Sunday, January 18, 2009

Maintenance Tip

  • Lawn and shrubs well maintained? Can you make improvements?

  • Does the parking area need resurfacing?

  • Broken-down cars sitting around?

  • Gutters and downspouts in good condition?

  • Garbage and debris out of sight?

  • Improvements? Buildings get higher rents if they are updated.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Top 10 Commercial U.S. Rental Markets

It will likely be a challenging year for all kinds of commercial real estate, according to the real estate services company and investment firm Grubb & Ellis Co., which released its 2009 forecast Monday.

Office space. The report found that 90 million square feet of office space was under construction at the end of 2008, most of which will be available for use in 2009. This new space combined with a projected 45 million square feet coming available as tenants vacate and a big jump in subleased space, will push vacancy rates up by 2 percentage points to end 2009 at 16.5 percent, the report predicted.

Retail. The retail real estate market will be hard hit by the downturn. Grocery store-anchored centers in mature trade areas will hold their ground in 2009, the report said, while centers on the urban fringe, where housing construction has stalled will suffer.

Industrial. The quest for cost-saving efficiencies should sustain demand for industrial space in 2009, despite the weak economy, according to the report. Nevertheless, the vacancy rate will rise slightly to end 2009 at 9.4 percent.

Apartments. Apartments will have a tough year, even with the addition of renters who have lost their homes to foreclosure, because of the increasing supply of unsold condos and homes now available for rental.

The top-10 rental housing markets from 2009-2013 will be:
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Orange County, Calif.
  • Oakland/East Bay, Calif.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • San Diego
  • New York City
  • San Jose, Calif.
  • Long Island, N.Y.
  • Portland, Ore.

Source: Grubb & Ellis (01/05/09)

Paying Down Mortgage Faster Can Make Sense -- Sometimes

With the markets so dicey, many people who come into extra cash wonder whether they should avoid stocks and bonds and use the money to pay down their mortgage instead.

Doing so can save you a lot in interest in the long run. But your monthly payments may remain the same until you pay off the entire loan. And if you have an attractive rate -- say, in the 5 percent range for a fixed loan -- there's no need to rush to pay it off.

And there's a big downside to tying up too much money in your house: It can be very difficult to access that cash, especially now that lenders are less generous about setting up home-equity lines of credit.

Before you consider adding money to your mortgage, pay down high-interest debt and build an emergency fund. And make sure that some of your longer-term money is in stocks or stock funds.

That said, there are a couple of cases in which paying down your loan might make sense. For instance, if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage that continues to ratchet up, devoting extra cash to your mortgage could give you enough equity to refinance.

And if you're close to retirement and already have a diversified portfolio or long-term investments, paying off your mortgage can make a big difference in your finances. With no monthly housing payment to worry about, you won't need to withdraw as much from your retirement funds in a down market.

Source: Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Kimberly Lankford (1/11/2009)

10 Cities Boasting Mini Sales Booms

Some cities that were hardest hit by the real downturn are experiencing mini sales booms.

Las Vegas real estate properties are down 28 percent in price, but sales of homes are up 15 percent.

Motivated buyers accounted for 64 percent of Las Vegas sales in October, says Radar Logic, a derivatives firm. That’s the highest rate in the country.

"There's a pretty active housing market, it's simply at a lower-priced inventory," says Michael Feder, chief executive of Radar Logic. "And there are now bidding wars taking place over homes in foreclosure."

Phoenix and San Diego are reporting similar experiences.

"We're clearing out the bad news," says Kiva Patten, a director at Merrill Lynch specializing in housing derivatives.

"By the end of 2010 – that's where we're calling the bottom in the forward market. You're going to get a small price appreciation in 2011," says Patten. "It's not like the turn is 10 percent per year, it'll be something like 3 percent or 4 percent."

Here are the cities where experts say it makes the most sense to buy now.

  • Las Vegas
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • San Diego, Calif.
  • Los Angeles
  • Detroit
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, D.C.
  • San Jose
  • Atlanta

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (01/12/09)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

California State Homes have a brutal 2008

According to a recent report by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R), 2008 marked a year of rising home sales, declining home prices, stricter loan underwriting standards, and the financial market meltdown. However, despite the negative media coverage, many home buyers realized that current low mortgage rates and lower home prices provided an opportunity to purchase a home that previously may have been out of reach.

For my Readers:

  • The most-recent survey from Freddie Mac shows interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.19 percent last week, the lowest level in 37 years. While lower interest rates have resulted in a dramatic jump in homeowners seeking to refinance, now also is a great time to purchase a home. The lower interest rates also are making mortgage payments more affordable, especially on larger homes that previously may have been out of reach.

  • In addition to lower monthly mortgage payments, a lower interest rate also allows more home buyers to qualify for larger mortgages with less income. Generally, a buyer applying for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loan of $400,000, with an interest rate of 5.5 percent, needs an income of $92,000, assuming a 10 percent down payment. If the rate drops to 4.5 percent, the borrower would need an income of $84,000 to qualify for the same mortgage loan.

  • Despite the increase in the number of homeowners who sold their homes at a loss, home sellers who owned their properties for a longer period of time were less likely to experience a loss from their home sale, according to the “State of the California Housing Market 2008-2009” report.

Tenant Leasing Tip #4

Your lease agreement should state HOW MANY people will be occupying the unit.

Refinancing 101: Is it the right move for you?

Homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments and have equity in their homes may want to consider taking advantage of the lower mortgage rates offered by many financial institutions. However, refinancing may not be the best choice for all homeowners.

For my Readers:

  • Refinancing often requires fees for title insurance, a new appraisal, document processing, and a fee for the mortgage broker or lender. While it may appear the refinance is free, the costs often are added to the total loan amount or the borrower is charged a higher rate. Because there are fees typically associated with a refinance, many financial industry specialists recommend borrowers not refinance unless they plan to occupy the house for at least two years. Although there will be a reduction in the monthly payment, it can take a few years to break even on the refinance.

  • Loan options are more limited today than a few years ago. Generally, the best rates are offered on traditional loans, such as 15-year and 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages, and loans for borrowers with at least 20 percent for a down payment for buyers or existing home equity for those seeking to refinance.

  • Some subprime loans made during the house boom carry prepayment penalties–a fee or percentage the homeowner pays the lender in the event the mortgage is paid early. Some lenders may waive prepayment penalties and allow the borrower to refinance with another lender if doing so prevents foreclosure.

Source: Assciated Press, (Dec. 18, 2008)