Saturday, October 28, 2006

FREE ATG seminar - 11/2

Lawyers/paralegals take a look here for more info. about a symposium put on by Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. this coming Thursday November 2, 2006. It looks like a nice speakers list and it's FREE! Downtown Chicago.

So what is a bedroom?

Here's a story from the Sun-Times about a complaint which the City filed against Enterprise Cos. regarding deceptive marketing of certain condos at Museum Pointe, 233 E. 13th St. The complaint alleged that the units were sold as two-bedroom units when they actually were one-bedroom units with walk-in-closets.

You might take a look at the situation if you represented anyone buying into the development. Maybe there's a private cause of action there as well.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Even Home Depot's impacted by the housing downturn...

Here's a funny piece from NYTimes about how Home Depot is expanding it's product lines to deal with the downturn in housing. Yep, gas and cigarettes, that's the answer. It's an interesting read about how businesses handle industry downturns.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ginnie Mae to offer reverse mortgages

Federal housing finance agency Ginnie Mae announced it will begin securitizing reverse mortages, which allow older homeowners to convert equity in their homes to monthly streams of income or lines of credit.

Here's Ginnie's press release. This could cause a nice expansion in the number of players in this field and possibly lower consumer costs. This is a good and simple tip if you ever have an elderly client that is having financial shortages.

Baby boomers and real estate

Hi all, well I'm back from suffering through a tough lawyer conference in Naples, more blogging to come.

Here's a link to a short teaser of a longer study put out by the Nat'l Assn. of Realtors entitled, Baby Boomers & Real Estate: Today and Tomorrow. The full study is purchase only. There were some suprising and not suprising findings. Unsuprisingly, for a large percentage of boomers, home equity is their largest source of wealth. More suprisingly are the large percentages of boomers who intend to keep accumulating real estate as they proceed toward the traditional retirement years.

So my elder law practice may just actually be "real estate"?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mexican real estate opportunities?

Be aware of a couple items we've seen lately regarding increased activity by US citizen buying Mexican real estate. Might there be a business opportunity for you to exploit?

First, this is a press release from the Nat'l Association of Realtors regarding a new partnership it has formed with Asociation Mexicana de Professionales Inmobiliarios, a real estate agent association in Mexico. These new linkages open up more opportunities for lawyers that have close relationships with Realtors.

Second, on more of a general interest front, saw a piece in the Sunday paper regarding the huge numbers of Americans buying property in Baja California. The piece suggested some 250,000 Americans live on the Baja.

The Fed. says the real estate market's not so bad

Here's the text of a recent, informative speech by the Fed's vice chairman, Donald Kohn. It's very upbeat amid the constant drumbeat of negative housing news we've been hearing in the media. Some critical points he makes:

He doesn't see any bust in the housing market, it's merely a "correction." The market is simply returning to "normal" in many of the extremely overheated regions of the country.

New home sales are near their bottom. Many of the data on new housing starts and new home sales figures have been pretty dire, but Mr. Kohn suggests growth in new home starts should be returning.

Low interest rates foretell short downturn. This is an underreported story. The last six months or so mortage rates have been headed slightly downward. This isn't a repeat of the 1980s and 15+ interest rates. And my reading of the Fed. is that there next move will be downward.

Income growth should underpin housing demand. The unemployment rate is down to 4.6% and incomes are rising. As home prices stop rising, the employment market will support housing demand.

Friday, October 13, 2006

New homes down and previously owned up

The National Association of Realtors reported...

The median price for a new home will probably dip 0.2 percent to $240,500, the first decline since a drop of 2.4 percent 15 years ago, according to the association. The price for previously owned homes will probably rise 1.6 percent to $223,000, the smallest gain on record, the trade group said.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Handling your ARMs...

Some tips on handling an ARM...

Consider refinancing. If you're planning on staying in your home for a few years, finance with a fixed-rate mortgage.

Don't go negative. If you have an option ARM (where your payments can go lower than interest-only) don't just pay the minimum. If you always make minimum payments higher payments will eventually be triggered. Make an extra large payment one or more times per year.

Get Help. Make an appointment with a HUD counseling agency (800-569-4287) or in Chicago use its 311 line (call 311).

Contact your lender. You may be able to modify the terms of your mortgage.

Sell. Downsize if need be.

Condo board forum

The University of Chicago's putting on its annual condo forum on October 21, 2006. Here's info.

Open a home-equity credit line

This isn't anything new if you've been in the business a while but it's emphasized to me when I recently had some emergency expenses:

Advise clients (home buyers) to open a home-equity line immediately when they close on a mortgage, especially if they put up a lot of cash. Equity lines are open-ended second liens that allow borrowers to tap into the equity of their homes. You may never need it but if you need money in a hurry, you'll have access to cash. One never knows when that job change or termination may come.

Federal government inter-agency guidance

Here's a press release along with attachments regarding recent guidance released as a joint project of the Federal Reserve, Comptroller of the Currency, FDIC, Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Nat'l Credit Union Administration.

The guidance is suprisingly positive regarding many of the non-traditional mortgage products such as payment-option and interest-only loans.

Some of the big warnings expressed are regarding no document loans, "piggyback" loans where the two loans are interest-only, and non-owner occupancy loans. When a buyer doesn't plan on living in a home, the likelihood of default or foreclosure increases dramatically.

"In Cold Blood" home set for auction

The so-called Clutter Home where the Clutter family got murdered on which Truman Capote's, In Cold Blood is based, located in Holcomb, Kansas is on the auction block this week.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Want to rent your house out?

Here's a piece from the October 8, 2006 NYTimes regarding the renting of one's home.

A suprisingly good and thorough overview for the mainstream media. The article compared unfurnished versus furnished rentals with unfurnished rentals expecting more than a one year lease.

Don't ignore this option in a slow real estate sales market...too many people do. If you can get a reasonable rent rate, you're likely still paying your mortage so you get all of those tax advantages plus your expenses maintaining and repairing the property and various potential depreciation items. I know I just advised a close friend of mine who's doing this in a fairly high-end western 'burb.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Couple nice real estate pieces from the Times

Here and here are a couple articles for what they're worth from todays NYTimes.

One piece examines the changing desires of buyers in second home and retirement communities...less golf/tennis and more natural beaty, wildlife, bike trails, ect. I've always thought the popularity of golf was overrated. As an avid player, there are a lot of people who don't play golf. Building golf courses was popular the last 10 years in the Chicago area; there wasn't adequate demand.

The second piece is an interesting investigation of mortgage fraud in Indiana involving Countrywide Financial.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A new real estate resource stumbled upon...

Just an FYI and no guarantees from the management but I stumbled onto a nice resource recently, the Real Estate Center at Texas A & M University (by the way whatever happened to their football program...but I digress). It's a bit Texas centric but there's occassionally some good national stuff and it's very informative for issues relating to the Hispanic market. It has a free e-mail newsletter.

Tapping into the latino market

Former Clinton Admin. HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros is the editor on a new book out entitled, "Casa y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design." I haven't read it but I've seen a number of blurbs in various other media sources reviewing the book. Mr. Cisneros claims Hispanics represent the fastest-growing segment of the middle-class, are relatively young and have homeownership rates below the national average. Can you ignore this trend?

Welcome to the 21st century IRS

Read a bit recently where the IRS will process Form 4506-T requests within one to two business days now. As any of you who do real estate closings likely know, 4506-T allows a mortgagee to obtain IRS summaries of a persons income and tax data for up to four years. This might tighten up the stated income and no doc loans. This should make it easier to run income checks pre-closing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Housing budgets strapped

Here's a good piece from today's Trib. about how strapped people are in the Chicago area regarding their housing expenses.

Real estate attorney job post

Just an FYI from a colleague who contacted us...

Real Estate Attorney

The incumbent manages a legal assignment load to meet strategic objectives, for our retail chain expansion and property management, as well as miscellaneous responsibilities including litigation oversight. This position requires the ability and experience necessary to negotiate and draft real estate documents without oversight. In-house corporate experience for a national retailer is a plus. Three years of professional legal practice in Commercial Real Estate Law and a Juris Doctor Law degree from an accredited Law School. Proficiency in MS Word and Excel is important. Must be a self-starter with exceptional organizational and communication skills.

If you know of anyone that could benefit from knowing about this information, or another attorney I could contact as a networking source, I would greatly appreciate any referrals you could provide me. My contact information is below.
I look forward to hearing from you very soon.
Highest regards,
Alexandra Wise
Dir, Nat’l Exec Search
Trovato Group, LLC
(281) 458-6948 Office