Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Housing Analyst Says the Heartland's the Next Winner

Is Indianapolis gearing up for a housing boom like California, Florida, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston have experienced in recent years? That remains to be seen, but this article provides some rational as to why we may be due for above-average price increases in the coming years.

(May 30, 2006) -- A new statistical analysis of housing price cycles in 100 major metropolitan areas suggests that real estate action is shifting to areas that didn’t enjoy the recent housing boom.

Christopher L. Cagan, director of research and analytics for First American Real Estate Solutions, examined historical housing price movements and concluded that middle America markets like Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Houston; San Antonio; Memphis, Tenn.; Atlanta; Cincinnati; Des Moines, Iowa; and Louisville, Ky., are due for above-average price increases and home building because of expanding employment bases and moderate housing prices.

Cagan also doesn’t believe what he calls the shooting stars of housing booms like most of California, Florida, Washington, D.C., New York City, or Boston are going to incinerate. He simply believes appreciation rates will dwindle to the low single digits or go flat for a while as incomes catch up.

His bottom line: Figure out where your community is in the cycle and adapt.

Source: Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (05/28/06)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Indianapolis remains cheapest housing market in U.S.

Indianapolis is the nation's cheapest major housing market for a third consecutive quarter, according to a new report from the National Association of Home Builders. More than 90 percent of homes sold in Indianapolis in the first quarter of 2006 were affordable to families earning the area's median household income of $65,100. The median sales price was $113,000. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. maintained its standing at the very bottom of the affordability chart in the first quarter, with just 1.9 percent of new and existing homes being affordable. Another study from Moody's Economy.com found homeowners in Monterey County, Calif., had to tap nearly 60 percent of their gross incomes in 2005 to make the median monthly house payment. In Fort Wayne, the percentage was about 10 percent, Moody's said.

Monday, May 15, 2006

10 Things to Check Before You Buy a Builder House

I came across this great Top 10 list from hometips.com today.

When buying a brand new builder house, potential buyers often think they can dispense with the need for a house inspector. If it’s new, it must be in good shape, right?

Not always true.

New homes can be just as problematic as old ones. In fact, because they haven’t been tested by years of use and abuse, they can be filled with problems, especially if the builder used any shoddy practices. Hiring a qualified house inspector before you buy is a major hedge against very expensive surprises.

Then again, a house inspector can be very costly—from several hundred to a thousand dollars or more. If you ultimately end up buying the house, this is money well spent. On the other hand, if the house has serious drawbacks, you’re better off saving the cost of the inspector and moving on to a better prospect.

Here are ten clues for determining a house's overall quality before you commit to the cost of hiring a house inspector:

1) The structure. From a reasonably distant vantage point, look at the house. Do the walls appear to be plumb and flat? From inside, are any walls bowed or not square at corners? When you jump in the middle of the living room floor, does it flex or feel solid?

2) Water control. Does the ground slope away from the base of the house? Will gutters, downspouts and drainage pipes carry excess water away from the house...or into the basement? Is there any evidence of water damage?

3) The roof. Is the roof new and in good shape? Does it look neat and properly applied?

4) Details. Do you see signs of quality workmanship in the finish details such as moldings, tile work, hardware and paint?

5) Kitchen & bath fixtures. Are sinks, toilets and tubs quality fixtures? Do they work properly? Is the water pressure good when you turn on the faucets and flush the toilet?

6) Electrical system. Are the number and locations of receptacles adequate to the needs of the house? Is the main circuit breaker marked at least "100 amps"?

7) Water heater, plumbing. Is the water heater gas or electric (gas is much more efficient)? Water supply pipes from the water heater to fixtures should be copper.

8) Heating. Where is the furnace or heater located and what type is it? Are any rooms not heated? Do registers look adequate for heating the spaces? Is the house air-conditioned?

9) Insulation. Look in the attic for insulation; R-19 (6 inches of fiberglass, for example) is a minimum in moderate climates; up to R-38 (12 inches of fiberglass) is required in cold climates. Remove a receptacle cover on perimeter wall to check for wall insulation.

10) Fireplaces. Do they have screens or glass doors (doors are more efficient). What about dampers and log lighters? Is there a combustion vent that draws air from outside and a spark arrestor at the top of the chimney?

For more great tips about home buying, including how to find a qualified home inspector, visit HomeTips.com.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Indianapolis #14 on "50 Smart Places to Live" List

Indianapolis has popped up near the top of a couple of city ranking lists in the news recently. This time we came in at #14 on The Kiplinger’s Personal Finance List of “50 Smart Places to Live.” According to the article, to come up with the list of cities, Kiplinger began by surveying their readers, to see what factors they consider most important when choosing a place to live. The top two were cost of living and cost of housing. Quality health care and a low crime rate were also among other top requirements.

Continue reading the article here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Proper Pricing on New Listings

Should you start out with a HIGH listing price? Many sellers think there is nothing wrong with pricing a property "too high" when the listing is new because they can always lower the price later. I came across this article today that helps explain why this is a bad strategy.

Because of the change in real estate market conditions, more sellers are competing for fewer buyers. So once again, it seemed important to challenge a long-standing "myth" of real estate.

"The initial listing price isn't that important because the price can always be adjusted down later."

Many homeowners believe this.

It is a myth.

Not true.

If most buyers first viewed your house because of a newspaper ad, a magazine, the internet, brochures, or the sign in your front yard, the initial listing price probably would not make a difference. The house would always be "new" to those seeing it.

But most buyers do NOT come to your house because of various types of advertising. That is the another myth.

Sure, buyers call on an ad, they often LOOK at that house, but not always. Once they talk to an agent, they may discover it isn't what they need (or want) at all.

However, they ARE talking to an agent. That agent knows the current inventory and will know of other property that DOES fit their needs.

Those are the properties that buyers look at, and THIS is how most buyers end up looking at your house, too. Because of other agents, not because of your ad.

Hardly anyone buys the house in the ad.

As a result, you need to get other agents interested in your property, and this is where your listing agent comes in...and why a good listing agent is extremely important. The listing agent gets buyer's agents looking at your home.

Those agents have clients who called in on other properties.

Buyer's agents are not swayed by advertising. They look at the needs of the client, where the client wants to live, location, condition, and other details of the property...

And most importantly....


If your house is overpriced, agents are going to show similar homes that are priced more attractively. Your listing will get passed over.

Agents pay MOST attention to homes newly on the market. There are fewer NEW listings than current listings. It is easier to keep an eye out for what is NEW, compared to the vast number of current listings.

New listings are on the "hot" sheet circulated in real estate offices. The MLS computer identifies new listings. Your listing agent may hire a service to distribute fliers to all the buyer's agents. There are office previews and MLS tours to showcase new listings. A lot of attention is focused on what is NEW.

With agent's looking at newly listed homes so aggressively, a properly priced home gets attention.

An overpriced home gets passed over.

Continue reading the article here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Buying a Home With Resale Value

When you are thinking of buying a home, it may be time to get back to basics and focus on what makes for good resale value. Location, Location, Location.

Location – Local Community, Town or City

Before you can actually pick out a house, you need to choose what communities you would like to live in. There are many factors you should pay attention to, not only for yourself, but because you intend to eventually sell the home to someone else. Carefully choosing your community is the first step in "location, location, location" and can help maximize your future potential resale value.

Economic Stability

When choosing a community for your purchase, it makes the most sense to buy in a community with a viable and stable economy. Five, ten, or even fifteen years from now – when you want to sell your home – you can have a reasonable expectation that your community will still be a desirable place to live. In addition to residential neighborhoods, there should be a healthy mixture of commercial and business districts. These not only provide jobs to the local residents, but also add an income source that the city can use to upgrade and maintain roads and city services. In fact, you should take a drive and see how well the community is maintained. You have probably heard of "pride of ownership" when referring to an individual home or an automobile. Look to live in a community that demonstrates community pride, as well.

Local Government Services

In addition to community pride, check on the services provided by local government. One example would be the local library system. Are there several library branches? Do they stock a good selection of books, including recent best sellers? You should also look into local crime statistics and see how the city compares to the national average and other local communities. Is the police force effective and responsive to community needs? Are fire stations located strategically around the community so that they also can respond quickly in an emergency? Another area of inquiry is community services. Does the community sponsor youth sports and have well maintained athletic facilities and parks? Do they sponsor community events, such as an annual parade? Are there activities available for children, teenagers and senior citizens?


Even if you do not have school-age children and do not intend to have children, you must pay attention to the local school system. That is because when you sell the property, many of your potential buyers will have concerns of this nature. You will want to know if the local schools are overcrowded. Take a drive around and see if there are auxiliary trailers outside the local schools. Call up the local school district and see if elementary aged children always attend the school closest to their home. If not, ask why. Are there enough schools to support the local population? If not, are there plans to build new schools? How will building new schools affect local property taxes? You should also check to see how local students score on the standardized tests. There are school reports available for free on the Internet, including my Web site.

Property Taxes

Property taxes may be higher in one town than another nearby city. This can sometimes affect whether potential homebuyers view a community as a desirable place to live. Often, they will choose not to purchase in a community with higher taxes, though this decision is not always justified. Higher property taxes often mean newer and more modern schools, well-maintained roads, and bountiful community services. In addition, you will often find that the "cost per square foot" of homes is lower in cities that have higher property taxes. This means you can buy a bigger house for less money. Since the mortgage payment may be lower, but the property taxes a bit higher, the monthly housing costs may be approximately the same in each city. If resale value is important to you, make property taxes a consideration when choosing the location of your new home.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April’s Hot Picks

If April’s showers are keeping you indoors, here are some idea’s to help pass your time:

Now-May 15, Sports Heroes/National Art Museum of Sport – If you appreciate sports and art, make your way to IUPUI’s largest collections of sport themed art works in the world. Here you will find historic collections of photographs, paintings, and memorabilia profiling several Sport icons from Muhammad Ali to Jeff Gordon. Best of all….it’s free!
Admission: Free Location: University Place, 8am-5pm Info: 317-274-3627

April, IMAX Theater – Here’s your chance to see if there really is life on Mars. IMAX Theater will be featuring the recordings of the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity recorded during their adventures on the Red Planet.
Admission: $9 Adults/ $6 Children Location: IMAX Theater Info: 317-233-4629

April 13, B.B. King – The King of Blues is back to promote his latest album, “B.B. King and Friends” featuring duets with artists such as Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Sheryl Crow. This show is surely not to be missed by one of music’s greatest legends.
Tickets: $49.50-$65 Location: Murat Centre, 8pm Info: 317-239-5151

April 22, Race for the Cure – Of all races to come to Indiana, this is the most important to me since my mother is a survivor of Breast Cancer. Once again, the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation returns with their annual race where over 40,000 runners and walkers join to raise money and hopefully one day find a cure. Will you be there?
Tickets: $25-$80/kids under 8 free Location: IUPUI Library Lawn Info: 317-638-CURE
Website: www.komenindy.org

April 22, African American Dance Ensemble – Enjoy a night of culture and pulsating beats of dance full of choreographic moves with Chuck Davis’ North Carolina based ensemble.
Tickets: $12-$15 Location: Madame Walker Theater Info: 317-236-2099

April 27, Happy Hour at the Symphony – If work has you stressed out; let Jennie DeVoe help you unwind with a new twist at the Symphony. Enjoy this new concert series with free drinks and appetizers from Corazon Tequila, Starbucks, and Scholars Inn before enjoying an hour of folk-culture dance music from Dvorak, Glinka and other special guests. Happy hour begins one hour before show.
Tickets: $15 Location: Hilbert Circle Theater, 6pm Info: 317-639-4300

April 29, Decorator’s Show House – The buzz has been going around town for a while now and the date is finally here! Everyone wants to know what Stephen Hilbert’s former home looks like inside...well, now is your chance. This 23,000 square foot, 33 acre mega mansion will promise beautiful design and great decorating ideas plus a bunch of ooohhs and ahhhs! By the way, it is still for sale….
Tickets: $15 Location: go to www.decoratorsshowhouseindianpolis.com Info: 317-767-0390

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Indiana Leads the Nation in Mortgage Foreclosures

For those that didn't see this article in the Indy Star unfortunately Indiana once again led the nation in foreclosures, hitting an all time high. Here are the highlights from the article.
More than 7,000 Indiana homeowners faced foreclosure in the final three months of last year, a record high for a state that has led the nation in foreclosure proceedings since July 2004. Foreclosures in Indiana are driven by factory layoffs, personal bankruptcies, stagnant home prices and aggressive lending.

During the last quarter of 2005, lenders started foreclosure proceedings on 7,575 Indiana mortgage loans, or 0.98 percent of mortgage loans in service statewide, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

That rate was more than double the nation's rate and was Indiana's highest since association records were begun in 1979. "You haven't had a lot of home price appreciation, and you've lost a lot of manufacturing jobs," said Jay Brinkman, vice president for research and economics at the Washington trade group.

Indianapolis lawyers and bankers concur. Home loans are easier to get now than 20 years ago. And builders are willing to put up houses with almost no money down.

But when jobs fade, marriages fail or medical bills pile up on credit cards, homeowners can fall far behind on mortgage payments and wind up bankrupt, said Indianapolis bankruptcy lawyer Mark Zuckerberg.

"In a lot of cases, people were put into the wrong loans for them," Epstein said. "They got loans where the interest rate is adjustable, and that got them into trouble when interest rates went up. You compound the problem when it's a brand-new house and the taxes haven't been assessed. The taxes kick in and the rates are rising and now they're in trouble. They can't get enough equity out of their house to pay all the bills."

Continue reading the article here.
This may seem like simple advice, but make sure you can afford the monthly mortgage payment before completing your real estate purchase. Just because a mortgage company qualifies you for a loan of a certain amount doesn't mean you can afford to make that payment every month.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Indianapolis - Most Affordable Major Housing Market

Most of us that live in Indianapolis probably already know this, but for those that don't (or those considering a move to Indianapolis) the National Association of Home Builders named Indianapolis the nation's most affordable major housing market for a second consecutive quarter at year end 2005. I've included a couple of highlights from the announcement below.

Indianapolis, Ind., was the nation’s most affordable major housing market for a second consecutive quarter at year-end 2005, according to the National Association of Home Builders’/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released today

In the nation’s most affordable major housing market of Indianapolis, Ind., 88.7 percent of new and existing homes that were sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to households earning the area’s median income of $64,000. The median sales price of all Indianapolis homes sold in that time frame was $120,000. Also near the top of the list for affordable major metros were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., followed by Detroit-Litonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.; and Dayton, Ohio, in that order.

Midwestern metros also dominated the list of the most affordable small housing markets with under 500,000 people. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill. was tops, followed by the metro areas of Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.; Lima, Ohio; Mansfield, Ohio; and Lansing-East Lansing, Mich.

At the bottom of the affordability scale was Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., where just 2.3 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median household income of $54,500. The median price of all homes sold in that area was an even $500,000. And as usual, the bottom of the affordability scale was dominated by large California cities, including Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, and Stockton. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. rounded out the list of the five least-affordable major housing markets.

Continue reading the article here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

March Hot Picks

If you aren’t ready to begin spring cleaning, here are some ideas to keep you busy

March 2-6/9-12, Women’s/Men’s Big Ten Basketball Championships – If the NBA has left you a little disgruntled, come and watch some real basketball. The Big Ten is back in Indy as our national college team’s fight for the rights to the Final four. This is what basketball is really about.
Tickets: Women’s all session pass: $55 Men’s all session pass: $125-$225 or $25-$75 single session pass Location: Conseco Fieldhouse Info: 317-917-2500

March 6, David Gray – I know where I will be March 6th…do you? If you haven’t heard of David Gray by now, I highly suggest you quickly find out about this amazing artist. This will be my second time seeing David Gary in Indy and I can personally guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Tickets: $35 Location: Murat Centre, 8pm Info: 317-231-0000

March 11-19, 48th Annual Indiana Flower & Patio Show – Desperate for gardening ideas? With spring around the corner, the Indiana Flower and Patio Show is a great opportunity to plan your next outdoor project. Offering 450 exhibits of products and 269,000 square feet of landscaped gardens, the ideas are limitless!
Tickets: $9 Location: Indiana State Fairgrounds Info: 317-927-7500

March 14-19, Peter Pan – Peter Pan and the gang is flying into town. Former Olympic gymnast, Cathy Rigby will be bidding farewell to her role as Peter Pan once the tour ends. This will be a truly memorable family event!
Tickets: $21.50-$63.50 Location: Clowes Memorial Hall, call for times
Info: 317-940-6444

March 16-19, Sesame Street Live “Elmo’s Coloring Book” – Elmo and his friends are back as they travel through ancient Egypt, the days of dinosaurs and their musical junkyard.
Tickets: $12-$25 Location: Murat Theatre, call for times Info: 317-239-5151

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day Parade – If green beer is not up your alley; join the rest of us downtown for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Just don’t forget to wear your green!
Admission: Free Location: call for details Info: 317-884-3836

March 23-25, Bands of America National Concert Band Festival – Gather the family together and head downtown to watch the 15th annual Band Festival. The crème of the crop high school bands and percussion ensembles come together and perform.
Tickets: call for info Location: Clowes Memorial Hall, Hilbert Circle Theatre,
and Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Info: 800-848-BAND

March 31, Harlem Globetrotters – America’s basketball team is back! Now in their 80th season bring both comedy and skill to the court, the Globetrotters will be facing the NABC College All-Stars and Alumni.
Tickets: $15-$100 Location: Conseco Fieldhouse, 6pm Info: 917-2727

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Existing Home Sales Fall for Fifth Month

Came across this article today from the Associated Press and thought it was relevant as we inch closer to the busy selling season.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes fell for a fifth consecutive month in January as the once-sizzling housing market cooled further.

The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that sales of previously owned homes dropped by 2.8 percent compared to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.56 million units, the slowest pace in two years.

Even with the slowdown in sales, home prices held steady with the median price in January at $211,000, unchanged from the December level.

Sales of both existing and new homes set records for the fifth straight year in 2005, but analysts believe that sales of existing homes will fall by around 5 percent this year as rising interest rates cut into demand.

The biggest sales decline last month was a 10 percent drop in the Northeast. Sales were down 7.7 percent in the Midwest and fell 3.5 percent in the West.

Continue reading the article here.

Could the Indianapolis real estate market be on the verge of a big cool down this summer? That remains to be seen, but there have been warning signs that we could be headed that way.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Single Women Home Buyer’s Come in Second Place

According to recent studies in the housing industry which include the National Association of Realtors; single women are the second largest group of homebuyers. Next to married couples, single women bought 20% of the homes purchased in 2005. Single men stand at 9% of the homes purchased.

In general, women live longer and are now motivated to purchase homes desiring financial independence, security, and the sound investment that home ownership brings to their retirement. With low interest rates, first time buyer programs, loan programs specifically geared toward women, high divorce rates, and lenders now including child support payments as income, women are moving in the direction of home ownership at a fast pace.

The Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors reports the central Indiana housing data is as follows:
  • Average sales price in December 2005 was $149,382
  • Average sales price in December 2004 was $148,650
  • Currently there are 17,464 active properties on the market.

As we enter our spring market, this is a great time to consider purchasing a home in or around the Indianapolis area!

If you are interested in learning about some of the loan programs available to you and being pre-qualified for a loan, feel free to E-mail me or contact me directly at 317-250-0129.

Friday, February 17, 2006

10 Ways to Get Your Price

Came across this article today on Realty Times and I highly recommend that all sellers read this one.

When buyers gain more leverage in a housing market, sellers must think out of the box to entice buyers to their homes, then to lock in their asking price. Below are 10 ways to get your home sold and, if not at your price, at least a little closer than what you might have gotten otherwise.
  • Finished rec room. This gives the buyer a lot more than just money in his pocket. You may be able to finish an unfinished space for less than what the buyer wants to lower the price. When you're talking monthly payments, $50,000 in the mortgage amount would be $299.78 per month. By negotiating $50,000 in remodeling costs, the buyer could come up with a third more living space for less than the cost of a car payment.

Read the 9 remaining tips here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Home Buyer Tip - Home Insurance

Unless you pay cash for your home, you'll need a valid homeowner's insurance policy before you close on your mortgage. The policy will protect you and the lender from:
  • Casualty, like fire, wind or hail – damage to the structure of the house. For flood prone areas, you may need a separate flood policy.
  • Liability in case a visitor is injured at your home.
  • Personal property coverage for damage to things like your furniture, clothes or appliances.

Types of Structural Insurance

  1. Replacement Cost: The cost of replacing damaged property with no depreciation deduction but with a maximum dollar amount.
  2. Guaranteed Replacement Cost: Full cost of replacing damaged property with depreciation deduction or a maximum dollar amount.
  3. Actual Cash Value: An amount equal to the replacement value of damaged property minus a depreciation allowance.

Make sure you have enough insurance to rebuild your home if it were destroyed. Think about:

  • Local construction costs
  • Square footage of the house
  • Type of exterior construction, like brick or frame
  • Style of house
  • Number of rooms and bathrooms
  • Type of roof
  • Special features like a garage or fireplace

Saving Money on Insurance

  • Shop around. Compare price and quality of service. Ask your family and friends. Check with Standard & Poor's or AM Best.
  • Increase your deductible. The higher the deductible, the more you save. But don't get a deductible that would be too much for you to pay.
  • Consolidate your insurance. Buy homeowner's and car insurance with the same company. You'll usually get a discount of up to 15%.
  • Look at the age of your home. The newer the home and equipment, the lower the insurance costs. Construction resistant to wind and earthquake damage will also lower rates.
  • Don't insure the cost of the land under your home.
  • Be safe! Install smoke detectors, security systems and dead bolts. Safety features can lower insurance.
  • Quit smoking. Some companies offer reduced rates for nonsmokers.
  • Flaunt your age! If you're over 55 say so. Senior citizens can get discounts
  • Get group coverage. Try your college, credit union or business associations.
  • Stay with your insurance company. Some companies reward loyal clients with reduced premiums.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December’s Hot Picks

If shoveling snow is not on top of your list of fun, try some these picks of the month…

December Now-19, Country Christmas – Haven’t got your tree yet? Do you want to have a taste of Christmas that the whole family will remember? Then you need to visit Stoneycreek Farm where you can take a hayride out to their tree farm and cut down your own tree! There are also many fresh wreaths and swags to choose among. Sip warm apple cider and listen to holiday music. The farm also has holiday decorations and farm animals complete your visit.
Admission: Free Location: Stoneycreek Farm/Noblesville Time: call for times
Info: 317-773-3344

December 2-24, A Christmas Carol – What would Christmas be without Ebenezer Scrooge? This family favorite is back to tell the famous Charles Dickens tale of sin and redemption.
Tickets: $24-$39 Location: Indiana Repertory Theatre Time: Call for times
Info: 317-635-5252

December 8, Reverend Horton Heat – Here’s a great rockabilly bad that is sure to melt any sign of snow! The first friend I ever met when I moved to Indy is infatuated with the pulsing rhythm of this band and has had me hooked ever since.
Tickets: $17 Location: The Vogue Theater Time: 8pm Info: 317-239-5151

December 8, Indyzapolis – Attention wine aficionados! This wine tasting event offers over 100 Zinfandels and a chance to win a trip for two to ZAP in San Francisco and a tour of NAPA with wine enthusiast Deano of Deano’s Vino. The evening also includes food from local vendors.
Admission: $25 advance (plus a canned food donation), $30 at the door
Location: Fountain Square Theatre Ballroom Time: 6-9pm Info: 317-972-8466

December 9-Jan 8, Beauty and the Beast – Disney’s animated film now takes stage to include costumed characters, songs and a great cast that the whole family will enjoy.
Tickets: $28 Location: Indianapolis Civic Theatre Times: Call for times Info: 317-923-4597

December 31, Zoo Year’s Eve – It’s hard to believe the end of the year is just a few weeks away. This fourth annual family event is a great way to kick off the New Year together! The Zoo offers family activities including free carousel rides and a 9pm countdown.
Admission: $6-$10 Location: Indianapolis Zoo Time: 5-9pm
Info: 317-630-2046

Monday, November 21, 2005

Broad Ripple Condo

Looking for a great buy in Broad Ripple? As investor’s my husband and I are always on the prowl for a great buy. A couple of weeks ago we happened to stumble upon a fabulous opportunity for buyers in Broad Ripple. I’m sharing this with you because there are more than twenty of these properties available, but I have a feeling as word gets out they won’t last long.

If the high prices of Broad Ripple have been putting a frown on your face, or you just don’t want to mow the lawn every week or rake the leaves every fall, and you anxiously wait for your IKEA catalog to come in the mail every spring, then Sycamore Woods is the place for you. This awesome new development is ideal for the first time buyer. You may remember the apartment buildings at the intersection of Kingsley Drive and 56th Street? Or maybe you never even knew there was an apartment building there! Well, these developers came up with a fantastic idea – convert them into AFFORDABLE CONDOS!

As a buyer, you get to customize the design of your unit…think: IKEA meets Pottery Barn. Each condo features new IKEA kitchen cabinets, all new hardwood laminate, ceramic tile, and carpet flooring, granite counter tops (yes, granite counters!), all new stainless steel appliances, new IKEA bathroom cabinetry, all new lighting, all new paint…oh, did I mention this is all included in your purchase price of a mere $95,000. Yes, I said only $95,000! There is a completed model that you can walk through so that you can envision exactly what your 2 bedroom, 1.25 bath condo would look like (of course colors/styles will be customized to match your personal taste.)

Sycamore Woods is nestled along Logan Lake (I bet you didn’t even know there was a lake in Broad Ripple) and it’s only a 4 block walk from Canterbury Park (the cool park with the sand volleyball court) and the Monon Trail. What I especially like about this area is that it’s tucked away in an exceptionally quiet and serene residential neighborhood (except for the occasional quacking duck on the lake). Your condo has two scenes to chose from, wooded view or lake view. There are three buildings, each building has eight condos, and each building is a separate Phase of construction. (ie Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III) Right now, only Phase I is available for sale. Once the developers have sold 75% of the units in Phase I, they will then open up Phase II for sale. However, word on the street is that Phase II will have a price increase.

If you are interested in viewing the model or would like more information about the condos, feel free to E-mail me, or contact me directly at 317-250-0129. Not ready to buy just yet? My husband and I will be renting out two of these luxuriously appointed condos, stop by my Web site for pictures and additional details.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What is a Short Sale?

Indiana’s housing market has seen better times. On a national scale, our state ranks #2 in the number of foreclosed homes. The average dollar loss on Fannie Mae and HUD homes is $36,000. Neighborhoods are slowly declining in value due to the surplus of foreclosed inventory. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, Indianapolis only ranks 121st in home appreciation out of 129 other metro areas on a national basis.

These statistics are a harsh reality and are now causing the banking industry to look at other alternatives to defaulted loans in high foreclosure states. One of the more common alternatives is called a PFS (Pre Foreclosure Sale) also known as a Short Sale. A Short Sale consists of a lender satisfying the loan, paid in full for an amount less than the original pay off. For example, if your mortgage is $165,000 and you cannot pay that amount, if your lender approves a Short Sale amount of $145,000 – your loan would be considered paid in full upon sale. The benefits to the homeowner, lender, and the neighborhood are considerable.

For instance, the homeowner can reduce derogatory information reported in their credit file, it avoids deficiencies, avoids a foreclosure, and they receive monetary compensation up to $1000.

For a lender, it reduces non-reimbursable costs, avoids the process of seizing a foreclosure property, reduces their dollar amount of claims that are paid, reduces interest paid, and improves their relationship with the homeowner. After all, they want you to get back on your feet one day…in hopes that they can give you another home loan.

Last but not least, the neighborhood’s value is retained and it helps stabilize the local community. Most foreclosed homes sell below market value which in turn decreases overall neighborhood values. They also tend to sit vacant for several months during the foreclosure process causing them to lack curb appeal and hinder the sale of other homes in the same neighborhood.

To qualify for a Short Sale, you must prove to your lender that you are in financial hardship. This means, you must have no desire to remain on the property and are not able to continue making monthly mortgage payments. In addition, you must be in default a minimum of two or more installments to qualify. Most importantly, you cannot have any money in either your checking or savings accounts.

Once you contact your bank to petition for a Short Sale (it usually helps to have a Realtor at this time to help you through the process) they will send you a package to determine whether you are qualified for the program. Your credit history will be run, and an appraisal will be ordered on your home, and title checked for any liens on your property. Your home must retain an appraised value of 63% or higher to be considered. If it is less, your home will go directly to foreclosure. You will also need to contact a HUD approved credit counselor to work with you through the Short Sale. Once all requirements are met and the lender approves a Short Sale, you have 90 days to sell your home through a Realtor. If your home does not sell within the 90 day time frame, the lender can proceed to foreclosure.

Remember, this is just a brief over view of a Short Sale. There is a lot of time and paper work involved.

If you decide to apply for a Short Sale, word to the wise:

1. You must remain in your home until it is SOLD – do not move out, or the lender will cancel the Short Sale and proceed to foreclosure.

2. Remain in constant contact with your lender – do not avoid their phone calls.

If you would like more information or are considering a Short Sale, feel free to contact me at 317-250-0129.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

November’s Hot Picks

Now that we have watched the leaves turn, here are some other suggestions to keep you busy during…

November 9-13, Christmas Gift and Hobby Show – The time is now to start your holiday shopping! Over 400 exhibitors will be featuring everything of your hearts desire from toys, crafts, cookware, clothing, and more.
Tickets: $7 (children under 12 are free) Location: Indiana State Fairgrounds/West Pavilion, call for times Info: 317-576-9933

November 11, Veterans Day Parade – In honor of veterans, parade and memorial service and ceremony will begin at the War Memorial and will then continue with a celebration parade through downtown.
Admission: Free Location: downtown, 11:30am-1:30pm Info: 317-247-3296

November 12, Indiana Ice – I figure if I am going to pay homage to all the other sports, I must also recognize Indiana’s hockey team. Even though we don’t have a NHL team, we do have probably one of hockey’s most hard working groups of individuals – USHL. These determined young men have their goals set in hopes of one day making pro’s. First game is against Green Bay.
Tickets: $9-$15 Location: Pepsi Coliseum/Indiana State Fairgrounds, 7pm
Info: 317-925-4423

November (now through to the 13th), The Crucible – Written by one of America’s greatest writers, Arthur Miller tells a tale of horror and suspense set in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts during the witchcraft trials. A great play to bring teens to as it is normally a required high school reading topic.
Tickets: $15-$24 Location: Marian Hall Auditorium/Marian College, check for times
Info: 317-923-4597

November 18, Nintendo Fusion Tour– If your kids just don’t seem to get enough video games at home, or if you’re just a kid at heart and enjoy the post-punk fusion bands such as Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack, Boys Night Out and Panic! At the Disco; then this is the ticket for you.
Tickets: $20 Location: Murat Center, 6:30pm Info: 317-239-5151

November 19, Elton John – On tour with his new album, Peachtree Road, tickets will most likely go fast. I only wonder how many costume changes he will have…that might be worth the ticket itself. This is sure to be a wonderful concert with many crowd pleasing songs as well as many of his new collaborations.
Tickets: $37-$77 Location: Conceso Fieldhouse, 8pm Info: 317-239-5151

November 25, Circle of Lights – The holidays in Indianapolis truly begin once the Monument is lit! This will mark its 43rd year and now attracts more than 100,000 spectators. Over 4,700 lights drape the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Live entertainment will be included during the celebration.
Admission: Free Location: Monument Circle, lighting approx. 7:50pm Info: 317-237-222

Thursday, October 06, 2005

October’s Hot Picks

No tricks here, just some fun treats for you and the family!

October 13, Indiana Pacers – We all know I’m not the biggest sports fan, but something about the Indiana Pacers preseason starting without Reggie actually does make me feel a little empty inside. I do miss him. However, Ron and the guys…we’re glad to see you back and ready to kick some butt! Pacers preseason begins with their first home game against Utah. Tickets: $10-$102 Location: Conseco Field House, 7pm Info: 239-5151

October 15, Elvis Costello – I myself am from the 80’s generation and no one represents the 80’s like Elvis Costello! This special solo performance will be worth the buck…there is no tour, no band, and no format to this show. His most recent release in 2004 was an orchestral piece with composer Burt Bacharach…hmmm….love songs anyone? Tickets: $25-$100 Location: Clowes memorial Hall, 8pm Info: 940-6444

October 18-23, Movin’Out – For all the Billy Joel lovers out there…this one’s for you! Movin’ Out has received Best New Musical and Best Choreography awards in 2005. This musical is based on the lives of five friends coming of age in the 1960’s and how the events of the Vietnam conflict and Watergate have impacted their lives. Over two dozen Billy Joel songs are included for your listening enjoyment. Tickets: $28.50-70.50 Location: Clowes Memorial Hall, call for times Info: 632-7469

October 27-29, Care Bears Live – This entertaining show with lessons on friendship will help children have fun while understanding how to be a good friend. Kids will have the opportunity to join in singing popular Care Bear songs as well as learning new ones.
Tickets: $13-$26 Location: Murat Theatre, call for times Info: 231-0000

October 29, El Dia De Los Muertos – In the United States we celebrate Halloween, however, in Mexico, El Dia de Los Muertos translates to “The Day of the Dead” is traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2. It celebrates the lives of those who have gone, but are not forgotten. This festival includes entertainment, food, and activities for the family. Admission: Free Location: Indianapolis Art Center, 4pm-9pm Info: 255-2464

October 29, Bands of America Regional Championship – This year four of Indiana’s own high school marching bands will be competing amongst thirty-four national bands in hopes of ranking in the regional championships. Music is so important in our schools, so come and support Carmel, Ben Davis, Columbus North, and Lawrence North! Admission: $14-$26 Location: RCA Dome, 7am-11pm Info: 636-2263

October 31, Safe Night Halloween – For a safe, fun night of Trick-or-Treating, kids 12 and under, accompanied by an adult can enjoy games, candy, arts and crafts at the Indiana State Fair Grounds. Admission: Free Location: Indiana State Fair Grounds, 5pm-7pm Info: 927-7524

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So you want to buy a HUD home?

In today’s market, there are many types of foreclosure sales, but recently, the most advertised on T.V., radio, and newspaper classifieds are HUD homes.

What exactly is a HUD home?

A HUD home is a mortgage insured home through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in which a mortgagor has defaulted with its lender. When this happens, HUD then pays off the lender and in return becomes the new owner of the home.

Therefore, the term of a HUD owned home is in place.

There can be great benefits to owning a HUD home, but at the same time, you must be an informed buyer. These homes are often sold at or below market value. However, Buyer Beware: these homes are sold AS-IS. As-Is means, NO repairs will be made to the home. What you see is what you get. Therefore, I highly recommend you know what you are buying. Get an inspection from a trusted and qualified company. You will also be responsible for your inspection costs which will generally run approximately $325. No warranties will be offered on the home.

Next, be prepared for a whole new process of home buying. Everything you are used to is now out the door and those traditions no longer apply here. I highly recommend you work with an agent that is experienced with foreclosures and is a registered HUD agent. This will make your transaction a lot smoother and their knowledge of the process will be highly valuable when it comes to understanding the bidding process.

This brings us to your offer. HUD homes are sold as a bidding process. This means that your offer, along with several other offers are submitted on-line and the highest most reasonable bid is generally accepted. Most real estate agents often will use the term “make the cleanest offer possible”…which means to submit an offer with a strong price, and don’t ask for anything else. Sometimes the bank will pay buyer financing or closing costs, but remember this will make your offer weaker compared to other bidders. Your form of financing will also play a key role. You are considered a stronger buyer to the bank if you are a cash or conventional buyer. As you become an experienced investor, you will learn which homes are hot buys, when you need to have solid offers, verses times you can offer a lower price. It all comes with time.

If your offer is accepted, your earnest money will be deposited and a closing date will be targeted. In general, closings are 30-60 days out, but it is not uncommon with government homes to have later closings since they have to clear title. Often problems come up on title work that they have to clean up which can delay your closing.

If you are interested in purchasing a HUD home or have questions feel free to contact me as I am a registered HUD agent.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

September’s Hot Picks

School’s back in session, leaves begin to fall, but before snow starts coming…enjoy some of the warm weather’s last minute chances:

September 1-5, 51st Mac Tools U.S. Nationals – This has been labeled the Super Bowl of drag racing folks…this means it is a MUST SEE. If the need to see speed is up your alley, this is the show for you. Location: Indianapolis Raceway Park. Tickets: prices and times vary per day. Info: 317-291-4090

September 3, Meijer Skyconcert – This is the best way to finish summer! Running its 23rd year, this music and firework celebration is a great way to spend time with family and friends (especially those coming in from out of town). Food and beverages will be available. Location: White River State Park, Celebration Plaza Time: 4-9pm Admission: Free!

September 9-11, The Solheim Cup – Forget the Ryder Cup….we’ve got the Solheim Cup! This is the women’s version and its right here in Indiana! Sorry, but tickets are long gone unless you know somebody who knows somebody who can get tickets from somebody….Our U.S. ladies have never lost on home turf so hopefully this will be on T.V or you can score a ticket somehow because this will promise to be an exciting event. Location: Crooked Stick Golf Club Info: 317-846-4038

September 11, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra –This black tie opening event starts off the always popular ISO season. The party begins at the Hilbert Circle Theater and the concert kicks off 19th and 20th century classics and Broadway standards. Location: Hilbert Circle Theatre Reception 5pm; Concert 6pm. Tickets: $45 to $65 Info: 317-639-4300

September 12, Green Day– Although I am not a Green Day fan, one cannot over look the many Grammy’s, Billboard Awards, and Moon Men they have recently racked up…must mean they are pretty popular. Location: Conseco Fieldhouse. Tickets: $39.50 to $45.00. Show Starts: 7pm Info: 317-239-5151

September 16-18, Indy Irish Festival – Celebrate the Irish heritage the real way, complete with dance, festivities, games, contests, music, and much more. They even have a Celtic canine show! Location: Military Park Time: times vary. Admission: $12 Adults, $10 Students, Free for children under 13. Info: 713-7117

September 17, Fiesta Indianapolis – Representing 23 different cultures, the Fiesta festival has reached its 25th year! Besides traditional Mexican food and mariachi bands, several other Hispanic cultures will be represented including Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Panama. This is a wonderful way to learn about cultures and their countries! Location: American Legion Mall. Time: 12pm-Midnight. Admission: Free. Info: 634-5022

September 17, French Market – If you have always dreamed of going to France, but your budget won’t allow it…try the French market instead. Enjoy music, games, and of course several different styles of French cuisine (and those yummy pastries)! Bring the family and make it a fun filled day. Location: St. Joan of Arc Parish Time: 12pm-11pm Admission: Free Info: 283-5508

September 18, Indianapolis Colts – This is when my official shopping season begins, for the rest of you, it’s the beginning of FOOTBALL SEASON. I do not plan to post all their games (sorry), but I thought I would at least mention this is their first game. Our Colts will be playing against Jacksonville and as always…GO COLTS!!! Game Starts: Noon Location: RCA Dome Tickets: $19 to $49 Info: 317-297-7000

September 28-October 2, Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus– The circus is coming to town! Complete with animals, clowns, and magical thrills. Bring the family and reminisce childhood all over again. Location: Conseco Fieldhouse. Times: Wed-Sat 7:30pm Sat-Sun 11:30am, 3:30pm. Info: 239-5151

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lustron Homes

Here’s a new twist on a historical home. Have you ever heard of a Lustron home? I came across my first one. My real estate partner and I are listing a Lustron home. These homes are registered as National Historical Homes and if you are looking for a totally maintenance free home…this is the home for you.

Here’s the scoop:

The Lustron homes were built by Carl Strandlunds between 1949 and 1950 as an answer to the World War II housing shortage. He created a new cost effective concept: a low priced, maintenance free home. Even though only 2,680 of these all steel, bungalow homes were built; over 50 years later, many of these homes still have their original siding and roofs! Amazing.

A majority of these homes are located in the Midwest, with only a few in Indiana. The entire homes structure consist of steel framing, steel interior and exterior walls, steel roof trusses and steel roof tiles. All exposed steel has a porcelain enamel finish.

The average Lustron home required 12 tons of steel and 1 ton of enamel. This makes the home allergen free, termite free, fire proof, and the list goes on. It only took 350 hours to construct these homes at a cost of $6,000!

If you are interested in purchasing a Lustron home, as I mentioned, I have one available located at 1029 N. Hawthorne Indianapolis, IN. Please browse my website for pictures and more information or feel free to contact me at 317-250-0129.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

School Stats

In the Midwest, mid August marks a slowing trend in real estate. It is the time that most families have already settled into their new homes and are now busily preparing for the upcoming school year. With most local schools beginning this week, your child’s performance is more important than you think.

Did you know that a student’s overall success and school performance often dictates the appreciation value of local neighborhoods?

Of the top concerns for relocating families, school statistics is one of the most important. Parents often want the best schools for their children which they often base from pupil/teacher ratios, discipline, school design, and “quality” teachers along with test scores.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) documents that communities with better student performance often have higher home appreciation values. If a school’s characteristics have universal appeal to parents, it can lead to a rise in property values due to families moving into that school’s community.

Want the low down on all the local school districts visit my Web site and click on school links.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bricks on Your House Turning White?

Efflorescence is a condition that often happens to brick masonry in which a whitish film appears on the bricks. This is caused by water-soluble salts in the masonry materials that are brought to the surface of the bricks surface once the water evaporates. Often times you will see this in new construction.

Fear not, it can easily be remedied with some time and the right products. Basically you have two choices: masonry cleaning and etching preparation or a solution containing muriatic acid. The type of brick you have on your home will decide whether muriatic acid is an appropriate choice. Homes with glazed or light-colored brick are not well suited for acid solutions. Red brick homes and darker colors should be tested with the solution in an inconspicuous area first.

When purchasing an acidic cleaner for your home, make sure you read the instructions in detail and understand them clearly. Often times, you will need to soak the brick with water before acid washing. This also includes a thorough rinse. To prevent efflorescence from reappearing, you will need to seal the brick surface with a clear, water-resistant sealer. There are pigmented sealers available which can give your exterior a richer sheen is you so desire.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Home Seller Tip – Repairs Are Necessary

Before putting your home on the market and opening it up to potential buyers make note of anything around the house that needs repair, or that needs to be spruced up. Buyers are considering making your home their home. They don't want to buy your problems.

  • Fix up or tear down broken fencing.
  • Repair cracks in the concrete. De-grease the driveway.
  • Fix the broken garage door. Does it need to be painted or washed?
  • Do plants need to be pruned or replanted?
  • Hide or throw away old porch furniture.
  • Missing a tile in the bathroom? Replace it.
  • Remember the torn screen in the kid's room? Get it repaired!

Monday, August 01, 2005

August’s Hot Picks

It’s Fair Time! But if that’s not your cup of tea; here are some other ideas:

August 7, Allstate 400 At the Brickyard – It’s that time again! New name, same race..yadda yadda yadda…check times for practice runs as they do vary. Hopefully you have a ticket or you can try your luck at the gate with your neighborhood scalper. Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Info: 317-492-6700

August 10-13, 2005 Visa Championships – This will be the first major gymnastic event hosted at Conseco Fieldhouse. What’s even more fascinating about this event is that many of the gymnast’s competing at this event will go on as representatives in the 2008 Olympics. As a former gymnast, this is one of my favorite picks this month. Location: Conseco Fieldhouse. Tickets: $10.00 to $45.00 (Single Session) $75.00 to $160.00 (All-Session); $40.00 (Rhythmic and Acrobatic Events). Call for times. Info: 317-239-5151

August 10-21, Indiana State Fair – This is my favorite time of year. I literally drag my husband every year! Coming from Los Angeles, we didn’t have fairs…I only saw them in movies and was fascinated by them. I go not only once, but twice; three times if I’m lucky. It wasn’t until I moved to Indiana that I learned what Funnel Cakes and Elephant Ears were! So with open arms, I welcome the 149th edition of the State Fair.
Location: Indiana State Fairgrounds Tickets: $6.00 (Adults) Free for children 5 and under
Hours: 6am-Midnight. Info: 317-927-7500

August 19-28, Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival – This is not your ordinary play production. If theatre that is off the beaten path appeals to you, this is definitely your ticket. Over 30 production companies from around the country participate in this all day event with over several one hour performances daily. Show times vary. Tickets: $3.00 one-time entry fee; $10.00 per performance. Located: Massachusetts Avenue Arts and Theater District. Info: 317-297-2287

August 20, Steve Miller Band– What would a college party be without Steve Miller? Reminisce the good ole days and soak up a fun filled evening with the Band’s hits. Tickets: $27.00 and $45.00(pavilion) or $13.50 (lawn). Located: Verizon Wireless Music Center. Info: 317-239-5151

August 26-28, Indianapolis Air Show- This is another highlight for my monthly picks. Not only is this an exciting event for the family; it helps out children in need. Proceeds benefit Riley Hospital. The Blue Angels will be flying high this year and are definitely a breath taking sight to see! Location: 3867 Aviation way, Greenfield Tickets: $15.00 (Adults) $5.00 (Children 6-12). Show starts at Noon.

August 27, Feast of Lanterns – The Feast of Lanterns is actually a Chinese holiday. This was widely celebrated for several years and eventually faded after World War II. It had been revived in 2003 and sounds wonderfully romantic. The highlight of the feast is the lantern lighting ceremony which begins at dusk near Spades Park on the city’s near-east side. Hundreds of luminaries will be aglow throughout the park. Might be a nice date?
Located: 1801 Nowland Avenue Admission: Free Info: 317-633-7300

August 31, Jimmy Buffett-Even though Mr. Buffett has only produced a single number one album in his entire career, every year fans look forward to his arrival. I have yet to experience a Buffett concert, but I hear they are worth every penny. Located: Verizon Wireless Music Center. Tickets: $86.00 (pavilion) or $36.00 (lawn).
Info: 317-239-5151

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Home Buyer Tip - Choosing a Neighborhood

Where you live is as important as the house you live in. Consider these items when organizing your list of preferred neighborhoods.

1. Commute: Do I need a quick commute to work? Keep in mind short commutes limit your neighborhood options.
2. My personality: Do I prefer country, suburban or urban living?
3. Family: Is a certain school district important to me? Do I need to live near my elderly parents?
4. Downtime: Do I want to live close to my church or temple or have a short commute to night school?
5. Future zoning and development: Is the park behind my house going to be developed in the future? Does this small town have plans to build a mega-shopping mall?
6. Neighborhood age: What will a new neighborhood look like in 10 years? Am I satisfied with an older neighborhood, knowing it may not change much?
7. Time of day: Does the neighborhood feel the same at night as it does during the day? Is weekend traffic heavier than during the weekday?
8. Extra costs: Can I afford the county or city taxes or any homeowners' association fees?
9. Homeowners' Associations: What are the homeowners' association rules? Are they good for protecting home values?
10. Neighborhood investment: Have the homes in this neighborhood held or increased in value?

Need some help deciding? Let me put my knowledge of the local area to work for you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Home Buyer Tip - Wants vs. Needs

Before you begin house hunting, create a realistic "shopping list" to narrow your search. Looking for a home can take time, especially if you have not focused on what is most important.

Create a "wish list" and a "must have" list. Many people focus more on "wants" than "needs." As a result, they sometimes reject homes that perfectly meet their needs in search of homes that meet their wants. That's not to say that you shouldn't try to get what you want – you should just be able to tell the difference between what you really need and what you would like to have.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Home sales and prices at record highs and rising

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has forecasted an all time record in home sales for the year 2005 for both existing and new home sales.

The report concludes existing home sales this year will rise 2.8% to 6.97 million, while new home sales should increase 3.2% to 1.24 million. This year is also setting records with over 1.68 million homes plotted for new construction.

Why all the rapid growth?

The answers are simple: several homeowners are now able to achieve the American Dream due to the mortgage interest rates remaining lower than expected as well as the readily available low and no down- payment programs offering first time buyers who may not necessarily have money for an upfront payment more options. The employment rate is also beginning to grow.

There are drawbacks to an over stimulated market. The most notable problem is the shortage of homes available for sale as well as building material shortages. The shortages can prove to be a challenge for home buyers, builders and remodelers. The result can cause a rise in building costs and then ripple into higher home prices.

NAR expects the national median home price to rise 9.4% this year to $202,600 and new home prices to increase 5.8% to $233,900.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Indiana Facts:

In my recent search to better educate myself of the state I live in, I came across these fun facts that I thought might be of interest to you:

  • Indiana was the 19th state to enter the Union on December 11, 1816
  • State Bird: Cardinal
  • State Flower: Peony
  • State Motto: Crossroads of America
  • State Nickname: Hoosier State
  • State Song: On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away by Paul Dresser
  • State Tree: Tulip Tree also known as the Yellow Poplar
  • State Flag: The state flag has 19 gold stars and a gold torch. The torch represents liberty and enlightenment and the rays represent far-reaching influence. The stars in the outer circle represent the 13 original states and the inner circle are for the next five states admitted to the Union prior to Indiana. The largest star above the torch represents Indiana. The flag was adopted in 1917.
  • Famous Hoosiers: John Cougar Mellencamp, James Dean, Larry Bird, Michael Jackson, David Letterman, Dan Quayle, James Whitcomb Riley, Wilbur Wright, and Bill Blass

Monday, July 11, 2005

Designed to Sell

If you are thinking of selling your home, I came across a great TV show that I highly recommend watching. It’s called Designed to Sell on the HGTV channel. The show gives contestants $2000 and with the help of a designer, they transform their home into a show piece. This is a great show to watch for inexpensive tips on organizing, decorating, and minimizing clutter to help your home sell quicker and at top dollar.

This is where some sellers fail in selling their home. Often times a little fresh paint, organization, and pre packing of your home can result in your home selling faster and for more money than the competition. Rooms with too much furniture can look larger if you remove a few pieces. Also, clearing the clutter and pre packing knickknacks and any expensive items you may own is highly recommended. Creating an open, bright area is the key objective here.

In today’s market, a buyer has several choices in homes; so isn’t it worth a weekend or two of hard work to get your home in a showing state?

Designed to Sell airs Sunday and Tuesday at 8pm est. on HGTV.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Let’s do the math…

Your auto mechanic holds a license.
Your hairstylist holds a license.
Your plumber holds a license.
Your Realtor holds a license.

So, why on Earth would your Home Inspector not hold a license? A Home Inspector’s report is one of the most relied upon pieces of information in the home buying and selling process.

The Sunday Indianapolis Star published an article about the new Indiana law that came into effect last Friday requiring Home Inspectors to hold a license. Indianapolis currently has only 60 licensed inspectors.

As a Realtor, I hold a license. I must renew my license every other year and in order to do so, I am required by state law to take 16 units of continuing education courses and pay a licensing fee. If I fail to complete these requirements, I will lose my license to sell real estate.

The idea that some Home Inspector’s are upset about this new law befuddles me. Why shouldn’t they been licensed? The salability of a home frequently depends on a home inspection…if a deal on a home is going to fail; it’s usually during the inspection period.

After all, you wouldn’t have your hairstylist fix your car…would you?

Friday, July 01, 2005

July’s Hot Pick’s

If sitting next to the air conditioner sounds a little boring, maybe some of these events might get your day, or night going…

July 1, Santana– If chillin’ under the starlit sky sounds good to you, then Verizon Wireless Music Center should be your destination tonight. Carlos Santana along with Los Lonely Boys, and his son’s band, Salvador Santana Band will be strumming some of the best Latin music around! Tickets: $38.50-$46.50 (pavilion) or $20.00 (lawn). Show starts at 7pm. Info: 317-239-5151

July 1-4, Glorious Fourth-This is my top pick for those having guests coming to town. This is the largest celebration held at Conner Prairie. Enjoy old fashioned ice cream while watching the marching militia, baseball games, and the reading of the Declaration of Independence. You can make this a full day by staying for Symphony on the Prairie topped off with their traditional fireworks show. Located: Conner Prairie, check for times. Tickets: $7 for children ages 5-12 and $11 for 13 and older. (Additional charges apply if staying for Symphony.)

July 7-17, Indiana Black Expo-This is another top pick on my list. Indiana is home to the largest African-American event in the country. Come enjoy a day of culture, music, arts, and more as the Black Expo celebrates its 35th year! Located: Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome, times vary. Admission: $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
Info: 317-925-2702

July 9, Summer Latino Fun Fest-This is a great opportunity to spend the day with the family and learn about the Latin culture! The Latino Fun Fest focuses on fun for the entire family with food, vendors, live music, and a kids’ area. Located: New York and West Streets, Noon-Midnight. Admission: Free

July 21, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers– Anyone to write a song about my hometown (San Fernando Valley, CA) is a winner in my heart! Join Tom and the crew along with opening band, Black Crowes (yes they are back together again) for a great night of rock n’ roll. Located: Verizon Wireless Music Center, 7pm. Tickets: $45-$58 (pavilion) or $28 (lawn) Info: 317-239-5151

July 16-24, RCA Tennis Championships– Okay, I work with a lady who takes vacation time off every year when the tennis championships come to town…this must be worth seeing! Unlike Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, the RCA Tennis Championships bring you up close and personal with the players. Located: Indianapolis Tennis Center, check for daily start times. Tickets: $8-$65 Info: 317-632-4100

July 20-24, U.S. Rowing National Championship Regatta- This year will mark the 134th running of the regatta. One unknown fact is that many of these competitors become Olympians! Over 1,200 rowers will be competing within four levels: elite, senior, intermediate, and junior. Located: Eagle Creek Reservoir, start time is between 8-8:30am. This event is free with paid park admission. Info: 317-237-5645

July 23-24, 50 Years of Car and Driver-If you’ve got the need for speed, this is your ticket. Car and Driver magazine will be kicking off their golden anniversary for a weekends worth of thrills. Public has opportunity to ride in a modern racecar (sorry guys, a professional driver will be driving..key word here is “ride”) There is also an opportunity to race against the editors of the famous magazine, Tony Swan, Larry Webster, and Patrick Bedard. Located: Indianapolis Raceway Park, check for times. Tickets: $15-$35. Reservations are required to race against the Editors. Info: 231-843-0622 x202

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Controlling Factors

I read an interesting article in the Indianapolis Star today in which home owners shared their frustration of selling their home in the summer market. Traditionally, in real estate, June is known as the ‘peak’ of the real estate season. This is the time in which inventory is at its highest and relocating families are ready to make their move before the new school year.

There are several factors that play into your home selling in the June market. As a seller, you have control over two of these factors: price and condition. How you price your home will determine if your home sells quickly or if you will be in for the long haul. The first two weeks are the most important weeks in selling your home. It will be listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for thousands of agents to see. An agent will know at that time whether you are priced in line with the market. If you are priced to high within the first hit on the MLS, your home stands a chance of becoming ‘stagnant’ on the market; even if you lower your price after a month. This is why you as a seller have control over price and you must make sure you are in line with fair market value; being the price a buyer would pay in today’s market.

The second factor is condition. The Indianapolis Star’s article listed some great home selling tips. Make sure your home is always clean and smells fresh. Second is to de-clutter. If you are planning to sell your home, then pack early. This helps create openness to your home so that a buyer can easily visualize your home being their home. Curb appeal is an important factor which you can learn about by clicking here. Lastly, create an ambiance to your home. Open the curtains, turn on all the lights, and play soft music and place fragrant flowers in different areas throughout your home.

In a nut shell, June is the time to sell…if your home has not sold by end of July; I recommend that you review the factors that as a home owner you are in control of: Price and Condition.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Rain Dancer

I will never claim to be a Green Thumb…that title belongs to my mother. My thumb is rather, black. Unfortunately, that particular gene was not passed onto me.

However, I try.

Every Spring I head to my favorite nursery’s to purchase bright flowers in hopes of creating my picturesque garden. I water every other day, or every day if it’s extremely hot…succumbing myself to the mosquitoes each evening as they feast upon my blood.

This brings me to my point.


As I stood with hose in hand, watering my garden my husband rushes outside to inform me that Indianapolis residents are no longer allowed to water. He looked at me as though I was from Mars, as I did to him. Since I am a California native, I am quite familiar with water rationing. However, I live in Indianapolis and last time I checked there is no water shortage! In fact, there is no water shortage; there is plenty of water. The problem is that the Indianapolis Water Company’s pump stations cannot keep up with the water usage. I can’t help but to be a little ticked off by this.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate of conserving water. With that said, it is very difficult for me to watch my poor flowers cry for help as they suffocate in 97 degree weather. So, I did what only a Green Thumb would do….a rain dance.

Well folks, I got my rain and now I’m a happy little Gardner!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Gen-Xers take lead in home buying

A number of real estate professionals will mark 2005 as one of their top producing years…thanks in large part to Generation X. The housing sector in general is flourishing through job growth, continuing low interest rates, and price gains in some hot markets.

Four years ago, the median age for homebuyers was 36. This year the median age is 31. According to this profile, Generation Xers represent 49% of the home buying market. A majority of them are first time homebuyers with many of them owning a second home for investment purposes. One interesting finding is that the younger generation is more focused on purchasing second homes as investments, giving them both rental income and diversity in their portfolio. The other 51% of homebuyers generally purchase second homes for vacation retreats and eventually their future retirement home. These buyers are traditionally over 46 years of age.

Why is the younger generation now interested in home buying?

The number one reason given was that they just want to own their own home rather than pay rent or live with their parents. Today’s younger buyer generally has a higher income and they are also taking advantage of the many different alternative financing options.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

We’ve Been Seized!

The vote has been cast… the ruling made.

The Supreme Court officially ruled today that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses for private development, even against a home owner’s will.

The practice of eminent domain is actually quite common in several states. The Fifth Amendment allows governments to take private property for public use; however, the owner must be justly compensated for their property. Properties that are traditionally taken through eminent domain are those where roads, bridges, or public buildings are needed.

In the case of Kelo vs. New London, the Supreme Court ruling has basically allowed the local government to slate homes for destruction for the benefit of another party. In this particular case, residents living in the neighborhood of New London, Connecticut filed suit due to their local government announcing eminent domain of their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices. This decision by the government is meant to create more job opportunities in the New London community.

Is this fair? There are two ways to look at it. One view being, that people are being uprooted from their homes, simply to accommodate a wealthier higher power. The other view being that removing a handful of people in order to create community wide employment opportunities helps more families in need of jobs as well as spurs other economic development.

My theory here is to buy smart. So many people buy their homes smack in the middle of an empty field or near a developing area….not always the smartest decision. Sooner or later a development will be in that empty field, or the hospital that’s several hundred yards away today, they might want to add another wing right up to your back yard.

What’s your opinion?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What is a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 exchange is often a good option for investors wanting a tax deferment to postpone capital gains taxes. However, not everyone can use a 1031 exchange and of course there are very specific rules to follow.

Only investment properties can qualify for a 1031 exchange or properties owned in a business. This means private residences or second non-rental homes will not qualify. The exchange must be between two like properties. The properties must both be used for investment or business purposes, but they do not have to have the exact same use. For example, an apartment can be exchanged for a strip center.

The IRS has strict guidelines to meet the criteria for an exchange. First and foremost, you must move quickly. You only have 45 days to identify the replacement property following the sale of the initial property. You do not have to close within 45 days, but must have an accepted offer. You can purchase up to three properties of like value or as many properties as necessary to total the sum of the property you are exchanging.

Once you have an accepted offer, you have 180 days from the sale date of your previous property to close on the exchange. Some choose to simultaneously close on both the previous and new properties to make the transaction less complicated. However, if you cannot close on both properties simultaneously, you must use a bank or an attorney qualified to hold the sale money until the exchange is complete.

If you end up with any cash from the exchange to even out the value, that cash will be taxed at current capital-gains rates.

By the way, two important points here: the properties can only be located in the United States and no, you won’t qualify for deferred capital gains if you receive an exchange from a familial relationship and then sell it within two years.

If a 1031 exchange is in your future, start your search as soon as possible for the like property; 45 days comes very quickly, especially when you factor in the negotiation process.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Fuzzy Green Houses

Have you ever seen the houses with the greenish black roof or siding? Yuck!

The algae that is growing on your roof is slowly deteriorating your roof and can easily be removed. It’s important to maintain your roof to maximize its longevity. The same goes for your siding.

Algae is common in areas of the country that receive high amounts of rainfall and humidity (Indiana for one). It is also common in areas with mature trees. As this moss and algae continue to be fed from the moisture, it will multiply and slowly spread across the area usually starting on the northern side.

The most common answer in the past to ridding the algae was bleach and a power washer. However, recent studies are now showing that the bleach when left on the roof accelerates corrosion of metal gutters and downspouts, kills vegetation, and removes the natural color from wood roofing shakes. Also, the power washer can loosen your shingles or pull them upwards eventually causing them to fall off.

The safest way to clean the moss and algae off your roof is to use non-toxic oxygen bleach. The best use of this product is to mix the powder with water and apply it to a cool roof surface, such as on an overcast day. Keep the roof surface wet with the solution for approximately 20 minutes and then lightly scrub the roofs surface. The algae should come off; however, heavy build up may take multiple applications. You can use this same procedure for your siding.

Most of all…be careful! Moss and algae are very slippery. Make sure your roof is dry when working and wear shoes with durable tracking.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Indianapolis Realtor Blog Scoops the Indy Star

Thanks to a great observation and question from reader Torporific on Monday I answered the question why are so many Meridian Street mansions for sale. See post from June 12. The Indianapolis Star apparently thought that question was so important that they ran a front page story today covering the same topic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Indiana Ranks #5 in Foreclosures

..for the month of May at least. I received a newsletter today from the Board of Realtors and decided to run the numbers. For several years, Indiana has ranked #1 with the highest number of foreclosures. This article in particular stated that across the nation foreclosures have dropped 17% in May. One website in particular RealtyTrac will give you the results of homes that are pre-foreclosures (properties in the first stage of foreclosure), Auction (Sheriff’s sale), and Bank Owned (properties foreclosed). The results are alarming and I have posted the figures below:

Marion County
4283 Pre-foreclosure
4052 Auction
5047 Bank owned

Hamilton County
9 Pre-foreclosure
5 Auction
29 Bank owned

Boone County
2 Pre-foreclosure
0 Auction
6 Bank owned

Hancock County
1 Pre-foreclosure
79 Auction
24 Bank owned

Hendricks County
3 Pre-foreclosure
2 Auction
25 Bank owned

In 2004, MIBOR (Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors) conducted a research study outlining the causes of Indiana’s high foreclosure rates. It is pretty informative and I have included a link here for your interest. Since Indiana has the highest home ownership rate, as well as being the hardest hit state in manufacturing job losses; one can only expect the influx of foreclosed homes.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

10 Reasons Your Home Might Fail Inspection

There is always a sense of relief when you have an accepted offer on your home. However, never consider your home sold until you have passed inspection. A majority of real estate transactions that fail do so because of a failed Inspection. Many home owners either try to hide problems, or they just don’t know when to recognize a problem that can affect the outcome of a sale.

Inspectors are paid to find everything and anything wrong with your home…and trust me, they will find it. However, you can help yourself in advance by preparing for your inspection and in the long run, saving your home from a lost sale. I have gathered 10 major items that often cause sales to fall through. I recommend repairing these items prior to your inspection.

Why? Even though it may not seem like it now, you will be saving yourself money (or a sale) in the long run.

1. Defective Plumbing: Clogs, dirty water, and low water pressure are three areas that often fail. During an inspection, the inspector will turn on all the faucets in the highest bathroom and flush the toilet at the same time. This test will reveal any of the three items I mentioned above.

2. Damp/Wet Basements:
When I show homes to perspective buyers and hear the dehumidifier running…I know there is a problem. Cracks in your basement foundation or walls are often the root of the problem with water seepage. If you see fungus growing on your walls, treat it. If your water problem is more severe, you may want to consider installing a sump pump or even hiring a water proofing company.

3. Inadequate wiring: Many older homes have not had there electrical updated. This is often a problem that a Realtor will find when showing homes. Homes should have a minimum of 100 amps service and you should mark it on your box.

4. Heating and Cooling systems: Make sure you keep your furnace clean on a routine basis. If your heating system is over 15-20 years old, it’s time to start shopping for a new one. Many companies will give you a discount if you install your heater and cooling systems at the same time.

5. Leaks: That water spot you tried to paint over? Yeah, that one…the inspection will find it. Leaks can occur for a variety of reasons such as age, weather, or mechanical. Make sure you periodically check your roof and attic for leaks, torn shingles, etc.

6. Damp Attic: This can sometimes be caused by your roof leaking or inadequate ventilation, insulation or vapor barriers that cause moisture in your attic.

7. Wood Rot: Check your windows, door frames, trim, decks, siding…inspectors are great at gouging these areas with a screwdriver. If you see rot, repair or replace the item.

8. Masonry: Chimneys are usually the hardest hit which could lead to water penetration, cracking, or even the chimney falling over. This can be very costly to fix as a seller, but even scarier to a buyer.

9. Over-fused Circuits: This is very common in older homes and a fire hazard. A typical 15 amp circuit is common in homes; however, it is unsafe to overload your circuit. Remember, larger appliances need higher amperage.

10. Structural/Foundation: This is the worst. An inspector will look at the underlying footing and foundation. In some severe cases a structural engineer may be called. If you suspect you have structural or foundations problems, I recommend inspecting before selling. A bad foundation can stigmatize your property while on the market.

Should you have any questions or would like me to recommend some Inspection companies, please email me and I will be happy to help out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

June’s Hot Pick’s

Here are some ideas around Indy that may sound “cool” during our heat wave!

June 10-11, Italian Street Festival – The traveler in me absolutely loves this time of year. If you can’t make it to Italy this summer, well the Italian Festival is the next best thing. This is truly a day of food, music, culture, and food (did I already say that?). This event runs for two days incase one just isn’t enough! Located at 520 Stevens St, 5pm-11pm. Admission is free; food vendors will be individually priced.

June 10-11, Middle Eastern Festival – Now, here is my theory…hit the Italian Festival one day and the Middle Eastern Festival the next! Since I just arrived home from my trip to Egypt…I recommend going to this festival! The food is great! Don’t worry about the heat, it’s and indoor air-conditioned bazaar filled with food, crafts, and dancing. Located: St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, 4020 N. Sherman Dr.
Fri: 4-11pm and Sat: Noon-11pm

June 11, Brew-Ha-Ha – In its 10th year running, the Brew-Ha-Ha is one huge block party with ample sampling of the regions best microbrews. All proceeds help support the Phoenix Theatre. Located at the 700 block of N. Park Ave from 3-7pm. Admission is $25. Info: 317-635-7529

June 12, Worlds Largest Water-Balloon Fight – Okay so the kid in me had to mention this one. Here is your chance to help out a great cause by raising money for Fishers Pointe Cooperative Preschool and maybe place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Entrants must throw as many water balloons possible at each other for five minutes. Goggles are required. Located at Holland Park, 2:15pm. Admission: $5 Adults, $3 Children or $12 Family. Info: 317-767-4312

June 12-13, Dave Matthews Band– They’re back…..I always enjoy watching Dave Matthews live from the lawn during a warm summer night. With their new record release of Stand Up, this live concert should fulfill your senses! Tickets: $56.50 for pavilion and $39 lawn. Show starts at 7pm at Verizon Wireless Music Center. Info: 317-776-3337

June 17-19, Indy Jazz Fest– Since the last two years had not been as successful; the original format is now back as a three day session. The new changes sound exciting as no two artists will be performing at the same time. Some artists include Tony Bennett, The Commodores, and Susan Tedechi. Tickets: $30 for single day or $45 for 3 day pass. Military Park. Info: 317-940-9945

June 19, U.S. Grand Prix – Get your engines started as the Grand Prix is back! People from all over the world travel to Indiana for this exciting race to see some of the most expensive cars around. Race starts at 1 p.m – Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Admission: $50 to $150. Info: 317-492-6700

June 25, Symphony on the Prairie– Opening night! Summer is not complete with a wonderful picnic dinner and a great symphony. Tickets: $20 Adults and $10 Children. Located at Conner Prairie. Info: 317-639-4300

June 27-July 3, Elephant Awareness Week – Visit the Indianapolis Zoo for an up-close and personal opportunity with elephants. This show includes daily bathings, keeper chants, and a weigh-in contest. Free with zoo admission. Info: 317-630-2001

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Back from Egypt and back to Blogging!

Sorry I have not written in a while, but my husband and I went on vacation for two wonderful weeks in Egypt. We went on a tour through Grand Circle Travel and during the course of our vacation we toured most of Egypt’s most historical areas: Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, Luxor, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan, and Abu Simbel. We stayed at the Cairo Marriott hotel for the first week and then we boarded a ship and cruised up the Nile River for the second week.

Basically we were taught 5,000 years of history in two weeks. Now that I am back in Indiana, everything is just finally absorbing. I enjoyed this tour because it not only focused on all the historical sites, but it also united us with the culture, religion, and daily lives of the Egyptian people. It’s amazing how much of their culture has not changed since ancient times.

The first question I have often been asked since my return is “did you feel safe?” YES! Egypt’s #1 economic source is tourism. If there are no tourists, their economy will literally be devastated. They make tourists protection their number one priority. Never once did we feel unsafe. Egyptians are so kind and they absolutely love American’s!

Some people have asked me to post some pictures, so here are a couple of my favorites. I’ll post more later on this site, or another site.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Signing Off For a Couple of Weeks

I'm headed off to Egypt with my husband for a couple of weeks, so I won't have any new blog entries until I return. I'll be back with more useful tib bits about the Indianapolis real estate market after memorial day weekend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A happy buyer is a knowledgeable buyer

Buying a home for the first time can be very intimidating; however, confidence will surely be gained if you are properly informed about the procedures up front. There are so many forms and decisions to be made…often on the spur of the moment. It is important that your agent sit down with you before you begin looking at homes to help you understand the buying process.

I find this to be a useful tool in my practice. I set aside two hours for all my new buyers in which I discuss with them the entire buying process. Together we discuss every form involved, offers, negotiations, earnest money, home warranties, new construction, FSBO’s, and inspections, as well as the closing process. After our discussion, I send my buyer home with a packet containing copies of all the forms and urge them to read over them again.

Why do I do this? The number one complaint from buyers about their agents is lack of information and confusion when making an offer.

I want my buyers to be well informed and understand that when purchasing a home time is often of the essence. Therefore, if my buyer has reviewed all the forms prior to making an offer they will feel more relaxed, knowledgeable and less stressed during the buying process. This also helps make the entire transaction smoother for all parties involved.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Buying a Newly Built Home? Buyer Beware

Recently a friend of mine decided to purchase a new home…as in a newly built home. This brings me to the subject of new home builders and the risks involved when purchasing a home without a Realtor.

It seems easy enough, drive through the new home community and find the Model home…walk in, haggle over which amenities you can afford and Viola! You have a new home.

If only it were that easy.

Let me first state that there are several quality home builders out there and this does not apply to all home builders, however, their interests are not always your interests. I cannot stress enough the value of a Realtor when purchasing a home through a builder. The builder’s job is to sell homes with the least amount of monetary loss to their company. A Realtor’s job is to protect you against over paying for a property and negotiating fair market value. Several Buyers who purchase their home directly from the builder often find themselves “upside down” in their loan. This means they owe more money than the home is actually worth.

How does this happen? When you purchase a home, the builder is charging you for everything…all the way down to the kitchen sink. Often times they will offer enticing mortgage rates, but these come at a much greater cost to you later down the road. That low interest rate is bought down and wrapped into the tail end of the mortgage. Meaning, you pay a low interest rate for approximately 5 years and after that it doubles! You can find yourself paying 9-11% interest on your home.

Since new home communities often take several years to complete, it is common for existing homes to already be on the market. In the case of my friend, I pulled up several recent sales and active listings in her new home community. By doing this, she was quick to realize the builder was charging her over $18,000 more than the same home at resale value! Therefore, it was better to place an offer on an existing home which the seller only lived in for a few months than to be upside down in the exact home through the builder.

I cannot stress enough how valuable a Realtor is when working with builders. Make sure you have your agent with you BEFORE you ever speak with the builder. Realtors cannot help buyers who have had any prior contact with a builder, unless you state that your real estate agent will be representing you.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Curb Appeal

What exactly is curb appeal?

Curb appeal refers to the exterior appeal of your home. Even if you are not planning to sell your home, its curb appeal is still important for resale purposes as well as your neighborhood value.

The exterior of your home is the first thing a person will see… and how your home will be judged. It can also make a difference as to how quickly your home may sell. Landscaping can make a huge difference to your home. Although it may not always add monetary value, it can help aid in a quicker sale. Some items that help create a desirable exterior:

  • Keep your lawn mowed and edged on a weekly basis
  • Mulch your garden and planters
  • Plant an array of flora that blooms throughout the year. Perennials and annuals as well as some hardy staples such as hostas, peonies, mums.
  • Don’t over do it! You don’t want your landscaping to look crowded. Make sure to plant symmetrically.
  • Keep your driveway, walkway, and porch swept of debris, leaves, and cobwebs.
  • Keep up with fertilization and weeding.
  • Remove trash that may blow onto your property daily.
  • Cars that no longer work, abandoned appliances, furniture, or any other item that you do not use will only decrease the value and salability of your home and others. Have them removed from the property.
  • Keep garden ornaments at a tasteful minimum… (pink flamingo’s are not tasteful)

Not only is an appealing yard valuable for resale, it is valuable to your neighborhood's reputation. It shows a pride of ownership and helps in resale of other neighbor’s homes. Remember, when a buyer moves into a neighborhood they are critiquing the entire community as well as their potential neighbors.

If you weren't born with a green thumb and do not want to invest in a professional landscaper, join Lowe’s Garden Club. It is free and you can sign up at any Lowe’s store or on line at lowes.com/GardenClub. You will receive informative magazines which detail many landscaping ideas such as diagrams for planting gardens, lawn care, patios, etc.