June 10, 2010
The Group Partners have made a commitment to our Northern Colorado Communities by being generous donors and tireless volunteers. Here are some recent examples:
The 2010 Group Scholar is Ola Fialkowski from Thompson Valley High School in Loveland. Each year at least one student who has been accepted into the CSU College of Business, is awarded a full-tuition scholarship from The Group. Eighteen Northern Colorado high school graduates have been awarded the Group Scholarship since 2000.
The 2010 Nesbitt Scholar is Kyle Thomas Axner. Established in 2001 in memory of Harvey G. Nesbitt, a long-time Group Partner who graduated from CSU, this full-tuition scholarship is granted to an upper-classman who has a concentration in finance, strong academic skills and community involvement.
For information about both scholarships visit http://www.biz.colostate.edu/scholarships.
The Group office in Greeley has been a proud sponsor of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Weld County event for several years and also fields a team, which features at least ten passionate Group partners. The sponsorship dollars go towards the American Cancer Society for putting on the event while the team money goes directly to cancer research and resources.
To particpate or donate visit http://www.weldrelay.org
June 1, 2010
The precursor to residential real estate activity is pent-up demand for housing. And signs of pent-up demand are beginning to emerge from a variety of sources. Some indicators include:
Demographics: Census estimates show that Northern Colorado has experienced consistent population growth through the past decade. Nevertheless, the number of home sales in 2009 was roughly the same as in 1997. Assuming that interest in home ownership hasn’t changed since then (see the previous story), it’s apparent there are homebuyers-in-waiting once the economy regains its footing.
More demographics: The latest census estimates show population growth during 2009 in Northern Colorado and statewide. Larimer County grew 1.9 percent last year, while Weld County grew 2.7 percent. Colorado grew by 1.8 percent last year, making it the fourth-fastest growing state in the country.
Household size: While population continues to rise nationally, the number of households in the United States declined by 1.2 million between 2005 and 2009. Experts say job losses have forced families to combine households, but that an improving economy should cause household formation to return to normal, prompting young adults to seek home ownership.
Rental market: Apartment vacancy rates in Fort Collins (6.3 percent), Loveland (6.6 percent), and Greeley (7.4 percent), are all below the statewide average of 7.9 percent, and monthly lease rates have increased in Northern Colorado cities.
Economic upside: Most economists believe the recession is behind us and that the economy bottomed out last fall. And based on many outside observers, Northern Colorado seems a prime location for an economic revival to start first. Forbes magazine recently ranked Fort Collins the fourth-best city in the country for business and careers.
April 30, 2010
The Northern Colorado economy is outperforming the national average, but we cannot deny that many local homeowners have found themselves ‘underwater’ – owing more on their home than it can be sold for at today’s market value. This is occurring in all of our communities due to job loss, severe illness, divorce, mandatory job relocation, and mortgage payment increase.
Foreclosure causes financial and emotional devastation with effects that can linger for years. Some homeowners may ‘shut down’ once they are unable to make their mortgage payment, feeling that foreclosure is eminent. They do not realize that a ‘pro-active’ approach is the best approach and that there are options to foreclosure. Our job, as professional Realtors, is to help homeowners explore available options and possibly guide them through the process that can avoid foreclosure.
One option is a short sale which occurs when a negotiation is entered into with the homeowner’s mortgage company to accept less than the full balance of the loan at closing. A buyer closes on the property and the property is ‘sold short.’ In the past it was rare that a bank or lender would accept a short sale. However, due to market changes, lenders have become much more willing to negotiate when it comes to these transactions. There are government programs such as the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA0 and the HUD Preforeclosure Sale Program available to qualified homeowners.
A short sale can salvage a homeowner’s credit history and may not have the tax repercussions that result from a foreclosure. For example, a foreclosure will remain as a public record on a person’s credit history for 10 years or more. A short sale is not reported on a person’s credit history.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a financial hardship and default is reasonably foreseeable, there may be options available to them. Contact The Group, Inc. for information Over 100 of our Realtors have been trained in the short sale process and we have transaction coordinators on our staff who specialize in short sales and will work with the bank to assist with the process.
January 28, 2010
- I am a first-time home buyer and purchased a home before the Home Buyer Tax Credit extension. Should I have closed before November 30, 2009?
- I have rented out my present home for the last 2 years and now I want to buy a condo and move into it. Do I qualify for the Tax Credit?
- I just got married! My wife and I want to buy a home with the tax credit and I have owned a home for the last few years. Are we eligible?
- What if I buy a house with the tax credit then move in 2 years?
- Can I use the tax credit for the down payment?
These were just a few of the questions asked at a recent session on the Home Buyer Tax Credit extension held at The Group Inc. real estate offices on January 13. Like Cash for Clunkers for the auto industry, the extension of the Home Buyer Tax Credit extension is meant to encourage buyers to purchase a home sooner than later.
And it seems to be working. Originally, the tax credit extension ended on November 30, 2009 but the feds decided to extend it to April 30, 2010 which means that as long as you have a signed contract by April 30 and close by June 30, you are eligible for either the first-time home buyer credit of $8,000 or the long-time resident tax credit of $6500.
But there are restrictions and here are just a few:
- You have to have lived in your home at least 5 out of the last 8 years in order to qualify for the long-time resident tax credit and the house you buy must become your personal residence.
- If you buy a home with your new spouse, the two of you must meet the qualifications of a long-time resident by living in the same house if the both of you are looking to qualify as long-time residents.
- You can keep your present home as an investment if you want.
- In a few cases and possibly a higher interest rate, the buyer might be able use the money as part of a down payment.
- Members of the military serving overseas get an extra year.
- The buyer can’t buy the home of a relative.
- Plan on owning the property for at least 3 years.
- There are maximum income levels and minimum sales prices.
- Ask your Realtor how to claim your credit and what forms you will need.
Congress passed the tax credits in an effort to boost the struggling housing industry and fight recession. Indications are that it’s had an impact. The National Association of Realtors reported that November sales of existing homes were up 44 percent from a year earlier. Although new home sales dropped in November, figures from the Commerce Department show that they’re up 8 percent from the low in January 2009.
As a real estate agent, I’ve been spending much of my time fielding calls from clients asking if they are eligible and asking for advice as to their next step. Each situation is different and my answers need to be about each client’s financial state, the local market and the client’s potential price range. We also have to consider the stress and time and effort it takes to buy a house and meet a looming deadline.
Since the long-time resident tax credit can also be used to downsize, it can work for someone living in a home that no longer meets the needs of a smaller household. Sell your family home and buy a patio home or a condo. But I think the majority buyers using the tax credit will be the first-time home buyer who can use the money to make some changes to their new home or they can just tuck it away just like a bonus but without the tax ramifications.
So bottom line: with less than 5% interest rate (for buyers with great credit), some fantastic inventory, motivated sellers (though not all!!!), and free money, we haven’t seen such a good buyers market in awhile. However, with reasonable prices for homes that are in popular locations and well-maintained, we are seeing multiple offers again.
I called clients about two homes that I saw on a Realtor tour before it even hit our local MLS, but both were under contract before the end of the day. So, no matter what you hear in the national media about the state of real estate, everything really is local. Not just the northern Colorado market, but neighborhood by neighborhood, the sales are widely different.
A couple of caveats here. Changes in the lending market are forcing contract deadlines to go from 30 days to close to 45 days to close and with FHA loans it can be up to 60 days to close. If you’ve been ruminating about a possible sale or purchase, call your Realtor, pay attention to your neighborhood, drive around the neighborhood you would like to live in, go to Open Houses, look on the Internet, talk to a lender; do your homework. But check this market out. And time is truly of the essence.
November 23, 2009
Stu Hoime, Venture Manager for The Group Guaranteed Mortage, submitted the following report for the week:
National average rate for the week ending November 20th:
30 year fixed: 4.83%
15 year fixed: 4.32%
A highly anticipated speech on Monday by Fed Chief Bernanke on the economic outlook revealed no change in the Fed’s stance on short-term monetary policy. There were also few surprises in the economic data released during the week. The monthly inflation readings continued to show that inflation is not a cause for concern in the short-term. As a result, mortgage rates barely moved during the week, remaining at historically low levels.
The decline in the value of the dollar has received a great deal of attention lately. While Fed officials rarely discuss the value of the dollar, Bernanke assured investors that the Fed is closely watching exchange rates. However, he then reminded investors that the Fed’s dual mandate is to promote full employment and to keep prices stable. According to Bernanke, the value of the dollar is just one of many factors affecting inflation, and the Fed is not concerned by the movement in the dollar so far. With a fragile economy and high a unemployment rate, he suggested that the Fed intends to keep the fed funds rate at very low levels. Tightening monetary policy to strengthen the dollar would hurt the economic recovery and slow job creation. After the speech, the value of the dollar fell to the lowest level since August 2008.
If foreign investors expect the value of the dollar to continue to fall, it may pose a risk for mortgage rates in the future. Foreign investors historically have been major buyers of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). When the dollar falls, the value of US assets to foreign investors in their own currency declines, making US investments less rewarding. With the Fed scaling back its MBS purchases over the next few months, a drop in foreign demand would further pressure yields higher to fill the void left by the Fed.
A wide range of economic data will be released during the holiday-shortened week ahead. Existing Home Sales will come out on Monday. GDP, Consumer Confidence, and the ! FOMC Minutes from the November 4th Fed meeting will be released on Tuesday. Durable Orders, Personal Income, Core PCE inflation, New Home Sales, and Consumer Sentiment will all be packed in on Wednesday. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Mortgage markets will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving.Copyright @ 2009 MBSQuoteline
The Group Guaranteed Mortgage
Together with Bank of America
2803 East Harmony Road
Fort Collins, CO. 80528
November 13, 2009
A recent article written by Inman News had the following information:
“The top seven sites on the list were unchanged from September, with No. 1 Realtor.com growing its U.S. market share of online visits to real estate-related sites from 6.86 percent in September to 7.1 percent in October.”
The research was done by Hitwise who monitors and analyzes thousands of websites on the Internet.
The Group, Inc. has enhanced all of our listings on Realtor.com. The extra investment we have made allows us to provide more photos and information about our listings with an easy way for the customer to get in touch with our listing Realtors. Based on the number of potential buyers who look at Realtor.com every month, this is an important feature for our customers.
September 25, 2009
Forbes.com’s latest ranking of the best states for business ranks Colorado at No. 4, up from No. 6 last year. Virginia topped the list, followed by Washington and Utah.
The annual rankings are based on six factors: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.
Forbes rates Colorado No. 1 in the nation on labor supply, based on educational attainment, net migration and projected population growth; No. 2 on prospects for growth; and No. 5 on economic climate, which includes unemployment and presence of big companies as well as gross state product, job and income growth. The state’s regulatory environment places No. 17 on the list and quality of life comes in at No. 15.
Business costs, including labor, energy and taxes, were the only areas where Colorado ranked below the median at No. 33 — and were also the most heavily weighted of the criteria.
“Colorado is honored to be recognized by Forbes.com as the fourth best state to do business,” said Gov. Bill Ritter Thursday in a prepared statement. “We have one of the nation’s most highly skilled workforces and tremendous job growth opportunities. There’s no question Colorado will emerge from this downturn quicker, stronger and healthier.”
The top 10 states for business this year, according to Forbes.com: Virginia, Washington, Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, North Dakota, Texas, Nebraska and Oregon.
Rhode Island, which finished last for its regulatory environment, brought up the rear at No. 50 on the list. Michigan was No. 49, Wisconsin No. 48, Vermont No. 47, West Virginia No. 46 and New Jersey No. 45.
Earlier this year, Forbes ranked Fort Collins as the second-best metro for business and careers, right after Raleigh, N.C., and right ahead of Durham, N.C. Colorado Springs came in No. 10 on that list.
September 15, 2009
Group Realtors completed the coursework necessary to earn the Certified Negotiation Expert designation. The 12 hour course, developed by Tom Hayman, was taught by Oliver Frascona at The Group’s Harmony Office in September.
The Certified Negotiation Expert designation was designed to give Realtors the knowledge, training and ability needed to become an expert negotiator – a vital skill required for real estate transactions.Better results can be derived for the customer when collaborative approaches are used to help identify and create value for all parties.The CNE designation training course was ranked in the Top 5 New training courses in the 2008 Swanepoel Trends Report.
There are currently only 3,000 Realtors in the country who have earned the CNE designation. Group Realtors who have completed the course are:
Leigh Ann Peters
August 31, 2009
Job Loss Protection Gives Homebuyers Confidence!
The Group, Inc. Real Estate, has announced today it is offering the Job Loss Protection program (*), a part of the HELP Program (Homeowner Education and Loan Protection) administered by the Rainy Day Foundation.
The Job Loss Protection program assists buyers who purchase a home listed by The Group in the event of an involuntary job loss within the first 24 months of the loan.The home must be covered by the program.The program covers mortgage payments up to $1,800 per month for up to 6 months.
Chuck McNeal, Chairman of The Group, Inc. said, “Job Loss Protection is an important and timely service that gives sellers a way to differentiate their property and gives buyers the confidence to purchase.The Group, Inc. is proud to be the first company in Northern Colorado and only the second in the state to offer Job Loss Protection. This simple program will be the difference many customers are looking for to proceed with their real estate plans.”
Realtors at The Group have been certified by Creative Alliances, the Administrator of the program, to offer this program.The program is offered at no cost to the buyer.If a seller elects to participate in the program, the cost is paid by the seller at closing.
The Group, Inc. real estate is independently owned by its Realtors, managers and staff.It has been the market leader in Northern Colorado since 1976 and has six offices in Fort Collins, Greeley, and Loveland.
(*) The HELP Program including the Job Loss Protection is made available by the seller’s enrollment in the Creative Alliances SAvE Program.The Sellers Advantage via Exposure is an optional multifaceted program which includes the HELP Program.
August 13, 2009
The Northern Colorado Business Report published good news about Greeley:
Greeley is among eight affordable cities for relocating retirees profiled in the September/October 2009 issue of Where to Retire magazine.
The other cities featured are Chattanooga, Tenn.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Spokane, Wash.; Lancaster, Pa.; Salem, Ore. and Chico, Calif.
According to Where to Retire editor Mary Lu Abbott, it’s a prime time for retirees to find affordable places to relocate, as an excess inventory of homes provides great values at low cost. As the housing market recovers, much of the buyer traffic will be active adults looking toward retirement. The cities that offer the opportunity for a well-rounded lifestyle coupled with great home buys should see increased interest from relocating retirees.
Abbott outlined some of Greeley’s attractions in a release announcing the selections.
“Greeley has nearby Rocky Mountain National Park for scenic adventures, an expansive parks and recreation system that includes the Senior Activities Center for planned outings and social events and a nationally recognized medical center,” she said.
Each year, 700,000 Americans move to new towns to retire. Generally healthier, better educated and more affluent than retirees who stay put, relocating retirees bring significant economic benefits to their new states and hometowns, according to Abbott.