Gov. Perdue has issued a state of emergency for 17 Georgia Counties that were affected by the heavy rain and severe weather.   Although these counties have not been declared disaster areas as of yet we are aware that they have been hard hit by excessive flooding.  

The counties affected are as follows:

 

Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Stephens, and Walker counties.  

 

 Due to the flooding and water damages, lenders will be requiring final inspections on properties that are closing and had been appraised prior to the declaration.   In order to make sure lenders have loan that are insurable and that the properties are still a viable asset they will require either a final inspection or a disaster report. These additional items are already delaying closings across the city, regardless of the lender.

 PLEASE be on the pro-active side of things regardless of whether it is your buyer or your listing to make sure that if the lender is requiring these items that they are ordered immediately to prevent closing delays.    

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Smart Numbers

PO Box 636

Marietta, GA 30061-0636 Email: palm@smartnumbers.com

Directors, First Multiple Listing Service March 21, 2009

Denise Gryder

678-420-4422

The average price for a home in Metro Atlanta has just plunged. The average price for all single family homes closed in

February was $176,378. The last time a month had a lower average closed price was December 1998.

The average price for residential attached was $155,467. This is the lowest monthly average closed price since January

2001 and the 15th consecutive monthly year-to-year decline.

The average sale price for single family detached was $179,368 in February. This is the lowest monthly average since

February 1998, 11 years ago. The average February closed price was 21.7% lower than February 2008 and the 12th

consecutive monthly year-to-year double digit percentage decline for single family detached closed prices.

How dramatic have been the price drops? The median closed price for Clayton County for 2009 is $37,150 or a drop of

67% from the same period in 2007. When comparing Clayton County, which has had many foreclosures, to a county that

has not, Forsyth County, the trend is still down, but not as much. Below is a table illustrating both counties price trend.

Median Closed Resale Price (January – February)

Deed records 2006 2007 2008 2009

Clayton County $119,000 $112,000 $72,000 $37,150

% change from 2007 -66.83%

Forsyth County $260,902 $270,000 $260,000 $230,000

% change from 2007 -14.81%

Unemployment hit an all-time high for Georgia last month, climbing to 9.3%. With record job losses there will be low

demand to buy homes. Closings for all single family in February were 2,756 or a decline of 37.1% from February 2008.

This was the 29th year-to-year monthly decline out of the last 30 periods.

February had 345 closings for single family attached or a decline of 50.4% from February 2008. With so much newconstruction

condo inventory ready to hit the market in 2009, the lending industry will need to loosen their lending

restrictions or there will be a lot of empty high rise condos in Atlanta.

The months supply of new construction condos & townhomes was 21.0 at the end of February. If the total of all units

coming on the market in 2009 was included in the statistic the number of months would probably triple.

There were 2,411 closings for single family detached in February. This is a decline of 34.6% from the same year ago

period and the 14th percentage year-to-year monthly decline of 20% or more in the past 18 periods.

The number of expired listings for all single family in February was 5,256. This is a decline of almost 700 from February

2008 and a direct result of lower inventories, as the inventory of homes on the market at the end of February is the lowest

since January 2007.

There were 1,815 withdrawn listings in February for all single family. This is the 7th monthly year-to-year decline and the9th out of the last 10 periods.

The Federal Reserve sharply stepped up its efforts to bolster the economy on 3/18, announcing that it would pump an

extra $1 trillion into the financial system by purchasing Treasury bonds and mortgage securities. If the banks can start

lending again, coupled with low home prices and low interest rates, your buyers will have the buying opportunity of a

lifetime. I have expected this to happen and still expect resales to see year-to-year increases by summer.

Thank you,

Steve Palm

Smart Numbers © 2009 Smart Numbers

So home prices are now in the gutter what does that mean for sellers?   For buyers?   That if they need to sell or ever thought of buying NOW is the TIME!!!   Home prices are at a 10 year low.   Think of it this way—if you could have bought Google stock before its IPO would you have?   Same thought process to home prices.   They are at the level Google stock was when it first came out.   This is the bottom, you will only look back and be glad you did or be sorry you didn’t buy.   if you are a seller get out on the front end of this market and you may still be able to buy a house at a steep discount especially if you are moving up in price brackets.

This letter is provided to agents from First Multiple Listing Service via Steve Palm

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The AJC is laying off 30% of its workforce. So does this mean that it is close to shutting down?   Many major newspapers have shut down in the last year.   The Denver news being one of the most notable.   I had a client who took a voluntary early retirement option in December 2007, so is this just the next wave or it a sign of something worse?   Thoughts?

http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2009/03/25/ajc_job_cuts.htmlI

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 I hope this isn’t a sign of the times—AJC is an Atlanta institution.   Many newspapers across the country have been laying off and some have even been closing down.   AJC employs a number of people.   I have a client who volunteer for early retirement last December so this is another wave of layoffs.   BUY AJC paper!

http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2009/03/25/ajc_job_cuts.html

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Wednesday’s WOW Deal is a little late but this is  worth the wait!

Located in East Hampton this bank foreclosure for $554,500.   The house has built-in bookcases, stained kitchen cabinets, and hardwoods through the entire first floor. The entire house needs a facelift but it is about $75,000 below market–Premier East Cobb Schools Mount  Bethel-Elementary, Dodgen Middle, Walton High School.   Call me today to check this deal or for a list of hot foreclosure deals in your area.  

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As the weather gets warmer we are starting to see the thawing of the real estate market into what may work to be a good 2009.   Certainly from the perspective of 1st quarter 2009 we are off to a healthy start.   The question is can we keep it going and what would potentially cause it to change directions?

  Some of my thoughts to keep it going is we have to keep pushing these foreclosures through the paces of getting them foreclosed, list and sold.   This was the problem and unfortunately is the solution to making the real estate market work.   Second, we need to keep interest rates in the general 5% area because that is what is allowing buyers to jump on the fence of thinking of buying and is what makes it ok for a seller to sell for less and buy at a steep discount and better payment.   Lastly, the media needs to continue reporting the good with the bad.   When buyers and sellers see that the market is starting to get better they realize that they need to do something NOW as opposed to later.

The things that will change direction is certainly the word recession. The minute that the news outlets report we are out of what is now the current recession, interest rates will rise and the economy will begin to build confidence that is lacking.   Next, Bailouts of anything else including newspapers, more banks or really anything.   The country is sick of helping big business out and needs to see that we are done with the check writing.   Lastly, we need to show that inventories have significantly increased, if people see that there are more homes on the market now than in the last 18 months then they are not going to feel that we have hit a bottom. That is why it is so important for real estate professionals to educate sellers on the importance of not overpricing.  

We are thawing but if something puts us back in the freezer we could become and even bigger, harder piece of ice.

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This an interesting video I found that shows how the real estate vulchers are coming on the scene. They are timing the bottom.

Thoughts

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A new article is out discussing why vacancy rates are high in the Marietta-East Cobb area.   Many reasons I feel can explain.  

1-During the real estate boom many homeowners decided to purchase without selling their first home–and doing double mortgages.  

2- Marietta-East Cobb is an ideal second home destination.   It is close to the city but you get to enjoy low property taxes and good resale prices.

3- Builders overbuilt.   Many of the homes that are vacant are in my opinion new construction. Just this weekend and entire condo development went on auction that was over 50 units.   They overbuilt and remained overpriced for too long.   East Cobb has a high average sales price comparative to the rest of the city but you have to keep in mind how few people can afford a $600,000 house.  

What other reasons do you think that this area has such a high number of vacancies?

http://realestate.aol.com/pictures/finance/highest-vacancy-rate-cities?pg=4

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http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/02/18/business/0218-housing-graphic.html

Article on who is up for the proposed stimulus money and how it can affect those in need. But is it really helping those who really need it the most?   Also how is this fair to those who are making their mortgage and put 20% down in the first place or those who didn’t go and buy a bigger better house in and did one of these crazy mortgages?   How is this fair? Thoughts?

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Woman wins house after husband has been laid off!!! Who says it all bad news in the media about real estate.

Susan Wells was thrilled to learn she’d won a $2 million house in a raffle days after her husband had been laid off from his job. “I’m floored,” said Wells, who bought the ticket as a surprise to celebrate the couple’s 16th anniversary. “I can’t believe this has happened. Needless to say, my husband is very surprised.”

The house is in upscale Marin County, just north of San Francisco. The couple already own a home in Danville, a suburb south of San Francisco, and if they don’t want to move they have the option of $1.2 million in cash.

They’re still deciding what do, but Brad Wells, who had been a sales executive for a Silicon Valley high-tech company, said the winnings are definitely a boost.

“I got laid off on Wednesday and the company went bankrupt on Friday,” he said. The couple got word of their win on Saturday. “It’s been a really rough ride for the last year. This gives us an unbelievable lift.”

The raffle was held by Community Action Marin, which netted about $1.3 million, down from $2 million last year, the first time the event was held.

“In this economy, we’re still very pleased,” said Russ Hamel, director of development for the group, a private social services organization.

There were 29,000 tickets sold and prizes in addition to the dream house included $200,000 in cash.

Susan Wells said the couple is celebrating by having dinner with their neighbors.

“We’re bringing a very good bottle of champagne,” she said.

Have you considered buying a house in a raffle or raffling off your house? Thoughts?

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Questions and Answers for Borrowers about the

Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

Borrowers Who Are Current on Their Mortgage Are Asking:

  1. What help is available for borrowers who stay current on their mortgage payments but have seen their homes decrease in value?

Under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, eligible borrowers who stay current on their mortgages but have been unable to refinance to lower their interest rates because their homes have decreased in value, may now have the opportunity to refinance into a 30 or 15 year, fixed rate loan. Through the program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow the refinancing of mortgage loans that they hold in their portfolios or that they placed in mortgage backed securities.

I owe more than my property is worth, do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Eligible loans will now include those where the new first mortgage (including any refinancing costs) will not exceed 105% of the current market value of the property. For example, if your property is worth $200,000 but you owe $210,000 or less you may qualify. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Complete eligibility details will be announced on March 4th when the program starts. The criteria for eligibility will include having sufficient income to make the new payment and an acceptable mortgage payment history. The program is limited to loans held or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

I have both a first and a second mortgage. Do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

As long as the amount due on the first mortgage is less than 105% of the value of the property, borrowers with more than one mortgage may be eligible to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. Your eligibility will depend, in part, on agreement by the lender that has your second mortgage to remain in a second position, and on your ability to meet the new payment terms on the first mortgage.

Will refinancing lower my payments?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide creditworthy borrowers who have shown a commitment to paying their mortgage with affordable

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payments that are sustainable for the life of the loan. Borrowers whose mortgage interest rates are much higher than the current market rate should see an immediate reduction in their payments. Borrowers who are paying interest only, or who have a low introductory rate that will increase in the future, may not see their current payment go down if they refinance to a fixed rate. These borrowers, however, could save a great deal over the life of the loan. When you submit a loan application, your lender will give you a “Good Faith Estimate” that includes your new interest rate, mortgage payment and the amount that you will pay over the life of the loan. Compare this to your current loan terms. If it is not an improvement, a refinancing may not be right for you.

6. What are the interest rate and other terms of this refinance offer?

The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to provide borrowers with a safe loan program with a fixed, affordable payment. All loans refinanced under the plan will have a 30 or 15 year term with a fixed interest rate. The rate will be based on market rates in effect at the time of the refinance and any associated points and fees quoted by the lender. Interest rates may vary across lenders and over time as market rates adjust. The refinanced loans will have no prepayment penalties or balloon notes.

7. Will refinancing reduce the amount that I owe on my loan?

No. The objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to help borrowers refinance into safer, more affordable fixed rate loans. Refinancing will not reduce the amount you owe to the first mortgage holder or any other debt you owe. However, by reducing the interest rate, refinancing should save you money by reducing the amount of interest that you repay over the life of the loan.

8. How do I know if my loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

To determine if your loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and is eligible to be refinanced, you should contact your mortgage lender after March 4, 2009.

9. When can I apply?

Mortgage lenders will begin accepting applications after the details of the program are announced on March 4, 2009.

10. What should I do in the meantime?

You should gather the information that you will need to provide to your lender after March 4, when the refinance program becomes available. This includes:

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    1. information about the gross monthly income of all borrowers, including your most recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
    2. your most recent income tax return
    3. information about any second mortgage on the house
    4. payments on each of your credit cards if you are carrying balances from month to month, and
    5. payments on other loans such as student loans and car loans.

Borrowers Who Are at Risk of Foreclosure Are Asking:

  1. What help is available for borrowers who are at risk of foreclosure either because they are behind on their mortgage or are struggling to make the payments?

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan offers help to borrowers who are already behind on their mortgage payments or who are struggling to keep their loans current. By providing mortgage lenders with financial incentives to modify existing first mortgages, the Treasury hopes to help as many as 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure regardless of who owns or services the mortgage.

Do I need to be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for a modification?

No. Borrowers who are struggling to stay current on their mortgage payments may be eligible if their income is not sufficient to continue to make their mortgage payments and they are at risk of imminent default. This may be due to several factors, such as a loss of income, a significant increase in expenses, or an interest rate that will reset to an unaffordable level.

How do I know if I qualify for a payment reduction under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

In general, you may qualify for a mortgage modification if (a) you occupy your house as your primary residence; (b) your monthly mortgage payment is greater than 31% of your monthly gross income; and (c) your loan is not large enough to exceed current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits. Final eligibility will be determined by your mortgage lender based on your financial situation and detailed guidelines that will be available on March 4, 2009.

I do not live in the house that secures the mortgage I™d like to modify. Is this mortgage eligible for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

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No. For example, if you own a house that you use as a vacation home or that you rent out to tenants, the mortgage on that house is not eligible. If you used to live in the home but you moved out, the mortgage is not eligible. Only the mortgage on your primary residence is eligible. The mortgage lender will check to see if the dwelling is your primary residence.

5. I have a mortgage on a duplex. I live in one unit and rent the other. Will I still be eligible?

Yes. Mortgages on 2, 3 and 4 unit properties are eligible as long as you live in one unit as your primary residence.

6. I have two mortgages. Will the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan reduce the payments on both?

Only the first mortgage is eligible for a modification.

7. I owe more than my house is worth. Will the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan reduce what I owe?

The primary objective of the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan is to help borrowers avoid foreclosure by modifying troubled loans to achieve a payment the borrower can afford. Lenders are likely to lower payments mainly by reducing loan interest rates. However, the program offers incentives for principal reductions and at your lender™s discretion modifications may include upfront reductions of loan principal.

8. I heard the government was providing a financial incentive to borrowers. Is that true?

Yes. To encourage borrowers who work hard to retain homeownership, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan provides incentive payments as a borrower makes timely payments on the modified loan. The incentive will accrue on a monthly basis and will be applied directly to reduce your mortgage debt. Borrowers who pay on time for five years can have up to $5,000 applied to reduce their debt by the end of that period.

9. How much will a modification cost me?

There is no cost to borrowers for a modification under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan. If you wish to get assistance from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency or are referred to a counselor as a condition of the modification, you will not be charged a fee. Borrowers should beware of any organization that attempts to charge a fee for housing counseling or modification of a delinquent loan, especially if they require a fee in advance.

10. Is my lender required to modify my loan?

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No. Mortgage lenders participate in the program on a voluntary basis and loans are evaluated for modification on a case-by-case basis. But the government is offering substantial incentives and it is expected that most major lenders will participate.

11. I’m already working with my lender / housing counselor on a loan workout. Can I still be considered for the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Ask your lender or counselor to be considered under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.

12. How do I apply for a modification under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

You may not need to do anything at this time. Most mortgage lenders will evaluate loans in their portfolio to identify borrowers who may meet the eligibility criteria. After March 4 they will send letters to potentially eligible homeowners, a process that may take several weeks. If you think you qualify for a modification and do not receive a letter within several weeks, contact your mortgage servicer or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Please be aware that servicers and counseling agencies are expected to receive an extraordinary number of calls about this program.

13. What should I do in the meantime?

You should gather the information that you will need to provide to your lender on or after March 4, when the modification program becomes available. This includes

  1.  
    1. information about the monthly gross income of your household including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
    2. your most recent income tax return
    3. information about any second mortgage on the house
    4. payments on each of your credit cards if you are carrying balances from month to month, and
    5. payments on other loans such as student loans and car loans.
    6. 14. My loan is scheduled for foreclosure soon. What should I do?

  2. Contact your mortgage servicer or credit counselor. Many mortgage lenders have expressed their intention to postpone foreclosure sales on all mortgages that may qualify for the modification in order to allow sufficient time to evaluate the borrower’s eligibility. We support this effort.

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God Save the Queen!! The banks are failing.   Georgia is one of the hardest hit.   Below is a link to some of the banks that are on the watch list or have been closed. It is expected many more banks will close by the end of 2009.   When will the bleeding stop. Do the banks that are on the list have a plan or are they hoping the bail out money will float them through this???

http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/bbdp/problem-bank-list-at-highest-level-since/360741

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1-$8000 Tax Credit Refund—You can receive up to $8000 tax refund this time next year!!! WOW! Just take it an do the renovation project, pay down credit card debt, put toward mortgage.   This is yours if you are a first time home buyer!

2-FHA loan limits have increased-They are now over $340,000.   This means you can put down 3.5% on a mortgage and get a great home. Minimum credit score is typically 620 so talk with a lender about how an FHA loan could be right for you.

3-Stellar Interest Rates- Rates are hovering around the 5% mark that is unbelievable in comparison to ten years ago! This is a fixed 30-year mortgage.   Take advantage!

4-Motivated Sellers and low housing prices- So if #1, #2, #3 weren’t enough—sellers, banks and builders are begging you to buy their house.   They will close when you want to with your terms.  

5- Tons of Inventory to Choose From Make multiple offers to multiple sellers, take your time, study up on the area and really make sure you are getting the best house for you!

All of these reasons are making for the perfect storm for a buyer’s WIN market.   What other reasons should buyers be buying now?

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Suntrust Mortgage Interest Rates  

  Rate Ranges 2/27/2009

 

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FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT As Modified in the American Recovery and Reinvestment ActMajor Modifications Italicized

February 2009 FEATURE CREDIT AS CREATED JULY 2008APPLIES TO ALL QUALIFIED PURCHASES ON OR AFTER APRIL 9, 2008 REVISED CREDIT “EFFECTIVE FOR PURCHASES ON OR AFTER JANUARY 1, 2009 AND BEFORE DECEMBER 1, 2009
Amount of Credit Lesser of 10 percent of cost of home or $7500 Maximum credit amount increased to $8000
Eligible Property Any single family residence (including condos, co-ops, townhouses) that will be used as a principal residence. No changeAll principal residences eligible.
Refundable Yes. Reduces (or can eliminate) income tax liability for the year of purchase. Any unused amount of tax credit refunded to purchaser. No changePurchasers will continue to receive refund for unused amount when tax return is filed.
Income Limit Yes. Full amount of credit available for individuals with adjusted gross income of no more than $75,000 ($150,000 on a joint return). Phases out above those caps ($95,000 and $170,000). No changeSame income limits continue to apply.
First-time Homebuyer Only Yes. Purchaser (and purchaser™s spouse) may not have owned a principal residence in 3 years previous to purchase. No changeStill available for first-time purchasers only. Three-year rule continues to apply.
Revenue Bond Financing No credit allowed if home financed with state/local bond funding. Purchasers who utilize revenue bond financing can use credit.
Repayment Yes. Portion (6.67% of credit or $500) to be repaid each year for 15 years, starting with 2010 tax filing. No repayment for purchases on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009
Recapture If home sold before 15-year repayment period ends, then outstanding balance of repayment amount recaptured on sale. If home is sold within three years of purchase, entire amount of credit is recaptured on sale. Applies only to homes purchased in 2009.
Termination July 1, 2009(But note program changes for 2009) December 1, 2009
Effective Date Purchases on or after April 9, 2008 and before January 1, 2009. Repayment to begin for 2010 tax year. All revisions are effective as of January 1, 2009
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