Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whats in Store for Former Real Estate Boom Towns

Study Predicts What's in Store for Former Real Estate Boom Towns

In former home-building hot spots, the housing bust has created a new kind of declining city, different from the nation’s traditional rusting centers of industry that could languish for years.

Although the causes of the decline in these metropolitan areas are distinct from the loss of employment from shrinking manufacturing and industry in some of the nation’s old industrial powerhouses, these areas could experience fates similar to places such as Cleveland and Detroit, with neighborhoods experiencing high rates of vacancies for a very long time, according to a recently released study.

“Some neighborhoods are going to suffer tremendously or are never going to come back or come back very, very slowly,” said James R. Follain, senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and author of the study published by the Research Institute for Housing America, a division of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Potential candidates for long-term decline named by the study are the areas hit hardest by the drop in home prices in recent years. They include Las Vegas, Miami and several inland California metropolitan areas that grew rapidly during the boom, such as Stockton and Modesto.

A traditional city in decline is one that has suffered a sustained population drop, leaving behind empty houses, apartment buildings, offices and storefronts. Cleveland and Detroit, for instance, suffered from the erosion of manufacturing and the loss of residents, who left in search of jobs.Instead of eroding a particular industry, however, the housing bust left a glut of homes because of overbuilding and the foreclosure crisis. Follain argues that the future of these cities is threatened in similar ways to that of Rust Belt cities.

“Long-vacant neighborhoods are going to develop, and we can imagine what can happen,” he said, including potentially higher crime and lower property taxes.In California, some coastal cities are already seeing a housing market recovery. But inland areas that were built on optimistic assumptions of continued population growth and ever-climbing home values are facing a much more difficult recovery.

Celia Chen, a housing economist with Moody’s, predicts that a full recovery in parts of California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida won’t occur until 2030. “The housing boom elevated home prices in a number of areas far, far above what can be supported by the economic fundamentals, and so prices have fallen significantly, and they will remain below their previous peaks easily for a decade, or even two decades,” Chen said.Some experts contend that foreclosures, which have pierced neighborhoods of all income levels throughout the country, are quickly turning developments on the outskirts of metropolitan areas into the nation’s newest slums. Complicating any recovery for these beaten-down areas is the difficulty in predicting which neighborhoods will fare worst. That uncertainty could lead to increasing skepticism by buyers and lenders looking to make loans on homes in these areas.
“If you are looking at this from the perspective of a home buyer or a lender, it is one thing to say you are in a market where home prices may drop 10 percent or 20 percent,” said Michael Fratantoni, vice president of research and economics with the mortgage bankers group. “That is different from the idea that 80 percent to 90 percent of the value could evaporate. That changes the whole nature of the business.”
Still, the future of these regions remains a point of contention. Economist John Husing argues that the inland regions of California don’t have a long-term problem.“What has driven the Inland Empire economy is, for the last 30 years, simply the fact that the rest of Southern California is completely out of dirt,” Husing said. “Right now the price differential between coastal counties and inland counties is $100,000. People will ultimately respond to that.”The development of industrial facilities to handle cargo from Southern California’s ports will also continue inland because they require lots of space, said Husing, principal of Economics & Politics Inc. in Redlands. Such development, he said, will create jobs for workers who will need housing.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Buyers can learn from the Stock Market

Real estate and stocks aren't often compared to one another unless your speaking of a REIT (real estate investment trust) or a stock in a company that focuses on real estate. Most of the time however they are mutually exclusive of one another.

While my career is in Real Estate I've dabbled in more than my share of stocks and share a passion for investing in companies and trends in the stock market. I've made far more mistakes trying to be the next Warren Buffet than I'd care to share however but have learned often more during these set-backs than I have during times when I've been right.

The one thing that I've learned that I can relate to the real estate market for today's buyers is that you shouldn't try to "TIME THE MARKET PERFECTLY".

Timing the market perfectly is a gamble that is never mastered. Even if prices fall a bit more in your area, mortgage interest may rise later in the year offsetting the drop. If your in the market for a new home, now is the time to get off the side-lines and make what could amount to be one of the better investments of your life. If your thinking about investing in real estate and want to purchase a rental property, also a great time to do so.

Of course when making a bid, have some research done to determine what comparable homes have been selling for over the past three to 6 months. Then make a bid 10% below that average number and in some cases more if the area is extremely distressed with foreclosures.

In contrast however, if your area has a home thats been listed at a very strong price and your comps suggest that it is, multiple offers are not uncommon even in this market. Your agent can contact the listing agent to find out about additional offers and if this is the predicament you are in, keep your offer as competitive as you feel you can. This however does not mean to let emotion get the best of you during a bidding war as many homes will be available if this bid doesn't work out for you.

If you are hoping to buy a home soon, another rule of thumb is to keep any and all other big ticket purchases on hold until you have successfully found and closed on a home. Do not purchase a new car, take a new job, or pay any loans late. This could all adversely affect your approval when it comes to the ability to get a loan.

Hope these suggestions and thoughts on the market are useful to you! As you take the next steps towards your new home be sure to find a full time realtor that knows the business, can be counted on to look out for your best interests, and is reliable.

Please forward this and any of my past blogs to anyone that you feel may find this useful information and thanks again for taking the time to read my blog! Ben

Monday, January 17, 2011

Moving? Tips for a Successful Stress Free Move

Tips for a Successful Move

Packing your belongings and moving is often fraught with high emotions and involves a to-do list a mile long. So, it’s tempting to give only passing attention to hiring a mover and the related incidental costs.

That could be a mistake—for your wallet and your peace of mind. Moving can be quite expensive. A typical full-service interstate move costs about $4,300, while the same in-state move might cost about $2,500, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. And while the moving industry has many fine companies, it is notorious for fraud and dirty tactics by so-called rogue movers.

Here are 12 tips to make your move simple and avoid the hassle.

Choose a type of move: You have three basic choices: do-it-yourself, full service and a relatively new hybrid of the two. Going it alone is the cheapest alternative, costing the rental price of a truck, gasoline, packing materials and, perhaps, pizza and beer for friends you rope into helping. With full-service moves, moving within a state is charged by the hour, while moving across state lines is charged by weight and mileage.

With a hybrid move, a mover will drop off a large container at your home for you to pack. The mover will then load the container onto a truck, drive the belongings to your new location and drop off the container for you to unload. Because you’re doing the manual labor of packing and unpacking, it’s far less costly than a full-service move.

Hire a quality mover: If you hire help, get at least three price quotes and do your homework before selecting a mover. Seek recommendations by talking with family and friends, even your Facebook circle. Investigate a company’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau (, and possibly the paid-membership site Angie’s List ( Check a company’s complaint history at the federal government site,

“People think a good reputation equals expensive, but that’s not true,” said Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving in Los Angeles. “You don’t get a good reputation by overcharging people.”

Look for two things when hiring a moving company: A full-service mover should visit your home in person, not give a quote over the phone or online, and should provide a written estimate, experts say.

Declutter: No matter what type of move you’re making, taking less stuff is cheaper and less hassle. Set up a staging area, perhaps in a garage, with various piles, such as throw out, recycle, donate and sell.For many items, use the rule of thumb, ‘If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it.’Be flexible: Like airline fares, moving rates depend on when you book.

The busiest time for movers, and thus the most expensive time for consumers, is summer weekends near the 15th and 30th of the month.If you have time flexibility, ask what rates would be for different days or seasons. If you have extreme flexibility, ask about moving standby: waiting until the mover has extra space and needs to fill a truck.

Save on boxes: Buying new boxes from a moving company is the most expensive choice. To save some money on packing materials, ask if you can buy used boxes from your moving company.Cheaper yet is finding free boxes, ideally from somebody who just moved.

Ask your real estate agent to connect you with other clients who recently moved or look on Specialty boxes, such as wardrobe boxes, might be cheaper to purchase at a do-it-yourself moving store, such as U-Haul, than from your mover.

Save on packing materials: If you’re packing your belongings yourself, fill suitcases, laundry baskets and plastic containers with unbreakable items. Use pillows, scarves and towels to wrap fragile belongings.Mail books: If you have a large collection of books, pack them yourself and ship them at the postal media mail rate as it might be cheaper than paying a mover—a 70-pound box would cost less than $30.

Consider consolidation: For long-distance moves, ask about consolidating your stuff on a truck with other people’s as most homeowners can’t fill a full-size moving van. You might have to be flexible on delivery dates and times, but consolidation can be cheaper.

Insure it: Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to determine whether it provides coverage for your belongings while in transit. If not, you’ll probably want more than the basic free valuation coverage a full-service mover provides.

The standard valuation is 60 cents per pound per item. That means breaking a 10-pound, $1,000 stereo system would net you $6. You’ll want full replacement-value insurance, which reimburses you what it will cost to replace broken items. But don’t necessarily buy that insurance from the moving company. Moving insurance is likely cheaper from a third party, but be aware that you probably cannot get insurance on boxes you packed yourself.

Be prepared: Plot out where furniture and boxes will go before moving day arrives. The less time movers spend rearranging, the less expensive it will be.In urban areas, reserve a space or two in front of your new home for the moving truck by parking your own vehicle there ahead of time. If the movers have to park too far away to unload, you could incur a “long carry” surcharge.

Stake your claim: If you’re moving for a job, negotiate the best relocation package you can. Unreimbursed expenses might be tax-deductible

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Art of Shoveling Snow!

Who loves snow? Who loves shoveling it? Probably much fewer enjoy the shoveling aspect of the winter guest to our drive-ways and side-walks J Today I’m going to share some thoughts on an article that caught my attention to help save as many backs, and hard-aching bodies as possible, ready?

With the recent snowstorms that have—and still are—pummeling the U.S., many residents will be doing more snow shoveling than ever before. That news leaves some people thinking about all the pain that will come once they’re finally back indoors. However, shoveling snow can actually be good exercise if done safely and correctly.

"Shoveling snow for about fifteen minutes at a time counts as moderate physical activity, similar to a brisk walk," said Terry Carolan, PT, NCS, ATP, clinical manager at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. "Adults are generally advised to do about 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three to four days a week and shoveling can help provide that—especially during the winter months when both outdoor temperatures and personal motivation tend to drop."

However, snow shoveling, like most types of exercise, does present some physical risks.Kessler, a leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, offers these guidelines:

• Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

• Avoid caffeine or nicotine, as they can cause extra stress on the heart, especially among individuals with a history of or are at high risk for a heart attack.

• Dress in layers and be sure to wear a hat, gloves, and sturdy, non-skid footwear.

• Do some basic warm-up exercises before shoveling, such as walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs. Warm muscles will work more efficiently and are less likely to become injured.

• Try to shovel fresh snow rather than partially melted and packed snow and lift small amounts at a time using your legs, not your back. Scoop snow in a forward motion and step in the direction as you throw the snow and avoid twisting and tossing the snow over your shoulder or to the side. If possible, try pushing the snow forward rather than lifting.

• Make sure you have a good snow shovel. Many newer models offer ergonomic features to facilitate lifting and throwing.

• Pace yourself. Take frequent rest breaks and avoid over-exertion.

• Most importantly, if you experience any pain in the chest or arm, shortness of breath or profuse sweating, stop shoveling immediately and seek appropriate medical attention.

There you go folks, the shoveling snow how to guide to help you navigate through this sometimes brutal winter and make it out healthy and strong once Spring comes around!

If you feel anyone else you know may benefit from my blog, please forward this article or previous to those friends or family members. I usually stick to articles that are more closely related to my business of Real Estate but will at times throw an article appropriate for the times or season. Have a wonderful day and thanks for reading my blog!

P.S. - Don't forget, if you or anyone you know is in the market to buy or sell a home contact me today, you'll receive the best in service, dedication and my expertise to make it a success! Ben

Monday, January 10, 2011

Advantage Realty Group Blog: 9 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

Advantage Realty Group Blog: 9 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell: "9 Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Quickly Surveys show that staging pays off and often helps to sell a home fast. But you don't have to spe..."

9 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

9 Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Quickly

Surveys show that staging pays off and often helps to sell a home fast. But you don't have to spend thousands to make a big impact. Put the home center stage with these tips!

1. First Impressions Count

Roll out the red carpet for potential home buyers by sprucing up your entryways, especially the one on a lockbox. Welcome mats, planters filled with seasonal flowers, and clutter-free foyers and hallways set the stage.

2. Sell the Space, Not Your Stuff

Remember that the goal of a successful showing is to make a prospect feel at home – like it's theirs, not yours. Put away your extensive personal collections. Less is more: open up your space so prospects can actually see what they're buying.

3. Paint and Elbow Grease Work Wonders

Fresh paint and a thorough cleaning will give you the greatest “bang for your buck.” Remember that neutral walls are your best bet when staging a home for sale.

4. Go with the Flow

Arrange furniture for easy traffic flow. Consider placing a major piece of furniture at an angle, such as a couch or desk. Angles add interest and can create a more open feel.

5. See the Light

Move lamps to dark corners and arrange window treatments so that natural light floods your rooms. Brighter is better, and your rooms will look larger.

6. Go Green

Live plants can add decorative flair, without spending a bundle. Plants and cut flowers have a way of warming up a room.

7. Don't Forget the Outdoors

If you have a porch, deck or patio, clean the furniture and replace worn cushions. Give your deck a fresh finish with a new stain and seal.

8. Make the Kitchen Sparkle

Declutter the countertops by removing toasters, food processors, and other non-decorative items. If you have a breakfast table or counter, put out a couple of table settings complete with place mats, napkins, and dinnerware.

9. Warm Up an Empty Home

If your home is vacant, consider renting furniture for key rooms, but don't go overboard. Ask your real estate professional for advice, based on your home's unique features and selling points.

These are some great starters to get your home prepared for your open house or its introduction to the market. Remember, this market is extremely competitive for sellers and by utlizing the advice you'll find here and other areas you can only help improve your chances for a quick and successful home sale!

Thanks again for reading my blog and be sure to forward this to any friends or family that may benefit. Also, if you are looking to purchase or sell a home, please feel free to contact me direct as I welcome the opportunity to work for you!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Is a Great Year to Buy a Home!

Happy New Year!

2010 is no more and as the New Year is upon us, great expectations, hopes, and optimism is at an all time high for the year 2011. For many, we have anxiously jumped into the year with goals and desires to improve our own lives.

Many new years resolutions involve the desire to quite smoking, excersise more, spend more time with family, vacation more and on and on. How many will be working towards these new goals in 30 days, 60 days and how many will throw in the towel? My hope for all is that each day is met as an opportunity to improve one's life and that these goals are met and succeeded.

Personally I have many personal and business related goals for 2011. Business related goals include helping many achieve the dream of owning their own home. Possibly you already own a home but want to move from your townhome or condo to a single family?

Question is, what can we expect from 2011 and is this a good year to purchase a home?

While I don't hold that magic crystal ball its safe to point out that there are many reasons why you shouldn't wait to purchase your next home or your first home. Lets start with the basics.


Home prices remain at 2000-2002 limits and in some cases even lower. What does this mean to you? Well simple, if the average person purchased a home in those years the appreciation for that home has gone up and then gone down dramatically in recent years back to this level. For you as a buyer, you are seeing some amazing opportunities to purchase homes that may not see prices this low ever again.

We've seen the average price of a home fall 30-50% from their highs in 2006 and this represents a huge opportunity!

Interest Rates

Interest rates have slowly crept up on the past month and may continue to rise. They are however, still historically very low and should be taken advantage of before they rise much more. If you think that rates may fall again to under 4% and gamble wrong will you regret that? Or, will you see that even though rates have moved up as of late, they are and remain very low and coupled with home prices create a great opportunity? I encourage the latter.

Supply & Demand

Everyday we are confronted with supply and demand and it affects our life in all areas. When we go to the gas station, grocery store or make travel plans, the prices we see are due to this force of supply and demand.

In real estate this remains true as well and in the scenario where the supply is far greater than the demand we call this a Buyers Market. This simply implies that the buyers have an advantage as they are at a premium. Many sellers will take much less for their home and banks are willing to take great losses on mortgages that were foreclosed on due to this. As a buyer, there are so many homes that are available that may fall in to an average buyers price range that it also may cause a lack of motivation to move quickly on homes of interest. I see on a weekly basis however that even in this market, some homes when priced right have multiple offers and can't be over-looked or expected to sit on the market for long.

We may never see a better combination of home prices and interest rates and I hope for all those that have thought about home ownership to consider contacting a professional lender today to discuss this. Once you have spoken with a lender/banker and have determined if you are approved to purchase a home and for what price, then contact a realtor for additional assistance.

For additional information or if you would personally like to discuss your own options, please feel free to contact me direct. I'm available for free one on one consultations and to assist you in any manner as it relates to your real estate goals.

Thanks as always for reading my blog and feel free to use our website at for your home shopping :)