Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10 reasons you should buy a home now

10 reasons you should buy a home now

1. You can get a good deal
You can get a house at a bargain price now -- especially if you play hardball. This is a buyer's market. Most of the other buyers have vanished since the tax credits on purchases expired.

We're four to five years into the biggest housing bust in modern U.S. history. And prices have come down a long way -- about 30% from their peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Indices, which track home prices in cities across the country. Yes, it's mixed. New York's prices are down only 20%. Arizona's have been halved.

Will prices fall further? Sure, they could. You probably won't catch the bottom, but it doesn't really matter so much in the long haul.

2. Mortgages are cheap
You can get a 30-year home loan for about 4.3%. What's not to like? These are the lowest rates on record. As recently as two years ago, they were about 6.3%. That drop slashes your monthly repayment by a fifth.

If inflation picks up, you won't see these mortgage rates again. And if we get deflation and rates fall further, you can refinance.

3. You'll save on taxes
You can deduct mortgage interest from your income taxes. You can deduct your real-estate taxes. And you'll get a tax break on capital gains -- if any -- when you sell.

Sure, you'll need to do your math. You'll get the income tax break only if you itemize your deductions, and you may be better off taking the standard deduction instead. The tax breaks are more valuable the more you earn and the bigger your mortgage. But many people will find that these breaks mean owning costs them less, often a lot less, than renting.

4. It'll be yours
When you own, you can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension -- zoning permitted -- or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible.

Also, you'll feel better about your home if you own it. Many years ago, when I was working for a political campaign in England, I toured a working-class northern town. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had just begun selling off public housing to the tenants.

"You can tell the ones that have been bought," said my local guide. "They've painted the front door. It's the first thing people do when they buy."

It was a small sign that said something big.

5. You'll get a better home
In many parts of the country, it can be hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks.

But this is a case-by-case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. Generally speaking, however, if you want a good home in the best neighborhood, you're better off buying.

6. It offers some inflation protection
Although housing can't entirely protect you from inflation, studies by professor Karl "Chip" Case, of Case-Shiller, and others suggest that over the long term, housing has tended to beat inflation by a couple of percentage points a year. That's valuable inflation insurance, especially if you're young, raising a family and thinking about the next 30 or 40 years.

In the recent past, inflation-protected government bonds or Treasury inflation-protected securities offered easier forms of inflation insurance. But yields there have plummeted of late. That also makes homeownership look a little better by contrast.

7. It's risk capital
Your home isn't the stock market, and you shouldn't view it as a way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real-estate prices will head up again, too.

One lesson from the past few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities -- for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy -- if it happens -- and still managing to sleep at night.

8. It's forced savings
If you can rent an apartment for $2,000 a month instead of buying one for $2,400 a month, renting may make sense. But will you save that $400 for your future? Most people won't.

Once again, you have to do the math, but the part of your mortgage payment that goes to principal repayment isn't a cost. You're just paying yourself by building equity. As a forced monthly saving, it's a good discipline.

9. There's a lot to choose from
There is a glut of homes in most of the country. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's below last year's peak but well above typical levels and enough for about a year's worth of sales.

More homes keep coming onto the market, too, as the banks slowly unload their inventory of unsold properties. That means great choice as well as great prices.

10. Sooner or later, the market will clear
Demand and supply will meet. The U.S. population is forecast to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means maybe 40 million new households looking for homes.

Meanwhile, this housing glut will work itself out. Many of the homes will be bought. But many more will simply be destroyed -- deliberately or by inaction. This is already happening. Even two years ago, when I toured western Florida, I saw bankrupt condo developments that were fast becoming derelict.

And, finally, a lot of the glut simply won't matter to you. It's concentrated in a few areas, such as Florida and Nevada. Unless you live there, the glut won't have any long-term impact on housing supply in your town.

Article found on MSNMoney.com.

For more information on taking advantage of this buyers market contact the Andrea Crossman Group.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Odds and Ins Around Holland Michigan

The Macatawa Watershed has been drastically altered and wetlands removed over the past 100-or-so years. Artificial wetlands, although not as effective as natural ones, will help to filter water as it returns to the watershed. They also provide a habitat for native plants and animals. LG Chem’s $300 million lithium-ion battery plant on the south side of Holland includes a little more than two acres of wetlands. By law, LG has to create 1.5 times that amount of artificial wetlands. So to obided by the laws LG has started building artifical wetlands at Van Raalte Farm on 16th Street. Right now, it looks like a giant pile of dirt that is thousands of yards of fill coming from an LG project to build two ponds with a berm in between. About this pile of dirt the Parks and Recreation Director Gray Gogolin said. “It’s not anything permanent.” The company also will pay to plant native species as well as build trails around the ponds and integrate them into the farm’s existing trail system.

Perrigo Job Fair
Hundreds of people lined-up at a job fair Tuesday, hoping to land a job with a West Michigan drug company. Perrigo is hiring up to 70 people for its Holland and Allegan locations. The hugh turnout shows how tough the local job market remains. Many of the applicants who lined up at the Holland Michigan Works! office were among the long-term unemployed, people whose job searches have extended from months into years. The prevalence of long-term unemployment may be one reason that use of Michigan’s Bridge Card for food assistance has risen sharply in Ottawa County (up 42.9 percent in 2009 to an astounding 13,172 families). As we and others have written on this page many times, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the Holland area economy, but it’s clear we have a long, long way to go to make a real dent in the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed.

Statics for Holland Area

Existing home sales rise, supply edges down
Sales of previously owned homes rose in September, but remained at subdued levels that did little to undermine the case for additional monetary stimulus next week from the Federal Reserve. Existing home sales increased for a second straight month, rising 10 percent from August to an annual rate of 4.53 million units, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday. Although the increase far exceeded economists' expectations for a 4 percent rise to a 4.30 million-unit pace, they remained below the 5 million-unit pace normally associated with a healthy market.

"The September data shows that the post-tax-credit bust in home sales has come to an end and we are now on a gradual recovery path," said Zach Pandl, a U.S. economist at Nomura Securities International in New York. U.S. stocks extended gains on the report, while Treasury debt prices were steady at higher levels. The U.S. dollar trimmed losses versus the euro. The report came ahead of the Federal Reserve's meeting next week at which policymakers are expected to decide to inject more money into the economy through bond purchases, to drive borrowing costs down further and stimulate demand.The Fed cut overnight interest rates to near zero in December 2008 and has already bought about $1.7 trillion worth of Treasury and mortgage-related debt.
The housing market is showing signs of having bottomed after hefty declines in the aftermath of the end of a popular tax credit for home buyers. Activity, however, remains very subdued and recovery will be very slow given a 9.6 percent unemployment rate. Last month, the inventory of previously owned homes for sale fell 1.9 percent to 4.04 million units from August, representing a supply of 10.7 months. The national median home price fell 2.4 percent from September last year to $171,700.

But an investigation into the processing of foreclosures by some banks is casting a cloud over the housing market, which was the main catalyst of the 2007-09 recession.
There are concerns that the investigation could slow the housing market correction as banks hold back foreclosures. "The current foreclosure (situation) is a potential negative. Less foreclosures mean the supply of these homes for sale will go down and people will be more reluctant to buy them," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global in New York. According to the NAR foreclosed properties constitute about 20 percent of homes on the market. The Realtors group cautioned against any government mandated moratorium. Last month foreclosed properties accounted for 23 percent of sales while short sales made up 12 percent.

More Facts about area Townships

Building Permits from January 2010 to date
The total number of building permits in Park, Holland, Laketown, and Saugtuck townships from January 2010 to October 2010 is only 47 permits with an average price of permits is $191,146. Of the 47 permits pulled 43 of the permits were for under $500K. Only two township of the four had any permits for over $500,000 and there were only 3 over 500K in Park township and Saugutuck township only had one permit filed.

Information below is West of US 31 from Grand Haven township south to Saugtuck/Douglas.

Vacant Lots
153 lots currently listed for sale
2 pending (one is Chapel Lane)
13 sold
4 of the 15 lots the Andrea Crossman Group represented either the buyer or seller.

Homes Built in 2009 or later $225-300
2 sold (both in Chapel Hill)
13 Listed and 9 of the 13 listed are proposed construction nothing is planned to be built until sold (ghost listings) one of the 4 being built is in Chapel Hill.

Homes Built in 2009 or later 300-500
0 sold
2 listed one is a 2009 Parade home and the other is a ghost listing

Homes 300-500 price range
69 homes sold High list price was 488,500 Ave sale price was 350,000
23 homes sold with .5 acre or less Average sale price was 362,974
13 homes sold with .5 acre or less that did not have Lk Mich or Lk Mac access average sale price $344,215
14 homes pending sale. The highest list price was 499,900 with an average price of $390,450. Of the 14 pending sales 8 were with no Lk Mich and Lk Mac access.

Homes 225-300 Price range
83 homes sold any size lot
49 homes sold with .5 acre or less ave sale price286,886
1 home pending with .5 acres

Homes for sale 225-300
137 active listings
75 active listings with .5 acres or less

Homes for sale 300-500
131 active listings
63 active listings with .5 acres or less