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  Thu Apr 13

Compelling Reasons to Buy and Sell in 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a great time to list or purchase a new home. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or current homeowner, there are many compelling reasons to make a move in the current real estate market. Here are just a few:

 

1)The market has recovered. Following the enormous real estate boom and subsequent bust in the early years of the new millennium, the real estate market is finally equalizing. That's great news for home owners who purchased property when prices were at an all-time high, only to see their equity disappear when the bubble burst. Home owners who have felt trapped due to being "underwater" on their mortgages can begin to see some relief.

 

2)Winter is finally behind us. Spring is historically the busiest time of year for the real estate market, and this year is no exception. We may have seen an initially slow start to the beginning of the season as homebuyers continued to hibernate, waiting for the vestiges of winter to clear. But with winter in the rearview mirror, there is a great uptick in market movement.

 

3)It's a fortuitous time to sell. If you're a seller, the great news is that it's a seller's market out there, with low amounts of inventory. Prospective homebuyers are competing for available properties, which means that properties are bound to see price increases and bidding battles as buyers duke it out with competing offers.

 

4)It's a fortuitous time to buy. If you're a buyer, interest rates continue to be very attractive. In fact, they are still close to historic lows. Meanwhile, lenders are loosening the reins on mortgage qualification requirements, meaning that there are options even for prospective buyers without stellar credit and the means to fork over a sizeable down payment. And PMI (private mortgage insurance) fees are lower for buyers who can't afford that 20% down.

 

5)Renting is expensive. Even as mortgage interest rates remain low, rents are continuing to climb in many markets at a pace that is not matched by household income. This means that if you're currently renting a property, making an investment in a home now could actually save you so money in the short term as well as in the long term.

 

6)Home ownership is (still) a great investment. For many people, a new home is the single largest investment they will ever make. Creating equity is a smart financial move, but home ownership goes beyond a fiscal investment in the future. Put simply, home ownership feels good. Having a place of one's own is a source of pride and attachment. For many people, it represents the realization of the American dream.

 

If you're thinking of buying or selling a home this year, contact your real estate agent to get the ball rolling. He or she will be able to provide you with sound advice about how to make this year's market work for you.

   
  Mon Feb 06

$$$$ Sales are up !!! Good NEWS

Press Room

Empire State home sales set record in August

Sep 22, 2016
Albany, NY – Sept. 22, 2016 – Homes sold at a record-setting pace across New York State during August with 13,912 closed sales, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS®. The previous record was 12,938 closed sales in August 2007. The statewide median sales price increased 3.8 percent compared to August 2015.
 
“With eight months in the books, sales are more than 11 percent ahead of last year and well on the way to surpassing the 100,000-mark for the fourth consecutive year,” said Duncan R. MacKenzie, CEO of the New York State Association of REALTORS®. “The continued growth in the statewide median sales price is being driven by the steady decline in the number of homes available for sale.” 
 
“Low inventory conditions have not yet translated into a slowing of sales,” MacKenzie said.  “While mortgage rates and other market conditions are expected to remain favorable, we believe that buyers facing the challenge of fewer choices for their next home is a potential headwind for the market.” 
 
The year-to-date (Jan. 1 – Aug. 31) sales total of 82,791 was 11.3-percent above the same period last year. August 2016 closed sales increased by 8.1 percent compared to a year ago to reach 13,912. 
 
The year-to-date (Jan. 1 – Aug. 31) statewide median sales price was $235,000, an increase of 2.2 percent from the same period in 2015. The August 2016 statewide median sales price of $257,291 represents an increase of 3.8 percent compared to the August 2015 median of $247,941.
 
August pending sales reached 13,113, up 13.1 percent compared to a year ago. 
 
The months supply of inventory dropped 28.6 percent at the end of August to 7 months supply. It was at 9.8 months at the end of August 2015. A 6 month to 6.5 month supply is considered to be a balanced market. Inventory stood at 77,933, a decrease of 20.1 percent compared August 2015.
 
   
  Fri Feb 03

SMOKING POT IN YOUR RENTAL

As the movement to legalize marijuana blazes through the nation, landlords and building managers may be wondering whether the right to ban the drug from their properties is going up in smoke. The truth around the issue is a bit hazy.

State laws legalizing some form of pot use don’t prevent landlords from writing lease agreements prohibiting marijuana on their properties. “If a landlord does not want marijuana cultivated, grown, or used on the property, the lease should directly address this and state such prohibition,” says Lesley Walker, associate counsel for the National Association of REALTORS®. “For existing lease agreements, a landlord could consider having tenants sign an addendum that specifically addresses the presence and use of marijuana on the property.”

But the laws don’t necessarily support such agreements either. When a state law says no person shall be penalized for using marijuana, does evicting a tenant who violates a property owner’s no-pot policy constitute a penalty? The question is still being tested in the legal system, but housing experts say state courts are likely to err on the side of “yes.” So for landlords and property managers, there’s real concern not only about creating a zero-tolerance policy but also about enforcing one.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and four of those states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—have also legalized recreational pot. (Voters in D.C. also approved recreational marijuana in November, but the measure was struck down by Congress.) And while no state explicitly requires landlords to accommodate tenants who wish to use the drug at home, many of these states prohibit landlords from discriminating against medical marijuana patients by refusing to rent to them.

Still, marijuana laws are in flux. The federal government, which has long held that any form of pot use is illegal, effectively ended its ban on medical marijuana in late December after President Barack Obama signed a bill prohibiting federal funds from being spent to prosecute medical marijuana users. This may change the situation in California, for example, where residents with medical conditions have the right to “full and equal accommodations” in housing. Before the recent federal change, such protection didn’t necessarily include medical marijuana, says June Barlow, general counsel for the California Association of REALTORS®. But the new law could lead to medical marijuana accommodations in California.

The State’s Prerogative

It’s incumbent on practitioners who work as property managers to monitor changing laws, as more than half of the country’s 1.1 million REALTORS® live in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal in some form, according to NAR.

Here’s a possible scenario: A medical marijuana patient asks her landlord to let her smoke pot in her apartment. The landlord denies her request, but the tenant does it anyway, believing that her state’s law gives her the right. The landlord takes her to court to evict her. Although the state doesn’t explicitly require housing accommodations for pot, the law is in its infancy and a legal precedent has not been set. A judge may decide the legality of medical marijuana in the state means the tenant’s use should not be restricted and she should not be evicted.

“As far as evictions go, enforcement [in states that have legalized marijuana] has gone from criminal to civil, and that’s very difficult,” says Fred Prassas, CPM, GRI, a founding member of property management firm PMC Management Group in LaCrosse, Wisc., and  a real estate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Prassas, a former president of the Institute of Real Estate Management, spoke about the topic at NAR’s property management forum last May. “State laws give landlords the right to prohibit marijuana,” he says, but in states where use is legal, judges may not uphold such prohibitions.

So far, Prassas says, cases of this nature are only beginning to show up in  lower courts, and no recorded decisions have been made yet. But he has spoken to real estate professionals involved in these cases who believe the tide is turning in tenants’ favor.

The federal law change may further weaken landlords’ rules. While marijuana technically remains an illegal drug at the federal level, the government’s pledge not to prosecute medical marijuana users could make it more difficult for landlords to rely on federal law to argue their case.

States are less compelled to enforce a law the federal government has been lenient on, says Megan Booth, a senior policy representative for NAR.

Strengthening Your Position

Until legal standards are in place, there’s only one thing landlords can do to potentially strengthen their position in court: Follow the advice of NAR’s Walker and write more precise lease agreements.

If a lease agreement says only that illegal substances, or “criminal activity,” are not allowed on the premises, that won’t include a prohibition on the use of marijuana where it is legal under state law. Also, a “no smoking” policy doesn’t explicitly ban other forms of marijuana use, such as “vaping”—the practice of mixing THC with a propylene glycol–based liquid and vaporizing it—or baking pot into food items (such as brownies).

If tenants sign a lease agreement explicitly denying their right to use marijuana in any form on the premises, they have less legal recourse, says Booth. “The more explicitly it is spelled out in your lease, the more protected you are.”

What If You’re OK With Pot?

Certainly, there are landlords who take a more liberal approach to marijuana use.  For them, legal concerns may be less significant, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t consider another potential ramification: loss of property value.

In Denver, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, marijuana use in properties is becoming a stigma, suggests Jack O’Connor, broker-owner of The Denver 100. “I’ve had people ask if living near marijuana will hurt their kids’ health. I don’t have all the research, but you can’t say 100 percent that it won’t,” O’Connor reasons.

Public sentiment is in favor of marijuana legalization—52 percent of Americans support it, according to a Pew Research Center report last year—but that could change. “People are in favor of it being allowed,” Prassas says, “but that doesn’t mean they want their neighbors smoking it.”

Colorado’s real estate contracts and forms are due to be updated by Jan. 1, 2016, and O’Connor expects the new forms will include disclosure requirements around pot-friendly properties. That could require real estate professionals to inform buyers when homes—particularly condos—are in or near buildings where pot is used or allowed. No state currently requires such disclosures. O’Connor’s company, though, already makes it standard practice.

“We look at it as a potential disclosure of a defect,” O’Connor says. “If a house had a cigarette smoker, that would be a defect because of the odor. It’s the same with marijuana, and there’s no question that marijuana smoke is more potent than cigarette [smoke].”

And it’s not just the smoke that landlords need to think about; growing may raise issues, too. In some states, it’s legal to grow up to six pot plants for personal use. But cultivating the plants requires a high volume of humidity, which can cause mold in units and buildings.

As state marijuana laws evolve, so must best practices for landlords, property managers, and brokers. For now, you may have to read between the lines to discern the right path forward. The best advice is to pay careful attention to the wording of both your state’s laws and your own lease agreements.

   
  Fri Jan 27

Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval

Two often confused terms in the home buying process are a mortgage loan pre-qualification and a home loan pre-approval. Even some loan officers and real estate agents will use the terms incorrectly, so here's what you really need to know about each one.

 

Pre-Qualification

A mortgage loan pre-qualification is simply an estimate of how much house you can afford and how much money a lender would be willing to loan you. The best time to get a pre-qualification is right at the beginning of your home buying process, before you even start looking at houses. This involves either sitting down with a lender or talking with one on the phone, and providing information on your income, assets, debts, and a potential down payment amount. The lender would then provide you with a ballpark figure in writing of how much he thinks you could afford to pay for a monthly mortgage. There is no cost involved and there is no commitment on either side. This estimate is just helpful in helping you figure out if buying a home is a viable option, and if so, what your price range would probably be.

 

Pre-approval

Getting pre-approved means that you have a tentative commitment from a specific lender for mortgage funding. In this case, you provide a home loan lender with actual documentation of your income, assets, and debts. This process typically requires an application fee as well, since the bank will run a credit check and work to verify all your employment and financial information. Once you are approved, the lender will give you a letter of commitment, stating how much money her bank is willing to loan you for a home purchase. With a pre-approval in hand you can start your shopping - real estate agents and sellers will take you much more seriously when they see you have your mortgage funding in place.

It is important to understand, however, that even a pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will be approved for a mortgage loan.  The funding will only be given when the property appraisal, title search, and other verifications check out on the home you have chosen to buy.  Neither is the pre-approval binding; you can still obtain a mortgage from a different lender. If you do stick with the same company that pre-approved you though, the application process will be much shorter once you find the right house.

   
  Tue Jan 24

Where Foreclosure Backlogs Remain a Problem

Banks continue to clean out the pipeline of loans that were originated during the housing boom days that have since turned sour.

Most of the homes that are still being foreclosed on are from loans originated between 2004 and 2008, known as “legacy foreclosures,” according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2016 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

The following markets are seeing the biggest cases of backlogs with legacy foreclosures:

  • District of Columbia: 76% (share of legacy foreclosures)
  • Hawaii: 66%
  • New Jersey: 64%
  • Nevada: 63%
  • Delaware: 61%
  • Massachusetts: 61%

On a county level, the highest number of legacy foreclosures are occurring in:

  • Nassau County (Long Island), N.Y.: 8,632 representing 74 percent of all loans actively in foreclosure
  • Cook County (Chicago), Ill.: 7,357 representing 53 percent
  • Kings County (Brooklyn), N.Y.: 6,207 representing 68 percent
  • Miami-Dade County, Fla.: 5,262 representing 64 percent
  • Los Angeles County, Calif.: 4,956 representing 64 percent

While foreclosures are elevated in some areas, nationwide they mostly are continuing to drop. ATTOM Data Solution’s report showed that overall foreclosure filings – which include default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions – dropped 14 percent in 2016 from 2015 to the lowest level since 2006. There were 933,045 foreclosure filings in 2016.

Read moreWhere the Foreclosure Niche Still Makes Sense

“The national foreclosure rate stayed within an historically normal range for the third consecutive year in 2016, even as banks continued to clear out legacy foreclosures from the last housing bubble, particularly in the final quarter of the year,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Foreclosures completed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process 803 days on average, a substantial jump from the third quarter and indicating that banks pushed through significant numbers of legacy foreclosures during the quarter. Despite that push, we still show that more than half of all active foreclosures nationwide are on loans originated between 2004 and 2008, with a much higher share of legacy foreclosures in some markets.”

   
  Fri Jan 13

TransUnion 2016 Forecast Expects Consumer Credit Markets to Complete Recovery

TransUnion's 2016 mortgage and credit card forecasts predict that the consumer lending market will have fully recovered by the end of next year from both the mortgage crisis and the ensuing Great Recession that concluded more than six years ago.

TransUnion forecasts the national mortgage loan serious delinquency rate (the ratio of borrowers 60 or more days past due) will decline from 2.50 percent at the end of 2015 to 2.06 percent at the conclusion of 2016. Consumer level mortgage delinquency rates peaked in Q1 2010 at 6.94 percent and have been declining nearly every quarter since.

Credit card serious delinquency rates (the ratio of bankcard borrowers 90 days or more delinquent on one or more of their credit cards) are expected to conclude 2016 at 1.46 percent. This would mark the fourth consecutive year of delinquency rates just below 1.5 percent, a nearly 50 percent decline in delinquency rates from the end of 2009.

   
  Thu Jan 12

Carbon monoxide can kill

Updated December 29, 2015 4:48 PM
 
Police tell News 12 they were called to the scene around 8 a.m. in response to two unconscious girls at a home on Franklin Court East. (12/29/15)

GARDEN CITY - A Garden City family was exposed to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in their homes Tuesday morning, emergency crews say.  
Martin Arelleno, the owner of a home on Franklin Court East, says his cousin was staying with his wife and two kids in the basement. Arelleno says his cousin's two daughters fainted after being exposed to the gas.
A carbon monoxide detector was inside the home, but no alert was set off.
Garden City police say six out of the eight people inside the home were taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Arelleno says his family will be OK.
The source of what caused the high levels of carbon monoxide is still under investigation.
Garden City police say neighboring homes were also checked for carbon monoxide, but were found to be normal.
Nassau County Assistant Chief Fire Marshal John Priest says homeowners should get their heating systems checked by a professional.
"Carbon monoxide is a deadly killer. It is invisible, and it is odorless," says Priest. "Fire services across the United States will go to 60,000 carbon monoxide calls during 2016. We strongly suggest carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in the home on any floor."


 
   
  Sat Dec 31

How Long Information Stays On A Credit Report Once Reported

The three negative items which tend to show up the most on Credit Reports are:

  • Judgments
  • Collections
  • Late Payments

Borrowers can't do anything about past late payments, all they can do is to make sure they do not go late again.  Judgments and Collections are another issue, because they can pay them off, so they will stop having a negative impact on their Credit Score.  However, some of the Judgments and Collections I see on Credit Reports for Borrowers with major credit issues are substantial.  It is not unusual for these Borrowers to have a combination of Judgments and Collections upward of $10,000 to $20,000.

An example of a sizable Collection would be a repossessed car.  Even though the car will be re-sold by the creditor, the creditor will still list the full remaining balance as the Collection amount.  The remaining balance on a repossessed car can easily be over $10,000.  When a Borrower has a Collection this substantial, it is not unusual for them to also have several other Collections as well.  Even if the Collection Company is willing to settle for 50% of the amount owned, they will most of the time not settle unless the Borrower is able to pay them the agreed upon amount in one lump sum.  If the Collection is substantial most Borrowers do not have enough funds to do that.

Another reason why the length of time information on a Credit Report remains is important, is because the Borrower may not want to payoff the Judgment or Collection if they are close to the time which they will drop-off the Credit Report without payment.  The chart below shows the length of time different items remain on a Credit Report.

The best thing to do is to just pay everything off, but when Borrowers do not have sufficient funds to do so, the above chart is very useful in determining what Judgments or Collections should be paid-off first, and which ones are close enough to coming off on their own which should either be paid last or not at all.  I am a firm believer if you own a debt, then you need to pay the debt.  So I do not ever suggest a Borrower not payoff their Collections or Judgments on their Credit Report, not paying them will be a decision they need to reach on their own.  However, I do have an obligation to provide the information in the above chart when it is requested by a Borrower who wants to know How Long Information Stays On A Credit Report Once Reported, and the above chart is very useful in providing them with that information quickly.

   
  Fri Dec 30

Understanding Your Credit Score

You’ve just applied for a mortgage or auto loan and your lender comes back with a three-digit number that summarizes your credit worthiness and you have no clue what that number really means. What is the difference between a 540, a 670 and a 780? If you’re not familiar with credit scores then these seemingly random numbers can make it difficult to determine where you stand. And in today’s difficult economic environment, you need every point you can get. In this article we’re going to find out exactly what these numbers mean to lenders – and to you.

*Range above based on the FICO® credit score, which is used by most lenders.
Outstanding: 800+
If your credit score is over 800 then you’re pretty much the best of the best as far as the lending and insurance worlds are concerned. With scores this high, you represent an outstanding credit risk, almost non-existent, and you’ll qualify for the best deals. Consumers that score in the 800+ range typically have a long credit history with multiple credit accounts that have been paid on time for years. There are no derogatory records such as collections, bankruptcies or charge-off accounts and very little credit card debt. These people are almost immune to the credit crisis.Very Good: 750 – 799
If your credit score is between the 750 – 799 range, lenders will view you as a very low credit risk and you’ll qualify for some of the lowest lending rates available. You manage your credit responsibly by paying your bills on time and keeping your credit balances very low in relation to the credit limits.

If you need to repair your credit give me a call, this will remain private.

Sharyn Guzzi

Sharyn@lihorseproperties.com

631-979-2965

   
  Tue Dec 06

Women and Housing Market

Single Women Kick Butt in the Housing Market

Over the past 12 months, single women made up 17 percent of all homebuyers, purchasing at twice the rate of their single male counterparts, according to a new annual report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Furthermore, 2016 research from MGIC Connects shows single women representing the second-largest home-buying group, right behind married couples. This is even more impressive when you consider wage inequality, which is still a country-wide issue. In 2015, women made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men working a comparable job - a gender wage gap of a shocking 20 percent.

So, women are kicking butt in the housing market. But who are these ladies? According to NAR's 2015 Profile of Buyers and Sellers report, the median age of the single female buyer is 32 years old, and their median income is $49,000. But it's not just 30-something ladies purchasing their homes solo, but baby boomers, divorced and out on their own, or downsizing from a family home they no longer need.

Unfortunately, all this forward movement for female homebuyers doesn't come without the occasional stigma. A 2016 RealtyTrac study found that homes owned by single men are valued 10 percent higher, on average, than homes owned by single women. At the time of the study, the value of homes owned by single men averaged $255,226 - 10 percent above the $229,094 average of homes owned by single women.

   
   
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