Stephanie Suttle's Blog

@stephaniesuttleView My ProfileFollow Me
(713) 383-8672

Houston Real Estate News You Can Use
RE/MAX TOP REALTY
        EMAIL ME        2911 S Sam Houston Pkwy E, Houston, TX 77047     Phone: (713) 733-3700     Fax: (713) 733-3311
MAR
7
 10 Products Bucking Inflation Trends

US inflation is extremely low by historical standards. But that low average masks a trend of sharply rising -- and falling -- prices for some products.

For decades, US consumers have enjoyed a relatively low inflation rate at 2-3% on average.

After an ugly period of high inflation in the 1970s and early '80s, policymakers seem to have the problem of rising prices largely under control.

But some items, mostly driven by investor and global consumer demand, have tipped the scale in record price increase percentages.

'The CPI is based on a broadly measured basket of goods which has risen in price by a modest 28% over the past decade and 64% over the past 20 years. Still, some prices have risen far faster, while other products actually have seen their prices fall in recent years.'

Gasoline-Up +131%
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gasoline cost an average of $3.54 a gallon in February 2013 -- or about $71 for a 20-gallon tank. That was up 131% from a decade ago, when gas cost $1.53 a gallon, or $31 for the same size tank.

Gold-Up +371%
According to online precious metals tracker Monex, the value of gold has soared from $350 per ounce in 2003 to about $1,650 per ounce in mid-February 2013. That's an inflationary bump of 371%.

Coffee-Up +160%
In 2011, wholesale coffee bean prices exceeded $3 per pound for the first time in more than 30 years after spotty harvests of high-grade Arabica beans. The slackened supply was coupled with an increased thirst for gourmet coffees among middle-class consumers...According to the International Coffee Organization, the composite wholesale price for coffee was 51.9 cents per pound in 2003. In January 2013, the price was $1.35 per pound -- an increase of 160%.

Has the Price of Your Home Been in Line with Inflation? Click Here to Find Out.

Eggs-Up +70%
In 2002, a dozen eggs cost an average of $1.18, and in 2012 that same carton ran $2.01, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To find out why eggs have been in the midst of 70% inflationary hike, we head back to another lesson straight from freshman college economics class: the rising cost of production.

Razor Blades-Up +80%

Televisions-Down -56%
In 1997, a 28-inch Samsung color TV was priced around $750. In 2012, a 32-inch Samsung LED TV ran consumers $330, according to Target.com -- a deflationary rate of 56%. This is largely due to mass innovation causing the producer to be able to lower the price.

Movie Rentals-Down -40%
From $5 a movie back in 2000, to $2.99 most recently on average due to increased technologies.

Natural Gas-Down -39%
In January 2003, natural gas cost about $196.31 per 1,000 cubic meters. In January 2013, the price was about $119.78 -- a deflation rate of 39%, according to the website IndexMundi, which tracks commodities. In October 2005 the cost was $490.82! Milder winters are said to have created less demand. In addition, other countries have found their own sources.

Cell Phones-Down -90%
By 2012, you could get the most advanced smartphones for about $399, a price decline of 90% from a whopping $4,000 in 1983. Just as with other electronic devices, early innovation drove prices high but as more comparable products flooded the market, prices soon were driven down to fit the budgets of ordinary consumers.

Computers-Better and Cheaper
in 1977, an Apple II computer with 48KB of memory would have cost you $2,638, according to Geekosystem. That's $10,000 in 2012 dollars.Today a faster, lighter and more user-friendly 13-inch MacBook Pro costs $1,499. Windows-based PCs, which generally aren't as expensive as Macs, have fallen even more in price.

Original Story at MSN.com By Bill Briggs, SwitchYard Media

Search All Houston HAR MLS, Pearland MLS, Friendswood MLS League City MLS and Texas MLS Here.

FEB
28
 

Tight inventory puts damper on home sales

With the number of homes on the market down 25.3% from last year, the pace of sales is basically stagnant. It's a seller's market in many cities.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Thu 12:59 PM(read full article here)

Sales of existing homes rose marginally in January, as would-be buyers continued to find very little to buy.

The number of homes for sale is at its lowest level since December 1999, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors.

The number of homes sold in January was 9.1% above last years number and up 0.4% from December; inventory was down 25.3% from a year ago.

Search HAR MLS, Pearland MLS, Friendswood MLS, League City MLS and More Here

"Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady," Lawrence Yun, the NARs chief economist, said in a news release. "In fact, buyer traffic is 40% above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We've transitioned into a seller's market in much of the country."

The national median home price rose to $173,600, up 12.3% from the previous year.

Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 23% of January sales, down from 35% in January 2012. The average foreclosure discount was 20%, and the average short-sale discount was 12%, the NAR reported.

A number of factors are keeping sellers from putting their homes on the market, and inventory of homes for sale is particularly tight in California.

A total of 27.5% of Americans with mortgages still owe more than their home is worth, which is keeping some from selling. Tight credit means that some families who would like to sell a smaller home and move to a larger one are staying put. And the general economic uncertainty continues.

When enough additional homes will come to market, either new construction or existing homes, is a big question. It probably won't be soon.

"We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring, but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth," Yun said in the news release.

FEB
26

Tight Inventory Slows Pending Home Sales

Monday, 28 Jan 2013 10:11 AM

 Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.moneynews.com/Economy/Pending-Home-Sales-housing/2013/01/28/id/487672#ixzz2M1nZggLW

A measure of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell last month after reaching a 2 -year high in November. Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dropped 4.3 percent in December from November to 101.7. That's still 6.9 percent higher than a year ago.

The decline signals that sales of previously occupied homes may cool off in the coming months. There's generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Still, the broader trend in home sales remains solid. Completed sales of previously occupied homes rose last year to their highest level in five years, one of many signs of recovery in the housing market last year. And the Realtors' group forecasts that sales will rise 9 percent this year, as the recovery strengthens. Other economists have similar forecasts.

"We believe the disappointment represents just a brief lull in what are volatile data rather than a fundamental change of direction," said Jim O'Sullivan, an economist at High Frequency Economics.

Stable job gains and record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy homes. And a tight supply of homes for sale has pushed up prices and made builders more confident to step up construction.

Completed sales of previously occupied homes dipped in December from November, primarily because the number homes available for sale fell to an 11-year low. And stable price gains could draw more sellers in the spring, when the traditional home-buying season begins.

More people are also moving out on their own after living with friends and relatives in the recession. That's driving a big gain in apartment construction and also pushing up rents.

Builders, meanwhile, started work on the most new homes in 4 years in December. Last year was the best year for residential construction 2008, just after the recession started.

In December, the index of contracts signed fell in the Northeast, South and West. But it ticked up in the Midwest. The supply of homes costing less than $100,000 was particularly tight in the West, the Realtors said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.moneynews.com/Economy/Pending-Home-Sales-housing/2013/01/28/

FEB
20

As a notice for buyers, mortgage insurance will increase after April 1, 2013. Even more significant changes will take place beginning June 3rd, 2013.

FHA home loans have been the mortgage financing of choice for many consumers with small down payments and also offered more options for those with lower credit scores. FHA backed loans have been one of the most common loans in the Pearland, Friendswood&Bay Areas of Houston.

For a buyer using an FHA loan, the monthly basis points will increase by 10 on April Fool's Day, that is $200 per year on a $200,000 loan or an estimated $13 per month on the average US home price. 

In addition, a more staggering increase will occur on June 3, 2013 when FHA’s policy on the duration of the required mortgage insurance will be increased for the life of the mortgage. It basically doubles the amount of total MIP if the loan is paid to term. The current policy of terminating mortgage insurance payments completely at a 78% loan to value ratio or after 5 years will expire on June 3.  Mortgage Insurance will now carry through to the end of the loan term in most cases. Even a 15 year loan with a beginning loan to value ratio of <78% will have 11 years of mortgage insurance!

While the monthly expense seems minimal, the interest expense over time (say, 15-30 years?!) will be substantial.

To Search US MLS including HAR/MLS Listings Click Here

For homeowners that expect to stay in their home for ten years or less, the new changes might not have much financial impact. Homeowners who expect to be in their home long term can refinance with a conventional loan without mortgage insurance once the equity has increased due to amortization and appreciation.
 
For buyers to avoid these increases, they will need to act now to get the FHA commitment issued prior to these change dates.

Does your timeline allow you the option to purchase a home before April 1? Call me today to schedule a property tour in Pearland, Friendswood or other Houston Areas.

 
JAN
23
Interesting article from Michael Brush at MSN Money.  I think I have a better chance at a Moon Rock than a Birkin Bag...unfortunately.

Read Article Here

Some interesting statistics in the article:

-A page of animation art sold at Disneyland in the mid-1950s for $1.25 can now go for $25,000 or more. That's a 1,999,900% price increase, compared with 4,643% for gold over the same time.
- A 9.26 carat emerald-cut, loose diamond recently sold for $902,500 at Heritage Auctions, which works out to $487,300 per gram. That's 9,125 times the price of gold, worth about $53.40 per gram.
-A Cartier art deco ring with ruby and diamonds set in platinum recently went for $14,340, or $2,750 per gram, which is 50 times the price of gold. An art deco diamond and platinum bracelet from Tiffany just sold for $30,000, or $1,430 per gram, about 30 times the price of gold.
-At a Heritage auction last May, lunar meteorites went for $185 a gram to $3,400 a gram, compared with about $53.40 a gram for gold. Thus moon rock is worth 3.5 to 64 times more than gold.
-Net global demand for Platinum of 6.2 million ounces a year already exceeds supply by about 400,000 ounces, says Winmill. He thinks platinum, now at $1,630 an ounce, could hit $2,000 by the end of 2013. It will trade for an average price of about $1,825, he believes.


It seems that some of these are interesting options.  However, if you're just an average consumer like myself perhaps real estate is a more realistic investment.
JAN
19

Take notice buyer and sellers.  The housing market is on the mend in many parts of the country, including some local markets in Houston and Pearland.

The National Association of Realtors reported a +10.1% increase for the national median home price year to year in November 2012.  In fact, November marked the ninth consecutive month of home-price increases for the US market.

Here are some local resale statistics from HAR.com showing median price changes 2012 versus 2011:

Silverlake -2%
The Lakes of Highland Glen  -8%
The Villages at Mary's Creek +14%
Shadow Creek Ranch -2%
Pine Hollow -8%
Green Tee Terrace +3%
Southern Trails -11%
Oakbrook and Oakbrook Estates +10%
Sunrise Lakes NO CHANGE
Towne Lake Estates +2%
Pearland Park Estates -2%

The positive numbers and even the slight decreases are good news for sellers after years of some continued and large declines.  But what exactly will the continued road to recovery mean to buyers and sellers going forward?

Here are the major expected changes for the housing market in the next year from MSN Real Estate:

1.  More Expensive Houses (But not Much More with Clear Capital Estimating a 2.1%  price increase overall)
2.  Loans Are Expected to Get More Expensive (Interest Rates May be on the Rise & FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums are Too)
3.  Inventory is Decreasing (Less Homes for Sale Means a Possible Switch to a Seller's Market)
4.  Lenders will begin to implement the Ability to Repay Rule this Year and it will be Mandatory by January 2014 (Designed by the Government to Protect Consumers, this will Make Obtaining a Loan even More Difficult for Some Buyers)
5. Home Equity Loans are Increasing (As Home Values Increase these Loans Become Less Risky for Lenders and Rates are Expected to Become More Compeitive)
6.  There are Less Distressed Homes Available (the Number of Short Sales and Foreclosures is Decreasing so Sellers May No Longer Have to Compete with Severely Underpriced Homes)
7.  More New Construction is Expected (Sales are Up $15+% versus Last Year While the Number of Permits Increased 27% According to Census Bureau Data!)
8.  The Luxury Market is Expected to Slow Down (Capital Gains Tax Hikes as Part of the Fiscall Cliff are to Blame)

All of these mean continued stabilization of the market.  In some cases we may even begin to see more of a seller's market transition.  All things considered sellers can breathe a sigh of relief as more positive news comes their way.  Buyers are still encouraged to seize the opportunity to buy with such historical low prices and low interest rates.

JAN
15
I was in a local Marshalls Home Goods in Webster, Texas recently and thought to myself, "I wonder if home goods stores in Paris or London carry mostly US decor?".  I realize that local artists will most definitely offer local options if I do some research, but I really just wanted some affordable catalogue accent pieces in a hurry.  All I could find were prints of French bistros and architecture, throw pillows with French phrases, clocks with London tags and anything but domestic decor.  Most of the pieces were very nice to look at, but I've never been to either place!

So, when I saw this article today on MSN Living, I agree that maybe it's time for some trends to go away...kind of like patent shoes.

I have to admit, I participate personally in nearly half of the 10 trends listed.  It's difficult in many parts of Texas, and in my own house in Pearland, to escape the mounted animal trend.  I have even suggested many of the trends below as staging ideas for sellers.  A bright bowl of green or red apples shows up great in a photo afterall. In addition, home builders in most of the Houston suburbs still rely heavily on "Open Layouts" and "Cookie-Cutter Kitchens" with granite and stainless appliances.  But recent data shows that those homes continue to attract a strong group of home buyers, so the trends continues locally.

But as we all know, trends do change over time.  I'm anxious to see what the next 5-10 years will reveal about people's buying patterns for their homes.

Here is the full list from MSN Living:

1. Taxidermy
2. Open Layouts
3. Cliched Design
4. Cookie-Cutter Kitchen
5. Obvious Signage
6. Chalkboard Overload
7. Food as Decor
8. Neon
9. Intentionally Distressed Furniture
10.TVs on the Mantel

If I had to choose one item from the MSN Living list above that I'd prefer to see less in homes I tour, it would be the "Obvious Signage". If you need a label to find the bathroom in your home, you may be in trouble. But these are just opinions.

What do you think?
JAN
14

In today's market, buyers are extremely picky.  Sellers should do their research before listing a home.  I hear day to day that hiring a real estate agent isn't always a top priority.  Well, it should be.   

When I read this home selling article from Tara-Nicholle Nelson, a Business Insider Contributor and Trulia.com's Real Estate Realist, I wondered just how many sellers are using these tips that only an experienced professional has the local market expertise to offer your home.

Market research shows that over 80% of home buyers use the internet as their primary tool when searching for a home.  Houston statistics are even higher approaching 90+%. The first impression your home makes will typically decide the ultimate sales price and success for you as a seller.

In addition to professional grade photos, accurate information, your home should be showcased in a manner that stands out from the crowd.  And the crowd in the current market is huge.  While you as a homeowner know your home best, it should be described and presented in a way that appeals to the broader buyer market.  Did your agent tell you who that is and how to reach them?  They should.

The original listing for a home is one of the most challenging aspects in real estate.  It should be done with careful thought, planning and research.

This article describes 10 types of language that are important to consider when listing your home for sale:

1.  Walking distance to...
2.  Feel, Floor Plan, and Flow
3.  Lifestyle Upgrades for First Time Buyers
4.  Materials
5.  Brand Names
6.  Neighborhood Names
7.  Built-In or Custom
8.  On Trend Features
9.  Little Kitchen Luxuries
10. Differentiators from the Competition

In one of my local Houston markets, Pearland, here is an example of how each can be applied:

New Listing at 3311 Stonehurst Court in Pearland's Silverlake Subdivision

In fact, the Houston Association of Realtors provides an outstanding platform for sellers.  Each listing is allowed 32 high resolution photos with full description, an opportunity to add homeowners association, school or other informative links, as well as the option to upload documents like floor plans and owner upgrades & maintenance.  Is your realtor using these tools? They should be!

Call me to discuss more options for your home's success. http://www.pearland-homesforsale.com/ 713-383-8672


  

JAN
8
A 5% increase in the tax on capital gains, currently at 15%, is being touted as the driving force behind a luxury home sales spike in late 2012.  The increase is part of the newly passed Fiscal Cliff Budget Deal. Also noted as a driving force behind the spike was the upcoming 3.8% Medicare surtax on investment income which was part of the Affordable Care Act also slated to go into effect this year.  This surtax would affect high-income earners (singles with income of $200,000 or more and couples making more than $250,000) upon the sale of their properties once it takes effect.

The rush to sell in 2012 versus 2013 for high earners is expected to save an estimated $88,000 less per $1 million profit on their homes. In fact, the sales of homes valued at $1 million or more jumped 51% in November 2012 versus a year ago per the National Association of Realtors.

It was evident to many brokers in upstate areas such as Manhattan, that sellers were extremely motivated to close before the end of the year.  In some cases, they even offered incentives to buyers to guarantee the close in time to save.

The high end market sales are not expected to change signficantly moving forward, however.  Historically low interest rates, foreign investor interest, along with increased domestic buyer interest as the market continues to recover, should maintain the market in 2013 per industry experts.

See the full article from CNN Money Here



JUL
26

The list below taken From an article at Len Penzo dot Com. Len is a finance blogger for CBS Moneywatch and ranked by Kinplingers and Political Calculations as a top finance blog. He's also been featured by  The Huffington Post, LifeHacker, The Consumerist, and CBS MoneyWatch.

Here are 12 good reasons why you should – and should not – pay off your mortgage early. Which ones resonate most with you?

Good Reasons Why You SHOULDN’T Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

1. You haven’t capitalized on your employer’s company match to your workplace retirement plan.

If, for example, your employer matches you dollar-for-dollar on the first three percent of your contributions to your 401(k) plan, then you’re throwing away free money. If he matches even half that amount, then you’re still passing on a sure-fire 50% return on your money. Opportunities like that don’t come up too often. Take advantage of them when you can.

2. You have other debt that accrues at a higher interest rate than your home loan.

It makes no sense to pay off a mortgage if you’re carrying credit card debt at a higher interest rate. When you pay off a credit card with a 15% interest rate, for example, then every dollar of debt you pay off earns you an instant 15% return. Not too shabby.

3. You have yet to establish an emergency fund equal to at least three months of living expenses.

It doesn’t make much sense to be making extra payments on your mortgage if you can’t withstand a sudden loss of income due to unemployment, or suffer a major financial expense that forces you to choose between paying the mortgage or, for example, having a major car repair made.

4. You want to maintain more liquidity/flexibility.

Many people like to have a ready source of funds that can be easily converted to cash in order to quickly react to business opportunities, for example.

5. You owe significantly more on your house than it is currently worth.

If your mortgage is upside down, the fact is you are more susceptible to foreclosure if you lose your job or suffer some other hardship that prevents you from making your payments.

6. You have a family but haven’t yet established life, health and disability insurance.

If you are the lone bread-winner in the household, how will the mortgage be paid if you die, suffer a catastrophic health problem, or become severely disabled?

7. You have a low fixed-rate loan and anticipate a bout of severe inflation.

Inflation is a debtor’s best friend. If you have a fixed rate mortgage with a very high balance, you might even want to root for high inflation. That is because inflation erodes the value of money, and when inflation is on the rise the value of your mortgage debt becomes less over time. For those who have fixed rate mortgages, the higher the inflation, the faster the value of that debt is reduced. Many people ask why they should pay off a fixed rate loan with more expensive dollars today if they strongly suspect those dollars will be worth significantly less within, say, the next five years or so.

8. You are confident you can get better returns elsewhere.

Let’s say you have a mortgage with an interest rate of five percent. But in reality your effective, after-tax interest rate on your loan is less than that. If you are paying, say, 25% of your household income to federal and state tax collectors, then your effective interest rate is 25 percent (your tax rate) less than the original 5 percent – or only 3.75 percent. After determining your effective interest rate, you may decide the bar is low enough that you’d rather try earning a bigger return elsewhere.

Good Reasons Why You SHOULD Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

1. You’re the type that believes peace of mind is priceless.

How do you sleep at night? I know more than a few people with paid-off mortgages that swear they sleep like a baby every single time their head hits the pillow.

2. You want to remove the cost of your mortgage from your future living expenses before you retire.

What better way to temper the impacts of living on a fixed income than by making sure your mortgage is paid off before you retire?

3. You’re more concerned with getting a steady guaranteed return than risking a bigger payday through the stock market or other investment opportunities.

As far as Suze Orman is concerned, it makes more sense to pay off your home before making investments anywhere else. Says Orman: “You cannot live in a tax return. You cannot live in a stock certificate. You live in your home.”

4. You simply hate the idea of paying interest.

People who have the best grip on their personal finances naturally abhor paying interest. Personally, I hate paying interest. To anybody. For anything. But that’s just me.

So Is Paying Off Your Mortgage Early A Good Idea?

Well, that depends. In the end, the “correct” answer really comes down to which reasons are most important to you.

 
ARCHIVE
TOOLS
View subdivision price trends for the past 13 years, and create comparative subdivision analysis reports online.
View a list of my sold listings.
Search for information on Houston and Texas schools based on the county, district, campus and/or zip code.
Golf Course Finder allows you to search for Houston golf courses and to view properties on or near a golf course.
Search for Houston area highrises and see their comprehensive list of features and amenities.
Includes residential home sales statistics for residential properties and new homes listed by REALTORS®
Online resource center for affordable housing information
Information source for mortgage info, lenders, refinancing and more!
Providing links to valuable Real Estate news and Information.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®
Copyright© 2014, HOUSTON REALTORS® INFORMATION SERVICE, INC. All Rights Reserved.