Harness the Power of Appreciation

As we approach Thanksgiving, a traditional time of family, friends, celebration and feeling grateful for what we have, now is a great time to take a moment to count your blessings and say thank you. Often overlooked during this time of year are the people who have been instrumental in building our career and our success – our team, clients, partners, mentors, friends and business connections that have all played a role in our professional success.

J.D. Crowe, President of Southeast Mortgage

J.D. Crowe, President of Southeast Mortgage

Your Team

Success in business is often highly dependent on the support and cohesiveness of our team. No matter how big or small the firm is, team support is vital.  Because people thrive  when they are reminded that their contributions have meaning, letting them know that their work matters to you, to the firm and their team members not only helps them feel more engaged and excited, but also creates a sense of unity in the company while building trust and stronger relationships.

Your Clients

Saying thank you to clients should be an active part of your ongoing success strategy no matter what time of year it is. However, now is the perfect time to stand out from your competitors and express your gratitude by sending a personal and sincere thank you note telling them how much you appreciate their business.  Think about it … when was the last time you received a hand-written thank you note?  If you’d like to show your appreciation beyond a thank you note, consider more creative “thank you” options such as a personal, heart-felt phone call, a simple gift of appreciation delivered to their door or a special customer appreciation event held at your office. Regardless of your approach, never underestimate the power of appreciation.

A Word of Thanks from Southeast Mortgage

At Southeast Mortgage we have so much to be thankful for during this season of gratitude.  We’re thankful for our wonderful team of Mortgage Loan Originators who work diligently and tirelessly to bring the dream of homeownership to our growing client list.  We’re thankful for the ongoing support and expertise of our Client Relationship Management and Sales & Marketing Teams who continue to find new ways to connect and engage with past, existing and future clients and provide superior sales training and marketing support. We’re especially thankful for a year of positive growth in our firm and a host of positive trends in the real estate industry including continued home price growth, an easing of the inventory crunch, increased home sales, continued declining foreclosure levels and historically low rates. The real estate industry is buzzing again and we couldn’t be happier!

Most importantly, we’re thankful for our loyal clients that stood beside us and weathered the storm when Georgia was hit so hard by the housing industry.  To our many clients whom we consider family, we appreciate your continued loyalty, trust, repeat business and referrals and thank you for choosing Southeast Mortgage as your trusted lender.

Working with a team of dynamic individuals, assisting people in fulfilling a lifelong dream, a positively transitioning economy and our loyal clients who have continued to allow us to serve their needs, has allowed us to thrive in 2014 and offered the anticipation of a promising 2015.  We thank you!

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Atlanta’s Residential Real Estate Index Remains Stagnant

The Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s residential real estate index, remained stagnant at 6.3 for the month of October. Although we have seen year-over-year increases in home prices and home sales combined with decreases in foreclosure inventory, recent trends from August to September revealed increases in foreclosure inventory, a slowing in home price growth and added negative factors in the industry.

The October Cal-Culator

The October Cal-Culator

The Good

According to CoreLogic’s September Home Price Index, home prices increased 5.6 percent from the previous year, representing 31 consecutive months of home price increases.

Compared to 2013, foreclosure inventory has decreased by a staggering 30 percent, according to CoreLogic’s September National Foreclosure Report. The 12-month sum of foreclosures is at its lowest point in five years, and the Atlanta foreclosure inventory has decreased 0.7 percent.

Additionally, The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), rose 0.3 percent in September from August and is 1.0 percent higher since last September. The NAR also reported  that existing home sales increased 2.4 percent from the previous month.

The Bad

While some housing industry data, such as data on foreclosures and home sales, shows the industry is greatly improving compared to 2013, recent data has been indicating declines in month-over-month numbers, representing slowed growth in many facets of the industry.

Though home prices rose year-over-year, home price growth is slowing as prices dipped 0.1 percent from August to September, according to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index report.

“Home prices continue to rise with this time last year, but the rate of growth is clearly slowing as we exit 2014,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “With more positive macro-economic trends emerging in the U.S., we are forecasting moderate price growth for 2015.”

The Ugly

Although 2014 has experienced outstanding improvement in foreclosures as indicated by a 30 percent decrease in foreclosure inventory from September 2013, the recovery is beginning to lose pace.

Nationally, foreclosure inventory increased 4.7 percent in September from August with  Georgia  fifth on the list of states with the highest number of foreclosures.

“The level of serious delinquencies has rapidly declined over the last year few years, but the pace of improvement is beginning to recede,” said Deputy Chief Economist Sam Khater at CoreLogic. “As of June, serious delinquencies were 26 percent lower than the prior year, but as of September serious delinquencies were 21 percent lower.”

Lastly, a new report released by the National Association of Realtors found that first-time home buyers fell to its lowest point in nearly 30 years, which is significantly hindering the housing market from reaching its full potential.

The last Cal-Culator of the calendar year will be released December 9 and will hopefully close out the year on a positive note.

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5 Tips to Sell Your Home to Generation Y

This week, we are reviving one of our most popular columns.

Recently, millennials have become the most buzzed about demographic and with good reason. Millennials have more spending power than ever and are growing into powerful, potential homebuyers. When it comes to purchasing a home, young buyers value different things in a home than traditional baby boomers.  However, selling an older home to a young buyer is feasible with a few home upgrades.

J.D. Crowe, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

J.D. Crowe, Senior Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

1. Market like a Millennial

Half the battle of selling a home to a young buyer is reaching them through nontraditional methods. Utilize new media to get to the forefront of consumers’ minds. If you are selling your own home, create a simple website that highlights your home and goes into more detail with photographs than a traditional online listing. Justin Decesare said in an article in Keeping Current Matters even if you enlist the help of a Realtor, consider including social media information on a business card or in an e-mail signature to allow young buyers to easily contact the Realtor in their preferred method of communication.

2. Paint smart

Gone are the days where walls need to be covered in floor-to-ceiling wallpaper with coordinating trims.  These days young buyers are looking for painted walls in neutral shades. “Young buyers like what I call Pottery Barn colors,” said Debby Strott, manager of Weichert Realtors’ Morristown West office in Morristown, N.J. “Check out their stores or a catalog, and you’ll see the palette has soft earth tones, off-whites, beige and pale gray. You don’t want super personal color choices, but you can go with a neutral and a contrasting trim color.”

3. Not Your Mother’s Carpet

Alongside wallpaper, carpet is seen as outdated as the trend is leaning toward hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors look more modern and need less upkeep than carpet for busy generations.  Wood is also more environmentally friendly, a growing concern for millennials today. Though new hardwood will be more expensive than installing new carpet, wood floors will create additional value for a home that will attract the next generation of homebuyers.

4. Modernize the Kitchen

Millennials are concerned about modern appearances that extend beyond their iPhones.  GE. recently released the Artistry Series, a low-price but high-design series of appliances made with millennials in mind.  Features include chunky metallic knobs and handles, high gloss finishes and a nod to the past with analog clocks. “The intent wasn’t to create this in-your-face-throwback retro look,” said GE Appliances’ Director Lou Lenzi. “The intent was to take some familiar design themes and bring them up-to-date with modern details and finishes.” Luckily, the series won’t weigh heavily on your wallet. The series was created to work within a millennial’s budget. Draw on some of GE’s designs by installing nice appliances with simple features that will create a fresh space pleasing to a young buyer.

5. If all else fails, offer a renovation plan

The young buyer may love the school area, location and size of the house, but hate the interior. If the home needs a major facelift to attract young buyers, provide the vision. Sellers can pay for simple drawings from a contractor that demonstrate renovations that would suit the buyer’s wants. Provide price estimates for the renovations that work well with the current state of the house.

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The Advantages of Working for A NonBank Lender

Though nonbank lenders were hit especially hard after the housing bubble burst, nonbank lenders are making a comeback to fill the void in the housing industry as some banks are taking a step back from lending to everyday consumers after new strict banking standards. According to Forbes, at the beginning of 2014, nonbank lenders made up almost a quarter of all mortgage loans – the highest percentage of mortgage loan lenders since the financial crisis. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal states that nonbank lender mortgages are up from 17% in the first half of 2013 and 11% in the same period in 2012.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Last week, we discussed why a mortgage loan originator may be the ideal career option for professionals who feel stuck in a 9-to-5 job, unsatisfied with the lack of competitive pay and perhaps also lack a four-year degree. This week, we’ll tap into the benefits of working as an MLO for a nonbank lender as opposed to a broker or a standard bank lender.

Community Connection

Working for a big bank feels as expected: a corporate environment with little ties to the local community. In reality, many borrowers prefer nonbank lenders because they are more familiar with the area and the local real estate market, they have a stronger connection to the community and can offer more personalized assistance during a potential tumultuous transition process when moving to a new area.

In talking with The New York Times on the push from small lenders, First Choice Loan Services President Norman Koenigsberg said, “Local knowledge is especially important to borrowers in competitive and often complex real estate markets” such as Atlanta.Borrowers are seeking out a personalized touch throughout the mortgage process, which is more prevalent when provided through a small nonbank lender.

Ability to Assist in Unique Financial Situations

The resurgence and rise of nonbank lenders is good news for consumers with unique financial situations.  Oftentimes, banks are unwilling to make loans to borrowers with less than pristine credit.  Additionally, banks are limited in their scope of financing options and must operate within strict parameters whereas nonbank lenders have more freedom and alternatives to assist borrowers with less than ideal credit or situations with regard to employment status.  Plus, nonbank lenders conduct business with a wide variety of lenders giving hopeful homeowners a better opportunity to land the home of their dreams.

In the Forbes’ “Nonbank Mortgage Lenders Bounce Back,” one borrower turned toward a local, small business nonbank lender after being turned away by one of the largest banks.

“The large banks don’t want to spend a lot of time working with people who have problems,” said Garyah Reed of Arizona. “They just say they can’t help you and move to the next one.”

With the resurgence of nonbank lenders in the mortgage lending industry, MLOs now have a golden opportunity to be a part of a rising industry, to connect with and assist people in their community and help individuals and families reap the joy and benefits of homeownership.  As noted in our last week’s column, Southeast Mortgage, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest nonbank lenders, arms our MLOs with an efficient 8-day close, a support team that focuses on referrals and repeat business, specialized training, marketing tools, compliance and legal support and much more. To learn more about Southeast Mortgage or to apply for a position, visit our website.

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Mortgage Loan Originator – An Optimal Career Choice for Many

For individuals who feel unfulfilled in their jobs and stuck in the day-to-day shuffle, the professional road may seem bleak at times. However, for many, a career as a mortgage loan originator (MLO) offers the income potential, flexibility and sense of fulfillment that tops many other career choices.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Pay and Flexibility

In May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that mortgage loan originators earned an average annual salary of $59,820.  Overall employment of loan officers was predicted by the BLS to increase eight percent from 2010-2022, identical to the average for all careers.  And, because MLOs are not required to have a 4-year degree, although several pre-application requirements are needed to secure an MLO license, the option of pursuing a career as an MLO can be an attractive option for individuals who may not possess a higher education.

The above-average earning potential and the ability to earn a commission on top of a base salary, coupled with the flexibility and freedom of being able set your own schedule, makes a MLO career an optimal choice for those who are dedicated, disciplined and eager to succeed.

“If you are ready for a job that will allow you to form lasting relationships with clients … and challenge yourself daily, a loan officer position may be right for you. Loan officers are often able to schedule their jobs around their other responsibilities, including family events—meaning your job may be great not only for you but for those around you, as well!” said a California mortgage company, Cherry Creek in “The Perks of Being a Loan Officer.”

Room for Advancement

While there isn’t a long hierarchy of MLOs positions, MLOs have the ability to advance their career in a variety of ways, contrary to popular belief. MLOs can be promoted within a firm to Senior Loan Officer, receive raises in base salary and/or commission percentage, earn additional education and licensing and eventually even employ or lead a team of their own loan officers.

Intangible Benefits 

Apart from the tangible benefits, working as an MLO provides a daily sense of accomplishment and community.  For many established MLOs, working with families to help them land the home of their dreams is both satisfying and rewarding. Although the benefits each mortgage company offers their MLOs differs, the competitive rise of this industry is triggering many companies to hone in on benefits that foster MLO retention and success. Benefits such as a collaborative corporate culture, specialized training, mortgage processing tools, marketing, public relations, social media support and other in-house support such as compliance and legal support are all becoming increasingly important as mortgage companies search for ways to bring in new opportunities.  At Southeast Mortgage, we arm our MLOs with a streamlined 8-day close, a client relationship management team that focuses on referrals and repeat business and an open-door management philosophy that sets the foundation for MLO success. To learn more about Southeast Mortgage or to apply for a position, visit our website.

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The Cal-Culator Turns One!

We’re excited to share that it has been one year since Atlanta was introduced to The Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s first residential real estate index. The inaugural index was 5.1 when we began last summer. For comparison’s sake, in July 2007 when Atlanta home prices were at their peak, the Cal-Culator would have been a 9. Approximately 18 months ago in March 2012, the Cal-Culator would have been a 1.5. Now, the Cal-Culator stands at a very respectful 6.3, a 0.1-increase from last month. Increased inventory, increased new single-family homes and continued declining foreclosures contributed to the slight increase in the index.

The September Cal-Culator

The September Cal-Culator

Home Sales

Since August, sales of newly built, single-family homes have been at the highest level in six years. Sales of new single-family homes in August rose 18 percent nationally from July and 33 percent above 2013 levels, according to the latest data released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on September 24. The South posted a 7.8 percent change month-to-month and a 27.2 percent increase from 2013.

“This robust level of new-home sales activity is a good sign that the housing recovery is moving towards higher ground,” said National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe. “Historically low mortgage rates, attractive home prices and firming job and economic growth should keep the housing market moving forward in 2014.”

The data also reflected a slight increase in inventory, which now stands at a 4.8-month supply.

Unfortunately, after four consecutive months of gains, existing-home sales fell 1.8 percent nationally and 4.2 percent in the South in August, according to The National Association of Realtors.

“There was a marked decline in all-cash sales from investors,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “On the positive side, first-time buyers have a better chance of purchasing a home now that bidding wars are receding and supply constraints have significantly eased in many parts of the country.”

Foreclosures

CoreLogic’s latest report on foreclosures revealed a 22.2 percent decline in foreclosure   nationally year-over year, though Georgia is still fifth on the list of states with the highest number of foreclosures. The 12-month sum of completed foreclosures is at its lowest point in nearly seven years.

Though August marked the 34th month of consecutive foreclosure decline, economists still have significant concerns about the current state of homeownership.

“Clearly there has been a large improvement in the market the last few years, but five years into the economic expansion the foreclosure inventory remains at nearly three times the normal level,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic.

Home Prices

Though home price gains have eased, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indicies showed that the 20-City Composite (where Atlanta is included) had a small increase of 0.5 percent month-over-month, according to data released September 30. Atlanta also posted a 0.5 percent month-over-month increase and a 6.7 percent 1-year change.

Join us next month on November 11 for the October Cal-Culator as we hope to continue into the index’s second year with positive gains in the housing industry.

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Lenders, Rates and Down Payments: Home Mortgage FAQs Answered!

Because purchasing a home is one of the most complex financial transactions a consumer will make in his or her life, it’s no surprise that mortgage loan originators (MLOs) are constantly being asked for advice or clarification about the confusing, ever changing mortgage industry. We’ve compiled some of the most basic frequently asked questions about the difference between securing a loan from an independent loan officer versus a bank, mortgage rates and down payments.

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Kathy Gyselinck is Executive Vice President for Southeast Mortgage

Q: What is the difference between securing a loan through a large bank versus through an independent loan originator?

The customer service and service offerings is the main difference between bank and non-bank lenders. Though it may be cliché, you won’t be just a number to an independent lender, unlike at most banks. Because banks only have access to a strict number of loans they only offer insight on those types of loans. Non-bank lenders have access to a broader pool of loan types and can advise borrowers on the best loan for their specific situation, regardless of whether the lender offers that loan.

At a bank, the loan officer merely hands off the borrower’s application to the underwriting department, which doesn’t work as a representative for the borrower. A non-bank lender works directly with the underwriter to best ensure loan approval. Lastly, contrary to popular belief, rates aren’t necessarily more expensive through an independent loan officer.

“In fact, in many cases, the rates are somewhat lower, partly because independent mortgage [bankers] typically have more loan sources available to them compared to the big banks, which usually just have a handful of loan products to offer prospective homeowners,” said Forbes in “Secrets of a Mortgage Loan Officer.”

Q: Tell me more about fixed rates versus variable rates. 

Many consumers know the basics of fixed vs. variable-rate mortgages. A fixed-rate mortgage offers a straightforward monthly interest rate and monthly loan amount   that remains consistent for the entire term of the loan while a variable-rate mortgage (also known as an adjustable-rate mortgage) is a type of loan in which the interest rate fluctuates as market rates change. However, many consumers are unsure of which loan is best suited for them. Fixed rates are ideal for homeowners who plan to stay in their house for many years and prefer the stability of unwavering payments rather than the unpredictability of variable rates. Adjustable-rate mortgages are a good option for homebuyers who plan on staying in the house for a few years, allowing them to save money on interest payments in the short run.

Q: Is 20 percent still the golden standard for a down payment?

The short answer: Yes. A smart rule of thumb is always try to put 20 percent down. Although there are many loan options, which require smaller down payments, having a 20 percent down payment helps you establish instant equity in your home.  Plus, you’ll avoid private mortgage insurance (extra insurance that borrowers usually must take on when their down payment is less than 20 percent).  A 20 percent down payment can potentially save you tens of thousands over time with your lowered interest rate and, of course, you’ll have a smaller monthly payment.

Have a question that wasn’t answered? Email info@southeastmortgage.com  and we’ll try to address your questions in an upcoming column!

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Atlanta Home Prices Fuel Atlanta Real Estate Growth

Though Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer, the Atlanta residential real estate market is showing no signs of hitting a typical fall decline. The August Cal-Culator, Atlanta’s residential real estate index, rose 0.1 from July to reach a 6.2, the record that was set by the June index. Large home price increases in Atlanta, continued falling foreclosure numbers and increased affordability, partly due to increased inventory, led to the rise in the index.

The August Cal-Culator

The August Cal-Culator

Home Prices

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices’ report released on August 26 revealed that while U.S. home prices “sustained slowdown in price increases,” nationally home prices rose 6.2 percent in the last year, while Atlanta posted an 8.6 percent change year over year, including distressed properties.

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index Report discovered that Atlanta had the fourth largest increase in home prices in U.S. metro regions during the past year.

“Most states are reaching price levels not seen since the boom year of 2006,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Our data indicates that this trend will continue with more states hitting new all-time peaks at this year and into 2015 as the recovery continues.”

Inventory and Affordability

The inventory crunch that has plagued the nation remains tight although inventory has been on the rise, according to Zillow’s Real Estate Market Report. Partly due to increased inventory, homes remain affordable in 94 of the country’s largest 100 metro regions compared to historical averages. Unfortunately for renters, rent is more expensive than ever in 88 of the markets. As home prices took a drop during the recession, rents maintained their upward trajectory.

Foreclosures

CoreLogic’s latest National Foreclosure Report shows the number of completed foreclosures fell 21.2 percent year over year and 8.5 percent from the previous year, both good signs that the total number of homes lost to foreclosure is declining.

“Based on current trends, the overall foreclosure inventory could trend down to as low as 500,000 homes by year end which is very positive news for the housing market,” said Nallathambi.

Georgia, however, continues to suffer from a high number of foreclosures. Georgia rounded out the top five states that account for nearly half of all completed foreclosures in the nation.

Home Sales

Despite the positive data, August did see disappointing news in terms of new-home sales, according to the latest data by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales of new single-family homes fell 2.4 percent in July. However, regionally, sales were up 8.1 percent in the South from the previous month and 33.2 percent from last year.

“We are somewhat surprised by this dip, considering builder confidence and new-home starts is on the rise,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “However, builders are increasing their level of inventory in anticipation that sales will gradually improve during the rest of the year.”

The September Cal-Culator will be released October 7. We will reveal then if the momentum will continue into fall.

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First-time Homebuyers: Make Foresight 20/20

With any first experience, mistakes are bound to happen as you tread unfamiliar territory. As Atlanta’s real estate sizzles, the inventory crunch eases and mortgage lenders begin to ease underwriting standards, more hopeful homebuyers are taking the plunge into buying their first home.

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Shaun Graham, Vice President of Southeast Mortgage

Buying your first home can be a daunting task.   Because the stakes are so high, one bad mistake can be financially and emotionally devastating.  Luckily for today’s first-time homebuyers, there is a wealth of online information to help you avoid the typical pitfalls of buying a home and help you learn from others’ past mistakes. We discuss some of the top mistakes new home buyers make, many of which can be avoided by planning responsibly for the future and not allowing yourself to get too swept up in the thrill of making your first home purchase.

Forgoing Home Inspection

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, 10 percent of newly purchased homes aren’t inspected. A $500 two-hour inspection (a rough estimate) can save thousands of dollars in damages later while educating you about the home under consideration.

It’s important to remember that a home on the market has been “spruced up” to accentuate its best features and minimize its potential flaws.  You need to make certain that the things you don’t see are in good working order.  To protect yourself, it’s wise to make the purchase of the home contingent on your approval of the home inspection report.  Learning upfront about water damage in the attic, foundation cracks, gas leaks or that the AC unit is about to go will offer you more leverage when making an offer. Depending on the results of the inspection report you can decide to reduce your offer, make the seller responsible for repairs or you can back out of the deal altogether.

“It takes a trained eye to be able to see the problems that can exist in a home,” said Bill Loden, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “The inspection can also give the first-time buyer a bit of a schooling on the house and how to maintain it.”

Too Much Online Faith

Though Zillow and Trulia ease many burdens of home shopping, some people consider the two listings websites, as the be all and end all.  However, relying exclusively on the Internet for listings can give you a skewed cost of actual value. The recommended value of the property online isn’t necessarily what the seller believes it to be or even what it’s actually worth.

Online listings also can’t accurately portray neighborhood friendliness, the view from the balcony, surrounding nightlife or other factors that may be important to you.

Just like you wouldn’t solely judge a person based on their online profile, you shouldn’t base your decision about a home merely by looking at its online profile. It’s important to check out any homes of interest in person to get a true feel for what the home has to offer.

Overlooking Hidden Costs

Unfortunately, even though you feel ready to be your own landlord or purchase a home that your future children can grow up in, it doesn’t mean you’re financially ready. Homeownership costs extend far beyond monthly mortgage payments and the costs accrue even before you sign the contract. When looking at your finances, make sure you factor in closing costs, moving costs, the home inspection, escrow fees, home insurance, property taxes, costs of repairs and maintenance, possible homeowners association fees and more.

Buying a home shouldn’t be a financial strain and stressor. The purchase of a new home should be an exciting experience that ultimately elevates the quality of your life while serving as an investment in your future. Before you take the plunge, take the time to avoid common pitfalls and factor in all financial aspects to avoid drowning in stress and debt.

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Atlanta Summer Real Estate and Recovery Begins to Simmer

After a record-breaking month for the Atlanta residential real estate index, the sizzling summer is beginning to simmer, as data and analysts believe that recovery is showing signs of stalling. The July Cal-Culator posts a 6.1 rating, a 0.1-drop from the previous month. Though foreclosures continue to drop and builder confidence levels continue to increase, price growth, home sales and housing production have slowed.

The July Cal-Culator

The July Cal-Culator

Housing Production

The South lagged behind the rest of the country in new home starts, bringing down the national average significantly, according to the U.S. Census Bureau News by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The South experienced a nearly 30 percent drop in June from May while the national rate fell 8.1 percent.

“The numbers are a little disappointing, but May was unusually high and some pull back isn’t completely unexpected,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Our surveys show that builders are confident about the future and we are still seeing a gradual upward trajectory in housing demand.”

Home Prices

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices data, released July 29, revealed that U.S. home prices increases are slowing. The 20-City Composite (where Atlanta is included) increased by 9.3 percent, which is “down significantly from the 10.8 percent returns reported last month.” However, Atlanta was one of nine cities that posted double-digit increases as the city experienced an 11.2 percent increase from the previous month. Unfortunately, Atlanta posted a year-to-year decline.

“Housing has been turning in mixed economic numbers in the last few months. Prices and sales of existing homes have shown improvement while construction and sales of new homes continue to lag,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “At the same time, the broader economy and especially employment are showing larger improvements and substantial gains.”

However, Zillow believes that this data is a sign of a slowing recovery, rather than large improvements.

“Nationally, today’s Case-Shiller data is consistent with the slow glide-path down towards a more normal housing market we’ve been experiencing for the past few months,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist in Forbes.

Home Sales

Nationally, new single-family home sales fell 8.1 percent in June from May, according to new data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The South posted a -9.4 percent month-over-month drop and a -17.4 percent year-over-year decline.

Builder Confidence

As stated in last month’s column, any number over 50 on the NAHB and Wells Fargo Housing Market Index indicates that the majority of homebuilders view conditions as “good” rather than “poor.” July was the first month since January that builder confidence rose above 50, reaching 53.

Foreclosures

CoreLogic’s National Foreclosure Report for June revealed that the foreclosure inventory was down 3.9 percent in June from May, marking 32 months of continuous decline, and completed foreclosures decreased 9.9 percent year-over-year. However, economists are still reminding consumers about the long road ahead.

“While 32 straight months of year-over-year decline in the foreclosure rate is cause for celebration, the total number of homes still in the foreclosure process remains almost four times as high as the average in the early 2000s,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

The next Cal-Culator will be released September 9 and will hopefully reflect a reigniting of the industry.

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