Monday, April 14, 2008

Buying Vs Renting

Have you ever wondered whether it's better to buy or rent? Well now you can easily discover the answer by using the link I have added from the NY Times. This is an easy to use calculator that will answer your questions. Be sure to play around with it and read the methology to completely understand what you are looking at. Of course this gives the raw facts on the financial aspects of homeownership and doesn't uncover your needs. So please consult a realtor for a full analysis.

Richmond Makes Forbes "Best for Business" List

Three Virginia cities make nation's 'Best for Business' list

Blacksburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond have made Forbes magazine's annual short list of metro areas that are business-friendly in the U.S.Forbes magazine has for the tenth year in a row ranked the 200 largest metro areas according to their business acumen. Cities topping the list have solid job growth, an educated labor pool and low business costs. The calculation also includes tax, energy and office space costs, and takes into account's living cost index.
Six of the 10 top metro areas are in and around state capitals.

Here are the magazine's top choices (in ranking order):

Best Metros
Raleigh, N.C.
Boise, Idaho
Fort Collins, Colo.
Des Moines, Iowa
Lexington, Ky.
Atlanta, Ga.
Richmond, Va.
Olympia, Wash.
Spokane, Wash.
Knoxville, Tenn.

Best Smaller Metros
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Iowa City, Iowa
Bloomington, Ind.
Columbia, Mo.
Bismarck, N.D.
Morgantown, W.Va.
Rapid City, S.D.
Greenville, N.C.
Charlottesville, Va.
Blacksburg, Va.

Source: Forbes, Kurt Badenhausen (03/19/2008)

Home Sales Forecast from the NAR

Daily Real Estate News April 8, 2008NAR:
Existing-Home Sales to Level Off
Little change is expected in existing-home sales over the next few months, before improving notably during the second half of the year, according to the latest forecast by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the market will come into clearer focus this summer. “Existing home sales could start to show a sustained increase within a few months, unless there are some additional economic problems or excessive inflationary pressure,” he says. “We’re looking for essentially stable sales in the near term, before higher mortgage loan limits translate into more sales in high-cost markets. The wider access to affordable credit should increase sales activity notably this summer as pent-up demand begins to be met.”The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, slipped 1.9 percent to 84.6, from an upwardly revised reading of 86.2 in January. The index was 21.4 percent lower than the February 2007 index of 107.6. “The slip in pending home sales implies we’re not out of the woods yet, though an era of successive deep sales declines appears to be over,” Yun says.

By the Region
Here’s what the index reveals across the nation with existing-home sales:

Northeast: rose 3.2 percent in February to 71.8 but remains 25.4 percent below a year ago.
Midwest: declined 3.7 percent to 82.7 and is 17.4 percent lower than February 2007.
South: fell 5.5 percent in February to 85 and is 30.3 percent below a year ago.
West: dropped 9.8 percent in February to 84.6 and is 17.1 percent below February 2007.

Home Sales Forecast

Existing-home sales are likely to rise from an annual pace of 4.9 million in the first quarter to 5.9 million in the fourth quarter. With relatively weak activity in the first part of the year, existing-home sales for all of 2008 is forecast at 5.39 million, increasing 6.6 percent to 5.74 million in 2009.

“Exceptionally weak home sales related to jumbo loans problems will depress home prices in the first half of the year, but steady liquidity improvements in the conforming jumbo-loan market will help prices recover in the second half of the year,” Yun says.

The aggregate existing-home price will probably ease by 1.4 percent to a median of $215,800 for all of 2008 before rising 3.7 percent to $223,800 next year.

Yun says that there will continue to be wide variations in regional housing market conditions.

“Some parts of the country that can expect improvement include the Northeastern region and the oil-patch states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas,” he says. With lower interest rates and flat home prices in many areas, NAR’s housing affordability index is forecast to rise 14 percentage points to 127 in 2008.

New-home sales are projected to fall 25.7 percent to 576,000 in 2008 before rising 4.6 percent to 602,000 next year. Housing starts, including multifamily units, are estimated to drop 26.3 percent to 999,000 this year, and slip another 0.5 percent to 994,000 in 2009. The median new-home price will probably fall 3.6 percent to $238,400 in 2008, and then rise 4 percent next year to $247,800.

Other predictions on factors that can impact the housing market:

Mortgage rates: 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which has fluctuated recently, should average 5.8 percent in the second and third quarters, but trend up to an average of 6.3 percent in 2009.

Growth in the U.S. gross domestic product: expected to be 1.4 percent in 2008 and 2.4 percent next year.

Unemployment rate: forecast to average 5.4 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2009.

Inflation: (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) is projected at 3.4 percent in 2008 and 2.2 percent next year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is likely to grow 1.2 percent this year and 3.0 percent in 2009.

“The economy will not grow in first half of the year,” Yun says. “However, the combination of recent fiscal stimulus enactment and the lagged impact of monetary policy will help jump start the economy in the second half.”

—REALTOR® magazine online
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