Who pays for tree cleanup on your property?


Is that your final answer?

In general, whereever the tree falls, it’s your problem.

Yep – regardless if that big, ugly tree in your neighbor’s yard falls on your property, it’s on your nickel…

However, it is suggested that you contact your insurance agent to verify that fact.

And be careful trimming a fallen tree yourself. Wear appropriate personal injury protection…branches trapped against a fixed object often spring back and can send you flying…

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, 8-21-2016, A7.

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Realtor and Internet Real Estate Websites – Garbage In – Garbage Out?

If you look at any one of the hundreds of “real estate agent controlled” multiple listing services (as well as the major search engines most people rely on like Zillow, Trulia, RedaFin, realtor.com, etc,.), they are a plethora of detailed information from detailed written descriptions, scientific wild ass guess value estimates, and hundreds of data fields where features can be chosen (or omitted) so that consumers/clients can pick and choose from several desired features to find their “dream home”.

But wait —- there’s more!

Yes, much more…more information available to select every single feature you want in a house – or can you?

For example, if you have a client in need of a ranch style home and prefers to have a basement but NO stairs from the garage to the house, there’s a way to do that. Many multiple listing services have a field for “Parking” and in that fields, there is usually a selection called “Drive Under” which denotes you park under the house and walk up a flight of stairs to the main home level. If the data is correctly entered on each listing, then the possibilities can be reduced down to the ones that fit those exact criteria and the prospective home Buyer more easily finds a more suitable home.

In theory, you can select a search for homes with those you desire. But what happens if that selection is not entered with accurate information by the real estate agent, their assistant, or an office clerk who usually enters that information? Your client oriented search portal selection of homes will populate with houses that have undesirable criteria which will result in client frustration over seeing home choices that don’t fit what they want. Is that best serving our clients’ needs?

It all depends…on the client to which you are referring and whether or not they buy the house.

Will real estate professionals organizations ever correct the incorrect data (i.e., garbage) problem?

NO, they WILL NEVER CORRECT inaccurate data…

Wanna know why?

Because the real estate listing agent has one, and only one, responsibility to their Sellers: to get an acceptable offer. So if they market the home to the widest possible market without being accurate and get enough traffic to the home, then by sheer numbers they should get an offer and let the Seller determine if the offer is good enough to sell the home in the free, open real estate market!

So, do we just tell our clients “hey, live with it-sometimes information is wrong”?

It seems we have chosen not to solve the age old issue when computer databases were first born, generated, and maintained…


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How far away from high tension power lines is it “safe”?

I don’t know…I’m not a health expert.

I’ve heard many things…back of yard is ok….further than 100 yards…never…doesn’t matter…etc, etc,.

Concerns about high tension power lines and their effect on your medical condition were raised in 1979 and more recent studies draw parallel to childhood leukemia and power lines, yet still don’t “conclusively” draw a direct causal relationship through any Electronic Magnetic Field (EMF).

A Federal program was authorized by the US Congress in 1992 to study the issue. It was called EMF – RAPID (Electronic and Magnetic Fields Research and Public Information Dissemination). A major objective of the program was to determine if exposure to electric and magnetic fields affects human health.

In 1995, the American Physical Society (APS) issued a policy statement that there was NO direct causal relationship with developing cancer from exposure to EMFs. Recently published research suggests that electric fields can influence the growth of brain tumors.

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council (NRC) published a review that said it’s less likely that MFs (Magnetic Fields) in residential and business environments have important effects on health.

But the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) said EMF exposure has some evidence of exposure and its correlation to leukemia.

…Bottom line answer: It all depends on what research you believe and if you trust the source of information in order to make the decision whether it’s important to you. Just remember, Agent Orange never affected Vietnam vets and DNA testing has never found any convicts in jail that were not-guilty!

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others. Be careful – if it sounds too good, it probably is!

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Impact fees and their “negative” impact on starter homes

Question: When will Government learn?

Answer: After everyone else has seen the terrible effects of its actions…and then it will be a little bit longer.

State and local governing authorities institute laws or ordinances allowing the local municipality to charge an impact fee. This fee helps to finance part of the infrastructure such as streets, schools, transportation, fire, police, environmental litigation, utilities, and other governing expenses. Of course much of the support of infrastructure is financed by property taxes, but sometimes it is not enough and the newer roads and development related costs of new houses/buildings creates a large expense that must be paid back over several years. To hedge the excessive debt, a fee is charged to each lot developed. This average U.S. impact fee is about $21,000 (About $2,500 in Houston up to $72,000 in San Francisco.

Since starter homes are lower priced for lower income residents, the impact fee is harder to pass onto homeowners (alot less difficult with higher margin homes) and therefore is mostly absorbed by builders and becomes more of a burden on builder profit margins. And builders don’t like to take risks just to make next to nothing at all on homes.

References to articles, sources, products, or services are not a specific endorsement and not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the information provided is valid, or the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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US H-1B Visas – US Protectionism or Excuse for Companies to Fire US Paid Workers?

My question: Why do we keep laying off skilled and capable US citizens for lower paying unskilled (but US trained) foreign workers?

Is the US that void of talent? Has Congress been manipulated into thinking we don’t have smart enough people in the US to learn any job? Is Congress just paying back political contributions from companies?

Now, I don’t mind companies seeking the best talent wherever they can and smart people exist all over the world, but I wish they would search only “after” their current capable employees are given the opportunity. So many times I’ve seen “very” capable individuals (willing to take a cut in pay to stay) released from companies and replaced with less skilled and cheaper employees who have to be trained by the overworked exiting employees. Why? It doesn’t improve bottom line as much as a company thinks it does.

For 2016, the US Government has received more than 236,000 (233,000 in 2015 and 172,500 in 2014) applications (for 85,000 available visas) from US companies for skilled worker (H1-B) visa. About 20,000 of the 85,000 applications are for foreign workers with advanced degrees from US universities. Source: WSJ,4-13-2016,A2.

The more we try to weave a web around the immigration and US citizen employment issues (including the lucrative almost $100 Billion outsourcing market), the more we stab ourselves in the back.

According to a 8-29-2013 article on Page B8 of the Wall Street Journal, the (noble) current legislative attempts by US Congress will prohibit H1B visas from companies employing lots (>75% of US based employees) of foreign computer science workers (i.e., India,China, South Korea,etc,.). Furthermore, the companies with >15% of US based employees on H1B visas can’t perform hardware or software services, and will further restrict use of H1B visas..unless…more US workers are employed (by telling Sally or Billy NO, you’re not going to be a liberal arts major) or….by US companies laying off US citizens and hiring H1B visa employees who fall far below the 75% threshold….or…

Several companies split up and spinoff and operate under different (i.e., non-Indian,non-Chinese, non-south Korean, etc,.) companies and game the system….which is what most companies do – find the loopholes around it.

Interesting side note: about 120,000 new computer science jobs will need to be filled in 2013 and roughly 52,000 (less than half) will be produced from US colleges. So there will be a shortage to be made up by whom – Martians?

References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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EB-5 Visas – Real Estate development in exchange for Green Cards in the US

Update 4-15-2016: A complaint filed in federal court Tuesday alleges that the owner and chief executive of a proposed Vermont ski resort “systematically looted” more than $50 million raised from dozens of foreign investors in what the agency called a Ponzi-like scheme. My question: So, are they going to pull the investor green cards?

Update 4-15-2016: It is estimated that over 18,000 EB-5 Visas will be requested…It seems that the bulk of the projects completed are in more affluent areas, even thought the program was designed to renovate blighted areas…but the dirty little secret – municipalities are connecting poor areas to affluent areas to qualify the affluent area to be enhanced first…and some developers are getting low interest loans which save them millions of dollars. Source: WSJ, 4-13-2016,C8.

Update 12-10-2014: Approximatey 11,000 foreign investors are taking advantage of this law – getting their green cards the old fashioned Chicago way – payoffs!

Well, if you thought it didn’t get silly enough, let’s screw the Americans struggling to build or start a business and the owners and give visas to those outside the US to start a business and employ people here…regardless if they are citizens who are employed.

Hey, if starting a business in the US an be offered to foreigners, why aren’t US citizens breaking the door down to start a business? Answer: Besides the program having fraud and mismanagement (which is no reason to change things under this administration), because the US Government is making it harder to start a business by a US citizen.

And the EB-5 program gives foreign business owners a foothold in the US based on two factors:

(1) Investing at least $500,000 (not sure if their money or may include a US commercial loan). Heck: that’s one decent fast food franchise owned by a foreigner not a US citizen; and

(2) The business must employ at least 10 people in the first two years of operation (that’s a long time and I don’t know if it means all 10+ must be US citizens).

If both criteria above are met, then the temporary EB-5 visa can be converted to a permanent Visa/Green Card.

But who are we kidding – are these visas really that necessary since

It appears that about 3,700 of the 6,4000 (about 57%) applicants were approved for EB-5 visas

Source: WSJ, 1-21-2014, A3

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Daily Real Estate News

8-26-2014: FHA Streamlines Process to help Delinquent Homeowners avoid Foreclosure and remain in their homes. Specifically, FHA will:

  • Require servicers to convert successful 3-month trial modifications into permanent modifications within 60 days instead of the average four-to-six months;
  • Allow borrowers with three missed mortgage payments to qualify for a partial claim to bring their arrearages current versus the previous four-month minimum;
  • End the traditional stand-alone Loan Modification option so borrowers can access the FHA-HAMP option, with its greater payment relief, sooner; and
  • Eliminate the minimum 12-month delinquency term to qualify for FHA’s special forbearance option. This will allow servicers extend this option to unemployed households sooner in their delinquency.

8-25-2014: Finding the Right Home Inspector.

8-24-2016: U.S. New Home Sales Rise to Highest Level Since 2007.

8-23-2016: Why giving clients straight talk as an agent is beneficial.

8-22-2016:5 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home.

8-18-2016: September interest rate hike could happen, Fed minutes show.

8-17-2016:A home inspection helps you make an informed decision.

8-15-2016: Title Company Sues Realty Firm Over Wire Fraud. Someone spoofed the closing escrow agent email account and sent an email to FATC’s escrow from their email account purporting to be from the Escrow Agent. The email said the Escrow Agent was having problems with his bank, Bank A, and that the funds should be wired to an account at Bank B. Funds were wired, but fraudulent account and offshore….ooops!

8-14-2016: Contractor lien must be cleared before refinancing…and Step #1 – List your house…Step #2 – take a vacation.

8-12-2016: Free FICO scores are given to customers of over 40 lenders including Wells Fargo, Ally Financial, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and others. WSJ, 8-9-2016,C3.

8-9-2016:How To Become A Real Estate Agent. Rule #1, it’s not as easy as it looks in real life!

8-8-2016: How to Avoid Buying a Money Pit. (Hint: Structural, Roof, HVAC, PLumbing, Electrical, other systems and Landscaping.)

8-7-2016: Federal watchdog expands anti-money laundering disclosure rules for high-end real estate buyers.

8-6-2016: 3 tech trends impacting real estate this year.

8-5-2016:How a Condo Association Could Kill a Sale

8-4-2016:Lawmaker offers new ‘lead-safe’ proposal. Local politician proposes a visual inspection of a property instead of performing a more thorough test for lead based paint in order to be deemed “lead safe” before they could be rented. Kind of like a sniff test – could have lead based paint but who cares, as long as I didn’t “see” LBP.

8-3-2016:The Worst Home-Buying Advice People Actually Believe

8-2-2106: 7 Steps Every Homeowner Should Know About Selling For Top Dollar. Remember, be honest and know thy neighbor’s property value…

8-1-2016: U.S. Pending Home Sales Edged Higher in June by a small percentage and were mixed in areas around the country.

7-30-2016 Jury rules against pastor in consumer real estate fraud case. Home-buying program in Kansas City was a scam – upfront payments on real-estate contracts, then failed to pay back taxes and make repairs that had been promised.

7-23-2016: 7 Easy Tips to Stage Your Home’s Exterior.

7-22-2016: Lawmaker offers new ‘lead-safe’ proposal including allowing initial inspections to be visual, doing away with the proposed requirement that residences would be swabbed with dust wipes and tested for lead paint dust before getting a “lead safe” certificate.

7-21-2016: The pros and cons of buying a brand-new home

7-20-2016: 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

7-19-206: Title Company Sues Realty Firm Over Wire Fraud. Moral of story, always call the title agent/closing attorney/escrow office to verify any transfer of funds “before” wire transfer of funds is ordered and executed.

7-13-2016:Florida real estate agents could get protections from crime

7-12-2016: How to get a good real estate deal like a flipper (even if you don’t want to be one).

7-11-2016:How to answer an age-old real estate question – Rent or Buy?

7-10-2016: A good real estate agent: how to find, hire one.

7-9-2016: About Real Estate: Intrafamily loans tricky for new home buyers

7-8-2016: Fannie/Freddie Joint Venture Creeps Forward

7-8-2016: First-Time Buyers: Must-Know Advice Before You Buy

7-7-3026: Banks are pushing home-equity lines of credit which allow homeowners to draw down the equity in their homes . Average credit line credit line in 2015 was 119,007. the big push now is to make up for the falling levels of mortgage origination and refinancing. The use of risen back up to about 5% below their all time peak in 2006. Requiring 20% equity minimum and I are going to Fico scores. Source WSJ-March 28, 2016 C1

7-6-2016:Fannie’s and Freddie’s Plan to Cut Mortgage Balances May Be Near.

7-5-2016: Hackers Perpetrate Wire Transfer Fraud In Real Estate Transactions

7-4-2016:30 tips to get your mortgage approved.

7-3-2016: Finding the Right Mortgage for You.

7-1-2016:The Staying Power of Crowdfunding in Real Estate

6-30-2016: Ex-real estate appraiser sentenced for tax conviction

6-29-2016: 5 things real estate agents wish you wouldn’t do.

6-29-20156-28-2016:How Much Can a Full-Service Real Estate Agent Do to Help Sell Your Home?.

6-27-2016: One of the biggest trade-offs is commuting. buying vs. renting….overspend on a down payment for the house itself and leave themselves without enough money for furnishings and emergency expenses……extremely high long-term price expectations… the most powerful emotional drive at work in a sale is loss aversion—not wanting to sell a home for less than what you paid for it..

6-26-2016: Home builder confidence is rising due to several factors (Source: WSJ,6-22-2016, B2) :

  • Slow and steady economic recovery in the US
  • modest wageg growth
  • positive consumer confidence
  • lower unemployment levels
  • tight inventory levels; and
  • rapid emergence of first time homebuyers

6-25-2016: Obama has requested for 4 billion… Obama has requested $4 billion took accelerate autonomous car technologies. Traffic fatalities increased 9% in 2015…distracted drivers..drunken driving..drowsiness…liability and regulatory confusion prevent self driving car technology to flourish. Source WSJ, 3-14-16, B3

6-25-2016: Let me digress a bit here from Real Estate – But reading the Georgia Natural Gas (GNG) mailer-filler with their latest bill regarding their Automatic Draft policies, Statement #6 caught my attention and made me bust out laughing…

It says…”6. Resolving Errors: If you notify GNG that an error…occurred, GNG will investigate promptly….except…will determine whether an error occurred within ten (10) business days of receiving a notice of the error….if GNS is unable to complete its investigation within ten (10) business days, GNG may take up to forty-five (45) days …to investigate whether an error occurred…”

But I have to remember this policy had to be approved by…wait for it….the Georgia Public Service Commission and Georgia Department of Consumer Affairs…So the State of Georgia is in full compliance that billing errors may take longer to resolve than committing the error in the first place…alot longer!

6-24-2016: The U.S. Housing Market in 9 Charts.

6-24-2016: Buying a Foreclosed Home: Info You Need to Know.

6-24-2016:Would-be homebuyers are stumped: The Wall Street Journal estimate February sales of previously owned homes fell 2.6% from a month earlier. On a year-over-year basis, sales are expected to have risen by about 7%.

6-23-2016: Is it Time to Retire the Real Estate Agent?

6-23-2016:Lack of New Home Construction Is Bad Omen for Buyers (Not enough new inventory).

6-22-2016: Four (4) Reasons to Not Pay Off Your Mortgage Early. However, if you can get better than 4% return on a safe investment, go for it…but with 10 year T-Bills <2% and bank balances paying <1%, eliminating 40% of your monthly cash outflows also makes sense.

6-21-2016:To help public housing residents find jobs and educational opportunities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded nearly $32 million in grants to public housing authorities and non-profit organizations across the nation to hire or retain service coordinators to help residents achieve economic and housing independence.

6-21-2016: 5 Mortgage Mistakes Homeowners Regret Making

6-20-2016: Which are the top crowdfunding sites for real estate investing?

6-19-2016: In Real Estate, A Picture Is Worth $1,000 or More…probably alot more!

6-18-2016: Banks Are Falling Back in Love With Mortgages

6-18-2016: Millennial buyers are finding their own houses. They feel more comfortable relying on online information and sources, but still require help maneuvering around the details.

6-16-2016: FHFA Authorizes Principal Reduction for GSE Loans.

6-16-2016: Fannie Mae’s new headquarters deemed too fancy for troubled agency.

6-15-2016: What impact do professional sports teams have on immediate and local real estate market?

6-15-2016: How to Create a Pool Maintenance Schedule .

Student Debt May Delay Homeownership More Than 5 Years

6-14-2016: Want to own a home? Say no to student loans.

6-14-2016:10 Mortgage Numbers You’ll Be Glad You Know

6-13-2016: Should you get into real estate crowdfunding?

6-12-2016: Here’s a lesson on earnest money. The amount of the earnest money deposit is negotiated between the buyer and the seller….Without both signature on a release forms, the earnest money cannot be released. If the buyer and seller cannot agree, it becomes a legal matter and attorneys must be retained by the parties to try to resolve the issue…

6-11-2016:3 Tips for Homebuyers in a Fast-Paced Real Estate Market.

6-10-2016: 7 Things Renters Really Should Check on Their Lease & be sure to mark your calendar with important dates.

6-9-2016:Wow, now Facebook is planning to search the internet in order to…get this..find out more data about non-Facebook users so it can…wait for it…send more ads to an unsolicited request! But never fear, because Facebook has all kinds of information on each Facebook user given up at their own volition. Source: WSJ, 6-1-2016, B5B.

6-8-2016: Jumbo loans (in most cases, larger than $417,000), which became increasingly more attractive since their interest rates dropped below non-jumbo mortgages, accounted for about 23% of J.P. Morgan’s total mortgage lending business in 2014. The top 10 US banks accounted for about 10% of jumbo mortgages. Jumbo loans are attractive to large banks for the purposes of avoiding fines and penalties under the 2010 Dodd Frank law which come with federally backed FHA, VA, and Fannie.Freddie backed mortgages. Source: WSJ, 6-2-16, A1.

6-7-2016: Zillow to pay $130M to settle lawsuit with Move over alleged trade secret theft. (Note: Move, who operates Realtor.com (which is the website for the National Association of Realtors), is owned by News Corp.)

6-6-2016: 5 things needed at home to “age” in place and not move after reaching retirement age – no steps; lever handles; switches reachable from chairs; one level; and wide doorways/hallways for wheelchairs. Source: WSJ, 6-6-2016, R4.

6-6-2016: This one keeps me up at night… The same Takata airbags that have been linked to deaths and personal injuries from rupture are…get this…legally permitted to be installed on…new cars…but there’s a silver lining…these same quasi-“defective” air bags will be replaced in “new” cars by 2018. Source: WSJ, 6-2-2016, B3.

6-5-2016: Good news for real estate? S&P/Case-Shiller index is back up to within 4% of 2006 peak before the last housing bubble. Lack of inventory, fewer first time home buyers, and a large influx of high income residents to big cities make it very competitive for lower priced homes. While at the same time, lower income mortgage applicants have a harder time meeting stringent loan guidelines. Source: WSJ, 6-1-2016, A1.

6-3-2016: Solution to pay-day lenders? Why not have your employer float you a small loan? A recent survey found that almost 40% of employees find it difficult to meet monthly household expenses. Some employers are partnering with Kashable, Ziero Financial, and other vendors in not only providing lower cost loans, but budgetary education to correct bad financial behavior. They are also preventing more and more employees from borrowing from their future (i.e., 401K plans). According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, about 20% of all employees borrow money from their 401K plans. Source: WSJ, 6-1-2016,B5.

6-2-2016:Dear Mom and Dad: Can You Give Me a Mortgage?

5-27-2016: Home improvement investments that pay you back.

5-26-2016: New home sales in the US are skyrocketing.

5-25-2016:It take 5+ years for 18-34 year olds w/o student debt to save 20% down on a home; 10+ yrs for those with debt; homeownership <35 down to 34% (lowest level since 1994); and even though college grads earn $23,000 more than non-college grads, they only save 10% of that extra - they spend more on rent, transportation, and entertainment. Source: WSJ, 5-23-16, A3 5-24-2016:Real estate agents warning buyers of new scam.

5-23-2016: Top 10 cities for singles looking for love and real estate.

5-22-2016: 6 Reasons Real Estate Agents Aren’t Extinct.

5-20-2016:What Happens When a Homeowner Dies Before the Mortgage Is Paid?

5-19-2016:There is NO WAY on this earth that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac will be released from bondage – it’s too much of a cash cow for the US Government. Also, Fannie Mae reported 1Q16 income at $936 million, from which $919 million will be paid to the US Treasury for dividends. (Source: WSJ, 5-6-16, C8) Any questions as to the Government ever giving up this cash cow? I didn’t think so.

5-18-2016:Making money the old fashioned way – lawsuits – More than 10 large US banks agreed to a settlement of almost $2 Billion to reimburse a handful of hedge funds (about $150 million each) for how they traded credit derivatives after the 2008 financial crisis hit. It doesn’t stop there…there may be up to 14,000 potential eligible participants in the settlement. Source: WSJ, 1-11-2016, C3.

5-17-2016: Real Estate Agents, Appraisers Voice Concerns over FHA Appraisal Policies – with an FHA-insured loan, the appraiser not only determines market value but also inspects the home to ensure it meets certain minimum property standards. Requiring appraisers to take on home inspection-type duties to ensure standards are met.

5-16-2016: Computerized robot beats human real estate brokers.

5-15-2016: Home Builders still confident but higher labor and land costs are concerns.

5-14-2016:Hey – this is a one time review and once it’s done…go out for an ice cream cone and don’t dwell on it…Policies about what happens when a borrower dies can vary widely among lenders, and terms are usually buried in the fine print of mortgage contracts.

5-13-2016: Computerized robot beats human real estate brokers…except when it came down to lying, then agents beat robots every time.

5-12-2016:Seven (7) things homeowners want their homes to have.

5-11-2016:Ever wonder just how much your “stuff” weighs when you determine a household move?

5-10-2016:JP Morgan plans to issue $1.9 Billion in mortgage backed securities comprising of about 6,000 mortgages, 75% are conventional conforming and will only include the riskiest loan elements (which means higher interest rate). US Financial institutions issues about $62 Billion in MBS in 2015 compared to about $1.9 Trillion in MBS just before the financial crisis hit. Source: WSJ, 3-15-2016, C2.

5-9-2016:Home buyers should beware of electronic fraud, say real estate agents

5-8-2016:Millennials set to drive change in real estate market

5-7-2016:Tucker-Northlake Master Development Plan

5-6-2016:Special TRID edition of Borrower Do’s and Don’ts

5-5-2016: During and immediately after the mid 2000’s financial crisis, banks were understating their loan loan loss provisions. The International Journal of Business and Financial Research published a study by Burka Dolar entitled “Income Smoothing Practices of U.S. Banks Around the 2008 Financial Crisis”. The study revealed that during the financial crisis, banks were understating their losses. As a result, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is proposing rules to require banks to record loan losses alot quicker than they do now. Source: WSJ, 2-22-2016, C6.

5-4-2016:In some states, trusts can be used as a type of entity that acts much like a corporation in shielding the real owners of the real estate from personal liability…Not in California.

5-3-16:Hackers scam homebuyers by pretending to be real estate agents

4-29-2016: Think Sex Offenders Drive Down Home Prices? Not Necessarily

4-28-2016: Real estate title scams steal homebuyers’ money and dash ownership dreams.

4-28-2016: Some Good News for Real Estate. The number of contracts signed to buy existing homes rose higher than expected.

4-27-2016: Millennial impact on real estate

4-27-2016:Which kind of real estate agent is the right one for you?

4-26-2016:Plenty of blame to go round in real estate crisis in Canada

4-25-2016: Recent survey reveals that real estate is still rated as the best long-term investment by Americans.

4-22-2016:Are single women refraining from buying real estate?

4-21-2016:Appeals Court questions constitutionality of CFPB, attacks Director Cordray

4-19-2016: Here’s Why Investors Continue to Beat Out First-Time Home Buyers

4-19-2016: New U.S. Program to Offer Mortgage Relief to 33,000 Underwater Borrowers.

4-18-2016:Fannie’s and Freddie’s Plan to Cut Mortgage Balances May Be Near

4-15-2016: 4-28-2016: The Florida Homeowners’ Association Act (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes) – permits owners to speak on each point. Does your state or HOA allow you to voice your opinions on each topic discussed?

4-14-2016: Appeals Court questions constitutionality of CFPB, attacks Director Cordray.

4-14-2016: Having HOA Neighbor Knowledge

4-14-2016: Why It’s So Tough to Get a Mortgage—and How to Increase Your Chances.

4-13-2016: Appeals Court questions constitutionality of CFPB, attacks Director Cordray. Big question: How far does CFPB authority reach. More specifically in this case: “Does the CFPB have authority to assess huge $109 million fine when another law judge already assessed a $6+ million judgment?

4-11-2016: The Essentials Checklist for Newly Married Homeowners

4-10-2016: The US Treasury 10 year note (that is used to parallel movement in mortgage interest rates), settled at 1,77% on 4-8-2016. Core consumer price index was 2.3%. This means that the effective rate of growth of the 10 year note is negative.

4-9-2016: About 246 million desktop & laptop computers were sold in 2015, but that was down 11% from previous year. (Not real estate related, but very interesting.) Source: WSJ,4-6-2016,C12

4-8-2016: 1st time homebuyers can be…Landlords?. Not so fast there oh wise one…there’s alot to consider on this one before you jump on this train. Consider the pros and cons first…

4-8-2016: Tight home inventory levels are helping to drive up prices. Typically, there is a 6 month inventory of homes, but currently running about 4 months. Source: WSJ, 3-21-2016, C1

4-7-2016: Why Home Buyers Really Need to Hurry.

4-6-2016:HOA must accommodate religious beliefs.

4-5-2016: Cancer Risk From Lumber Liquidators Laminate Wood Flooring Was Underestimated: Report. This is related to the safety of products manufactured in China. It was questioned by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)and a $2.5 million out of court settlement resulted. WSJ, 3-23-16, B3.

4-4-2016: Things to keep in mind when choosing a home inspector.

4-3-2016: 5 Tax Benefits of Owning a Second Home.

4-1-2016:Foreclosure firms are becoming an endangered species – See more at: http://realtybiznews.com/foreclosure-firms-are-becoming-an-endangered-species/98732507/#sthash.WaT0S25z.dpuf

References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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New rule may eliminate CE credit for Georgia Realtors

A proposed rule change to Georgia Real Estate Commission Rules, Chapter 520; Rule 520-2-.04 (6) is up for debate and discussion at the June 8, 2016 GREC meeting in Atlanta which could eliminate Continuing Education Credit for thousands of realtors.

The elimination of the following course design was proposed by the GREC:

10. instruction in the use of technology, computers, or other devices;

Essentially, this means that training courses in the use of computer/online based realtor based property search tools (i.e., listing service training) would no longer receive CE credit for licensees.

If you wish to object to this rule change, you have until close of business on June 7th to furnish your written rationale for such objection to Georgia Real Estate Commission, Suite 1000 International Tower, 229 Peachtree Street, N. E. Atlanta, Georgia 30303. But beware, the GREC meeting is on June 8th, so that’s not alot of time to review your objection(s).

Maybe it will be like “Miracle on 34th Street”…where bags and bags of written objections will be delivered during the Commissioners meeting. No, I seriously doubt that would happen.

By the way, here’s the list of areas or topics of continuing education that may not
be considered appropriate for continuing education include, but are not limited to:

1. the psychology of selling;
2. personality assessments;
3. business development;
4. personal real estate investing;
5. retirement planning;
6. personal or business branding such as dress and presentation techniques;
7. motivational classes or seminars;
8. time management classes;
9. sales and marketing techniques unrelated to real estate;
10. instruction in the use of technology, computers, or other devices; and
11. training in social media;

References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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“Limited Life” “Reliability of Household Appliances

A recent survey revealed:

Seven out of every ten homes will experience a system or appliance failure during the course of a year.”

When I started practicing real estate in the 1990’s, despite the “dip tube” fiasco inside water heaters, and based on information from Freddie Mac (A Consumer Home Inspection Kit 12/2000) and other sources, I would notice water heaters lasting 12-13 (and sometimes many more years) years before experiencing problems requiring repair or replacement. For the past several years, my experience with my home and with clients is that I wouldn’t give them any more than 8 years to last- tops!

Also, I used to observe HVAC air condensing units (those outside the home in a protective cover with a compressor, capacitors, freon, and wiring) lasting 13-15 years (and sometimes many more years). Now, I’ve noticed them lasting no more than 10-12 years before you need to repair or replace them. We also now switched to a new “lower pollutant” freon (From R-22…which is getting more rare/expensive… to R410A…which is more expensive since it’s new…) and tried to make systems more energy efficient. And since they are supposed to be “closed systems” (freon cycles from system coils, to condensing unit, back to system coils), why would they ever leak freon??? (Could it really be why one technician once told me that using two different (differing periodic element) metal connections will cause one to corrode/fail next to another???)

I believe you can apply that same experience with clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, microwave ovens, countertop ovens, etc., since I have seen them last fewer and fewer years in attempts to make them more and more energy efficient…(not to mention the idiocrasy of thinking they save water —or as I refer to “they don’t clean your items as well”—in a closed water filtration system from your local water authority).


(1) When do we demand and get better longevity and reliability from household appliances?

(2) Maybe shipping the work overseas has something to do with it?

(3) Don’t we deserve better?

(4) Did the household appliance manufacturers read about the average homeowner staying 7 years in home and implement planned obsolescence?

Maybe the millennials will solve that problem if they now plan to live in a home at least 10 years, they will start to see what I’m talking about after the 6th year of homeownership.

Bottom line word to homeowners: Budget for system replacements early and often…and prewash your dishes to get them clean “before” stacking them in your dishwasher!

References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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FHA – Denial of Mortgage for Properties with HOAs

To avoid FHA loan denial, you (and your lender) may want to check these circumstances immediately after signing contract (or earlier) to avoid spending money on a home inspection, only to discover the FHA loan you plan to use is denied.

As I understand, new FHA loans for purchases are denied if the following conditions exist (and yes, the lender will require the condo HOA to complete a “condo questionnaire” they send during loan contingency period – you hope):

(1)…..If a condominium complex is not already approved by FHA (as reported on the Approved HUD PUD (i.e., approved Condos) website) and the HOA board abides by HUD rules. (The HOA Board of the Complex itself may, with the approval of its membership, be authorized to submit applications for approval>)

(2)…..<=15% of the total units are delinquent in homeowner association HOA dues; or

(3)…..>=50% of properties within HOA are rented; or

(4)…..The HOA is involved in a lawsuit; or

(5)…..<10% of HOA budget is in reserves, insurance or other requirements to fulfill the FHA guidelines.

Where HOA membership is mandatory in a single family HOA subdivision, if the conditions above (excluding FHA PUD approval) are present, it’s quite possible the FHA loan for a prospective buyer will be denied. That’s why most HOA Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CCRs) provide for rules against the possibility of these issues arising…but it doesn’t mean “all” single family HOAs are exempt.

Some other reasons for denial of FHA loan during my research – HOA Leasing restrictions in CCRs weren’t in compliance; Balance sheet did not show a separate bank account for reserve funds; and there wasn’t evidence provided for proper insurance coverage for HOA or management company.

References to products and services are not a specific endorsement, but the user must perform their due diligence and investigate whether the product or service is right for them. I welcome any or all comments that would help others.

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