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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Existing-Home Sales Constrained by Tight Supply in May, Prices Continue to Gain

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2012) – Limited supplies of housing inventory held back existing-home sales in May, but sales maintained a strong lead over year-ago levels and home prices are on a sustained uptrend in all regions, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million in May from 4.62 million in April, but are 9.6 percent above the 4.15 million-unit pace in May 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said inventory shortages in certain areas have been building all year. “The slight pullback in monthly home sales is more likely due to supply constraints rather than softening demand. The normal seasonal upturn in inventory did not occur this spring,” he said. “Even with the monthly decline, home sales have moved markedly higher with 11 consecutive months of gains over the same month a year earlier.”

There are broad-based shortages of inventory in the lower price ranges in much of the country except the Northeast, and in the West supply is extremely tight in all price ranges except for the upper end. “Realtors® in Western states have been calling for an expedited process to get additional foreclosed properties onto the market because they have more buyers than available property,” Yun added. Widespread inventory shortages also are found in much of Florida.

Total housing inventory at the end of May slipped 0.4 percent to 2.49 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.6-month supply2 at the current sales pace; there was a 6.5-month supply in April. Listed inventory is 20.4 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply. Unsold inventory has trended down from a record 4.04 million in July 2007; supplies reached a cyclical peak of 12.1 months in July 2010.

“The recovery is occurring despite excessively tight credit conditions and higher downpayment requirements, which are negating the impact of record high affordability conditions,” Yun said.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage declined to a record low 3.80 percent in May from 3.91 percent in April; the rate was 4.64 percent in May 2011; recordkeeping began in 1971.

The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types rose 7.9 percent to $182,600 in May from a year ago, the third consecutive month of year over year price gains. The last time there were three back-to-back price increases from the same month a year earlier was from March to May of 2006. “Some of the price gain results from a shrinking share distressed homes in the sales mix,” Yun explained.

Distressed homes4 – foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts – accounted for 25 percent of May sales (15 percent were foreclosures and 10 percent were short sales), down from 28 percent in April and 31 percent in May 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 19 percent below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 14 percent.

NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, offers advice to buyers in markets with limited supply. “We are hearing a lot about multiple bidding and quick sales in areas with tight supply, with competition between first-time buyers and cash investors, who have a significant advantage,” he said.
“It’s extremely important to listen to the advice of your agent and perform all the due diligence that you would normally do in a more balanced market, such as making offers contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection,” Veissi said.

First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of purchasers in May, compared with 35 percent in April and 36 percent in May 2011.

All-cash sales slipped to 28 percent of transactions in May from 29 percent in April; they were 30 percent in May 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in May, down from 20 percent in April and 19 percent in May 2011. “These figures reflect a modest increase in traditional repeat home buyers in May,” Yun said.

Single-family home sales slipped 1.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.05 million in May from 4.09 million in April, but are 10.4 percent above the 3.67 million-unit level in May 2011. The median existing single-family home price was $182,900 in May, up 7.7 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 500,000 in May from 530,000 in April, but are 4.2 percent higher than the 480,000-unit pace one year ago. The median existing condo price was $180,000 in May, which is 8.8 percent above May 2011.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 4.8 percent to an annual level of 590,000 in May but are 7.3 percent higher than May 2011. The median price in the Northeast was $250,700, up 3.8 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 1.0 percent in May to a pace of 1.04 million and are 19.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $147,700, up 6.4 percent from May 2011.

In the South, existing-home sales slipped 0.6 percent to an annual level of 1.78 million in May but are 9.2 percent higher May 2011. The median price in the South was $159,700, up 7.8 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 3.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.14 million in May but are 3.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $233,900, up 13.4 percent from May 2011. “The sharp price increase in the West results largely from more sales at the upper end of the market,” Yun explained.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

5 Projections of Where the Housing Market’s Headed


Real estate markets across the country are inching their way to a slow recovery after bottoming out, according to several real estate economists who spoke at a forum hosted by the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

National Association of REALTORS®’ Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries, and National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe shared their views on the direction of the housing market during the forum.

“Last year was the worst year on record for [new] house sales, for 60 years of housing-sale info,” Crowe said.

But things are picking up, the economists note, despite several challenges still threatening that recovery. Yun says that appraisal issues are holding back up to 20 percent of home sales and that lenders’ tightened mortgage underwriting standards are likely holding back another 15 to 20 percent of potential home deals.

Here are some of the economists’ forecasts:

1. New-home market: The NAHB predicts a 19 percent increase in single-family housing starts this year over last (from 434,000 last year to a projected 516,000 this year).

2. Single-family rental market: This could be the next housing market bubble, Humphries warns. He expects this sector to cool as rental rates continue to increase and as home ownership looks more attractive to the public again.

3. Distressed home sales: The percentage of distressed homes sales is projected to drop by 25 percent in 2012 and 15 percent in 2013, Yun says.

4. Home price appreciation: Yun says it’s possible some markets may see a 10 percent rise in home-price appreciation next year due to an increase in demand, or a 60 to 70 percent increase in housing starts. Yun argues it won’t be both, however, but rather one or the other. He notes it greatly depends on whether lawmakers reach an agreement once again on the looming debt-ceiling deadline.

5. Home owners’ negative equity: About a third of home owners are underwater, owing more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth. As such, the housing recovery will likely be “stair stepped,” Humphries says. He says home owners with negative equity will gradually begin to list their homes as they see prices inch up, but when they do, that may temporarily swell the housing supply and cause a brief pause to the recovery.

Source: “Economists: 2012 Marks the End of a Long Bottom,” Inman News (June 22, 2012)

Houston Medical Center Named One of America’s 100 Best Hospitals

Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins has been named by HealthGrades as one of America’s 100 best hospitals.

The local medical center is one of three in Georgia to make the list and the only one south of Atlanta.

HealthGrades, according to a Houston Healthcare press release announcing the honor, is the nation’s leading independent source of hospital quality ratings. To receive the top 100 ranking, hospitals must be designated a “distinguished hospital for clinical excellence” for five consecutive years based on mortality and complication rates.

According to HealthGrades, Houston Medical Center had a 30 percent lower risk-adjusted mortality rate from 2008 to 2010 across 17 procedures and diagnoses.

Houston Medical Center and Perry Hospital were recognized for clinical achievements in specific care areas.

Houston Medical Center was rated among the nation’s 100 best hospitals for pulmonary care and has been ranked number one in Georgia for overall pulmonary services for seven years in a row. It has also been five-star rated for treatment of pneumonia for ten years in a row and five-star rated for six years in treatment of heart failure.

Perry Hospital has won HealthGrades’ pulmonary care excellence award for five years in a row and has been ranked in the top ten percent in the nation for five consecutive years in overall pulmonary services. It is also five-star rated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and for treatment of pneumonia.

Read more: The Warner Robins Patriot – Houston Medical Center named one of America s 100 best hospitals

The Biggest Growth Spots in the Next 20 Years


Small to mid-sized cities will likely be the “biggest winners in the housing market two decades from now,” predicts Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. Some of these cities will be near large metro areas while some may be more distant and include small to mid-sized cities in college towns too, Humphries adds.

Humphries says market “winners” in the next 20 years will likely be places like Austin, Texas; Savannah, Ga.; Athens, Ga.;  Rochester, N.Y.; Boulder, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Spokane, Wash.

“Why do I think that these communities are going to fare better than rest?” Humphries writes in an article for Business Insider.“The suburbs and exurbs around large coastal metros like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, and DC have grown in large part because of strong job creation in these markets paired with rising home prices close to the urban core. New arrivals coming to these markets in search of jobs often end up living in the suburbs or exurbs to find affordable housing. Or they rent housing in the urban core until they marry and have children, moving out in order to find a bigger home they can afford.”

Humphries acknowledges that the increase in commuting costs could threaten more home owners moving away from urban cores. But he predicts that a growth in smaller manufacturing firms “will make smaller metros more economically viable.”

“If energy costs do rise, I’d definitely bet on the increased dispersion of firms to suburbs and beyond versus the proposition of more migration of people from these areas into the urban core,” Humphries notes.

6 Household Pests You Don’t Want to Know

Most of the pests we face around our homes are well known to us: house ants, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. But what about those weird creatures that look like they’ve dropped in from another universe, or at least from another continent? Here’s a list of six of the creepiest critters you may find on your property and what you can do about them:

Carpenter ants
As their name implies, they’re ready to work on your wood and they don’t have a contractor’s license. Carpenter ants are found in many parts of the U.S. and Canada, and are especially attracted to moist, soft woods. Unlike termites though, they don’t actually eat wood. They just enjoy biting through it and creating channels through a beam or two. Once they’ve found a home, carpenter ants can be difficult to get rid of by yourself. Your best bet is to clear out any damp wood piles around your property line and, if in Florida, be careful. There’s a species there that can give you a painful bite.

It’s hard to picture one of these gentle, orange little bugs as an exotic pest, but they can be.  The problem is that in winter they’ll swarm inside of an attic and hibernate during the cold weather.  Then in the spring they’ll start dropping down through holes in the ceiling onto people’s heads or into their food. Then they’re not so cute.  If it’s a serious infestation a professional probably needs to be called. However, you can prevent infestations by making sure the attic vents are screened off and any conduits going into the space are secured.

Bed bugs
It seems these pests have been making a comeback, and travelers everywhere are pulling down the covers of their hotel beds before jumping in, looking for the tell-tale little brown insects. Why the sudden resurgence, like a bad Broadway musical? One reason is that the chemicals we use in pest control are safer today.  They break down more quickly. But that also gives the pests more time to get away and thrive. So to be effective, you need to increase the number of treatments.
Remember some things that are labeled natural are just as harmful to humans as a chemical pesticide. You’ve got to follow the directions carefully.

Formosan termites
The Formosan is also called the Super Termite by pest control pros, primarily because a mature colony can eat more than 13 ounces of wood per day. If they latch onto a wood structure they like in May, they can turn it into sawdust by August. Originally from Asia, they’re generally found in structures in the Southwest and Southeast U.S. You can make your house less of a termite target by keeping firewood piles away from the house and making sure any wood siding or eaves are well primed and painted.


Brown recluse spider
This small spider, which is found in the lower Midwest and South, packs a wallop with its bite. Its venom can create skin necrosis, a serious condition where healthy skin rapidly dies off. However, the brown recluse is also painfully shy and is also reluctant to bite.  It’s a creature that a great many urban legends have formed around.  It’s not some blood thirsty monster. Most people who have them in their house don’t even know they’re there.   To keep out the recluse or other spiders like the black widow, clean up cluttered corners of your yard and garage, try using a yellow-tinted outdoor light to repel the bugs that spiders like to feed on and make sure your door sweeps are intact.

Rhesus monkeys
Hard to believe, but yes, in parts of Florida, monkeys are a pest.  They’re not native of course, but there are areas where you’ve got groups of them and you don’t want one of them getting into your yard or your house.  They might seem like a lot of fun, but they can break a lot of stuff.

To prevent a monkey raid–or to make your property less homey to more common pests like rats and possums, make sure to pick any ripe fruit from your trees as soon as possible and clean up fallen fruit regularly; don’t let pet food stay out all night and keep garbage containers tightly closed.  Much of pest control is about making the creature look for food and shelter elsewhere.


Re-key Your Locks Yourself for Safety and Savings

By Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl | Spaces – Tue, Jun 19, 2012

If you just moved into a new home, congratulations! Have you thought about who might still have keys to your home? The old owners could have forgotten about the dog sitter or the housekeeper’s key. Or an owner before the previous owner may still have a key. For these reasons and more, it is wise to be safe and change your locks. If you hire a locksmith to come to your home and change all the locks, the cost can be anywhere from $200 and up! That’s a hefty sum to pay, especially since you spent every penny saved on your new house.

Changing the locks on your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Did you know that you can take your locks to a local locksmith shop and have them changed for a significant savings? Or, if you have multiple locks with different keys, you can have all the locks re-keyed to match. This can only be accomplished if all your locks are the same brand. If they don’t match, a remedy is as simple as purchasing a new lock to match the other brand.

If you have to purchase new handles, why not take the time to update your door hardware to a fashionable oil-rubbed bronze. You can order all the door knobs, dead bolts and handle sets online and ask them to key everything the same. Keyed entry knobs cost as little as $20 and up.

Once you have your new keys, do yourself a favor and create a hide-a-key location for one of your keys. Use the ubiquitous rock or a more unusual fake sprinkler head.

One more suggestion for keeping your home safe, if you give a neighbor your key, write your pet’s name on the key instead of your last name. That way if the key is picked up by someone who shouldn’t have it, they won’t be able to look up which house it belongs to.

Enjoy the safety and security of your new home. Once you are unpacked, think about adding some landscaping lights to deter thieves!


Quotes about Life…

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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