Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The REAL Foreclosure Story

A lot of people are nervous about what they are reading in the newspaper and hearing on TV. But how can you blame them?

The media is bombarding people with reports about the housing decline and the sub-prime mortgage mess.

However, Chief ECONOMIST for the National Mortgage Bankers Association, Doug Duncan decided to set the record straight. In a private conversation, Doug said that people have nothing to worry about in Texas.

Some of his defenses were...
-The foreclosure problem in this country is really a story about 7 states
-The biggest foreclosure problem is in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. These are predominantly manufacturing states
-Since 2001, Michigan has lost 300,000+ jobs
-The other 4 states are California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada. In each of these states there has been significant overbuilding. 25% of the foreclosures in these states are on properties that are held by investors who were speculating
-California & Florida have been hit very hard
-35% of the homes in the USA do not have a mortgage
-98% of the mortgages in the USA are performing
-Only 9% of all mortgages are sub-prime
-75% of all sub-prime mortgages are performing
-In the other 43 states, foreclosures have fallen in 2007 from 2006

Right now, our local inventory levels are half the national average and well-priced homes are selling fast.

Thanks Becky for always thinking of me for my posts!

Monday, February 25, 2008

$776.7 Million LISD Bond Proposed

The Lewisville school board on Wednesday called for a $776.7 million bond proposal to be placed on the May 10 ballot.

Trustees agreed to propose a $697.7 million package of new schools and athletic facilities, campus expansion and renovation projects, technology upgrades and land purchases. The board voted 4-3 to include a $79 million event center under a separate ballot proposition.

“We are a school district, not an entertainment entity, and I don’t see how it fits into our educational goals,” said Trustee Amber Fulton, who voted against proposing the center.

Trustees Carol Kyer and Tom Ferguson also dissented, citing potential costs to operate a 191,000-square-foot center. By law, those costs may not be paid with bond money.

“In the future, we would have to worry about supporting something with money that we could spend on programs,” Kyer said.

But Board President Fred Placke said the center would make the district and students “more well-rounded” by offering an auditorium of up to 8,000 seats for school plays, band concerts and graduation ceremonies.

Many of those events are held in smaller campus auditoriums. Graduation ceremonies are held at the University of North Texas in Denton.

“It will be an enhancement to the good facilities we already have,” Placke said.

The center and other building projects would be finished in six years, when the nearly 50,000-student district is expected to reach build out.

Flower Mound schools would get at least $144.3 million, which includes $113.6 million for two ninth-grade campuses, $27 million for a 9,000-seat stadium at Marcus High School and $3.5 million to expand locker rooms at Flower Mound High School.

In addition, $3.8 million is earmarked for renovation of choir and drama rooms at Marcus and two other high schools.

The bond would require annual tax increases. The district levies 33 cents per $100 in valuation to pay off debt, which would rise to 36.75 cents in 2010 and 45.86 cents in 2014.

The increase would cost the owner of an average $246,834 home in Flower Mound an additional $93 in taxes in 2010.

*Article courtesy of the Flower Mound Messenger

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If Money Were No Object...

In a recent "spiritual gifts" test, my results indicated that the two areas I excel at are hospitality and giving. Anyone that knows me, knows I love to throw a good party for many or a small dinner party for a few friends.
After a night at church recently, we came home with a guest and it took about an hour before we could eat.
So, if money were no object, I would splurge and buy the oven that also doubles as a refrigerator. Here's the website description from TMIO:

Modern space age convenience finally arrives in your home with the Connect Io Intelligent Oven, Professional Series: The world’s finest cooking oven, and first appliance that allows you to refrigerate foods for cooking later, then connect remotely via phone or Internet--delivering the great taste of traditional cooking at home whenever you are ready. State-of-the-art cooking, luxury conveniences, exceptional performance, and beautiful design are the hallmark of Connect Io wall ovens that households and professional chefs insist on, and that we deliver. Dinner is ready when you are!

If I suddenly come into $5,895 plus shipping, I will be replacing my standard GE with the TMIO. As we say in my household, "Sell Some More Houses"!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Town of Flower Mound Approves Cell Phone Ban

I'm definitely guilty of using my cell phone in the car. I many times find myself asking if that email or phone call is more important than my family's or other driver's safety. Of course, the answer is no, the business can wait.

The Town of Flower Mound recently passed an ordinance banning the use of handheld cell phones in school zones, which is on the heels of another similar ruling in a North Texas city.

The decision will prohibit drivers from using handsets and sending text messages while in an active school zone. Hands-free devices are allowed.

"This has been a problem since the beginning," Dave Bell said. Only police officers who witness a violation can issue a citation, which can begin at $75 but increase to $200 for repeat offenders. But, crossing guards can write down the license plate number of an offender, and the police department will send the violator a warning in the mail.

The town will purchase warning signs and post them around Flower Mound as a reminder, beginning March 25.

The ordinance is patterned after a similar program in Highland Park, the first city in Texas to adopt such an ordinance. University Park followed suit soon after.

"I'm for it," said Spencer Webb, a student at Shadow Ridge Middle School, who attended the meeting with fellow Eagle Scouts. "I see the crossing guards, and sometimes they have a look of sheer terror because they're running out to stop a car so that we can cross."

Kyle Bell, Dave Bell's son, said he agrees with the ordinance but said it should go one step further.

"Even if you're using a Blue Tooth, your mind isn't on the road," said Kyle Bell, 11. "Your hands are free, but you're looking at the road absent-mindedly."

McCann Dahl, who attends McKamy Middle School, said he saw a problem with the ordinance.

"I agree with being safe," Dahl said. "But, when the crossing guard or the police look at a driver's license plate, they don't know why the person is on the phone. The person's mom might have just died."

Police Chief Kenneth Brooker said during his presentation to the council that crossing guards in Flower Mound have expressed support for the ordinance. While there have been no incidents involving someone getting hit as a result of a driver using a cell phone in a school zone, crossing guards have said the majority of violations have occurred by drivers using cell phones.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Highland Village May Restrict Sex Offenders Residency

An ordinance restricting Highland Village residency for convicted sex offenders was discussed during the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Highland Village Chief of Police Ed O’Bara presented a potential sex offender ordinance. It states that registered sex offenders may not reside within a specific distance where youths under 17 years old commonly gather. Included in the list of places with restricted areas are public parks, city park trails, private and public schools, registered day care centers and video arcades.

“I think we need to follow the lead of our boardering communities,” O’Bara said. “We can bring attention to it, then hopefully someone at a state level can consider the issue and bring it for legislative consideration.” Also, residency rules help make residents feel safe, he said in his presentation.

Part of the discussion included determining the perimeters where registered sex offenders would be restricted from living. O’Bara presented geographic restriction areas of the city corresponding to 1,000-, 1,500- or 2,000-foot buffer limits.

According to data, Copper Canyon and Corinth’s sex offender ordinances prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of areas where youth commonly gather. In Flower Mound and Lewisville, the restricted distance is 1,500 feet, and in Argyle, Carrollton, Little Elm, Roanoke, The Colony and Trophy Club the distance is 1,000 feet from areas where youths gather.

Denton, Double Oak, Frisco, Hickory Creek and Lake Dallas do not have a sex offender ordinance. Cities that don’t have an ordinance must follow state law, which sets a 1,000-foot limit.

Currently, there are three registered sex offenders living in Highland Village.

Some common exceptions, which police say are common around the state, are: if the person established residency prior to the ordinance; if the person is a minor; if the person was a minor at the time the offense was committed; or if the protected premises was opened after the person established residency.

Highland Village Mayor Dianne Costa’s concern focused on registered sex offenders coming to the city.

“I recognize that we need to look at what other communities are doing. Yet I think it’s prudent upon this council to look at statistics and how they relate to sex offenders,” she said. “And so we want to be cautious, yet we don’t want to impose any false sense of security. I think we have to be diligent with the care of our children at all times — regardless of a distance that we would impose on sex offenders registered in Highland Village.”

The Highland Village City Council recommended that staff prepare a sex offender ordinance for consideration at a future date.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Survey Says "Smart Time to Buy"

RISMEDIA, Feb. 14, 2008-Despite all of the negative commentary about the housing and credit markets, 64% of Americans believe that for those with good credit and a down payment “this is an ideal time to buy a home,” according to a study commissioned by Beazer Homes, one of the country’s top-10 homebuilders. Perhaps with an eye toward the future, 24% of survey respondents-from Gen Y to Baby Boomers-say they plan to buy a new home in the next two years either as a primary residence or second/vacation home.

“We know the American consumer believes with great conviction that home ownership is a smart investment over the long term,” said Ian McCarthy, president and CEO of Beazer Homes. “Savvy consumers realize that housing is a cyclical industry and some appear to be waking up to the opportunities that do exist in today’s marketplace. Whether they act on this conviction remains to be seen, but the underlying sentiment bodes well for the industry.”

Across the board, consumers appear optimistic about the availability of home mortgage options. For experienced buyers, 75% believe there are plenty of mortgage options available for those with good credit compared with 53% of first-time buyers. When it comes to securing a home mortgage, 24% of total respondents report they are currently saving for a down payment.

Beazer Homes surveyed 548 adults nationwide, Jan. 4-7, 2008, between the ages of 25 to 72 with a minimum annual household income of $40,000.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Issue of Customer Service

It seems that in this day and age, customer service is a thing of the past. It is my goal to give my clients the attention they need and deserve. Click on the link below to see a little more about the type of customer service I strive for.
Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Farmers Branch Fights Illegial Tenants Again

FARMERS BRANCH – City officials whose previous attempts to keep out illegal immigrants have been blocked by the courts took another shot Tuesday, adopting an ordinance that would not only ban them from renting apartments but also from renting houses.

The City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 2952, which would require all renters to pay a $5 fee and claim U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to obtain an occupancy license from the city.

About 40 people spoke during the roughly two-hour meeting, with a slight majority in favor of the ordinance.

"We've got to put a sword in the sand sometime, and I think this is it," resident Dale Cotton said.

Supporters said that while the ordinance may not resolve the illegal immigration issue, it's a step in the right direction. And some, led by council member Jim Smith, said they'd like to see the city also go after employers who hire illegal workers.

But opponents said they believe the law will also get hung up in the courts and ultimately be found unconstitutional. Others said the licensing process will cause potential renters to move to other cities and cause financial losses for property owners.

Here's the new ordinance at a glance:

•Prospective tenants will have to apply for an occupancy license.
•The application form will ask whether the person is in the U.S. legally.
•Anyone who completes the form and pays $5 will get a license and be allowed to move in.
•The city will verify noncitizens' legal status through a federal database.
•Anyone identified as being in the U.S. illegally will get 60 days to prove otherwise.
•Violators – tenants or landlords – will face fines of $500 a day.

Monday, February 4, 2008

One Vase, Five Ways

If you're like me, I have more vases than I ever get flowers (hint, hint) so when I came across this article on the Real Simple website, I just had to share!
Here is the list of ways to get your vases out of the cabinets and out on display!
1. As a Sculptural Bookend. Fill It With: Seashells, marbles, stones, or any other small objects that provide a visual treat and are heavy enough to both anchor the vase and hold up your books. For a serene look, keep all the items in shades of one color — perhaps with a single black-sheep standout for contrast.
2. A picture frame. Line It With: A strip of pretty paper displaying one of your favorite snapshots — or a row of them. (Note: This idea works only with straight-sided vases, not ones that taper.) Measure the inside height of the vase, then wrap a string around it to determine the circumference. This will tell you the size of the piece of paper you'll need. Cut the paper a bit longer than the string so there's overlap, roll it into a tube, then slide it into the vase to confirm that you have a perfect fit. Next, take the paper out and attach the photo (or photos) with acid-free double-sided tape. Slide the paper back into the vase, and use a little piece of regular tape on the inside to secure the paper where the edges overlap. Presto!
3. As a cooking tools holder. Fill It With: Spatulas, mixing spoons, whisks, strainers, and the like — then assign it a prime spot on a countertop near the stove. You'll have easy access to the tools at a moment's notice, and the clear glass will show them off nicely.
4. As a cake stand! Fill It With: Spatulas, mixing spoons, whisks, strainers, and the like — then assign it a prime spot on a countertop near the stove. You'll have easy access to the tools at a moment's notice, and the clear glass will show them off nicely.
5. Invert It Over: A piece of coral, a conch shell, a spray of silk flowers, a signed baseball — any objet that merits a spot at center stage in your home. Place your treasure on a plate with a flat center and upend the vase over it. This will make the display easy to move (say, when you want to dust under, not just around). There you have it: an art show you can change in minutes whenever the mood strikes.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Real Estate Oxymoron

Here's my thought for the day:
I think it's funny how, we as homeowners, will fight tooth and nail when it comes to our home values and tax appraisals. "What do you mean my house is $200,000? I paid $190,000 last year-there's no way my value has gone up that much! Those tax guys just want my money!" Then, a year later, you find yourself wanting to sell the house for $225,000. Makes you go hmmm...
Have fun with the Super Bowl!