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May 4, 2009

Austin Real Estate Gaining Momentum Heading Into Buying Season

Pulte Homes and Centex to Merge, Becoming Biggest U.S. Builder

Austin Board Of Realtors® Releases March 2009 Real Estate Statistics

According to the March 2009 Multiple Listing Service report by the Austin Board of REALTORS®, the volume of single-family home sales in March 2009 was 1,421, down 22 percent from March 2008, and the median price was $180,160, down 4

percent over the same time period. Jay Gohil, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, provided some insight, “Sales volumes in March are still down compared to a year ago, but we’re beginning to see the gap in volume close.” For example, in January 2009, sales volume was down 36 percent compared to January 2008. In February 2009, sales volume was See MOMENTUM, Page 21

Nearly 600,000 Home Buyers Claim Tax Credit So Far John and Romy Kohler are first-time home owners, thanks in large part to the $8,000 federal tax credit enacted by Congress as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The credit "was extremely instrumental in us getting our home," says John, who is in management at Chick-fil-A in Bloomington, Ind., where Romy has enrolled in law school at Indiana University. "We couldn't have done it without that." James and Jennifer Pelton of Lakeland, Fla., and Leslie and Enrique Talavera of Chula Vista, Calif., wouldn't have been able to buy their

first homes without the credit, either. They, too, are among the tens of thousands of young families who are taking advantage of the government's latest effort to jump start the economy to become home owners. The federal credit is available to first-timers who purchase a principal residence this year and close prior to Dec. 1. The credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000, subject to certain income limitations. And as long as you occupy the property as your main home for three years, it need not be paid back. Consumers can find comprehensive

Pulte Homes, Inc. and Centex Corporation announced on April 8 that their boards of directors had unanimously approved a merger. “Combining these two industry leaders with proud legacies into one company puts us in an excellent position to navigate through the current housing downturn, poised to accelerate our return to profitability,” said Pulte President and CEO Richard Dugas. “Centex’s significant presence in the entry level and move-up categories is complemented by Pulte’s strength in both the move-up and active adult segments, the latter through our popular Del Webb brand,” Dugas said. “Together we will have considerable information on the tax credit at www. federalhousingtaxcredit.com. The Kohlers have been renters since they were married three years ago, and they were "looking to rent again" when they moved to Bloomington so Romy could attend IU. But when they learned that Congress had bumped the tax credit from $7,500 to $8,000

presence in more than 59 markets across America. In addition, both organizations share an unwavering focus on delivering unparalleled customer satisfaction, maximizing the influence of strong brands and setting new standards of achievement in operational efficiency.” Dugas noted that Centex has sizable land holdings in both Texas and the Carolinas, “two areas that continue to exhibit strength in the face of today’s difficult housing market.” “We believe this is the right combination at the right time in the business cycle,” said Centex Chairman and CEO Timothy Eller. “By acting decisively now, we’re creating unrivaled firepower to capitalize on the opportunities in home building that are now becoming visible on the horizon,” Eller said. “We will have a deeper and more expanded presence that we are confident will allow us to begin realizing the benefits of our combined scale immediately.” In calendar year 2008, Pulte and Centex delivered more than 39,000 See MERGE, Page 15 and dropped the requirement that it be paid back so long as they occupy the home as their primary residence for 36 months, they literally jumped at the opportunity. The couple was visiting the Highlands, a Beazer Homes See TAX CREDIT, Page 15

Suburbia Looks Inward For Answers Don't be surprised to see America's Tomorrowland going retro. The glut of foreclosed homes, abandoned houses and half-built subdivisions will reshape tomorrow's real estate landscape into cities and towns reminiscent of the pre-World War II era, urban and community planning experts predict. Picture bustling downtowns with twentysomethings and empty-nesters

living in high-rise condos, suburban villages with light-rail lines, quaint shopping districts and scaled-down McMansions and rural towns with public transit stops and high-density mixed-use complexes designed for shopkeepers, homebuyers and renters. Some might call it "The making of surburbia in rewind" -- a tale written by government and civic leaders, planners and scholars who are grappling with the nation's worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. Suburbs PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PA I D Victoria, TX PERMIT 207

and exurbs may never be the same as officials reinvent planning models to guide future growth in the coming decades. More importantly, officials will be forced to consider economics and finances as much as they do land use and environmental issues in their policy decisions. Consumers, too, will look beyond interest rates and monthly mortgage payments and factor in the true cost of suburban life, including gasoline prices, insurance premiums, congested roadways and commute

The Limelight The Stage Coach: Home Staging Page 2

times. Suburbia may no longer be a bargain.

The ShowCase USA is now featuring Inman News, the leading source of independent real estate news, information, advice, research, opinion and commentary for industry professionals and consumers alike.

See SUBURBIA on Page 8

Sales Pep Talk Where’s All The Money in 2009? Page 20


The LimeLight

Each individual home is going to offer dis�nc�ve challenges when it comes �me to prepare for sale. Thus, each house is going to require different a�en�on. To help with this, The Stage Coach offers several op�ons for Home Staging Services. All of our projects are going to require a Consulta�on Visit - it is necessary to see what condi�on, colors, furnishings, and space there is to work with. Once a Consulta�on Visit has been performed, quota�on for the necessary services is offered. There are two type of Consulta�ons offered:

The Home Staging Evalua�on Consulta�on:

The Wri�en Consulta�on:

Or just call it a Consulta�on. This is our entry level service. The Stage Coach comes out to the home and goes room to room with the owners and/or REALTOR® discussing each space and any a�en�on that may be required. It is advised the client take notes. Pictures are taken at the end of the discussion. This visit usually lasts about an hour. Addi�onally, a Home Staging Evalua�on Report Card will be provided a�er comple�on, outlining the condi�on and “show quality” of the home. As part of the Consulta�on, we will offer quota�ons for small home repairs, basic Staging Services, and furnishing rentals when appropriate.

This service begins with a Consulta�on visit, and includes a follow up visit for delivery & review of the document. We will quickly take pictures and notes during the rst visit. Then we prepare the wri�en plan: ten to twenty pages, including a room by room outline with a priori�zed punch list of ac�ons needed to be taken to prepare the home for sale. As part of the Home Staging Plan, we offer price quota�ons for small home repairs, basic Staging Written Sample Services, and furnishing rentals when appropriate. This op�on is a great tool for the D.I.Y. crowd who may have the ability, but lack the vision.

Vacant Home Staging Services: In many cases, some homes are si�ng vacant wai�ng for the right buyer. Whether a Builder has constructed a house on specula�on, a contract falls through a�er the owners have moved on, or your rental property has come available, Vacant homes can sit empty for months. As few as 10% of home buyers can visualize and feel what an empty home will become. As most home buying decisions are affected by emo�ons, unoccupied proper�es do li�le to tug at the feelings of buyers. This is where The Stage Coach comes in: by adding the necessary warmth with some nice furnishings and accents, we ll the void in the buyer's imagina�on, pull at their emo�ons a li�le, and allow them to view the space as the home it will become.

Office: 218-1921

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May 4, 2009

TheStageCoach@stagecoachtexas.com

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LOCAL/STATE NEWS

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Commission Express Grows Biz.

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Realtor Receives Prestigious Award

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New Energy Efficiency Ordinance

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Calling All Leaders

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Strasburg at RE/MAX Convention

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ABoR's Endorsements For Mayor,

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Realty Executives Receive Cert.

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CB UnitedClaims 5th in 2008 Real Trends 500 Report

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Real Estate Auction Company Opens

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CB United, Named to Platinum Club

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Luis Becerra, Jr. Receives GRI

CB United, Realtors® Receives Five Star Circle of Excellence Award Coldwell Banker United, Realtors was honored for its outstanding performance during the last year at the 2009 Cartus Broker Network International Conference held March 4-6 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to a black-tie awards ceremony, the three-day event included interactive workshops, roundtable and panel discussions, and executive presentations. Coldwell Banker United, Realtors was awarded the Five Star Circle of Excellence Award, which recognizes brokers who have met or exceeded their individual objectives for outgoing broker-tobroker referral closings during the calendar year. “Members of the Cartus Broker Network are renowned for their outstanding performance in each market,“ said Deborah Williams, senior vice president of Cartus Broker Services. “The effort that Coldwell Banker United, Realtors put forth toward not only achieving but also exceeding their 2008 objectives for outgoing broker-to-broker

referral closings is emblematic of the commitment to success that makes our brokers such valued partners. We are proud to be affiliated with such a talented group of real estate professionals and look forward to our continued joint success in the future.” “Every year at the conference, the importance of placing broker-to-broker referrals is emphasized,” said Helen Edwards, President/COO of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, Austin Region. “We are happy to be listed with the members of the Network from around the country who have taken this to heart and succeeded in doing this.” During the three-day conference, Broker Network participants networked with other industry professionals and exchanged information and ideas regarding team-building, revenue generation, retention, new business strategies, and increasing customer service—all essential elements for continued success.

NATIONAL NEWS

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Economy Moving Toward Recovery How to Overcome Home Buyer Objections in Today's Market NAHB Steps up Efforts to End Severe AD&C Credit Crunch

Builder Confidence Shows Biggest Jump in Five Years

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Don't Fear the Pink Slip

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Number of Builders With NAHB Green Credentials Soars Foot Traffic Up as Home Buyers Becomes More Affordable Real Estate Outlook: A Turnaround May be in Sight

Single-Family Home Starts Unchaged in March

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House and Senate Approve $3.5 Tril.

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Houston Named Ambassador City

AGENT SIGHTINGS

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ABoR Foundation's Property Tour, HBA Crawfish Boil, WCAOR New Building Grand Opening, HWA Realtor Rally Day, AYREP Green Building Event at Fogo de Chao

SALES PEP TALK

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Where's all the Money in 2009

New Agents Welcomed!

INDUSTRY NEWS & EVENTS

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Commission Express Local Realtor Receives Helps Associates Grow Prestigious Award Their Businesses Provides a Reliable Source of Cash Flow for Real Estate Professionals A real estate associate has a signed contract. The inspections are complete and the preliminary financing approved. However, the closing is not for another 45 days, and the associate will not be paid until then. The commission is sitting stagnant when the associate could be using that cash to promote and grow his business. Real estate associates can now obtain advances on their commissions and use the funds to promote themselves, their current listings, or to pay business related expenses. The commission advance process is known as factoring and is quite common in business today. Factoring involves converting a pending commission into cash by selling the receivable at a discount. This immediate cash flow allows the associate to energize their business. Commission Express of Austin opened its office in July on Bee Caves Road in Westlake. Abigail Brooks, manager of the Austin office, works with agents to decrease the time between contract and commission to a few days. Brooks and owners Matthew Wood and Joel Duncan have a combined 25+ years in the Texas real estate industry. “The real estate business is about relationships and reliability,” states Brooks. “Our goal is to provide a reliable source for real estate sales associates to convert their commissions into cash quickly and easily. We want to help

these Austin area industry professionals meet their financial and professional goals and see their businesses grow.” Commission Express is not a lending institution. Rather, the company purchases the commission on a pending transaction. The Commission Express approach is unique, because it is based on the strength of the transaction, not the financial condition of the customer. Agents can begin the process by applying online or by faxing the required documents. Approval and payment occurs within one or two days, often the same day. Because Commission Express is not a lender, the fee is simply based on the period of time between buying the commission and the projected closing date. If it does not close as scheduled, the agent is given a 30-day grace period to close the deal or substitute another transaction. With 58 offices in 32 states, Commission Express is the nation’s largest commission advance company and has advanced more than 75,000 commissions totaling over $400 million. Each office is owned and managed by professionals who understand the real estate market. For more information about Commission Express of Austin, please contact Abigail Brooks by phone at (512) 328-6633, or by email at abrooks@ commissionexpressaustin.com.

Carolyn Abbott of Realty Executives Excellence in Cedar Park was recently presented with the Chairman's award and Executive Club award by Realty Executives International. The awards were presented by Edmond McEnany, Manager and Barbara Wigginton, Broker of Realty Executives Excellence. "It is a great feeling to know that I am with a company that really appreciates the dedication I put into my work here at Realty Executives Excellence," Abbott said. "I thank the entire Realty Executives team for their support and encouragement. I am thrilled and honored to receive this notable award." The Chairman's Award is presented

to the top Executive in each franchise and the Executive Club Award is presented to the Executive Sales associates, also known as "Executives," at Realty Executives average approximately 13 years of real estate experience, nearly twice the national average. They are industry leaders in production experience and professional designations, typically out producing traditional sales associates three to one, according to Rich Rector, president and CEO of Realty Executives International. "We are proud to honor Carolyn with this award because it exemplifies a commitment to exceptional customer service and outstanding sales performance," Rector said.

Quick Facts on Austin's New Energy Efficiency Ordinance What is required under the new ordinance? Homeowners selling their homes in Austin will be required to obtain an energy audit and to disclose the findings of that audit as part of their regular seller’s disclosure notice. Who does this affect? Homeowners with properties that lie within the Austin city limits and are serviced by Austin Energy are affected by the ordinance. Who will conduct the audits? Energy audits will be conducted by professionals who have been certified by either the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) or the Building Performance Institute and who are registered with Austin Energy as approved contractors for this program. We anticipate that a list of registered professionals will be posted on the Austin Energy Web site, www. austinenergy.com, by mid-April. When does the audit need to be completed? The energy audit is required as a part of the seller’s disclosure, so it must be completed before the home sale closes. 4

May 4, 2009

Austin Energy and ABoR encourage homeowners seeking to increase their energy efficiency and save money on the high cost of utility bills to have an energy efficiency audit conducted before thinking of selling their homes. Early audits may help homeowners identify possible areas of improvement and could help prevent last minute scrambles should a homeowner decide to sell his property at a later date. How long do the audits last? Each energy efficiency audit will be good for 10 years under the current ordinance rule. Are there any exemptions? Yes, several. Properties in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure, properties subject to eminent domain, transactions between family members and properties under court order, in probate proceedings or under decree of legal separation or dissolution of marriage are all exempt. In addition, properties that are fewer than 10 years old, manufactured homes designed for use without a permanent foundation and properties owned by participants in designated Austin Energy Electric Utility programs or buyers who agree in writing to

participate in these programs within six months are also exempt. Whether you represent a homebuyer or home seller, following these easy steps will ensure a smooth transaction for any property affected by the City of Austin’s Energy Efficiency Ordinance. Steps to a Successful Transaction for Seller’s Agents: 1. Discuss ordinance specifics and the need for an audit at your initial listing appointment. 2. Use ABoR’s Exclusive Right to Sell agreement and direct the seller’s attention to Paragraph 20, Section F. This special notice helps agents ensure their clients understand the ordinance rule. It also protects listing agents in the event that a seller chooses to disobey the ordinance and not disclose the findings of the Austin Energy approved audit. 3. Offer your clients contact information for three to five energy auditors. The names of the Austin Energy approved contractors may be found at www.austinenergy.com/go/ ecad 4. The chosen auditor will set an appointment with your seller. He or

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she will arrive on site to conduct the audit, which will take about two to three hours. 5. The auditor will leave an audit certificate with the seller for use as an attachment to the Seller’s Disclosure Notice. If you are using ABoR’s Sellers Disclosure form, the seller can indicate the audit was completed and is attached as per ordinance rule in Paragraph 9 and again in Paragraph 14. 6. All audit work must be finished before the transaction closes. To simplify the selling process, it is best to complete the audit while the seller is preparing the property for market, before there is a contract on the home. Steps to a Successful Transaction for Buyer’s Agents: 1. If your client is looking for property within the Austin city limits, ensure he or she is aware of the new ordinance and knows what to expect from properties affected by it. 2. Should your clients choose a home that requires an energy efficiency audit, make certain the seller has included the audit certificate in their Seller’s Disclosure Notice. www.TheShowCaseUSA.com


Eye on the Economy:

Economy Moving Toward Recovery

Real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted at a 6.2% annual rate in the final quarter of last year, the sharpest contraction since the depths of the 1982 recession. Available evidence on economic activity for the early part of 2009 shows that another major decline in GDP is in the cards for the first quarter of the year. We’re currently estimating -5.5%. The labor market also is weakening rapidly. Payroll employment has fallen by 2.6 million over the last four months (through February) and the civilian unemployment rate has moved up considerably over that period — reaching 8.1%. Further deterioration of the labor market is inevitable in March, a pattern revealed by weekly data on new and continuing claims for unemployment insurance.

Housing Production Still Is Weakening

The housing sector, which began to weaken more than two years prior to the onset of national recession at the end of 2007, still is a major negative for the U.S. economy. The housing production component of GDP (residential fixed investment) suffered a severe setback in the final quarter of 2008 and will post an even weaker performance in the first quarter of this year. Employment in residential construction naturally continues to trail down

systematically as housing production continues to weaken, and falling house prices continue to take heavy tolls on household wealth, consumer spending, mortgage credit quality and the national and global financial systems. The ongoing contractions in residential fixed investment and residential construction employment have reflected serious imbalances between supply on the market and effective demand for both home owner and rental housing units. There still are very large numbers of vacant housing units on and off the market, but massive cutbacks in new housing production along with prospects for near-term stabilization of home buyer demand should be improving the supplydemand balance before long.

The Economic Recession Now Is Truly Global

The recession increasingly is global in scope and nature, and a rare decline in world real GDP now is a virtual certainty for 2009. Trade flows are contracting substantially for both developed and emerging economies, and the U.S. now is registering sharp declines in both exports and imports. Our nominal trade deficit has been falling since last July, partly reflecting lower prices of imports — especially energy. However, the trade sector most

likely will make a negative contribution to U.S. real GDP growth in the first quarter of this year, as in the fourth quarter of 2008, due partly to the rise in the dollar since mid-2008.

Inflation Concerns Are Giving Way to Deflation Fears

The global economic recession and growing slack in labor markets have totally defused earlier inflation concerns in financial markets and at our central bank, and the specter of potentially destructive deflation has crept onto the radar screen. The Producer Price Index for finished goods moved down substantially during the last five months of 2008, and year-overyear changes for January and February were solidly in the red zone. Producer prices at earlier intermediate and crude stages of production have been throwing off large negatives in recent months, and those downward pressures will make their way into the finished goods measure as the year rolls along. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has been decelerating markedly since mid2008 and year-over-year changes for the December-February period were negligible. The core CPI (excluding prices of food and direct energy) has shown year-overyear gains of less than 2% for the past three months, and the chain-core version allowing for substitution with the market

basket of goods and services has been just over 1% — not far from price stability.

The Financial System Still Is Functioning Poorly

The national and global financial market crisis has rightfully earned the title of “Great Recession” for the current economic situation. Daunting problems in the financial systems pose formidable impediments to near-term economic stability and recovery both here and abroad, despite enactment of large fiscal stimulus packages in the U.S. and elsewhere. This reality was emphasized in a recent meeting of the finance ministers of the G-20 countries in England. It’s true that extraordinary efforts by the Federal Reserve and foreign central banks have improved the functioning of interbank markets and some short-term credit markets — particularly commercial paper — since the virtual freeze last fall. But our banking system apparently remains seriously undercapitalized despite major injections of TARP funds. Banks and other major financial institutions still are weighed down by “toxic” mortgage assets, mortgage foreclosure problems still are mounting, and quality spreads in mortgage securities and bond markets, corporate and See RECOVERY, Page 7

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May 4, 2009

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RECOVERY from Page 5 municipal, are extremely wide. Under these conditions, private credit markets still are in serious states of disrepair.

The Federal Reserve Pulls Out the Stops

The flagging economy, threat of deflation and persistent problems in the financial sector have spurred the Fed to pull out the policy stops. The Fed has dropped the federal funds rate from a cyclical high of 5.25% in the second quarter of 2007 to the 0.0%-0.25% range that’s prevailed since the end of 2008, effectively exhausting the major tool of monetary policy. The Fed also has thrown open the discount window to both banks and primary securities dealers and has waded into both the commercial paper market and the home mortgage market by substantially expanding its balance sheet operations in order to improve credit flows and reduce costs of credit in these markets. The Fed delivered a lot more support to credit markets at the conclusion of the March 17-18 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). As expected, the FOMC held the target range for the federal funds rate at 0.0% to 0.25% and committed to hold it there for an “extended period.” NAHB assumes that this rate will prevail through the end of next year. Two major unexpected policy moves were announced on March 18. First, the FOMC decided to purchase and hold up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgagebacked securities and an additional $100 billion of housing agency debt, on top of the $500 billion and $100 billion of agency mortgage-backed security and debt committed to earlier — bringing the overall total for this year to a whopping $1.45 trillion. The Fed said these moves were taken to provide “greater support to mortgage lending and housing markets.” The second surprise from the FOMC was a decision to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months, “to help improve conditions in private credit markets.” This essentially amounts to a decision by the Fed to “peg” Treasury rates, apparently in the two- to 10-year range, with the expectation that downward pressure will be put on rates of comparable maturity in private credit markets.

The recent public and political outcries over large “retention bonuses” paid to many executives of AIG, following massive injections of funds into this company by the federal government, threaten to divert the attention of policymakers from critical market needs at exactly the wrong time and to undermine the efforts to contain the financial crisis. We’re assuming that the political response to retention bonuses paid to executives of AIG and other financial companies receiving substantial federal support, including large commercial banks, will not be severe enough to discourage participation of private capital in efforts by the Treasury and the Fed to salvage the financial system. But damage has been done, and delicate balances may very well have been jeopardized.

Policy Blitz Moves Economy Toward Recovery

There have been some glimmers of light in the darkening economic picture, including retail sales for January and February and sales of both new and existing homes in February. It’s clear that ongoing market adjustments in key sectors are essential to eventual economic recovery and expansion. The policy blitz coming from the Administration,

Congress, the Federal Reserve and foreign policymakers certainly is helping in moving the train down the track toward the recovery tunnel — and the light at the other end should be in view soon. NAHB’s baseline (most probable) forecast shows resumption of real GDP growth during the second half of this year, topping-out of the unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2010, resumption of payroll employment growth by the second quarter of next year and inflation rates that approach zero in 2010 but do not slip into the deflationary zone. This economic recovery pattern cannot materialize without near-term stabilization of the housing sector, and we’re counting on support from recent policy initiatives to help housing turn that corner. Our forecast shows a bottom for home sales in the first quarter of this year, a bottom for total and single-family housing starts in the second quarter, and a bottom for the residential fixed investment component of GDP in the final quarter of 2009. National average house prices should stabilize within a few quarters, and the majority of the decline may now be behind us. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

Treasury Supplies More Details on PublicPrivate Toxic Asset Plan

On March 23, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner supplied more details on a critical component of the Obama Administration’s plan for stabilizing the financial system, i.e., the public-private partnership designed to get toxic or “legacy” assets off the books of banks and other financial institutions. The immediate financial market reaction to Geithner’s detailed plan was quite favorable, in stark contrast to the negative reactions to Geithner’s unveiling of the bare bones of the program in early February. The new Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) will set up dedicated funds that will provide markets for both legacy loans and legacy securities. The public and private sectors will invest equal amounts of capital in the funds, and guaranteed debt financing will be provided by FDIC for the loans program or the Treasury for the securities program. The program is designed to generate price discovery for illiquid loans and securities, largely through auctions of loan pools by the FDIC to private investors. The established price may or may not be acceptable to the financial institutions putting up the loans and securities for sale. The Treasury clearly has moved this ball well down the playing field, but there’s still some distance to go before the investment funds are set up and transactions are struck. It could be midyear before proper assessment of the PPIP can be made.

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SUBURBIA from Page 1 "Planners typically never thought about these issues," said Casey Dawkins, co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech University in Alexandria, Va. The foreclosure crisis is "causing a lot of planners to rethink the way they use their information." For now, though, planners and other government officials are simply trying to cope with the explosion of foreclosures and are scrambling to stabilize distressed neighborhoods and the growing number of vacated houses. "People are just beginning to come to grips with this. They are in shock," said John McIlwain, senior research fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C. The numbers are numbing. More than 1.2 million homes went into foreclosure in 2008. Analysts project 8 million more will be in foreclosure from 2009-12, hitting hardest the once fast-growing regions in South Florida, the Sun Belt and inland California. Fort Myers, Fla., held the dubious distinction as the nation's foreclosure capital last year. It served as the backdrop for President Obama's push for his $800 billion economic stimulus plan in February. "I know entire neighborhoods are studded with foreclosure signs, and families across this city feel like they're losing their foothold in the American Dream," Obama said during his tour of the hard-hit southwest Florida community.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Bigelow says the troubled Fort Myers suburb of Lehigh Acres is the national symbol of a boom-and-bust community. The sprawling community was conceived in the 1950s by developers who bought thousands of acres of farm land and carved out 100,000 lots, leaving little room for parks, schools and even businesses. For decades, most lots stayed empty until the housing boom erupted in the early 2000s. Lots selling for $1,000 to $2,000 in 2002 fetched $6,000 or more two years later -- even though some outlying sections didn't even have electricity. There were no sewers, only septic systems. By the end of 2006, more than 28,000 houses were built in Lehigh Acres and investors ran up prices by flipping houses time after time -- some homes sold and resold without ever being occupied. Then the bottom fell out. Today homes sell for about $45,000, roughly a third of what they cost to build. "Everyone is in just dire straits. We've got this crisis and everything has hit a brick wall," Bigelow said. "We've got to take on Lehigh Acres as an area that deserves our overdue attention. It has all these lots, one after another, and this checkerboard of roads that seemingly go on forever," he said. "We've got to figure out a way to be more sustainable, where people don't have to use their cars for work, school or entertainment," Bigelow said. "We can't sustain suburbia here. This foreclosure crisis points out this fatal

flaw." Some experts agree with Bigelow. They predict suburbia as we know it is doomed. And the most devastated suburban communities could become 21st-century ghost towns. "People have been moving farther out in large numbers since World War II. This is a 70-year phenomenon that we are now seeing end," said Urban Land Institute's McIlwain. "What we have done is create these outer-edge ghettos that aren't going to come back." The post-war flight to new suburban homes, schools and shopping centers, including mega-malls, sparked a methodical erosion of inner-city neighborhoods. Now, many suburbs are suffering the same problems that plagued the big cities: neighborhoods littered with vacant and abandoned houses; increasing crime and vandalism; declining home values; a shrinking tax base; overgrown yards; and mosquitofilled swimming pools. Job losses, long commutes, crowded highways and high energy costs are prompting many families to reevaluate suburban life, experts say. "Planners have to throw away the 1970s concept. Planners have to be more responsible for long-term sustainability -- not just environmental sustainability, but financial sustainability," said Dan Immergluck, a planning expert at Georgia Tech University who was a visiting scholar

for the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. For government officials, the more immediate goal is stemming the tide of foreclosures, keeping neighborhoods intact and getting vacant homes reoccupied. Officials nationwide are mapping out plans to use $3.92 billion in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to buy and rehabilitate homes for resale, work with homeowners to prevent foreclosure, and gear up to raze dilapidated buildings. Some communities have assembled special coalitions and task forces such as the "Red Team" in Southern California's Inland Empire. The group, composed of business and government leaders, has crafted a proposal aimed at combating an estimated 250,000 homes at risk of foreclosure in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Currently, about 100,000 homes are in foreclosure or default in the two counties. In Ohio, the state organized a Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, while Maryland created a Homeownership Preservation Task Force. At the same time, some cities have beefed up ordinances to stabilize neighborhoods and combat blight, enacting foreclosure registration fees, increasing nuisance abatement fines and penalties, and pressuring lenders to maintain upkeep on vacant properties. In Chula Vista, Calif., the secondlargest city in San Diego County, code See SUBURBIA, Page 9

Austin Young Real Estate Professionals

2009 Board Members AYREP is an organization of Real Estate Professionals providing social, networking and educational opportunities. Our focus is staying on the cutting edge of what’s new or ‘young’ in our industry. Our group is not limited by age. We welcome anyone that is interested in furthering their career through education, meeting or mentoring others within our profession. For more information contact: Sumina Bhatti 512.940.9140 suminabhatti@gmail.com

http://www.austinyrep.org/ 8

May 4, 2009

The ShowCase USA

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SUBURBIA from Page 8 enforcement manager Doug Leeper crafted a precedent-setting ordinance that compels mortgage lenders to take responsibility for abandoned houses sooner. "We had fires, theft and nasty things happening to these properties," Leeper said. "When I saw the first signs of defaults being recorded I looked at the options." Previously, lenders let defaulted properties stay empty until they assumed title -- a process that could take several months or even a year. The new ordinance, adopted a year and a half ago, bridged that gap and put the onus on lenders to maintain abandoned homes. The measure has gained national attention, with more than 350 cities contacting Leeper for information about the ordinance. To date, Chula Vista has received $160,000 in registration fees and levied $1.4 million in fines and penalties, of which $700,000 has been collected. "We are finding fewer violations. I've noticed a much greater willingness from lenders to take the proper action." Despite market upheaval, government officials and builders are bullish about suburbia's future. They say the appetite for ranch-style, single-family homes remains strong, and suburban growth will resume once the economy rebounds and the abundant inventory of homes shrinks. The reason: The population will continue to grow, and that will boost the demand for new housing.

"I don't see the taste for single-family homes changing dramatically. A lot of this empty territory will eventually be filled up," said Bernard Markstein, senior economist and forecasting director at the National Association of Home Builders. Economists say former high-growth cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix are likely to build themselves out of the economic hole. Las Vegas is banking on tens of thousands of new jobs emerging from the construction of major casinos on the famed Strip. Phoenix foresees a new migration of Californians cashing out of their pricey homes and settling in Arizona. "I don't see development patterns changing. A lot of people say this is one of the first areas that is going to take off," said Tim Tilton, a principal planner for the city of Phoenix, which ranked ninth among U.S. cities in foreclosures in February. Rich Bishop, executive director for the Western Riverside Council of Governments, said California's Riverside-San Bernardino region also won't see any letup in growth over the next 25 years. The Inland Empire will need 350,000 to 400,000 new homes to accommodate an estimated 1 million new residents. "There is going to be a continued demand of housing and a lot of it. The high-growth areas are still going to have building," Bishop said. Phoenix expects the northern and southwest sections of the 517-squaremile city to see further expansion and live up to the local homebuyer mantra of "drive until you qualify."

Even so, the city of Phoenix faces plenty of undeveloped infill land and a downtown crying for more residential development. "There are a lot of condos going in. This is sort of a downtown renaissance," Tilton said. Other cities have launched new downtown high-rise condo complexes with retail, office and recreational amenities. San Diego, for example, has revitalized its historic downtown Gas Lamp District with new housing projects. Former industrial cities are poised to ramp up plans to convert mothballed factories and mills into self-contained communities with a mix of housing, retail and office space. Developers are counting on aging baby boomers tired of long commutes and younger singles and families attracted to a vibrant city life to lead the inward march to the downtowns and inner-ring suburbs. The trend is emerging even in California's farm-rich Central Valley. Modesto is targeting similar downtown development as part of its answer to future housing growth. Modesto, which registered the fourthhighest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in February, has attracted homebuyers seeking relief from hefty prices in the San Francisco Bay Area some 90 minutes away. The recession stalled two 100-unit downtown housing projects that had been ready to go. "The interest is there. People are changing their lifestyle," said

Brett Sinclair, Modesto community development director. Modesto is in the midst of a new five-year urban growth review, and discussion is likely to include downtown development and attracting new employers so that residents can forego grueling daily commutes to work. "We may not get back to those historical levels of growth. We need to focus on providing not just housing, but attracting jobs," Sinclair said. The buzzwords for the future: diversity and density. That includes reviving the idea of building walkable suburban communities, creating transit hubs, expanding rental housing, inventing new uses for vacant buildings and land, and building smaller houses on smaller lots. It won't be easy. "You can't force higher density and mixed use on people," Western Riverside Council of Governments' Bishop said. The public and political will must be there, he said. "It's going to take leadership at the political level," Urban Land Institute's McIlwain said. "Density is a four-letter word. Politically, it is going to be very difficult to do." Yet, experts say cities may have no other choice to survive the fallout from the mortgage crisis. "This is the new reality," said Bill Spikowski, a city planning expert in Fort Myers. "You can't build enough roads. The suburban dream isn't working when you can't move around. We will have a more urban future." Copyright 2009 Inman News

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Promotion available for a limited time only. Prices, rates, terms, programs and availability subject to change or revocation without prior notice or obligation. Offers and availability, including amount, duration and particular home/plan, vary. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or incentives unless approved by Meritage Management. Job Loss Protection Program is not a commitment to lend. Loans subject to underwriting, credit, and property approval. Loan products and coverage terms and limits may vary by state. Not all borrowers will qualify. Maximum benefit of up to $2,500 per month for up to six months, subject to involuntary unemployment insurance policy terms, restrictions, and conditions, vesting and waiting periods, claim filing requirements, and certificate of coverage issuance. Other restrictions may apply. Terms, policy, and programs may be changed or cancelled at any time without notice. Assistance with closing costs is available with allocated Meritage Money through Prestige Lending Services, Ltd. $8,000 Federal tax credit available to qualified first-time homebuyers. Limitations apply. Please see your tax advisor for details or visit www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. Lease buyouts are available to qualified buyers and vary depending on lease amount, duration and other applicable lease terms. Certain restrictions apply. See sales agent for details. Free Credit Repair program is available to help educate and inform you about credit related issues. Such information is not intended to serve as legal advice. We do not promise or guarantee your credit score will be increased or restored. Other restrictions may apply to programs. Please see sales agent for details. Broker Co-op paid at closing; Broker MUST accompany buyer on 1st sales office visit. Square footage references are approximate only. Photographs are representative of a Meritage Homes design, but not necessarily offered at the advertised communities.

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May 4, 2009

9


How to Overcome NAHB Steps Up Efforts Home Buyer Objections to End Severe AD&C in Today's Market Credit Crunch We all might want more sales than we are getting, or we might like the sales that we do work with to be free of their many contingencies and conditions, but transactions are happening — even in the most stubborn markets. As for the objections our prospects raise, they really don’t differ that much from what many of us have heard in the past. They still can be grouped into the five basic categories — the home’s setting, financial reasons, design, buyer timing and fear — just like they were during the housing boom. And then, as now, most seasoned salespeople have been trained on how to overcome them. Yet, when most new home salespeople hear the dreaded, “We want to think it over,” from their customers today, they simply fold up their tents. So the fundamental impediment brought on by objections in today’s market, as difficult as it may be, may really be more about how we hear and interpret these objections, rather than the actual substance of them, and — even more importantly — how we allow these objections to become part of the selling and buying process. Most of us have spent a good part of our sales career overcoming objections and were trained in how to do it effectively. We would listen, make sure we understood them, discuss them and provide well-rehearsed and planned answers — and then move on to the sale. Our solutions may not have satisfied our clients’ needs or been what they wanted to hear, but our sales objective was to give our solutions or answers to their objections and move along as if nothing had happened. That’s not a route we would even dare to take in today’s tough market.

Three Levels of Objections

Prospective buyers can raise objections to buying now because of everything from neighborhood schools, an inability to get a mortgage, a baby due in eight weeks and too low a ceiling in the family room to paying too high a price, home owners association fees, fear of working with the builder and more. But no matter what the basis of the objection is, it generally falls into one of three levels of importance — major ones you can do nothing about; intermediate ones you can explain, answer or solve; and minor ones that are inconsequential and should be ignored. Major objections are those that you can’t change, make go away or really do anything about. If there is a power line or water treatment plant nearby, for instance, you can’t miraculously make it disappear. The best you can do in this circumstance is discuss the objection 10

May 4, 2009

with your prospects and minimize its impact on the decision-making process by helping them understand that whatever it is that they object to really will not have an adverse impact on their lifestyle or investment. The intermediate objections — the ones you can explain or answer — usually center around perceived room sizes, various aspects of their investment, having a current home to sell, fear of making a decision and the like. These are the objections and issues that you were trained to overcome and can overcome. Your task is to actually make the objections disappear through specific actions, or to lessen their impact and make them seem reasonable enough to your prospects so that a buying decision is still possible. The minor or inconsequential objections are those that are sometimes raised in passing. They may not even be objections but, instead, be merely off-the-cuff comments or observations about the paint, carpet color, model furnishings or something else incidental that really has nothing to do with the floor plan, how well it works for your customers or what they really feel about the home. If you are ready and willing to act on these minor objections, you give them much more weight and importance than they deserve — and you could spend much too much time trying to solve them. The best plan of action with minor objections is to ignore them and let them fade away.

Determine If the Shopper Is Serious

While the nature of buyer objections has not really changed, in order to overcome objections in a down market, your first order of business should be to determine how serious your home shoppers are. If they’re not serious, having a home to sell or worrying about getting their financing really doesn’t matter at all. If they’re not serious, they are not going to buy no matter how hard you work for them. So, to determine how serious they are, I suggest asking them something like, “If your current home (or financing or other considerations they raised) was not a factor and everything was in place for you to do so, would you say ‘yes’ to owning this home right now?” If they replied with anything other than an emphatic and enthusiastic “yes,” then they really haven’t raised an objection, they were just giving you an excuse. And there is no effective way to work with excuses, because as soon as you try to deal with one another See OVERCOME, Page 20

Expanding efforts this spring to restore the flow of credit that is needed for the production of housing, NAHB is seeking case studies from its members who have run into problems with their lenders. “Turmoil in the housing credit and broader financial markets is now affecting every corner of our nation’s economy, but the effect on financing for housing production is especially severe and is resulting in economic hardship in communities throughout the country,” 47 members of the U.S. Congress said in a March 27 letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “Home builders are experiencing an untenable constriction in terms and availability on land acquisition, land development and home construction (AD&C) loans and builders with outstanding loans are facing mounting challenges,” the letter said. Lawmakers were asked to send the letter by delegations of builders who made visits to Capitol Hill last month during the annual NAHB Legislative Conference. Stories from builders on their difficulties with lenders will provide documentation as the industry seeks relief from today’s severe AD&C credit crunch, which is a major impediment to the housing recovery that is needed to restore the health of the nation’s faltering economy. The stories will be used to convey the seriousness of the issue to regulators, legislators and others who are in a position to help resolve the current situation. Of particular interest to NAHB are stories coming from builders or developers in relatively stable markets that illustrate vividly the inappropriateness of specific regulatory actions. NAHB members are encouraged to share their financing experiences by filling out the online template located at: www.nahb.org/adccasestudy. “Lenders are now making demands on existing loans that appear unrelated to sensible regulatory requirements,” the letter to Sec. Geithner said. “These demands are increasingly impairing previously performing loans and, in some cases, forcing builders with viable projects into insolvency, and frustrating the purpose of the Troubled Asset Recovery Program (TARP), which was to allow lenders to extend credit to deserving borrowers and stabilize the economy.” The letter was forwarded to Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; John Dugan, comptroller of the currency; John Bowman, acting director, Office of Thrift Supervision; and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. NAHB has noted that while policy

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makers have correctly been expending the necessary resources to prevent banks from foreclosing on home owners, that same approach is not being taken on loans to home builders and developers. The small home building businesses that have disproportionately fallen victim to the cascading freeze in home building credit depend almost entirely upon commercial banks and thrifts for housing production credit. As it continues to meet with decision makers in Washington to resolve the crisis, NAHB will be recommending several solutions: • Regulators should encourage lenders to work with residential construction borrowers who have loans in good standing by providing flexibility on re-appraisals, loan modifications and perhaps forbearance, to give builders sufficient time to complete projects and sell their inventory. By not extending loans, banks are depriving builders of the opportunity to find buyers as the housing market enters its peak selling season. • Institutions that have received funds from TARP or the new Financial Stability Plan (FSP) should be required to account for how these funds are being used in lending on new projects and/or working out more flexible terms to facilitate continued funding and eventual repayment of performing AD&C loans. • Up to $20 billion in TARP and FSP funds should be allocated specifically for AD&C loans to provide banks with additional capacity to accommodate loan modifications and workouts. The monies would be voluntarily requested by banks. In order to access the capital, the recipient would have to demonstrate to their regulator that the net present value of working out a loan would be higher than a foreclosure or sale to a hedge fund or other opportunistic investors. Forbearance approved by the regulator would be provided for a limited period of time detailed in the plan to allow the parties to have sufficient time to execute the workout. Institutions would classify such forbearance on an affected loan as a performing asset as opposed to a troubled debt under capital regulations. • In addition, the TARP funds could be used to buy down an interest rate for a home buyer who is purchasing a home from a builder whose AD&C project is subject to the plan. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News. www.TheShowCaseUSA.com


Builder Confidence Shows Calling All Leaders: Biggest Jump in Five Years Opportunities Abound for Association Involvement Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes this month rose five points — to 14 — the highest level since October 2008, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which was released on April 15. The largest one-month increase since May of 2003 moved the HMI out of single-digit territory for the first time in six months. Every component of the HMI showed improvement, but sales expectations in the next six months recorded the biggest gain. “If you’re a potential buyer who’s been sitting on the fence waiting for a sign that now is the time to act, this is it,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “Some of the most favorable buying conditions in a lifetime are now in place, and they are drawing more consumers back to the market.” “This is a very encouraging sign that we are at or near the bottom of the current housing depression,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “With the prime home buying season now underway, builders report that more buyers are responding to the pull of much-improved affordability measures, including low home prices, extremely favorable mortgage rates and the introduction of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit.” Crowe cautioned, however, that a key issue that still must be addressed

is the ongoing credit crunch for builder acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) financing. “Restoring health to our nation’s economy will require a substantial housing recovery, and that recovery is contingent on breaking the logjam in AD&C lending that presents an ever-increasing obstacle for home builders,” he said. Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, expectations of sales six months down the road and traffic of prospective buyers. Any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. Each of the HMI component indexes recorded substantial gains in April. Builder sales expectations surged 10 points, to 25. Current sales conditions and buyer traffic each rose five points, to 13 and 14, respectively. The HMI for April was up in every region of the country, climbing eight points to 16 in the Northeast, six points to 14 in the Midwest, five points to 17 in the South and four points to 9 in the West.

The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

Take an active role in shaping your Association – apply for an Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) or Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) leadership position today! From May 1 through June 30, ABoR members are encouraged to apply online at Abor.com for leadership roles. The following positions are open: • Five ABoR Directors • One ABoR Chairman-elect • One ABoR Secretary/Treasurer • Five TAR Directors* • Two TAR Regional Vice Presidents* *Note: The number of TAR leadership positions open to ABoR members will be determined by the ABoR membership count as of May 31. ABoR and TAR directors hold three-year terms beginning in 2010. TAR Regional Vice Presidents hold two-year terms beginning in 2011. ABoR’s Chairman-elect and Secretary/ Treasurer hold their positions for one year. ABoR directors function as a bridge between the association and its members, establishing and reviewing organizational performance standards. Directors must commit to attending all regularly scheduled board

meetings, typically held once a month. Prerequisites for these positions are available in ABoR Bylaws, Article XI Sections 1, 3 and 5 at www.abor.com/ about_abor/bylaws.pdf. The duties of TAR directors include amending TAR's bylaws; electing TAR's officers and regional representatives; approving the statewide strategic plan; and defining regional boundaries. Regional vice presidents represent TAR as the primary liaison to the local associations and membership and must participate in all meetings of the TAR Executive Board, Regional Vice President Committee and Board of Directors. TAR leadership election requirements may be found in the TAR Bylaws, Article V Section III at http://texasrealtors.com/web/2/16/ bylaws.pdf. Applicants for all positions, in accordance with ABoR bylaws, must be primary or secondary REALTOR® members for at least three consecutive years. By June 30, qualified REALTORS® should apply online at Abor.com. In August, the ABoR Nominating Committee will interview candidates. For questions or concerns regarding the leadership opportunities, contact ABoR’s Executive Department at 512/454-7636 or executive@abor.com.

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Don't Fear The Pink Slip 'Payment Protection Plans' Target Job-Loss Worries Payment protection plans that promise to cover homebuyers' mortgage payments for a time if they lose their jobs are becoming an increasingly popular marketing tool for mortgage lenders, homebuilders and Realtors. But consumer advocates question the value of such "single event" insurance policies, and warn that a payment protection plan shouldn't be the deciding factor in whether or not to move forward with a home purchase. Some correspondent lenders were offering the payment protection plans even before unemployment surged. Now major builders and some Realtors are getting in on the act, too. The California Association of Realtors announced on April 2 that it would apply $1 million its members had donated to a charitable fund earmarked for affordable housing, and use it instead to buy unemployment insurance policies for about 3,000 first-time homebuyers. The Association will prepay the insurance policies for one year. For about $330 per homebuyer, the policies CAR is buying will provide monthly payments of up to $1,500 for as long as six months in the event that homebuyers lose their jobs. A Pittsburgh, Pa.-based real estate broker, Howard Hanna, on March 27 announced it was offering homebuyers who agree to use the company's affiliated lender, Howard Hanna Mortgage Services, the same policy -also at no charge, the company says. "I think there's going to be a mad rush to these," said Mark Steele, president of Howard Hanna Mortgage. "It's one of these things that just gives extra comfort to people making an offer on a property today." In Florida, real estate broker Keller Williams South Florida Region is offering sellers, lenders and agents the ability to purchase a package of homeowner education and loan protections that includes insurance against a layoff for homebuyers. Keller Williams South Florida's "SAFE HOME" program is a "private label" version of the Homeowner Education

12

May 4, 2009

and Loan Protection (HELP) program offered by a nonprofit, the Rainy Day Foundation. The HELP and the SAFE HOME programs provide payments of either $1,800 or $2,500 a month for a maximum of six months, depending on the level of coverage desired. The programs also offer optional homebuyer counseling, and access to a "Rainy Day" emergency fund to help cover unexpected financial emergencies. For now, the HELP and SAFE HOME programs are available only in conjunction with FHA, VA and USDA loan guarantee programs. But the Rainy Day Foundation says it's enrolled about 10,000 homebuyers in the HELP program, mostly through mortgage lenders and homebuilders. "Last month, we (enrolled) just over 1,300 (borrowers), and this month we'll be up close to 2,000," said Todd Ludlow, a senior vice president wih the Rainy Day Foundation. In the past, Ludlow said, the Rainy Day Foundation's main clients were correspondent lenders -- originators who provide short-term funding and sell the mortgages they originate to other lenders. In marketing the HELP program to lenders, the Rainy Day Foundation promises it can help them reduce early payment defaults and manage their Neighborhood Watch statistics -- the early warning system employed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to track problem lenders. In recent weeks, the Rainy Day Foundation has been enrolling builders and real estate companies on a daily basis, Ludlow said, "writing new contracts and developing new relationships with organization around the country." In its marketing pitch to builders, the Rainy Day Foundation calls the program a "unique marketing opportunity" that "increases home sales." The "perceived value of HELP services to homebuyer far exceeds actual cost" -- about $550 on average, the company says. Lennar Corp. is one builder that's offering a version of the Rainy Day

Foundation's HELP program, with coverage up to $2,500 a month offered in Las Vegas, Austin, Texas and California markets like Orange County, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Toll Brothers Inc. and The Ryland Group Inc. are among other major builders offering payment protection plans. Even mortgage insurer Genworth Financial -- which, like most private mortgage insurers, mostly sells policies that protect lenders, not borrowers -- is providing borrowers with some protection against unemployment. Genworth spokesman Terry Souers said the company has been purchasing coverage that provides six months of payments of up to $2,000 when offered by participating lenders "at no cost to the insured." "If that helps them stay in their homes, we're happy. Clearly it's great when we don't have to pay a claim," Souers said. He said Genworth has seen steadily increasing lender interest in the product, with twice as many of the loans the company insures having job-loss coverage this year than last year. Like similar programs offered by automakers and credit-card companies, mortgage payment protection programs are intended to address consumers' fears about taking on debt at a time when the economy is in a tailspin and unemployment is spiking. Interest rates are near historic lows, and home prices in many markets have returned to more affordable levels. But it's difficult for some consumers to commit to a major purchase with the threat of unemployment hanging over their heads. "There hasn't been a better time in the last 50 years to purchase a home, based on interest rates and affordability," Ludlow said. "Builders who participate in this program are going to bring buyers into their subdivision that would otherwise be sitting at home watching TV, thinking it's too risky to buy a house or they can't afford to buy a house. If they've got a job, we need to get buyers off of their couches to

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purchase a home." Ludlow, who also owns a Boise, Idaho-based mortgage brokerage firm, Capital Mortgage, believes would-be homebuyers who stay on the fence may someday regret it, because government stimulus spending and the Federal Reserve's monetary policies will eventually spur inflation. Purchasing a home now is an excellent hedge against inflation, he said. Greg Cook, a spokesman for Keller Williams South Florida, agreed. "I'm not an economist, but my personal opinion is that in the next couple years, interest rates will be significantly higher because the Fed will have to do something to check inflation," Cook said. "That was our position in offering (the SAFE HOME program). The brokers and agents don't make any money offering it -- it helps the homebuyers."

Skeptics Weigh In

But consumer groups are questioning how much protection the policies really provide, and whether they are worth their cost. In cases where the cost of the policies are passed along to consumers -- whether directly or indirectly -- borrowers might be better off keeping that money in their pockets, they say. "Are we sure the premium isn't somehow being built into the price of homes? Because if it is, it's a waste," said Douglas Heller, executive director of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. "There is almost no premium low enough to make these products worthwhile." If the policies turn out to be a bad deal for homebuyers, real estate professionals risk tarnishing their reputations by helping insurers sell them, Heller said. "I understand the potential value being offered, but there are a couple of things to be careful of -- not only for consumers, but for Realtors." In general, Heller and other consumer advocates say, payment protection See DON'T FEAR, Page 16

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Strasburg at RE/MAX International Convention RE/MAX of Texas Regional Director-Strategic Growth Chuck Strasburg,   who is responsible for RE/MAX expansion across central, south, and west Texas, just returned from speaking at the annual RE/ Chuck MAX International Convention Strasburg in Nevada, where he addressed a gathering of RE/MAX representatives from around the world on industry growth. Recording the 2nd highest number of RE/MAX franchise sales in North America during 2008, Strasburg led a panel of speakers educating regional representatives from among the 70+ countries in which RE/MAX operates. “There’s a lot of media focus on the problems in the real estate industry nationally,” noted Strasburg, a resident of Horseshoe Bay, “but rarely do we see good news reported, such as the fact that in most of Texas we enjoy stable home prices, locally favorable employment numbers, and lending institutions very responsive to credit-worthy mortgage applicants.” “Over 700 real estate professionals invested in a RE/MAX franchise office during 2008, roughly the number of all of our national competitors combined,” Strasburg continued.  “The reason is that  entrepreneurs from all cultures, economies and political systems are able to easily see the enormous advantages in technology, advertising, brand awareness, and educational resources that RE/MAX offers over our counterparts.” In Texas, RE/MAX has expanded to approximately 300 franchise locations with nearly 5,000 Sales Associates who-on average-lead the industry in experience, sales, and the completion of advanced Realtor training. “The lead generation system from remax.com delivers free leads to our agents on their competitors’ listings,” Strasburg declared;   “our Agent Training on Demand provides video education 24/7 from the best coaches in the business;    and our unparalleled advertising program gives our agents over one-half of all real estate voice on national television. These advantages are simply unbeatable.” A 30-year veteran of real estate sales, brokerage operation, and development, Strasburg is confident that any uncertainties in the present Texas market will work themselves out in due time. “From a brokerage perspective, it’s not so much whether housing prices are going up or going down, the important thing is that professional Realtors are prepared with the proper training to deal with what the market is giving us. When you’re fortunate enough to have the best brand in the industry on your business card, it provides consumers the confidence that you’re going to execute the best possible transaction in their behalf.”

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Number of Builders With NAHB Green Credentials Soars Nearly 2,800 builders, remodelers and other home building industry professionals have now achieved the Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation — an indication of the growth of the green building movement and NAHB’s leadership in providing educational opportunities for its members. The designation is awarded after the successful completion of 24 hours of classroom instruction on green building techniques and business practices, two years of industry experience, a commitment to continuing education and adherence to the CGP code of ethics. “These men and women are ahead of the curve,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “As home buyers return to the market and as home owners look to make cost-effective improvements to their homes, these professionals have already determined where the industry’s greatest growth opportunity is most likely to be — environmentally friendly, resourceefficient design and construction. That’s green building.”

See GREEN, Page 22

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Robson cited the examples of three building industry professionals who recognize the value of the CGP educational designation: • John Allen, principal of Southern Construction & Design Inc. in Madison, Ala., has found his designation invaluable in planning home building and remodeling projects. “It’s important to understand the products and techniques that are out there so you can advise home buyers about energy, water and resource efficiency and how to get a return on your investment for building green,” he said. • Paul Kinder, a window and door sales representative at Harry G. Barr Company in Fort Smith, Ark., said the designation paid for itself the day after he finished taking his classes. As he talked to a customer to explain his product’s energyefficient benefits, he also mentioned his Certified Green Professional designation, which was enough

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May 4, 2009

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Foot Traffic Up as Home Buying Real Estate Outlook: A Becomes More Affordable Turnaround May Be in Sight Thanks to record low mortgage rates and declining home prices, 55 million families — or half of all U.S. households — can afford today's $200,000 median-priced new home, according to figures released by NAHB. "That's an increase of 17 million households from conditions just two years ago and the best housing affordability number we have seen in years," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. "We are now seeing the first signs that buyers are returning to the marketplace." Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau comparing home prices, mortgage rates and the minimum income needed to purchase a medianpriced home in February 2007 and February 2009, a typical family today can purchase a house with $20,000 less in household income and save nearly $500 per month on their principal, interest, taxes and insurance. About 55.4 million households can afford to purchase a home today, compared with 38.4 million two years ago, according to figures compiled by NAHB. "With affordability up dramatically, reports from our builders in the field indicate that foot traffic in new homes is on the rise and consumer interest is increasing with each passing day. These are encouraging signs that the housing market may be finally reaching a bottom," said Robson. Entering the crucial spring home buying season, there are other signs that buyers are starting to return to the market. Single-family permits were up 11% in February, new and existing home sales also posted gains and the huge inventory backlog is being slowly whittled down. In a survey for Century 21 Real Estate last month among prospective first-time home buyers who indicated they were likely to purchase a home in the next two years, a majority — 78% — said that now is a good time to buy a home. Of those responding to the online poll, 68% said that now is a better time to buy than six months ago. Another sign that consumers are considering jumping back into the housing market is the growing

interest in the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit included in the recently enacted economic stimulus package. During February and March, 1.5 million visitors logged on to NAHB's consumer Web site, www. federalhousingtaxcredit.com, to learn more about the tax credit. Further, a new survey commissioned by Move, Inc. found that nearly 20% of those who plan to purchase a home this year are doing so to take advantage of the tax credit, which expires at the end of November. "With home values in many markets at the lowest level since 2003, an $8,000 tax credit available to first-time home buyers, fixed-rate mortgages under 5% and an outstanding selection of homes to choose from, buyers are starting to recognize that this has the makings for a one-time opportunity to break into the market," said Robson. Housing is a critical component of the U.S. economy, accounting for about 15 cents of every dollar spent in this country, so any upturn in the housing market should be viewed as good news for the overall economy, said Robson. Construction of an additional 500,000 single-family homes — the difference between today's anemic construction rate and one that would move closer to meeting the underlying demand for housing — would generate 734,000 jobs and $35 billion in wages in the construction industry and another 790,000 jobs and $37.7 billion wages in manufacturing, trade and service sector jobs, he noted. Additionally, another half-million housing starts would bolster the tax base for government, generating $45 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. And the benefits go well beyond the completion of each home. Within the first year after buying a home, those half million households will spend about $2.5 billion more on appliances, furnishings and property alterations. "Clearly, housing will be central to any economic recovery we experience in the months ahead," said Robson. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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May 4, 2009

Almost no one in the economic forecasting business wants to take the risk of announcing that it's now official. We're past the rock bottom of the down cycle for real estate and now we're moving into recovery mode. That's understandable, but the fact is that the signs are all there. Sales and pending sales of homes have turned up sharply in hard-hit markets. House prices are more affordable. Consumer confidence polls show slight but noteworthy improvements in the public's outlook. Check out developments for the week of April 6 alone: Mortgage applications for purchases of resale and new homes were up again — 8% for applications using conventional loans, and a remarkable 17% gain in applications to buy houses using low-downpayment FHA mortgages. Mortgage rates remain at near historic lows, though they may be bottoming out. Thirty-year fixed rates rose a tenth of a percent on average, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, to 4.7%. Fifteen year rates stayed flat, around 4.5%. A group of new consumer-sentiment polls came out showing that Americans are feeling better about their economic prospects for the first time in months. A survey of 15,000 adults by Discover Financial Services recorded a significant jump in confidence between February and March. A New York Times/CBS poll of 1,000 consumers found the same. The Times even put the results at

the top its front page with the headline: "Poll Finds Brightening Outlook on U.S. Economy." Members of NAHB reported that shoppers' visits to look at new houses for sale are "on the rise and consumer interest is increasing.” The association also announced that more than half of all U.S. households — 55 million of them — can now afford to buy the median-priced $200,000 new home. That's up 45% in the past 24 months. Even Business Week, which has been particularly harsh on housing in recent years, ran a cover story about the turnaround getting underway — focusing on hard-hit areas of Florida, California and Las Vegas, where sales have been rising fast and unsold inventory taking a plunge. The report quoted Paula Hellenbrand, president of the Cape Coral Florida Association of Realtors®, who predicted an end to inventory problems on the near horizon. "At this rate (of current sales),” she told the magazine, "we're going to see a big shortage of inventory by summer, and that will trigger price increases.” That would be extraordinary, especially in view of still-rising unemployment and depressed levels of spending by consumers. But don't count it out. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

Single-Family Home Starts Unchanged in March Characteristic volatility in the multifamily sector pushed nationwide housing starts down 10.8% in March while production of singlefamily homes remained unchanged, according to numbers released by the U.S. Commerce Department on April 16. Total starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 510,000 units last month. The decline resulted from a 29% drop on the multifamily side, which largely offset a big gain in apartment and condo building in February. “While improving interest among potential home buyers has builders more optimistic these days, we don’t want to ramp up production until sales of new homes pick up,” noted NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “A cautious attitude about new building is definitely what’s called for here, and that’s what most builders have wisely adopted for the time being.” “Today’s numbers are right on target with NAHB’s forecast, which anticipates that housing starts will bottom out in the second quarter,

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after new-home sales have stabilized,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Single-family starts remained virtually unchanged over the past three months, indicating that we are closing in on a bottom,” Crowe said. “Multifamily starts — which tend to bounce around from month to month — were responsible for the decline in total starts as they readjusted following a substantial gain in February.” Crowe noted that while builders have been seeing more sales office traffic and fielding more calls in recent weeks as consumers respond to historically affordable home buying conditions, many continue to grapple with a severe credit crunch for acquisition, development and construction financing (AD&C). “A substantial recovery in housing of the kind that’s required to help get the national economy back on its feet will not happen until the logjam in AD&C lending has been broken,” he cautioned. See HOME STARTS, Page 22 www.TheShowCaseUSA.com


TAX CREDIT from Page 1 community, when they learned of the new and improved credit, and they ended up signing a contract to buy a $165,000 house that same day. "It's a big house for us," says John of the four-bedroom, 2-1/2-bath home. "But it will give us room to grow our family. It's a dream come true. We are really, really excited." The Kohlers put up a $6,000 downpayment and paid about $2,000 in closing costs. "But basically we'll get all that back in a few weeks when we receive our tax refund," John points out, "so we'll just about break even." The Peltons in Florida aren't firsttime buyers in the true sense of the term. But they still qualify under the tax credit rules, which define firsttimers as anyone who hasn't owned a principal residence for three years prior to their closing date, the day they actually take title to their new home. The Peltons previously owned a manufactured house that was damaged not once but twice when hurricanes tore through Central Florida several years ago. Each time a storm hit, James not only had to pay to repair their home, he also lost valuable work time. "I was out of work for two weeks after one hurricane, and when the next one came, I was out of work again. I lost a lot of money." He "tried everything to catch up," he says. But eventually, they had to give the place up. Now, though, they are owners of a $149,900, four-bedroom home

at the Enclave, a Highland Homes community. And they are going to use the money they get back from Uncle Sam when they file their 2009 tax return as a cushion so they will never again fall behind on their mortgage payments. James, who works two jobs to support his family of four — during the day, he works in a food warehouse, and at night, he delivers the Lakeland Ledger

of models to choose from. But the tax credit was paramount, especially since California is kicking in a tax credit of its own for up to an extra $10,000. Unlike the federal tax credit, which is for first-timers who buy either a new or existing house, the California credit — 5% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $10,000 — is targeted just to buyers of newly built homes.

"The $8,000 tax credit was a big incentive," — is certain the couple would have purchased another house eventually, but probably not for another five years or so. "We don't have that kind of money lying around," he says. But thanks to the tax credit, the Peltons were able to buy now. "The $8,000 tax credit was a big incentive," James says. "It gives us a fresh start." In Southern California, meanwhile, the Talaveras have just moved into their four-bedroom, 2-1/2-bath house at the Summit at Eastlake. There were other factors that went into their decision to buy the $350,000 house by Cornerstone Communities. Prices are more affordable then they've been in years and there are lots

"We are the classic people the government is trying to reach," says Leslie, who works in the business office at a local hospital while husband John is an E-6 in the Navy. "We were looking, though not very seriously because we thought the market might drop some more. But when we heard about the tax credit, we decided to take advantage of it." Now, the family of four is living in a brand new home, a home "we never thought we'd be able to get." The California tax credit is going fast. The state has set aside $100 million for the credit, which is enough to cover 10,000 buyers at the maximum credit, and nearly 4,000 buyers have already

applied, according to the state. On the federal level, where there is no limit on the total number of credits, nearly 600,000 have already claimed the first-time buyer credit. As of March 6, nearly 568,000 had claimed a first-time home buyer credit, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which audits the Internal Revenue Service. California builder Matt Towery of Towery Homes can attest to the power of the combined credits. He logged just one sale prior to Thanksgiving, but since then, he's notched 48 at his four communities in the Bakersfield area about 90 miles north of Los Angeles. "The California credit is the one that really clicked in for us," says Towery. "When that hit, our traffic went from 15 groups a weekend to about 50. Cars were parked in the vacant lots across from our models. It was just stunning. We haven't seen that for years." The young builder, who has been in construction all his life but didn't go out on his own until 2002, says the tax credits are "creating a sense of urgency" among would-be buyers who have been sitting on the fence. "Now they are worried we won't be able to finish their homes on time" so they can claim them. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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DON'T FEAR from Page 12 plans aren't a good value compared to more traditional forms of insurance, such as property, casualty and life. "These are historically lousy insurance products -- you pay too much, and you get too little" in terms of claims paid out to policyholders relative to premiums, Heller said. Staffers at the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, have expressed similar reservations about payment protection plans. As is the case with any insurance policy, there are many ways for insurers to wriggle out of paying claims, Heller said. Read the fine print of the payment protection plan being provided by the California Association of Realtors, for example, and you'll notice that homebuyers aren't eligible to claim benefits until a six-month "vesting" period has run its course. The policies CAR is providing aren't available to the self-employed, and won't pay claims to anyone forced to go on leave because of an accident, sickness, disability, pregnancy or childbirth. But perhaps the biggest problem with payment protection plans is that even when they do pay out as promised, the protection they provide may not be enough to keep a homebuyer out of default or foreclosure, Heller said. The coverage provided by the policies CAR is purchasing -- up to $1,500 a month for six months -- will provide at most $9,000 in total coverage. At the end of the day, six months of protection, in this economy, is not enough," Heller said. "If you don't think you can afford to buy a house today, this isn't a reason to buy one tomorrow." An obscure section of California's insurance code may also make it illegal

to offer such insurance at no charge to homebuyers, Heller said. Section 777.1 of the California Insurance Code states, in part, that insurers may not offer any kind of insurance "as an inducement to the purchase or rental" of any property "without any separate charge to the insured for such insurance." A spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance said regulators are researching whether the code applies to payment protection plans offered by lenders, builders and Realtors in California. "It's a different way of saying, 'Don't worry about your income,' " Heller said. "If you're buying a house your income level matters. Lenders and Realtors should not try to induce people into buying more than they can." Steve Goddard, president of the California Association of Realtors, said the payment protection plan offered by the group is intended to provide peace of mind, not serve as an inducement to buyers to stretch beyond their resources. "We certainly don't promote anybody buying a house that can't afford it," Goddard said. "Our intention is to offer peace of mind to first-time homebuyers." Some critics say that when payment protection plans are offered by builders or lenders, homebuyers may actually end up paying for them because the premiums will be rolled into the purchase price or recouped through higher loan fees. But Goddard, a broker-manager for RE/MAX Marquee Partners in Manhattan Beach, Calif., said that's not an issue with the payment protection policies offered by CAR. That's because the group plans to prepay the premiums itself, drawing $1 million from CAR's Housing Affordability Fund, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) charity founded in 2002 to address

skyrocketing housing costs. According to a recent newsletter, the Housing Affordability Fund had provided $1.82 million in funding for affordable housing projects, creating 1,495 "housing opportunities" through the end of 2008. Goddard said that tapping the fund to buy payment protection policies will not take away from CAR's efforts to provide affordable housing. "This is extra money," Goddard said. "We have more money in the fund right now than we have projects to do." According to the fund's most recent tax return, it had $3.16 million in investments on hand at the end of 2007, after making $280,500 in grants and racking up $124,644 in expenses during the year. The expenses included $94,388 in management fees paid to CAR.

Underwriters

The payment protection program offered by CAR and Howard Hanna is underwritten by Fortegra Financial, which does business as Life of the South and offers payment protection products to clients in the banking, credit card and automotive industries. Neither Fortegra Financial nor the underwriter of the payment protection plan offered by the Rainy Day Foundation, Virginia Surety, responded to requests for comment. Virginia Surety is the U.S. property and casualty insurance arm of The Warranty Group Inc., which claims to be the world's largest provider of warranties and service contracts for manufacturers and retailers. Two companies that market payment protection plans underwritten by Fortegra and Virginia Surety -cynoSure Financial Inc. and Producers

Financial Network Inc. -- were also unresponsive to requests for comment. Executives with the Rainy Day Foundation emphasized that their Homeowner Education and Loan Protection (HELP) program provides more than payment protection insurance. Rick Del Sontro, chief executive officer of the Rainy Day Foundation, said he's been frustrated that media accounts about the HELP program have focused on its payment protection provisions, when the program also provides homebuyer counseling and an emergency fund that borrowers can apply to for help when they run into unexpected financial difficulties. "I understand what consumer advocacy groups are saying -- that unemployment insurance policies (alone) are maybe not great policies," Del Sontro said. "That's why we've put together a comprehensive program ... and marry the job-loss insurance with (optional counseling and) the Rainy Day emergency fund." Del Sontro said the Rainy Day Foundation was started to address claims that FHA-backed loans relying on seller-funded down-payment assistance programs funded by homebuilders were more likely to end up in default and foreclosure. When the Department of Housing and Urban Development's attempts to end the programs were delayed by legal challenges, Congress passed legislation banning FHA from accepting sellerfunded down-payment assistance on FHA-backed loans (see story).

Rainy Day's roots

Originally registered with the IRS as the Home Downpayment Gift Foundation, the Rainy Day Foundation has a five-year history of working with See DON'T FEAR, Page 19

House and Senate Approve $3.5 Trillion Budget Plans Voting along party lines, the House and Senate last week each approved $3.5 trillion in spending in their respective versions of the fiscal 2010 budget. The budget serves as a broad blueprint that will permit President Obama to focus on his key goals — an expansion of health care coverage for the uninsured, a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increased funding for education reform and college loans. The broad budget outline contains provisions that are both supported and opposed by NAHB. However, the final outcome on any of these provisions remains unclear; the congressional budget represents more of a sense of the Congress and its spending priorities than the specifics that will be applied to various spending programs. It is unlikely that the final budget approved by Congress will be enacted into law as written. While the budgets approved by both chambers of Congress contain tax elements of interest to NAHB, these 16

May 4, 2009

provisions do not bind the tax-writing committees to taking any specific action. Below are topics of interest to home builders: • Cap on the Value of All Itemized Deductions. Unlike the White House budget plan, neither the House nor Senate budget contains any proposal to cap the value of all itemized tax deductions for higher-income taxpayers — including the mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions. • Home Buyer Tax Credit. An amendment by Sen. Johnny Isakson (RGa.) was accepted by unanimous consent to provide a deficit-neutral reserve fund for a nonrefundable $15,000 federal income tax credit for the purchase of a principal residence during a one-year period. • Estate Tax. The underlying Senate budget resolution freezes the estate tax at the 2009 level ($3.5 million exemption per individual and $7 million per couple, with a 45% tax rate above that amount). Then two conflicting amendments

were adopted, which should make conference negotiations interesting. The first amendment offered by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) increased the exemption to $5 million per individual with a 35% tax rate above that limit. The second amendment put forth by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) created a point of order against any estate tax legislation beyond the “baseline” $3.5 million/45% proposal in the resolution unless it provides equal relief to those earning less than $100,000. Meanwhile, the House budget resolution allows the estate tax to be addressed with a cost cap of $72 billion over five years. • Net Operating Loss (NOL) Carry Back. The Senate bill contains an explicit expansion of the NOL carryback along the lines of the original Obama stimulus proposal, while the House resolution mentions business tax relief generally with nothing specific on NOL. In a related development, a broad NOL bill was introduced in the Senate this week (for a related story in this week’s issue of

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NBN, click here). The biggest item of contention between the two budgets is a tool known as "reconciliation," which would enable the Senate to approve Obama's health, energy and education initiatives by a simple majority of 51 rather than gaining Republican support to reach the usual 60 votes required. The House voted to include the procedure in its budget plan for health care and education legislation. The Senate rejected reconciliation for Obama's capand-trade proposal, while the House budget does not include cap-and-trade in its reconciliation provisions. The bottom line is that when the House and Senate go to conference to produce a final budget, the door has been left open to employ reconciliation on any or all of these initiatives. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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ABoR's Endorsements For Austin Mayor, City Council Today, the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) endorsed the following candidates for election on May 9, 2009: Carole Keeton Strayhorn (Austin Mayor), Chris Riley (Austin City Council, Place 1), Mike Martinez (Austin City Council, Place 2), Dr. Bill Spelman (Austin City Council, Place 5) and Sheryl Cole (Austin City Council, Place 6). ABoR selected these candidates based on their support for private property rights and their commitment to protect and advance opportunities for homeownership in Central Texas. Socar Chatmon-Thomas, past chairman of ABoR and member of the Government Affairs Committee, commented on the endorsements, “ABoR is proud to endorse this slate of candidates to lead Austin into the future. We’re facing challenging times and we believe these leaders understand them better than anyone. We are confident these candidates will put the interests of homeowners first and foremost in their minds as

Austin enters a new decade.” The organization’s process for deciding endorsements entails an open candidate forum to provide members the opportunity to hear from candidates directly and oneon-one interviews between the candidates and members of ABoR’s Government Affairs Committee. Chatmon-Thomas commented on ABoR’s mayoral endorsements, “At the start of this process, we didn’t know which candidate would advocate best for Austin homeowners. However, the passion Carole Keeton Strayhorn exuded for homeownership throughout the endorsement process and her track record of strong support for private property rights during her service at the state level made her the clear choice.” She continued, “We’re confident Ms. Strayhorn and all the candidates we’ve endorsed are committed to understanding and meeting the needs of Austin homeowners.”

Realty Executives Excellence Receive “Texas Affordable Housing Specialist” Certification Jody Knight, Realtor®; Barbara Wigginton, Broker and Edmond McEnany, Manager of the Cedar Park Realty Executives Excellence recently completed the necessary coursework to earn the “TEXAS AFFORDABLE HOUSING SPECIALIST” certification. All three Executives may now begin using the Texas Affordable Housing Specialist logos and name provided by the Texas Association of REALTORS®. "We are excited to earn this important certification and it is a great feeling to know that we are with a company that encourages us to make a difference in the real estate community and for the

Barbara Wigginton

clients that we serve.” McEnany said.." To earn this certification, each REALTOR® must complete 5 MCE courses that work to provide the knowledge necessary to assist firsttime homebuyers in Texas. This is important to those homebuyers looking for a knowledgeable and experienced agent to answer their questions and help them to get the home of their dreams. With the many changes that our market is experiencing today, a Realtor ® with this certification will instill confidence in their client to make the correct decisions to achieve their desired results.

Edmond McEnany

Jody Knight

Real Estate Auction Company CB UnitedClaims 5th in 2008 opens in Austin, Texas Real Trends 500 Report

Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, the Texas-based real estate company, was ranked the 5th largest real estate firm in the country based on closed transaction sides in 2008 by the REAL Trends 500 report. The research report is published annually and identifies the country’s largest and most successful residential real estate firms as ranked by closed transaction sides and separately by closed sales volume. “Coldwell Banker United, Realtors grew substantially in 2008 and the sales associates in our Austin offices played significant roles in that growth,”

said Helen Edwards, President and COO of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, Austin Region. “Our agents’ commitment to serving our clients with integrity and unsurpassed customer service has established our company as a top firm in the Central Texas region and across the country.” Coldwell Banker United, Realtors ranked 9th nationwide in this year’s report based on closed sales volume. The company closed 23,597 transaction sides in 2008 with sales volume of over $5.2 billion.

James Ehrlich announces the creation of TexTerra Auctions, LLC, a real estate auction company. Headquartered in Austin, the company is focused on assisting lending institutions in Texas with their commercial and bulk residential REO properties. “Given the current economic climate across the country, the creation of a real estate auction business made timely sense. The auction company is a natural extension of my established commercial real estate firm, TexTerra Realty. We are filling a market void and offering another viable and dynamic option to prospective sellers,” explained James Ehrlich.

James Ehrlich is a licensed real estate broker, the owner of TexTerra Realty, LLC, and a principal of TexTerra Auctions, LLC. A fourth generation Austinite, he has over 20 years experience in commercial lending, private equity funds, and commercial real estate. Mike Hanley, a licensed auctioneer and real estate agent, is a highly experienced auctioneer in various types of real estate including both commercial and residential properties. “Mike brings considerable experience to TexTerra Auctions and provides a unique skill set of both auction and real estate knowledge,” said James Ehrlich.

Coldwell Banker United, Realtors Named to Platinum Club Coldwell Banker United, Realtors was honored for its outstanding performance during the last year at the 2009 Cartus Broker Network International Conference held March 4-6 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to a black-tie awards ceremony, the three-day event included interactive workshops, roundtable and panel discussions, and executive presentations. Coldwell Banker United, Realtors was named to the Platinum Club, which is based on 2008 performance results related to 19 key goals, including support of the Cartus Broker Network, relocation management of departure and destination business, service excellence and mortgage conversion for Affinity clients, support of Cartus www.TheShowCaseUSA.com

sales efforts, and overall Top Block®* service results. “Membership in the Platinum Club is one of the Network’s highest honors, and something that every broker is shooting for,“ said Deborah Williams, senior vice president of Cartus Broker Services. “I congratulate Coldwell Banker United, Realtors on joining an elite group whose members have achieved excellence in the areas that are crucial to the success of both their individual companies and the Cartus Broker Network.” “I am happy and grateful that Coldwell Banker United, Realtors is a member of the Platinum Club,” said Helen Edwards, President/COO of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, Austin Region. “My thanks goes to each one of our agents for making

this possible. This is an award that our entire team has worked hard to obtain, and one that we greatly value.” During the three-day conference, Broker Network participants networked with other industry professionals and exchanged information and ideas regarding team-building, revenue generation, retention, new business strategies, and increasing customer service—all essential elements for continued success. About Cartus and the Cartus Broker Network Cartus Broker Network is the nation’s leading real estate referral network, consisting of almost 450 principal brokers and more than 520 associate brokers who serve the clients and customers of Cartus. Cartus Corporation is the premier provider

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of global mobility management and workforce development solutions serving the corporate, government, and affinity markets. Through its industry-leading mobility management outsourcing, consulting, and intercultural and language training, Cartus helps the mobile workforces of organizations of all sizes achieve success worldwide. With more than 50 years of experience, Cartus helps clients achieve cost reductions and enhance service performance to accomplish their organizational objectives. Cartus is part of Realogy Corporation, the world’s leading real estate franchisor. Realogy has a diversified business model that also includes real estate brokerage, relocation, and title services. Visit www. cartus.com and www.realogy.com for more information. May 4, 2009

17


Realtor Rally Day At The Capitol

Above: Elaine Byrne of Elaine Byrne Realty, Susanna Boyer of Sellstate Classic Realty, Edmond McEnany of Realty Executives - Excellence, Tiesa Hollaway of North American Title, Sam Wigginton of Crown Realty, Barbara Wigginton of Realty Executives - Excellence and Alisa LeBlanc of North American Title.

agent sightings

Abov e: of Re Ed Berr y; altors with V AE Colleg eS ictoria Revie tation Asso l of Z ipRea ciation lty.

lty. ers of ZipRea

nnon Pow ualt and Sha G n a D l, ie ev ria R Above: Victo

Above: Gwen Jo hansen of North American Title, Re/Max Round David Pavliska Rock and Alisa of LeBlanc of Nor th American Title .

g n i d l i u B n e e r G AYREP o a h C e d o g o F Event at

Abov e Beau : Jared Z ir Rice of Su kle, Mois prem e e Len s Rivera and ding . e Choate y, Christin lt a e R lm a ealty. f Re f Motion R Speciale o o l e a ra h a ll ic u M B Robert Above: Realty and of Horizon

Left: Tex Meazell of Keller Williams Realty and Abigail Brooks of Commission Express.

Right: William Hayes of Mercedes Homes, Dan Rushing of imortgage, Jessica Rodriguez and Joe Rudy Saenz of Vox Real Estate.

Tiffany Amore

TiffanyA@theshowcaseusa.com

512. 306. 8083 18

May 4, 2009

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DON'T FEAR from Page 16 FHA borrowers, providing counseling, education, and financial support during the first two years of homeownership, Del Sontro said. Borrowers relying on FHA loan guarantee programs are "generally not well prepared for homeownership," Del Sontro said. They often have little savings, and aren't required to have any reserves to be approved for an FHA-guaranteed loan, he said. In May 2006, the Rainy Day Foundation launched a seller-funded "Punctual Payment Program," which the company said was designed to ease borrowers into homeownership by providing them reimbursements covering the majority of their monthly mortgage payments for several months. The reimbursements -- more than $12 million, according to the company's Web site -- were funded by seller concessions. Some loan originators saw the Punctual Payment Program as a tool that could help borrowers repay family or friends who loaned them the money needed to cover FHA's minimum downpayment requirements. Although the Rainy Day Foundation maintained that the Punctual Payment Program was not a substitute for seller-funded down-payment assistance programs, it was unable to obtain a written opinion from HUD concerning the program's permissibility, Ludlow said. "We have someone we can send (lenders to) to talk to at HUD, but we can't get a letter," Ludlow said, which kept the Punctual Payment Program

from realizing its full potential. But the Punctual Payment Program also provided -- for a $499 fee -- all of the benefits now offered through the HELP program: counseling, a payment protection policy, and access to the "Rainy Day" emergency fund. As with seller-funded down-payment assistance programs, the fee could be paid by the borrower or the seller. "Three years ago, if you asked builders to pay an extra $500 for the program to enroll a buyer (in counseling and payment protection program), they would have laughed," Ludlow said. "Today, the builders are taking the steps they need to sell the homes." Asked whether builders might simply incorporate the cost of providing the HELP program into a home's sale price, Ludlow said the same could be said of marketing expenses like advertising. "In a sense, this is an advertising feature for the builder -- the fact that the builder is participating in the program is going to provide additional exposure," Ludlow said. Like similar programs offered by automakers, the programs have generated considerable media attention, at the national and local level. That attention could translate into additional sales. But the payment protection programs might eventually generate a backlash against those marketing them the policies don't fulfill their promises, Consumer Watchdog's Heller warns. "As a consumer, if it's free it's at worse a non-benefit," Heller said. "If you have a lousy insurance program for a year

for free, you may not know it's lousy" because many won't investigate the terms as carefully as they would if they were paying for it. Realtors and others using payment protection plans as marketing tools "may unwittingly be validating a lousy policy," he said. "This may be a great marketing avenue for these companies to sell products that aren't needed," Heller said. "The brilliance of the financial industry is to confuse people and scare people into buying things they don't want, don't need, or can't afford. The housing bust is kind of the pinnacle of that." The Rainy Day Foundation's payment protection program is offered through cynoSure Financial and underwritten by Virginia Surety. It provides one or two years of payment protection, with up to six months of payouts that max out at either $1,800 or $2,500 a month, depending on the level of coverage desired. Builders pay an average of $550 to enroll borrowers in the HELP program, Del Sontro said. SAFE HOME, the "private label" version of the Rainy Day Foundation's HELP program offered by Keller Williams South Florida, allows home sellers, lenders and real estate agents to pay $550 to purchase counseling and up to six months of payments at $1,800 a month. The cost for that level of coverage is $500 without counseling. Keller Williams' SAFE HOME program

provides up to six months of payments at $2,500 a month for $650, or $600 without counseling. "It's important to understand, this is not Keller Williams or Rainy Day Foundation selling insurance," Keller Williams spokesman Cook said. "They are enrolled in insurance, but they also get the benefit of (optional) counseling and the Rainy Day emergency fund." Del Sontro said the Rainy Day emergency fund provided more than $4 million in grant assistance to troubled borrowers last year, a number he expects will "easily double" this year. The money is available to help borrowers enrolled in the HELP and SAFE HOME programs cope with one-time events such as a death in the family, a medical expense, or even an unexpected car repair bill. "The reality is the fund is the more important piece of the program -- as important as the job-loss protection is important, the real meat of it is the Rainy Day fund," Cook said. As to the adequacy of the six months of payments provided by Virginia Surety's payment protection policy, Del Sontro said he believes the average number of months claimants receive payments has risen from about three months to five. But six months is "still pretty adequate," he said. "I know of only one or two people who have used all six months of benefits." Copyright 2009 Inman News

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19


Sales Pep Talk By Paul Montelongo

Where’s All The Money in 2009?

Houston Named Ambassador City for Increasing Affordable Housing, Revitalizing the Community

The National Association of Realtors® and the U.S. Conference of So now the U.S. government is going taking action to stay connected with Mayors have named Houston a 2009 to send a bunch of money to some  of your customers, vendors and prospects Ambassador City for its Houston the leading banks, financial institutions to make more sales through referrals. HOPE Homes program, an initiative and possibly the auto industry (and By the way, giving referrals will help to reinvest in some of Houston’s who knows what other entities) in you receive more referrals. For the historic neighborhoods with housing the country to loosen up credit and most part, people love to reciprocate development and infrastructure hopefully bring back some consumer generosity. improvements. confidence. 4.  Customers are still out there.... The Houston HOPE Homes is As we dive into the New Year, consider everywhere.  I have several students a program of the city of Houston. this: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE in my “elite coaching” program  who The city has identified hundreds of MONEY? are having banner years in their sales vacant or foreclosed properties in Think about it.  Not one red penny has career.  Yes, they have had to implement nine historic neighborhoods that are actually been deleted from the economy.   different strategies, but they did so currently undergoing revitalization. The only thing that has happened immediately and did not waste any Those properties are sold to area is money is now being circulated in time worrying about the economy. You homebuilders who are committed different patterns. would be surprised (or maybe not) how to building quality, affordable single Approximately $750 million in new many businesses do not stay in close and multifamily housing. To help treasury notes (dollars) was printed by contact with their customers. Doing so residents purchase the newly built the United States treasury department generates more confidence, hence more homes, the city has also established yesterday and today and will be printed business. a downpayment assistance program. tomorrow. 5.  “Act like you been there before”.  Lowand moderate-income All we are experiencing is a When I first started speaking individuals who qualify can receive redistribution of money and inevitably.... professionally in front of audiences with up to $37,500; Houston police officers, the wealth of this country.  hundreds and thousands of people, firefighters, and teachers can qualify I still have friends who are buying a friend gave me a piece of advice to for nearly $40,000. Mercedes, going on Caribbean cruises help me manage my stage nerves.   “Act “Realtors® build communities and and buying condos on the beach.   The like you been there before”.  Right now, are committed to helping increase mall is still packed with shoppers and big you can act like you have all the sales opportunities for more families to budget movies are still being produced you want....all the deals you want...all achieve and sustain the American in Hollywood.  the money you want...all the personal dream of homeownership,” said NAR   fulfillment you want...all the spirituality President Charles McMillan, a broker So, Where Is you want... And when you do that, with Coldwell Banker Residential All The Money? amazing things happen....you receive Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. The law of attraction says you will get what you want. The behavior influences “A program like Houston HOPE what you focus on.  The focus of your your thoughts, in turn impact your Homes deserves to be recognized for intention and your attention will reveal behaviors, and produces good results. 6.  Panic breeds panic.  Have you how you respond in this economy....or ever noticed that kids get more agitated any other for that matter.  OVERCOME from Page 10 There are a few facts to consider, around irritable parents?  It is the display of energy at a high level.  Staying though.... one will pop up. 1.  If financial institutions and Wall calm, centered and disciplined in your However, if selling a home or getting Street are actually tightening up their journey of prosperity fosters a state of financing or whatever else that they purse strings, the money is still there.... prosperity.  Regardless of how unstable brought up is a true objection and but where? Municipal bonds? Real estate the economy or your business may the buyer is truly serious, you have investments? Foreign investments? The appear, understand that you must stay something to focus on and work with. Internet?  It is somewhere....find it and calm and remain in a state of creativity. Once you’ve determined their get your piece. Find the customers with By doing so, you will see opportunities seriousness, the next step is to the money and you will certainly get that you may have been blinded to. determine how many obstacles need The reality of the situation is what you your piece as well. to be overcome. To do that, I’d ask 2.  It all begins with your attitude and make it.  There is plenty of economic a follow-up question like, “So, if opinions about money itself.  Do you opportunity out there for you, your selling your present home (or getting believe there is more than enough for family and your business. So, WHERE financing, etc.) was not a factor, are you and everyone else?  Do you believe IS ALL THE MONEY? you comfortable going ahead and It is right in front of you. Always has it grows on trees?  Or do you believe getting started with owning this home that you have to work hard for money been. Always will be. today?” Until our paths cross again, take great and that only the rich get richer?  There This approach helps to determine if is a fine line between tolerating money care of yourself and your loved ones. the objection they raised initially was and believing there is an abundance of Paul Montelongo, is an international it.  authority on sales motivation. He con3. Movement creates improvement.   ducts corporate sales training programs, Sitting on your duff and watching Katie delivers inspirational keynote addresses Couric tell you about the floundering and offers retreats for sales and maneconomy is not the answer.  When agement teams worldwide. Get free you make progress and movement weekly electronic tips and learn more about Paul and his resources for sales toward attracting more money, then professionals, at www.PaulMontelongo. you will see more money.  That means com. staying educated and associating with prosperous people. It also means

its tremendous impact on bringing stability to and enhancing the appearance of Houston’s historic neighborhoods.” The Houston Association of Realtors® has partnered with the city of Houston to increase Realtor® and consumer awareness of the program. HAR also created a map-based search engine to help individuals easily search and locate homes for sale through the Houston HOPE Homes program. The search engine is available on both the Houston HOPE Web site, www. houstontx.gov/houstonhope, and the HAR Web site, www.har.com. At an event yesterday, McMillan and 2009 NAR Housing Opportunity Committee Chair Len Ferber joined Dave Gatton, Council on the New American City, in presenting the Ambassador for Cities plaque and $5,000 check to Houston Mayor Bill White and HAR 2009 Chair of the Board Vicki Fullerton. NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, through its Council on the New American City, launched the Ambassadors for Cities program in 2003 to encourage cities and local Realtor® associations to form partnerships to promote affordable housing and homeownership. Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with permission.

the only one you have to address of if there are other obstacles to making the sale. The approach enables you to discover what you really can and do need to work with — and what is just being offered as conversation. So, before attempting to answer or work with what you think might be a true objection, confirm that it is a true objection and that it stands in the way of an immediate decision. Once you made that determination, you can work with it to eliminate it as a barrier to the sale. Otherwise, you may be making the sales process longer and harder than it needs to be. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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on Agentsthe Move

ZipRealty Celeste Carnahan I LOVE the City in which I live and feel that, by living in Austin as long as I have, I can provide services beyond just house hunting. My hobbies and interests include a love for great food and wine. I enjoy trying new places to eat and enjoy food from all over the world with my family. I also enjoy outdoor sports like walking and tennis and enjoy traveling with my family. Please contact me at celeste.carnahan@ ziprealty.com. Toll Free: 1-800-CALL ZIP x 4330 Cell: 512-750-8463. Mimi Mallet As a native Texan and an Austin resident since 1985, I try, as often as possible, to get out and about in town. Whether I am spending time with my family or friends at play or at work, there are points and places of interest at all levels. For these reasons and more, Austin is recognized as having a reputation like many big cities, but the heartbeat found

Mallet here is better known to most as steady, warm, and welcoming. The city may be big as life itself but it's also a great place to call "home"! I find the inner city, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, to be exhilarating. The real estate market, however, can be unpredictable. Therefore, I'm focused and attentive to the market conditions regarding, but not limited to, sales and asking prices. As your urban specialist, I will guide you through both the buying and selling process. From Bungalows to Penthouse... to smart-green rated single family or townhouses, Austin has a home to fit your current lifestyle and budget. The first step toward your goal for finding your "Dream House" is establishing a solid relationship with a Realtor you like and trust. I am available by email or phone most of the times of the day and I am ready to assist you with all your real estate needs. Call me now and let's start working together to accomplish your goals. Please contact me at mimi.mallet@ziprealty.com. Toll Free: 1-800-CALL ZIP x 4340 Cell: 512-785-5074.

ATTENTION:

down 28 percent compared to February 2008. In March 2009, the 22 percent decrease in volume compared to March 2008 shows the Austin real estate market is gaining momentum. Chairman Gohil continued, “Looking at the first quarter of 2009, we’re seeing sales volumes improve and home values remain steady – that’s good news for Austin homeowners. Those factors, combined with Austin’s strong economic fundamentals, bode well for our market heading toward the summer buying season.” One of the most important economic fundamentals driving the real estate market is job growth, for

which Austin was fortunate in 2008. Looking ahead, a recent study based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited Austin among the top 10 metropolitan areas in the country with the highest potential for job growth in 2009. March 2009 Statistics: • $328,098,953 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold. • $180,160 – Median price for single-family homes, a four percent decrease from March 2008. • 9,704 – Active single-family home listings on the market, a one percent increase from March 2008. • 1,421 – Single-family homes sold, a 22 percent decrease compared to March 2008.

Austin Home Sales Volume 2000

-22%

1500

Homes Sold

Carnahan

MOMENTUM from Page 1

-28%

1000

-36%

500 0

March

Feb

Jan Month 2008

2009

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21


GREEN from Page 13

4/12/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

74

New Listings

Removed Listings

219

67

% Days on Difference Market 97.27% 82 98.87% 46

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2038 1916

$88 $88

$183,263 $164,200

$178,261 $162,338

High

4442

$129

$549,900

$475,000

86.38%

473

Low $ Volume

1054

$37

$54,900

$52,155 $13,191,294

95.00%

0

4/5/2009

# Homes Sold

85

New Listings

Removed Listings

198

64

% Days on Difference Market 95.48% 113 98.80% 63

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2207 2060

$85 $86

$198,444 $164,900

$189,480 $162,925

High

4794

$139

$469,900

$430,000

91.51%

667

Low $ Volume

720

$22

$30,000

$30,000 $15,916,292

100.00%

0

X, W

3/29/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

115

New Listings

Removed Listings

234

96

% Days on Difference Market 95.44% 112 97.68% 67

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2238 2052

$93 $92

$217,927 $189,900

$207,988 $185,500

High

4656

$162

$599,900

$575,000

95.85%

688

Low $ Volume

720

$51

$45,999

$42,500 $23,918,661

92.39%

0

X, W

3/22/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

103

New Listings

197

Removed Listings

43

% Days Da s on Difference Market 96.09% 99 96.39% 67

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2241 2092

$87 $86

$200,990 $180,000

$193,128 $173,500

High

4398

$133

$549,000

$489,000

89.07%

519

Low $ Volume

844

$26

$41,900

$38,298 $19,892,135

91.40%

0

X, W

3/15/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

83

New Listings

Removed Listings

176

58

% Days on Difference Market 95.11% 107 97.68% 70

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2240 2114

$90 $90

$216,269 $189,900

$205,687 $185,500

High

4276

$156

$495,500

$465,000

93.84%

506

Low $ Volume

892

$17

$34,900

$30,650 $17,072,060

87.82%

0

X, W

3/8/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

80

New Listings

Removed R d Listings

185

63

% Days on Difference Market 96.99% 123 98.37% 107

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2346 2228

$86 $86

$208,284 $180,450

$202,023 $177,500

High

5047

$126

$525,000

$490,000

93.33%

467

Low $ Volume

1000

$49

$75,000

$65,000 $15,353,768

86.67%

4

X, W

3/1/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

76

New Listings

211

Removed Listings

95

% Days on Difference Market 95.77% 102 97.98% 80

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2140 2020

$89 $90

$197,150 $173,450

$188,811 $169,950

High

3891

$159

$539,000

$499,000

92.58%

439

Low $ Volume

704

$33

$68,400

$60,350 $13,216,787

88.23%

2

X, W

2/22/2009

Week of:

# Homes Sold

136

New Listings

Removed Listings

202

74

% Days on Difference Market 95.10% 110 98.60% 91

SqFt

$/SF

List Price

Sold Price

Average Median

2260 2135

$85 $86

$201,779 $174,950

$191,899 $172,500

High

4487

$151

$585,000

$535,500

91.54%

443

Low $ Volume

1175

$34

$65,900

$63,100 $26,098,283

95.75%

2

X W

22

May 4, 2009

The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

View the virtual issue online at

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X, W

Week of:

to immediately seal the deal, he said. • Liz Newman, principal of Elizabeth Newman Custom Homes in Dallas, said that the CGP designation has enabled her to bring a fresh approach to her business. “I was one of the first CGPs in my area, and I used the designation as a competitive advantage that remains with me today,” she said. Newman will show one of her latest green projects next month during the 11th annual NAHB National Green Building Conference in Dallas May 8-10. It is one of six homes in various stages of construction that builders and remodelers will visit on the May 8 Tour of Green Homes. Certified Green Professionals will be honored at a special reception during the conference. “We want to recognize how CGPs set an example for all of us and how they help the industry stimulate demand for greener products and materials, too,” said Robson.

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HOME STARTS from Page 14 Single-family housing was started at an annual rate of 358,000 units in March, the same as the previous month; multifamily housing production was reported at a yearly pace of 152,000 units. Housing starts were down in three out of four regions of the country in March. Starts were up nearly 16% in the Midwest, and down 25.4% in the Northeast, 16.8% in the South and 26.3% in the West. Building permits, which can be a harbinger of future building activity, also fell in March. Total permit issuance declined 9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 513,000 units, with single-family permits falling 7.4% to 361,000 units and multifamily permits declining 12.6% to 152,000 units. Permit issuance in March declined across every region except the West, which showed no change. Permits fell 24.3% in the Northeast, 2.3% in the Midwest and 10.3% in the South. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

Luis Becerra, Jr. Has Just Earned The GRI Luis Becerra, Jr. – REALTOR with REALM Real Estat Designation. the GRI designation. Luis can be reached at 512.791.74

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Industry News & Events WCAOR Announcements Commercial Property Tour Date: Thursday, May 7 Time: 8:00 am - 9:30 am Location: WCAOR Boardroom Contact: Tiesa Hollaway Email: thollaway@nat.com Phone: 512-657-5584 Location Details: WCAOR Boardroom 123 East Old Settlers Blvd. Round Rock TX 78664 US Location Phone: 512-255-6211

Green Expo

When: July 25th Where: Round Rock - Dell Diamond Go To: www.GreenExpo2009.com Info: In an effort to bring REALTORS and consumers together, The Williamson County Association of REALTORS will hold its first annual Green Expo this Summer. This event is open to the public. Green Expo Sponsors Sponsorship Levels: • Premium: $5,000 • Partner: $2,000 • Educational/Gift Certificate Sponsor: $500 • Patron: $250 Exhibitor Booth Options: Indoor Booths • Large Premium Booths: $500 (8'x10') • Premium Booths: $400 (8'x8') • Vendor Booths: $350 (8'x8') Outdoor Booths • Ballpark Booths ($300 (10'x10') *Additional $25 for electrical capabilities

ABoR NEWS YOU CAN USE Plant Your Booth for Realty Round Up 2009

Date: Wednesday, October 7 Time: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Location: Austin Convention Center Info: As the largest real estate trade show in Central Texas, the Austin Board of REALTORS®’ Realty Round Up offers you a great opportunity to connect with industry experts and share your services with thousands of local real estate professionals. This year’s trade show emphasizes energy conservation, sustainable building and all

things green. Early bird prices through June 30, booth prices are as follows: • $350 for a 10’ x 10’ booth • $650 for a 10’ x 20’ booth • $950 for a 20’ x 20’ booth • $1,200 for a 20’ x 30’ booth All booth fees include: • One skirted table and two chairs for each 10’ x 10’ booth • Two skirted tables and four chairs for each 10’ x 20’ booth • One skirted table and two chairs for each 20’ x 20’ booth • One skirted table and two chairs for each 20’ x 30’ booth • One 7” x 44” identification sign for each booth After June 30, all booth prices will increase by $50. Realty Round Up 2009 also provides a variety of sponsorship opportunities, ranging from $300 to $2,500. Don’t miss the opportunity to grow your client base – secure your Realty Round Up booth today!

Upcoming Classes and Events 5th 9:00am-11:00am 6th 9:00am-11:00am 6th 11:00am-12:00pm 6th 1:00pm-3:00pm 7th 2:30pm-4:30pm 11th 8:30am-12:00pm 11th 1:00pm-4:30pm 12th 1:30am-5:30pm 12th 8:30am-12:30pm 12th 9:00am-11:30am 12th 1:30pm-3:30pm 13th 8:30am-5:30pm 13th 2:30pm-4:30pm 14th 9:00am-11:00am 15th 8:30am-4:30pm 15th 11:00am-12:00pm 19th 1:00pm-5:00pm

MLXchange Website Management MLXchange Client Communications MarketMetrics Webinar - Online training MLXchange System Customization MLXchange CMA TREC Ethics MCE TREC Legal Update MCE Turning Conflicts Into Closings Mediate, Arbitrate, Litigate MLXchange Basics Hands On MLXchange Add Edit Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) MLX Report Writer/Lab Realist Tax Foreclosure Prevention and Opportunities for Buyer Clients WyldFyre 7 Fight the TExas Tax Appraisal and Win

20th 9:00am-11:00am 20th 1:00pm-3:00pm 21st 9:00am-11:00am 21st 1:00pm-3:00pm 22nd 11:00am-1:00pm 26th 9:00am-11:00am 26th 1:30pm-3:30pm 27th 9:00am-11:00am 28th 9:00am-11:30am 28th 2:00pm-4:00pm

MLXchange CMA Realist Tax MLXchange System Customization MLXchange Client Communications Lunch and Learn MLS Business Tools/Lab MLXchange CMA MLXchange CMA MLX Broker and Office Mgr/Lab MLXchange Website Management

CALENDAR OF EVENTS May:

18th AMBA Annual Spring Golf Event 10:00am @ Great Hills Country Club 5914 Lost Horizon Dr. 78759 Contact Xavier Benites at xavier.benites@momentumweb.com (512) 577-8511

20th NAHREP Monthly Luncheon 11:30am - 1:00pm @ Cool River Cafe Contact Ron Urias at rurias@farmersagent.com (512) 448-0844

21st WCR Networking Luncheon 11:00am - 1:00pm @ ABoR 10900 Stonelake Blvd Contact Cheryl Eskridge at cheryleskridge@nnex.net (512) 749-6833 Visit www.theshowcaseusa.com for more events.

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Managing Partner Cara Diaz | CaraD@theshowcaseusa.com

San Antonio

Newspaper Designer Charles Long | CharlesL@theshowcaseusa.com

Austin

13300 Old Blanco Rd. | Ste. 235 | San Antonio, TX 78216 Office: 512-306-8083 | Fax: 210-493-5560 We proudly support the following organizations

Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing Meredith Cain | MeredithC@theshowcaseusa.com Vice President of Sales & Marketing Tiffany Amore | TiffanyA@theshowcaseusa.com

The ShowCase is published once a month. We are a non subscription for the members of the WCR, ABOR, WCAOR, NAHREP, AYREP, NAPMW and Industry Professionals. The ShowCase is not responsible for opinions or facts expressed by non-staff writers or for errors and any by products in advertising or editorial copy. REALTOR® is a registered trademark. The word REALTOR® sometimes appears without the registered trademark symbol (®), for the purpose of saving space. Wherever the word REALTOR appears in this paper, the registered trademark should be assumed. We welcome submissions of photos, Press releases or articles to be sent to CharlesL@theshowcaseusa.com.

www.TheShowCaseUSA.com

The ShowCase USA

May 4, 2009

23


$10,000 realtor

bonus tayLor MorrisoN is offeriNg you a $10,000 reaLtor BoNus oN the Last reMaiNiNg hoMes iN teravista!

LaNdry - 3,242 sq. ft. 4 Bed, 3.5 Bath, 2-car garage this beautiful one-story brick home with soaring ceilings features a study, mud room and game room. the beautiful gourmet kitchen is outfitted with granite counters and stainless steel appliances.

3406

Was

$357,343

NoW

$327,990

620

183A TOLL

TOLL

saLado - 3,671 sq. ft.

4124 grand vista circle round rock, tX 78665

5 Bed, 4 Bath, 3-car garage this spacious two-story home is on a large cul-de-sac lot. this home has many designer upgrades including a custom kitchen backsplash and master shower body spa.

call us at 512-779-6058 or e-mail

kguley@taylormorrison.com to make an appointment

Was

$406,166

NoW

$369,990

ask about our other homes currently under construction for June completion.

T e R Av I S TA taylormorrison.com $10,000 Realtor bonus is for a limited time only. Homes must contract between 4/23/2009 and 5/31/2009. Bonus paid upon successful closing of home. Flyer must be attached to registration by a Taylor Morrison Sales Associate and will be sent to the Taylor Morrison Division Office. If incentives are not within published amounts above, no other specials/discounts/co-op will be given. See a Taylor Morrison Sales Associate for complete details.


May 4th Issue Austin