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Category Archives: Local Real Estate News

Don’t Fall For This Mortgage Relief Scam!

“If you’re a struggling homeowner trying to save your house from foreclosure, beware the latest mortgage-relief scam: Dozens of companies have been accused of falsely promising mortgage relief—while collecting millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently filed three lawsuits against eight firms accused of ripping off homeowners. The agency says the companies collected more than $25 million in illegal upfront fees while promising to modify mortgages or prevent foreclosures.

The crackdown on the mortgage-relief scam is code-named “Operation Mis-Modification”.

“These companies pocketed illegal fees, taking millions of hard-earned dollars from distressed consumers, and then left those consumers worse off than they began,” Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, told the Los Angeles Times. “These practices are not only illegal, they are reprehensible.”

According to the bureau, there are a few red flags to tip off potential victims. Consumers should be wary of any demands for upfront payments and any guarantee that a modification or other assistance will be obtained.

The Federal Trade Commission also filed six lawsuits, according to the Los Angeles Times. Overall, officials from 15 states—including Florida, Illinois and New York—have filed a combined 32 lawsuits.”

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January Home Tasks

January Home Tasks

Happy New Year.  I hope you had wonderful holiday season.  Now it’s time to return to reality. :)

Now is a good time to review home tasks for the month of January:

  •     Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals to check on recommended maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances and tools. Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep and service.
  •     Inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary. Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil. Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.
  •      Fix squeaks in floors and stairs by applying weight to the area (having a partner stand on it works) and driving an 8d or 12d galvanized finish nail through the flooring into a floor joist or stringer. If you have access to the floor from underneath, glue and screw backs to the floor or treads and to the joist or stringer.
  •     Look for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure that warranties are valid.
  •    Make a room-by-room inventory of everything in your house. In the event of fire, flood or other disaster, it will be important in filing an insurance claim. Photographs or video of your possessions can also be helpful.
  •    Don’t close vents to crawl spaces. If you live where pipes can freeze and the floor becomes very cold, insulate pipes and under the floor. Vents play an important role in controlling condensation beneath a house.
  •    Double-check insulation around exterior pipes that are exposed to freezing weather to be certain that water cannot seep under the insulation.

Here’s to a very prosperous 2013!

 

 

Issac’s Impact on Central Georgia

The center of the storm will stay hundreds of miles to the west but Isaac  still bring us periods of rain.  Central Georgia will experience rain bands from the outer edge of the large storm.

When looking at the “cone of uncertainty” it is important to keep in mind that rain and wind can extend well beyond the center of the path.

The chance for rain will increase on today and Wednesday.  We’re more likely to experience rain bands that come and go instead of a long, continuous downpour.

Rainfall totals could range from 1 to 4 inches in Central Georgia.  Higher amounts are possible, but not guaranteed.  Localized flash flooding is a possibility that will be monitored closely.

Hurricanes can spin up tornadoes after coming ashore.  Based on the current track, there will be a potential for isolated brief tornadoes late Tuesday and Wednesday.

Look for our updates here on 13wmaz.com, on our Facebook page and on Twitter

Cities Where Paychecks Stretch the Furthest

When we think of places with high salaries, big metro areas like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco are usually the first to spring to mind. But wages are just one part of the equation: High prices in those East and West Coast cities mean the fat paychecks aren’t necessarily getting the locals ahead. When cost of living is factored in, most of the places that boast the highest effective pay turn out to be in the less celebrated and less expensive middle part of the country.

No. 1: Houston

In first place is Houston, where the average annual wage in 2011 was $59,838, eighth highest in the nation. What puts Houston at the top of the list is the region’s relatively low cost of living, which includes such things as consumer prices and services, utilities and transportation costs and, most important, housing prices: The ratio of the median home price to median annual household income in Houston is only 2.9, remarkably low for such a dynamic urban region; in San Francisco a house goes for 6.7 times the median local household income. Adjusted for cost of living, the average Houston wage of $59,838 is worth $66,933, tops in the nation.

No. 2: Silicon Valley

Only two expensive metro areas made the top 10 list. One is Silicon Valley (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara), where the average annual wage last year of $92,556, the highest in the nation, makes up for its high costs, which includes the worst housing affordability among the 51 metro areas we considered: housing prices are nearly 7 times the local median income. Adjusted for cost of living, that $92,556 paycheck is worth $61,581, placing the Valley second on our list.

No. 3: Detroit area

One major surprise is the metro area in third place: Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. This can be explained by the relatively high wages paid in the resurgent auto industry and, as reported earlier, a huge surge in well-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math-related) jobs. Combine this with some of the most affordable housing in the nation and sizable reductions in unemployment — down 5% in Michigan over the past two years, the largest such drop in the nation.

The rest

Most of the rest of the top 10 are relatively buoyant economies with relatively low costs of living. These include Memphis (fourth), Dallas-Fort Worth (fifth), Charlotte, N.C. (sixth), Cincinnati (seventh), Austin, Texas (eighth), and Columbus, Ohio (10th). These areas all also have housing affordability rates below 3.0 except for Austin, which clocks in at 3.5. Similar situations down the list include such mid-sized cities as Nashville (11th), St. Louis (12th), Pittsburgh (13th), Denver (15th) and New Orleans (16th).

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

JANUARY HOMES SALES RISE!

Pending home sales are on an upward trend, which has been uneven but meaningful since reaching a cyclical low last April, and are well above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 2.0 percent to 97.0 in January from a downwardly revised 95.1 in December and is 8.0 percent higher than January 2011 when it was 89.8. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

The January index is the highest since April 2010 when it reached 111.3 as buyers were rushing to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said this is a hopeful indicator going into the spring home-buying season. “Given more favorable housing market conditions, the trend in contract activity implies we are on track for a more meaningful sales gain this year. With a sustained downtrend in unsold inventory, this would bring about a broad price stabilization or even modest national price growth, of course with local variations.”

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 7.6 percent to 78.2 in January and is 9.8 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index declined 3.8 percent to 88.1 but is 10.8 percent higher than January 2011. Pending home sales in the South increased 7.7 percent to an index of 109.1 in January and are 10.5 percent above a year ago. In the West the index fell 4.4 percent in January to 101.9 but is 0.7 percent above January 2011.

“Movements in the index have been uneven, reflecting the headwinds of tight credit, but job gains, high affordability and rising rents are hopefully pushing the market into what appears to be a sustained housing recovery,” Yun said. “If and when credit availability conditions return to normal, home sales will likely get a 15 percent boost, speed up the home-price recovery, and thereby significantly reduce the number of homeowners who are underwater.”

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.

Rates are low!!!

“30 year mortgage rates average 3.87% for the 3rd week in a row.  Thats the lowest 30 year mortgage rates since the 1950’s, when long term rates became popular”.

If you are looking to purchase a home, don’t wait!  Now is the time to purchase and take advantage of these low mortgage rates.   Spring is around the corner and there are plenty of homes on the market.  Start looking for that perfect home now and you will be glad you did!

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