Property is always a good investment: Farook Mahmood, Founder President …

Dollar rises on better US economic growth

NEW YORK (AP) — Better-than-expected economic growth and strong home sales in the United States pushed the dollar higher against most major currencies Wednesday.

The euro fell to $1.2528 in late trading from $1.2564 late Tuesday.

The Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. That’s better than its initial estimate of 1.5 percent.

Separately, the Federal Reserve released the Beige Book, its report on business conditions around the country. It found that the economy expanded at a moderate pace in July and early August as consumer spending rose.

The National Association of Realtors said that its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped to 101.7 in July from 99.3 in June. That was the highest reading since April 2010.

The dollar rose to 78.70 Japanese yen from 78.53 yen, to 0.9587 Swiss franc from 0.9559 Swiss franc and to 98.86 Canadian cents from 98.81 Canadian cents.

The British pound rose to $1.5836 from $1.5822.

Real estate agents say Cape rental ordinance presents ‘access issue’

Members of the Cape Girardeau County Board of Realtors will return to Cape Girardeau’s city council meeting Tuesday night to make a second attempt at convincing the city to change a proposed rental licensing ordinance.

Ken Kiefer, chairman of the board’s governmental affairs committee, said the board supports an ordinance that would promote safety for tenants through inspections, but the way the ordinance is currently written could allow unauthorized property inspections and creates liability risks for real estate agents.

“We are not saying at all that safety is not an issue. This is an access issue,” Kiefer said.

Assistant city manager Kelly Green revised a section of the ordinance since Aug. 20, when the council heard the first reading and gave its approval. Board members appeared at that meeting with opinions from National Association of Realtors attorneys that were based on a prior draft of the ordinance. The association’s attorneys have since reviewed the version presented to the council and found that two issues the board raised had been addressed, but several others remained. Green’s changes since Aug. 20 were based on suggestions made by council member Mark Lanzotti.

Green said Friday that she was unsure if all the board’s concerns could be addressed by the changes made so far and. if that were the case, that the council could still make revisions before the ordinance’s final adoption.

Lanzotti suggested including language saying that all parties involved with a property should be notified of an ordinance violation.

The ordinance would require landlords to obtain annual licenses, with the cost of the license based on how many units they own, and mandates maintenance of properties. Some provisions for maintenance and cleanliness would be the responsibility of tenants. City staff worked with the Cape Area Landlord Association to write the ordinance.

The draft ordinance from Aug. 20, according to National Association of Realtors attorneys, addresses two issues raised by the board — what happens to occupants if a residential rental license is suspended or revoked and who must receive notice of a violation and will ultimately be held liable for any violations.

Other issues, according to the attorneys, include the lack of a process for contesting penalty fines, vagueness of certain maintenance standards are vague and the financial burden an ordinance would impose on rental property owners.

Kiefer said one of the board’s primary concerns is city inspectors could be granted the right that to enter rental housing without a property owner’s permission. He said the board thinks that the city may again be in the position to say the attorneys’ comments do not apply to the current draft, as was told to Kiefer and board president David Soto by city staff at the Aug. 20 meeting, but he said what the board is contesting in the ordinance hasn’t changed at all from the original draft.

“If a person is going to enter a property on an official matter, it doesn’t matter if they are a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian chief,” Kiefer said. “They don’t have permission unless the owner gives it to them.”

Kiefer said a property manager does not have the authority to let an inspector on a property unless one has an agreement with an owner that permission may be granted. He said the ordinance would allow a tenant to grant access.

“They are wanting property managers held just as responsible as an owner. With that, you’re going to have people getting out of the rental business,” Kiefer said. “There’s too much risk for property managers, and they aren’t going to put up with that.”

Two council members, Kathy Swan and Trent Summers, said at the Aug. 20 meeting that they were giving the ordinance conditional support based off the possibility that changes could be made as the ordinance made its way toward passage. The ordinance passed the first reading unanimously.

Council is set to hear the two final readings and vote on the ordinance at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Pending home sales rose in July

The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose to its highest level in more than two years.

A day after a report showed housing prices nationally posting an annual gain came news that the number of contracts on single-family homes, condos and co-ops increased 2.4 percent from the previous month. The index rose to 101.7 in July, up from 99.3 in June and 12.4 percent above July 2011 when it was 90.5.

The last time the index was this high was April 2010, which was shortly before the deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

“While the month-to-month movement has been uneven, more importantly we now have 15 consecutive months of year-over-year gains in contract activity,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

In the Washington region, the pending sales data was mixed. Alexandria was the only area to show an increase from June to July. According to RBIntel, there were 188 pending sales in Alexandria in July, up 2.17 percent from June.

Arlington showed one of the biggest drops in pending sales, down 21.15 percent from June, but up 10 percent from July 2011. Prince George’s County was down 11.37 percent from June. Montgomery County was down 14.02 percent. The District was down 12.55 percent.

Realtors cautiously optimistic about housing market recovery

More contracts to buy American homes received a John Hancock in July than at any time in the past two years, up 12.4 percent from this time last year, according to the National Association of Realtors, indicating the housing market may have hit bottom and recovery could be on the horizon.

Looking at contract signings data generally indicates where the housing market is going with a lag time of a month or two between signing and a done deal.

Some evidence of this positive nationwide trend can be seen in Calaveras County, according to area real estate agents who take the good news with a grain of salt.

“I would say optimistically countywide things are looking better,” said Leanne Smith, a real estate agent at Century 21 Tri-Dam Realty in Angels Camp. “Overall, we’re seeing a healthy increase in home sales. As for prices, I don’t feel comfortable saying we’re done. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Teri Slankard, owner of T. Slankard Real Estate in Dorrington, shares Smith’s cautious approach.

“I tell my sellers that we hit bottom in 2012,” she said. “I can’t pinpoint that actual day or month. We are now in a leveling period. Values are not going to go shooting up for six to eight years.”

“In every textbook every Realtor reads and studies, there are six-year cycles and 18-year rounds,” she continued. “There are six years of prices going up, then they hit a wall and prices drop for six years, then it levels out for six years, she said.”

Slankard emphasized she doesn’t have a “crystal ball,” and a volatile market could upset the apple cart.

“We’re definitely in transition right now,” Smith said. “Right now, it’s really interesting. Things are selling, but I would still say there are areas of our county that are still decreasing in value.”

Smith said on average the greater Valley Springs area was the hardest hit by the housing crisis and has yet to see home values rise, with some values continuing to decrease in value.

According to the Calaveras County Multiple Listing Service, since the first of the year, Copperopolis had 92 properties sell, ranging from about $25,000 all the way up to $1.1 million; Rancho Calaveras had 63 properties sell, ranging from about $39,000 to $247,000; Murphys had 50 properties sell, ranging from about $42,000 to $1.4 million, Angels Camp had 36 properties sell, ranging from about $60,000 to $575,000.

Good news has been hard to come by since the housing bubble burst about five years ago, and the market has a long way to go before making a meaningful recovery.

Some economists forecast that sales of previously occupied homes will rise 8 percent this year to about 4.6 million. That’s still well below the 5.5 million annual sales considered healthy.

One factor retarding home sales is low home inventories. In July, there were 2.4 million homes for sale, down 24 percent in the past year.

“We’re suffering low inventories in all areas of the county, and short sales are on the rise,” Slankard said. “It means a lot of people aren’t listing. This happens statewide this time of year. Sellers don’t want to put their house on the market unless they absolutely have to and most want to get more than fair market value.”

Another somewhat hidden factor affecting home values are reverse mortgages.

“There are a lot of reverse-mortgage homes on the market that are not considered bank owned, but are affecting the pricing,” Smith said.

In some cases, a homeowner got a reverse mortgage on their home when the value was very high. Since then, the value has dropped dramatically and Fannie Mae is now on the hook for that difference.

The presidential election can also greatly influence the housing market.

“Elections will affect buyers,” Slankard said. “Sometimes they hold off until they know who their leader is.”

Last year, many bank-owned homes were going for well below market value and in turn bringing the value of entire neighborhoods down. That’s no longer as common, Smith said.

“It really comes down to which bank it is, and whether it’s a government owned home,” she noted. “Bank-owned homes are holding a lot closer to list price. I’m not seeing a lot of dive bombing.”

That being said, in the third quarter of every year, banks tend to become motivated to get properties off their books before year’s end.

“Buyers can bargain maybe a little bit more if a property has been sitting a little bit longer this time of year,” Smith said.

“People are always looking for deals. We’re Americans. We love the deals,” Smith said. “For better properties, we’re getting multiple offers. Six months to a year ago, multiples weren’t as common.”

A year ago, multiple offers weren’t very common, unless the home had an incredible location and was unique, Smith said, but that’s beginning to change.

Many banks are no longer comfortable allowing properties to sit on the market for long periods, Smith said, and public and bulk auctions are becoming increasingly common. Many properties are only on the market for three months maximum before they get sold at public auction or grouped into a bulk auction that could contain 100 or more properties.

“If it gets to an auction where the public is involved, it could go for 20 percent below list price,” Smith said. “If it goes to a bulk auction, investors from all over the country buy up the homes.”

When analyzing Calaveras County, Smith said she’s pleased to see a steady flow of first-time home buyers making that first big purchase. A United States Department of Agriculture loan that requires as little as $500 down paired with interest rates below 4 percent creates a great environment for getting into a home.

In many cases, Calaveras County residents can look to the Bay Area housing market to see what will eventually happen here.

“Right now the Bay Area is experiencing low inventory,” Slankard said. “They are seeing multiple offers and prices have gone up. That has not happened here yet. It takes a while for what’s in the Bay Area to reach our county. When we came to a screeching halt, it didn’t trickle into Calaveras County for 12-to-18 months. So our recovery may be the same.”

Contracts to buy homes hits 2-year high in July

(AP) WASHINGTON – Americans signed the most contracts to buy homes in July than at any other point in the last two years, further evidence of a housing recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped 2.4 percent in July to 101.7. That’s higher than June’s reading of 99.3. It’s also the highest reading since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The index is 12.4 percent higher than July 2011. It bottomed at 75.88 in June 2010 after the tax credit expired.

Contract signings typically indicate where the housing market is headed. There’s generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.

The Realtors’ group said contract signings increased in July in all regions of the U.S. except for the West, which it said has a severe shortage of available homes for sale.

The increase is the latest sign that the home sales are finally rebounding five years after the housing bubble burst.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said completed sales of previously occupied homes jumped 10 percent in July compared with the same month last year. Sales of newly built homes were up 25 percent in that same 12-month period.

Builder confidence rose this month to its highest level in five years. And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 4 percent all year.

Home prices have also started to rise consistently, which could boost sales further in the months to come. The Standard Poor’s/Case Shiller index released Tuesday showed the first year-over-year increase in home prices since September 2010.

Still, the housing market has a long way to go to reach a full recovery. Some economists forecast that sales of previously occupied homes will rise 8 percent this year to about 4.6 million. That’s still well below the 5.5 million annual sales pace that is considered healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that inventories of homes are low.

Overall, there were 2.4 million homes for sale in July, down 24 percent in the past year. It would take about 6.4 months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace. That’s just above the six months’ inventory that typically exists in a healthy economy.

Florida Realtors honors award winners at convention

Florida Realtors recognized Todd Dantzler, 2000 president of the state Realtor association, as its 2012 Realtor of the Year. The award, one of several, was presented during Florida Realtors’ recent annual Convention Trade Expo at the Marriott World Center in Orlando.

Florida Realtors has presented both the Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for more than 50 years. Winners are honored as the greatest individual lifetime contributors to their local Realtor board, community, state association and the National Association of Realtors.

A local winner was Dale Peterson who was honored with the 2012 Achievement Award, which recognizes a Realtor who serves as manager, broker of record, or officer in his or her company. The award acknowledges the winner’s previous three years’ contributions to the community, local, state and national Realtor associations.

A member of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, Peterson is the current treasurer for his local association, while also serving on its Budget and Finance Committee.

At the state level, Peterson has long been a fixture at Florida Realtors, but increased his participation in recent years. Last year, he chaired the Property Management Council. He’s an active member of the Resort and Second Specialist Forum and the current District 9 Vice President. Nationally, he was an NAR director in 2010 and 2011, and also served on NAR’s Resort and Second Home Real Estate Committee.

Within the community, Peterson’s commitment to the local economy includes founding a local fishing fleet. He’s also a trustee of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, which he chaired in 2011.

 

This article was contributed to The Log by Florida Realtors.

 

 

Home Sales Agreements Hit A 2-Year High

A sold sign stands in front of a home in San Francisco. The National Association of Realtors' index of sales agreements was 12.4 percent higher last month than in July 2011.
Enlarge Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A sold sign stands in front of a home in San Francisco. The National Association of Realtors’ index of sales agreements was 12.4 percent higher last month than in July 2011.

A sold sign stands in front of a home in San Francisco. The National Association of Realtors' index of sales agreements was 12.4 percent higher last month than in July 2011.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A sold sign stands in front of a home in San Francisco. The National Association of Realtors’ index of sales agreements was 12.4 percent higher last month than in July 2011.

Americans signed the most contracts to buy homes in July than at any other point in the last two years, further evidence of a housing recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped 2.4 percent in July to 101.7. That’s higher than June’s reading of 99.3. It’s also the highest reading since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The index is 12.4 percent higher than July 2011. It bottomed at 75.88 in June 2010 after the tax credit expired.

Contract signings typically indicate where the housing market is headed. There’s generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.

The Realtors’ group said contract signings increased in July in all regions of the U.S. except for the West, which it said has a severe shortage of available homes for sale.

The increase is the latest sign that the home sales are finally rebounding five years after the housing bubble burst.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said completed sales of previously occupied homes jumped 10 percent in July compared with the same month last year. Sales of newly built homes were up 25 percent in that same 12-month period.

Builder confidence rose this month to its highest level in five years. And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 4 percent all year.

Home prices have also started to rise consistently, which could boost sales further in the months to come. The Standard Poor’s/Case Shiller index released Tuesday showed the first year-over-year increase in home prices since September 2010.

Still, the housing market has a long way to go to reach a full recovery. Some economists forecast that sales of previously occupied homes will rise 8 percent this year to about 4.6 million. That’s still well below the 5.5 million annual sales pace that is considered healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that inventories of homes are low.

Overall, there were 2.4 million homes for sale in July, down 24 percent in the past year. It would take about 6.4 months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace. That’s just above the six months’ inventory that typically exists in a healthy economy.

AP National News Calendar

Eds: Major scheduled events for September. Note that many events, especially court appearances, are subject to change at the last minute.

The following economic reports will be issued in Washington (all times EST):

SATURDAY, Sept. 1:

No events of note.

___

SUNDAY, SEPT. 2:

No events of note.

___

MONDAY, SEPT. 3:

President Barack Obama visits Louisiana.

U.S. stock and bond market is closed for Labor Day holiday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits Indonesia, China, East Timor, Brunei and Russia, through Sept. 9.

Washington — Congress on break until Sept. 10.

___

TUESDAY, SEPT. 4:

Washington — Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for August, 10 a.m.; Commerce Department releases construction spending for July, 10 a.m.

Detroit — Automakers release vehicle sales for August.

Campbell Soup Co. reports quarterly financial results.

President Barack Obama campaigns in Virginia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits China through Sept. 5.

Charlotte, N.C. — Democratic National Convention through Sept. 6.

___

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5:

Washington— Labor Department releases second-quarter productivity data, 8:30 a.m.

___

THURSDAY, SEPT. 6:

Washington— Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.; Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.; Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for August, 10 a.m.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Dili, Timor-Leste.

Frankfurt, Germany — European Central Bank’s governing council holds its monthly meeting to set interest rates for the eurozone.

Berin — Germany releases industrial orders figures for July.

___

FRIDAY, SEPT. 7:

Washington— Labor Department releases employment data for August, 8:30 a.m.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Brunei.

The Kroger Co. reports quarterly financial results.

Berlin — Germany releases industrial production figures and export and import data for July.

Vienna — German Chancellor Angela Merkel discusses the eurozone crisis with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and his deputy, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger.

___

SATURDAY, SEPT. 8:

President Barack Obama continues three-day campaign in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Florida.

Vladivostok, Russia — APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting through Sept. 9.

___

SUNDAY, SEPT. 9:

No events of note.

___

MONDAY, SEPT. 10:

Washington— Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for July, 3 p.m.

___

TUESDAY, SEPT. 11:

Washington— Commerce Department releases international trade data for July, 8:30 a.m.; Labor Department releases job openings and labor turnover survey for July, 10 a.m.

11th anniversary of 9/11.

___

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12:

Washington— Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for July, 10 a.m.; Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates.

___

THURSDAY, SEPT. 13:

Washington— Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.; Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for August, 8:30 a.m.; Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.; Treasury releases federal budget for August, 2 p.m.; Federal Reserve policymakers meet to set interest rates.

___

FRIDAY, SEPT. 14:

Washington — President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House.

Washington— Commerce Department releases retail sales data for August, 8:30 a.m.; Labor Department releases Consumer Price Index for August, 8:30 a.m.; Federal Reserve releases industrial production for August, 9:15 a.m.; Commerce Department releases business inventories for July, 10 a.m.

___

SATURDAY, SEPT. 15:

No events of note.

___

SUNDAY, SEPT. 16:

No events of note.

___

MONDAY, SEPT. 17:

Kennedy Space Center, Fla. — NASA space shuttle Endeavour flown out of Kennedy for retirement in California

___

TUESDAY, SEPT. 18:

Washington— Commerce Department releases current account trade deficit for the second quarter, 8:30 a.m.; National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for September, 10 a.m.

New York — U.N. General Assembly opens.

___

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19:

Washington— Commerce Department releases housing starts for August, 8:30 a.m.; National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for August, 10 a.m.

___

THURSDAY, SEPT. 20:

Washington— Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.; Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.; Conference Board releases leading indicators for August, 10 a.m.

Los Angeles — NASA space shuttle Endeavour arrives in California for retirement.

___

FRIDAY, SEPT. 21:

No events of note.

___

SATURDAY, SEPT. 22:

No events of note.

___

SUNDAY, SEPT. 23:

Los Angeles — 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

___

MONDAY, SEPT. 24:

No events of note.

___

TUESDAY, SEPT. 25:

Washington— Standard Poor’s releases SP/Case-Shiller index of home prices for July, 9 a.m.; The Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for September, 10 a.m.

___

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 26:

Washington— Commerce Department releases new home sales for August, 10 a.m.

___

THURSDAY, SEPT. 27:

Washington— Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.; Commerce Department releases durable goods for August, 8:30 a.m.; Commerce Department releases second-quarter gross domestic product, 8:30 a.m.; Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.; National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for August, 10 a.m.

___

FRIDAY, SEPT. 28:

Washington— Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for August, 8:30 a.m.

___

SATURDAY, SEPT. 29:

No events of note.

___

SUNDAY, SEPT. 30:

No events of note.

Home sales hit 2-year high. Is the housing market back?

Home sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped 2.4 percent in July, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The increase is the latest sign that the home sales are finally rebounding five years after the housing bubble burst.

By

Marcy Gordon, AP Business writer /
August 29, 2012

This photo taken last week shows an exterior view of house with a pending home sale sign in Palo Alto, Calif. The National Association of Realtors said Wendesday, July 29, 2012 that Americans signed more home sales contracts in July than at any other point in the last two years, further evidence of a housing recovery.

Paul Sakuma/AP/File



Enlarge

Washington

Americans signed the most contracts to buy homes in July than at any other point in the last two years, further evidence of a housing recovery.

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The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes jumped 2.4 percent in July to 101.7. That’s higher than June’s reading of 99.3. It’s also the highest reading since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The index is 12.4 percent higher than July 2011. It bottomed at 75.88 in June 2010 after the tax credit expired.

Contract signings typically indicate where the housing market is headed. There’s generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.

RELATED: Top 10 cities where house prices are rising

The Realtors’ group said contract signings increased in July in all regions of the U.S. except for the West, which it said has a severe shortage of available homes for sale.

The increase is the latest sign that the home sales are finally rebounding five years after the housing bubble burst.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said completed sales of previously occupied homes jumped 10 percent in July compared with the same month last year. Sales of newly built homes were up 25 percent in that same 12-month period.

Builder confidence rose this month to its highest level in five years. And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 4 percent all year.

Home prices have also started to rise consistently, which could boost sales further in the months to come. The Standard Poor’s/Case Shiller index released Tuesday showed the first year-over-year increase in home prices since September 2010.

Still, the housing market has a long way to go to reach a full recovery. Some economists forecast that sales of previously occupied homes will rise 8 percent this year to about 4.6 million. That’s still well below the 5.5 million annual sales pace that is considered healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that inventories of homes are low.

Overall, there were 2.4 million homes for sale in July, down 24 percent in the past year. It would take about 6.4 months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace. That’s just above the six months’ inventory that typically exists in a healthy economy.

RELATED: Top 10 cities where house prices are rising