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Displaying blog entries 11-18 of 18

Why a Good School District is Still a Priority for Empty Nesters

by The Jana Caudill Team

Invariably one of the top priorities of Northwest Indiana families with children looking to purchase a new home is landing somewhere within the boundaries of a good local school district.  Parents want the best for their kids, and that goes double for a quality education.  We all dream that one day our sons and daughters will get their college education, and the first step in attaining those goals is laying a strong foundation with quality private or public elementary, middle, and high schools.

But what if you are an empty nester or have never had children?  Why should school districts be a concern if you have no school-age, or soon to be school-age children in your household?  The answer is simple.  You may not have kids, but the people who will buy your home five, ten, fifteen years down the road very well may.

Translation: property values.  Homes in good school districts better maintain and increase in property value historically than homes that are not.  Foreclosures are even lower in quality school districts.  Certainly, many factors go into establishing property values.  But with all else being equal you can count on one thing.  A family with children – when it comes time to look for a new home – will make a good school system a top priority when beginning their search.  Neighborhoods with top notch schools will always be in demand, and will help attract more buyers to your Valparaiso, Crown Point, or St. John home when it’s time to sell.

Condominium or Townhome?

by The Jana Caudill Team

If you’re not in the Real Estate, Mortgage lending, or any other industry on the periphery of Real Estate it might be difficult to draw the line and differentiate between “Condominium” and “Townhouse.”  Here are a few key differences between the two to give you a better understanding:

  1. Because “Condominium” is a legal term in our country, condo owners are governed by a set of legal statutes regarding their creation, sale and purchase, and ownership, whereas townhome owners are not.  In addition to that, each state has its own Condominium statutes.  In the eyes of the law a townhome is looked at the same as any other single family residence.  As such, Condominium is a legal type of ownership.  Townhouse is a type of housing.
  2. Townhouses start on the ground floor, and can be one or multiple stories high.  Condominiums can be on any floor in the building, not necessarily starting on the ground floor.  Townhome owners may have common walls with other townhome owners, with no one living above or below them.  Condo owners may share walls, AND may have other condo owners’ units above and/or below them.
  3. Condo owners own the interior of their unit.  Townhome owners own the interior of their unit, plus the land, plus any exterior features like a deck, patio, yard, etc.  The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is another good source of information on the legal differences and common area ownership issues associated with Condominium Associations and Townhouse Home Owners Associations (HOAs).

This article is not intended to offer expert legal advice to our Northwest Indiana neighbors concerning condominiums or townhouses but to be used for informational purposes only.  Please consult an attorney with regard to your own individual situation.

The Cost (And Benefit) of Home Ownership Today

by The Jana Caudill Team

Everyone generally knows one of the great benefits of homeownership is the mortgage interest write off come tax time every April.  The question is how does that benefit translate in real dollars?  Tough question.  The answer is, “It depends.”  Whether you saved a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars with the write off this past year there are many more factors involved for the home-renter considering becoming a home owner if you want a true picture of the bottom line benefit of homeownership.  Some of those factors already have dollar signs attached to them: current monthly rental payment, purchase price of home, mortgage interest rate, length of loan, etc.  There is a buying versus renting tool available here at the Ginnie Mae website to help you factor in all those numbers for a better picture of your specific situation.

Here’s a great article discussing those hard number factors as well as some of the more subjective dynamics like pride of ownership, dealing with landlords, long term plans, and the volatility of the real estate and mortgage markets.

Check our blog page for more informative personal finance articles, and happy house hunting!

Want to Get Top Dollar for Your Home?

by The Jana Caudill Team

Want to get top dollar for your home?

 

Despite the fact that declining home prices have been grabbing headlines for several months now, it can be a challenge for any of us to let go of what we had hoped our home would sell for. 

It's often the case that, prior to listing their homes, sellers interview a few agents, with a plan to sign on with the one who agrees to list it at the highest price. With the understanding that the listing price is ultimately the decision of the seller, not the real estate agent, I’d like to explain one of the most critical dynamics that impacts the actual sales price of a home.

Whether we are in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, the same principle applies. The most effective pricing strategy for getting top dollar for a home is to price it competitively. This might not seem to make sense at first, but study after study, as well as my own personal experience, has proven that when a competitively priced home hits the market, it generates an instant buzz. Agents begin calling their prospective buyers and lining up showings to ensure that they don’t miss out on a great buy. Bidding wars can even break out.

Let’s contrast this situation to what happens when a home is priced higher than comparable properties. Neighbors and prospective buyers take one look at the listing sheet, and dismiss it as overpriced. The home sits on the market and sits some more. Eventually “REDUCED PRICE!” signs go up. The market starts to wonder what’s wrong with the house since it hasn’t sold.

Eventually, sellers take it off the market or agree to sell it for a much lower price than they had originally hoped.

In any market, competitively priced homes sell quicker and command a higher selling price than homes that factor high hopes into the pricing equation.

           

As a real estate professional specializing in the Northwest Indiana market, I diligently track trends as they pertain to the pricing and demand of homes. Want to learn more about how to sell your home quickly and at the best possible price?  I’d love to talk with you.  Contact me any time at (219) 661-1256 or jana@thejanacaudillteam.com.

This Month in Real Estate-February

by The Jana Caudill Team

Video-This Month in Real Estate

by The Jana Caudill Team

Report: NWI Home Values to Increase in 2007

by Jana Caudill

From www.post-trib.com

What housing bubble?

While much of the nation suffers from continued falling housing prices, Lake County will see 3.2 percent growth over past year in residential real estate value in 2007, according to a report by Fortune magazine. This places Lake fifth in the Midwest and 30th in the nation in a ranking of 100 real estate markets conducted by the magazine.

Porter County was not included in the survey, but realtors said housing values there mirror its sister county: rising slowly and steadily.

And realtors here say the 3.2 percent is an average. Houses in some areas, such as St. John and Crown Point, could see even bigger increases in value.

In contrast, residential housing values have declined 3 percent nationally, with larger drops in fast-growing coastal and vacation areas that experienced huge housing value gains in recent years.

Northwest Indiana real estate agents are basking in the glow of the report, which was prepared by Fortune magazine, Moody's and FISERV Lending Solutions and posted on CNNMoney.com.

Leading the way in the nation in rising home values, according to the magazine report, is McAllen, Texas, with Youngstown, Ohio, the top city in the Midwest.

Lake County, listed as the Gary area in the report, ranks 30th in the nation and fifth in the Midwest. Only Youngstown, Akron and Cleveland, Ohio, and Wichita, Kan., outrank the Gary area. Lake County even outranks Indianapolis (the Midwest's No. 7 with a 3 percent rise in value) and Chicago (the Midwest's No. 11 with a 2.6 percent hike in value).

The report comes as a bit of surprise after reports of the price-bubble bursting in top real estate markets such as Miami and San Francisco. And the nation as a whole saw a 3 percent decline in prices, the first time since the Great Depression that prices declined one full year.

James Shaw, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty Leaders of Crown Point, said averages contain increases as well as decreases.

And many areas, such as Lake and Porter counties, could ride the wave of steady appreciation brought by being close to, but not part of, Chicago. Suburban and exurban areas did well, both nationally and locally.

Jana Caudill, owner of Keller Williams Realty Leaders, predicted some areas of Northwest Indiana will do even better than the 3.2 percent-increase forecast.

"I'm excited to see the forecasted increase over 3 percent," Caudill said. "But some areas, like St. John, Dyer, Crown Point and Schererville, should see even larger increases in value."

For example, Crown Point is booming, Shaw said.

In 2005, the average listing price was $183,681. In 2006, it was $202,383 -- a 10.2 percent increase.

And right now, the average listing price is $298,333, although Shaw said that is far from what the average for 2007 will probably be.

Shaw said Northwest Indiana is grounded in reality -- increases that won't be deflated later.

"This market is so stable and steady," said Shaw.

The Dec. 25 issue of Fortune is also its annual Investors Guide and will be on news stands until March, according to Susan Brown Williams, communications director for Fortune.

Experts: Housing Marking in Good Shape

by Jana Caudill

Courtesy: CNNMoney.com

A top economist and market strategist at Citigroup both say they did not think the housing slowdown is going to cause the economy to plunge into a recession or the stock market to fall into a tailspin in 2007.

Speaking at a breakfast for financial reporters at the company's headquarters in New York in November, Citigroup senior economist Steven Wieting said that concerns about a recession due to softness in the housing market are overdone.

In fact, Wieting said that if the housing market had not cooled this year, that would have presented a greater risk to the economy since it most likely would have led to increased inflation and probably more interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

"Without the housing downturn, the economy would be overheating and there would be more inflation and tightening pressures," he said.

Wieting indicated that perhaps too much attention is being paid to the housing market and that there would need to be more than just a real estate slowdown to cause widespread pain to the consumer. He pointed out that consumers have so far withstood weakness in housing as well as a steady rise in the price of oil and gas over the past few years.

"There is this perception of an extremely vulnerable consumer that you've heard about for every day of your career and so have I," he said, in response to one reporter's question about consumer spending. "Consumer stability is nothing new."

Tobias Levkovich, the chief U.S. equity strategist for Citigroup, added that as long as the labor market remains healthy, consumer sentiment will likely remain relatively strong as well.

"Job growth should support continued spending growth," he said.

With this in mind, Levkovich said he conservatively expects the stock market to be up in the high-single digits to low double-digits in 2007. He has a year-end 2007 target for the S&P 500 of 1,500, about 8 percent higher than current levels.

Levkovich said one of the most encouraging signs for investors is that many companies are sitting on a large amount of cash. He pointed to figures that showed cash as a percent of total market capitalization for the S&P 500 is near a 20-year high.

As such, many companies are likely to increase stock buyback programs, pay down debt and boost their dividends in order to keep shareholders happy. "There is a lot of cash at companies that can be used to stabilize stock prices," he said.

Levkovich also said that large cap stocks should outperform small caps because he thinks the pace of earnings growth is expected to moderate to about 7 percent in 2007. Larger stocks tend to perform better when earnings growth is slowing. In addition, valuations for large caps are currently more attractive than smaller companies.

As for specific sectors, Levkovich said media stocks, technology stocks and retailers should outperform the market in 2007 while real estate, basic materials and utilities should lag.

Wieting added that investors in some housing-related stocks, particularly appliance and furniture companies, may not be factoring in the lag effect of this year's housing slump. He argues that weakness in housing this year could translate to soft sales of some big-ticket items that people normally would buy for their new houses next year.

So this could be the one consumer-oriented area that does not do well in 2007, both Wieting and Levkovich said, especially since many housing-related stocks have run up recently on hopes that the worst is over for the real estate market.

For example, shares of furniture and home furnishings maker Leggett & Platt (Charts) are up 5 percent in the past three months while appliance manufacturer Whirlpool (Charts) has gained more than 9 percent. Shares of carpet maker Mohawk Industries (Charts) are up 12 percent.

Shares of retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (Charts) and tool maker Black & Decker (Charts) have each gained nearly 20 percent in the past three months and furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports (Charts) have shot up almost 25 percent.

Levkovich and Wieting also cautioned investors to be wary of emerging markets stocks, which have been extremely hot this year. Latin American stock mutual funds have soared 34 percent this year according to fund tracking firm Morningstar,while Asia-Pacific mutual funds (excluding Japan) are up 36 percent.

Levkovich called the recent performance of emerging markets stocks "frightening" and reminiscent of the U.S. tech bubble in the late 1990s.

And Wieting argued that even though the economies of many Latin American and Asian countries are likely to remain hot, this can't go on indefinitely, which could disappoint investors with increasingly high expectations.

"Improving fundamentals in emerging markets may be perfectly sustainable but not easily repeatable," he said.

Displaying blog entries 11-18 of 18

Contact Information

Photo of The Jana Caudill Team Real Estate
The Jana Caudill Team
Redkey Realty Leaders
503 East Summit St., Suite 2
Crown Point IN 46307
219-661-1256
Fax: 219-663-5949