B of A buys Countrywide – Maybe monopolies are a good idea?

A good friend of mine currently works for Countrywide Mortgage, but will be working for Bank of America soon.  Is he changing jobs?  No.   B of A is preparing to finalize the deal which has so far kept them profitable.  That’s right, B of A credits their liquidity to the acquisition of CW.  Neither B of A, nor CW seem to be in very bad shape!  When was the last time we heard any bad news about CW?

CW is writing a lot of loans for investors with excellent credit and at least 20% down, as well as First Time Home Buyers. Las Vegas has been a hotbed for this activity, but the loans are being written nationwide.  You hear so much negativity everywhere about banks not lending and the so called ‘credit crunch’.  Well if you want to call responsible lending a bad idea, then be my guest, but the truth is, money is flowing into the housing market and though there are fewer loans being written these days, the loans that are being written have a much smaller chance of default than what was being written just 2 years ago.  I think that is more helpful to us than just making loans for the sake of moving some money around.

Here in Las Vegas, you see more investors showing up to take advantage of the real estate prices. Check out the percentage of owner occupied homes in Las Vegas over the past 6 months in the chart at the bottom of this post.

Notice anything? Don’t be last!  Are you ready to begin investing in Las Vegas real estate?  Now is the time.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like help buying real estate in Las Vegas, whether for your personal use, or for investment, please contact me.
www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact

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Month TotalSales OwnerOcc %
Feb 2009 2,540 1,438 57%
Jan 2009 2,484 1,477 59%
Dec 2008 3,032 1,882 62%
Nov 2008 2,657 1,660 62%
Oct 2008 3,106 2,215 71%
Sept 2008 2,436 2,436 70%

 

Las Vegas home prices stabilizing?

I just became aware of some very interesting statistics about the Las Vegas housing market.  First I want to make sure you understand that the information in this particular post only pertains to Single Family Homes (SFR’s) and does not include Condo’s, Town Homes, multi-family or any other Las Vegas real estate.

For the first time in over 2 years, prices have been stable; for 9 straight weeks $180,000 is the median price and holding; even better, the supply of homes has decreased and demand for homes under $300,000 has increased. The local real estate market is behaving somewhat normally. 9 weeks ago we had 101 days supply available, now we have 66 days of supply and the number of properties going under contract are up.

What does this mean?  Are we out of the woods?  I seriously doubt it, but these are good indicators that good things are starting to happen.  I will tell you that this past weekend, as my good friend was driving back to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, he said that the traffic going towards L.A. was horrible – then he corrected himself and said that he would not have wanted to be driving in that traffic, but that it was good for Las Vegas.

It’s true that we still have problems here, but these are good things.  Are you ready to begin investing in Las Vegas real estate?  Now is the time.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like help buying real estate in Las Vegas, whether for your personal use, or for investment, please contact me.
www.MyFastEasySale.com

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UPDATE – M Resort, Las Vegas

A couple of days ago I wrote about the new jobs being created in Las Vegas. (http://jeffhoward.net/2009/03/02/job-creation-is-happening-in-las-vegas/)  My good friend visited the M resort last night with another friend of his for dinner. They went to Veloce Cibo, which the web site claims ‘the food may leave you speechless’. The LACK of food had them anything but speechless. They were sat more than 30 minutes after their reservation time, and within an hour of sitting down, they had only received their appetizer. They complained 3 times to management and there were empty tables in the restaurant. My guess is that the M resort is still hiring, or at least I hope they are so they can have the right personell to handle their customers. 

Job creation is happening in Las Vegas

Last night, M Resort opened with nearly 2000 new hires, 12,000 more jobs are coming to City Center later this year, followed by thousands more expected from Cosmopolitan and Fontainebleau Resorts. These jobs have always created multiple spin-off jobs in the local area to not only support the properties, but additional services needed for more business and residents added in the community. Everyone of those employees need a place to buy groceries, clothes, gas and more.

Other service businesses continue to grow here as well. If you are a landscape contractor or want to start a pool maintenance company, we constantly have more lawns and more pools. That is what happens when 5000+ people move into your area every month.

There is the new airport, the Wal-Mart distribution center and a new call center for the City of Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency, which could be bringing as many as 2500 more jobs.  A few days ago Ecompass Group Affiliates, an electronics repair, parts, and logistics firm, announced they will be opening their own 38,000 square foot Las Vegas center. It will be located in ProLogis Park, where Amazon.com and Monster Cable have located in a 513,000 square foot building.

These latest non-hospitality jobs are not only a further diversification of the Las Vegas economy, they are a sign that the lower commercial and industrial rents and property pricing have made Las Vegas an even more appealing market to enter.  With it’s low-to-no tax structure, technology, communications and connectivity infrastructure, and logistics capabilities it offers so much to business locating in Las Vegas.

Relocation.com ranked Las Vegas as their top relocation city for 2008, and has predicted Las Vegas as the top relocation destination again for 2009.  Other predictions and surveys have also ranked Las Vegas high among top relocation cities of 2009.  This doesn’t come as a surprise as many (like me) in recent years have been looking to escape the cold nasty weather for warmer climates.  Frankly, I don’t know how people live in those places.

Remember, Las Vegas has more non-gaming entertainment per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Add no personal income taxes and it becomes more apparent. Combine this with the fantastic bargains in Las Vegas single family homes, and it becomes an even more attractive destination. All of this also provides businesses an ability to present these perks to potential hires, and to their additional advantage, an apparent desire of many wanting to relocate to Las Vegas.

No, we are not out of the woods yet, but this is where you are going to want your investment dollars, because Las Vegas will emerge earlier than any other metropolitan area.

If you would like help buying real estate in Las Vegas, whether for your personal use, or for investment, please contact me.
www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact

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FHA Loan Limit Back to $400,000 in Las Vegas

This has been confirmed! The FHA Loan Limit on Residential Real Estate in Las Vegas, NV among other areas has been moved back up to $400,000.

This is a game changer for our market! Since the loan limit was lowered at the beginning of the year, some have been very concerned about values in Las Vegas in the range between $417,000 (Conforming Loan Limit) and $287,500 (2009 Previous FHA Loan Limit). It was though that because of the difficult conforming loan guidelines and Mortgage Insurance (MI) policy guidelines, homes of that value would further deteriorate down to FHA limits. With limits raised back up, I think we averted this disaster. Couple this with continued low interest rates and we could see a market stabilization. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

If you would like to confirm for yourself, here is the link to the loan limit website for HUD:
https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicost1.cfm.

Also, now that the loan limit has been raised again. Those that have FHA loans in that range can now take advantage of the FHA Streamline feature and capture the lower rates.

If you would like help taking advantage of these new developments, please contact me.
www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact

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Apartments are empty because people would rather rent houses.

If you were forced to move out of your house, and you looked in the newspaper right now, would you look under apartments for rent or houses for rent? The answer is simple. In addition, in many cases, you can convert that renter into a tenant-buyer, over time because they used to own a home and now have poor credit. If you offer them a chance to own your property with seller financing, in many cases they are going to do it. There is not a better tenant on the planet than a tenant-buyer. They are never late on the rent, they don’t call you when something breaks, they care for the yard and eliminate the need for property management.

I love the doom and gloom that is constantly being reported.  A new Forbes.com ranking lists Las Vegas as the emptiest city in America, the result of the foreclosure crisis and the surplus of empty homes and apartments built when times were good. Construction has ground to a halt. The Commerce Department reports that new home construction dropped 16.9 percent in January when compared to the previous month. That’s the sharpest month-to-month decrease ever.

There are apartments currently offering a flat-screen TV, two months free rent, and $100 off per month.  With apartment vacancies becoming more common around town, apartment owners are offering better and better incentives. But if you have a single family home for rent in good condition in a good neighborhood, you can still fill that up as people who have been forced out of their homes are not thinking about renting apartments.  If you were forced to move out of your house, and you looked in the newspaper right now, would you look under apartments for rent or houses for rent?  The answer is simple.  In addition, in many cases, you can convert that renter into a tenant-buyer, over time because they used to own a home and now have poor credit.  If you offer them a chance to own your property with seller financing, in many cases they are going to do it.  There is not a better tenant on the planet than a tenant-buyer.  They are never late on the rent, they don’t call you when something breaks, they care for the yard and eliminate the need for property management.

The national apartment rental vacancy is at 10.1 percent, up from 9.6 percent one year ago.  And as real estate values continue to dip, homeowners are finding themselves upside down with their mortgage, forcing banks to foreclose and leaving people without their own home, but they still want to live in one.

Passing Detroit as number one wasn’t easy.  The Motor City has seen a heavy decline due to the ailing automotive industry.  But the appeal of Vegas will never die and people should be careful in comparing Las Vegas real estate to Detroit.

In the short run, Las Vegas is going to suffer a little bit just like everyone else. But people are still moving here. December saw an increase in population of 4863. Detroit, nor any other city in the country can make that claim.   And while those numbers are down slightly for Las Vegas, they still are much higher than anywhere else. The demographic trend is still to the southwest, and who can beat weather? Boston is reporting a high of 33 degrees Fahrenheit today with snow possible for Sunday. It will be windy and 65 today in Las Vegas and 70 on Sunday.

Your vacant rental house only has to be more attractive to live in than those apartments and other houses you are competing against. This is a large part of the reason why location is so important. Many investors don’t understand the neighborhoods to buy their rentals in and this can make a significant difference.

If you are even considering investing in Las Vegas real estate, I urge you to contact me.  www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact Let me show you why you should.

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Search Las Vegas Luxury Foreclosures?

Well, it had to happen, sooner, or later.  People with money aren’t just investing in Las Vegas, now they want second (or third or fourth) homes at bargain prices.  So, Luxury Realty Group, LLC has announced in a press release their new web site;
www.LuxuryVegasForeclosures.com

Now, finding luxury short sales and foreclosures for homes or high rise condos in Las Vegas is easier.

LuxuryVegasForeclosures.com provides pre-defined searches by high rise tower which is a first to be offered by a Las Vegas real estate brokerage.

LuxuryVegasForeclosures.com provides pre-defined searches for Las Vegas luxury homes and luxury high rise condos. For the high rise condos, specific short sale and foreclosure targeted searches are pre-defined by high rise tower.

The creator of this new website, Bruce Hiatt, broker-owner of Luxury Realty Group, said, “We are the first real estate brokerage in the Las Vegas area to offer a luxury short sale and foreclosure real estate targeted website. We know from feedback of users who participated in our beta version of the website that pre-defined searches were difficult to find on Las Vegas real estate websites.  We believe we’ve filled a niche missing in our market until the arrival of LuxuryVegasForeclosures.com.”

Luxury Realty Group has already closed transactions in 2009 for both short sale and foreclosure luxury properties. Such transactions are expected to increase in 2009 with more of luxury real estate moving into short sale and foreclosure status in Las Vegas.

Some of you may be comforted to know that it is not just the average Joe that is losing his home to foreclosure.

What if you want Las Vegas real estate bargains, but, aren’t looking for luxury? Contact me.

www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact

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Loan modification really makes sense, but don’t do it on your own.

What is loan modification?  In its simplest form, loan modification is when your lender modifies the terms of your loan. They can defer amounts that are past due, change the interest rate, even reduce the principal owed.

The most common element being modified at the moment is taking past due payments and putting them ‘on the end’ of the loan, so that you still owe the money, but your loan is considered current.  This happened with a friend of mine.  She had lost her job, and gotten about 4 months behind in her house payments.  When she got back to work, her bank offered her the opportunity to take the 4 months payments, and defer them, which brought her current.  Many homeowners are doing this kind of modification on their own.

Why are they doing that?  Because they are nice?  Of course not!  It’s a business decision.  They are not in the business of owning real estate, yet they own quite a bit of it and they really don’t want anymore.  So if you make enough money to pay a lower mortgage, they lose less money in the long run.

The next element I have seen modified is the interest rate.  If your interest rate has adjusted (or is going to soon), lenders are helping people stay in their homes by offering a reduced and fixed interest rate. If your rate was 5 1/2, and has spiked to 8 for example, many lenders are bringing that rate down to 5.  Some people I know have been successful at this on their own, by simply calling and asking, but only if they are already behind.

A less common type of modification is to get the amount owed reduced.  This I have only seen done by professional loan modification firms.  Companies that do this for you.

There is an attorney here in Las Vegas, helping homeowners (and there are many companies – just check the internet).  He is asking the bank for a principal reduction to 10% below the current value of the property and 4% – 6% interest rates, fixed. In other words, if you currently owe $300,000, and are paying 8%, but your house is only worth $250,000 – after the modification you are only paying 4% – 6% on a principal balance of $225,000. Of course there are many factors involved in your final outcome – not the least of which is that you have to be able to prove that you can afford the new payment, so that the bank is not wasting their time stalling the inevitable.

Here is the best part! He only charges $1,250 and if he can’t modify your loan, you don’t pay!  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that they do not pull credit? You do not have to have good credit to get the modification.  Sometimes you don’t even have to be behind! (depends on the lender)

Think about it. If he reduces your monthly payment by $200 per month, in 7 months, you are ahead – even if he did not reduce your principal!  If you are interested, let me know.  www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact

What if you just don’t have the $1,250?  Drop me a line, let me see if I can help.  www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact

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My plan to turn around the economy.

Good news for some homeowners. JP Morgan / Chase announced today a self-imposed 90 moratorium on foreclosures. Executives said that they want to give the government time to implement their stimulus package, and they want to allow themselves enough time to properly act on the changes.

So here is my government stimulus package idea (since everyone has one).  What if we paid off every owner occupied mortgage in the country?  Simply paid them off.  You live there, you have a mortgage, now you don’t. Add a rule that says you cannot borrow more than 25% of the value of that property for 5 years (so people did not go too crazy with there new found windfall). It would stop the foreclosure mess in it’s tracks.  OK, it’s not a perfect plan, I can see flaws with it, but there will never be a perfect plan, and it would definitely stimulate the economy. It would also loosen up the credit crunch. Many will argue that it does not help the poor. Sure it does.  As soon as money begins flowing again, we all win.  Businesses will begin to thrive again.  Jobs will be created because those businesses will need employees.  And I like that it rewards people who were financially savvy enough to own real estate in the first place. As for investment property or a second home, modify all mortgages to an affordable payment, but don’t lower the principal owed.  That way, those investors will have to hold on to the property, and provide rentals for those that need them until prices return to more than is owed on the property.  No more short sales.

 

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They finally recognize that we are part of the solution.

They finally figured out that we are not the enemy. For more than a year real estate investors have been called very nasty names, been blamed for the housing market and been generally dismissed as ‘the problem’. There is no doubt that speculators contributed to the current state of the economy. But in most cases, we were just trying to capitalize on certain opportunities. I think that is what makes this country great. And the truth is, investors, if given the opportunity, will help the housing market settle down and turn around. Why, because we will buy.

So, last week, FNMA announced on their website that the 4 loan limit has been removed, and, under favorable circumstances, they will allow an investor to have up to 10 loans. This is great news for investors who are picking up foreclosures and other distressed properties and keeping them for rental or selling on lease-options.

You can get all of the details at FNMA’s website by clicking here.

What does this mean? Well, certainly it is not an end to the credit crunch, however, if you have some cash and good credit, you can own more properties and ensure your ability to prosper when all of the dust settles. Let’s face it, people have to live somewhere, and someone needs to provide that housing. Now please let me remind you. Being a landlord is not rocket science, but you should take some time (and probably some money) to learn how to be an effective landlord, so that your tenants help make you wealthy instead of miserable. I’m actually in the process of getting ready to write a home study course for landlording – but it will be awhile before it is finished. Come to think of it, I have to finish my negotiating course first.

Are you ready to buy more now? Are you interested in Las Vegas real estate? (You should be.) Drop me a line and let’s see what we can find you. Visit me at www.MyFastEasySale.com

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