6th November 2010

Top 100 Places to Live – Roswell, GA at #76!

Well it’s nice to have my town, Roswell, GA win a spot (#76) in Money Magazines 2010 “Top 100 Small Cities in America” the only Georgia city to rank in the top 100 Best Places to Live! As a Roswell resident for the past 4 years I can tell you it is an excellent place to live and my family loves it.

As a licensed GA real estate broker and 30 year resident of metro Atlanta, I can tell you there are other excellent places to live in North Atlanta as well, such as Marietta, East Cobb (the section of Roswell I live in) Alpharetta, Milton, Crabapple, and Johns Creek – these should have been on the list.

Money magazines description of Roswell:

Home to several plantation houses from the Civil War era, historically rich Roswell is committed to a family-friendly environment. It has some of the best public schools in the state, the lowest crime rate in the region, and a myriad of outdoor activities, making it easy to understand why families flock to this affluent Atlanta suburb. Residents love their many public events, including the monthly Alive after Five summer festival, with plenty of food, shopping, and live music. –J.S.

All true and here are a few stats to go along:

Median Family Income- $113,750 (ranked 24th highest income of the100 cities)

Median Home Price – $246,700 (the average of the 100 was $239,300)

Now as you know, Oprah Winfrey can afford to live anywhere on the planet, and I read a quote in a magazine article where she said Roswell, GA was one of the best places to live a few years ago – though I can’t recall which magazine, I agree with Oprah!

Oprah or anyone else wanting a fantastic deal on prime Roswell real estate should call me immediately at 678-585-9691!
Robert

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25th January 2010

Advantage Realtors Joins GA MLS

gamls_jpgAdvantage Realtors joined Georgia MLS on Friday January 22, 2010 and are now members of both of the big main Multiple Listing Services in Georgia – GA MLS & FMLS. This means Advantage Realtors clients and the general public can go to the Advantage Realtors Homescanner Search Engine on any of the company or agent websites and see virtually every home listed by every real estate agent and firm in Georgia. This also means Advantage Realtors listings will now have a much wider exposure to more agents in Georgia working with buyers. To compensate for not being a GAMLS member, Advantage Realtors targeted advertising to various GAMLS agent offices to advertise thier northside listings to those southside offices – sometimes at considerable expense – now its all done automatically and at significantly less cost.

While Advantage agents always had manual access to GAMLS listings for thier clients, visitors to the Advantage Realtors websites did not have this same access – visitors were seeing primarily FMLS listings which cover 20+ counties around Atlanta.  FMLS and GAMLS have always overlapped, however among industry users such as realtors, FMLS has always been associated with listings in In-Town and Downtown Atlanta and the Greater North Atlanta area. GAMLS has always been associated with southside and outerlying counties including most other counties all over GA. While that still largly holds true, both MLS’s have expanded thier listings into each others “historical” coverage area and all over Georgia as well.

Broker/Owner, Robert Whitfield said the move to join GAMLS was a good one and will help every area of the companies business, as more buyers and sellers from outside of the metro Atlanta area seek to do business with the company.

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9th January 2010

Big Gains in Existing-Home Sales as Buyers Respond to Tax Credit

sold-house

Conditions in the current housing market, with great interest rates and cheaper prices are optimal for buyers with secure jobs – add in the current tax credits of $8000 for first time buyers, or $6500 for buyers with existing homes (both set to expire April 30, 2010) and it doesnt get any better! And plenty of buyers are taking action as the stats below show. 

I just helped a young first time buyer get out of her apartment and into her first home and at the same time qualifiy for the $8000 tax credit – it was really exciting. Like most buyers, rather than waiting until 2009 taxes are filed, she will file an amendment to her 2008 return and the IRS will mail her an $8000 refund check in a few weeks. What an awesome way to cap off the wonderful experience of becoming a new homeowner!

Take a look at some interesting sales statistics from data compiled in a late December 09 report by NAR (National Association of Realtors®):

Existing-home sales rose again in November 09 as first-time buyers rushed to close sales before the original November 30 deadline for the recently extended and expanded $8000 tax credit.

Total housing inventory at the end of November declined 1.3 percent to 3.52 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.5-month supply, down from an 7.0-month supply in October.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average loan commitment rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.88 percent in November from 4.95 percent in October; the rate was 6.09 percent in November 2008. November 09’s mortgage interest rate of 4.88 was the second lowest on record after bottoming at 4.81 percent in April 2009.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 7.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million units in November from 6.09 million in October, and are 44.1 percent higher than the 4.54 million-unit pace in November 2008. Sales remain at the highest level since February 2007 when they hit 6.55 million.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the rise was expected. “This clearly is a rush of first-time buyers not wanting to miss out on the tax credit, but there are many more potential buyers who can enter the market in the months ahead,” he said. “We expect a temporary sales drop while buying activity ramps up for another surge in the spring when buyers take advantage of the expanded tax credit, which hopefully will take us into a self-sustaining market in the second half of 2010. In all, 4.4 million households are expected to claim the tax credit before it expires and balance should be restored to the housing sector with inventories continuing to decline.”

An NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 51 percent of homes in November, compared with an upwardly revised 50 percent of transactions in October.
For the second month in a row, sales have risen in all price classes from a year earlier. Prior to October, the only consistent gains were in the lower price ranges.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said conditions are optimal for buyers in the current market. “Inventories have steadily declined and are closer to balanced levels, which indicate home prices in many areas are either stabilizing or could soon stabilize and return to normal appreciation patterns,” she said. “This means buyers still have good choices but are purchasing near the bottom of the price cycle with historically low mortgage interest rates. Throw a tax credit on top and it really doesn’t get any better for buyers with secure jobs and long-term ownership plans.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $172,600 in November, which is 4.3 percent below November 2008. Distressed properties, which accounted for 33 percent of sales in November, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes in the same area.

Sales are Up, Prices are down!

Single-family home sales jumped 8.5 percent to 5.77 million units in November from 5.32 million units in October – 42.1 percent above the pace in November 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $171,900 in November, down 4.4 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales in November were 60.1 percent above sales a year ago. The median existing condo price was $178,000 in November – 3.1 percent below November 2008.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 6.6 percent to an annual level of 1.13 million in November, and are 52.7 percent higher than November 2008. The median price in the Northeast was $223,400 – down 13.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 8.4 percent in November to a pace of 1.55 million and are 53.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $140,800 – a decline of 0.4 percent from November 2008.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 4.8 percent to an annual level of 2.39 million in November and are 44.8 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $151,400 – down 1.4 percent from November 2008.

Existing-home sales in the West increased 10.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.46 million in November and are 28.1 percent above November 2008. The median price in the West was $231,100 – 4.1 percent below a year ago.

If you or anyone you know would like to discuss any aspect of Atlanta Real Estate,  such as the Atlanta Housing Market or the Extended Homebuyer Tax Credit, I can be reached at 678-585-9691. For a few examples of some of the unique services I provide to inform and protect homebuyers I represent – services that exceed what other agents can offer, go to http://www.thehomebuyersrep.com/actual_success_stories.htm .
Robert Whitfield, Broker/Owner

Advantage Realtors

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3rd November 2008

Despite Market Mess – Mortgages Are Freely Available

WASHINGTON – Credit squeeze, credit freeze, credit system seizures: Everybody knows how severe and painful the global financial breakdown has been – with banks unwilling to lend even to other banks.

But what about mortgages and real estate? Can you still get a home loan with less than a 20 percent or 30 percent down payment? Or with a credit score below 720?
Absolutely. It would be a big stretch to label housing the sunny side of the market at the moment, but there’s a lot more light there than in most other financial sectors. Consider these facts:

• There is no shortage of money available for home mortgages, no freezing of credit to purchase or refinance a house. Why? Because the American mortgage market has been federalized – at least for the time being. More than 90 percent of new loans now are being made through FHA, the Federal Housing Administration insurance program, plus Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHA is owned by the federal government, and Fannie and Freddie are operating under federal conservatorship. All three have unfettered access to global capital markets at rock-bottom costs because their borrowings are fully guaranteed by the Treasury.

• Loan terms and credit underwriting standards have been toughened up, but you can still put down 3 percent (3.5 percent after Jan. 1) on an FHA-insured mortgage and 5 percent on certain Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan programs with private mortgage insurance. FHA’s credit standards are generous and forgiving – the agency exists to help people with less-than-spotless credit histories. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have raised their credit score requirements over the past year, but buyers and refinancers with scores in the upper 600s can still qualify for loans carrying reasonable rates and fees.

• Despite the global financial system’s quakes, mortgage rates not only remain low by historical standards, but for the week ended October 30, 2008 while 30 year fixed rates ticked up to 6.46% from 6.04% a week earlier – that is still among the lowest rates for a 30 year mortgage in the last 25 years!

• Maximum “jumbo” loan amounts through FHA, Fannie and Freddie in high-cost local markets on the West and East coasts continue to be $729,750 through December. In January, the high-cost maximum is projected to dip to approximately $625,000.

• Home prices – pushed by foreclosures and short sales – have rolled back to 2003 and 2004 levels or lower in many of the former boom markets. As a result, growing numbers of buyers are coming off the sidelines, making offers and writing contracts. The pending home sales index jumped by 7.4 percent based on purchase contracts signed in August, according to the National Association of Realtors. The heaviest increases – pointing to higher closed sales in the coming two to three months – were in California, Florida, Nevada and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Housing and mortgage leaders say consumer worries about the stock market have obscured positive developments under way in real estate, where pricing pain and downsizing have been facts of the life for the past two and a half years.

David G. Kittle, president and CEO of Principle Wholesale Lending Inc. and incoming chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, says “the mortgage market has never shut down” despite the global financial crisis. Money is “clearly available as long as you can qualify for it” with at least a modest down payment and decent credit history.

On the front lines, mortgage company owner Jeff Lipes, president of Family Choice Mortgage near Hartford, Conn., says “I don’t think consumers really know how free-flowing capital is right now in the residential mortgage market. There are no shortages, no breakdowns. People ought to be aware of that.”

Bottom line: Scary as the news has been about stocks and banks, this is not the case for mortgages. Besides shopping at large national lenders, check in with local banks and credit unions who may be originating loans for their own portfolios – not for Fannie, Freddie or FHA. Many of them are healthy, have plenty of cash to lend, and may be surprisingly competitive on terms and rates compared with the big boys.

Contact Robert Whitfield at Advantage Realtors if you need a good source for home equity lines – we have a local North Atlanta lender with more relaxed underwriting guidelines and better rates than the big national banks.

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30th October 2008

To All My Friends & Readers – Liberal and Conservative…

From one of the greatest Presidents of all time, and the writer of perhaps the best speech ever delivered in human history – and to this writer, the single Greatest American who ever lived…Abrahm Lincolin.

I received the following email from my favorite closing attorney, Brian Dubuc, and had to post this.

During this political season let’s be reminded of these wise words:

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

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26th September 2008

A Darkhorse Candidate Emerges!

While the two presidential candidates were taking time away from their campaigns this week to attend congressional hearings on the $700 billion dollar “bail out”, the internet and chat rooms in Atlanta have been on fire. Apparently a local Atlanta real estate Broker has been endorsed by people all over the country as a possible candidate! CNBC’s Wolf Blitzer says this is nothing short of a Phenomenon! Click the following video for this emerging story.


 
The Robert Whitfield Home Selling Team hope you enjoyed the video and the consensus is, there is very little chance of Robert being called away to Washington – at least for the near and far foreseeable future! Robert in a recent press release stated emphatically, My skill sets and intersts will keep me here in Atlanta – I am still available to assist the public with unmatched service for all their Atlanta Real Estate needs!

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