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June 15, 2009

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First-Time Home Buyers Can Turn Tax Credit Into Cash First-time buyers eligible for the $8,000 federal tax credit who apply for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration may soon also be eligible for bridge loans or cash advances that they can use for the downpayment, closing costs or other loan expenses pending receipt of their tax credit check from the IRS. The FHA change was announced this month by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. As many as half of all would-be first-time buyers do not have enough cash on hand for a downpayment and closing costs,

lenders, mortgage industry leaders say. Among the key questions to be answered: Where will non-depository mortgage companies get the $8,000 in advance money to provide upfront to buyers? Although most major banks offer second-mortgage programs, the FHA guidelines stipulate that the tax credit advances cannot be secured by a lien on the property, but only by the tax credit to be received by the purchaser. In the meantime, would-be buyers who believe they’re eligible for the credit should shift into high gear shopping for a house — the Cinderella closing date of

Texas State Women’s Council brings back 3 out of 4 Awards At the Mid Year meeting in Washington this month Mary Ann Jeffers the 2008 State President for Women's Council of REALTORS® and her team brought home the 2008 Super Mega State Chapter Award, beating out Florida and California. This makes two years in a row for the

Texas State Chapter. “I am so proud of all our members as this was their achievement and it was certainly a TEXAS night to party.” Said Mary Ann Jeffers. “We also had two Local Chapters to bring back Awards and they were Dallas Metro East, for the Mega Chapter and Houston 1960, for Large Chapter. We had 22 out of 25 Local Chapters to win Gold or Silver Awards”.

“By advancing these buyers as much as $8,000 at closing, many more would be able to afford the purchase.“ according to building and real estate industry estimates. By advancing these buyers as much as $8,000 at closing, many more would be able to afford the purchase. Officials at NAHB say the bridge loan feature could double the total number of home purchases stimulated by the 2009 tax credit program to more than 300,000, depending on how many private lenders and state housing agencies participate. The new bridge loans and cash-advance features of the federal credit may not be available immediately through private

Nov. 30 is looming — even if they will need a bridge loan or a cash advance to complete the deal. The odds are good that by the time they’re ready to get a mortgage and go to closing, at least some local FHA-approved lenders will be actively in the market with bridge loans. ( Washington Post (5/23/09); Kenneth R. Harney. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

Secrets of a Master Negotiator Negotiation is the No. 1 skill that you need in real estate to succeed. Are you ready to master the secrets of becoming a master negotiator? Whether you are a newbie or a 30year real estate veteran, growing your negotiation skills is one of the best ways to improve your conversion ratio and to close more business. In his book, "Create a Great Deal," Tim Burrell provides the strategies you need to maneuver through virtually any tough real estate negotiation. Here are some of Burrell's top tips. 1. Trust is paramount How do you establish trust in a

negotiation situation? There are three key steps: Listen, ask questions, and let the clients be in control of the process. Outline their options (including not accepting the offer) and allow them to decide which option is best for them. 2. Get something in return Some negotiators constantly grind the other party to obtain concessions. To break this pattern, when you make a concession ask, "If we do that for you, what are you willing to do for us?" If you allow the other party to come up with a concession, it may be better than what you would have proposed. PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PA I D Victoria, TX PERMIT 207

3. Reciprocity This is the opposite of "getting something in return." In reciprocity, you offer to give something first in order to get something back. For example, if negotiations are at an impasse, you can restart the negotiation by making a new concession. For example, you could say, "We could move up the closing date. Is there something you could give us in exchange?" 4. Flinch and vise When a buyer wants to make a ridiculously low offer, grimace (that's called the "flinch"). After you grimace,

The Limelight Castle & Cooke Mortgage Page 2-A

respond by saying, "You'll have to do better than that" (that's the "vise.") This approach often causes the buyer to raise

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 NEGOTIATOR on Page 7-A

Sales Pep Talk Is Social Media Marketing for You? Page 3-A


STRAIGHT TALK, FAST LOANS: At Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC, we have a pretty good idea of what people are looking for in today’s cluttered and confusing mortgage market marketplace. We know it is not merely a matter of finding a team of people who can deliver a better rate. It is also a matter of finding a team of people who can deliver a better mortgage experience, who listen and understand exactly what you are looking for, who are interested in learning about your plans for the future. A team of people that are ready to partner with you and do whatever it takes to help you achieve your long term goals. Our loan officers are highly experienced professionals who have knowledge & skills to make decisions on their own. The same goes for our underwriting, closing & funding experts. They are each empowered to take responsibility and keep the process moving at top speed with no delays to ‘check with my manager”. This means we can move from application to funding than any other company and you can move sooner than later. These are the reasons we have built the fastest, smoothest, most innovative loan process in the industry, and why we can get you through that process and into your home sooner than you would ever imagine. After all, we know faster is better than slower when it comes to home loans. We know a quicker way home!

WE KNOW A QUICKER WAY HOME Carrie Ramirez Branch Manager

4726 Shavano Oak # 105 | San Antonio, TX 78249 | 210.451.733


June 15, 2009

The ShowCase USA


Sales Pep Talk

11A Innovative Marketing Course

By Paul Montelongo

Benefits Area Home Sellers

1B 1B 9B

Fraud Alert! Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Realtors Gives Away Another $10,000 United SAFCU Opens Sixth Office


4A 4A 4A 5A 7A 8A 9A

April Single-Family Starts Rise for Second Straight Month Realtors Under 30 Turn Challenges into Opportunities Pending Home Sales Up for three Months in a Row Existing Home Sales Rise in April Housing Reaches Most Affordable Level in 18 Years NAHB Guide Finds More Cities Rolling Back Impact Fees has 100 million users. Facebook reports it has 200 million users. LinkedIn says it has 6 million users. Twitter is the current rave with its 10 million (and counting) users. All tolled, Social Networking websites are used by approximately a quarter of a billion people and businesses. In short, Social Networking websites are sites dedicated to an exchange of ideas, conversations, information and general online pontification. The content is generated and swapped by the users of the networking sites themselves. The big question is, “Can you make money in your business by participating in Social Media Marketing?” To answer this question, consider the intended purpose of some of the main sites and specific business applications you could use. Facebook is primarily a site where friends and family join to extend their connection. It ITCiAppShowcaseShowCase.pdf 5/7/09 3:45:57 PM also provides a platform for past and future

Is Social Media Marketing for You? business prospects to join. Lifestyle photos as well as business links and videos can be posted to your Facebook community. MySpace preceded Facebook and has basically the same format but tends to be a bit more difficult to use. LinkedIn is a social network focusing exclusively on connecting professionals with other professionals. It is a site where you can swap leads; offer your resume and portfolio to generate leads and prospect resources. It is also a place where you can demonstrate your product knowledge in a more professional manner. Flickr is a site where you can post photos, create photo albums and engage your community with pictures. It is a great place to post before and after job photos, your company staff and company event photos. YouTube offers tools for you to post videos and video logs. You may also post virtual tours See PEP TALK, Page 5-A

Sales Agents, Appraisers Understand Value of Green

10A First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit for Closing Will Move Market

10A NAR, Mayors, Recognize Tri-

Valley, Calif. for Increasing Affordable housing Opportunities.

11A Confidence of Builders Continues to Grow in May.

1B 1B 2B 6B 8B 9B

Obama Signs Bill to Help Families Refinance Mortgages

Free iPhone Application

Tax Credit Can Be Used for Down Payment Surveys Signal Revival of Buyer Demand A Vital Mortgage Market Needs Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Florida Builder Encouraged by Recent Uptick in Sales




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June 15, 2009


April Single-Family Starts Rise Realtors® Under 30 Turn for Second Straight Month Challenges into Opportunities Production of single-family homes edged upward in April as builders responded to improving conditions for new-home buyers, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department on May 19. While overall starts for April fell 12.8% to a record-low seasonally adjusted annual pace of 458,000 units, the decline was entirely in multifamily housing, which fell 46% to a 90,000-unit pace. Single-family starts advanced 2.8% to a yearly rate of 368,000 units. “With some of the best homebuying conditions of a lifetime now in place — including historically low mortgage rates, affordable prices and a first-time home buyer tax credit — single-family builders are starting to see the light on the horizon as more consumers realize they can now obtain the home of their dreams,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “Meanwhile, the extreme difficulty that builders are encountering in obtaining financing for new multifamily structures has brought production in that sector almost to a halt.” “A severe credit crunch for acquisition, development and construction financing and a lack of investor interest in Low Income Housing Tax Credits are the main factors keeping apartment builders from moving ahead with new projects, along with the competition from excess inventory that’s on the market,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Ultimately, the logjam in builder financing must be broken in order for housing construction to provide the boost that the national economy needs

to get back on track.” Meanwhile, improving activity in the single-family sector aligns with what builders have been reporting in recent NAHB surveys, Crowe said. “Very attractive housing affordability factors — particularly the federal $8,000 firsttime home buyer tax credit and other tax credits being offered by states for purchases of newly constructed homes — are helping drive potential buyers back into the market,” he said. Single-family housing starts rose for a second consecutive month in April. At the same time, issuance of singlefamily permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 3.6% to a 373,000-unit annual pace. Multifamily permits in April dropped nearly 20% to 121,000 units. Regionally, total housing starts declined in April across every part of the country except the West, where a 42.5% surge in production offset a nearly equivalent decline in the previous month. Starts fell 30.6% in the Northeast, 21.4% in the Midwest and 21.1% in the South, stemming largely from big declines in the more volatile multifamily sector. Similarly, regional permit issuance was down everywhere in April except the West, which showed no change from the prior month. Total residential permits were down 7% in the Northeast, 4.8% in Midwest and 3.4% in the South. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

Younger consumers are taking advantage of today’s market opportunities like never before – more than four out of every 10 recent home sales were to first-time buyers. This year’s REALTOR® Magazine “30 Under 30” winners demonstrate the same spirit, transforming challenges into advantages for their clients and businesses. “Many of our younger members have little experience with market downturns, but they have confidence in the long-term value of homeownership and real estate investment,” said National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Whether they’re exploring new industry innovations, making significant contributions to their communities, or simply providing tremendous value to their clients, this new generation of Realtors® represents the future of the real estate industry.” Six of the 30 Realtors® recognized this year do much of their business in foreclosures and short sales, which account for 45 percent of recent sales, according to NAR’s most recent existing-home sales report. Whether they’re helping homeowners avoid a foreclosure by facilitating a short sale, or assisting buyers who might not have been able to afford a home a few years ago, these young professionals are passionate about making a positive difference in people’s lives. When Realtor® Elizabeth Do started practicing real estate in Los Angeles, conditions were not very favorable

for buyers. “I felt like a lot of people were overextending themselves,” she said. Do, a salesperson with CCR Properties Inc., advised some of her clients to wait until the market settled down, and now many of those people are coming back to become homeowners. Jared James, a salesperson with RE/MAX Right Choice in Milford, Conn., shares his positive market insights with clients. “I refuse to participate in this recession,” James said. “While others focus on negative data, I find the positive in every bit of news.” Lane Larson, a salesperson with RE/MAX Results in Plymouth, Minn., offers his seller clients a 120day guarantee. “If we don’t sell it in the first four months, it reverts to 0 percent commission and 100 percent effort,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, the home is sold in the first 55 days.” For others, being a Realtor® hits closer to home. “I helped my parents buy their first home,” said B.J. Ward, broker-owner for Comfort Real Estate Services in Ventura, Calif. “It felt great to finally see their dream come true. The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with permission.

Pending Home Sales Up for Three Months in a Row Record low mortgage interest rates boosted pending home sales for the third consecutive month, with some benefit now from the first-time buyer tax credit, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in April, rose 6.7 percent to 90.3 from a reading of 84.6 in March, and is 3.2 percent above April 2008 when it was 87.5. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said buyers are responding to very favorable market conditions. “Housing affordability conditions have been at historic highs, but now the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit is beginning to impact the market,” he said. “Since first-time buyers must finalize their purchase by November 30 to get the credit, we expect greater activity in the months ahead, and that should spark more sales by repeat buyers.” The Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast shot up 32.6 percent to 78.9 in April and is 0.8 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index 4-A

June 15, 2009

rose 9.8 percent to 90.4 and is 11.1 percent above April 2008. The index in the South slipped 0.2 percent to 93.0 in April but is 3.5 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index rose 1.8 percent to 94.8 but is 2.9 percent below April 2008. NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in DallasFort Worth, said there are numerous buyer assistance programs around the country. “Some states are offering bridge loans that allow first-time buyers to use the tax credit for downpayment and closing costs, but there are many other local government and nonprofit programs available to buyers, depending on location,” he said. “Just last week, HUD announced that qualifying buyers can use the tax credit for closing costs on FHA loans, to buy down the interest rate or make a larger downpayment. Buyers who are wondering about their options should contact a Realtor®, who can advise consumers on the housing assistance programs and resources

available in a given area.” NAR’s Housing Affordability Index is in record territory. The affordability index rose to 174.8 in April from an upwardly revised 171.9 in March, and was the second highest monthly reading on record after peaking at 176.9 in January of this year. The HAI is a broad measure of housing affordability using consistent values and assumptions over time, which examines the relationship between home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income; tracking began in 1970. A median-income family, earning $60,900, could afford a home costing $296,800 in April with a 20 percent downpayment, assuming 25 percent of gross income is devoted to mortgage principal and interest. Affordability conditions for firsttime buyers with the same income and small downpayments are roughly 80 percent of that amount. The affordable price was well above the median existing single-family home price in April, which was $169,800. Yun cautions that the reporting

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sample for pending home sales is smaller than that of existinghome sales, so it is subject to greater variability. “In addition, the relationship between contracts on pending home sales and closings on existing-home sales is taking longer than in the past for several reasons,” he said. “Mortgage processing time has increased, it is taking many months to close on those homes requiring short sales with lender approval, and some sales are falling through at the last moment.” The total number of existing-home sales is expected to improve but with dramatic local market variation in the timing of recovery. “The market has already bottomed in some areas, but this is an unusual housing cycle with some areas improving rapidly while others languish or decline,” Yun said. Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with permission.

prices and are bidding up many foreclosed listings, particularly in California, Nevada, and Florida – this will set the stage for healthy market conditions going forward.” An NAR practitioner survey in April showed firsttime buyers declined to 40 percent of transactions, implying more repeat buyers are entering the traditional spring home-buying season. It also showed the number of buyers looking at homes has increased 14 percentage points from a year ago. “This is consistent with our forecast for home sales in the latter part of the year to be 10 to 20 percent higher than the second half of 2008,” Yun said. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $170,200 in April, which is 15.4 percent below 2008. Distressed properties, which accounted for 45 percent of all sales in April, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes. NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in See SALES RISE, Page 10-A


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Existing-home sales rose in April with strong buyer activity in lower price ranges, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised pace of 4.55 million units in March, but were 3.5 percent below the 4.85 million-unit level in April 2008. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said firsttime buyers continue to influence the market but there also is a seasonal rise of repeat buyers. “Most of the sales are taking place in lower price ranges and activity is beginning to pick up in the midprice ranges, but high-end home sales remain sluggish,” he said. “The Federal Reserve needs to help restore liquidity for the jumbo mortgage market by buying these loans under the TALF program.” “Because foreclosed properties will likely be released into the market over the rest of year, it is critical that distressed homes be quickly cleared from the market,” Yun said. “Fortunately, home buyers are being attracted to deeply discounted


Paul Montelongo, is an international authority on sales motivation. He conducts corporate sales training programs, delivers inspirational keynote addresses and offers retreats for sales and management teams worldwide. Get free weekly electronic tips and learn more about Paul and his resources for sales professionals, at www.PaulMontelongo. com.

Existing-Home Sales Rise in April

W. Milita ry

of your product. Many businesses use YouTube to post video testimonials from happy customers. It may also be used to post video demonstrations or instructional videos of your product. Viewers can offer feedback and rate your videos based on likeability or usefulness. Digg, Utterz, Wordpress, Blogger, Delicious, Twitter and similar sites offer ways for you to post interesting information about your product and service. They each have their nuances of usage and function ability. Their purpose basically remains the same, the exchange of information for entertainment or education. One could go stir crazy managing all of these sites. There are ways to connect them all together but that may or may not be for you. Essentially, the Internet has become a means for people to collect information about anything on the planet...and actually off the planet as well. Social Media sites have created the vehicle to link people with similar interest together. After all, if you collect mosquito wings in Gambia, there is likely someone else you can connect with on social sites who share a similar passion. That is the real beauty of Social Media Marketing. You can offer value in the form of education and product information to attract prospects with an interest in your services. By providing your knowledge you can position yourself as an expert in your field. Guess what? Customers prefer to do business with companies and people who are experts in their field. Sure, you can connect with family and friends on any, or all of these sites. You can also promote your business with useful information to your prospective customers. You can use these sites to differentiate your company from the competition, or at least to educate the public about your specific means of customer satisfaction. I am a bit biased though. I am a registered member of fifty-one social sites where I post articles, videos, blogs, links and general information about sales and marketing. The vast majority of these sites are populated by automation. I only personally manage three sites; Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you are a complete novice, start with just one of these simple sites. Promote the site on your company website, on your business cards and in your email signatures. Pay attention to the response you receive. It’s a new market place. Automation and technology are here to stay. Since the majority of these sites are completely free, you might as well see if any of them fit into your overall marketing scheme. By the way follow me on Facebook and Twitter for examples of how to use these sites for business purposes. You can find the links to these on my home site…


PEP TALK from Page 3-A


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D.R. Horton Mixer at Leon Springs Dance Hall

Above: Welcome to Leon Springs Dance Hall.

Above: BradďŹ eld Properties enjoyed the mixer at Leon Springs Dance Hall.

RE/MAX Above: Joe and Mary Skye of of DR Horton. s ina Sal l brie Ga Associates and

Above: Laura Marez and Susan Tamez of DHI Mortgage, Melissa Farrell and Jackie Stockton of DHI Title.

Above: George and Phyllis Teer of RE/MAX 2000 talk to Cecil Pounds of DHI Mortgage.

Above: Eddie Tamez and Katie Heier both with DR Horton.

Above: Adrianna Salas of DHI Title with Beth Ramirez and Laura Marez of DHI Mortgage greet everyone as they enter.


June 15, 2009

See more agents sightings on

cer of Above: Sharon Brenner and Carol Spen Keller Williams.

Page 4-B The ShowCase USA

NEGOTIATOR from Page 1-A the offer. If not, you have uncovered that this may be the best the buyer can do. 5. Let silence do the heavy lifting Make your proposal and wait for the other party to respond. Most Americans are uncomfortable with silence and feel compelled to say something. In contrast, people from other cultures often use silence to get what they want. Burrell recommends that silence is particularly effective when the other side has made you angry. Rather than lashing back at them, silence actually accomplishes more. 6. The decoy It's always smart to include at least one item in your negotiation that your clients are willing to concede. For example, if the sellers want to close after school is out, the buyers could ask to close quickly. When the sellers make a counteroffer pushing the closing date back to the end of the school year, they will feel as if they have gained a major concession. You can then ask for a concession in exchange for the later closing date. 7. Give your clients alone time When your clients appear to like a property, find a way to excuse yourself so they can talk in private. This is especially important for people who do not speak English as their first language. The only buying sign you may see will be when they excuse themselves to have a private conversation in their native language. 8. Don't accept the first "no" According to Burrell, for determined negotiators, "no" is merely an opening bargaining position. This is particularly true for bureaucracies including the

government, banks, major builders and insurance companies. If you accept the first "no," they don't have to do any additional work. Burrell said the same thing is true for home warranty insurance. If they can tell you that, "No, it's not covered" and you go away, their problem is over. Be persistent. 9. Accept a really good offer slowly If you receive an offer that is way too good, don't jump up and down with glee. The other party will believe that they made a mistake. Instead, question some of the terms. Suggest that you might have to stretch to accept their proposal. Alternatively, ask them to throw in a little something to get you to accept. That way, the other party will feel that they did all right rather than feeling that they gave too much away. 10. Translate issues into numbers Assume that your buyers are making an offer on a house that is listed for $150,000. The buyers and the sellers are $3,000 apart. The buyers are resisting coming up with the additional $3,000. Each $1,000 of their loan amount results in an additional $6 per $1,000 in payments. In this case, the additional payment would be an additional $18 per month. Explain to the buyers that if they are able to skip one inexpensive restaurant meal per month, they will be able to get the right home with the right schools for their children. If you are serious about upgrading your negotiation skills, "Create a Great Deal" is a great way to do it. Copyright 2009 Inman News

Housing Reaches Most Affordable Level in 18 Years The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) jumped 10 points during this year’s first quarter, indicating that housing affordability had reached its highest level since the series began 18 years ago. According to the HOI, 72.5% of all new and existing homes sold in the first three months of 2009 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000, up from 62.4% during the prior quarter and 53.8% during the same period a year earlier. “Underlying the increase in affordability are lower home prices and record low interest rates,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “Combined with the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers, consumers are beginning to return to the marketplace.” In Indianapolis — the most affordable major housing market in the country during the first quarter — almost 95% of all homes sold were affordable to households earning the area’s median family income of $68,100. Indianapolis has now been at the top of the affordability list for 15 consecutive quarters. Also among the most affordable major metro housing markets were Youngstown-Warren-B oardman, Ohio-Pa.; Akron, Ohio; Grand RapidsWyoming, Mich.; and Syracuse, N.Y. Several smaller housing markets

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posted even higher affordability scores than Indianapolis. Outscoring them all was Sandusky, Ohio, where nearly 98% of the homes sold during the first quarter of 2009 were affordable to median-income earners. Other small housing markets even more affordable than Indianapolis included Monroe, Mich. and Mansfield, Springfield and Canton-Massillon, Ohio. New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. — where just over 21% of all homes sold in this year’s first quarter were affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $64,800 — was once again the nation’s least affordable major housing market, despite a seven percentage point improvement in affordability. New York has been the least affordable major metro market for four consecutive quarters. Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included San Francisco; Los Angeles-Long BeachGlendale, Calif.; Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.; and Honolulu. Among smaller metro areas, Ocean City, N.J. was the least affordable market, along with San Luis ObispoPaso Robles, Calif.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Hanford-Corcoran, Calif.; and Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., respectively. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

June 15, 2009


NAHB Guide Finds More Cities Rolling Back Impact Fees Seeing a significant decline in their impact fee revenues in 2008 and 2009, local jurisdictions nationwide are considering impact fee moratoria, reductions and rollbacks as a strategy for stimulating the local economy during the current downturn and encouraging the production of affordable housing, according to NAHB’s Land Development Services Department. For example, the city of Fremont, Calif. decided in April to lower its impact fees by 75% in an effort to attract more residential construction and business to the area. In March, the Eagle Lake, Fla. City Commission voted unanimously to waive impact fees for construction and redevelopment within the city’s Community Redevelopment Area. The change was approved as a stimulus for business development. As part of its extensive resources on infrastructure finance and public service needs available to association members, the NAHB department continues to track communities that are in the process of providing relief on impact fees. The latest addition to these impact fee materials — the “Impact Fee Rollback Resource Guide” — includes a regularly updated list of examples of rollbacks that have passed or are being debated by local communities. Impact fees have proven to be an economically sensitive financing tool for municipalities, with their

revenues going up and down with the construction cycle. Local jurisdictions that have counted for years on a robust home building industry to help finance public improvements and services are now finding that those funds are drying up as the national recession deepens and building permit activity remains at historic lows. Local jurisdictions that are collecting impact fees and relying on them to finance their public improvements and services are at risk of falling short and possibly being put in a position of having to refund the fees with interest if the infrastructure and services are not constructed for these new residents as a result of their revenue shortfall. Impact fee reductions or waivers can become a permanent incentive for targeted areas or types of development or a temporary stimulus intended to jump-start new home construction. Other resources on impact fees and infrastructure finance available on include: • "Impact Fee Handbook" — This is the third edition of the popular resource guide on impact fees, providing more than 130 pages of technical, economic, administrative and other information on this financing mechanism. • Infrastructure Alternatives Series — NAHB has conducted research and developed a trilogy of publications to help home builders associations and local communities move forward with implementing alternatives. The individual publications are highlighted

below and are available online and in hard copy. These publications are increasingly being sought out by such groups as the National Association of Counties, the lieutenant governors and the National League of Cities. • "Building for Tomorrow: Innovative Infrastructure Solutions" (2003) is a 32-page report that explains more than 20 innovative financing and delivery mechanisms and presents case studies on how those tools have been applied successfully. • "Infrastructure Finance: Does Your State Encourage Innovation?" (2005, updated in 2007) features a matrix of all 50 states, showing which states authorize the use of the 12 most commonly used infrastructure finance tools discussed in “Building for Tomorrow.” It highlights a more in-depth research report written by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) that summarizes state enabling authority for these tools and includes links to the relevant statutes. • "Infrastructure Solutions — Best Practices From Results-Oriented States" (2007), features research from the NCSL on the best state enabling legislation for some of 11 infrastructure finance alternatives. NCSL looked at statutory language from all the states authorizing the use of these finance tools and highlighted the best-written laws that showed the most promise. • "Guidebook to Infrastructure Finance Alternative" — This publication summarizes the resources available on

the NAHB Web site along with their uses. In addition to impact fees and infrastructure finance, NAHB’s Land Development Services Department helps members with a wide array of products and services. These include: • Research — NAHB continues to conduct substantive research on trends in infrastructure finance. Currently, Land Development Services is conducting research on the validity of size-based methodologies for the calculation of impact fees and their impact on housing affordability. The results should be available to association members by the fall. • Ordinance Reviews — NAHB staff members in Land Development Services are available to review and analyze local ordinances as well as give technical assistance to help prepare for meetings and hearings with local government. • Education — Most recently, NAHB hosted the first of a series of webinars on the topic of “Trends in Impact Fees.” This webinar can be viewed on NAHB’s Web site at infrastructurefinance. The remaining five webinars will be on infrastructure and development finance issues of key concern to members and HBAs in light of the financial challenges of the current economic downturn. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.






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*This guarantee is conditioned upon credit approval and starts with the timely receipt of all required information provided by the borrower or any third party. The information may include, but is not limited to, purchase contract (if applicable), an acceptable appraisal, a clear preliminary title, survey, inspections, documentation for income and assets, third party verifications, and proper insurance coverage. Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC cannot be held responsible for any required documentation that is not received in a timely manner.

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Sales Agents, Appraisers Underestimate Value of Green Professionals with expertise in green building sales and marketing attending the National Green Building Conference in Dallas on May 8-10 reported that they are seeing steady progress in educating real estate appraisers and sales agents to recognize the added value of homes that can save energy, promote comfort and indoor air quality and go easy on the environment. However, at a time when builders in general are encountering difficult appraisal problems because of slow sales and surging forecloses, finding appraisers who know how to make suitable property comparisons to provide accurate valuations of green homes is particularly challenging, they said. The large majority of those who play a role in the residential appraisal and sales process don’t have enough expertise in green homes to value them correctly or to promote their unique features to prospective buyers. Because of that, consumers aren’t always aware of the improvements that their builders or remodelers make, whether their information comes from these professionals or from the tools that they use — like the local MLS system.

On the appraisal side, we are behind any movement or education that gets the appraisal world on board with this stuff,” Medina said.

Briggs said. While green may not yet have received the full market recognition it deserves, Briggs added, “90% of people looking for a home have at least some awareness of green.” In the meantime, “you’re going to have to educate appraisers,” he said, and go out and look for those who are competent in assessing green homes. For appraisers who are in the business of making market comparisons in order to assess home values, “data from the Multiple Listing Service is the right place to look,” said John Stovall, vice president of EcoBroker. “But most MLS’s don’t identify green properties.” Stovall said that NAHB members

Don Briggs, whose company Briggs Associates Inc. specializes in green appraisals, said that a builder or Realtors® should expect the appraiser who comes to view their green property to be competent, but if he isn’t knowledgeable about green building he may fall short in determining the most probable price a property will bring in the open market. “He can leave things out, and he is responsible for that,”

can help promote the higher value and customer benefits of green homes by working with knowledgeable agents to include appropriate data in the MLS. His own company, which was honored during the NAHB Green Conference as the “Green Advocate of the Year,” now has some 5,000 members spreading the word in all 50 states about the advantages of green housing. As an example of emerging

green homes. As a prototype, Medina recommended MLS inputs initiated by Realtors® in Traverse City, Mich. and its green disclosure statement, which is the most comprehensive greening of a MLS that the council has received. “This is one great example,” he said, “and it wouldn’t have gotten done without the collaboration of the local Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area.”

Green Appraisals

Putting Green in the MLS

Al Medina, director of the Green Designation program of the National Association of Realtors®, said that only about 1% of the nation’s independently owned and operated MLS’s have a green feature. His organization is working to change that deficiency by educating its sales agents about the value of green and the importance of establishing its benefits in the listings and in the minds of consumers. Toward the end of last year, roughly 1,500 Realtors® had completed the educational requirements to receive the green designation, Medina said. “Agents are a great conduit to consumers and the public,” he said. “There is clearly pent-up demand for green education.” As part of its mission, the association's Green REsource Council is working to include entry fields in MLS’s to identify green features and certifications that will help agents search for sustainable homes and properties and allow builders and sellers to market their

companies that are dedicated to selling green housing, Stovall cited Seattlebased GreenWorks Realty, which bills itself as the first real estate brokerage in the country to specialize in green properties. The company’s agents drive their business by volunteering with various local organizations in the area, including Built Green of King and Snohomish Counties, the Northwest Eco-Building Guild and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Shoving Buyers Out the Door

Blazing some new territory of her own, Beth Johnson, of Advocates Realty in Dallas, has earned all of the national green credentials available and was the first certified EcoBroker in Texas. “When a buyer comes to me, they tend to be green leaning,” Johnson said. “What makes them comfortable is the resale value. They understand the concept that you don’t want a white elephant home that’s not even Energy Star five or 10 years from now.” About 37% of the homes built in Texas are Energy Star certified, she said, and Texas ranks as the leading state for that program. Conceding that there are some extra up-front costs in making homes more energy efficient — which is a growing priority for municipalities across the state — Johnson said that they tend not to be significant amounts of money and they can be mitigated by savings on utility bills and energy tax credits. Johnson warned green builders that listing agents who aren’t knowledgeable about their homes could be doing more harm than good. She said she has encountered agents who can’t tell prospective buyers the program under which a home has been certified, which is “very confusing” to them. “Sometimes your own sales staff is shoving them out the door,” she said. With plenty of trained Realtors® coming into the market, “you might as well choose someone who can articulate your product accurately and enthusiastically,” she said. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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June 15, 2009


First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit for Closing Will Move Market Consumers across the country can now take advantage of a Federal Housing Administration program to allow qualified home buyers to apply the $8,000 tax credit when purchasing a home. FHA will now permit its lenders to provide a short-term bridge loan that will let qualified home buyers use the tax credit to either make a larger downpayment above the FHA required 3.5 percent, cover closing costs, or buy down their interest rate. “A true housing recovery depends on buyers returning to the market and reducing inventory,” said National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Since many of the homes available are lower priced starter homes, the ability for individuals to use the tax credit at closing should have a meaningful impact on home sales and values and will allow thousands of families to achieve the dream of homeownership.” Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced the change today. In an address to several thousand Realtors® gathered two weeks ago at

NAR’s Real Estate Summit: Advancing the U.S. Economy, Donovan announced HUD’s plan to offer the tax credit as downpayment assistance. Donovan detailed the modifications to that original proposal and announcement. “We all want to enable FHA consumers to access the home buyer tax credit funds when they close on their home loans,” Donovan said. According to Donovan, the FHA’s approved lenders will be permitted to “monetize” the tax credit through short-term bridge loans allowing eligible home buyers to access the funds immediately at the closing table. NAR has supported monetization of the tax credit, which was part of an Obama administration housing stimulus plan enacted earlier in the year. NAR petitioned HUD to allow home buyers to use the $8,000 tax credit to help them cover downpayment or closing costs to bring new home buyers to the market and stimulate home sales. “We think this is a good program; our members have been getting many inquiries from potential buyers about it,” McMillan said. “NAR is pleased that this enhancement has been made to

SALES RISE from Page 5-A

the administration’s housing recovery program. As we have heard before, there can be no economic recovery without a housing recovery. With an abundance of inventory, reduced home prices, historically low interest rates and now the availability of the tax credit at closing, we expect to see the housing market further stabilize and improve.” Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with permission.

NAR, Mayors, Recognize Tri-Valley, Calif. for Increasing Affordable Housing Opportunities California’s Tri-Valley region has been named a 2009 Ambassador City by the National Association of Realtors® and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for its Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center, a nonprofit housing counseling organization that promotes affordable rental and homeownership opportunities. The TVHOC was created in 2005 by the five cities of the Tri-Valley region in northern California – the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon and the town of Danville. The TVHOC acts as a clearing house, helping match individuals in need with housing programs and services that benefit them most. “Realtors® build communities and are committed to helping potential home buyers overcome barriers to homeownership,” said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth. “The Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center should be proud of the great work it’s doing to improve the flow of housing information and resources to hardworking families in Northern California so that more people can achieve homeownership and have a place of their own to call home.” The Tri-Valley region sits at the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, 18 miles southeast of Oakland and 33 miles from San Francisco. The region is known for its high housing costs, which forces many area workers to commute 10-A June 15, 2009

an hour or more from their homes in nearby communities where housing is more affordable. TVHOC helps combat the area’s high housing costs through pre- and postpurchase home buyer education, income and asset development education, rental referral services, information regarding public and private sector lender programs and funding sources, and free income tax services. Through the TVHOC’s efforts, hundreds of prospective home buyers in the area have received education and counseling and more than 100 people have achieved homeownership. The Bay East Association of Realtors® is also being recognized as a key partner and supporter of the TVHOC. Bay East helps fund and staff the TVHOC, and Realtors® serve as trainers for TVHOC orientations and workshops and help TVHOC develop unique sales solutions for many of its low- and moderateincome buyers. At an event yesterday, Realtor® Wendy Furth, NAR’s Housing Opportunity Committee liaison, joined Dustin Joyce, Council for the New American City, in presenting the Ambassadors for Cities plaque and a $5,000 check to 2009 Bay East Association of Realtors® President Pat Huffman and Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman. 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.

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Dallas-Fort Worth, said conditions are optimal for buyers with good jobs and long-term plans. “We have record low mortgage interest rates, a wide selection of homes and affordable prices in most areas,” he said. “When you add the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit, it’s hard to imagine a better time to make an investment in your future through homeownership.” According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.81 percent in April from 5.00 percent in March; the rate was 5.92 percent in April 2008; data collection began in 1971. Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 8.8 percent to 3.97 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.2.-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with a 9.6-month supply in March. “The gain in inventory is largely seasonal from sellers entering the spring market. Even with the rise, inventory over the past few months has remained consistently lower in comparison with a year earlier,” Yun noted. Single-family home sales rose 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.18 million in April from a level of 4.08 million in March, but are 2.8 percent below the 4.30 million-unit pace in March 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $169,800 in April, which is 14.9 percent below a year ago. Existing condominium and coop sales increased 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 500,000 units in April from 470,000 in March, but are 9.4 percent lower than the 552,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $173,900 in April, down 18.5 percent from April 2008. Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 11.6 percent to an annual pace of 770,000 in April, but are 10.5 percent below April 2008. The median price in the Northeast was $237,400, which is 9.6 percent lower than a year ago. Existing-home sales in the Midwest slipped 2.0 percent in April to a level of 1.00 million and are 9.9 percent lower than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $138,800, down 11.7 percent from April 2008. In the South, existing-home sales increased 1.8 percent to an annual pace of 1.74 million in April but are 8.9 percent lower than April 2008. The median price in the South was $148,000, which is 12.8 percent below a year ago. Existing-home sales in the West rose 3.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.17 million in April and are 19.4 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the West was $222,600, down 21.8 percent from April 2008. Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with permission.

Innovative Marketing Course Confidence of Builders Continues to Grow in May Benefits Area Home Sellers Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes climbed for a second consecutive month in May to the highest level since last September, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which was released on May 18. This month’s HMI rose two points to 16. "Builders are responding to what they perceive to be some of the best home-buying conditions of a lifetime," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. "You're not likely to get a better deal in terms of mortgage rates than what's available right now. Combine that with today’s affordable prices, multitude of home choices and $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers, and you have a very appealing set of reasons to make a move." "The fact that the May HMI continued to tick up from April's five-point increase confirms that last month’s improved confidence level was no fluke," added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This continued increase indicates that home builders feel we're at or near the bottom of the market and that positive signs lie ahead for builders and potential home buyers, provided that builder access to production credit significantly improves." Crowe also noted that the recently announced plan by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to enable home buyers to use the new

$8,000 tax credit at the closing table is especially encouraging. "We appreciate Secretary Donovan's efforts to make the tax credit more useful to buyers by addressing the biggest hurdle to firsttime purchasers — having enough cash for a suitable downpayment," he said. Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the HMI gauges builder perceptions of current singlefamily home sales, sales expectations for the next six months and the traffic of prospective buyers. Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. Two of the three HMI component indexes rose in May. The index gauging current sales conditions rose two points to 14, and sales expectations for the next six months rose three points to 27. Traffic of prospective buyers remained unchanged from the prior month, registering 13. Regionally, builder confidence climbed three points to 18 in the Northeast, one point to 18 in the South and four points to 12 in the West. The Midwest held even at 14. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.


Denise Barnhill Achieves Certified Home Marketing Specialist Designation Amid national attention to the real estate market, real estate professional of Coldwell Banker D’ANN HARPER REALTORS  (CBDHR) acquired new skills to decrease market time and maximize selling prices. Eager to develop a new approach for timely, efficient home sales,././. Denise Barnhill attended the nationally renowned Certified Home Marketing Specialist Course taught by Martha Webb.  Addressing in-depth market analysis, strategic pricing and effective home staging, the Certified Home Marketing Specialist Course provides agents with much expertise to excel in today’s competitive real estate environment. The result? Homes sell faster at better prices — in any market.   Ms. Webb, author and producer of Dress Your House for Success and one of the country’s foremost authorities on home staging, has taught her proprietary system for increased sales and maximum profit to thousands of real estate agents nationwide. Now Denise Barnhill has joined this prestigious group by achieving professional certification as a Home Marketing Specialist following / her participation in one course.  “This course is a must for any agent who wants to provide the best service possible,” says Denise Barnhill. “Having this certification means I can offer my clients a level of expertise that you

just don’t learn in standard classes. “Now, instead of just saying ‘make sure everything’s clean’ before a showing, I can go through the house with my clients, room by room, and point out things we can do to help potential buyers connect emotionally with the house. “Strategic pricing is key to moving properties quickly in any market. Add staging to the equation and you have the enviable position of being able to give buyers a true feeling for what it would be like to live there while sellers get the benefit of faster sales at the best price possible,” Denise Barnhill adds. A phenomenon that’s swept the real estate industry over the past several years, home staging has increasingly become an integral component of any successful home sale. Real estate agents who have completed the Certified Home Marketing Specialist course offer clients concrete, market-specific guidance to position properties to make a direct emotional connection with potential buyers. “We  learn to more specifically reach out to home buyers regardless of the market,” says   Denise Barnhill, REALTOR, at CBDHR. “The Certified Home Marketing Specialist Course presented by Martha Webb gives agents those skills,” she said. Contact for further details.

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June 15, 2009 11-A

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Eye on the Economy New Home Supply-Demand Balance Improving

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San Antonio June 15, 2009

FRAUD ALERT! TREC has recently learned about a scam in which a person pretending to be an agency employee may call a licensee with a story about a problem with the licensee's license status. The caller then offers to resolve the problem by asking for the licensee's credit card number to make a payment by phone. DO NOT RESPOND to requests from TREC asking you to provide personal information, including credit card numbers, social security numbers, or any other identifying information. TREC does not accept any payments by phone and will never make such a request. Please remember to always carefully guard your personal data. If you receive a suspicious call from someone purporting to be from TREC, we recommend that you ask the caller for his or her name, then hang up, call TREC at the number on the website, and ask to be transferred to that person. If you have received a suspicious call involving TREC and gave out personal information or otherwise feel your security may have been compromised, please first file a report with your local police department and then notify TREC of the situation. The above article has been provided to you compliments of SABOR.COM.

Coldwell Banker D’Ann Obama Signs Bill to Help Harper Realtors Gives Away Another $10,000!!! Families Refinance Mortgages

D’Ann Harper (Broker/Owner), of Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS (CBDHR) is proud to announce the latest winners in the Blue Rewards program! They are Janet Bressman of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty and Elizabeth Spence of Keller Williams Realty! Janet and Elizabeth were the final two agents in a group of 48 that qualified through the Blue Rewards Program and agreed to share the $10,000 grand prize! The Blue rewards program was started in the fall of 2008 by Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper REALTORS and encourages sellers to contribute $295 to a fund in which buyers agents can qualify for a $10,000 grand prize. This includes all agents from

both CBDHR and other real estate companies. After 48 transactions the fund has accumulated $10,000 and it is time for a drawing! On May 20, 2009, CBDHR held our fourth “last man standing” drawing. As tension and laughter grew it came down to the final two eligible agents, Janet and Elizabeth! When given the offer of staying in the final drawing for the $10,000 or splitting it into $5,000 each in true realtor compromising fashion they both agreed that a guaranteed $5,000 was the way to go!! The next Blue Reward drawing will be held during the month of June. Contact for further details.

President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that will help struggling borrowers refinance into 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. S. 896, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, received strong bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. The measure cleared the Senate earlier this month by a vote of 91 to five and passed the House by a comfortable 338 to 52 margin on May 18. The newly enacted law will revamp the Hope for Homeowners program to permit the reduction of excessive fee levels, provide greater incentives for mortgage servicers to engage in modifications under the program and reduce administrative burdens to loan underwriters. The aim is to make it easier for strapped home owners to refinance into more affordable loans. Omitted from the final bill was a controversial “cramdown” provision to allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of mortgages on a primary residence. The newly enacted law will increase See OBAMA, Page 7-B

Tax Credit Can Be Used For Down Payment The Federal Housing Administration has issued formal guidelines allowing first-time homebuyers to apply a federal tax credit of up to $8,000 toward the purchase of a home with an FHA-backed mortgage. The bad news, for those hoping that the initiative would allow homebuyers to buy a home with nothing down, is that the tax credit can't be used to meet the FHA's 3.5 percent minimum down-payment requirement. But the tax credit can be used as an additional down payment and for other closing costs, which can help borrowers obtain a lower interest rate.

For the average FHA-insured mortgage of $182,000, buyers must bring to the closing table or finance about $8,600 in costs on top of their down payment -about $5,460 in closing costs (typically around 3 percent of the sales price) and $3,185 for FHA's initial 1.75 percent mortgage-insurance premium. In announcing the release of the guidelines, Secretary of Housing Shaun Donovan called them "another important step toward accelerating the recovery of the nation's housing market."

The ability to "monetize" the tax credit and apply it to a home purchase will not only help families purchase their first home, Donovan said, but "present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing." The National Association of Home Builders has estimated that the tax credit will generate 160,000 home sales -- 101,000 purchases by first-time buyers and 59,000 purchases by existing homeowners who will be able to sell their home and trade up. FHA's market share has grown from 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006 to 23.7 percent in the last

View the virtual issue online at

three months of 2008. The guidelines for monetizing the first-time homebuyer tax credit have been anxiously awaited for more than

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 TAX CREDIT on Page 6-B

Eye on the Economy:

Surveys Signal Revival of Buyer Demand

The sharpest contraction in economic output (real GDP) during the current recession apparently occurred in the final quarter of last year when a massive financial market shock threatened to throw the U.S. and global economies into 1930s-like depressions. The “Great Recession” is hardly over, but the rate of decline is slowing and the light at the end of the tunnel is coming into view. GDP contracted at an annual rate of 6.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008, quite a serious matter. The “advance” estimate for the first quarter of this year was down a dismal 6.1%, but late-breaking March data on construction, international trade and business inventories point toward an upward revision to the contraction to about 5.5% — close to our original projection. Available information on economic activity and financial market performance suggests that the rate of contraction in real GDP will ease off considerably in the second quarter. We’re currently estimating a 1.2 % rate of contraction for this quarter, as the fiscal stimulus program adds about 2 percentage points to growth and as business fixed investment (residential and nonresidential) contracts at a slower pace than in the first quarter. We continue to believe that GDP growth will swing into the black in the second half of this year, aided and abetted by the fiscal stimulus program and by the financial market policy blitz engineered by the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Administration. However, we’re expecting below-trend GDP growth that will be accompanied by further deterioration of the labor market. That pattern may or may not be strong enough to encourage the Business Cycle Dating Committee at the National Bureau of Economic Research to declare an end to the recession before the end of this year.

The Labor Market Will Lag the Recovery in Economic Growth

The labor market has been taking it on the chin since last fall as businesses have unloaded tons of workers and clamped down hard on compensation rates. This has been a cruel but essential process that has helped restore business profitability, reduce unit labor costs and make inflation a non-issue for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, improvements in labor market conditions typically lag upturns in economic growth by at least several quarters as an upswing in labor productivity (output per hour) supports output growth while persistent slack in labor markets keeps downward pressure on compensation rates. The employment report for April was dismal, showing a loss of 539,000 2-B

June 15, 2009

payroll jobs, downward revisions to both February and March and a jump in the unemployment rate from 8.4% to 8.9%. The most comprehensive measure of under-employment, including discouraged workers and those working only part time for economic reasons, moved up to a lofty 15.8%. Everything considered, the deterioration of the labor market was somewhat slower in April than during the previous five months, and initial claims for unemployment insurance have been “rolling over” recently following a dramatic upswing during earlier stages of the recession. We expect the contraction of payroll employment to slow considerably in the second half before turning positive early next year. The unemployment rate is likely to rise to about 9.6% before showing some gradual improvement in the second half of 2010.

Destructive Deflation Is Not in the Cards

The Federal Reserve, the guardian of the purchasing power of the currency, historically has identified price stability as a key target for monetary policy. However, recent Federal Open Market Committee statements have sounded a deflation alarm, citing the risk that inflation could drop “below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer run.” The Fed clearly has been wary of a Japanese-style deflation process that would be difficult to shake. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told members of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee that inflation is likely to move down over the next year, relative to its pace in 2008. However, he noted that stable inflation expectations, as measured by various household and business surveys, should limit further declines in inflation, that is, the deflation threat has receded in the context of an improving economy. Recent top-line inflation measures actually have dipped into the red zone, primarily reflecting major declines in energy prices since mid2008. However, key “core” inflation numbers, excluding food and direct energy prices, still are comfortably in the black and the recent behavior of commodity prices, including oil, will take downward pressure off the topline measures before long. Both the core Consumer Price Index and the core Producer Price Index have been registering year-over-year increases in the 1.8% to 1.9% range in recent months. NAHB expects these measures to slow further over the balance of this year and in 2010, dipping below the Fed’s apparent comfort zones, but we do not view outright deflation as a serious threat.

Financial Markets Are Healing Slowly

Bernanke has repeatedly said that economic recovery cannot develop unless major repairs are made to the financial system. On May 5, he told the Joint Economic Committee that conditions in a number of financial markets had shown some recent improvement but that financial markets and financial institutions “remain under considerable stress.” He also noted that cumulative declines in asset prices (equities and homes), tight credit conditions and high levels of risk aversion “continue to weigh on the economy.” The markets for short-term funding, particularly the interbank loan and commercial paper markets, clearly are functioning better than in late-2008 and early-2009. Asset-backed securities (ABS) markets, particularly for credit card, auto and student loans, also have improved recently, presumably reflecting the availability of the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) as a market backstop. And the home mortgage markets have responded favorably to the Fed’s purchases of agency debt and mortgage-backed securities, and most credit now flows through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities program. With respect to corporate financing, the broad rally in equity prices from the March lows, combined with significant reductions in risk spreads in corporate bond markets, presumably reflect a more optimistic view of the corporate sector in the investment community. Even so, spreads over comparablematurity Treasury rates remain quite elevated and investors apparently still have substantial concerns about the banking industry. These concerns have not been alleviated by reports from the Supervisory Capital Assessment Program that’s being applied to the 19 largest bank holding companies. Everything considered, it’s fair to say that repairing the financial markets is underway but there’s a long way to go before most markets will be functioning normally. This reality will not prevent economic recovery, but it definitely will place limits on the early stages of growth.

Measures of Housing Affordability Improve Dramatically

The affordability of home buying has improved dramatically over the past three years, and key measures recently have attained record highs — including NAHB’s quarterly Housing Opportunity Index and the National Association of Realtors® monthly Housing Affordability Index. The improvements in key measures of affordability have been driven largely

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by stunning reductions in sales prices, particularly during the past year, and those reductions have partly reflected an upswing in foreclosure-related sales at fire-sale prices — a phenomenon that has put some downward price pressure on sales that have nothing to do with foreclosures or short sales. Recent affordability improvements have also reflected substantial declines in rates on mortgages used to finance home purchases. In this regard, it’s noteworthy that virtually all purchase mortgage loans now are fixed-rate contracts, despite the strong upward slope to the Treasury yield curve. The “exotic” ARMs with low initial rates that pushed home buying to unsustainable levels during the boom now are a thing of the past. Increases in standard affordability measures do not necessarily translate into home buying activity, of course, as these measures fail to capture changes in mortgage lending standards, house price expectations or the influence of the current and expected economic environment — factors that have tended to discourage home buying in recent times. But some worms have been turning on these fronts, lessening the impediments to buying and helping to lay the groundwork for a broad-based recovery in home sales.

Surveys of Consumers and Builders Signal Revival of Home Buyer Demand

The stunning improvements in major measures of housing affordability, along with temporary federal and state tax incentives for first-time buyers and new-home buyers, have served to stabilize housing demand and to encourage the beginnings of recovery. This revival has occurred despite the persistence of extremely weak economic conditions and serious tightening of lending standards in major components of the home mortgage market. The University of Michigan’s survey of consumer sentiment showed that 79% of households had a favorable view of home buying conditions in the early part of May — up substantially from the cyclical low in early-2006 and the highest reading since early-2004. The revival primarily reflects the major price reductions that have accumulated since 2005, and historically low mortgage interest rates have also caught the fancy of consumers in recent months. NAHB’s proprietary survey of large public and private single-family builders provides concrete evidence of recent stabilization and improvement in both gross home sales (new orders) and net sales (accounting for cancellations) — on a seasonally adjusted basis. Gross sales hit bottom in February See EYE ON, Page 7-B



Weichert Realtors Lisa Kay & Associates

SellSmart Lone Star Real Estate

Don Tomola Realtor Don Tomola, a 27-year real estate professional, has joined the sales team at WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Lisa Kaye & Associates. He offers a full range of services to clients in San Antonio and surrounding areas as a member of the San Antonio Board of Realtors®. Tomola earned numerous awards for monthly and annual production volume and was nominated for Summit Awards in1998. Tomola, a long time area resident, lives in San Antonio. In addition to real estate, his varied background includes work in the fields of on-site builder sales, oil and gas interests, loan origination and air to ground airline communications. He also worked as vice president of an international marketing company. He is a member of the National Association of Home Builders. WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Lisa Kaye & Associates is located at 16640 San Pedro Avenue in San Antonio, telephone (210) 293-4663.

Kurt Varela SellSmart Lone Star Real Estate welcomes their newest agent Kurt Varela. Kurt has been in real estate for several years and born and raised in San Antonio. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Upon graduation Kurt Worked for a development on the San Antonio Riverwalk in marketing and also worked in Leasing. He can be reached at (210) 852-7422.

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Lisa Medina* Rental Property Professionals announces the addition of Lisa Medina, a native of San Antonio, as Senior Property Manager. Medina, who is a Realtor and fluent in Spanish, brings over four years ofresidential rental property management experience. She most recently worked as Senior Property Manager for another local property management company where she managed more than 250 homes. Her direct line is 210-885-9952. Rental Property Professionals offers full property management services, including marketing, tenant qualification, leasing, accounting, make ready and maintenance for residential single family homes or condo units. Its offices are located in the Keller Williams Legacy building at 1102 E. Sonterra Blvd.

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GSABA Sales and Marketing Council breakfast in May

t) speaking to the Above: Paul Montelongo (far righ ing Council breakfast. rket attendees of the Sales and Ma

Above: Sharon Ben Tahar of Pacifi c Shore Stones, Paul Montelongo speaker and sales trainer and Mic helle Ellis of Hogan Homes.

Above: The “Top Sales Producers” for the first quarter of 2009.

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Above: Keller Williams IH-10 celebrates a job well done at New Laredo Hwy, painting several fences. 4-B

June 15, 2009

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Real Estate Seminar with Mitch Stephen AGENT SIGHTINGS

Above: Melanie Benfield of Bank of America Home Loans, Cindy Mitchell of Weichert Realtors Lisa Kaye & Assoc., Mitch Stephen of My Life & 1,000 Houses, Lisa Kaye of Weichert Realtors Lisa Kaye & Assoc., and Lance Bryce of Bank of America Home Loans.

PT 50 Early Quali�ier

Above: Tami Price and Jack Allen of Coldwell Banker sample some great sushi.

Above: Tara Gills and Amanda Sho fner of Toll Brothers.

PT50 Early Above: Sitterle Homes staff at the Qualifier.

Ridge Stone Realty Luncheon

Left: Back Row, Emmanuel Rebaldo of Fieldstone Homes, Jay Holtslag, Joseph Garrett, David Bissland, Rodney Coleman, Gus Gomez of Ridge Stone Realty.Middle Row: Jan Crouser, Barbara Torres, Gerri Johnson, Alice Castillo of Ridge Stone Realty and Ginger Klaerner of North American Title. Front Row: Laurel Montgomery-Torres and Adam Morales of Ridge Stone Realty.

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June 15, 2009


A Vital Mortgage Market Needs Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac A secondary mortgage market model that includes some level of government participation is necessary to ensure affordable and available home mortgages. That is the message the National Association of Realtors® delivered during a House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing today. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac serve an important role in expanding homeownership and providing a solid foundation for our nation’s housing financial system,” said Realtor® Frances Martinez Myers, who spoke on behalf of NAR. “Unlike private secondary market investors, Fannie and Freddie remain active in housing markets during downturns, using their federal ties to facilitate mortgage finance and support homeownership opportunities for all qualified borrowers.” By providing capital for mortgage finance during disruptive and down markets, these governmentsponsored enterprises are vital to the success of the nation’s housing system. “As the market turmoil reached its peak in late 2008, it became apparent that

the role of the GSEs, even in conservatorship, was of utmost importance to the viability of the housing market, as private mortgage capital effectively fled the marketplace,” Martinez Meyers said. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac help ensure that home buyers have access to fair and affordable mortgages, which in turn stimulates real estate transactions and supports the larger economy. “If no government-backed entity had existed as private mortgage capital dried up, the housing market would have come to a complete halt and thrown our nation into a deeper recession, or even a depression,” said Martinez Meyers. A thriving U.S. housing market and economy will require a secondary mortgage market with safe, sound and dependable participants. NAR shared with Congress a set of principles for ensuring a robust financing environment for homeownership. These principles include facilitating the flow of See MARKET, Page 9-B

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Terri L. Millmeyer Phone: 210.341.7209 6-B

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TAX CREDIT from Page 1-B two weeks. After Donovan announced the initiative in a May 12 speech to members of the National Association of Realtors (see story), HUD released and abruptly withdrew a set of guidelines that were later described as a draft version. The final guidelines for lenders, spelled out in Mortgagee Letter 2009-15, explain the conditions

under which FHA-approved lenders and nonprofits, and federal, state and local government agencies may purchase the tax credits anticipated by homebuyers. Those offering tax-credit advances with second liens can't charge more than 2.5 percent of the anticipated credit, which works out to $200 in fees and costs for the maximum $8,000 tax credit. The second lien can't exceed the total amount needed for the down payment, closing costs and prepaid expenses, and can't result in cash back from the borrower. The homebuyer's 3.5 percent minimum down payment can't come from the lender, the seller, or any other third party or person benefiting from the transaction. But FHA does allow parents, employers and other governmental entities to contribute towards the 3.5 percent minimum down payment. A number of state housing finance agencies offer down-payment assistance loans that can be used to meet FHA minimum down-payment requirements, some of which already incorporate the first-time homebuyer tax credit. "This guidance will enable more housing finance agencies to go forward with programs they've been waiting to launch until the guidance came out," said Garth Rieman, director of housing advocacy and strategic initiatives for the National Council of State Housing Agencies. Rieman said that the mortgagee letter appears to allow housing finance agencies to continue to offer second loans that incorporate the tax credit as one of many underwriting factors, and those loans can still be used to meet the FHA's 3.5 percent down-payment requirement. But the letter does appear to prohibit borrowers who obtain second loans based solely on their eligibility for the first-time homebuyer tax credit from using those funds to meet FHA's minimum down-payment requirement, Rieman said. "We think the guidelines are flexible enough to allow housing finance agencies that already have (downpayment assistance) programs to continue to use them, and to allow them to use them with FHA loans," Rieman said. The process described as "purchases" of tax credits in the FHA's letter to mortgagees is a new approach, Rieman said. "You want to make sure it's done responsibly," and HUD has done an "artful" job balancing the need to stimulate homebuying against risk to the FHA insurance fund, he said. "When you consider all the fees and costs homebuyers must come up with, this will be very valuable in helping them raise the funds to close." The first-time homebuyer tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, up to $8,000, for first-time homebuyers purchasing a home before Dec. 1. A first-time homebuyer is anyone who hasn't owned a primary residence in the last three years. Individuals making $95,000 or more and married couples earning $170,000 or more can't claim the credit. Lesser tax credits are available for individuals with a modified adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more but less than $95,000, and for married couples earning $150,000 or more but less than $170,000, and filing jointly. The IRS has created a landing page with links to a Q&A and Form 5405, the form used to claim the credit after closing on a home purchase. Copyright 2009 Inman News

EYE ON from Page 2-B and registered significant improvement in both March and April. Net sales actually bottomed out late last year and have shown substantial improvement in recent months, particularly in April. NAHB’s broad-based single-family Housing market Index (HMI) had been mired in a narrow record-low range from November of last year through March of this year. However, the HMI broke out of this range with a decisive move in April — from 9 to 14 — and registered further improvement when it rose to 16 in May. While the HMI level still is quite low, the recent turnaround has been broad based, showing up in all major regions of the country and in all HMI components — present sales, expected sales and buyer traffic.

Recent Housing Production Pattern Is a Mixed Bag

The overall level of housing production is quite depressed and the recent pattern is quite a mixed bag, with some components showing stabilization and even hints of improvement while others are displaying sharp retrenchment. Single-family housing starts for April were up by about 3% from March and from the average for the first quarter of the year. Single-family permits show much the same pattern, and it’s possible that the low point for this dreadful cycle was reached in the first quarter — a bit earlier than in our most recent forecast. In this regard, it’s reassuring that single-family starts for sale (excluding homes built on owners’ lots) now are down to about two-thirds of the total, compared with more than four-fifths during the unsustainable boom period and reasonably close to the long-term average share. The multifamily housing sector held up relatively well through mid-2008, but this sector now is contracting rapidly. Multifamily starts were down to 172,000 units in the first quarter of this year (seasonally adjusted annual rate), nearly 50% below a year earlier, and starts crashed to a 90,000 rate in April. The condo component of the multifamily sector is reeling, the subsidized rental component is essentially dormant and the market-rate rental component is fundamentally weak — due partly to conversions of condo projects to rental projects in recent times. The for-sale share of multifamily starts was only 14% in the first quarter, down from about 50% at the height of the boom and below the long-term average. The April multifamily starts numbers presumably reflected typical short-term volatility in this data series, and things may not be quite as bad as they look. However, permit issuance also was quite weak and it’s clear that the multifamily sector, in total, still is on a downward trend.

Tight AD&C Credit Conditions Will Sap Strength of Recovery in Housing Production

Historically high inventories of vacant new and existing homes on the market will put downward pressure on house prices and exert a drag on the recovery of housing starts for some time, even as the recovery of housing demand gains some upward momentum. Indeed, those inventories will continue to be fed by a foreclosure wave that has not yet crested. Weak housing market fundamental have not escaped the attention of depository institutions or their regulators. Consequently, conditions have continued to tighten in the markets for loans to acquire and develop land and to construct homes — the AD&C credit markets. Surveys by NAHB and the Federal Reserve document recent tightening and point toward further tightening down the line. The Fed’s most recent Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices, covering the first quarter of the year, revealed serious tightening of

lending standards for commercial real estate lending, a category that includes residential construction and land development loans. That survey marked the 14th consecutive quarter of credit tightening, showing that two-thirds of banks tightened in the first quarter while no banks eased their standards. Furthermore, 90% of bank loan officers expected the quality of existing loans to continue to decline over the balance of the year — hardly an encouraging signal for builders and developers seeking new loans. NAHB’s first-quarter survey of builders regarding conditions in the AD&C credit markets showed extensions of patterns identified in a series of surveys conducted during the past two years, such as progressive tightening of lending terms and standards for prospective new loans as well as for outstanding credit. Lenders told builders that the tightening process has largely reflected pressures from regulators and boards of directors and those pendulums are not likely to swing back in short order. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

OBAMA from Page 1-B the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's line of credit from the U.S. Treasury to $500 billion through 2010 and $100 billion thereafter. In addition, the higher FDIC deposit insurance coverage limit of $250,000 per account was extended through Dec. 31, 2013 after which it will revert back to $100,000. The legislation contains a provision of concern to NAHB that would require investors who are buying foreclosed properties to allow Section 8 renters to remain in the property for up to one year. NAHB had sent a letter to Congress questioning the fairness of this requirement. For more information on the legislation, click here and type S. 896 in the box in the center of the page. For further information, e-mail Scott Meyer at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8144. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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Florida Builder Encouraged by Recent Uptick in Sales Among home builders around the country who are beginning to see tentative signs that the housing market is turning the corner of its worst downturn in generations, Mori Hosseini, chairman and CEO of ICI Homes in Daytona Beach, Fla., said that his sales in April were the best in three years and the upward momentum appears to have carried over into May. Participating in a May 18 NAHB media teleconference along with association President Jerry Howard and Chief Economist David Crowe, Hosseini said that he has been impressed by the velocity of people showing up at his sales offices. “And some of them are buying,” he said. Hosseini’s markets in the central and northeast parts of the state — including Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando — have seen recent increases in interested buyers in both the starter and trade-up markets. The only exception, he said, is the secondhome market, which remains moribund. Lower home prices, along with low mortgage rates and the availability of the $8,000 tax credit for firsttime home buyers, he said, have provided a significant incentive for prospective buyers to return to the

housing market. Hosseini sold 81 homes last month. “People are coming from up North and making the decision to buy,” he said. One existing home owner, he said, decided it was worth taking a loss on the sale of their current property to take advantage of Florida’s decline in home prices. While prices nationwide have subsided roughly to 2003 levels, “in Florida we have gone down to 2000 or 2001,” Hosseini said, adding that he currently is seeing “some bottoming of home prices.” However, Hosseini said that about 30 of his recent home buying prospects “did not get qualified to buy the homes,” including some who had sizable downpayments on hand and good credit scores. “Banks are absolutely looking for the gold plate to approve people,” he said, making it more difficult to sustain the market upturn that is just materializing. Crowe said that access to credit for both home buyers and builders remains one of the headwinds constraining activity even as the market seems to be finding a bottom. “Mortgage rates are at historic lows,” Crowe said, “but underwriting standards have been tightened”

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and buyers are having to come up with larger downpayments and being allowed to allot a smaller share of their income for mortgage payments. At the same time, “home builders are having difficulty getting credit from banks and thrifts, which are shying away from most forms of real estate lending even in recovering marketplaces.” Crowe said that he expects new housing activity in 2009 to total about 50% below 2008 levels, with a pick-up toward the end of the year because of rising consumer confidence and an improving economy followed by an eventual return to normalcy in 2010 and 2011. “Unemployment will be another one of the retardants to the recovery,” he said, “with continued increases in unemployment and the number of people jobless or worried about their job” in the months ahead, he said. However, Crowe said, “it’s not unusual for home buying to begin to recover before the employment market. Over 90% of the people have a job; roughly 85% of all people have the job they expect to have, so there’s still a lot of employed people out there, and finding the bargain conditions will push the rest of the market forward.” Among signs indicating that “we could be turning the corner,” Howard noted that housing starts appear to have stabilized over the past three months and that housing affordability has improved dramatically. “We are not ready to pop the champagne corks and sing happy days are here again,” Howard said, “but we do see a light at the end of the tunnel.” The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

HUD Withdraws Proposed RESPA Rule In response to a lawsuit and comments filed by NAHB and its allies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this month withdrew a proposed rule governing affiliated businesses that would have dampened demand for new home purchases. NAHB and a coalition of its members had filed suit against HUD in federal district court in Virginia to challenge the rule, which was intended to implement some changes to Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA) regulations. The rule would have prohibited home builders from offering bona fide discounts and packaging of real estate settlement services, which have saved home buyers thousands of dollars in closing costs, title searches and other fees. NAHB submitted detailed comments to HUD, saying that this rule would have been bad for consumers, bad for the housing industry and bad for the economy. Although the rule was withdrawn, HUD did say that it may still come back in the future and conduct a new rulemaking on the “required use” definition that was at the heart of this issue. For more information, e-mail Duane Desiderio at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8146; or contact Bill Renner, x8597. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

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Green Building Growth Bright Spot in a Down Market As builders and remodelers retool their businesses in a tight credit market and consumers appear to be slowly returning to the housing market, this spring has been the greenest yet for the nation’s home builders, NAHB reported last week. “We’ve said for a while that green building is a bright spot in a down market,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson. “However, the growth of the NAHB National Green Building Program exceeds even our most optimistic expectations.” More than 3,100 builders, remodelers, designers and others in the home building business have earned the Certified Green Professional educational designation. Based on the successful completion of 24 hours of instruction, industry experience and commitment to continuing education, the designation provides consumers with a reliable way of identifying qualified professionals, Robson said. A Master Green Builder-Remodeler designation that incorporates additional building science and project management coursework is slated to be unveiled next year, he added. (To read a related story in this issue of NBN, click here.) More than 200 single-family homes, remodeling projects and developments in 43 states have received National Green Building Certification, with another 300-plus scheduled for inspections. “The NAHB Research Center has certified projects ranging from affordable starter homes to high-end custom homes with every conceivable amenity,” Robson said. “This national certification program clearly is making green building more mainstream.” The number of state and local home builders associations affiliated with the NAHB National Green Building Program reached 99 by mid-May, representing 40 states. “The fact that 17 of these programs are statewide is especially encouraging for home buyers and home owners because it increases their access to bona fide green building, whether they live in South Dakota or South Carolina,” Robson said. Homes certified in the NAHB National Green Building Program meet benchmarks for energy, water and resource efficiency; indoor environmental quality, lot and site development; and home owner education and home maintenance. Green building practices are incorporated into every step of the home building and land development process to minimize environmental impact. Various tax credits for energy-efficient products — like some Energy Star-rated windows — and a growing number of state and local incentives for buying green are also encouraging consumers to choose energy- and resource-efficient products and homes, Robson said. Consumers can find a Certified Green Professional, a local green building program and a gallery of certified green homes at www.

UNITED SA Federal Credit Union Opens Sixth Office in Schertz UNITED SA Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce the opening of its sixth office located at 6000 FM 3009 in Schertz in the Tri-County Shopping Center. This branch offers four teller windows, three member service stations, three drive-through lanes, an Internet café, a drive-up ATM and Saturday drive-through hours for the convenience of the membership. “We are pleased to have this convenient branch available to our members in this area to conduct

their financial business,” said Steve Coomes, president and CEO of UNITED SA. Through June 30, members who open a new Premium Reward Checking will be automatically registered to win an Apple iPod Touch. About UNITED SA Federal Credit Union Now in its 54th year, UNITED SA Federal Credit Union is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. Over 30,000 members own and belong to the nonprofit financial cooperative, which has over $225 million in assets.

MARKET from Page 6-B

design a secondary mortgage model that will be in all of our best interests, now and in the future. We look forward to working with Congress and the Obama administration in ensuring a strong housing market and a full economic recovery,” Martinez Meyers said.

capital into the mortgage market, in all conditions; requiring institutions to pass on the advantage of lower borrowing costs to qualified borrowers; mandating sound underwriting standards; and providing rigorous oversight to protect taxpayers. “We believe that the principles we have set forth today will help Congress and our housing partners

Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with permission.

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

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June 15, 2009


NAHB Membership Key in Weathering Tough Economic Times On the eve of National Membership Day on May 19, association members across the country are stepping up their recruitment efforts and informing professionals who work in the housing industry of the many advantages of joining the NAHB federation — which are indispensable in surviving today’s tough economic times. To help its members conduct business more effectively and more profitably, NAHB offers a powerful combination of political advocacy, educational opportunity, industry research, business management tools and relationshipbuilding networking events. When they join their local home builders association, new recruits also become members of their state association and the National Association of Home Builders, providing them with powerful advocates for their business interests at the local, state and national levels. NAHB creates value in several key ways: • Advocacy — Protecting the industry’s interests from city hall to the U.S. Capitol. • Education — Providing training and designation programs that help builders stay abreast of the latest trends. • Research and Information — Whether it’s economic forecasting, leading-edge building technologies, sales and marketing expertise or business management best practices, NAHB can helps its members make the most of their business. • Networking — NAHB helps build relationships that can make all the difference in difficult times. Fighting for the Good of the Industry NAHB’s 200,000-plus members give the federation

political clout as the voice of the housing industry. NAHB is recognized as one of the strongest advocacy organizations in the nation. To protect members’ interests, the NAHB staff constantly monitors the development of proposed bills and regulations in Washington and in statehouses across the country, as well as significant legal cases and changes to building codes and industry standards. Through the association, members working at the local, state or national level can step up their advocacy of what’s best for the nation’s housing industry. Each year NAHB conducts a Legislative Conference at which hundreds of members from across the country come to Washington to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Best Education in Housing The NAHB University of Housing assists newcomers to the industry and veterans alike in their educational pursuits. As the facilitator of all NAHB educational programs — including 15 national conferences and tours — the university is committed to helping members “Reach Higher and Work Smarter.” NAHB also offers several designation programs, which help builders stay ahead of emerging trends and differentiate themselves from the competition. From the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) to Graduate Master Builder (GMB), these programs give members unparalleled opportunities to improve their skills, advance their careers and be recognized for their commitment to professional growth. Staying Competitive With Business Tools Available on the members-only section of the NAHB Web site, members can download a wide variety of free business tools that are geared to keeping their companies competitive and profitable. Included are time-saving

documents, articles and resources designed to help with business planning, balancing the books, streamlining internal processes and improving customer service. NAHB’s Economics Department conducts economic analysis that helps keep members informed of local, regional and national economic trends. And the NAHB Research Center conducts leading-edge research on new products and construction technologies. Helping Members Tap Niche Markets NAHB addresses the needs of members in individual market segments with a variety of special interest groups and councils. Participating in a council gives members the opportunity to experience leadership in their field, as well as gain insights into the topics and issues that are most relevant to them. The councils also provide guidance and support for NAHB’s critical advocacy efforts. One of NAHB’s most vital roles is serving as a highly effective forum in which builders and associates can meet and do business. The association offers a variety of popular events and programs designed to facilitate these relationships. Whether it’s a meeting of the local association in a home town setting or a board of directors’ meeting in Washington, D.C., every member has the opportunity to be involved and to shape the future of the home building industry. NAHB’s membership ranks are comprised of more than just home builders; click here to read a related story on the benefits of association membership. For more information on membership, e-mail Gabrielle Taylor at NAHB, or call her at 800-3685242 x8351. The above article has been provided to you compliments of NAHB and Nation’s Builder News.

How to Create a 'Thoughtless' Web Site — and Why Business owners who are considering redesigning their Web sites should read Steve Krug's book, "Don't Make Me Think." It’s my Bible on good Web site design and layout and helped me recommit my team to develop a site that never, ever make visitors “think.” Why not have visitors think? It’s very simple. E-marketing research has shown that visitors generally spend less than 27 seconds on a Web page — and leave a site in less than two minutes if the site isn't intuitive and makes them think. Twenty-seven seconds sounds a bit generous to me. My instincts say the number is probably closer to eight or 10 seconds a page, but I haven’t been able to find the research to back that up. A good benchmark for your Web site should be one that has visitors spending at least five minutes at your site viewing seven or eight pages. Of course, if you have more pages than the average Web site, you want to strive to create a site that encourages even longer visits and more page views. (If you don't know how long visitors remain at your site or how many pages they view, e-mail me to arrange a free, complimentary consultation on Google Analytics.)

Three Tips on Good Web Design

Following are three tips on "thoughtless" Web design that can help increase the length of visits to your site and the number of pages that visitors view:

10-B June 15, 2009

• Don't Write the Great American Novel Web visitors don't read traditional "corporate" Web sites. In fact, they rarely “read” Web pages at all. It's not that they can't read what’s on your site. Like most Internet shoppers, though, they just don't want to spend a lot of time reading copy. Instead, they scan Web sites looking for interesting words or graphics that jump out and say "click me." So, design your site so that each page has obvious sub-sections — like the front page of a newspaper. And use boxes, headlines, subheads, photos and color to draw attention to the various sub-sections to make it easier for visitors for find what's of interest. Also, use bold and italics to move your visitors' eyes around your Web pages. Eliminate large blocks of text and present your information in small paragraphs of no more than two to three sentences per paragraph. Just be sure that you have enough keyword-rich copy in the smaller paragraphs to satisfy the search engine spiders. • Don't Make Your Visitors Pan for Gold Web visitors initially enjoy participating in a bit of a guessing game when they first come to a new site. They enjoy searching for and discovering that nugget of information — or great price on a product or service — that they’re seeking.

But as soon as their first or second guess in the search for information on your site doesn't pan out, most visitors lose patience — and if they come up empty too many times, they leave. The best way to keep your vistors from "coming up empty” is to follow the site conventions established in such popular online retail sites as and Target to make navigating your site as intuitive as possible. These sites have already familiarized millions of Web visitors with how and where to click and find what they’re looking for, so when customers visit your site, they come with expectations on how your site should function. Don’t confuse them with a site that will make them think about how to find what they're seeking. Instead, take advantage of what they already expect in a Web site. For example, major retail sites put their logos in the upper left corner — this is known in Web site design as the site ID — so put your logo in the upper left corner, too. Since many retail sites put the "Request Info" or "Contact Us" button in the upper left corner, do the same on your site. Another convention you should follow is to make sure that your navigation buttons look like buttons and are labeled clearly. Clever or cute button names may seem impressive, but they'll confuse visitors because they don't clearly define the content behind the button. Stick with clarity. The more Web design conventions that

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you follow, the more intuitive — and the more “thoughtless” — your site will be to your visitors. This means, of course, that they'll spend less time figuring out how to search your site to find what they’re looking for — and spend more time learning about your product. • When Web Visitors Play, They Buy The number one reason visitors come to a Web site is to find information. But they also want to find it through an interactive format that they can "play" with — like video, audio, flash slideshows, mortgage calculators and interactive product demonstrations. Bricks and mortar retailers like Brookstone figured out long ago that when customers can play, they buy. How many back massagers or pen flashlights have you played with at Brookstone and ended up buying while waiting for your wife or significant other to finish shopping? Visitors want interactive, authentic, usergenerated information these days. Give it to them and you’ll get repeat visitors and viral word-of-mouth referrals. Meredith Oliver, MIRM, MCSP is the president and founder of Meredith Communications, a sales training and e-marketing consulting company based in Orlando that delivers marketing services to builders and developers nationwide. For more information, e-mail Oliver, call her at 321-285-1660 or visit her Web site, www.

Industry News & Events GSABA Announcements June June June

17 - Remodelor's Council 11:30am 1:00pm at GSABA Ray Ellison Auditorium 23 - TRCC High 5 Class 9:00am - 2:30pm at GSABA Ray Ellison Auditorium 25 - TAB Summer Board Meeting

2009 Summit Awards

Make plans to join us on July 11th at the Omni Hotel for a night of entertainment and awards. Cocktails begin at 6 pm, dinner will be served at 7 pm. For more informtation, call Natalie at 210-6963800. Advertising partnerships available.


need in today's challenging market!!! "One of the most uplifting presentations I've attended in a long time and filled with lots of practical suggestions to increase business now" - Jules Wade, EO Memphis Assn of REALTORS® Pat Zaby's contributions through speaking, writing, and software development have earned him the recognition and respect as one of real estate's authorities in productivity. Over 115,000 agents faithfully read and employ the techniques found in his e-mail newsletter on Tuition: FREE to Alamo CRS members; $25 to Non-members; All No-shows WILL be billed! June 25, 2009 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM--SABOR Sponsored by the Alamo CRS Chapter Call (210) 602-2488; Fax this Registration Form to (210) 8555765, or E-mail:

Alamo Area CRS Luncheon Location: Sonterra CC San Antonio, Texas Date: Tue, June 16, 2009 Time: 11:30am - 1:00pm

Concerns Regarding the Impact of Commercial Loans Maturing with a Lack of Funding Sources No-to-Low Cost Marketing for These Loans By Pat Zaby, CCIM, CRS You'll leave full of ideas that will work for you in your market. This session is filled with low-cost strategies that will boost your business immediately by increasing revenue and decreasing expenses. Your customers won't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Actions will speak much louder than words. This session will give you easy-to-execute strategies that will leave nothing to doubt about your concern for their best interests. • Scripts for what you say to get people off the fence • Developing your point of diff erence • A plan that will generate repeat and referral business • Every transaction should lead to two more & will with "No Dead-end Deals" • "Reach out and touch someone" is the fastest way to put business on the books. • Create a system for no-cost monthly mailings • Identify the cost saving features of a contact manager • Discover the "Dripping" you'll never want to stop; Understand the effect of campaigns to automatically perform a series of activities • 5 simple techniques to get more out of email • 7 FREE "Killer Contact" Website services. Great Energy…Hot Ideas… This is just what agents

All attendees must RSVP for this summit, but all attendees who would like to share testimonials with the congressmen on their transactions being affected are asked to specify that they would like to present information on these transactions so they can be added to the list of presenters. In addition, please be prepared to provide the congressmen with copies of these transactions to take with them when they leave. Please RSVP to Tracy Ballard, CCIM Administrator at by Friday, June 19th.


SABOR: Voice Your Concers on Commercial Loans Maturing 9:30am - 11:00am @ SABOR Auditorium Contact: Tracy at


No-to-Low Cost Marketing 9:00am - 12:00pm @ SABOR Auditorium Lack of funding on these commercial loans could CRS Chapter (210) 602-2488

have such a negative impact the entire real estate market which may result in a new low for our industry. Thus, the San Antonio Board of Realtors® is trying to take proactive measures to insure that this potential commercial credit crisis is worked through now and SABOR needs the San Antonio commercial real estate industry’s help. While in DC in April, Barbara Tarin and others visited with Congressman Rodriguez about structuring a function at SABOR to hear testimonials regarding credit concerns within our industry. So far, only Congressman Rodriguez has confirmed but all four of our Congressman have been invited and may participate. What is at the forefront of all of this is concerns regarding the impact of commercial loans that will be maturing in coming months and the lack of funding sources for these loans. Mark your calendar to attend this summit with the congressmen to voice your concerns: Date: Location: Time: Attendance:

June 22 SABOR Auditorium 9:30a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 100

July: 9th

WCR Hill Coutry: BRM 11:00am - 1:00pm @ McKenna Events Center, New Braunfels, Contact: Email: Speaker: Pat Strong Topic: Moving Your Production to the Next Level

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All interested parties are encouraged to attend this free summit so please pass this information on!


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The ShowCase USA

June 15, 2009


SA, June 15th Issue  
SA, June 15th Issue  

San Antonio Real Estate News and Events.