Monday Morning Coffee Q and A

Monday, March 3, 2014:

Cup of Coffee

  • Could the crisis in Ukraine effect the real estate market here? Possibly a little, but not too much. Mortgage interest rates may stay flat or fall slightly. The US Bond Market may look even sweeter to foreign Investors–that helps. Count on prices at the pump to go up.
  • Did the FED’s own policies play a part in creating the 2008 real estate market crash? Yeah, duh. But the there was also a greedy, anything goes, mortgage lending, home buying frenzy that we created so we can’t put it all on the Feds. But keep in mind, the Feds fixed it too!
  • Could pushing your boomerang kids out the door help the economy? Yes! And do it today! If they’ve got a job, now may be the right time for a gentle nudge–they’ll thank you later. Do your part to help our economic recovery.
  • Would a pedestrian focused plan like this work for the Perimeter Mall area? Could similar plans be an answer for other suburban communities? Unless you want LA style, all-day congestion we’re going to have to come up better transportation plans. Enough said!

Snowpocalypse 2014 “2”

Snow WorriesHere we go again–Snowpocalypse 2014 “2”. The blame game has run it’s course and we’ve learned from our mistakes. This time, we should be ready. Right? For starters, city schools have just been closed for two days, and we now know that our city streets and interstates weren’t designed to handle a million cars at once. It’s a plan and the proof will be in the pudding. But just how good is this plan? How would we cope if there was a “real” emergency and we had to evacuate the city quickly, without the advanced warning and media hype? I don’t know about you, but based on Snowpocalypse 2014 “1”, I’m walking out!

In a perfect world we’d already have an incredible transit system with multiple rail lines going in more than two general directions. FYI: some city’s already have this–more cities are building now. I understand we can’t build an amazing transit system overnight but we have to start. Rome wasn’t built in a day either! Long term planning today may save our butts some snowy day in the future. Unless we impose a moratorium on babies (think China) the population growth isn’t slowing down. Unless most of you OTP folks stop commuting in and start working OTP the number of cars on our roads isn’t going to decrease, and believe it or not, there is a limit to how many more roads we can build, or much wider we can make our highways and interstates.

We’ve built a car oriented city that worked really well for a long time, but those days should be in the rear view mirror. I know, I know, I love my car too, but it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. When are we going to make the right investments in our transportation system? If we don’t fix this soon, someday in the not too distant future, Atlanta could be facing all-day-long, LA style gridlock. Remember, if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Q: When is the best time to plant a tree? A: Twenty years ago. Q: When is the second best time to plant a tree? A: Right now!

Remember, we recently voted down a reasonable traffic referendum. Really? How did that happen? What will it take to fix our transportation problems Atlanta? More mass transit to the burbs has to be a big part of the solution and not just an after thought with a few express buses. Are we going to wait until the commute in town takes three hours? Are we willing to change our commuting habits? Sooner or later we’ll have to deal with this. Denial is not a river in Egypt!


2014 Real Estate Predictions

FireworksA belated Happy New Year to everyone!

About this time every year I like to go out on a limb and throw my real estate predictions into the ring.

Here’s what I think will happen in 2014. Maybe someone will check back in December to see how right (or wrong) I was. These predictions are tied to each other so you have to read the whole thing. So no cheating, there will be a pop quiz!

Mortgage interest rates, currently around 4.625 % (conforming 30-year rates, 0 points), will rise to, and hold steady around the 5.5% mark. There may be a few brief spikes above 5.5% but rates will settle back down to the mid 5s. Why? Because I believe the economy in general, including the job market, will continue to slowly improve. As the old saying goes, “good news for the economy means bad news for interest rates”. Plus, the Feds plans to continue backing off purchasing MBS (Mortgage Backed Securities) will have a negative impact on (all) interest rates. The Feds began buying MBS at the height of the market crash to stabilize the market, which worked well, but contributed to artificially lower rates. Don’t worry, its not the end of the world, as 5.5% is still an incredible interest rate. I’ve seen much higher rates!

Wild home value appreciation slows 2014. Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, says he sees the rate of home value appreciation slowing throughout 2014. I agree. I think there will be variations on this theme in different markets. In-town, where home values have been going through the roof, will see lower rates of appreciation than some suburban markets. Why? Because in-town home values have been out pacing many buyer’s ability to afford and some appraisal values have not supported these higher prices. More in-town sellers have also figured out its a good time to sell and have (or will this year) test the water thereby increasing the available home inventory. First-time home buyers bolstered by an improving job market and relatively low home values will come back into some suburban markets. While the inventory in the burbs has been low too, more sellers there will also jump back in. Plus, the price point in many suburban markets is relatively affordable because home values fell so low. Pent up demand will help keep prices moving upwards at a better pace there. House and Money

Borrowing money gets trickier. Lenders are changing the rules…again. Yep, its going to be harder for many buyers to qualify in 2014, especially for some buyers seeking Jumbo Loans, that is, loans above $417,000 Conventional Loan limits. Tighter guidelines in the Jumbo Loan market will make their mark in-town, slowing appreciation rates a bit here. Buyers will still be able buy big expensive houses, just not as many buyers. Qualifying guidelines for the conforming market (below $417,000) and FHA loans are a little friendlier than the rules for the big boys. We may also see some loosening of qualifying guidelines for conventional and FHA loans. As rates creep higher some buyers may decide not to get mortgages. Lenders don’t like this and will find new and creative ways to make borrowing money attractive. Happens every time. Lenders won’t be making loans to anyone that can fog a mirror anymore, but they do like lending money.

The return of the missing first-time-buyer will be another big real estate story this year. More buying confidence with relatively low home prices will move many of these now-renters back into the market. The fear of rising rates will help push many on-the-fence buyers back into the market. Condos will get a strong second look from a few of these returning first-time-buyers too.

Rental prices in many suburban areas will fall slightly in the third and fourth quarter of 2014. If you want top dollar for your rental house, rent it now. And to get the best return on your income property investments you’ll need a pro, now more than ever. That’s my only shameless plug in this post, so here’s my number, so call me maybe. In higher end in-town neighborhoods rental prices should hold steady or even rise a bit as home buying in these areas will still be a challenge for some. Quality is the word of the year with rental homes. The new tenant is looking for a great home but at a value. No more “putting lipstick on the pig” renovations on your rental properties. Do a good job fixing it up, charge a fair price, and should be good to go with your rental property.

Condos will make a comeback! Keep the champagne corked for now but I do think there will be some improvement in Atlanta’s condo market. Why? Think location, location, location; then thank that first time home buyer again. Some of these buyers will be looking in more desirable in-town areas, and the cost of this type home may be just out of reach. Call in the condos! There’s also a growing movement towards more walk-able communities and quality of life must-haves that will drive many buyers to give up space for location. Condo financing will continue to be a challenge for a few condo complexes. So if your complex as lost its FHA eligibility don’t even buy the champagne this year as the odds of getting back on that list may be low. But don’t despair, every gray cloud has a silver lining, this revived interest in condos is a trend that will continue.

Moving down is what’s up for 2014. I used to love to cut the grass, but, the grass (or lack thereof) on the other side of the proverbial fence is starting to look pretty darn good. I think you’ll see a trend of trading down for many buyers especially the aging (like fine wine) baby boomers. And some of these folks, maybe a lot of these folks, have “been there done that” with the house thing and condos are starting to look pretty good. Especially if they’re in a great location in a more walk-able urban community. Time to get your old bike out of the basement!

Home under waterWhat I’d really like to see would be a reinstatement of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act for the homeowners that are still underwater. The HAFA Program (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative)  that was scheduled to expire has been reinstated through December 31, 2015. These two programs have been reinstated (retroactively) before and I’m hopeful the tax relief program will be reinstated again…at least for another year. While the overall real estate market is improving, there are still pockets in metro Atalanta, and around the country, where the outlook is not pretty. Short Sales will continue to be a viable option for some homeowners and unfortunately too many homeowners are at risk for foreclosures. Now is not the time to stop government help for these deserving homeowners.

Well there you have it, my real estate predictions for 2014. I’ll try to remember to check back in December to see if I was right. Happy New Year.


Home Staging Equals Home Selling

Enjoy this Podcast. For more shows, click in the Blog Talk Radio box on the right…

If you’re planning on selling your home home soon Home Staging may make the difference between selling for top dollar and settling for a low offer. After pricing it write and having a top notch marketing plan, home staging is the key do getting your home sold in today’s competitive real estate market. Certified Home Staging Expert, Tasha Moody will discuss the home staging basics. Don’t miss this exciting replay’s of one of our most popular shows.

Foe more information on professional Home Staging, contact Tasha at (678) 733-1552 or by email

Renovation Loans the Right Way

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Your new home needs a few repairs, and now your dream of home ownership has become a real nightmare? Before you through in the towel on the great deal you found check out one of the renovation loans available today. “The Renovation Loan Guy”, Brian Stephens, withWells Fargo Home Mortgage walks us through some renovation loan products that just might save the day. From the FHA 203K to the Fannie Mae conventional loans Brian explains the hows and whys of these unique loans. We’ll discuss some trade tips, and why you should consider a renovation loan even if the house your buying looks perfect.

For more information, contact Brian at (678) 742-3644 or email Brian


Georgia Real Estate Contratcs: Are You Protected?

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Georgia Real Estate Contracts and the Protection Period

Buying and selling real estate can be exciting and complicated. Do it right and you get a great new home–everybody wins! Do it wrong, no great new home, and you lose, and nobody wins.

Georgia has one of the nation’s best real estate purchase contracts, updated annul it covers almost every conceivable situation; but only if its used correctly. A well written and legally enforceable contract “should be” the instrument that gets you from an accepted offer to the closing table while protecting your interests. Unfortunately too many contracts are at best unenforceable. Some are “void” the minute they’re signed and most don’t even begin to protect the client’s interest. Tonight we’ll discuss what we call the “Protection Period” and go over a few real estate contract basics to help you become a more informed consumer.

Email us for more information

Recent Radio Programs

Click on titles listed to enjoy these recent Podcasts. For more shows, click in the Blog Talk Radio box in the upper right corner…

The Healthy Home Environment

Mold, Radon, poor indoor air quality, and how you can create a “Healthy Home” Environment.  Join us today as we talk withEco-Inspector Dan Curl withComprehensive Home Inspections about indoor air quality issues, how to check if you’ve got a problem, and tips on making your home Healthy Home.

For more information contact Dan Curl at (770) 457-2787 or by email

Your Property Taxes and How To Appeal Them

Keep an eye on your mailboxes, its Property Tax time again and your assesment of value notice is on the way! Property values around the country have come down in recent years and your property may not be assesssed accurately. Join us today as we speak with property tax appeal specialist Rob Vinson with The Vinson Group. Rob will discuss how counties determine your home’s value, the appeals process, and tips to appealling your property taxes if you feel the assessed value is too high. Your savings could be huge, don’t miss this exciting and informative program.

For more information contact Rob Vinson at (404) 218-7874 or by email

Radon In Your Home? What You Need To Know

On today’s program we’ll talk with veteran Atlanta Home Inspector Bill Garwood with Edifice Inspections about Radon. Bill will cover everything Radon, how to test for it and how to deal with it if your home tests high. Don’t miss this first in a series on environmental problems that could affect your home and your health.

For more information contact Bill Garwood at (770) 594-2222 or by email

Property Management 101

Investing in single family and multi-family rental property is red hot now. Many first time buyers are deciding to rent instead. Sellers that can’t sell are deciding to rent out their homes. Its a perfect storm of life chancing events for some and a generational opportunity for others. Are you prepared to make the most of these opportunities? Join us today for the first installment of our Investment Property Series, Property Management.  with one of metro Atlanta’s premier Property Management real estate agents, Val Smith.

For more information contact Val Smith at (404) 214-9400 or by email

Housing is Hot. Really?

Yes it is! Buyer’s may not be beating a path to your home but in some markets housing is in very short supply.  Ask any investor and they’ll tell you its tough to find good deals now in many in-town markets. Its not unusual to have bidding wars with multiple for some properties.

True most of these investor properties are becoming new rental properties but “real” buyers are starting to come back as well. Energized by historic low mortgage rates and relatively low home prices these buyer’s are picking up bargains as well. And you guessed it, builders have taken notice.

Here’s a mortgage market update from one of our favorite local lenders, James Williamson with Fairfield Mortgage:

July Housing starts dipped 1.1% but, in the graph below, you can see that the overall trend is moving steadily upwards.  More importantly, building permits continue to soar and are up 6.8% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 812k.  This is the highest level since August 2008 and important because permits today lead to starts tomorrow.  New home construction is very important to the economy as each home built creates an average of three jobs a year and generates about $90k in tax revenue.

The pick-up in permits has influenced home builder confidence to a five-year high as the NAHB Home Builder Sentiment rose to the highest level since February 2007.  The index rose to 37 from 35 in July, but a reading under 50 is considered negative, indicating that housing still has a long way to go to be healthy.




You can see in the second graph how much New Home Sales have dropped over the last five years.  The index hasn’t been in positive territory since April 2006, the peak of the housing  boom.  What is most encouraging though is that housing seems to have stabilized and be moving in the right direction.

Employment Figures

Two additional encouraging graphs below show a steady decline in Jobless Claims as well as the Unemployment Rate improving over the last year.

Rate Update


Looking Ahead

This week, Existing Home Sales will come out on Wednesday.  The detailed Minutes from the August 1st Fed meeting also will be released on Wednesday.  The Minutes often provide additional insight into the debate between Fed officials.  New Home Sales will be released on Thursday and Durable Orders, an important indicator of economic activity, will come out on Friday.


Housing Market Update

Housing Market Update-August

Mortgage rates are down, housing prices are coming back up, and “days on market” are getting shorter. Have housing prices reached the bottom? For many neighborhoods, in-town and suburban, the answer is a resounding, yes! For other areas, especially parts of Gwinnett, south Dekalb, and south Fulton (and other over built areas), values are still flat. The housing market is a long way from the pre-crash levels, but it is improving.

The mortgage crisis aka the housing market meltdown was a complicate affair with enough guilty parties and blame to go around. With the pace of foreclosures slowing and the shrinking REO inventory the housing market is finally starting to show some positive signs of recovery. Hansel and Gretel had a good plan with the breadcrumbs but it didn’t have the desired results right away. This recovery will take some time too, and to be successful we’ll need continued leadership, both political, and corporate. Kudos to Chase Mortgage for their proactive efforts in leading the way out. Let’s hope some of the other big banks take notice.

Mortgage Rates

Want free money? Well you can’t have that, but today’s low mortgage rates are the next best thing. How does 3.625% for a fixed rate, 30-year conventional mortgage sound? Sweet! Would you like to make that a “to-go order?”  Then let’s wrap that up as a 15-year mortgage for 3.125%! Need a little help getting in the door? Try the FHA Loan, same great taste but a little less filling than the conventional loan and it too comes in at budget pleasing 3.625%. The menu changes daily so check back often for the latest specials!

Of course these yummy rates can only be enjoyed with a great credit score, but with today’s low home prices and bulging housing inventory you’re in for a financing feast. ‘Bon appétit’!

Weekday Radio Shows: Sept-Jan

January 4, 2012: Short Sale Tips For Buyers

Today were taking a look at Short Sales from the buyers perspective. Well discuss some common short sale misconceptions, problems, and go over a few tip to help you get your Short Sale approved and closed.


November 30, 2011: Home Renovations Done Right. FHA 203 K Loans

Our guest today is Brian Stephens with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Were re-playing one of our most popular shows on Home Renovations. On todays show Brian will discuss the “how-tos” on getting the best renovation loan for your new home.


November 16, 2011: Property Taxes Too High? Learn How To Get Them Lowered

Our guest today is property tax appeal specialist Rob Vinson with The Vinson Group. Rob will discus how your property’s value is determined by the county, current exemptions available to you, and how to appeal your property taxes.


November 9, 2011: FHA Loan Changes and the UAD. What You Kneed to Know

Our guest today is senior loan officer Robbie Crozier with Fairfield Mortgage. Well discuss the recent FHA loan limit changes, any possible changes to Conventional Conforming and VA loans plus go over the new UAD appraisal rules.


October 19, 2011:  Short Sale Q and A Day

Well be answering your Short Sale questions this afternoon. Short Sale expert David Schenck will take your questions live today as well as answering questions asked by many of our Short Sale sellers and emailed questions.


October 12, 2011: Home Maintenance Tips. Getting your House Ready for Winter

Colder weather is on the way and now is the best time to prepare your house and yard for freezing temperatures. Join David as he discusses a few basic home maintenance tips and cold weather home prep tips.


September 28 2011:  Q and A Day. More Real Estate Questions Answered

We got such a great response from our last Q and A show that were doing it again. Join us today as we answer more of your real estate questions.