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By The Cascade Team Real Estate | Broker in Issaquah, WA
  • 'Beverly Carter, You Left a Legacy'

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 30, 2014 12:39 PM  |  2 views  |  No comments

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    Heavy hearts weighed on the real estate community Tuesday as condolences from practitioners around the country poured in for the loss of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter, who was found dead days after going missing following a home showing in a rural area just outside of Little Rock.

    "My heart is broken for Beverly's family," reads one of dozens of comments left on a Facebook page in Carter's memory. "Just looking at her picture, her sweet eyes tell you she had a kind heart and loving spirit. I will be lifting you all up in prayer for strength, comfort, and peace."

    "Beverly, you left a legacy," reads another comment, which was posted along with a video of singer Nichole Nordeman's "Legacy."

    Carter's disappearance grabbed national headlines when it sparked a massive search for her whereabouts that involved hundreds of volunteers. The 49-year-old agent had been showing a vacant bank-owned property on Thursday in Scott, Ark., before she went missing.

    "As both a REALTOR® and an Arkansan, I am saddened by this morning's news of Beverly Carter's untimely death," NAR 2014 President-Elect Chris Polychron said in a statement. "My heart goes out to her family, her friends, her co-workers, and everyone whose life Beverly touched in her 49 years with us. Working in real estate involves risk, and, unfortunately, that risk takes many forms. As an industry, we collectively work very hard to promote safety awareness among our members. We are fully committed to educating REALTORS® about potential threats and providing them with resources to protect themselves. I urge all REALTORS® to honor Beverly Carter by keeping safe and looking out for each other."

    Arron Lewis, 33, a suspect in Carter's disappearance, was arrested on Monday. "Lewis admitted ... to kidnapping Beverly Carter, but would not divulge her whereabouts," the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office said at the time. Police say Lewis will be charged with capital murder.

    Investigators said shortly after Lewis was apprehended, they were able to obtain additional information that led them to Carter's body, which was found in a shallow grave.

    Carter had called her husband on Thursday to tell him the address of the home she was showing prior to the 5:30 p.m. appointment. She was to show two other properties that day but failed to make the other appointments. Her husband, Carl Carter, later reported his wife missing after not hearing from her for several hours. He also went to the address of the home she had provided him and found her brown Cadillac still parked outside with her purse inside. The door to the residence was left open, but she was not inside.

    Lewis, who was on parole for previous offenses, had been involved in a traffic accident Sunday. Police found his car on top of a concrete culvert, and Lewis told police that a car had run him off the road, according to police reports. Witnesses, however, reported that Lewis was traveling at high speed prior to the crash. Paramedics had taken Lewis to the hospital and treated him for face injuries, but he was not arrested in connection with Carter's disappearance at that time. An arrest warrant was issued later Sunday.

    Police say there had been activity on Carter's cell phone after her disappearance, including text messages. CBS11 Arkansas reported that Carl received three mysterious texts from his wife's phone at about 1 a.m. Friday, which he says did not sound like her.

    "All of a sudden I received three texts in a row," he told CBS11. "One said, 'Yes.'… Then she sent another text that said, 'My phone's low. The battery's down, and I'll call you whenever I get signal.' … And then, straight back-to-back, I received a text that said 'Oh, I'm out drinking with some friends.' … Beverly's not a drinker. … We just want our mom back, and my wife of 35 years. … I need her."

    Carter's death places an unfortunate emphasis on REALTOR® Safety Month, which occurs every September, and has prompted many practitioners to call for safer practices in the real estate occupation.

    "This is not a time for speculation of what she should've done, but a time of reminder for what we all need to be doing to assure safety in this industry," Brian Copeland, GRI, CIPS, of Village Real Estate Services in Nashville, Tenn., writes on Facebook. "Consumers, understand when we are cautious and ask you to provide items you think are a waste of your time. REALTORS® have a value way beyond a website or commission. REALTORS® create, study, and share safety procedures, and get to a safety class when they are offered at your association and brokerage. While Beverly's death has no purpose, let's try to honor her by being understanding consumers and smart REALTORS®. Now, God rest our sister."

    Source: REALTOR® Magazine, “Body of Missing Arkansas Real Estate Agent Found in Shallow Grave,” CNN (Sept. 30, 2014), and “Timeline: Arkansas REALTOR® Found Dead; Suspect in Custody,” CBS11 Arkansas (Sept. 30, 2014)


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  • Purchase Contracts Dip in August

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 30, 2014 12:38 PM  |  3 views  |  No comments

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    Pending home sales slowed in August, with all regions posting declines except for the West, according to the National Association of REALTORS®' 
    Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings. NAR says that fewer distressed sales and less investor activity most likely contributed to August's decline in contract signings.

    The index slipped 1 percent in August, falling 2.2 percent below year-ago levels, NAR reports. However, the index was at 104.7 in August. Anything above 100 is considered an average level of contract activity, according to NAR.

    "Fewer distressed homes at bargain prices and the acknowledgment that we're entering a rising-interest-rate environment likely caused hesitation among investors last month," says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "With investors pulling back, the market is shifting more toward traditional and first-time buyers who rely on mortgages to purchase a home."

    However, first-time home buyers have made up less of the market share in recent years, representing less than a third of all buyers each month for the past two years. Yun expects first-time buyers to gradually resurface, despite persistent tight credit conditions.

    "The employment outlook for young adults is brightening, and their incomes finally appear to be rising," Yun says. "Jobs and income gains will help repay student debt and better position first-time buyers, setting the stage for improved sales growth in upcoming years."

    Yun expects existing-home sales to strengthen in the second half of the year as inventory conditions improve. He expects existing-home sales to slip 3 percent overall and the median existing-home price to grow between 5 and 6 percent this year.

    Regional Breakdown

    Here's a snapshot of the Pending Home Sales Index across the country in August:

    • Northeast: The index slipped 3 percent to 86.5 but remains 1.6 percent above year-ago levels.
    • Midwest: The index dropped 2.1 percent to 102.4 and is 7.6 percent below August 2013 levels.
    • South: The index fell 1.4 percent to 117, holding steady compared to year-ago levels.
    • West: The index increased 2.6 percent in August, the fourth consecutive month of gains, but remains 2.6 percent below year-ago levels.

    Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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  • Real Estate Industry's Technology 'Blind Spot'

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 30, 2014 12:37 PM  |  2 views  |  No comments

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    More real estate professionals are adopting technology to better assist buyers and sellers, and practitioners' clients are eagerly incorporating technology into their purchasing behaviors. But technology can only drive a relationship so far in a real estate transaction, a new survey suggests.

    Two distinct phases of a home purchase process are emerging: shopping and buying, according to a new survey by ERA Real Estate of about 1,000 consumers and more than 1,800 real estate professionals.

    "While our survey reveals that real estate professionals have expanded their communication channels and adopted an 'always on' mentality to meet the changing consumer demands growing out of a technology-enabled shopping landscape, once consumers enter the buying phase of the transaction, they realize the benefit of the personal, face-to-face service a sales professional can provide to ensure a smooth transaction process," says Charlie Young, president and CEO of ERA Real Estate.

    Consumers say they don't just value technology-enabled communication, but also flexible scheduling and informal meetings and personal advise and counsel, the ERA survey found.

    Consumers reported the highest level of confidence at the onset of home buying or selling, at 84 percent. But once their search was underway, 43 percent of respondents say they struggled with a lack of market knowledge and not understanding the process. Ninety-one percent say their relationship with their sales professional was important to them.

    "This technology 'blind spot' is perpetuated by the 'swipe-and-go' coffee experience, but as we all know, buying a home is far more involved," Young says. "The good news is that today's home buyers and sellers can access a wealth of information from a variety of platforms, whether that be desktop, mobile, or tablet. In this technology-assisted environment, well-informed consumers are collaborating with experienced sales associates to work together in achieving the dream of home ownership."

    Source: ERA Real Estate


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  • Bank Accused of Driving Borrowers Into Foreclosure

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 30, 2014 12:35 PM  |  2 views  |  No comments

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    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is accusing Flagstar Bank of stonewalling more than 2,000 borrowers and leading them into foreclosure over the last three years.

    The agency says that the Michigan-based bank failed to process loan modification applications in a timely manner — in some cases, taking up to nine months when a review should have only taken a few days. CFPB says the bank was understaffed, with just 25 employees and a third-party contractor in charge of handling 13,000 applications at one point in time.

    Flagstar has been fined $27.5 million to go toward the 6,500 victims who faced delays, including 2,000 who underwent a foreclosure because of the bank's actions, CFPB says. The bank also faces an additional $10 million civil penalty. It has been barred from acquiring certain types of new business until the government reviews its operations further. It also must undergo active loss-mitigation efforts for current loans, including a door-knocking campaign.

    CFPB accused the bank of causing some borrowers' applications to expire or miss deadlines due to the review delays as well as taking too long to approve or deny loan modifications when foreclosures were pending. The bank was also accused of failing to notify borrowers that their applications were incomplete or giving them resources on how they could appeal decisions, which is required. The CFPB also accused the bank of leaving borrowers in an expensive "trial period purgatory" for loan modifications that could increase the borrowers' loan amount.

    Flagstar agreed to pay the fines but did not admit any wrongdoing from the government's allegations.

    "This resolution is in the bank's best interest," says Alessandro DiNello, president and CEO for Flagstar. "The dedicated employees of Flagstar Bank have completed thousands of successful loan modifications and work incredibly hard to meet and exceed the needs of our customers. With this matter now behind us, everyone at Flagstar Bank is committed to building on the significant progress we have achieved while continuing to operate with integrity, responsiveness, and a commitment to our core values."

    Source: “Bank’s ‘Repeated Failures’ Led to 2,000 Foreclosures, Feds Say,” CNNMoney (Sept. 29, 2014) and “Bank Allegedly Stonewalled 2,000 Home Owners Into Foreclosure,” Credit.com (Sept. 29, 2014)


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  • Behind the Texas Housing Boom

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 30, 2014 12:34 PM  |  2 views  |  No comments

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    More Americans are heading to the Lone Star State, with Texas having the largest net gain of new residents than any other state in the latest Census and boasting some of the fastest-growing major cities. Texas saw a net gain of more than 387,000 residents in the latest Census for 2013. Austin has become the fastest-growing major city, too.

    During the years of the housing boom, populations grew the fastest in high-priced markets such as New York and San Francisco. But now those population gains are heading to Texas and other heartland states, such as Oklahoma and Utah.

    What's got everyone flocking to Texas lately? Jobs and affordable housing, CNNMoney reports.

    Nela Richardson, chief economist for real estate brokerage Redfin, says that nine of the 10 fastest-growing metro areas last year were ones where homes were more affordable than the U.S. average.

    Texas still has plenty of affordable land surrounding its major cities and regulations that make it relatively easy for developers to build quickly, which makes it more of a boon for affordable housing than some other parts of the country.

    Five Texas cities — Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Forth Worth — were among the top 20 fastest-growing large metro areas. Smaller Texas metro areas, such as oil-rich Odessa and nearby Midland, also reported population gains.

    Austin is particularly showing signs of a boom. The city's population rose by 2.6 percent between 2012 and 2013 — nearly four times faster than the U.S. as a whole. Job growth there is expected to average 4 percent a year through 2015, according to Moody's Analytics. What's more, the median income of more than $75,000 is 20 percent higher than the national median. Also, the median home price is $243,000 in Austin, which is higher than the U.S. average but sustainable with the higher incomes there, housing analysts say. 

    Source: “Why Everybody Is Moving to Texas,” CNNMoney (Sept. 29, 2014)


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  • When Mortgage Rates Rise...

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 29, 2014 1:44 PM  |  17 views  |  No comments

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    Mortgage rates have hovered around yearly lows for weeks. But with rate-hike forecasts looming, can buyers count on borrowing costs to stay low?

    Many economists are now predicting the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to reach 5 percent by the middle of the next year, The New York Times reports. On Friday, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.20 percent. The hike in rates is partially due to the Federal Reserve’s plan to withdraw from buying mortgage-backed securities.

    Economists note that while a 5 percent mortgage rate is low by historical standards, such an increase still has the potential of reducing buying power in a home purchase. For example: According to some estimates, a 1 percent increase in interest rates can raise a monthly mortgage payment on a typical home by more than $700 in pricier parts of the country. The increase would likely be much more modest in other, less expensive markets.

    But even in the case of rate hikes up to 7 percent, the analysis found that homes remain affordable overall. From 1985 to 2000, home owners’ housing costs—including the principal and interest on a median-priced home—accounted for 22 percent of a home owners’ median household income. However, for comparison, today’s households are spending about 15 percent of their median income on a median-priced home.

    Source: “When Mortgage Rates Rise,” The New York Times (Sept. 25, 2014)


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  • Arkansas Agent Missing Days After Showing

    Posted Under: General Area in Issaquah, Home Buying in Issaquah, Home Selling in Issaquah  |  September 29, 2014 1:43 PM  |  16 views  |  No comments

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    Police continue to search for Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter, 49, who vanished after showing a home in Scott, Ark., on Thursday. More than 100 volunteers continue to comb the Little Rock area looking for the missing Crye-Leike REALTOR® agent.

    On Sunday, police issued an arrest warrant for Aaron M. Lewis, 33, in connection with the disappearance. But police have failed to provide any details as to why or how they believe Carter is linked with the disappearance. Police are still looking for Lewis, who faces a charge of kidnapping in connection to Carter’s disappearance. Lewis reportedly has visible facial injuries he sustained in a car accident earlier Sunday. He was treated at a hospital for his injuries, but fled before the arrest warrant was issued.

    The last anyone has heard from Carter was Thursday, when she phoned her husband to tell him the address of where she’d be. She was meeting an unidentified prospective buyer at a vacant bank-owned property around 5:30 p.m. She was to show two other properties that day but never made it to the other appointments.

    Carl Carter later reported his wife missing on Thursday, after not hearing from her for several hours. He'd also gone to the address she'd provided him and found her brown Cadillac still parked outside, with her purse inside. The door to the residence was left open, but she was not inside.

    Police say there has been activity on her cell phone since her disappearance.

    Facebook page launched about Carter’s disappearance has been followed by more than 27,200 people as of Monday morning. The page is filled with words of support for Carter and her family as well as REALTORS® from across the country talking about the issue of safety within the industry.

    "I feel like I'm in a fog, or a horrible nightmare from which I can't awaken," Beverly Carter's son wrote on a Facebook post. "She needs us, and we must continue to pray [and] brainstorm ways to find her."

    Source: “REALTOR® Vanishes on the Job; Arrest Warrant Issued for Suspect,” CNN (Sept. 28, 2014) and “Authorities Search for Person of Interest in Disappearance of Arkansas Real Estate Agent,” FoxNews.com (Sept. 29, 2014)

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