Archives for March 2011

2WEETER.COM Expands to 15 States

Houston Real Estate Firm Expands the Reach of 2WEETER.COM to Serve 15 StatesHouston Real Estate Firm 2M Realty Expands the Reach of 2WEETER.COM to Serve 15 States.HOUSTON, TX? – March 31, 2011Independent real estate firm, 2M Realty, announced today that it has expanded the reach of 2WEETER.com to serve the metro areas of 15 states in the South Central and Southeastern United States, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and the Texas real estate markets. 2WEETER.com delivers real estate tagged tweets of targeted markets for agents and consumers to follow trends, news, blogs, articles and listing information. “As a continued leader of real estate on the Internet, 2M Realty promotes social media as a way for agents and consumers to interact,” said Mark W. Martin, principal broker for 2M Realty. “With 90% of consumers utilizing the Internet as part of their real estate process, 2WEETER.com provides a channel for consumers and agents to post tweets, engage in conversation, and follow their local market activity.”2WEETER.com filters the Twitter feed for real estate hashtags of targeted markets. For example, Twitter posts that include #houston and #realestate will be included in the feed for the Houston real estate market. Other benefits for users are the ability to post tweets directly on 2WEETER.com, which in turn post on their respective Twitter and Facebook accounts. “It simplifies social media postings by tweeting once and getting distributed to two leading social media networks,” said Martin. “We have plans to continue expansion of 2WEETER.com to include all 50 states,” said Martin. “Once the states are complete, we will focus on smaller metro areas and high-volume real estate niche markets.” All real estate agents and consumers interested in the 2WEETER.com feed can visit http://www.2weeter.com/ to check out their state and join the conversation. About 2M Realty2M Realty is a boutique firm providing traditional and Internet real estate services. The company’s mission is simple: ease the real estate process, reduce stress for buyers and sellers, and garner client trust. 2M Realty’s traditional real estate focus includes brokerage, property management, land development and investment partnerships. The firm also brings freedom and increased income to Houston Realtors with their virtual real estate office solution.

Lawmakers say mortgage interest deduction to stay

There likely won't be changes to the mortgage interest tax deduction.With the federal income tax deadline fast approaching, many people's minds are on their 1040s. Thursday, a pair of lawmakers said that homeowners' mortgage interest tax deduction won't be eliminated in any budget proposal, which should be a relief for those with Houston homes.Speaking before a House subcommittee meeting today, HousingWire reports Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank said the deduction would remain. While he said it may not be “ideal tax policy,” it would be unfair to homeowners and buyers at this stage.”The mortgage interest deduction is going nowhere,” Frank said. “The sun will go away before it does.”Frank added that he didn't think there were enough votes in the House to eliminate it. The source says Frank's comments were later echoed in the meeting by New York Representative Michael Grimm, who also said the deduction wouldn't be altered.The deduction has become a source of controversy in some circles, since it costs the federal government billions of dollars each year. Last year, a special budget panel recommended some alterations that would restrict the deduction for high-value homes. The National Association of Realtors says about 75 percent of homeowners take advantage of the deduction to some degree.Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

Report: Low inventories could cause shortage of new homes

New home prices could rise in the coming months.While the sales and prices of new homes have continued to struggle, Fortune says that may soon change, as a relative shortage of homes will lead to quickly rising prices for those looking to purchase newly built Houston properties.Fortune says according to data from Metrostudy, which covers 41 major cities nationwide, there are 78,000 new homes that are under construction or vacant and for sale. That's well below the more than 340,000 that existed during the housing boom, and below past levels as well.If sales pick up as the economy grows, then analysts say the current supply may not be able to meet demand from buyers looking to avoid foreclosures or existing homes.”If we had anything like normal levels of buying, those houses would sell in two and a half months,” Mike Castleman, CEO and founder of Metrostudy, told the source. “We'd see an incredible shortage. And that's where we're heading.”However, those sales have yet to pick up on a national level. Data from the Commerce Department showed sales of new homes in February had reached the slowest pace ever recorded.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Housing market hurting job seekers

The idea of moving is tougher for people having a hard time selling their homes.With low home prices in many parts of the country hindering many families who might try to sell, USA Today reports a domino effect is being seen throughout the jobs market.Many current employees are turning down relocations, with 69 percent of those decisions forced because of concerns about their home or mortgage, according to a recent survey by Atlas Van Lines. That's more than double the 30 percent ratio seen in 2006.At the same time, those who are willing to move for a job are having a more difficult time as well. The paper says many companies are choosing not to consider applicants who would need to sell a home, because the process could be too time consuming to make hiring that person worthwhile.While local jobs and the prices of Houston homes have remained fairly stable, the dual issues may still be causing problems for many families.However, continued job growth should help increase sales and fortify the market's positive movement. Today's CareerBuilder hiring outlook report showed that hiring trends were at their strongest in three years during the past quarter.Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

Shadow inventory drops slightly

Many foreclosed homes haven't even been listed for sale yet.The national backlog of distressed properties that have not yet reached the market – dubbed the shadow inventory – dropped slightly in January, as the pace of foreclosure sales has continued to be strong.According to CoreLogic, the number of shadow properties dropped from 2 million in December to 1.8 million in January – equaling about nine months of supply at the current pace.”While the trend of the shadow inventory is improving somewhat, the current level and distressed months’ supply remain very high,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. He added that those properties would have to enter the market at some point, which will put more downward pressure on prices.However, Texas has remained somewhat isolated from the issue. It was one of a few states highlighted in the report as regions with relatively low levels of pending foreclosures, because the effect of the housing bust was not as severe.A significant portion of Houston homes sold last month were foreclosures. According to the Houston Association of Realtors, they made up more than 21 percent of local home sales in February.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Mortgage applications drop as rates rise

Mortgage rates have risen, causing applications to fall.The Mortgage Bankers Association says mortgage applications dropped off significantly last week as mortgage rates begin rising once again.Overall, the group says applications dropped a seasonally adjusted 7.5 percent during the week ending March 25, as interest in both refinancing and purchase applications dropped. Refis fell 10.1 percent from the previous week, while purchase applications dropped 1.7 percent.Analysts attributed the reduced numbers to rising interest rates. The report said the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate loan during the week jumped from 4.8 to 4.92 percent, while the 15-year rate experienced a similar increase.”Treasury and mortgage rates increased towards the end of last week, as global markets calmed following the recent crises in Japan and the Middle East,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics. “As rates climb back to 5 percent, fewer homeowners have both the incentive and the ability to refinance”The mortgage numbers also hint at the potential for a slow start for the usual spring homebuying season. However, pointing in the other direction, the National Association of Realtors' recent Pending Home Sales Index increased last month.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Proposed mortgage rules may have limited immediate effect

New proposed rules may not significantly impact consumers for a few years.While new mortgage rules may make it much more difficult for consumers to qualify for a mortgage a few years down the line, analysts say its immediate effects for those looking at Houston homes will likely be limited.The new qualified residential mortgage – or QRM – standards force banks to hold some of the risk from loans which don't meet those requirements. They were designed to keep lenders from making riskier loans and then selling them to investors.According to the regulations, in order to be exempt, loans must have at least a 20 percent down payment. Borrowers would also need to have a strong credit history, and could not have fallen 60 days behind on any account over the previous two years.But any loans made through the Federal Housing Administration, or sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will also be exempt. Since that accounts for roughly 90 percent of current loans, analysts said the immediate impact on consumers will be limited.But when Fannie and Freddie are phased out over the next several years, loans will become harder to get. House Republicans have proposed a plan that would eliminate the two mortgage giants within five years.Courtesy of 2M Realty News?

Property appraisals drop for many local residents

Property taxes have dropped for many Houston residents.Many Houston residents could see their property tax bills drop this year, as nearly 20 percent of local homeowners saw their properties appraise for less than last year.Local officials say 73 percent of homes appraised for the same as last year and 8 percent appraised for more, meaning 19 percent of Houston homes lost value. Officials pointed the finger at foreclosures.”They purchased properties that they couldn't afford. They've lost their job or their spouses lost their job. People lose their houses according to what happened in their personal situations,” Roland Altinger of the Harris County Appraisal District, told KHOU.While lower taxes are a positive, experts say that lower property values could cause issues for those looking to sell.Foreclosures can have a measurable effect on the value of nearby homes. A report last year by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University found that homes within 250 feet of a foreclosure lost 1 percent of their value. Neighborhoods with multiple foreclosures saw even greater value drops.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

Pending home sales increase nationwide

More buyers are looking to lock up affordable properties.While a number of reports have shown the real estate market has continued to struggle, the National Association of Realtors says its Pending Home Sales Index increased in February, which may preview rising sales numbers from March and April.The group says the index jumped 2.1 percent to 90.8 last month, based on signed home contracts in advance of future sales. It was also the first increase for the index since November, when it reached a recent high of 94.5.”Pending home sales have trended up very nicely since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the homebuyer tax credit.”Pending sales increased in three of the four regions of the country, with the Northeast reporting the only decline. Yun theorized this may be due to the rough weather that the region endured this winter.Affordability remains one of the key factors in the market. A recent report by Demographia listed Houston homes as some of the most affordable in North America.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

"Vultures" boosting housing market

Investors are turning around many foreclosures.With the widespread foreclosures found in many areas, Bloomberg reports a number of investors – dubbed vultures by some – have swooped in to purchase large numbers of foreclosed properties, rehab them and then put them back on the market for buyers or rent them out.Low home prices have served as an incentive to many investors, who are able to use all-cash sales to avoid the current mortgage market.In some situations, Bloomberg says the investors allow many first-time buyers access to some homes they otherwise would have been locked out of. Analysts told the source that lenders won't offer mortgages on many foreclosures because they don't have utilities, or appraisal values don't match up.Other firms rehabilitate the homes and then manage them as rentals for other investors, a trend known as turnkey transactions. The source says one firm, currently working in Houston, Indiana, Colorado and Florida, manages more than 200 properties, and adds more each month.However, the trend isn't limited to the Houston real estate market. The National Association of Realtors says all-cash sales made up 33 percent of home sale transactions last month.Courtesy of 2M Realty News

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