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Laura Feghali's Blog

By Laura Feghali | Agent in Stamford, CT
  • 4 Key Indicators Necessary For Full Housing Recovery

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  January 24, 2014 10:41 AM  |  301 views  |  1 comment
    Economists are predicting a 5.7% increase in home sales nationally in 2014 but there are 4 key components necessary to obtain a full housing recovery.

    Check it out:


    In order to have a fully recovered housing market and economic recovery, economists point to the need for four positive indicators: 

    1. A healthy job market with low stable unemployment; 

    2. Mortgage delinquencies that have returned to historical averages; 

    3. Home prices consistent with an affordable mortgage payment–to–income ratio; and 

    4. Home sales that are in the range of historical norms. 

    So, is the housing market inching closer? 

    Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for January takes a look at how the housing market is performing among these four indicators. Economists note that the unemployment rate -- while inching down -- still remains high at 6.7 percent. Meanwhile, mortgage delinquencies have fallen to 5.88 percent -- nearly half of their peak rate but still higher than the national average of about 2 percent, Freddie notes. 

    Home prices still have some room to grow without outpacing income growth, economists say. 

    “From 1999–2006, mortgage payments on a hypothetical 30-year fixed-rate mortgage would have increased by 50 percent more than income growth,” Freddie Mac notes in the report. “Currently, payment-to-income ratios are only 60 percent of the level we had in 1999, suggesting room for continued housing growth.” 

    Finally, home sales have risen over the past two years but remain below levels from a nearly a decade ago. Home sales, historically, average a rate of about 6 percent of the housing stock every year. They dropped to 4 percent during the housing crisis. Economists are predicting a 5.7 percent pace in 2014. 

    "As we start 2014, the housing recovery continues its steady pace,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “House-price gains will likely moderate from last year's pace but rise about 5 percent in national indexes. Home sales, as well as other key indicators, continue to trend in the right direction, although in some markets we are seeing the sales recovery strengthen while many others remain weak."

    Source: realtormag.realtor.org

  • Deloitte Signs 15 Year Lease At Stamford's BLT Financial Centre

    Posted Under: General Area in Stamford, Agent2Agent in Stamford, In My Neighborhood in Stamford  |  January 24, 2014 10:23 AM  |  450 views  |  No comments

    Deloitte, one of the world's largest professional services organizations, will be the anchor tenant for the building at 695 East Main St., which previously housed General Reinsurance Corp.'s North American headquarters.  Deloitte will use the new space to consolidate its Wilton and Stamford offices into one location. They are expected to begin operations in the new location by the fourth quarter of 2014.

    Check out the article below for more details:

    "Deloitte is precisely the type of prominent corporate tenant we envisioned for BLT Financial Centre when we acquired the asset and made the commitment to bring it up to the standards of a premier commercial complex," said Carl Kuehner, CEO of Building and Land Technology (BLT). "This lease signing signals a new beginning for the well-located and modernized BLT Financial Centre and a strengthening of Stamford's prominence as a regional business center."

    BLT purchased the vacant property in 2012 and began an extensive renovation and repositioning of the 594,000 square-foot office campus, including renaming it the BLT Financial Centre. Situated on 6.55 acres, the BLT Financial Centre is comprised of two interconnected six-story buildings, the Clock Tower and Main Building. New upgrades underway include a full-service cafeteria with atrium seating, a fitness center and exterior courtyard for special events. Tenants also receive concierge service and shuttle service to the Stamford Transportation Center.

    Source: The Commercial Record

  • Underwater Home Ownership Drops Almost One Third Nationwide

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Connecticut, Financing in Connecticut, Home Ownership in Connecticut  |  December 17, 2013 10:48 AM  |  413 views  |  No comments

    More than 790,000 U.S. homeowners returned to positive equity in Q3, according to a new report from real estate data and analytics provider CoreLogic. That's almost a drop of one third over a year ago. Connecticut is below the national average with 10.5% of mortgages underwater.

    Check out the article below for further details:

    Approximately 6.4 million homes, or 13 percent of the market, remain underwater. That number is down 1.7 percent from Q2, when 7.2 million homes were underwater. Year over year, the number of homes with a mortgage that are underwater has dropped by almost one third, from 10.7 million homes, or 22 percent of the market, in Q3 2012. 

    In Connecticut, 10.5 percent of homes with a mortgage were underwater, below the national average. The state was in the middle of the pack for under-equitied homes, with 17.2 percent of homeowners having less than 20 percent equity and 2.9 percent near-negative equity.

    "Rising home prices continued to help homeowners regain their lost equity in the third quarter of 2013. Fewer than 7 million homeowners are underwater, with a total mortgage debt of $1.6 trillion. Negative equity will decline even further in the coming quarters as the housing market continues to improve," Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, said in a statement.

    CoreLogic cautioned that while the number of homeowners underwater had substantially declined, a large percentage of homeowners have only barely crossed over into positive territory. According to CoreLogic, approximately 48.9 million homes with a mortgage, or 20.4 percent, are under-equitied. Of those, 1.5 million homes, or 3.2 percent, have "near-negative equity" with less than 5 percent equity in their homes, and are at risk of falling underwater again should prices slip. Such borrowers are likely to be ineligible for home equity lines of credit or second mortgages and may find it difficult to refinance.

    Equity gains made this year as prices have recovered have been concentrated in the high end of the housing market, the report suggests. According to CoreLogic, 82 percent of homes valued less than $200,000 have equity, while 92 percent of homes valued at more than $200,000 have equity. 


    Source: The Commercial Record

  • Realtor.com To Back Off Agent Match Pilot Program

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent  |  December 13, 2013 9:49 AM  |  262 views  |  No comments

    The president of Realtor.com announced yesterday that the company would be ending the test marketing of a controversial web application which ranked Realtors on performance metrics. Testing was being conducted in northern Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Check out the article below for more details on the subject:

    "Realtor.com is the consumer website for the National Association of Realtors. Its primary purpose is to connect Realtors with consumers in the digital world. This is a mandate we take seriously," wrote Realtor.com President Errol Samuelson in a letter posted to the site yesterday. "We have concluded the AgentMatch pilot and are working with Realtors across the country to evolve the program and find a better way to highlight their unique attributes."

    The "Agent Match" app allowed visitors to Realtor.com to find active agents in neighborhoods they were house hunting in, displaying criteria such as the number of homes the agent had sold in the area in the past several months and how closely an agent's listing price matched the sale price, using information pulled from local multiple listing services. It was being tested in two markets, Las Vegas and northern Colorado.

    Ever since the site announced they were developing the new product at the annual conference of the National Association of Realtors in November, a chorus of criticism from agents has swelled. Many agents said that the metrics used by the tool to rank agents were not reflective of the true level of service provided by a given agent, and worried that if its use became widespread, newer agents or those who work primarily with buyers would be particularly disadvantaged. Many felt particularly betrayed that Realtor.com, a for-profit site which is operated by Move, Inc. but which licenses the name and logo of their national trade organization, was behind the idea.  

    Samuelson specifically backed away from the primary features of the Agent Match app in describing the decision to end testing on it. 

    "We learned a few things in this experiment. We learned that using an algorithm to ‘match' consumers with Realtors is misguided. A computer cannot find the best Realtor for someone, just like a computer cannot place an accurate value on a home," he wrote, adding "We also learned just how much lies beneath metrics like days on market or list price to sale price ratio. Numbers don't lie, but they don't necessarily tell the whole story, either."

    Source: The Commercial Record

  • FHA Will Reduce Loan Limit Amounts in 2014

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Stamford, Home Buying in Stamford, Financing in Stamford  |  December 9, 2013 10:13 AM  |  456 views  |  No comments

    The Federal Housing Administration will be reducing the amount it’ll insure on high-cost mortgages starting in the new year. Check out the new loan limits below as it affects Fairfield County.

    Beginning on Jan. 1, all FHA loans will be capped in high-cost areas at $625,500, reduced from the current cap of $729,750. FHA will keep its current loan limits in place in areas where housing costs are lower than $271,050. The new loan limit for the highest cost areas will affect about 650 counties, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

    FHA insures loans for buyers with down payments as low as 3.5 percent. The agency raised its limits during the financial crisis to help more home buyers, and the program quadrupled as a result. However, it faced mounting defaults and losses. 

    “As the housing market continues its recovery, it is important for FHA to evaluate the role we need to play,” says FHA Commissioner Carol Galante. “Implementing lower loan limits is an important and appropriate step as private capital returns to portions of the market and enables FHA to concentrate on those borrowers that are still underserved.”

    Source: realtormag.realtor.org

  • Merritt Parkway Lane Closures Week of November 18th

    Posted Under: General Area in Stamford, Traffic & Public Transportation in Stamford, In My Neighborhood in Stamford  |  November 15, 2013 10:49 AM  |  487 views  |  2 comments
    Here are the updates on lane closures and limitations on the Merritt Parkway in the Stamford area beginning on Monday, November 18th.  Plan accordingly.

    The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing that a temporary barrier is being installed along the right shoulders on Route 15 in Stamford and New Canaan.  The barrier work will begin in the southbound direction just north of the Exit 37 off ramp in New Canaan starting Monday night, November 18. 
     
    The project limits extend from the Greenwich town line in Stamford just north of Exit 31, North Street, to the vicinity of Exit 37, Route 124 (South Avenue) in New Canaan.
     
    LANE CLOSURE INFO –
     
    Route 15 NB    
    Monday-Thursday 8 PM to 6 AM
    Friday 8 PM to 11 AM Saturday
    Saturday 7 PM to 10 AM Sunday
    Sunday 8 PM to 6 AM Monday
     
    Route 15 SB
    Monday-Thursday 7 PM to 6 AM following day
    Friday 7 PM to 9 AM Saturday  
    Saturday 7 PM to 10 AM Sunday
    Sunday 9 PM to 6 AM Monday
     
    Ramp Areas
    Monday – Friday 10 AM TO 2 PM and 7 PM to 6 AM
     
    Other Roadways
    Monday – Friday 9 AM to 3 PM and 6 PM to 6 AM
    Saturday and Sunday 6 PM to 10 AM 
     
  • Connecticut Haunted Houses

    Posted Under: General Area in Connecticut, Entertainment & Nightlife in Connecticut, Agent2Agent in Connecticut  |  October 30, 2013 10:18 AM  |  428 views  |  1 comment

    In the spirit of Halloween, here is a link to haunted houses in Connecticut and the surrounding area for your spooky enjoyment!

    http://www.hauntedhouse.com/search/Haunted_Attraction_Directory/_USA_,040All_50_States,041/Connecticut/
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