Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The Outlook for the 2015 Real Estate Market is Good
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Existing home prices are expected to rise about 3% this year, and about 2% the next year. Home
sales in 2015 are expected to reach their highest level in two years. While mortgage rates will probably rise this year, they
will still be considered some of the lowest of all time.
66% of all Americans say they would buy if they are going to move today.
68% of all Americans believe now is a good time to buy.
51% of all Americans plan to buy a home in the next 5 years.
35% of the homes sold recently were on the market for less than
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Japan Establishes "Marriage Hunting" Apartments, Complete with Stripper Pole?
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From the Wall Street Journal:
TOKYO - Having trouble getting married?
Maybe you aren't doing enough pole dancing in your living room.
That is the idea behind
one Tokyo real estate company's plan to solve the woes of Japan's lonely singles with konkatsu, or "marriage
The project's mastermind, Rintaro Kikuchi, says living
in the airy pads makes people more relaxed and social, leading to new encounters. He isn't shy about explaining some features,
like a pole smack in the middle of his latest model's living room. "You can't ignore sex and make a house," he says.
Konkatsu is the word du jour both for Japanese singles and government officials trying to improve
the nations' aging demographics. There are konkatsu bars, konkatsu bus tours and konkatsu events
for right-wingers, farmers and other groups. Local governments often pitch in funds to sponsor events, hoping to encourage
marriage and the procreation of future taxpayers.
The percentage of unmarried people ages
30-34 jumped to 47% from 21.5% for me and to 34.5% from 9% for women in the three decades through 2010, according to government
Since birth out of wedlock is uncommon in Japan, those figures translate directly
into a lower birthrate, with the average woman having about 1.4 children in her lifetime.
Yamada, a Chuo University professor who coined the term konkatsu in 2007, says the problem is many young
men nowadays don't have secure jobs because Japan's "lifetime employment" system is fraying. Young women still hold
out for a husband who can support the family on one salary, and men who know they can't live up to that expectation are less
active in searching for a mate.
Other researchers cite busy work schedules for both men
and women, and some young people's reluctance to leave comfortable lives with their parents.
Mr. Kikuchi, the konkatsu apartment developer, the real problem is housing - cramped rooms, dinky kitchens and
little natural light. With settings like that, he says, it's no wonder many Japanese don't wnat to bring anyone home.
His latest model, a one-bedroom apartment, fulfills all of his seven rules for a konkatsu apartment,
including a spacious kitchen and shower room, so couples can cook and bathe together. The home has plenty of windows to let
in natural light and was remodeled with natural construction materials such as earth with fossilized algae.
"You sleep better, you wake up feeling refreshed, and you become more active," he says about the
home's construction. "You smile more, and your skin looks better, and you are making lots of pheromones."
Mr. Kikuchi also consulted a Japanese "total adviser of sexuality" who goes by the name Olivia and
frequently appears in local media. She suggested adding a roomy bathtub in the living room as well as soundproofing and the
pole, which looks as if it could have been transplanted from a local strip club.
who declined to give her real name, said the pole could be used to entertain a male guest or to keep fit to better enjoy sex.
"A lot of Japanese women are shy and bad at using their sex appeal," she said. "By becoming their boyfriend's
'private pole dancer'. I wanted them to be able to playfully enjoy their sex life together."
41-year-old Mr. Kikuchi, who isn't half-bad on the pole himself, thinks amenities are needed not only to get couples hitched
but also to keep them enjoying each other's company. A January survey by the Japan Family Planning Association found about
45% of married couples had not had sex in the last month, up 3.3 percentage points from the last survey in 2012.
When couples stop having sex, their relationship soon turns sour, Mr. Kikuchi said.
has impact on children when they see the relationship between their parents deteriorate," he said. "They don't see
marriage or making a family as something happy," accelerating the vicious of failing marriages and birthrates.
Akino Kanno, 34, moved into one of Mr. Kikuchi's konkatsu apartment north of Tokyo in late 2012
after a divorce. The property, completed in 2010, has six private apartments. Mr. Kikuchi designed the property so that residents
will interact. They get together a few times a year for barbecues, and there is a common bulletin board for notices.
Ms. Kanno happened to see a notice from the building's owner on the bulletin board recommending a local drinking
hole. She went with a friend and was introduced to Masaru Kanno. The two bonded over manga and food. They later married.
Mr. Kanno remembers the first time he saw the apartment. "It was so fashionable. I was very surprised,"
he said. "I knew this was someone who I wanted to be family."
Mikako Tokuda moved into the same building about two years ago and found a boyfriend less than a half a year later on a social-networking
site. The two have since broken up, but she said that moving from her dark, one-window apartment helped her relax and find
the energy to think about dating. In her old apartment, she said, there was only one electric burner, which forced her to
give up cooking, one of her favorite hobbies.
And does Mr. Kikuchi need a konkatsu apartment?
Sorry ladies, he's already married with two children.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Housing Forecast for 2015
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Things are looking up for the economy and the housing market in 2015; however, there are still a
lot of would-be buyers on the fence who are afraid another slump like the one that started in 2007 may happen. Unemployment
is down, the markets are up, and most importantly, so far for 2015, rates are still very low. Unfortunately for some would-be
buyers, lenders are still making it difficult to qualify for a loan.
have also changed since before the slump. Lenders are much more cautious when they are considering borrowers and a good credit
score is important now more than ever. Also, having sufficient assets to cover closing costs and an "emergency"
fund to cover costs in case of a job loss are things that lenders are looking for when loaning money to buy a home. Being
self-employed also presents challenges in obtaining a loan. Lending became extremely strict
after the market slump, and for the most part, continues to be prohibitive for people with lower credit scores. There are
also not many loan products out there for people who want to put 10% or less down on a property. Fannie and Freddie are considering
introducing a product that would allow buyers to put only 3% down. Right now the only product that allows buyers to do this
is the FHA loan, which is at 3.5% down but with a large up-front PMI. If FHA doesn't reduce their upfront PMI, the new
product by Fannie and Freddie may make them obsolete again.
Make sure that you consult
with a loan officer before you get out there to look for properties and get your financial house in order. Get pre-approved,
know what your credit score is, and choose an agent and an attorney who are knowledgeable about the market.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Tip for Purchasing a Foreclosed Property
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Happy New Year!
A quick tip for purchasing a foreclosed property:
Try to have an attorney review the paperwork and addendums from the bank BEFORE you sign. This is the only case where you
should have an attorney review real estate contract paperwork before you sign it, because there is typically no formal attorney
review in these types of deals. Make sure you have a mortgage contingency if you are obtaining a mortgage, and that you know
up front if you will be paying any of the Seller's fees for them.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Should you Buy or Sell This Year?
Home prices are up. The median existing home price in June $223,300, up from 4.3% in June 2013. The
average sales price of a new home that sold in June 2014 was $331,400. 3.5 million homes in the U.S. rose out of negative
equity from 2013 to 2014 due to rising home prices. In the past year, existing home and condo sales rose 11% to 5.29 million,
close to the highest level in 4 years. Sales of new single-family homes rose 8.3% in June. Existing home sales increased 2.6%
in June 2014, and have reached the highest sales pace since October 2013.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Chicago Home Prices Slowly Rise
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From today's Chicago Tribune:
Home prices gains slowed in the Chicago area and in most of the nation in
June, and for the first time since February 2008, 20 cities showed lower annual rate of improvement than the previous month,
according to a widely watched housing market barometer.
the Chicago area, home prices rose 1.4 percent in June, compared with a 1.5 percent uptick in May, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller
home price index. Year-over-year, that made for a 6.6 percent increase.While home prices nationally are back at their pre-housing market bust levels of
autumn 2004, in the Chicago area they are at their spring 2003 levels. Still, June represented the fourth consecutive month
that local home prices have topped their previous month.Nationally, June home prices in the 20 cities included in the index
were up 1 percent in June, from May, equaling a 8.1 percent increase from June 2013.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
New Formula Could Change Credit Scores
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The company responsible for one of the most
widely used measures of credit health is making changes to its current model that could boost credit scores nationwide.
In an announcement on Thursday, analytics and decision
management firm FICO said its new credit model, FICO Score 9, "introduces a more nuanced way to assess consumer
collection information," resulting in greater precision for lenders measuring a borrower's credit stability. The model
will be available to lenders through the country's various reporting agencies starting in the fall.
"FICO Score 9 uses a more refined treatment of consumers
with a limited credit history and those with accounts at collection agencies, so that lenders can grow their credit and loan
portfolios more confidently," said Jim Wehmann, EVP for Scores at FICO.
The key difference in the new model is that strikes from medical collections will
have a lower impact, reflecting the relatively low level of credit risk they represent. From just that change, the company
expects the median FICO score will increase by 25 points among consumers whose only credit dents come from unpaid medical
FICO isn't alone in its push
to reassess how medical debts are reflected on a borrower's credit profile. In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
(CFPB) released the results of a study finding that credit scores may underestimate creditworthiness by as much
as 10 points for consumers owing on medical costs and by up to 22 points for consumers who have repaid their debt.
Often, consumers aren't even aware their debt has
been sent to collections, CFPB said.
change in the FICO Score 9 model is that it will also discount any overdue payments that have already been made, leaving only
unpaid collections as a mark.
the changes may have a significant impact on approval rates for credit cards and auto loans, the effects will be more subtle
for borrowers and lenders in the mortgage space, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for personal finance website Bankrate.com.
"These changes are going to be a positive for
consumers, but it's not something that moves the goalposts," McBride said in a phone call. "These changes aren't
going to take a consumer with bad credit and suddenly make them appear as if they have good credit."
Rather, for consumers whose credit scores sit on the threshold
between poor, adequate, or good, the expected boost could make a difference in terms of required down payments or interest
The Score 9 model also promises
to help lenders make decisions on consumers with little to no credit history—though McBride doesn't expect to see an
immediate impact in mortgage approvals for credit-lacking millennials.
However, if those young consumers have an easier time securing lines on smaller loans, however,
that could balloon out into the mortgage space in the future.
"You [have to] knock over the dominoes," McBride said.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
1:46 pm cdt
From Crain's Chicago:
MTV's "The Real
World" show, where seven strangers move into a building together and allow cameras to film the inevitable drama for all
the world to see, wants to set up shop in the Randolph-Fulton area in the West Loop.
An affiliate of Van Nuys, California-based Bunim/Murray Productions is planning
to film an edition of the long-running reality show at 1100 W. Randolph St., according to people familiar with the project.
"The Real World's" designs for the property
is another marker of growing out-of-town interest in the fast-changing
neighborhood, which has become a magnet for restaurant operators, real estate investors and tech firms, including Google Inc.
On June 20, the Bunim
affiliate is scheduled to discuss its plans before the city's Zoning Board of Appeals, according to the panel's agenda for
this month. The firm must obtain special permits to allow for “a seven-bed, temporary, group living residence”
in the property, the agenda shows. A message left for an executive at Bunim, a unit of French production firm Banijay Group,
was not immediately returned.
production company said in an application to the city it plans to use the property for five months at most, shooting the show
over a 12-week period.
Alterations it wants
to make to the property, like a new paint job, lighting, security cameras and greenery, “would be compatible with the
character of the neighborhood — we want this building to embody Chicago,” the application says.
The Bunim affiliate also wants to build shower stalls in the property and
a kitchen, the application shows. Security guards will be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The company has held casting calls in Chicago to find people willing to star
in the forthcoming show, according to news reports. MTV broadcasts "The Real World."
In 2001, a season of "The Real World" was filmed in Wicker Park,
with the building at 1934 W. North Ave. serving as the cast's home base.
The production drew protesters to the building, one of whom yelled at show participants
that the crowd wanted to “to liberate you from the agents of unreality,” according
to a Chicago Reader story.
For its latest Chicago
show, "The Real World" will occupy a property owned by a venture of veteran New York retail broker David
Firestein, who declined to comment.
Greg Kirsch, executive managing
director in the local office of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank who's handling leasing at the property, didn't respond to a phone
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Happy Memorial Day!
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Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Have a safe and fun weekend.
a big thanks to all of the people who serve and have served our wonderful military. We appreciate your service!
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
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