los Angeles lost over 180,000 children 5 to 17, the largest such drop in the nation.

    Many of L.A.’s traditional rivals — such as Chicago (with which is tied at No. 47), New York City (No. 35) and San Francisco (No. 42) — also did poorly on our prospective list.  To be sure,  they will continue to reap the benefits of existing resources — financial institutions, universities and the presence of leading companies — but their future prospects will be limited by their generally sluggish job creation and aging demographics.

    Of course, even the most exhaustive research cannot fully predict the future. A significant downsizing of the federal government, for example, would slow the D.C. region’s growth. A big fall in energy prices, or tough restrictions of carbon emissions, could hit the Texas cities, particularly Houston, hard. If housing prices stabilize in the Northeast or West Coast, less people will flock to places like Phoenix, Orlando or even Indianapolis (No.11) , Salt Lake City (No. 12) and Columbus (No. 13). One or more of our now lower ranked locales, like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, might also decide to reform in order to become more attractive to small businesses and middle class families.

    What is clear is that well-established patterns of job creation and vital demographics will drive future regional growth, not only in the next year, but over the coming decade.  People create economies and they tend to vote with their feet when they choose to locate their families as well as their businesses.  This will prove   more decisive in shaping future growth   than the hip imagery and big city-oriented PR flackery that dominate media coverage of America’s changing regions."

    Source:  www.forbes.com

  • 5 Most Common Short Sale and REO Buyer Complaints!!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Texas, Home Buying in Texas, Foreclosure in Texas  |  May 5, 2011 7:49 AM  |  1,569 views  |  No comments
    The following information is from Trulia.com:

    "40% of the homes for sale on today's market are short sales and foreclosures! While they are well known for their discounted value, they also have a reputation for stressing out buyers. Transactional snafus, last-minute surprises and long, drawn-out escrows that never close seem to be par for the course. Instead of steering clear of foreclosures all together, get educated about what typically goes wrong and how you can avoid falling victim.

    Roughly forty percent of the homes for sale on today's market are short sales and foreclosures! Distressed properties are well known for their value (a reputation which is sometimes accurate, and sometimes not), but they also have a reputation for causing buyers to become distressed, too!

    Transactional snafus, last-minute surprises and long, drawn-out escrows that never close seem to be par for the course.

    Instead of avoiding these properties altogether, get educated about the most common dramas that go down in these deals, and how you can avoid falling victim.

    1.  Run-on (and on, and on) escrows.  When you’re buying a home (or selling one, for that matter), time is absolutely of the essence.  And buyers reasonably expect that the big time suck in real estate is in the house hunting process itself; seems like once you find a home you want to buy and the seller agrees to your price and terms, things should move pretty quickly, right?

    Not so much, when it comes to some distressed property sales. I’ve heard tell of the occasional, swiftly-moving escrow on an REO (real estate owned - by the bank). But for the most part, these transactions take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks longer than “regular” sales, because of the extra signatures, supervisor-level approvals and even investor involvement required to seal the deal.  Banks don’t have the same sense of urgency individual home sellers do, and it’s not uncommon for the people who need to sign on the dotted line to be on vacation or scattered across the country, adding days’ or weeks’ worth of time to the escrow.

    And short sales are also an entirely different animal when it comes to escrow timelines. While a standard sale from an individual seller to an individual buyer might take 45 days from contract to closing, a short sale can take anywhere from 45 days to 6 or 8 months (!) to get the deal closed, after the seller has accepted the contract.

    Avoid the drama by: expecting your escrow to run long, and being pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.  Expectation management is everything. Make sure you take these extended timelines into account when you’re working with your mortgage broker on the issue of when to lock your interest rate, and how long your rate locks will last. You might even need to plan on and/or set aside an allowance for the cost of extending your low interest rate, if rates are rising rapidly during the time you’re waiting for the deal to be done.

    2.  Bank won't take lowball offer.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve received a question from an outraged reader to the effect that a buyer has had their short sale or REO offer rejected on grounds that it was too low,  even though the bank has no other offers, I could buy a foreclosure myself (admittedly, it’d be one of those $150 foreclosures in some blighted town with tax liens and no plumbing, but still).

    Banks owe their shareholders and investors a duty to get as much as they can for these properties. Just because you see it’s on the market and listed as a short sale or a foreclosure doesn’t mean they’re going to give it to you for a fraction of its worth. The bank’s goal is to get a purchase price as close as possible to the home’s fair market value, as determined by the recent sales prices of similar, nearby homes, with some adjustments made for the property’s condition.  Fact is, many banks would rather see the listing agent reduce the price by a moderate amount, and wait to see what offers come in, than to accept an offer 30 percent below the asking price just because there are no other offers on the table.

    Avoid the drama by:  working with your agent to make a realistic offer, based on recent comparable sales in the neighborhood, not just on what you think you can get away with.  You can waste a lot of time, spin a lot of wheels and lose out on a lot of properties making lowball offer after lowball offer on distressed homes. Sit down with your broker or agent, review the ‘comps’ and make a smart offer that reflects a good value for you, is within your budget and is not bizarrely out of the realm of the fair market value of the property.

    3.  Last minute postponements/cancellations.  These transactions have an uncanny way of being delayed at the last minute - or never going through at all, through no fault of the wanna-be buyer. You signed docs yesterday, put your dog in the crate this morning and just hopped in the moving truck, only to get a text from your broker that the deal didn’t close because the escrow company which was selected by the bank flubbed the checkboxes on a single sheet of paper (it happens). Or, you’ve been in contract (with the seller) on a short sale for four months, and the bank refuses the sale entirely because the seller refuses to kick even $1 of their own cash into the deal, despite having a flush savings account.

    Avoid the drama by:  staying as flexible as possible with your moving plans as long as possible.  Best practice is to plan on some overlap between the time you can be in your last place and your scheduled move-in date.  Also, if you’re in contract on a short sale, you should take the point of view that you don't have a firm deal until you get the bank’s approval of the transaction. So don’t even think about starting to make moving plans or paying for home inspections and appraisals until you know the bank has greenlit the deal and that the purchase price and terms they’ve approved work for both you and the seller.

    4.  The bank’s black box.   Make an offer on a normal home and you’re likely to know what the outcome will be within a few hours or a few days, at the outside. If things take longer because the seller is out of town or some such, the listing agent tells you that, and you at least know what’s going on.

    Make an offer on a bank-owned property or a short sale?  It’s a crap shoot - could be days, but could also, easily, be weeks or months before you know what’s going on.  And no amount of calling, pleading, prodding or nudging is likely to get you much information on how your offer or the seller’s short sale application is being handled or what (if any) progress is being made.  And that “black box” into which your offer disappears at the benk level is very frustrating.

    Avoid the drama by:  continuing your house hunt until you have an answer back.  Maniacally pestering the listing agent for answers or harrassing your buyer’s broker into spending hours on hold with the bank is highly unlikely to get you any insight. (With that said, it does make sense for your agent to check in regularly - sometimes even daily -  with a short sale or REO listing agent to stay updated on any developments with the property and to make sure your offer/transaction stays in the front of their mind.)  

    Most of the angst in these situations arises when a buyer feels they passed on properties that would have really worked for them when they pinned their hopes on a distressed home.  You can only control your efforts and activities, not the bank’s.  So, consult with your own broker or agent about staying proactive in viewing and even pursuing other properties until you have a firm “yes” from the bank on your short sale or REO offer.  Until that time, and usually for a short time after you get the bank's approval, you have the right to back out of the transaction if you need to (make sure your broker briefs you on precisely when your right to rescind your offer or exercise contingencies - i.e., bail - will expire).

    5.  Double standards. In a “regular” equity sale with no bank involvement, both buyer and seller are obligated to meet various timelines.  Seller has to provide disclosures by X date, open the property to inspections - with utilities on - by Y, and close and move out by Z.  REO and short sale buyers, on the other hand, are often dismayed to find that  even though the bank might take weeks or months to sign or handle its deliverables, the bank will insist that the buyer show up, sign or send a check quick-like.

    Avoid the drama by: chalking it up to the (admittedly irritating) way things are - the price you pay to buy from the bank.  Realize that working with the bank on the bank’s terms is unavoidable when you buy a distressed property. Then, go into the deal with realistic expectations - including the expectation that the bank will drag its feet, despite expecting you to keep every deadline - and you’ll be less frustrated, and less likely to make poor decisions out of frustration.

    Also, make sure you do respond in a timely manner to the bank’s requests and your obligations under the contract.  I’ve seen banks capitalize on buyer delays in returning signatures and removing contingencies to accept higher offers they received in the interim.  Don’t lose your home on a technicality because you assume that the bank’s lackadaisacal timelines apply to you as well."

    Source: Trulia.com

  • Texas is on fire; All my support to the Firefighters!

    Posted Under: General Area in Texas, In My Neighborhood in Texas  |  April 20, 2011 5:54 PM  |  1,682 views  |  No comments
    All my support to the firefighters fighting wildfires.  Lack of rain, hot temperatures, and high winds fuel the wildfires throughout Texas. 


    The following information is from CNN.com:

    "Texas burning 'from border to border'

    By the CNN Wire Staff
    April 20, 2011 12:57 p.m. EDT
    • NEW: Evacuation orders were lifted for Coke County and Palo Pinto, Texas
    • Possum Kingdom resident Jackie Fewell has set up a blog to provide updates
    • New fires emerge in Stephens and Garza counties in northern Texas
    • Emergency personnel responded Tuesday to 10 new fires

    Read more about this story from CNN affiliates WFAA and KTVT. Are you there? Share your photos and video.

    Dallas (CNN) -- Texas firefighters Wednesday battled blazes that have scorched more than one million acres and have been burning for more than a week, according to the Texas Forest Service.

    "We're actually seeing Texas burn from border to border. We've got it in west Texas, in east Texas, in north Texas, in south Texas -- it's all over the state," Forest Service spokeswoman April Saginor told CNN Radio. "We've got one in the Dallas area that's four fires that have actually merged together."

    Saginor said firefighters from 34 states are now in Texas battling blazes that, over the past two weeks, have destroyed more than 170 homes.

    "Some (fires) are over 100,000 acres and they've been burning for over a week, so that's our priority right now," Saginor said, "to put out the big ones."

    High-res photos: Wildfires blaze across Texas

    Firefighter Greg Simmons died Friday trying to extinguish the East Sidwynicks fire in Eastland County. His funeral was scheduled for Wednesday at Cowboy Church in Olden.

    Five other volunteer firefighters have been injured by the East Sidwynicks fire, which has burned 3,000 acres.

    Another firefighter was treated and released from a hospital in Graham after his bulldozer clipped a gas line and caused an explosion.

    Western wildfires eat up Texas
    Wildfires continue to race across Texas
    Fires races across Texas
    Fighting wildfires in Texas

    "The state of Texas is under siege," Saginor said. "Wildfire is dangerous and it's threatening homes, lives and property on a daily basis. We caution residents to take this threat seriously and heed the call of their local authorities when told to evacuate."

    On Tuesday, emergency personnel responded to 10 new fires across more than 2,000 acres, according to the Texas Forest Service.

    There was a chance for a brief break Wednesday from the dry weather and high winds blamed for the spreading wildfires, according to the National Weather Service
    . But more fires emerged early in the day in Stephens and Garza counties in northern Texas, where officials are trying to contain blazes that have burned nearly 3,000 acres.

    Since January 1, the Texas Forest Service said, it has responded to more than 800 fires that have damaged some 5,000 structures across 1.4 million acres.

    Fire-friendly conditions are expected to return Thursday in various parts of the state, the National Weather Service said.

    "Even if we get two inches of rain the ground's going to eat it up," said David Hennig, a Weather Service meteorologist in Midland, Texas. "We need a pattern shift."

    Wildfire ravages home but spares family roosters

    West Texas averages nearly 15 inches of rain a year, according to Hennig. In the past six months, only 13-hundredths of an inch of rain has been recorded in that part of the state. While October through March is typically the dry season, that amount of rainfall is far below what it should be, Hennig said.

    He said weather models show the possibility of more storms this weekend and perhaps next week. While the rain is needed, storms accompanied by lightning pose a fire risk, he said.

    Not all of Texas will get a reprieve from the tinderbox weather Wednesday. The Guadalupe Mountains face an extreme risk of fire through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

    Van Horn, Texas, which is 165 miles west of Odessa, is expected to face a critical fire threat on Thursday, as well as the nearby state Highway 54 corridor and the southeast New Mexico plains.

    Texas Forest Service: Fire dangers and advisories

    Firefighters in Texas had to contend with 11 new fires Tuesday in addition to carryover blazes.

    Massive flames forced the evacuation of at least three towns and brought widespread damage to several parched counties west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area Tuesday, authorities said. Helicopters and other aircraft aided the firefighting.

    One of the largest fires plaguing Texas rampaged between the towns of Graham and Graford.

    That fire, less than 70 miles west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, burned into residential areas surrounding Possum Kingdom Lake Monday night, destroying and damaging homes in four or five neighborhoods, according to Marq Webb, a spokesman with the Texas Forest Service.

    Aerial images shot Tuesday by CNN affiliate WFAA showed some homes on the edge of Possum Kingdom Lake burned down to the foundations, swaths of charred vegetation and heavy smoke hanging over parts of the area. Still, numerous homes appeared to have escaped the flames, some of them next to houses that had been destroyed.

    Share your photos and video

    Possum Kingdom resident Jackie Fewell set up a blog to provide updates on the crisis since fire warnings first were extended to the 3,000-home lake community.

    "I was frustrated by a lot of misinformation that was being passed around by a lot of well-intentioned people through Facebook and text-messaging," she said.

    Fewell set up the blog Saturday as a part of the website for Pondera properties, the lake's managing real-estate company, where she works.

    "We have been able to generate this incredible response," Fewell said, noting the site has served as a bridge between residents in need of help and those able to provide it.

    "We get remarks from people all over needing help," she said. "If we put out a query to get 200 leather gloves to the area, we'll have those gloves within a few days."

    Crews protect Texas observatory with fire of their own

    Fewell said uses for the site have ranged from saving abandoned pets to providing real-time updates on properties threatened by the blaze.

    Aerial video shot near the community Tuesday by CNN affiliate KTVT showed massive flames and smoke still in the area. Helicopters and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft outfitted with specialized firefighting equipment roared overhead, dumping water and fire retardant on the flames.

    More than 600 homes were threatened by the Possum Kingdom Complex fire, which involved more than 147,065 acres in Stephens, Palo Pinto and Young counties on Tuesday, the Forest Service said earlier.

    Young County Sheriff Bryan Walls estimated the fire covered 200,000 acres in the three counties.

    The Palo Pinto County Sheriff's office said it evacuated 200 residents from the town of Palo Pinto and moved them to shelters. Two buses were sent to evacuate jail inmates, said Deputy Randy Hunter. That evacuation order was lifted Wednesday afternoon after fire officials assured authorities it was safe for residents to return home.

    Earlier, in an interview with CNN affiliate KDAF, Palo Pinto resident Joe Lee said he and his wife hadn't decided where they would go before they evacuated, so they parked their trailer on the shoulder of Highway 180 and watched a cloud of smoke coming toward them.

    "If they don't let us back in, there are several trailer parks in Mineral Wells," Lee said. "But if they do, we'll go back."

    The communities of Graford and Strawn were also evacuated, the Forest Service said.

    Graham resident Bailey Barnett had already had to flee after ash as thick as snow began falling around her home.

    The area remained under threat, but Barnett, who is pregnant with her first child, had another reason to worry: Her husband, she said, is a volunteer working on the fires with the Graham Fire Department.

    "It's been really, really, stressful," Barnett said Tuesday. "I don't think a lot of people realize how bad it is."

    Dianne Simpson told CNN affiliate KSAN that she and her husband watched nervously as a wildfire approached their house near the Tom Green County-Coke County line, where residents had evacuated.

    "We just sat out here on the deck and watched it burn, and it was just pretty devastating," Simpson said. "You're just sitting here going 'There's nothing I can do.' "

    According to KSAN, the blaze stopped just 330 yards from the Simpsons' house.

    By Wednesday, the evacuation order for Coke County had been lifted, according to Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Saginor.

    Fires have burned in 252 of the state's 254 counties since December 21."

    source:  www.cnn.com

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