Villa Medici, New Southside Condo

15 03 2006

Villa Medici will be a new 379-unit condominium community that fronts Butler Boulevard and stretches north, straddling a portion of Gate Parkway West that will connect to Belfort Road. Villa Medici condos will feature an Italian architectural theme beginning with a central four-story building that will have 150 units and an elevator. Three-story buildings will surround it on either side, with six other buildings of carriage homes (two-unit buildings with one common wall and two garages) nearby. Amenities will include walking trails, a meditation garden, a pool and a clubhouse. Unit prices are expected to range from the mid-$100,000s to the mid-$200,000s.

Register now and take advantage of the exciting pre-sale event on May 6th-7th by appointment only. No one will be allowed to attend the event without an appointment. To register, you need to send in a check for reservation fee of $1,000 (fully refundable) to the developer and complete the Mortgage Pre-qualification application with one of builder’s preferred lenders. Then, you will be eligible for an appointment on a first-come-first-serve basis to participate in the Villa Medici pre-sale event to receive the best and lowest pricing (below pre-construction and grand opening prices) as well as the best home selection that will be available. All before the general public!

Please contact me if you are interested in having an independent REALTOR® who does not work for the developer represents you at Villa Medici. There is no cost to you for my professional service.

Big Growth, Small Towns

15 03 2006

Brookings Institution demographer William Frey says a growing number of retirees are choosing small towns over big cities, as they look to escape high home prices, smog, congestion and crime. Many retirees want to stay close to family, work part time, start a small business, participate in community activities or focus on their hobbies. An examination of U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2004 by Frey found that the most popular small towns among retirees were Gillette, Wyo.; Silverthorne, Colo.; Juneau, Alaska; Edwards, Colo.; and Jackson, Wyo. Rounding out the top 10 were Bozeman, Mont.; St. Marys, Ga.; Rock Springs, Wyo.; Taos, N.M.; and Evanston, Wyo. No cities in the traditional retirement havens of Florida and Arizona made the top 10, but Palm Coast, Fla., claimed the 11th slot.

Source: U.S. News World Report

Housing Market Readjusting to Normal Balance

15 03 2006

A lower level of home sales expected this year will create a more level playing field for buyers and sellers on the heels of a five-year sellers’ market, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, says the number of homes on the market has been improving nicely. “The cooling from overheated sales conditions in recent months is helping to bring inventory levels up to the point where buyers have more choices than they’ve seen in the last five years,” Lereah says. “Annual price appreciation is still running at double-digit rates, but the cause of those sharp increases is going away. As the market readjusts, price appreciation should return to more normal rates of growth this year.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types is projected to rise 5.8 percent in 2006 to $220,300. The median new-home price should increase 5.4 percent this year to $250,200.

Existing-home sales are expected to fall 5.7 percent to 6.67 million in 2006 from the record 7.08 million last year. At the same time, new-home sales are forecast to decline 7.7 percent to 1.18 million from a record 1.28 million in 2005 — each sector would be at the third highest year following the tallies for 2005 and 2004. Housing starts are likely to total 1.98 million this year, down 4.3 percent from 2.06 million in 2005.

NAR President Thomas M. Stevens says some homebuyers and sellers have unrealistic expectations. “Some sellers in markets that have had rapid appreciation are listing the price of their home too high, but those homes are just languishing on the market,” says Stevens. “At the same time, some buyers who have believed hype about a housing bubble are hoping prices will drop, but that’s not happening either.

“Consumers need professional assistance to understand and negotiate the current market realities. Sellers should listen to their agent’s advice to competitively price and show the home, and buyers may want to choose a buyer’s agent to represent their interests and help them negotiate favorable terms. Today’s market has changed a lot from the conditions we’ve seen during the last five years.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage should increase gradually to 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

Inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index is projected at 3.3 percent this year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is expected to grow 3.7 percent in 2006.

Growth in the U.S. gross domestic product is forecast at 3.5 percent in 2006, while the unemployment rate is seen to average 4.8 percent this year.


Staging Your Home

15 03 2006

Homeowners don’t have to spend a fortune on decorating to impress potential buyers. Los Angeles decorator Jonathan Fong says there are many easy and affordable ways to transform a home from dull to dashing. For those on a tight budget, he offers these four decorating ideas that are sure to boost the “wow” factor of any home:

• Eliminate those white walls. The bolder, the better. And don’t forget to paint the ceiling. Carrying the color scheme throughout the house makes the rooms look bigger.

• Place a new area rug over an existing carpet or floor. Remnant pieces from carpet or home work just fine.

• Light up the room. Make sure it shines day and night with lamps, wall lights, hanging fixtures or a combination. A ceiling fan with a light kit will be selling point for some buyers.

• Don’t underestimate the power of accessories. Votive candles, plants and even colorful switch plates for lights can add a flourish to a plain room.

Source: Associated Press

Mexico Attracts U.S. Vacation-Home Buyers

15 03 2006

A growing number of U.S. vacation-home buyers and retirees are seeking cheaper waterfront properties in Mexico. In addition to lower property prices, buyers are drawn to the warm climate, low cost of living and laid-back lifestyle.

The country has relaxed its real estate laws for foreigners in recent years, enabling outsiders to purchase coastal properties through Mexican bank trusts. The trusts usually are for 50 years, providing owners the chance to extend the agreement for an additional 50 years. The owners can legally transfer the title and improve the properties, provided that they comply with local zoning laws. The properties must be resold through a trust, after which the owner can pocket the equity.

However, realty transactions are not regulated in Mexico; and agents and brokers are not required to have licenses. As a result, those interested in making home purchases south of the border should take the phrase “let the buyer beware” to heart.

Source: Planet Realtor

15 03 2006

You may have heard of, a free home valuation tool created by Rich Barton (the founder and ex-CEO of and his crew. Zillow is a beta site launched to a media frenzy with its free valuation data for 40-60 million homes, including a property’s sales history, comparable sales info, aerial views and basic data. While Zillow cannot possibly know the value of every home in America, it intelligently uses both the MLS as well as public data in determining market value and price range of any given homes. I test drive and found it to be ‘premature’ at this stage. For example, I ran a search on my home and the ‘Zestimator’ came back with an estimated value that is $30K below market. As Realtor, I have a pretty good idea of my home. What Zillow lack is the understanding of the nuances of the real estate industry. Provided that the service is free and Zillow has inadequate data that covers only certain parts of the country, there is much more work to be done for the site to become more accurate and reliable.

Do-it-yourself home inspections

15 03 2006

Today, 85 percent of homebuyers choose a home inspection compared to a mere 5 percent in the 1980s, according to the National Association of Home Inspectors. Inspectors typically charge $150 to $600 for their services, with the exact price calculated using an hourly rate or the home’s square footage. Although experts agree that inspections are important, some buyers are conducting inspections themselves to save money. Many use professional guidelines as spelled out on Web sites. Freddie Mac‘s “Consumer Home Inspection Kit” is available for free on its Web site, and America’s Doorstep offers a similar kit for $19.95. Buyers who choose to have a professional look over the home should select an inspector based on recommendations, qualifications, references and association membership.

Source: Copley News Service

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