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New home sales: 'Really good news'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of newly constructed single-family homes spiked 11% in June to an annualized rate of 384,000 homes, according to a report released Monday.

The gain over May was much greater than expected. A consensus of housing industry analysts had forecast seasonally adjusted sales of 352,000, according to Breifing.com.

However, sales are still 21% below the levels of a year ago, when new homes sold in June at an annualized rate of 488,000, according to the report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Four years ago, during the height of the housing boom, the sales rate for June was 1,374,000, nearly three-and-a-half times higher than last month.

Still, the report was very positive, according to Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland who had forecast June sales to be at the 350,000 level. "That is really good news. Considering what's going on in existing home sales, with all the foreclosure activity sending down home prices, for new homes to jump like that is a good indicator that the economy is bottoming out."
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Vacation Home Blog and News

March 20, 2009

Buying a Vacation Home?

Filed under: Vacation Home Market — Tags: , , — Jim Marks @ 4:04 pm

It’s difficult to find just the right moment to buy during these turbulent economic times. There are certainly a lot of bargains out there, and many are in the most popular areas of the country. In fact, many vacation destinations in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, the Gulf Coast, and much of the East Coast have seen drastic price drops, many in the 30% – 50% range. And, it seems as though the interest rates get lower every day.

But, this isn’t going to go on forever. Despite the seemingly neverending spiral of dire economic indicators, things are going to turn around. And, it also appears there’ll be a strong probability that inflation will be our next major problem.

Prices will be rising from multiple pressure points. The greatest one will be the devaluation of the dollar due to a white-hot printing press to cover government spending. Another attack will come from big oil as soon as the economy begins to show any sign of coming around. And a major attack is going to be launched by the working populace as they demand the return of a viable middle class that was beaten down for nearly three decades with false consumer price indexes, the near extinction of unions, and erosion of employee rights, protection, and benefits.

Buying before the inflation goes haywire can provide enormous value over the long run. Back in the late 70’s, when inflation was perhaps at it’s worst, was when I bought my first home for $26,000. 5 years later, it was worth $85,000 … nearly triple the amount. But, the price of cars, groceries, appliancesĀ and insurance doubled over that same period. You would buy as soon as you needed something, because waiting would cost you more. It paid to buy immediately. I wonder if people will be able to take advantage in the same way this time around? If so, the time to start would be very soon.


February 1, 2009

Stimulus Package Can Help the Real Estate Market With a 4% Mortgage

Filed under: Economy — Tags: , , , , — Jim Marks @ 3:34 pm

It looks like Barack Obama’s stimulus package will pass one way or another. I’m really surprised that republicans decided to treat this as a party loyalty, walk-in-lockstep, stooge parade, but I guess that’s their prerogative. Who cares if their Republican Gubernatorial counterparts disagree strongly with them because their silly budgets are falling apart, and without help their next crisis will be setting up refugee camps. It’s the partisan message that’s really important, right? I know they’re holding out for more tax cuts, and feel they have nothing to lose, but that’s a major waste of time. Tax cuts are not going to make huge differences at this point. If tax cuts were the answer we would never have gotten here in the first place. Taxes are lower now, and have been in the entire lead up to this crisis, than they’ve been at any time since the 1950’s. They didn’t prevent this economic calamity, and they’re not going to solve it. In fact, they’ll just create larger deficits through less revenue.

The biggest problem in this downturn is related to greed, and to draining workers and small businesses so that they can barely participate. Tax cuts for average workers, who buy and consume just about everything that makes huge corporations and banks wealthy, would amount to a few extra dollars a week–hardly enough to make the tiniest dent in the problems they’re facing right now. In fact, it would be barely noticable as they downgraded from Walmart to the Salvation Army; from MacDonald’s to the soup kitchen as full time jobs are replaced with part time employment, with few or no benefits. Imagine the position hospitals will be in when half the population has no health insurance and no money.

As for small businesses, unless they’re making huge profits, there’s no benefit for them either. They can’t get a refund or any extra capitol. They can forward their losses into the next 3 years, or average their losses, but only highly profitable businesses will be able to use tax cuts to any great advantage. You have to admit, there aren’t that many hugely profitable small businesses in this economy, begging for tax breaks. A credit or refund, yes. But that’s not going to happen.

Knock it off with the stupid tax cuts. They’re for the extremely wealthy so they can feather their nesteggs to make things a little more cushy while the rest of the country suffers even more. Most small businesses in this country have less than 5 employees. Can you really see these companies taking on new hires because they got a tax break they can’t use?

Now, there’s one thing I heard out of the Republican camp the other day that is absolutely worthwhile, if not vital to stimulate the economy. And that’s a bid to offer government backed mortages to homebuyers and homeowners at 4%. Mitch McConnell says these should go to anyone who qualifies. This would make a huge difference, particularly for homeowners who are now underwater. And, it would create many more opportunities for buyers of real estate. The alternative of letting home prices spiral downward without any relief for current homeowners will eventually swallow up any stimulus package.

At this point in the year, the job market is not going to improve until seasonal jobs are returned to the mix. Without those, which will begin to come back in another 2 months, there are still going to be major job losses. Make peoples’ homes more affordable with lower mortgage rates, and that will stop a lot of the hemorraging. Not only that, but it will make it more affordable for renters to own.

One of the largest economic engines in this country is the homebuilding and real estate market. Focus on that.

As for the bank bailouts, apparently, there are an enormous amount of banks that are actually insolvent, but aren’t making that clear (read: hiding) on their books. It’s also becoming obvious that the government bailout for these folks is like dumping an endless stream of money into a black hole. Take the hit and close these fugitives from bankruptcy now. Or, nationalize them and resolve the debts with full transparency. The longer we wait, the worse it’ll be. Everyone involved in the subprime loans should take a hit. If I understand correctly, some entities actually profit on foreclosures, or lose nothing and have no incentive to negotiate. Let’s put an end to that. Let’s make it illegal for anyone to profit or even break even on a foreclosure. It’s that type of underhanded business dealing that has devastated the real estate market. We shouldn’t be placing one of our most important economic engines in the hands of profiteering “masters of the universe”. Let’s fix it now, and get back to the business of enjoying vacation homes.


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