Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the Road Again...

If only it could be as good as Willy sings about.

I was recently made aware of the new grassroots effort by my friends and neighbors to turn the whole 2499 road expansion on its' head. Thank God for concerned families who care more about the safety and well-being of their families, communities and neighbors than our local politicians. Yes, this means you Mayor Dianne Costa.

I was sent a string of emails from citizens of Highland Village who have a vested interest in what happens in our community. Ed Kourany Jr. has headed up the petition process to make the "loop" of Northwood and Castlewood roads to become a dead-end where 2499 will be going through our communities. As stated in the email, "The current plans on file show this intersection to be a two-way stop. This means that traffic traveling North or South on 2499 will NOT stop at the intersection, making it extremely difficult for pedestrians to cross and vehicles to enter or exit. It is also likely that Southbound traffic coming off the bridge will be traveling in excess of 55 mph due to the higher speed limit proposed on the bridge. This intersection presents a significant safety hazard to the entire community."
Mr. Kourany hasn't spoke directly to Mayor Cost-us (my interjection) but this is what he has heard from others who have:
She (Costa) has allegedly stated her desire to leave the plans unchanged, due to the numerous requests she has already made to TxDOT for other changes along FM2499. (BOO HOO, it never hurts to ask!!) However, she stated that to consider supporting this initiative she would require a couple things:
1. 95% of the residents approving the petition to change the intersection
2. Approval by the Fire and Police chiefs. Standard Operating Procedure for most Emergency Response Vehicles (Fire & Police) requires them to use an intersection with a light for safety; so this intersection has no purpose for either!
3. The residents of Highland Village / Castlewood to pay for the modifications

95% approval? Do our elected officials have to get 95% approval? Uh no. Let's turn the tables. Where does it say in the rules of voting that a majority is 95%? Mayor Costa, you weren't elected with 95% approval so should you really be our mayor? Hmmm, that math sounds a bit silly. There was a comment made in one of the threads that said "How come 95% voting approval wasn't required by residents to go forward with the 2499 expansion?"

I am not really a political beast but I do have a problem with our trusted elected officials bending the rules to make everything fit their interpretation and agendas. This isn't gray. It's black and white. 95% majority vote is a joke. It would be nice if the Mayor would not just HEAR her constituents but actually LISTEN!

What can you do? Sign the petition located on the front porch at 3202 Timberline Drive, email or email Mayor Costa at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wanna Know the Weather in Dallas?

Then look at the weather in Miami. Crazy isn't it? Same goes for the real estate market. A lot of homebuyers are letting the negative news affect their decision to buy a home. I am not saying the concerns of the state of this economy aren't valid. Many people have lost tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of days. That can be scary and frustrating.
Blanche Evans recently wrote in Realty Times the following piece:

NAR expects the national median price of homes to drop to $218,200 in 2007. In Dallas, where it's warm, wide-open, and there are lots of jobs, the median home price is going up. One of the few bright spots of the retreating housing market, Dallas is beating national numbers in jobs, culture, and inflation in terms of housing appreciation. And with a median-priced home only two-thirds the price of the national median at $156,000, the city is a screaming, stomping bargain.

There's just one little problem. Dallas is moving into a financial press-led housing recession, too. Why blame the financial press? Because buyers aren't paying attention to the positives. Fear has them sitting on the sidelines just when they could score the housing touchdown of their lives.

Dallas sat out the housing boom of 2001-2006. In fact, Dallas homes appreciated below the national median for over 16 years, until this year. Recovering from the oil embargo of the 70s, the Savings and Loan crisis of the 80s and technology meltdown of the aughts, Dallas never got up off its knees. Exacerbating the problem was a squabbling, racist city council and school system. People with means high-tailed it for the suburbs, and Dallas deteriorated.

But the smell of money is in the air. Forbes magazine recently ranked Dallas-Fort Worth among the Best Cities to Live as number one in cost of living; number five for job growth, number nine both in the best cities for singles and in the culture categories.

That's great news! That's something you just don't hear in the 5 o'clock news!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You're Stressing Me Out!

Should we really be surprised to find out that in a new survey, it was revealed that Americans are more stressed about the economy and money issues now than in the spring. You can't get away from the doom and gloom no matter how hard you try! The nightly news, talk radio, even commercials citing "With higher gas prices and the state of the economy...blah blah blah.

You may not know this but I was a Broadcast News in college and I knew I wanted to be in the media industry since junior high. My freshman year in 1994, the Internet was just starting to hit the mainstream. The good old days of logging on to AOL with the dial up modem and the annoying static sound to get into the Internet. People still prefered to get "ink on their fingers" as my J-30 professor, Bob Woodward said. CNN was really the only 24 hour news network. Sometimes a breaking news story wasn't reported for 30 minutes to an hour. Now, a squirrel causes a four-car pile-up in La Crosse, Wisconsin and it's BREAKING NEWS. I think my life will go on without this information. Breaking News isn't a matter of informing the public of what it needs to know right now. It's about who scooped and carried the story first.

It saddens me to see the state of the media these days. News is no longer the unbiased disimination of important events. It is filled with opinions, false "facts", and personal agendas. I was at the gym several months ago and they had four stations on. Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN and TNT. No local channels so that I could watch The Price is Right! When I asked why there were so many news channels on that were reporting the SAME things, the answer was that people complained that one was too liberal and one was too right-wing so management had to put on both channels. Seriously people! Get over it! A gym is a place to go and relieve stress, not create it because a freaking TV channel!

The bottom line is that with so much instant access to "news" via text alerts on our Blackberry phone, it's hard not to get stressed out over all the issues at hand. My advice is to just remain calm. Don't check your mutual funds everyday and certainly, don't listen to the media. Sad to say, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good News for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Housing Market

With the media inundating us with negative news and not-much-better forecasts for the future, it's nice to read some positive stats from a recent Dallas Morning News article written by Steve Brown.

A local housing market pining for some good news will get a boost from the latest home sales and inventory numbers.

North Texas pre-owned home sales eked out a 2 percent gain in September – the first such increase in over a year.

And while new-home purchases have continued to plunge, the number of vacant new houses on the market is down sharply, the latest industry report shows.

"Yes, the folks in North Texas should feel somewhat better, but the news should be tempered by what's happening – or not happening – in the capital markets," said economist James Gaines of Texas A&M University's Real Estate Center

Still, the improvement in the local home sales numbers "means the market is in better balance with a reasonable inventory and enough activity to keep prices from falling dramatically," Dr. Gaines said.

September's rise comes after a long string of monthly sales declines. The last time monthly home sales in the area were up from the same time the previous year was in January 2007.

Dallas housing analyst Ted Wilson said he's optimistic that housing demand and supply are more in balance.

"I think the wild card is the current economic turmoil," said Mr. Wilson of Residential Strategies Inc. "If the credit crisis derails our local economy or again ratchets up the requirements on getting a new mortgage, then the slide would continue."

Despite last month's small gain in sales totals, median home prices in September were 2 percent lower than a year earlier at $142,500.

About 41,000 pre-owned single-family homes are for sale in the 29-county area, down 15 percent from September 2007.

September's pre-owned home sales gain follows an 18 percent decline in August compared with August 2007.

So far this year, real estate agents have sold about 53,000 pre-owned homes in the area, a drop of 12 percent from the first nine months of 2008.

About a six-month supply of houses is listed for sale by North Texas Realtors.

However, multiple listing service inventories may not reflect total homes for sale. Many foreclosed properties are being sold at auction and are not included in Realtor numbers.

Also, the decline in Realtor home sales listings could indicate that some sellers have decided to sit it out and have taken their homes off the market.

In the new-home market, starts are down almost 35 percent from a year ago, but the number empty new houses is falling.

At the end of the third quarter, about 7,600 vacant new homes were sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, housing analyst MetroStudy said Tuesday.

"Inventory is down 27 percent from a year ago – that's great news," said David Brown, who heads MetroStudy's Dallas office. "That needs to come down to about 4,000, but it's going to take a little while to get there."

Local builders started just over 5,500 single-family homes in the third quarter, the lowest start count in more than a decade.

Quarterly new-home sales totaled 7,185 units, down about 29 percent from third quarter 2007, according to MetroStudy.

"It is my opinion that the drop in new-home construction is going to hit bottom between now and next summer," said Mark Dotzour, chief economist and director of research at A&M's Real Estate Center. "The fact that new-home construction in the D-FW area has fallen off so precipitously in the past two years is going to shield the metro area from significant price declines."

Comparisons of September pre-owned home sales and prices in the North Texas with year-earlier statistics:
Single-family home resales 6,392 2%
Median price $142,500 -2%
Average days on market 79 7%
Pending sales 5,410 -16%
Listed for sale 41,604 -15%
Condo-townhome resales 358 -13%
Median price $129,500 -7%
Average days on market 104 27%
Pending sales 305 -18%
Listed for sale 3,807 -10%
SOURCES: Texas A&M University Real Estate Center, North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I recently read an article providing information on a program that the government and the mortgage industry has promoted for homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Here is the article from Inman News:

Hope for Homeowners, a program created by Congress to assist homeowners at risk of loan default and foreclosure that will allow some homeowners to refinance into more affordable FHA-insured mortgages, launched Wednesday.

An estimated 400,000 homeowners could avoid foreclosure through participation in this program, which is voluntary for lenders and is scheduled to run through Sept. 30, 2011.

That program is among an assortment of federal, state and industry efforts intended to stem the tide of foreclosures.

Under Hope for Homeowners, lenders will determine a homeowner's eligibility and consider loan modifications to lower the monthly mortgage cost, and can also consider whether to take a loss on the difference between an existing loan and a new loan set at 90 percent of the home's current appraised value.

I am glad to hear that there is a program like this. But I also don't agree with the government stepping in and bailing people out. My opinion, whether you like it or not, is that if you put your trust in a real estate agent who puts his or her trust in a quality mortgage professional, this whole foreclosure issue wouldn't happen in the first place. That's not to say that the only reason this whole mortgage mess happened was because of bad loans. Many of the loans offered to buyers were based on their low credit scores and many of those buyers obtained 103-105% loan approval. While most homeowners put 5-20% down on a home, they have equity in the home. But when you roll in closing costs into a loan on a house, you have no equity and are immediately upside down on this house. When someone with high-risk credit takes on a high-risk loan, it's a disater waiting to happen. Many of the foreclosures were due to the three-year ARM (adjustable rate mortgages) adjusted this year. Homeowners just can't afford going from a $2000 a month payment to $3500 or higher.

I am fortunate to know and work with several quality lenders that will take care of the financial needs and comforts of you, my important clients. Don't just rely on who is going to give you the best rate. Make sure you understand all of the terms of the loan! I'm here to help in any way I can!