Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The streets in Washington, D.C. run three ways: east-west, north-south, and diagonally. East-west streets are designated alphabetically; north-south streets are designated numerically; diagonal streets have state names. The alphabetical designations of the streets running east-west begin on each side of East Capitol Street and the Mall. The first street on each is A, the next is B, the third is C; on thru Y; with no J, X or Z Streets and I shown by Eye. Once the letters of the alphabet are exhausted, the streets have two-syllable names, then three syllable names, and then names of trees and flowers. Sometimes hits system is referred to as the first, second, third and fourth alphabets. The numerical designations of the streets running north-south begin on each side of North and South Capitol Streets. The first street on each side is First Street, the next is Second Street, and so on. North, South and East Capitol Streets and the Mall divide Washington, D.C. into four sections: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. The streets are identified by the section of the city in which they are location. For example: C Street NW, C Street NE, C Street SW and C Street SE.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mortgage Rates are Rising

(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Mortgage rates moved higher for the third week in a row, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac.
The 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.59 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was up from 3.51 percent last week but down from 3.78 percent a year ago. Until last week, the 30-year fixed rate had remained below 3.5 percent for more than a month.
The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 2.77 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 2.69 percent a week ago and 3.04 percent a year ago. Despite the increase, the 15-year fixed rate has not been above 3 percent in nearly a year.
Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages held steady. The five-year ARM edged up to 2.63 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.62 percent a week ago. The one-year ARM remained the same as a week ago at 2.55 percent with an average 0.4 point.
“While [higher rates] may slow some of the refinance momentum, rates are nonetheless low and home-buyer affordability high, which should further aid home sales and construction in coming weeks,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “For instance, in April, single family housing permits rose to the strongest pace since May 2008 while existing home sales for the same month grew the most since November 2009. Moreover, the National Association of Realtors reported that the median number of days on the market for these sales fell from 62 to 46 days, the fewest since it began collecting the data in May 2011.”
Rising interest rates are causing mortgage applications to dwindle, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, declined 9.8 percent from the previous week. The Refinance Index dropped 12 percent, while the Purchase Index fell 3 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 74 percent of total applications.
“Mortgage rates increased to their highest level since March last week, leading to the largest single week drop in refinance applications this year,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement. “The refinance index has fallen almost 19 percent over the past two weeks and is back to its lowest level since late March. Purchase activity declined over the week but is still running about 10 percent above last year’s pace at this time.”

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Interesting NY Times article

Today’s Dream House May Not Be Tomorrow’s

Leslie Herman
HOUSES are just buildings, but homes are often beautiful dreams. Unfortunately, as millions of people have learned in the housing crisis, those dreams don’t always comport with reality.

The Housing Haze

Last of three columns.
Economic and demographic changes may severely impair the value of a home when it’s time to sell, a decade or more in the future. Will a particular home still be fashionable then? Will social and economic shifts tilt demand toward new designs and types of communities —even toward renting rather than an outright purchase? Any of these factors could affect home prices substantially.
An ever-changing economy requires constant geographical repositioning. In the 19th century, for example, housing was often built near factories and warehouses, with apartments or houses containing numerous small rooms intended to accommodate many people per structure. In those days, before air-conditioning, these buildings often had large porches for access to cooling breezes.
Early in the 20th century, many houses were built around streetcar routes. Then, when the Interstate Highway System started in the 1950s, suburbs bloomed along the path of superhighways. With cheaper cars and relatively cheap gasoline (despite spikes in the 1970s and after 2005), housing developments became more dispersed. A culture that prized privacy and individuality left many neighborhoods without sidewalks or nearby community gathering places. Houses were cheaper to build this way, and they grew larger.
In the last century, shifts like these helped explain why inflation-corrected prices for existing homes typically changed by plus or minus 15 percent in a decade, even without national bubbles.
Further changes are inevitable, but hard to predict. For example, governments may now be reluctant to spend much on infrastructure like new highways or high-speed rail. But what will happen in 10 years — and what are the possible effects for the housing market?
We live in what’s been called an ideas economy, with a shrinking industrial base and a greater premium on knowledge and personal connections, which make social, educational and business networking ever more important. New social media haven’t reduced the importance of geographical neighborhoods.
In his 2009 book, “The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity,” Richard Florida argues that the modern economy requires a different layout: “The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions,” he writes. That outcome would certainly affect prices of existing homes. It seems a plausible direction for housing development, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.
AT the moment, walkable urban areas — pleasant places where people can stroll to work and to restaurants — are becoming more popular. Last year, a Brookings Institution study of the Washington area by Christopher B. Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo concluded that such neighborhoods, where creative people cluster, show the highest property values. Far-flung suburbs are losing value relative to cities and close-in suburbs that offer such walkable areas. And these denser places seem to fit in better with more environmentally conscious values, too.
Attitudes toward renting have also been changing. A MacArthur Foundation survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates in February and March, asked Americans if they thought that, “given our nation’s current situation,” buying a home had become more or less appealing. Fifty-seven percent said it had become less so, with only 27 percent saying it had become more appealing. When asked if they agreed with the statement, “For the most part, renters can be just as successful as owners at achieving the American dream,” some 61 percent agreed; 28 percent did not.
Perhaps that trend will continue. Renting, which connotes mobility, might come to be identified with a high-status lifestyle in the new economy. If renting does become more important, owners of existing housing will be affected unevenly. A 2011 study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded that conversion from ownership to rental properties has often been difficult: It has been more common for some townhouses and other “attached” homes that are relatively small and old and located in central cities. Much of the owner-occupied housing stock of today doesn’t fit that bill.
There is another problem. It’s not just that many houses today don’t convert easily to rental property. In addition, they haven’t been designed to foster their use as components of continuing-care retirement communities. Yet, as baby boomers retire, the demand for such places will probably grow at the expense of conventional housing.
In the wake of the housing crisis, and amid shifting demographics, it’s plausible that a broad change in thinking is ahead, reducing demand for large suburban homes. After all, the national psyche has absorbed the tribulations of the millions of people who have been living in homes worth less than their mortgages, struggling to make payments and yet unable to sell. Smaller living quarters may become more socially acceptable.
This future for housing is possible, but we don’t really know. The housing haze is very thick, and, as I’ve said in other columns, so many things affect home prices that it is hard to foresee prices for a particular home years from now.
Forecasting is indeed risky, because of factors like construction productivity, inflation, and the growth and bursting of speculative bubbles in both home prices and long-term interest rates. The outlook is so ambiguous that there is no single answer to the question of housing’s potential as a long-term investment.
If you want to settle down for a quiet life and watch your children grow up in a nice neighborhood, you might well act now to lock in an ultralow mortgage rate. Then again, if you’re restless, ambitious and determined to be mobile, it might be sensible to rent rather than own. Calculating the best economic return may not even be possible, given the uncertain investment potential.
Instead, it may be wisest to choose the housing that best meets your personal needs, among the choices you can afford.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Buying is Cheaper Than Renting in DC!

·         March 21, 2013

Despite rising home prices, it is still cheaper to buy than to rent in DC (along with the 100 largest metros in the country), according to a report published today by Trulia.
In the DC area, buying is 41 percent cheaper than renting, while in the country as a whole, buying is 44 percent cheaper than renting. Last year, according to Trulia, buying was 46 percent cheaper than renting. But this advantage could close up next year, Trulia predicts: with prices rising faster than rents and mortgage rates moving up, the gap should narrow sharply by next year.
“Mortgage rates are likely to rise in the next year as the economy improves, even though they fell in the past year,” said Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko. “The consensus among macroeconomic forecasters is for 10-year Treasury bonds –which 30-year fixed-rate mortgages track pretty closely – to rise 6 or 7 tenths of a point over the next year. This translates roughly into a 7-9% higher monthly payment for a given mortgage.”
To determine their numbers, Trulia’s team compared the average rent and for-sale prices of an identical set of properties in each city. They considered the monthly costs associated with buying and renting and factored in one-time costs like downpayments and security deposits.
Trulia assumed that owners will have a 3.5 percent mortgage rate on a 30-year mortgage and will stay in their homes for seven years. However, they also created an interactive map to see how the numbers work with different assumptions. For example, if someone in the DC-area has 4.5 percent interest rate on their mortgage and plans on staying in their home for five years, buying is 26 percent cheaper than renting. With plans to move after three years, the advantage drops to five percent.
Trulia also sent us some DC-area specific stats, breaking down the region into the city proper and the surrounding counties. Check out the data below.

Note from Trulia: Negative numbers indicate that buying costs less than renting.

March 27th Newsletter

Hi, Nancy. Here are your Articles for March 27, 2013.


Cheryl Kurss
(202) 895-7261

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Just In! Household Wealth Way Up- Sales Up and What's Yours Worth?

(updated 3/22/13) Home Sales in Feb. Hit New High. Seven years after the housing market collapse, rising home prices and lower inventories are providing new opportunities for would-be  home sellers.  Household wealth in the last quarter was up $1.17 trillion, mostly supported by rising home values. Get the facts and then get some advice on what you home's value may be at the Full Article link right below here


New FHA Rules Alter Past Assumptions

New mortgage rules going into effect aim to protect the mortgage giant yet end a common assumption on mortgage insurance premiums paid by homeowners. Click Full Article for more details and the impact on new loans.


Energy Trends In The Home: New Report Covers Huge Increase In Solar

In our ongoing series on solar energy in the home we have some good news. It's official: for the third year in a row, solar power is the fastest growing energy source in America. Released this week, the Solar Energy Industry Association report indicates that the U.S. solar market grew by 76% in 2012. Get more news at the Full Article Link.


8 Myths About Reverse Mortgages - Share This Valuable Article
In the last 20 years, reverse mortgages have gone from an emergency funding source to a useful financial tool that homeowners are warming up to. But, as many agree, the process can be controversial because of the misconceptions of how they work. Click Full Article and get the 8 Myths demystified! Great Article to share with the one click SHARE THIS link.


Let's Get Local And Check Out The Neighborhood

Use the Neighborhood Widget to get all sorts of facts about your or any neighborhood including schools, income levels and many other criteria. It all starts by clicking the
Full Article link.


When Your Stock is Worth . . . Nothing
You may own shares of stock that are worthless - or close to it. Can you at least get a decent tax deduction? What about deducting a loss for stock in companies that lost most of their value because of accounting scandals? Here is an explanation of the basic capital loss rules to help you find out what you can claim on your tax return.



Better Rules for Living Trusts
In the event your bank or credit union goes out of business, federal government agencies provide insurance up to certain amounts so you don't lose your savings. But the protection is limited to some accounts and not all financial institutions are covered. Click "Full Article for a rundown of the rules, including an provision involving depositors of living trusts, a popular estate planning vehicle.


If your property is currently listed for sale with a real estate broker, this is not intended to be a solicitation of the listing

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cheryl Says......

Cheryl has done her homework and here is an article from Bloomberg .....

Sales of existing homes will rise about 7.2 percent in 2013 to 4.98 million, the highest since 2007, based on the median estimates of 15 economists and housing analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Prices will gain 3.3 percent after an estimated 4.5 percent jump in 2012, according to the forecasters, who used varying measures of values.