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July Market Update

by The Jana Caudill Team

Although experts predict it will take time for the economy to fully recover, there has been a lot of encouraging news recently.

  • The percentage of first-time buyers dipped to 29 percent as a result of more repeat buyers entering the market, suggesting signs of a return to a more balanced market.
  • Americans have shifted into savings and are now putting away a larger portion of their income – so much that the U.S. savings rate has now surpassed that of Canada!
  • Home prices edged up almost 4 percent between May and June of 2009, due to repeat buyers purchasing at higher price points, and distressed properties accounting for a smaller percentage of sales (33 percent of sales, compared to 45 percent the month before).

Learn more about the current real estate market and other great home selling tips by watching the July episode of This Month in Real Estate. The Jana Caudill Team works hard to sell homes fast and for the most money. Please contact us for all your real estate needs.

8 Ways to Spruce Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal

by The Jana Caudill Team

Now that warmer weather is finally here, many home owners will begin spending more time outside. Staging a yard can give a home the all-important, buyer-pleasing curb appeal. Here are some suggestions that are both inexpensive and easy.

1.       Make it green. Give the lawn a healthy look by watering and using appropriate nutrients to keep it lush.

2.       Trim trees and shrubbery. Overgrown greenery can take over the view and hide the home.

3.       Plant flowers. Lots of color brightens up the yard and adds cheer.

4.       Mulch your flowerbeds and edge your lawn.

5.       Power wash to keep the house looking well cared for and clean.

6.       Tidy up. Put garbage cans, hoses and other clutter neatly away and out of sight.

7.       Paint neutral. Start with the door and trim if you can’t paint the entire house.

8.       Define the path. Guide potential buyers to the front door with a defined walkway.

The Jana Caudill Team has two listing specialists that are experts on selling homes. They know what it takes to get a home sold in today’s market. Give us a call for all your real estate needs.

*Source: Realtor Magazine

5 Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes

by The Jana Caudill Team

The Jana Caudill Team knows that buying a home can sometimes be a stressful situation. We have compiled a list of common home buyer mistakes to for you to avoid:

*5 Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes:

1.       They don’t ask enough questions of their lender and end up missing out on the best deal.

2.       They don’t act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.

3.       They don’t do enough to make their offer look appealing to a seller.

4.       They don’t think about resale before they buy. The average first-time buyer only stays in a home for four years.

5.       They don’t find the right agent who’s willing to help them through the home-buying process.

The Jana Caudill Team has 4 buyer specialists who are dedicated solely to helping you find your perfect home. They are experts on the local real estate market and they represent you, the home buyer, and not the seller. Their services as a buyer specialist are free because the home seller will pay our fees!

Be sure to check out our free report called “What First Time Homeowners Need to Know” on our website, http://www.thejanacaudillteam.com. We think you’ll find it useful. We want to find you just the right home, at the best price, in the right time with the least amount of problems. Give the Jana Caudill Team a call for all your real estate needs.

*Reprinted from REALTOR Magazine online.

The Jana Caudill Team is racing past the competition!

by The Jana Caudill Team

The Jana Caudill Team is racing past the competition!

A successful race car driver has a top notch pit crew to get them to the finish line. The Jana Caudill Team also has a highly skilled team of experts to assist you in buying or selling a home. Each member of our team is specialized in one aspect of the real estate process to ensure your position at the closing table.

As you enjoy the Indy 500 or other festivities, please take the time this Memorial Day weekend to remember and honor those who risk their lives to protect us and our country. We also invite you to our open house on:

 

Sunday, May 24th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

12303 Williams Court, Crown Point

 

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend. We look forward to helping you with all your real estate needs.

We're Hiring!

by The Jana Caudill Team

We have a TON of leads!

The Jana Caudill Team is growing again! We're looking for ambitious real estate professionals to join our team. Must be people-oriented, positive, energized, motivated, service-minded, ethical, charismatic, a team player and have great communication and follow-up skills.  If you're learning based, professional, and a hard worker, rush your resume to us.

The Jana Caudill Team is Northwest Indiana's Number 1 Real Estate Team.

NOBODY SELLS MORE HOMES IN NORTHWEST INDIANA THAN THE JANA CAUDILL TEAM.

Use the learning resources of Keller Williams University and Star Power Systems to advance your Real Estate career. Email a cover letter and resume to chandra@kw.com.

 

Keller Williams is now the 3rd Largest Real Estate Franchise in the US

by The Jana Caudill Team

Keller Williams Realty Climbs to
Third-Largest Real Estate Franchise in United States

 

Company outpaces market with financial model, agent-centric initiatives

 

AUSTIN, TEXAS (March 2, 2009) — Keller Williams® Realty Inc., announced last week at its annual convention in Orlando, Fla. that it is now the third-largest real estate franchise in the United States, surpassing RE/MAX® International. According to Steve Murray of REAL Trends, a leading source of analysis and information in the residential real estate industry, the Austin, Texas-based company claimed the number three spot with 72,794 U.S. associates at the end of 2008.

“The success of Keller Williams Realty can be directly attributed to the hard work and perseverance of our associates and the soundness of our economic and organizational models,” said Mark Willis, CEO of Keller Williams Realty, Inc. “While others might be looking at this market and seeing fear and uncertainty, we have always approached it as our opportunity to shine and grow. And that mindset has paid off.”

The company has been gaining ground for the last three years, outpacing pervasive downward trends in the real estate industry. Comparing the average annual performance of the company from 2004 - 2005 (before the shift in the real estate market) to 2006 - 2008, Keller Williams Realty increased its associate count by 52 percent, while market share for its offices increased 83 percent and agent gross commission income went up 35 percent. Keller Williams Realty has 679 offices operating in the United States and Canada. In 2008, the company shared more than $30 million in profits with its associates through its profit sharing program.

“Through profit share, our phenomenal coaching and training and our technology offerings, we are offering agents their own ‘bailout plan’ for this market.” Willis added.

The company also announced that after years of searching for a partnership to provide its associates with affordable health insurance, they are moving forward with a solution.

The soon-to-be-launched Keller Williams Health Providers Program will include options for major medical, limited medical, catastrophic coverage and a separate cancer plan. The health insurance coverage is the first step toward a total wellness program for associates.

“We have always been very aware that as independent contractors, our agents face barriers to obtaining health coverage,” said Mary Tennant, president and COO of Keller Williams Realty.” We know that for many, this new option may alleviate some of the stress that they face in today’s economy. After all, our associates are not just our partners – they are our family.”

Last fall, the company also announced the launch of KW Commercial, a new division of the company dedicated to providing commercial real estate associates with specialized technology, marketing tools and resources. KW Commercial already has more than 220 active brokers across the U.S. and Canada.

“Our goal is to create synergy between the residential and commercial sides of our Keller Williams offices, raising the bar for the service we provide to our clients,” said Buddy Norman, president of KW Commercial. “We envision our commercial and residential agents working side-by-side, sharing referrals and helping our offices grow.”

“Our growth in the last year and now becoming the third-largest real estate company in the United States was a true team effort and a company-wide win. We are so grateful for all of the leadership and commitment our associates have shown to power through this shift,” added Willis.

 

 

Getting a gift in the form of cold, hard cash to buy real estate is a wonderful thing. Gift funds are a common way parents help their kids buy a home, but there are certain requirements to follow to ensure the gift transfer goes smoothly.

What exactly is a cash gift? Technically, it is a transfer of funds from one party to another without any expectation of being paid back. This non-repayment factor is a key element because lenders can’t accurately calculate debt ratios if the gift is in fact a loan. How do lenders determine this? The “givers” are required to sign an affidavit stating that the funds being given are a gift with no repayment expectations.

Who can give a gift? Gifts can come from family members (parents, siblings or grandparents), non-profit agencies, local or state agencies, churches, domestic partners and trade unions. 

The party that furnishes the gift must show an “ability to give”, which means they have the money available in an account they own. This is documented by providing account statements showing the funds are available. Finally, it must also be documented that the gift funds were transferred from one party to the next and the lucky recipients (and future home buyers) must provide a bank statement showing the gift was received.

While the need for documentation might sound heavy-handed, the truth is lenders need to take every precaution to make sure that the “gift” isn’t a “loan.” So if you know what the lender expects ahead of time, the gift transfer can be seamless. Just remember, financial gifts over a certain limit may have income tax implications, so be sure and consult with an accountant or tax specialist before getting the mortgage process underway.

One final note to consider. Conventional loans differ from FHA programs in their requirements for reporting gifts to be used toward the purchase of a home. Buyers using conventional financing need to prove that they have at least 5 percent of their own funds in the purchase transaction. However, that requirement is waived if the gift represents more than 20 percent of the purchase price. The FHA loan, on the other hand, merely requires the buyers have at least $500 of their own money at closing, regardless of the amount of the gift.

“What do you think about rates … should I lock in now or wait to see if they fall further?” Think I’ve been asked that a time or two over the past 18 years? You better believe it.  It’s a good question—one that goes through every single buyer’s head at some stage. 

A quoted interest rate is no good unless you’ve confirmed, in writing, that your loan is indeed “locked,” or guaranteed for a designated period of time. You need to be proactive with your locked rate as well and don’t assume that your loan officer already locked you in. In fact, your loan officer shouldn’t lock in your rate without your specific instructions. If it was locked in and rates went down you’d be pretty mad, wouldn’t you?

While neither real estate agents nor loan officers are in the business of predicting the future, it’s still possible to make a prudent choice in the face of uncertainty. Would you rather lock in your rate and watch rates fall or not lock in your rate and see rates go up?

If you decided to lock and rates go down, you’ve secured the market rate that you were happy with. But if rates went up and you didn’t lock, you’d be paying for that mistake for the rest of the loan.

There is an even worse possible scenario: After not locking in your rate, rates shoot up and you no longer qualify for the loan. So it’s important to ask yourself:  “Which way would I rather be wrong?”

If you are comfortable with the rate you’ve been quoted, talk to your real estate agent about the possible consequences of waiting to lock it in.

Written by David Reed, author of Mortgage 101 and Mortgage Confidential.

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 1-10 of 10

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