May 31, 2013

Make Those Green Features Count – Appraisers Add “Green” Form

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 8:19 am by darganrealty

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Green or energy-efficient features in a home often don’t get factored into appraisals. But they can be an important selling point in a home, and many home owners say “green” should count when valuing homes.

A new form by the Appraisal Institute aims to make sure these key selling features–from those energy-efficient appliances to solar panels–are no longer overlooked and are factored into the equation. The form is also viewed as a big step in helping the appraisal industry standardize the way residential energy-efficient features are reported and analyzed.

“We hope lenders, home builders, real estate agents, and home owners will take advantage of this new tool,” says Joseph C. Magdziarz, president of the Appraisal Institute. “Mortgage lenders who want to see energy features analyzed should request the green addendum to be included with Form 1004. We also encourage lenders to provide the green addendum to home owners so they can fill it out and provide it to their appraiser. If a new home is being appraised, home builders can use the addendum to provide data to appraisers. Real estate agents also can use the data to help populate the MLS.”



November 9, 2011

Is Your Home Winter-Proof?

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:11 pm by darganrealty

Don’t let your home get the winter blues. As the cold weather approaches, home owners can do the following maintenance checks to ensure their properties are ready for the winter months. The real estate Web site Zillow offers some of the following tips: 

  • Check the weather stripping along your door and door frame to ensure there are no gaps that can let cold air seep into your home. Also, you may want to add weather stripping or caulk to your windows to prevent any drafts and wasting energy. 
  • Sweep out those chimneys. The National Fire Protection Association advises home owners to sweep out the chimney at least once a year to help prevent house fires. 
  • Service those furnaces at least once a year too. It’ll cost about $100 and can help avoid costly repairs later or a malfunction of carbon monoxide pumping into the home, which can be deadly. 
  • Prevent frozen pipes, such as by using heating tape to wrap any exposed pipes on the home’s exterior and turning off the water as well as draining any water remaining inside the valves. 

Source: “Getting Your Home Ready for the Big Chill,” Zillow (Oct. 24, 2011)

September 14, 2011

Underwater Borrowers Hold Back Sales

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:04 pm by darganrealty

Declines in home values have pushed a high number of home owners to be “underwater,” in which borrowers owe more on their properties than they are current worth, and it’s hampering home sales, according to new data by CoreLogic.

About 10.9 million, or 22.5 percent, of all residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the second quarter, down slightly from 22.7 percent in the first quarter, CoreLogic reports.

What’s more, about 2.4 million borrowers had less than 5 percent equity, which CoreLogic refers to as “near-negative equity,” in the second quarter. Since the peak in home sales in 2005, nondistressed sales in ZIP codes with low negative equity have dropped 61 percent, compared to an 83 percent sales decline in high negative equity ZIP codes.

“The typical seasonal changes in sales volume in high negative equity ZIP codes is very muted, which indicates that nondistressed sales are being heavily impacted by the high levels of negative equity in their neighborhood, even if sellers have equity,” according to CoreLogic’s report.

“High negative equity is holding back refinancing and sales activity and is a major impediment to the housing market recovery,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic. “The hardest hit markets have improved over the last year, primarily as a result of foreclosures. But nationally, the level of mortgage debt remains high relative to home prices.”

States With the Highest Number of Underwater Borrowers:

1. Nevada: 60 percent of all properties with a mortgage were considered underwater

2. Arizona: 49%

3. Florida: 45%

4. Michigan: 36%

5. California: 30%

Source:  REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

September 12, 2011

Green Mortgages Allow More Options for Upgrades

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:55 pm by darganrealty

With the growth of green building the last decade, green lending has emerged to help finance those often costly “green” upgrades. 

Dave Porter, with PorterWorks in Stanton, Wash., who provides continuing education courses on green lending to those in the real estate industry, says there are several basic types of green mortgages, which most of the public still isn’t very aware about. For example, energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs) are “used to finance the construction of a home that would meet green standards or to buy one that’s newly built.” An energy improvement mortgage (EIM), on the other hand, is used to buy and fix up a house that needs green improvements, like insulation or new windows. 

The loans are available through mortgage programs by Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture. 

“They have slight differences in requirements, but basically they allow you to finance the home, plus the energy-conserving improvements, without having to qualify for the additional cost of the improvements,” Porter told the Chicago Tribune.

Source: “Market Ripe for Green Loans,” Chicago Tribune (Sept. 9, 2011)

August 26, 2011

Foreclosures Sell for Up to 40% Less

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:53 am by darganrealty

Foreclosures made up about one-third of all home sales during the spring quarter (April to June), and sales were about six times the percentage of foreclosures in a healthy housing market, RealtyTrac Inc. reports. Foreclosure sales likely would have been much higher too if so many banks hadn’t slowed their foreclosure processes while state and federal officials continued to investigate possible faulty practices.

Foreclosure sales — which include homes purchased after they receive a notice of default or that were repossessed by lenders — peaked two years ago at 37.4 percent of sales, compared to 31 percent in the April to June quarter. During the second quarter, 265,087 homes sold were in some stage of foreclosure or owned by banks — but that’s down 11 percent from the same period a year ago, RealtyTrac reports.

The state with the highest number of foreclosure sales was Nevada, where foreclosure sales accounted for 65 percent of all sales. Arizona followed with foreclosure sales accounting for 57 percent of all home sales for the quarter. Foreclosures Continue to Weigh on Home Prices Foreclosed homes continue to sell for less than other homes.

During the spring, bank-owned homes sold for 40 percent less than the average price of other homes. Sales of homes in the foreclosure process or short sales sold for 21 percent less than the average home sold. The average sales price of a foreclosed property was $164,217, a drop of less than 1 percent from the January-March quarter and a nearly 5 percent drop from the April-June quarter in 2010.

Source: “Foreclosure Sales This Spring were 6 Times Higher Than in Healthy Housing Markets,” Associated Press (Aug. 25, 2011)

August 18, 2011

An Unusual Request: Housing for a Dinosaur

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:48 am by darganrealty

A Canadian man who is unable to buy a home in the pricey housing market of Vancouver, British Columbia, has another idea for attaining home ownership, but it involves dressing up as a dinosaur.

The man recently posted an unusual offer over Craigslist, targeting his message to the rich who may have some spare homes lying around or paid-off rental properties — or those who’ve just always wanted a personal dinosaur.

The man writes in a Craigslist ad: “In exchange for one of your properties, I will be your personal dinosaur for one year. I will be at your beck and call, 24 hours a day, wearing a dinosaur costume. The type of dinosaur is negotiable.” He also offers to babysit children, scare the mailman, wash dishes, and entertain guests. “This is the only way you will ever have your pet dinosaur, and the only way I will ever be able to acquire a house in Vancouver,” he writes.

Source: “Guy Offers to Become a Pet Dinosaur in Exchange for Housing,” Curbed (Aug. 8, 2011) and Realtor Magazine

August 10, 2011

Green Homes Nab Higher Prices at Resale

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:51 pm by darganrealty

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, August 10, 2011

While home sales may be sluggish in many parts of the country, more buyers are placing an emphasis on green — with some studies showing that green homes can sell for higher dollar than non-green homes.

In Portland, Ore., an analysis from the Earth Advantage Institute found that green-certified new homes sold, on average, for 8 percent more than non-certified green homes–and in one of the counties included in the study even more than 23 percent higher. Earth Advantage Institute analyzed sales data from May 2010 through April 2011 from the Portland Regional MLS.

The study found that the sales price was even higher for existing homes outfitted green — an average of 30 percent more, and one county reporting a more than 61 percent premium on green-certified homes. The green certifications on the homes were from Energy Star, LEED for Homes, Earth Advantage, or an Earth Advantage/Energy Star combination.

This is the fourth year in a row that the Earth Advantage Institute has conducted such a study and has found green-certified homes sell for higher prices than non-certified homes. “There’s certainly a premium there to be had,” says green builder Josh Wynne from Sarasota, Fla. “Clients are naturally skeptical of green building.

If you’re disingenuous or sell green as an upgrade like a granite counter,” it won’t work. But the hook, experts say, is to promote the upgrades by showing the energy savings that green homes can offer. (Learn more from NAR’s GREEN certification program.)

Source: “Green Homes Sell for More, Studies Show,” EcoHome (Aug. 1, 2011) and Realtor Magazine

August 3, 2011

Should you buy a newly built home?

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:06 pm by darganrealty

Should you buy a new-construction home? (© Digital Vision/photolibrary)

© Digital Vision/photolibrary

Check out this great article I found on MSN about the pros and cons of buying a newly built home.

Some homebuyers will take nothing less than a new home with an untouched bathtub. Others want a home with character in an established neighborhood.

Personal preferences aside, there are pros and cons to buying a newly built home over a resale, as well as financial implications for each option.

New-home advantages
Rochelle Fitzgerald, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Rockwall office near Dallas, says, “There’s no question that some people prefer that ‘new-home smell’ and the idea that no one else’s feet have been on the carpet. On top of that, many people like to personalize their home by picking out everything from the beginning.”

Some buyers focus on the more practical aspect of buying a new home because it typically will require less maintenance than an older house.

“It’s very important to some buyers to have everything new, plus they have the peace of mind that comes along with the builder’s warranty,” says Dan Kruse, broker/owner of Century 21 Affiliated in Madison, Wis.

On the financial side, builders, particularly in a slow real-estate market, offer plenty of incentives to buyers.

“In a sellers market, new homebuyers will often spend as much as 10% or more above the purchase price for optional features,” says Jeff Ristine, broker/owner of Weichert, Realtors: Kingsland Properties near Chicago. “Now many builders are offering free options as an incentive to buyers, such as a finished basement and an upgraded kitchen. Builders are tailoring their incentives to specific buyers, so some will throw in things like initiation fees for a country-club membership.”

New-home disadvantages
In spite of the added builder incentives, real-estate experts say new homes are typically more expensive than existing homes.

“Traditionally, new homes are more expensive because they are being built from the ground up,” Kruse says. “In recent years, some new homes have come down somewhat in cost because the builders have been hurt so badly by the downturn in the housing market. For the most part, though, builders try to keep price integrity and will offer closing-cost assistance or upgrades rather than lower the base price.”

Upgrades and closing costs are typically tied to the buyer using a builder-designated lender and title company.

“I would caution buyers, at least in our market in the Chicago area, to be careful buying a new home because builders are competing against foreclosures and it could be long time before a new home will increase in value,” Ristine says. “Even with builder incentives, you are usually paying a premium for buying a new home, so you need to hold onto it for five years or more to build any equity.”

Fitzgerald says buyers of new homes should expect to own for longer than buyers of existing homes because of differences in price appreciation.

“In a new-home community, if you need to sell within a year or two, you are competing against the other homes that are still being built and can be customized,” Fitzgerald says. “Buyers will choose a brand-new home rather than a 1-year-old home, especially if the builder can offer incentives that a regular seller cannot.”

One other downside is the potential for living amid a construction site for several years, particularly if the builder has slowed development because of the recession.

When to buy a new home
Real-estate agents agree that the best values for a new home come when the development is nearly complete.

“In years past, buyers wanted to get in early to take advantage of pre-construction pricing and a better location within the community,” Kruse says. “But now, buyers want to get in late, so if you have to sell you won’t be competing with newer homes in the development.”

Ristine says buyers should be cautious about buying before a community is nearly complete, because some builders are so financially strapped that they cannot complete their developments.

Existing-home advantages
“The biggest advantage of existing homes is the maturity of the community,” Kruse says. Buyers can look at how well the homes have held their value historically. Plus, buyers willing to purchase a fixer-upper can more easily increase the value of their property than someone with a new home.

Fitzgerald says that buying in an established community allows homeowners to know more about the schools and neighbors before they buy.

Long-term value in new and existing homes
For most homebuyers today, the biggest concern is whether the property will hold its value.

“In 10 years, a new home purchased today is likely to have more value simply because you own a newer home designed to meet today’s standards,” Fitzgerald says. “A new community will have newer amenities, too, including schools and shopping areas.”

Kruse and Ristine believe long-term value depends more on location than the age of the property.

“Value depends on where a home is located and how well the home has been maintained,” Ristine says. “People do like new things, but if a home has been upgraded with a new kitchen and bath, it can compete very well with a new home.”

Ultimately, the decision to buy a new or existing home comes down to what a buyer values more: a maintenance-free, new home or a mature neighborhood.


June 24, 2011

Cash Buyers Continue to Dominate

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:35 am by darganrealty

Cash Buyers Continue to Dominate For the fifth-straight month. Cash buyers accounted for at least 30 percent of existing-home sales, the National Association of REALTORS® reported this week. In May, all-cash buyers made up 30 percent of existing home sales, which compares to 25 percent in May 2010 and 12 percent two years ago, according to NAR.

Low prices from foreclosures are tempting cash buyers–who are mostly investors–and prompting them to snag deals. They’re turning many of their housing purchases into rentals and immediately finding quick profits, housing experts say. “These are people who’re … getting back into the market because they see good value,” says Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist.

Cash buyers tend to dominate in cities where home prices have fallen the most and foreclosures are the most prevalent. For example, in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, 63 percent of first-quarter buyers paid in cash and in Las Vegas, which consistently boasts the highest foreclosure rate, cash buyers made up nearly 50 percent of first-quarter sales, according to Without cash buyers, “we would be in much worse shape than we are,” says Jim Gillespie, CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “They recognize that this is the smartest time to buy.”

Home prices are 33 percent below the peak reached in 2006. Source: “Cash Buyers Scooping Up Homes,” USA Today (June 22, 2011)


June 21, 2011

The Secrets of Productive People

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:35 pm by darganrealty

Found this great post on one of my favorite websites Check it out: We’ve all seen them. We probably have envied them at some point or another. We’ve also all wondered that their secret is. Who are they?

Productive People!

They are the ones who seem to be getting so much done every day. We wonder, as we seem to fall further and further behind, how these people are able to accomplish so much. Follow along as we share some of their secrets with you.

1. Just do it!

It sounds so simple but it’s amazing how many of us don’t follow through on this one. We procrastinate. We come up with multiple reasons why we can’t. We justify not doing it. The secret of productive people is that they don’t procrastinate. They don’t come up with any reasons why they can’t. They don’t justify not doing it. It doesn’t matter what IT is. They just do it!

2. Prioritize.

Productive people also spend time prioritizing their tasks so that those that are most critical get to the top of the list. It’s good to make sure that we do the same thing also. Take time the night before to prioritize your tasks for the following day. See what a difference it makes in your day.

3. Do the most dreaded task first.

Let’s face it, there are many things we dread doing. Productive people are the same as we are. They have tasks they dread doing. The difference is that productive people get the most dreaded task done first. By getting the dreaded task, chore or activity done first, it’s over with! Then you can get on with those things you enjoy.

4. Have a CAN DO attitude.

Having a CAN DO attitude sounds simple, but we tend to overlook it. Productive people have an attitude similar to that of the book ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ If you know the story, you’ll remember the famous line, ‘I think I can, I think I can, I thought I could.’. Productive people go into things with that Can Do attitude instead of immediately thinking they can’t. Can Do = Productivity!

5. One bite at a time.

You’ve heard the old joke, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!’ Productive people use this same principle when working on a project of any size. Break it down into manageable tasks. We can apply this same principle to all of our projects. Just figure out the things that can be broken down into manageable pieces and work one manageable piece at a time.

6. Schedule it.

One way that productive people make sure they get things done is to schedule time on their calendars. The thinking behind this is that if it’s not put on the schedule, too many other things can come up and crowd it out. So, follow the example of productive people and schedule your tasks on the calendar.

7. Avoid distractions.

Once you have something scheduled and it’s time to do it, do not answer the phone, do not answer the door, do not check email, do not…do not…do not. Stay focused on your task and you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be. Productive people do this daily. It’s part of why they are productive.

8. Change the focus.

Productive people have a tendency to think in a way that is counter to the norm. They think outside of the box. They don’t waste time thinking of all the ways something can’t be done. Instead, they ask `what CAN I do?’. It’s a matter of looking for things that can be done when everyone else is saying nothing can be done. This mindset also enables productive people to be very creative in their solutions!

9. Delegate.

Another secret of productive people is that they don’t try to do every part of a project by themselves. They aren’t afraid to delegate whenever possible. In fact, they are experts at finding people to do some of the job, whatever the job may be. Take a cue from people who accomplish a lot. Delegate wherever you can!

10. Get help.

Just like they delegate, productive people know when to ask for help. As in delegating, they don’t try to go it alone. When trying to go it alone, we end up doing far more than we should. Productive people not only know when to ask for help..they do ask for help when they need it. They don’t see it as a sign of weakness but rather, they see is as letting others use their strengths in areas we aren’t as strong.

11. Evaluate the value.

Another secret of productive people is that they realize that there is a difference between the things they should do, and the things they could do. There are many things we could do. What we need to do is follow the example of productive people and evaluate whether the task or project is something we could do, or something we should do. If it’s something you should do, then by all means, do it. If it’s something you could do, it’s very likely OK if you don’t do it.

12. About all else, have fun.

Make sure that you have fun in your day. Productive people manage time to be both productive and to enjoy the day. Don’t take it all so seriously. Do the work, but have fun doing it!

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