Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2 Days Until Homebuyer Tax Credit Expires: Inventory Continues Growing At All Price Points

The Homebuyer Tax Credit has been a costly failure nationwide.  And it's not doing much to chip away the rising inventory in this area.  

In the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors 1stQ 2010 Market Report, there was a note on the inventory number:
"As of this writing [April 12] we have 3,535 homes on the market, compared to 3,608 at this time last year.  This is the largest year-over-year decrease in several years, but we are still above the balanced inventory level in the 2,000 to 2,500 range."
So much for momentary lows.  As of noon, the inventory was at 3,600 for all of Central Virginia.   Currently, there are 267 single family listings in City of C'ville, and 862 single family listings in Albemarle County; the number is at 1,528 properties of all types, including fantasy "proposed."

The data for Weeks 1, 2, 3 of April may be found here.

No buyer?  Uh oh.  And more  uh oh. 

Related Reading:
BusinessInsider: Homeownership Now At Lowest Level Since Q1 2001
CalculatedRisk: The Latest Case Shiller Price Index Can't Be Trusted, According to Its Creators
CalculatedRisk: Real Home Prices and the Unemployment Rate
Meredith Whitney: On Goldman Sachs and the Coming Double Dip in Housing

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Homebuyer Tax Cred Expires in 4 Days. Need a Place? Thousands to Choose From in the Charlottesville Area.

With the April 30 expiration of the Homebuyer's Tax Credit, the "Spring Selling Season" for the "lower end" of this market is effectively over.  
  • There are currently 265 single family homes listed in the City of Cville.  
  • There are 853 single family homes listed in Albemarle County.   
  • There are currently 1,516 properties of all types* offered in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  This is years of inventory.
  • The number is 3,566 in Central Virginia.
The current tax cred is available to married couples earning up to $245k.  But it's lower-end housing sales, under $300k, that were receiving a boost, since those buyers could use the credit as down payment or closing costs (3.5% down for an FHA loan of $230k = $8k).  From January to March, 58% of all sales in this area were under $300k, according to RealCentralVA.

But the tax cred hasn't done much to deplete inventory, since there are so few buyers in this area. Plenty of inventory remains in the under $300k price range (and every other range).  In fact, inventory climbs daily, if not hourly. 

It's not looking good. 

Of all the property types for sale, the "American Dream" category of single family homes is growing quickly.

  • April 2009: 202 single family homes listed
  • April 25, 2010: 265 single family homes listed
  • 24% YOY increase in inventory
  • 1st Q  single family home sales were down -22% 2010 over 2009
  • 1st Q single family home sales were down -47% 2009 over 2008
Albemarle County:
  • April 2009 666 single family homes listed
  • April 25, 2010: 853 single family homes listed
  • 22% YOY increase in inventory
  • 1st Q 2008: 126 single family home sales
  • 1st Q 2009: 82 single family home sales
  • 1st Q 2010: 105 single family home sales
SEE MORE: City of Charlottesville sales info. Albemarle County sales info.

(all types = *single family, townhouse/attached, condo, proposed)

Inventory April 1-7 here.

Inventory April 8-14:

Inventory April 15-21:

Same old story: lack of short term buyers, lack of move-up buyers, Option ARMs adjusting, wage-to-price ratio out of whack, Great Recession, rising area unemployment, etc.

Related Reading:
Here's What's Missing From CAAR's Q1 2010 Report 
9 Reasons Charlottesville Albemarle Home Prices Will Continue Dropping
CalculatedRisk: Existing Home Sales
The Big Picture: Recent New Home Sales Data (don't miss comments)
Business Insider: Sell Now Before It's Too Late

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Win-Win-Win" - The Michael Comer Embezzlement Scandal Forces Developer to Sell Glenmore Country Club

Rather than dwell on the family tragi-scandal that has resulted in his brother-in-law Michael Comer pleading guilty to embezzlement and money-laundering, engendered the sale of four family properties, and caused a swirl of rumors, RE III BHG CEO Jeff Gaffney takes the optimistic businessman's view.  

Gaffney, a head of Glenmore Associates, the developer of the gated community, said of the Country Club sale:
"We see it as a real plus for the Glenmore Community, the country club, and Glenmore Associates.  This is a win-win-win situation and it's nice to have something like that happen."
Read details of the purchase, the response of the Homeowners Association, and comment by the new buyers in this DP article.  Read about the 'far-reaching' damage of the case in this DP article.

Read about the publically known "Lose-Lose-Lose-Lose-Lose" parts of this scandal:
Comprehensive coverage of the Comer scandal, including the internal audit, unanswered questions, etc., may be found here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another Victim of the Housing Crisis: Barry Meade Homes Goes Under

Continuing low sales in Central Virginia, and the "Great Recession," claims a builder with a long history; some of the company's 11 unsold homes are in various stages of foreclosure.  Read.

Many of the areas' builders/developers have faced mass foreclosures or changes in business plans over the past two years:  Church Hill Homes, Weather Hill Homes, K Hovnanian's Four Seasons, Crozet's Old Trail, the Belvedere development, Hauser Homes/Stonehaus Development,  the downtown Waterhouse project.  And mind-bogglingly large Biscuit Run turned into a plan for a state park (with a controversial payment).

Nowadays in Albemarle, million dollar foreclosures aren't a surprise; and they are going to increase in the future.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here's What's Missing From CAAR's Market Report, First Quarter 2010: Info Buyers and Sellers Need Right Now

There were just 18 more sales in Q1 2010 than there were in Q1 2009, in all of Central Virginia (7 Counties and C'ville).  That's bad.  Was it "snow"?

Yes,  there were 18 additional sales in Q1 2010 over 2009
  • despite Q1 '09 being the depths of the "Great Recession" 
  • despite  historically low interest rates 
  • despite the expanded Homebuyer Tax Credit for "First Time" and "Move-Up" buyers
  • despite FHA loans pretty much available to anybody with a pulse, for amounts up to $437k, with a 3.5% downpayment
Probably not snow.  So what kept the sales lowThat pesky nationwide housing crash.  And buyer knowledge that this area remains overvalued, at all price points, and hasn't had the "correction" of surrounding locales.  The further the area moves away from the bubble years, there are fewer and fewer new and move-up buyers, just a handful of "short term" buyers, and a host of reasons why there will be continued price declines.  Buyers know this.  And so do Realtors.

The only cause for optimism right now in the Charlottesville Area RE market is that there are 16 days before the Homebuyer Tax Credit expires.  Sellers with equity can drop their asking prices. 

So what's missing from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors  Q1 '10 report?  Some vital details about inventory, pricing, sales, as well as some broader perspective.  

Buyers and sellers need more information so they can either make offers, or create reality-based asking prices, or just sit out the season.  The CAAR report is, after all, the product of a trade association and sales people, and thereby an overview.  Still, it is widely reported in media venues, some of which present the information as if it's a complete picture.  

So here's some of what's missing: 


The number of sales stated in the report --436-- (418 in '09)  is for  all property types rolled together--single family, condo, townhouse for all of Central Virginia. The percentage of sales of all types is reported as follows for 2010 over 2009:  

Charlottesville -26.1%
Fluvanna +12.5%
Albemarle +13.1%
Greene +22.5%
Louisa +19%
Orange -26.8%
Nelson +104%

But the numbers need the context of earlier years.  The numbers below are 2009's declines over 2008 for Q1

Charlottesville -40%
Albemarle -18.7%
Fluvanna -32.4%
Greene -50%
Louisa -59.6%
Nelson -51.2%
Orange – 36.7%

1.  There's been a huge drop in sales since 2005.  And for some property types and areas, the drops have been more significant, when individual categories are examined. 

2.  For Q1 2010, Charlottesville had a drop in sales of -26.1% over 2009.  Albemarle County has had a rise of +13.1% over 2009. 

3.  The "American Dream" category, single family homes, is the "indicator" of economic health, used by the Case- Shiller Index, the FHFA, the NAR, to track the housing market.  But info about this category is missing.    (Here's  a bubble blog post for  Albemarle's Q1 2010 numbers.)  

4.  Condos and townhouses are broken out in a separate category for Albemarle and C'ville--even though the sales and pricing have already been included in the numbers for "sales" and to calculate the area's median price.

5.  New Home Sales:  The report has a graph with a line moving from top left corner to bottom right...there's been a 75% decline in new home sales since 2006.  This is actually the most devastating part of the report for those connected to the industry, as this is the only sector of RE that creates jobs.  Sales create commissions, but building has a ripple effect.

6.  How many closed sales were "short sales"?  Is it 50%?  25%?

7.  How many closed sales were foreclosure resales

8.  How many pending contracts failed to close


There's a statement in the report that inventory for all of Central Virginia has declined this year compared to last year.

But in certain areas, and for certain types of property, inventory has risen. Inventory for the largest sector of sales in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, detached, single family homes has climbed significantly:  
  • In the City of Charlottesville in April 2009 there were 204 homes for sale.
  • In 2010, there are 248, an 18% increase.
  • In Albemarle County in April 2009, there were 666.  
  • In 2010, there are 798, a 17% increase
And of this inventory, vital details are missing:

1. How many of the listings are "short sales"? 
2.  How many listings have asking prices less than what the seller paid, but are not, technically, "short sales"?
3.  How many listings are foreclosure resales
4.  How many of these are "relistings"?
5.  How many listings are vacant?


The "area median" of $235k given by the report is an aggregate of all types of housing units (condo, townhouse, single-family) and compilation of all geographic areas (7 counties and the City).    

Medians for 2001-2009 are here. 

But the aggregate number is way off indicating the much higher figures for single family homes, especially in comparison:
  • City of C'ville - $349k (this week) 
  • Albemarle County - $465k (this week) 
  • National median of $164k for a single family home
1. The median or average prices of a detached, single family home in C'ville, Albemarle, Greene, Louisa, etc, is not given.

2. There's no mention that the average sale price of a single family home in Q1 2010 in Albemarle County  was $522,827; this is $55k less than in 2009. 

3.  The condo market is having a price (and sales) collapse.  There's no mention of the extent of the problem, nor the reasons.

4.  What's with the asking prices divorced from tax assessments? Sure, an assessment is not an appraisal.  But Mr. Greedy Tax Man is using similar "solds" from last year to get his number.  Last year, houses were worth more.  When many buyers see an asking price above a tax assessment, the property is automatically crossed off the list.  (2004 tax assessments are more realistic as a starting point.)
5.  To suggest pricing is "stabilizing" in the area, when months of available inventory is in the double digits, is a disservice to buyers as well as to sellers.

Perspective:  The CAAR has brought in Virginia Housing Development Authority Senior Analyst Barry Merchant several times to tell members where this market is going over the next couple years.  But the Q1'10 report doesn't put into context any of that information...because it's a marketing report, a tool to inspire confidence to buy; it's not giving buyers nor sellers, enough hard data to make an offer or to price the property to sell.

Bottom Line: It's not a "great time to buy."  It won't be a "great time" to buy for years.  It might be a necessary time to buy for some people who need a roof over their heads.  But it wasn't the snow that was inhibiting sales: it's pricing and lack of qualified buyers.  And April will be disappointing, even with the tax credit.  And when the cred expires April 30, uh oh.

To Sum Up: Yes, it was just a marketing report.   But it gets more news time than any other "marketing report" in this area.  The Devil's in the details, as the old saying goes, and there were a lot of details left out.  Buying a home is typically the largest investment of one's life...and buyers need all the help they can get nowadays.  (Reported in local news here, and here, and here.)

Update: Some Current Market Reports (2nd Week of April) from @JimDuncan, RealCentralVA, can be found here and here.

Related Reading
Nest Realty Group's Double Digit Depreciation Forecast For Albemarle County
Zero Hedge: It's Impossible to "Get By" in Charlottesville...or Anywhere
Robert Shiller:  Don't Bet That There Will Be A "Housing Recovery"
SeekingAlpha: National Home Prices Set to Decline 
Robert Reich: Jobs Outlook Bleak--8 Million Lost, and Most Not Coming Back
Fannie and Freddie Set For More Foreclosures
One in 10 Virginia Mortgages Delinquent or in Foreclosure
The Automatic Earth: The Dorothy Theory Run Amok 

Million Dollar Foreclosures in Albemarle County - 3 Auctions Scheduled April16

March '10 had the highest foreclosure activity ever, nationwide.  Currently, "distressed"sales (short sales or bank-owned resales of foreclosures) represent 29% of all housing transactions in the United States.  The future holds more trouble for this area: one in 10 Virginia mortgages is delinquent or in foreclosure.

At 3pm April 16 at the Albemarle County Courthouse, three $1M properties could be handed back to the lenders.  County property records are here.
Related Reading: 
What's Missing From the CAAR Q1 '10 Market Report?
Kluge Moses Vineyard Estates Foreclosure 
Halsey Minor Farm Foreclosure

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nest Realty Group Has A Double-Digit Depreciation Forecast For Albemarle County

The more inventory there is, the bigger the price drop.  Albemarle County's looking bleak.  Read here.

Glenmore's Michael Comer Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement and Money Laundering

Glenmore's ex-Country Club President and ex-Homeowners Association treasurer Michael Comer plead guilty to four counts of embezzlement and one of money laundering.  The saga will conclude when Comer is sentenced in July, facing up to 120 years in prison, and a fine of over $500,000.  Comer's attorney Blair Howard said,
 “My investigation showed that Glenmore Associates was going through some very, very difficult financial circumstances in the fall of 2008 and Mr. Comer erroneously chose to try to right the ship by moving...funds."
Glenmore Associates is the developer of Glenmore and headed by brother-in-law and RE III / Better Homes and Garden CEO Jeff Gaffney.  Read DP story here.  Comprehensive coverage of this scandal, including unanswered questions, Comer / Kessler properties listed for sale, court dates, Homeowners Association external audit, etc, here. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Albemarle County Single Family Homes: Sales, Inventory, Contracts - Q1 2008, 2009, 2010

Single family home sales  for Q1 2010 didn't get a big bump from the Homebuyers Tax Cred, inventory has piled up to nearly two years, but February to March pending contracts rose.

Standard disclaimer: "Numbers are considered reliable, but not guaranteed."

A.  Detached, Single Family Home Sales Albemarle County '08, '09, '10  

*Q1 2010 sales are +12% higher than Q1 '09, the depths of the "Great Recession"
*Q1 2010 sales are -17% lower than 2008,  even with low mortgage rates (until recently) and Homebuyer Tax Credit, which expires in 18 days (sales are also lower than 2007, 2006, etc. )

*Q1 2009 sales were -34% lower than Q1 2008 

*As of April 11, there are 797 single family homes listed  on the MLS for Albemarle County (includes "proposed)*

*Supply of 21 months, using March's rate of sales.  

*In April 2009, there were 666 single family homes on the market, compared to 797 today (includes "proposed")

*Single Family House Sales 2009 v. 2008: Albemarle -34%.**
    Graph via/copyright real estate agent Pam Dent. "New" = listings for sale, but inventory has already increased since this graph was created.

    Sold Single Family (Detached)  Houses in Albemarle County:

    First Quarter 2010: 105 closed sales

    First Quarter 2009: 82 closed sales

    First Quarter 2008: 126 closed sales

    March pending contracts rose over February's, expected this time of year due to

    1. Expiring Homebuyer Tax Cred.
    2. Low rates.
    3. Spring Selling Season.   

    However, some of these contracts will not close due to 

    1. Contingencies such as inability to sell current home.
    2. Failure to appraise.
    3. Failure to lock in a mortgage rate.

    See Pam Dent's post on 2010 First Quarter Albemarle Detached Home graph at the original location.  

    *(For those interested, City of C'ville had single family homes: 202 in 2009 and currently has 247 in 2010, and **Single Family Home Sales Charlottesville -47% 2009 over 2008   

    B.  Recapping Q1 2009, all property types

    The following is a summation of C'ville Bubble Blog Q1 coverage from 2009:
    • In Q1 2009, 403 properties of all types sold in the Charlottesville area during the first three months of 2009
    • Which meant 2009 was down 33.9% (-207 sales) from 2008.
    In 2009, all areas were down from 2008:

    Charlottesville -40%
    Albemarle -18.7%
    Fluvanna -32.4%
    Greene -50%
    Louisa -59.6%
    Nelson -51.2%
    Orange – 36.7%

    Sales numbers are as follows, with 2008's number first and 2009's second:

    Charlottesville 110/66
    Albemarle 171/139
    Fluvanna 71/48
    Greene 40/21
    Louisa 52/21
    Nelson 41/20
    Orange 30/19

    PENDING SALES IN ALL CATEGORIES for First Quarter 08, 09
    In Albemarle all categories:
    1st QTR 2008 261 Contracts
    (33% under $300k)
    1st QTR 2009 249 Contracts
    (74% under $300k)

    In Cville all categories:
    1st QTR 2008 145 Contracts
    (54% under $300k)
    1st QTR 2009 87 Contracts
    (71% under $300k)

    1st QTR 2008 554 Contracts
    (54% under $300k)
    1st QTR 2009 452 Contracts
    (71% under $300k)

    See above numbers, which were via Greg Slater, in comments section here.  
    To see the complete CAAR 2009 First Quarter Market Report, click here

    Related Reading
    NYT: Interest Rates Have Nowhere to Go But Up 
    9 Reasons Home Prices Will Continue Dropping in Charlottesville Albemarle
    Mortgage Rates Rising, Inventory Up, February Sales Down

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Real Estate III, Better Homes and Gardens, and Social Media

    Local agency Real Estate III has entered into an "agreement" with Better Homes and Gardens.  But the actual "news" was quickly trumped by a foray into the uses of social media. After esteemed local blogger Waldo Jaquith posted about the companies on his widely-read cville news blog, RE III PR rep Denise Hood appeared, without identifying herself: (click for larger image in new window)

    Things got interesting after this, and the comments piled on.  Later in the day, PR maven Marijean Jaggers used this incident as a "case study" and wrote a blog post entitled, "Five Steps Real Estate III Should Take Right Now."

    Read the Cville News post and comments here.
    Read Marijean Jaggers post here.
    Details about REIII and BHG here.

    And somewhere in the brouhaha of the cville news post, a commenter wondered why the Glenmore / Michael Comer embezzlement scandal wasn't mentioned: (click for larger image in new window)
    RE III's CEO Jeff Gaffney is Michael Comer's brother-in-law, as well as head of Glenmore Associates, the Glenmore developer which paid back the money to Glenmore Homeowners Association, from which Comer is accused of embezzling.  Comer is reported to be pleading guilty on April 13.  For coverage-to-date of the  Glenmore - Comer saga, click here.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Belief in a Home as an "Investment" Continues, Even as U.S. Heads Toward Further National Price Declines

    Mortgage Giant Fannie Mae just released its National Housing Survey (get all 117 pages here). At SeekingAlpha, financial blogger Felix Salmon examines Americans' stubborn belief that mortgage debt owning a home  is a wise use of one's money, important to the general economy, and necessary for personal wealth.  He writes, 
    "(H)omeownership is...a drag on the economy, since it funnels resources into unproductive overconsumption...but Americans think now is a good time to buy a house, largely because they think it’s always a good time to buy a house." 
    The survey and Salmon's analysis offers a pretty bleak picture of taking on large debt for a depreciating asset.  For somebody "on the fence" about buying, this could be the confirmation to continue renting.  

    READ The National Housing Survery and the Real Estate Bear Market

    LOOK AT  10 Key Charts to See Before You Buy A Home

    And Mortgage Broker Michael David White (who did the 10 Key Charts, above) offers his projection of housing price declines with his widely circulating Property Price Index, indicating the US still has 22%, nationwide, to fall before bubble values finish deflating: (click for larger image in new window)

    Then White makes a wild call for a return to sanity:
    The bubble began in 1990. For the last 20 years buyers bought a scam. The terms of the scam kept getting worse and worse until 2006. How many homeowners in the United States of Mortgage Fraud are living in a make-believe world of income-not-required lending and name-your-price appraisers? When do we return to a 120-year price trend (see below) which we ran away from 20 years ago? When will trillions of unaffordable mortgage debt be written off? When do we stop sending fools in to buy both their first home and their first financial failure?

    We can break the credit bubble, but we must take chemotherapy. Burn up fake debts. Slash false prices. Fire sale failed banks. Convert equity to wall paper. Convert debt to equity. Rematch the price of housing to income. Make it cheap to own or rent.

    We must re-balance the economy. Massacre mortgage debt. Tear up the other credit-bubble paper. It’s time to get to work. It’s time to get the real economy humming again. We can do that very easily. Crush, kill, and destroy faux credit-bubble debt and we are ready to fly upward.
    See the original post at New Observations.

    Related Reading
    Reader Responses to April Listings
    Mortgage Rates and Inventory Up
    9 Reasons Home Prices Will Continue Dropping in Cville/Alb

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Mortgage Rates Rising


    Inventory climbing  on a daily basis.

    Tax cred expires in 22 days.

    Charlottesville Albemarle Real Estate: Inventory Soars First Week of April

    Between April 1-7, inventory for sale--single family, townhouse, condo--in C'ville and Albemarle rose by 130 units: 

    34 in Charlottesville: median price $279k
    96 in Albemarle: median price $386,563

    As of April 7, there were 768 single family homes listed in Albemarle CountyCharlottesville has 248 single family homes.

    At this point in April 2009, there were 666 single family homes on the market in Albemarle County.  In April 2009,  Charlottesville had 202 single family homes.

    Image, copyright CAAR, shows numbers for new listings in Central VA April 1-77.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    3803 Richmond Road - Relisted, Price Reduced 35% to $279k - Owned By Accused Glenmore Embezzler Michael Comer

    Glenmore's beleagured ex-Treasurer / Country Club President Michael Comer sold his primary residence for 32% off original asking, and less than his purchase price, in February. 

    Now, a week before he is set to plead guilty on April 13, another property has been relisted with a similar price reduction.

    Originally, 3803 Richmond Road, Keswick, was listed as MLS 467873.  It has been offered with between two to four acres as it was walked down from August 2009 $425K to $379K to $325K to April 2010, $279k.  The house was purchased in '08 for $250k and is currently assessed for $270k.

    Complete coverage of the Glenmore / Comer scandal to date is here. 

    Image copyright CAAR.  Click for larger version in new window.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Ex-UVIMCO CEO Christopher Brightman Lists Blandermar Farms Estate For $2,750,000.00

    Christopher Brightman, the University of Virginia Investment Management bigwig who oversaw the $1 Billion endowment loss (-22%) in 2008, has listed his home for sale.   Brightman, who like many other university investment managers used the "Yale Model," recently announced his resignation due to a "personal situation."

    Asking: $2,750,000
    Paid 2005: $2,125,000
    Assessed 2010: $1,652,900

    The Asking Price is 40% more than the tax assessment, and 22% higher than the 2005 purchase price.  If you look at other listings, these percentages are entirely consistent with Charlottesville/Albemarle seller perceptions of increase in real estate "value,"  despite the glut of homes available (see below).  (And in a recent post, this blog wondered if "22%" would mean anything when Brightman listed the home; little did we know....) 

    MLS# 475678,  3035 Blandemar Drive: 6,495 sq feet 4 beds, 4 full and 2 1/2 baths on 21.10 acres in the "Blandemar Farms" subdivision south of Charlottesville.

    So...What's going on with all the $$$ listings all over Albemarle County?  Why are so many supposedly monied owners trying to get out of here?  Of the 91 single family homes that have come on the market in the past 7 days in Albemarle County, 13 have asking prices between $1M-$2.75M.  Of the 753 single family homes currently listed, 105 have pricetags between $1-3M; there're about 50 listings priced higher, going up to $18M. 

    Related Reading:
    Business Insider: Sorry, UVA Alumni, We Gambled Our Endowment and Lost
    PI Online Post About Brightman Resignation

    The CAAR for larger image in new window.

    Top image courtesy/copyright Albemarle County; bottom image copyright CAAR.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    New FHA Insurance Premiums Go Into Effect Today - April 5

    The Federal Housing Administration has been under pressure to raise its capital reserves, which have been bleeding for the past three years.  One response is to raise the upfront mortgage premium.

    With an FHA loan, buyers may have a low credit score, and often need to have only a 3.5% downpayment.  In the Charlottesville MSA, the loan limit is $437k. 
    The WSJ reports on the insurance premiums:
    FHA-backed loans will increase to 2.25% of the total loan amount...from 1.75%. That amounts to an additional $500 for every $100,000 in borrowing. On a $300,000 loan, a borrower will pay $6,750 upfront in insurance costs, compared to $5,250.... Those insurance premiums can be rolled into the new loan.
    It's notable, but not odd, that the FHA is raising premiums shortly before the April 30 deadline for the Homebuyers Tax Credit.  There's some hope that there will be a lot of loans written in the next three weeks.  However, this activity could be derailed with rising mortgage rates.

    New Obama Short Sales Rules Go Into Effect Today - April 5

    The plan, part of the federal government's Making Home Affordable programs and acronymed HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives), gives incentives to banks as well as owners to sell the house for less than the mortgage amount.  It was announced in early March, but as CNBC's Diana Olick reports, last week the incentives were increased, before the plan even began.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Share Your Opinion of Current Listings

    Click here.

    Charlottesville Albemarle Real Estate Update: What Are April's Big Questions?

    Everybody who tracks real estate is wondering what the April 30 contract deadline for the $8k/$6.5k Homebuyer Tax Credit will do to sales.  Of course, nobody will equate activity (open houses and looky-lous) with achievement, as CalculatedRisk mentioned in a recent post. And of course, yesterday, March 31, the Fed stopped its purchase of MBS.  Will rates rise, again, as they did last week?

    But now to some more compelling questions, specific to this area:

    1.  Did you read that President Obama will make surprise appearances at mortgage contract signings, to encourage buyers to take advantage of the tax credit?  Signer keeps Presidential pen.  Makes you wonder: how much further will the Obama Administration go in efforts to prop up housing prices and sales, rather than letting the market take care of itself

    2. Will Chris Brightman list his  Blandemar Farms spread for 22% less than the $2,125,000.00 he paid in 2005?  That's about where it's assessed.  "Lots of people took a hit on their portfolios in 2009." 

    3.  Is this the month Patricia Kluge will slash the asking price of Albemarle House by 50%, again?  And toss in a gas station or McMansion development to sweeten the deal?

    4. Do Hunter Craig and the other Forest Lodge, LLC investors have to provide volunteer building time to Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity, in addition to the alleged $1M in proffer money they paid the non-profit before the Commonwealth forked over $9.8 Million for Biscuit Run

    5.  Is the only way to break even in five years on property bought in the Charlottesville MSA by making a deal with the Commonwealth, or relying on an Act of God? 

    6. Did you notice this Virginia Georgian Revival, 5 bedroom, 4 baths, 3,665 square feet, historic house at 2212 Rivermont Avenue, Lynchburg, Va lists for $229k?  (Surrounded by fine homes and backing up to a park; near the Virginia School for the Arts.)

    7. Did you notice this 780 sq. ft. concrete bungalow, 1111 Altavista Avenue, Charlottesville,VA, lists for $234,900k?  (Surrounded by similar 50-70 yr old bungalows of modest materials, in an area that has housing still vitally needed working class residents who have managed to maintain a foothold; has a view of the backside of condos on Monticello Ave.)
    8.  Let's see...if the current Martha Jefferson Hospital conversion to a "mixed use" residential/commercial development deal has died "of natural causes"--real estate crash--who's the next obvious buyer?

    9.  What's the newest plan for The Landmark Hotel? Transformed into a Parkour training site by The City of Charlottesville,  Mark Giles, and the local Parkour Klub?

    10.  Did you overhear this at the Downtown Grille?  Half of all Downtown waiters used to be Realtors; the rest hold advanced degrees from Virginia.  Or  did you hear this at the Hollymead Panera? 35% of all fast food workers in the County used to be Realtors; 42% used to work in construction.

    11. Who could pass up this "AMAZING INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY!!!" ???

    12.  Anybody got reservations at the new bed and breakfast out in Free UnionPrivate, tech-forward, filled with fine art.

    13.  Would there be a rip in the cosmos if it was the fiduciary or ethical duty of a real estate agent to give clients a multi-year local/regional economic and house pricing forecast for the market in which a buyer intends to purchase a home?

    14.  Which real estate personage, known widely, will have a sudden presence in the media this month, for unexpected reasons?  Initials are...wait, that's too easy.

    Could you hear the whispered rumor at Bel Rio, or was the music too loud?  Blogger Snarky Doe, who intended to be a lifelong renter, decides to buy a "charming Belmont cottage."  "Dude, it's just me, my laptop, my Blackberry, I can have a container garden on the porch, I can walk Downtown for everything I need, what difference does it make if a couple years from now this $200k bungalow is $100k, besides that probably won't happen, I can always sell to a junior professor or a Medical Resident, right dude, but listen, I'm in it for the long haul, and my carbon footprint will be miniscule once I replace the windows and the oil tank." 

    It's April Fool's all day long.
    IImages copyright CAAR and Lynchburg Association of Realtors/MLS