Archive for July, 2009

Auctions: a Growing Niche

What’s the fastest growing niche in real estate, one that’s seen an increase in residential sales volume of 48 percent in the past 60 months?


The answer is auctions, they’re booming while just about everything else in commercial and multifamily is flat or declining.

Last year alone, $59 billion was sold in private live-auctions, according to the industry’s trade group, the National Association of Auctioneers. This year, with commercial real estate in a free-fall in some urban areas, auction volume is expected to be even higher.

But why should owners of investment property give serious consideration to auctions? Realty Times talked with several key leaders in the auction field about that last week.  Read more…

Original article by Kenneth Harney.

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She baked her way out of foreclosure – Follow up story

Angela Logan and her “Mortgage Apple Cakes” that helped save her home.

July 28: TODAY’s Ann Curry talks to Angela Logan about how her cake, known as the “Mortgage Apple Cake,” helped her keep her home.  Click here to watch the video.

Angela Logan was in imminent danger of losing this home before her Mortgage Apple Cake helped her bake her way out of foreclosure.

Angela Logan was able to bake her Mortgage Apple Cakes outside her home with the help of the Hilton Hotel in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and Bake Me A Wish, a not-for-profit bakery that helps fund charitable causes.

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Hump Wednesday Funnies


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Home prices up for 1st time in 3 years

Index of 20 major cities rises on a monthly basis for the first time since July 2006, hinting that the worst of the declines may be over.

NEW YORK ( — The value of U.S. homes grew on a monthly basis in May for the first time in nearly three years, according to 20-city index released Tuesday.

The month-over-month increase was 0.5%, according to the report from financial data company Standard & Poor’s and economists Case-Shiller. It was the first increase in the monthly index since July 2006.

On an annual basis, home prices in the 20 cities fell 17.1%, but it was the second straight month that the year-over-year decline lessened.

“This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee S&P, in a prepared statement.

Read more…

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Eight Ways to Cool Your Home, Naturally

Find natural ways to keep cool and save hundreds of dollars in a single season

With energy costs climbing annually, keeping your house cool in summer can be a wallet-emptying exercise.

Here are 8 practical ways to keep cool and save money.

woman with fan 400x317

  1. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house where you receive the most sunlight. Their leaves will provide cooling shade in the summer, and, when they shed in the winter, allow the sun to help warm your home. According to the USDA Forest Service, trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 to 50 percent of the energy used for heating.
  2. Use trees or shrubs to shade your air conditioning unit, windows or the sides of the house receiving direct sunlight.
  3. Open your windows at night when it’s coolest and shut them during the day to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
  4. Place a fan at the open basement door to bring cool basement air onto your main living level. Likewise, ceiling fans set to blow down provide exceptional cooling. Oscillating fans will also mimic tropical breezes, and, combined with some Hawaiian music and a cool fruit drink help remind you of why you waited all winter for summer heat.
  5. Install white (reflective) window shades, blinds, or curtains and keep them closed during the days to keep the heat out.
  6. Check out the latest green “air cooler,” such as mini eco-ice coolers and ice air coolers. They use up to 75 percent less energy than air conditioners and can cool up to 150 square feet.
  7. Realize that up to 60 percent of the heat entering your home comes through the ceiling and walls. If your attic insulation isn’t up to snuff, upgrade it. Moving from three inches of insulation to 12 inches can cut cooling costs by 10 percent.
  8. Finally, check into the feasibility of outdoor awnings over windows, and window tinting such as 3M Scotchtint™ which reflects up to 79 percent of the heat that would come through windows. Strategic investments today can pay for themselves in months and make summer much more enjoyable. Also, any upgrades you make to lower cooling costs will be beneficial when listing your home.

Orignial article by Better Homes & Garden Real Estate

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Freddie Mac Offers Help to Handle Demand

Freddie Mac Launches Effort to Help Servicers Handle Record Demand for Home Affordable Modifications


As part of its support for President Obama’s Making Home Affordable program, Freddie Mac announced an agreement with Home Retention Services, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Lender Services, Inc., to help several regional servicers process thousands of additional applications for Home Affordable Modifications.

Specifically, Home Retention Services will assess the eligibility of delinquent borrowers with Freddie Mac-owned mortgages for Home Affordable Modifications or other possible workouts and process borrower financial information for the servicers’ review and approval.

“By using Home Retention Services’ staff and resources we can ease some of the pressures on our servicers’ staff while helping more borrowers pursue a mortgage workout,” said Ingrid Beckles, senior vice president of default asset management at Freddie Mac. “This announcement builds on Freddie Mac’s strategy to improve the borrower experience when seeking a mortgage workout and our commitment to the Making Home Affordable program’s success.”

While the new initiative will supplement the capacity of participating servicers to process loan modifications, Beckles emphasized that “borrowers should continue to call their servicers first to determine the best solution for their situation.”

“We are pleased to be working with Freddie Mac and their servicers to bring additional capacity to the Making Home Affordable program process,” said Jason Nadeau, president and CEO of Stewart Lender Services. “Home Retention Services specializes in supplementing servicers’ efforts to preserve home ownership for their borrowers,” Nadeau added.

Potentially eligible borrowers identified by a participating Freddie Mac servicer will receive a letter from Freddie Mac asking them to call Home Retention Services using a proprietary toll-free number. The letters will be specially formatted and include unique borrower PIN numbers to protect borrowers from counterfeits produced by fraud artists.

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Cake baker will meet her mortgage!

Bake me a cake as fast as you can…

New Jersey resident,  Angela Logan — baker of the apple cake known ’round the world — will be able to make her mortgage payment.

The Record reported last Friday how the Teaneck actress and divorced mother of three resorted to a bake sale to save her home from foreclosure. Her goal was to sell 100 homemade “mortgage apple cakes” at $40 each.

Angela Logan had started out baking the “mortgage apple cake” in her kitchen.

As of Tuesday, Logan had received more than 500 orders, including one from Hong Kong. And she no longer is baking in her home.

After reading about Logan’s financial bind, the Hilton Hotel in Hasbrouck Heights invited her to bake in a corner of its kitchen. Logan spent 12 hours there Saturday, turning out more than 20 cakes using a commercial mixer and convection oven. The hotel is letting Logan use the kitchen at least through this weekend, when the first of three $2,559.94 payments to Bank of America — required as part of the modification of her mortgage — is due.

Logan said Tuesday that the initial payment won’t be a problem. For now, she’s focused on filling orders that began pouring in after the story was picked up by the New York and national media. Logan can turn out 10 cakes at a time at the hotel, as opposed to two at a time at home.

“I won’t stop baking until people stop ordering,” she said. “It’s been an outpouring of people wanting to help, and I want them to get their cakes. It’ll be awhile, and I’m asking everyone to be patient.”

Al Hamdi, the Hilton’s general manager, said hotel officials were moved by Logan’s plight.

“It touched all of us — we thought maybe we should buy some of her cakes,” he said.

Al Hamdi, the Hilton’s general manager, said hotel officials were moved by Logan’s plight.

They decided instead to offer kitchen space.

“It’s a good cause, and it’s inspiring,” Hamdi said. “All businesses should try to participate in helping in their community. We’re part of this community, and we do not want to see anyone lose their home because of the economic situation.”

Hamdi said he tasted Logan’s richly frosted apple cake for the first time Tuesday morning.

“It’s a bit on the sweet side, but I like sweet,” he said, adding that the hotel might consider offering the cake on its menu as a “local specialty.”

While Logan was chopping gala and red delicious apples and mixing batter at the Hilton on Tuesday morning, Teaneck officials were visiting her house — not to order a cake but to deliver a cease-and-desist letter.

“It’s a state law that you cannot use your house as a commercial kitchen,” said Wayne Fisher, Teaneck’s health officer.

For Logan to continue baking in her home, she would have needed a separate kitchen, a license from the township and food-handler training, Fisher said.

“We were going to offer her some options, such as using someone else’s commercial kitchen,” he said. “Almost all of our churches and temples have approved kitchens. We were certainly going to be helpful, but we needed to tell her she could not do commercial baking in the house.”

Fisher said township officials received more than 15 calls and e-mails from people upset that Logan was baking and selling cakes from her home.

“They couldn’t understand how the township was allowing it, but we weren’t allowing it,” he said. “We just found out about it [Monday]. We even learned she has a Web site.”

Fisher said Logan could have faced up to $1,000 in fines.

“We did not fine her,” he said. “That is not our intention. We are happy for her now, and we wish her well.”

Logan said Tuesday that she is almost in a daze.

“It’s kind of like being in a dream,” she said. “It’s a gleeful, joyful feeling, but it’s frightening. I can’t sleep because I have to get those cakes baked.”

Original article posted on Written by Jay Levin.

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