Thursday, April 23, 2009

Uh Oh...

Well darn. Bad news/Good news: The NAR (National Association of Realtors, a big cheerleader for our industry) says that "used" home sales fell 3% from February to March. Looks like we're not out of the woods yet (not that we expected that 'poof' the real estate market was going to just go gangbusters this Spring). On the good news part of this posting, sales prices were up a bit from February, though still DOWN. (2008 sales prices were $200K, in February 2009 they were $168K, in March $175K). SO, hopefully April showers will bring May BUYERS! Hang in there...

Go buy THIS house!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Of God, BMW Safety, German Engineering and "Buy American"

It's interesting to read about the failings of the US auto industry. Of late we (the US Government, a/k/a the taxpayers) have pumped money into the major US companies only to hear that GM may still be forced into bankruptcy and Chrysler's possible Fiat merger may be off. Common thread? Unions... If wage concessions don't happen (and fast) bankruptcy will loom large for GM and Chrysler runs the risk of being split up and sold in pieces. I have owned a few Chrysler products and enjoyed them and I actually have a lot of respect for US auto makers right now. My son and I visited the NY Auto Show preview on our recent Spring Break trip and found several hot looking models (and I actually mean the cars!). Cadillac had a cool CTS wagon that caught our eyes and the Pontiac G8 is a hot rod. The upcoming Ford Fusion Hybrid gets an astonishing 40 MPG I've heard and the new Focus will finally be a decent looking European model. What does all this mean? IF the industry survives the economic downturn, there are many great vehicles to consider. Prices are low, dealer price concessions are high and again, quality is up. After you buy your home (or refi your mortgage) go buy a car!

Our 'fleet' of autos contains nothing newer than a 2000 model year and all have mileage over 100,000 miles. They are also all older German luxury cars and we do pay a premium for parts and service. You know what? If I could, I'd replace them with an expensive German car all over again. Why? In a word-SAFETY. On her way to work last Monday, my wife was in an offset head-on collision (she's safe, by the way, just banged up and sore) in our 2000 BMW Z 3. The car was a total loss, but it did exactly what it was designed to do and that was protect Susie at all costs. Thanks to divine intervention and great safety features she was safe. The car, well, not so much. See for yourself; both airbags blew and the seat-belt tensioners did their trick and the engine dropped down so that it did not intrude into the passenger compartment (the driver's door opened and closed fine even after the wreck!). I have personal knowledge of 3 horrific BMW wrecks and each time the driver walked away safely, my wife included (well, if we can get her neck/chest/ankle to not be so sore). If you have the wherewithal to purchase a German car I'd say go for it. Our cars are all used and were bought from family members so we got good deals. If you seek safety (AND sporty/luxury) don't just look to Swedish imports; try the Germans... My 2 cents.

Either way--go buy stuff; the economy needs you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Newsletter Comments from 3/31: Thoughts on the Economy

Rates are low, purchases are up, sales prices are creeping up--does this mean we're out of the woods? NO. Today's news notes that January 2009 sales prices were actually at a record low (per Case-Schiller index) and it's true that many foreclosures are still 'waiting in the wings' to further lower prices. If you are a buyer, you're in great shape. If you're a seller, it can be tough to stomach! The National Association of Realtors (yes, that's real-TOR, not real-A-tor!) predicts median prices to fall almost 5% this year, with a gain of almost 4% in 2010. Yes, they are ordinarily 'optimistic' but it seems plausible now that we've seen some slight rise in pricing in February. One month does not a trend make, however!
What can really kick-start our economy? First-time homebuyers--Yes, I know that this is contrary to my last rant-I have since learned that 40% of homes sold in 2008 went to 1st-timers. If they realize that they can 'pocket' an $8,000 Federal tax credit (versus last year's $7,500 "loan") if they buy this year AND if Gov. Perdue signs HB 261 (giving ANY home purchaser a $3,600 GA tax credit for 2009) we should see a lot more activity. If ANY of this is news to you, let me know and I will fill you in. Please pass this info along to ANYONE considering a home purchase-it may be just enough to have them overcome a) fear of falling values and b) greed (yes, greed). It's human nature to fear that you didn't get as good a deal as someone else, right? Yes, someone may get a lower price for a new home than you, but does the house suit YOUR needs TODAY? Isn't that enough to keep you from paying your landlord's mortgage?? Same scenario with rates-you MAY save a few dollars by waiting, but you may lose your chance at a low rate completely!
I get the awesome opportunity to hand someone the keys to their new house. I have been hugged, have seen tears of joy and even endured some piercing screams. It's why I've always said I practice happy law rather than focusing on negatives in life. I hope you can come see us soon and witness the spectacle!