$40 political survival proposal – updated.

Many of you have commented on my earlier blog regarding the proposed $40 dues increase to fund the Realtor Political Survival Campaign. As you recall, that will be voted on in May at our annual meeting in DC. Yesterday we had a 1 1/2 hour webinar with NAR leadership discussing why the additional funding was necessary. At that time the possibility of putting the Public Awareness campaign on haitus for a couple years and using those funds for political purposes was presented as a sort of plan B. According to NAR stats however, that public awareness campaign is a great success – although most of you would just as soon it went away.

Anyway, for those of you opposed to an additional $40 hit on your dues, it appears your voices have been heard, Now you just need to make sure your local association and your NAR Directors are aware of your feelings.

From NAR President Ron Phipps:

To:        Local Board and State Association Presidents

This letter constitutes the official notice required by Article II, Section 10 of the Bylaws of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® of a proposal to eliminate a previously approved membership assessment.

In May of 2010 the NAR Board of Directors approved an assessment of $35 per member for 2011-2013 to be used to continue the Public Awareness Campaign during those years.  The Finance Committee has now offered two alternative proposals regarding funding for the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.  One proposal eliminates the Public Awareness Campaign $35 Assessment for 2012 and 2013.  That proposal also increases NAR dues by $35 per year to fund the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.

The other proposal offered by the Finance Committee is being recommended by the NAR Executive Committee.  That proposal would increase NAR Dues by $40 per year to fund the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.  The Public Awareness Campaign $35 Assessment would remain in effect during 2012 and 2013.

Dues, membership assessments and amendments to membership assessments for the National Association are adopted by the Board of Directors of the National Association.  These issues will be coming before the Board of Directors at its meeting on May 14, 2011.

Sincerely,

Ron Phipps
2011 NAR President

What a Government Shutdown Means for REALTORS®

The current continuing resolution (CR) providing funding for government operations is set to expire on April 8, 2011. If legislation providing for funding is not signed into law to extend funding after April 8, the federal government could shut down. This means many, but not all, government programs, including some that impact federal housing and mortgage programs, could grind to a halt as early as April 9, 2011. While the true impact of a shutdown is unclear until it actually begins below is a synopsis of how federal housing programs will likely operate in the event of a shutdown. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires each agency to have contingency plans in place and reportedly has instructed agencies to not provide specific information on impacted operations.

Federal Housing Administration

FHA cannot offer endorsements for any new loans in the Single Family Program and cannot make commitments in the Multi-family Program in the event of a shutdown. FHA will maintain operational activities including paying claims and collecting premiums. Management & Marketing (M&M) Contractors managing the REO portfolio can continue to operate.

VA Loan Guaranty Program

Lenders may continue to process and guaranty mortgages through the Loan Guaranty program in the event of a government shutdown.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Should the federal government shut down, the IRS cannot process federal income tax returns or issue refunds (but it can deposit tax payments). Consumers who were expecting to use their tax returns as part of the down payment for a home purchase will temporarily not have access to these refunds.

Flood Insurance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confirmed that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will not be impacted by a government shutdown.

Rural Housing Programs

For the US Department of Agriculture programs, essential personnel working during a shutdown do not include field office staff who typically issue conditional commitments, loan note guarantees, and modification approvals. Thus, lender will not receive approvals during the shutdown. If the lender has already received a conditional commitment from the Rural Development office, then the lender may proceed to close those loans during the shutdown. A conditional commitment, which is good for 90 days, is given to a lender once a USDA Underwriter approves the loan. If a commitment was already issued, the funds were already set aside and the lender may close the loan at its leisure. If Rural Development has not issued a conditional commitment, the lender must wait until funding legislation is enacted before closing a loan.

Government Sponsored Enterprises

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue operating normally, as will their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Treasury

No official word as of yet, but the Making Home Affordable program, including HAMP and HAFA, may not be affected as the program is funded through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act which is mandatory spending not discretionary.

Background Information on Government Shutdown

HJ Res. 48 extends the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (Public Law 112-6) to April 8, 2011. If another continuing resolution (CR) or budget is not signed into law, the federal government could shut down on April 9, 2011. This requires the furlough of non-emergency personnel and the curtailment of federal agency activities. Federal contractors cannot be paid. Programs funded by annual appropriations are directly impacted though programs funded by laws other than appropriations (such as Social Security) may also be impacted. The last government shutdown occurred during fiscal year (FY) 1996 and lasted 21 days, from December 16, 1995 through January 6, 1996.

The Anti-Deficiency Act is the primary law preventing government activity when no budget or CR is enacted. The act, found in 31 U.S.C., prohibits:

  • Making or authorizing an expenditure from, or creating or authorizing an obligation under, any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law.
  • Involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated, unless otherwise allowed by law.
  • Accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.
  • Making obligations or expenditures in excess of an apportionment or reapportionment, or in excess of the amount permitted by agency regulations

Basically, the government may not make payments or commitments unless there is enough money in the bank. According to the US Office of Personnel Management, an agency must shut down activities not excepted by the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) when it no longer has the funds to operate. OPM recommends that agencies:

  1. communicate with employees and representatives about a potential shutdown;
  2. prepare draft furlough notices;
  3. determine which positions are excepted from the furlough according to OMB guidance.

Federal agencies have been required to complete contingency plans since 1980. OMB has three different bulletins that agencies may reference in the development of their shutdown plans. Plans must include, among other things, estimated time to complete a shutdown and the number of employees to be excepted. The President, Members of Congress, presidential appointees, certain legislative branch employees, and federal excepted employees are not subject to the furlough.

Sources

House Resolution 3082, “An Act making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes.”
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3082eas2/pdf/BILLS-111hr3082eas2.pdf

Antideficiency Act Background. US Government Accountability Office.
http://gao.gov/ada/antideficiency.htm

Guidance and Information on Furloughs. US Office of Personnel Management.
http://www.opm.gov/furlough/furlough.asp

NAR Pres. Elect Moe Veissi Talks Turkey at CAR Mid-Winter

Take-aways from our recent California Association of Realtors Mid-winter meetings.

From NAR President-elect Moe Veissi –

Six of the past eight recessions have ended due to increasing strength in the housing market. The other two were due to wars. That seems like an easy choice. We need to get behind housing. This battle against housing is counterproductive and the attack on the mortgage interest deduction is an attack on one of the basic foundations of the American Dream.

Similarly we should seek to preserve the basics of the GSE’s.They can certainly be improved upon but their services are vital to home buyers. They provide a foundation and critical financial instruments that allow many people to buy homes that otherwise would not be able to. Keep in mind that during the height of the meltdown, Fannie and Freddie had take-back rates of about 3 1/2% while at the same time banks like B of A and Wells were taking back 15% to 18%.

You hear people today who don’t know the history, who don’t know any better – oh, Canada doesn’t have a 30 year fixed mortgage and their housing market is great. Oh, Europe doesn’t have a Fannie/Freddie and their market is great. The fact is, their markets don’t compare with ours. Never have. Nobody does it like us. These other countries are trying to figure out how to do it like we do and we’re trying to figure out how to kill our system and adopt the systems others are trying to get rid of. So why would we try to emulate markets with which we have nothing in common? Why would we destroy 100 years of success to become more like an inferior market? It just doesn’t make sense.

These are not short term problems we are dealing with and they will keep rearing their heads. We have saddled ourselves with tremendous debt so attacks on basic and short term sources of tax revenue will be ongoing. Don’t believe them when they tell you – oh, we aren’t going to take it all away. Just this little bit. Yeah, just that little bit this time. Then  a little more, then a little more, you know how that works.

Realtors just don’t realize the power we have in our communities and our country. But we’ve got to stand up and be counted if we want to be heard. We need to present Congress with 1/2 million Realtor calls on issues instead of 100,000. When we can consistently deliver 1/2 million member voices or more to our Congressional leaders, they will know we mean business.

Another Mortgage Fraud Scammer Bites the dust.

DOWNEY MAN AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FRAUD THAT BILKED INVESTORS AND HOMEOWNERS

Juan Rangel Agrees to Serve 15-Year Sentence for Targeting Spanish-Speaking Victims and Stealing Their Savings and Titles to their Homes

LOS ANGELES – A Downey man has agreed to plead guilty to federal fraud and money laundering charges, admitting that he ran two fraudulent operations – a Ponzi scheme that took in $30 million from more than 300 victims and a mortgage fraud scheme that preyed on homeowners by stealing the equity from their homes and secretly taking title to their properties.

Juan Rangel, 46, who is currently in federal custody, signed a plea agreement that was filed late Friday in United States District Court. Rangel agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. In the plea agreement, federal prosecutors and Rangel ask the court to impose a sentence of 15 years in prison.

Rangel agreed to plead guilty to a mail fraud count related to the Ponzi scheme in which Rangel and his company, the Commerce-based Financial Plus Investments, recruited new investors through Spanish-language newspapers and magazines, as well as in radio advertisements and infomercials broadcast on television. Rangel and Financial Plus promised to pay investors guaranteed returns of 60 percent each year out of the profits from Financial Plus’ real estate investments and lending business. However, Rangel admitted in the plea agreement that Financial Plus did not make any actual profits from real estate or lending. Rangel instead used the victims’ money to make Ponzi payments to other investors and for his own personal use, including the monthly mortgage payments on his $3 million home and monthly payments for his Lamborghini sports car.

In the plea agreement, Rangel also admitted that he and others operated a mortgage fraud scheme that targeted Latino homeowners at risk of losing their homes by offering them help to avoid foreclosure. Rather than assisting the distressed homeowners, however, Rangel took titles to their homes and drained the remaining equity out of the properties.  As part of this scheme, Rangel arranged to sell the homeowners’ properties, usually without their knowledge, to third-party straw buyers. He then applied for loans in the straw buyers’ names related to these supposed purchases, and used a variety of falsified documents to ensure that the fraudulent loans were approved. Rangel admitted that the scheme caused mortgage lenders to fund more than $10 million in fraudulent loans.

Rangel is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon before United States District Judge S. James Otero. Once he pleads guilty, Rangel will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Although the parties will recommend a sentence of 15 years, Judge Otero will make the final determination as to the appropriate sentence in the case.

A federal grand jury indicted Rangel last month in the Financial Plus schemes. The indictment also charges Javier Juanchi, 42, of Sherman Oaks, a vice president at Financial Plus, and Pablo Araque, 40, of Downey, who owns the Downey-based tax preparation and bookkeeping company A-One Tax Pros. Juanchi and Araque were charged in relation to the mortgage fraud and are currently scheduled to go to trial before Judge Otero on November 23.

The case involving Financial Plus is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

CONTACT:        Assistant United States Attorney James A. Bowman

Major Frauds Section

NAR Creates New Email Address to Collect Data on the Experience of REALTORS® with Short Sales

To learn more about the difficulties that REALTORS® continue to face with shorts sales and the Home Affordable Foreclosure Avoidance Program (HAFA), NAR has created an online mailbox for members to report their experiences and provide specific examples of the problems they are facing with lenders. These e-mails will be collected and used by NAR in its ongoing discussions with lenders and the Treasury Department.

Please note, this mailbox is for data collection purposes only and not all submissions will receive a response. You may send an e-mail detailing your experiences to HAFA@realtors.org.

NAR’s Short Sale Web Page (including the new email address)

CAR Sponsors Eight Bills in 2010 Session

After a successful year spent playing defense against a variety of point-of-sale bills and several tax measures aimed at Realtors®, the California Association of Realtors® is going back on the offense this year with eight new bills we are sponsoring. A sponsored bill is one that we author and then find a legislative sponsor – either Senator or Assembly member – to carry the bill for us. The selection of an author is a critical process as some bills have greater appeal to Democrats, others have more appeal to Republicans, some appeal to both in equal measure and some have no appeal at all. It’s a fascinating process that I’ll explain to you sometime if you’re interested.

The eight bills we’ll be sponsoring this year include:

SB206 (Dutton) – REO Homebuyer Tax Credit. As introduced, SB206 would have created a program similar to the federal first time homebuyer program providing a tax credit up to $8,000 for the purchase of a principle residence. Due to the state’s fiscal crisis it was later determined modofied to limit the tax credit to purchases of REO properties. At our recent BOD meeting, the language was further modified to include supporting a recent proposal by the Governor for the purchase of new or existing homes IF a reliable source of funding is found. This means if the Governor sponsors a bill to address substantially the same issue, we will abandon SB206 and sign on to support the Governor’s efforts assuming anybody can find money to fund such a program.

Local Property Maintenance Ordinance – (No author yet). This legislation will pre-empt over-reaching local vacant property ordinances that may adversely affect the market and unfairly expose Realtors® and homeowners to liability. While many cities, including those in Southwest County, have adopted workable ordinances to address abandoned property maintenance and blight issues, other cities have determined these ordinances are excellent sources of revenue for their cash-flow and have levied substantial fines. In some cases, the level of the fine is in excess of the value of the property. This bill would supersede local ordinances.

Anti Deficiency Protection (Corbett) – This bill would extend the existing borrower protections against personal liability for a purchase money loan to either refi the property or for improvements that increase the value of the property. Current policy states that any refinance, even with no cash out just to reduce interest rates, automatically shifts the loan from non-recourse to recourse. This bill addresses that.

CID Unit Owner Right To Rent – In 2008 we sponsored AB2259 (Mullin) which would have allowed current property owners within an HOA to continue to use their rental rights until such time as they sold the property even if the HOA decided to restrict rentals. Approved almost unanimously in both houses, it was vetoed by the Governor. This bill would require a 2/3 approval in a CID for any amendment that would prohibit owners from renting or leasing their units.

Portable Appraisals (Correia) – Current law permits, but does not require, lenders to utilize an appraisal ordered by a different lender. This bill states that if an appraisal is ordered and prepared by one lender, a second lender would be required to accept the appraisal to support the mortgage.

Appraisal Management Company (AMC) Regulatory Oversight (Hall) – Driven by the HVCC, Appraisal Management Companies have grown
enormously in both scope and power over the past two years. In 2009 CAR supported SB237 (Calderon) which subjects AMC’s to review by the Office of Real Estate Appraisers (OREA). This bill clarifies and expands OREA’s oversight of these behemoths. Since we can’t seem to stop HVCC at the federal level, we are trying to at least establish some control and oversight at the state level. By the way, HVCC technically sunsets this year but nobody is betting that the process or the AMC’s will simply pack it in and go home.

DRE ‘Poison Pill’ Reserve Protections – During the 1990’s the Governor and Legislature raided Department of Real Estate funds to help balance the budget. CAR sponsored legislation stating that if the funds were taken it would trigger a rollback of license fees to 1982 levels. The bill passed. Years later the state again  raided the DRE money but stated that it was borrowed by the general fund so the rollback was not triggered. We again addressed the matter legislatively and closed that avenue of pilferage. In 2009 DRE coffers were again raided in a manner than again did not trigger a rollback as the funds were not stolen, not borrowed, but loaned not to the general fund but directly to another department, the DOJ. Back to the drawing board yet again.

Advance Fee Definition Clarification (Hayashi) – Last year we supported SB 94 (Calderon) to prohibit ‘cash up front’ loan modification contracts. However, the language that emerged in the final bill requires some clarification of the definition of advance fees for services such that it cannot be construed to include a listing agreement – which is technically a fee agreement for future services to be rendered.

The legislative deadline for identifying authors and obtaining bill numbers is February 15 so we will keep you apprised of developments and successes in our 2010 advocacy efforts as they occur. Stay tuned for RED ALERTS as we elicit your support to persuade legislators of the importance of these measures.

There are also hundreds of ‘bills of interest’ in the process of being introduced by others. At future meetings CAR will evaluate those bills and members will be asked to take a position.

For a complete (as of January 2010) summary of both CAR sponsored bills as well as a list of these others bills of interest, please go to:
http://www.car.org/governmentaffairs/

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Effective 2011 Political Investment No Longer Voluntary

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At our Mid-Winter Board of Directors meeting this past Saturday, the California Association of Realtors® overwhelmingly voted on a motion out of the Political Affairs Committee to begin assessing every Realtor® the amount of $49 effective in 2011 for the purpose of funding our political activities.

At the urging of the Government Affairs Director sub-forum, CAR adopted the concept during our October meetings, directing legal staff to determine the most efficient way to implement the policy. The determination, published as an Issues Briefing Paper prior to Januarys meeting, recommended a ‘political assessment opt-over approach’, which was ultimately the direction voted on by the BOD. The opt-over provision allows the member to determine whether the investment amount shall be directed toward the Realtor® Action Fund or ‘opted-over’ to an alternative account.

A bit of history. Since 2000 the CAR political action committees (PAC’s) have grown and shrunk based on membership numbers and the real estate market. In the 2001-2002 election cycle, the PAC’s were funded by $3.8 million of voluntary political contributions. By 2006-2007, the PAC’s funding had increased to $10.1 million. In the past three years those receipts have fallen to just $2.5 million for 2009. As our organization faces increasing challenges at the local, state and federal level, that amount is simply not enough to keep us as a serious player in the political arena.

In addition to our ongoing local and state efforts, we are facing three additional challenges in the coming years that may require significant expenditures.

First there is a proposal on the June 2010 ballot to allow open primaries. If approved by voters this will dramatically increase competitiveness in at least 32 state legislative races. With more competition, the more costly each race becomes and the greater the demands [placed on our PAC’s.

Second, the 2012 re-districting will radically alter the political landscape for Senate and Assembly Districts. That may place additional demands on our PAC’s when combined with the potential for open primaries.

There will also be increased demand in both the 2012 (Gubernatorial) and 2014 (Presidential) election cycles.

With over $19 million spent during the past year, NAR ranks as one of the top ten lobbying organization in the country and the #1 grassroots trade association lobby in Washington. Having achieved so much on behalf of our members and for our customers private property rights, we cannot abandon that position now. We’ve invested too much time and money to make it happen, we can’tsimply walk away from the opportunity we’ve created for ourselves.

In 2009 voluntary contributions to our Realtor Action Fund fell to just 19% of members from a peak of 35% in 2004. That means 81% of our members were freeloading and letting a few of us carry the weight. That’s right. 81% of our members could not see their way clear to investing $49 in their own political survival. $4 a month was too great a burden. That’s less than a #3 special at In-N-Out, one latte, 2 lines in the classifieds.

The program has been vetted legally to assure it complies with California laws on campaign contributions and is consistent with other state and federal laws. No doubt the will be some legal challenges from people who would rather spend thousands on attorney fees than $49 for their own political survival – but CAR is confident it will prevail – especially since CAR is not the first or the only trade association to implement this structure. Dentists, teachers and others have long enjoyed a fund-raising advantage since all members invest in their PAC. And we won’t even talk about the unions or the recent decision by the Supreme  Court allowing corporations to fund candidates from their general fund.

For those members with a religious or cultural aversion to political advocacy, you can direct your investment into an issues oriented fund that will not be used to directly support candidates.

This is a terrific move for CAR and one that has long been advocated as a way to equitably share the cost of our successful advocacy program across the membership rather than just saddling a few of us with the burden. It also means I won’t be hitting you up for a contribution every time I see you. That in itself should be worth $49 bucks.

There will be more information available on the CAR website soon and I’ll make sure that is posted for your review.


Realtors Can Help Haiti

The devastating effects of the earthquake that hit Haiti last week are overwhelming and painful to see.  As many as 200,000 people have died and another 1.5 million are homeless, not to mention the scores of children who are now orphaned.  If you haven’t already found a way to help, you can pool your donation with other REALTORS® through the REALTORS® Relief Foundation.  The money you donate will go to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and also help fellow REALTOR® and 2007 Good Neighbor Award winner Patrick Moore’s “The Harvest of Haiti” outreach program.  Please click here for more information and to donate: http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2010/01/donate_haiti.

Fannie Mae Reports ‘Recession Over’.

Fannie Mae economists report that the recession appears to be over – according to this latest release from Inman News.

The deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression appears to be over, Fannie Mae economists say, projecting sales of new and existing homes will jump 11 percent next year and that national home prices will stabilize, remaining essentially flat.

The mortgage guarantor’s monthly housing forecast projects 5.96 million home sales in 2010, with sales of existing homes growing by 10 percent, to 5.46 million. New-home sales are expected to rebound even more sharply in 2010, growing by 24 percent to 498,000.

“It appears that the economic recovery is here,” Fannie Mae economists Doug Duncan and Orawin Velz said in a report summarizing their economic and mortgage forecasts, although they expect it will be weak compared to previous recoveries from deep recessions.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 3.5 percent annualized pace in the third quarter, following five declines in the prior six quarters, they noted, but growth is likely to moderate in the final three months of the year before strengthening in late 2010.

The first-time homebuyer tax credit helped boost third-quarter home sales, which also led to a jump in real estate brokerage commissions, Duncan and Velz said in their report.

A 23.3 increase in the annualized rate of residential investment (home sales) in the third quarter was the largest in more than two decades, although it came from “extremely depressed” levels, the report said. Real residential investment was contributing to economic growth again, adding 0.5 percentage points to third-quarter GDP growth.

Housing Heals From The Bottom Up.

This is a re-blog of a post by Florida Realtor Allison Stewart on ActiveRain discussing research data made available at the NAR Conference.

The market always heals from the bottom up” according to Paul Bishop, National Association of Realtors Vice President of Research. According to the recently released sales numbers 47% of buyers this past year were first time home buyers.  Surpassing the previous high record of first time purchasers set back in 1991

“These buyers are critical to housing and a general economic recovery …they absorb inventory, free existing owners to make a trade and stimulate related goods and services ” said Bishop.  He compared this rise to the last recession in 1991, where the same dynamic played out “first time home buyers started the chain reaction that led the nation out of recession” he said.   Bishop credits tax incentives,record high affordability, and pent up buyer demand to this spike in recent sales.   Economists would also credit the FED with suppressing any immediate rise in interest rates affecting home mortgages while the economy is still so fragile.

BUYER PROFILES ARE ALSO DIFFERENT THAN ONE WOULD EXPECT

The median age of a first time home buyer is 30 indicating that some are younger and some are older. They are planning to live in their homes for at least ten years. The typical cost Nationwide was $156,000 down 7% from last years figure of $165,000. 87% of First time Home Buyers surveyed consider their home to be a good investment.”   Single Family homes sold a higher rate than other forms of housing.  In fact 78% of the home achieved were single family homes

HOW ARE BUYERS PAYING FOR HOMES? 96% Chose a fixed rate mortgage.  (55% used FHA compared to 8% Using VA Programs) 61% of First time buyers used their savings as a down payment. 22% received down payment assistance as a gift from family.      6% received loans for down payments from family 6% tapped into a 401 (k) program

WHAT IS OLD IS NEW AGAIN- SAVING MONEY FOR A DOWN PAYMENT ON A HOME

39% of home buyers have cut back on luxury items, 38% cut back on entertainment and 30% cut back spending on clothing according to the study.

And a staggering 80% of first time home buyers are using the Internet.

HOW HAVE RECENT CHANGES IN REAL ESTATE AFFECTED SALES?

13% Experienced a Purchase Agreement that was canceled, terminated or fell through “This raises the question of how many potential buyers were unsuccessful because of problems with appraisals or loan qualifications. The market would be stronger without these problems” Bishop added.

Only 8% of applicants were rejected for loans (a 92% success rate) 12% of applicants said that financing their first home was more difficult than they expected. 8% of all buyers paid cash.

85% of Successful Home Sellers used a Real Estate Professional. Sellers surveyed want agents to price their homes competitively, find a buyer, market the property and sell within a specific time frame.

THE TAX CREDIT  EXPANSION INTO 2010

The expansion of the tax incentive program will extend to homes placed under purchase agreements by April 30, 2010  and will include home buyers who have owned a home in the past 5 years.

Repeat Buyers  surveyed  had an average age of  48, earning $88,100 and plan to stay in the homes they purchased on average for 12 years.  These buyers typically bought more expensive housing. The median price on a National level was  $224,500

RECORD DECLINE IN FOR SALE BY OWNER PROPERTIES.

In the actual number of homes sold without representation was a record low according the most recent survey only 6%. Declining for the second year in row.

The most difficult tasks reported by owners attempting to sell homes themselves were,; preparing and fixing the home, understanding and performing the paperwork and selling within the planned length of time.

The overwhelming majority of successful sellers used a Real Estate Professional full service brokerage.

St. Cloud Florida  Real Estate Broker/Associate,

NAR Introduces New Tools – RPR & Houselogic

Special Report from the NAR Board of Directors Meeting, November 16, 2009
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The Board of Directors had its first look at a powerful new database that will be available exclusively to REALTORS® beginning in April. The REALTORS® Property Resource will contain rich data on more than 140 million properties; the interface is made possible through the integration of technology and data, according to RPR CEO Dale Ross. NAR is investing $20 million for a five-year build-out, which will cover licensing and development of the front-end and acquisition of data from LPS, which operates Cyberhomes, and other sources.

RPR President Marty Frame walked the board through the site’s features. Members will access the site using their NRDS number. They’ll be able to view each property’s characteristics and transaction history and add information based on their personal knowledge of the property. The system is expected to save members millions of dollars in data acquisition costs, and access to members will be free. NAR 2009 President Charles McMillan called the launch of RPR a “watershed moment.”

The board also was given a tour of NAR’s new consumer web site, HouseLogic, launched its beta version on Nov. 12, during the annual conference. HouseLogic was developed by NAR to help its members extend their relationship with consumers through the lifecycle of homeownership and to provide an opportunity for homeowners and REALTORS® to speak together to federal legislators on public policy issues of common interest.

The site is a comprehensive resource for homeowners of the information they need to protect, maintain and enhance the value of their home. The site also gives members free access to various content packages from the site that they can use in their own marketing efforts, at www.houselogic.com/members.
The directors also took a number of actions on committee recommendations:


Welcome to my family – by Vicki Cox Golder 2010 NAR Pres.

Welcome to my family, Posted by Vicki

In a couple of days, I will officially assume the role of 2010 President of the National Association of REALTORS®. When I do, each and every member of this organization will become part of my family.

What exactly does that mean? Well, ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that
my own family – including my sisters, my husband and my sons – was built on commitment, mutual respect and love. I have never asked my own family to give me anything that I wasn’t willing or able to give in return. Together, we have made it through some pretty challenging times.

The same is true for my REALTOR® family. As your president, I promise to give you the better part of my life in 2010 – to do everything possible to help you succeed in the business and move our organization forward. I ask that you do the same in return.

Like any family, we won’t always agree. BUT, we can disagree respectfully. I promise to listen to your perspectives and remain open to opposing points of view. And when a final decision is made, I ask that you support it and do everything you can to help us succeed.

I may not be the smartest, brightest, quickest, or most academic person who has ever led this organization, but I believe I am the most passionate about making sure you have the right tools to succeed and outperform the competition in ANY market.

As Franklin Roosevelt once said,” I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.”

I am lucky to have a very talented, energetic and intelligent team of leaders to help me in 2010. You have already “met” many of them on this blog. I encourage you all to continue to engage with us, through the President’s Report, and in person in the year ahead. We want to hear from you!

With your help, and working together as a family, I believe we will see the dawning of a new day for real estate in America and keep REALTORS® “On the Rise” in 2010 and beyond. – Vicki Cox Golder, 2010 NAR President

A Small Town Veterans Day Parade – Murrieta CA.

The City of Murrieta held their 2009 Veterans Day Parade and Groundbreaking for their Veterans Memorial today. It was a Chamber of Commerce day, hazy skies keeping the sun from blistering the thousands of people lining Washington Avenue while more than 80 parade entries honored our Veterans. Vintage cars carried vintage Veterans, dignitaries paid tribute, the La Mesa Warbirds swooped overhead, there were motorcycle veterans, submariners from the silent service, marching bands, color guards, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts by the troop.

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It was my privilege to be one of the parade announcers this year.

vet

Veterans marched, flew and rode by. Some in wheelchairs, some on crutches & canes, some with as regal bearing as when they marched into battle 65 years ago or more.

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Members of the US Submarine Veterans paraded a model of the USS Bonefish. (SS-582), the last conventionally powered submarine in the US Navy. Decommissioned in 1988, this model is 1/10 the size of the 219′ Bonefish, which carried a crew of 84.

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3 Bands and several marching groups sported color guards and precision flag movements.

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Among the marchers today, which included a 9′ cow (Chic Fil A), an 11′ Lake Monster known as Thunder, twirlers, karate kids and a Clydesdale named Diesel,  Realtors from Tarbell Realtors in Murrieta fielded a marching unit which included several veterans who are braving the housing wars today. Always good to see Realtors® in the mix on a day like today.

cad

Is it just me – or do veterans tend to drive vintage & classic automobiles a lot? The Model A Club brought their A game starting with A’s from 1928 and a pair from 1930. There were Jeeps from 1943 and 1951, a ’51 Dodge 3/4 ton M37, a 1959 black Caddie all chromed and finned just gleaming down the street. There was also a NASCAR tribute car, Emergency response vehicles, convertibles galore and they were all loaded with Veterans.

flag
From the parade, we trekked over to Town Square Park for the goundbreaking ceremony for the Murrieta Veterans Memorial. To reach the event you had to walk past or through the Field of Honor. Erected the past few days by the Murrieta Rotary Club, the Field is 1,200 American Flags across the city park.



memorial

Every flag was purchased by an individual in honor or memory of a veteran. The moneys are being used to install the granite wall that will become the Veterans Memorial.

bono-mack

Prior to the groundbreaking, a pantheon of local dignitaries, Mayors, Council members, and guests thanked our veterans for their service. Grand Marshall and WWII Marine Corp Veteran Harold Craig was introduced and over 2 dozen WWII veterans were with him. Among the speakers, Murrieta Council Member and veteran Rick Gibbs gave an eloquent tribute to veterans including many in his family for whom he flew flags in the Field of Honor. Congresswoman Mary Bono-Mack also praised the veterans telling the story of her father, also a veteran who died just last year, who returned to marry his sweetheart against long odds.

crowd

In this photo Mary Bono-Mack pays tribute to our armed forces as hundreds of veterans, dignitaries and townspeople gathered against the backdrop of 1,200 American Flags in the Field of Honor.

Overall not a bad day in our little corner of the world. Our hearts went out to the recent casualties at Ft. Hood, great respect was given to those who protect us today, and great tribute was paid to those who have taken up that duty in the past.

Our town is not as small as it used to be – but today the town turned out en mass to celebrate, to honor and to have a few hot dogs and rub elbows with the Mayor. It was almost a Groundhog Day kind of event and everything played out beautifully. The parade started on time, nothing broke down, the horses weren’t (that) messy and the speeches were blessedly short.

The flags waved softly in a cool breeze and all was right in Murrieta.

Hope your day was good too.

By the way, there’s a few more photos at: Murrieta Celebrates Veterans Day.

See you at NAR tomorrow.

Stop the RCWD Building Moratorium

In  a recent Community Forum for The Californian, Jack Hoagland, a Director with the Rancho California Water District, posted a piece entitled “What part of ‘water crisis’ escapes understanding?’ In his post, Hoagland details his proposal for Rancho Water to ‘temporarily stop issuing water supply letters (necessary in the approval process for new development) and to stop installing water meters.’

Translation: BUILDING MORATORIUM.

I’m not sure if Hoagland actually believes the specious arguments he puts forward or if the whole scheme is his attempt to shock the community into a response. As he summarizes, “We need action from our development community to pressure the Legislature to resolve the state water issues.”

Perhaps he believes his plan to hold the community hostage is what it will take. Perhaps he hasn’t been aware of, or participated in, the numerous efforts by local businesses (including developers), municipalities and Rancho Water District customers to effect comprehensive change with the legislature through numerous letter writing campaigns and personal visits.

Or perhaps he truly is that out of touch with the community he purports to serve. The ‘if we don’t build it, they won’t come’ philosophy went out of favor during Jerry Brown’s last term.

What we do not need is an attempt by Rancho Water or any other group to stifle legitimate development in this economic climate. While Hoagland alludes to ‘vacant malls and commercial centers’ and the high residential foreclosure rate, he doesn’t seem to grasp that these have already had a severe dampening effect on development. Considering that demand for new resources is at a virtual standstill due to the housing and commercial meltdown, this call for a moratorium accomplishes no positive purpose. It’s only apparent purpose is to heap insult onto an already severely injured party – namely the citizens, businesses, municipalities and ratepayers of RCWD.

Yet with our residential housing market carrying an active inventory of just over 1 month, the need for additional housing stock will become apparent before long. Similarly with the lack of funding mechanisms currently available for commercial development, only well conceived and funded projects are going forward, the rest are waiting until the current glut of available space is reduced. At a time when everybody from our President to our Governor to our city leaders understand the need to create job opportunities to return our economy to a more robust footing, Rancho Water is proposing to literally turn off the spigot on the cities efforts to attract new jobs to our region.  This is counter-productive at best, idiotically negligent at worst.

We are joined in our efforts by the Cities of Temecula and Murrieta, by our County Supervisor, the Southwest California Legislative Council, The Murrieta Temecula Group, the Building Industry Association and other business and advocacy groups throughout Southwest California.

If you agree that the last slap our community needs right now is a building moratorium, please join me at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on November 9th at the Rancho Water District board room at 42135 Winchester Ave in Temecula (Winchester West of Diaz). Hoagland claims he would like to ‘hear our ideas and views’. Let’s make sure he does – politely and concise.

In addition to our SRCAR email campaign, our partners at the Southwest California Legislative Council have also instituted a letter writing campaign which you can participate in by clicking below.

rcwd

Banks or the Crooks That Represent Them

It’s not unusual for me to field complaint calls from members – apparently they are labouring under the assumption that I 1) care and 2) can do something about it. (For the record I do and I try)

Most complaints have to do with one of two things – banks or the crooks that represent them. Sound familiar?

tellOne of the most prevalent complaints – and the subject of three calls today, have to do with the pre-quals/pre-approvals required by the banks before they’ll look at an offer. With many of your Buyers submitting multiple offers in hopes of landing one, this can be a very cumbersome and time consuming process in and of itself.

So the question is – is this really necessary? And the answer is – probably not…BUT.

vaultProbably not because it is my understanding that few banks actually require this as a matter of policy. So if you’re feeling brave and foolhardy you can call BS on the agent and ask to see that in writing from their lender or servicer. It’s supposed to be available. Of course doing this probably guarantees that your offer will never see the light of day but you’ll feel better in your heart. In some locales this may also constitute an MLS violation if they are mis-representing the reason for the request as a bank requirement. Yeah, you want to take that fight on.

beadsBut is there some legitimate reason for requesting a pre-qual from a 2nd source? You bet there is and we brought it on ourselves. How many of us with listings used to ask for a Buyer to be pre-qual’d with our lender of preference even back in the ‘good old days’? Why? Because too many deals were going sideways because fly-by-night agents using fly-by-night lenders w/fly-by-night escrows (often one & the same) were tying up properties with offers that couldn’t fund on a prayer even when First Franklin was handing out mortgages like Mardi Gras beads.

So is a bank likely to take their property off the market for 3+ weeks in this market just on your say-so? Not bloody likely. Truth be told they prefer cash these days anyway. And of course aside from the altruistic, lenders may have other reasons to want to contact your clients, not all nefarious.

It can be frustrating for you and your client but right now you’re not setting the rules of engagement, are you? The real estate industry in general isn’t setting the rules right now and that can be problematic. Let your Legislator know banks need to get back into the lending business, government needs to focus on the latest crisis du jour, and let Realtors® get back to the business of housing. Everything works better when there’s that balance.

Years from now, survivors will talk about the 00 decade as one hell of a ride. They’ll be telling stories about this to their grandchildren. And they’ll be right. Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

I’d love to hear from others that may have dealt with this issue successfully in their market. Or just tell me the problems that exist in your area. Like I care. Thanks.

Extend the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

  • Congress will soon debate if the home buyer tax credit should be extended beyond the currently scheduled expiration date of November 30th.
  • Conservative estimates of the number of first time homebuyers that took advantage of this program start at 350,000 and go up from there. Needless to say it was a lot of people and the impact on the market was substantial – to the point where the housing market is driving the economy back toward a sustainable recovery.
  • It is estimated that the tax credit extension will cost the government another $10 Billion if it’s extended for a full year. Compared to the $700 billion in TARP funds that went to Wall Street and the $787 billion economic stimulus bill passed earlier this year, $10 Billion seems pretty reasonable – especially when you consider that money went DIRECTLY TO CONSUMERS instead of to banks, insurance companies and other corporate entities.
  • Further, assuming the credit is extended, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, the resulting economic growth and job creation will automatically lead to a rise in federal tax revenue easily covering the cost of the credit.
  • This is where YOU, the Grassroots of our Association, are most powerful. If you haven’t received or responded to the earlier NAR Call-to-Action, please click the button. It will take less than 2 minutes of your time and if it lands you just one more first-time buyer during the next year, it will be the most profitable 2 minutes you’ve ever spent. Please click now.
  • cta

    NAR Treasurer Summarizes the Market In Song.

    Jim Helsel, our NAR 2009 Treasurer, just posted this solid summary of the real estate markets as we enter this final quarter of the year. He does a brief overview of both the residential and commercial markets and what’s being done to ‘fix it’. It’s not all doom and gloom but there are no simnple answers either. But I think we knew that. Click here for the full text. Enjoy.
    rac.

    “And the walls that won’t come down…we can decorate or find some way to get around…”
    Jimmy Buffett…From – “Off the Coast of Carolina”

    Well – another summer and now Labor Day has come and gone. I spent September 3rd (when I should have been writing this blog) at …yes… another Jimmy Buffet concert in the Washington, DC area. If you’ve read any my blogs you know I have an affliction for JB (all his good friends call him JB) but this time I found this one song to hit Realtors® in the today of reality.

    The last 18 months have been difficult for our residential members and now the second shoe has dropped squarely on our commercial practitioners.

    Realtor Confirmed to HUD Position.

    One
    of our own has been confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Housing at
    HUD. Always good to have somebody on board who actually knows what’s
    going on.

    On July 15, 2009, David H. Stevens, former President and Chief Operating Officer of the Long and Foster Companies, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). President Obama’s pick for the position, Mr. Stevens was strongly endorsed by NAR and will oversee HUD’s major housing programs and the FHA mortgage insurance fund. He will also administer important regulatory programs such as RESPA.

    Secretary Donovan said “David Stevens is an innovator in the housing industry and he is the right person to lead FHA as it continues to help hundreds of thousands of families finance their homes with lower rates and better terms. David’s knowledge in real estate, housing and the mortgage industry will help us overcome the current challenges we face, he will implement changes that protect FHA and will enhance its risk management capabilities to protect its future viability.”

    Federal Housing Administration
    US Department of Housing and Urban Development


    To see NAR President Charles McMillan’s statement on Stevens’ confirmation, please visit REALTOR.org: http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2009/07/stevens_confirmation?lid=ronav0022.

    Update on HVCC/Appraiser Problem – Relief May be in sight.

    Here an update on the POS Appraisal situation that’s been driving everybody crazy. Hang in there – somebody is listening and relief may be in sight.

    HR 3044 TO PLACE 18-MONTH MORATORIUM ON HVCC

    California Congressman Gary Miller has introduced H.R. 3044, which would place an 18-month moratorium on the recently imposed Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC).  The HVCC was worked out through an agreement between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the New York Attorney General’s Office (NYAG) in response to an investigation by the NYAG into Fannie and Freddie.

    The purpose of the HVCC was to try and insolate the appraisal process from undue influences.  The HVCC attempted to do this by placing tight controls and restrictions on the ordering of the appraiser, as well as purposes for communicating with the appraiser during the process.  However, the implementation of the HVCC, which came about by neither regulation nor Congressional statute, has resulted in appraisals that cost more, take longer to perform, and are inaccurate.  C.A.R. has heard from members throughout the state of similar difficulties with the HVCC and its negative impact on the California real estate transaction.  C.A.R. is supporting H.R. 3044, and is asking California’s Congressional Delegation to sign onto the bill as a cosponsor.

    More info:
    https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/guides/ssg/relatedsellinginfo/appcode/pdf/hvccfaqs.pdf