Friday, January 30, 2009

My Birthday And The Radio Prank Call

Today is my 39th birthday. To celebrate my birthday, my lovely wife Kimberly, thought that it would be awesome for me to be pranked--She was right! She signed me up to receive a prank phone call from the morning crew at Sunny 101.5, a local radio station that is very popular in the area. I've received a lot of phone calls, emails and text messages asking how they can hear this prank phone call again. So, here is the link to it. Click on the one that says "I Need An Expensive House" and have a laugh at my expense! Enjoy:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Elkhart County Foreclosures for January 09

Just this week, Elkhart County Indiana reported a 15.3% unemployment rate which is the highest recorded for Elkhart County since the Great Depression. So, very unfortunately, these numbers may be going up even higher in the months to come.

For the month of January, Elkhart County had 141 homes scheduled for the Sheriff's auction. Out of those 141, 52 were cancelled before the sale date, which left 89 that were taken back by the banks. Of those 89, 4 were less than $50,000 with 3 coming from Elkhart and 1 in Bristol. There were 7 that were over $200,000 with 1 of them being over $500,000-which was in Goshen. The remaining 6 over $200,000 had 3 from Elkhart, 2 from Goshen and 1 from the Elkhart County side of Granger.

The 89 homes that were taken back broke down by city:
Elkhart: 53
Goshen: 20
Bristol: 6
Nappanee: 4
Millersburg: 2
New Paris: 2
Osceola: 1
Granger: 1

St. Joseph County Foreclosures 1/29

For weekending 1/30/09, the foreclosure number for St. Joseph County Indiana are as follows:

45 Houses were scheduled to go to the Sheriff sale, 3 were canceled, leaving 42 that actually went. Of the 3 that were canceled, 2 were from South Bend and 1 was from Mishawaka. Out of the 42 that were taken back by the banks, 5 were under $50,000 owed-all were in South Bend, and 1 was over $200,000 owed which was in Granger.

Here is a breakdown of how many homes were taken back by city:
South Bend: 25
Mishawaka: 12
Granger: 2
Lakeville: 1
Osceola: 1
New Carlisle: 1

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rumble Strips and Guard Rails

Sometimes there is nothing you can do when someone self destructs, as I happened to witness recently. The person secretly lives two lives, and before you know it, one life explodes into the other and destroys them both along with the people that they care most about. When I see this happen, it saddens me and reminds me of a message that I heard at my church a year or two ago called "Rumble Strips and Guard Rails".

The premise behind the message is that there are things that you can do, that once done, there is no going back to the way things were. An affair if you are married, drinking-if you are an alcoholic, drugs, abusing a spouse either mentally or physically, the list can go on and on. Those are the Guard Rails.

The Rumble Strips are the warnings that lead up to the Guard Rails. This could be things such as: going to a bar with the guys-if you are an alcoholic, meeting with a member of the opposite sex in a private setting, hanging out with someone that you know will tempt you with a drug because they'll be doing that drug, a feeling of anger or resentment toward someone, or maybe staying up late so that you can be alone on the computer.

Both the Rumble Strips and the Guard Rails are important to know and recognize. Without the rumble strips, by the time you realize you are at the Guard Rail, it's too late. You're crashing through it because of too much momentum. Usually, when I see someone crashing through the Guard Rails, it is because they either ignored the Rumble Strips-or it is because they never bothered to install them in the first place. Do you know what your Rumble Strips and Guard Rails are?

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Year End Numbers From The NAR

National home sales for December jumped 6.5% over Novembers output, but still 3.5% down from December of 2007. For all of 2008, there were about 4.9 million existing home sales, which is 13.1% below the 5.65 million transactions recorded in 2007. This is the lowest volume since 1997 when there were 4,371,000 sales.

Total houseing inventory at the end of December fell 11.7% to 3.68 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.3 month supply nationally at the current sales pace. This is down from the 11.2 month supply reported in November.

Existing Home Sales By Region:

Northeast: slipped 1.4% in December over November numbers and are 14.3% below December 2007. The median price in the Northeast was $235,000 which is -7.8% from a year ago.

Midwest: Increased 4% in December over November but is -10.3% for the year. The median price in the Midwest was $140,800, which is -11.4% from December 2007.

South: Increased 7.4% in December over November, but is down 11.2% from December 2007. The median price in the South was $158,600 which is down 8% from a year ago.

West: Increased 13.6% in December over November, and are up 31.6% for the year. The median price in the west was $213,100 which is down 31.5% from a year ago.

51651 County Road 109

51651 County Road 109, Elkhart, IN MLS#9920303, This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home is only 3 years old and features a split floor plan for the bedrooms and a more than adequate sized eat-in kitchen. Priced at $99,900 and being sold as-is. Call me at 574-370-8156 for more information.

517 30th Street

517 30th Street, South Bend, IN MLS#234305 This very cute 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home is situated in the poplular River Park area of South Bend. It features and oversized 1 car garage, newer carpet, new flooring in the spacious kitchen, a walk up attic and a possible 3rd bedroom that could be used as an office. Priced at $74,900.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

St. Joseph County Foreclosures 1/22/09

65 homes were scheduled for sheriff's sale today, 12 of those were canceled, leaving a total of 53 that actually went to the sale. Out of the 12 that were canceled, 6 were from Mishawaka, 5 were from South Bend and 1 from Osceola. Out of the 53 that went to the sheriff's sale, 39 of them were from South Bend, 6 were from Mishawaka, 3 from Osceola, 2 from Granger, and 1 each in Walkerton, New Carlisle and North Liberty. 7 of the houses owed less than $50,000, 5 from South Bend and 2 from Mishawaka. There were 2 houses that were owed over $200,000 and they were from Osceola and South Bend.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Other than the lead up to my wedding day to my wonder wife Kimberly, I cannot think of an event that I have anticipated so much. With the inauguration on Tuesday, we will begin a new chapter in the history of our great nation. Barack Obama has inspired millions of people with a message of Hope. Here are some of my thoughts about our new President:

I HOPE he can lead us out of this economic mess.
I HOPE that a nation that has been very divided for the last 12-14 years can come together to support him.
I HOPE that he is even smarter than what he sounds (which he sounds very smart).
I HOPE that the secret service protects him well.
I HOPE that the countries expectations are not more than he can handle.
I HOPE that his 2 daughters are allowed to be kids.
I HOPE he can protect our nation from another attack.
I HOPE he leads with great morality and integrity.
I HOPE he gets to keep his BlackBerry.
I HOPE he can find the time to play some hoops now and then.
I HOPE he maintains the same amount of contact through social networking that he did during the campaign.
I HOPE he holds Americans accountable for our actions, just as we will for his.
I HOPE he makes the right decisions, if I agree with them or not.
I HOPE he is transparent.
I HOPE he stops predatory lending.
I HOPE he has the courage to stand up to the leaders of both parties for what he feels is right.
I HOPE that he will be one of the greatest presidents we have ever had.
I HOPE that I will get a chance to meet him someday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I've Never Seen It This Bad

This was the title of this weeks service at Granger Community Church, the 1st weekend of a new series called: Help Wanted Surviving Tough Times. Mark Beeson delivered a message that was sympathetic, but to the point while teaching from 2 Kings 4:1-7 from the Old Testament. This was a message that will remain with me for sometime. The video playing in the background of the band playing "Under Pressure" was powerful that led into an even better message from our Senior Pastor. I am already looking forward to hearing next weeks message on what God has to say about the topic "I Think We Might Lose Everything". Once posted, I believe on Monday, you can watch this past weeks service on-line if you missed out on it by going to:

Questions that were given to us were:
God wants to help you....What are you doing to cooperate?

What exactly do you do to establish an outpost of God's Kingdom wherever you are?

What exactly do yo do to add value to your family?

What exactly to do you do to extend a hand up and not just a hand out?

What exactly do you do to make this local church better?

What exactly do yo do to help the person next to you right now?

What exactly do you do to make Michiana a better community?

Who do you know that has a tough economic situation? Is there anything you can do about it? What can they do about it?

Do you find yourself praying more for victory and success, or relief and rescue? Why do you suppose that is?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day Of Service

On Monday, January 19, the Corporation for National and Community Service is teaming up with the Presidential Innaugural Committee to offer a broad number of opportunities for you to serve your community on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There is something special about serving and working for a cause bigger than self interest. I know I always feel great after serving. There are a wide variety of serving opportunities that have been set up for Monday, you can get more information on them by clicking here:

There are events scheduled at: Little Flower Food Pantry in South Bend, Feed The Children in Elkhart, Food and Clothing drive at Sav-a-lot in Dowagiac, various Martin's locations are having food drives throughout Michiana, Food and Clothing dive at The Window in Goshen. These are just a few of the places to serve in Michiana. Most of these are short 1-2 hour events that will not take up your whole day and make you feel good about helping people in need.

Friday, January 16, 2009

10 Cities Boasting Mini Sales Booms

Some cities that were hardest hit by the real downturn are experiencing mini sales booms.

Las Vegas real estate properties are down 28 percent in price, but sales of homes are up 15 percent.Motivated buyers accounted for 64 percent of Las Vegas sales in October, says Radar Logic, a derivatives firm. That’s the highest rate in the country.

"There's a pretty active housing market, it's simply at a lower-priced inventory," says Michael Feder, chief executive of Radar Logic. "And there are now bidding wars taking place over homes in foreclosure."

Phoenix and San Diego are reporting similar experiences. "We're clearing out the bad news," says Kiva Patten, a director at Merrill Lynch specializing in housing derivatives.

"By the end of 2010 – that's where we're calling the bottom in the forward market. You're going to get a small price appreciation in 2011," says Patten. "It's not like the turn is 10 percent per year, it'll be something like 3 percent or 4 percent."Here are the cities where experts say it makes the most sense to buy now.
Las Vegas
Sacramento, Calif.
San Diego, Calif.
Los Angeles
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.
San Jose

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (01/12/09)

727 Whitehall Dr., South Bend, Inidana

727 Whitehall, South Bend, Indiana MLS#234157 This 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home veatures vaulted ceilings in the living room and kitchen, an eat in kitchen and a 2 car attached garage. Priced at $54,900 being sold as-is and all offers are subject to sellers bank approval.

63968 Madison Trail, Mishawaka, Indiana

63968 Madison Trail, Mishawaka, Indiana MLS#234191. Priced at $124,900. This home 3 bedrooms and 1 bath, hardwood floors, a large kitchen, stone exterior and a 2 car attached garage. 1468 sqft. and is surrounded by corn fields in the Penn School district.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

St. Joseph County Foreclosures 1/15/09

Today, Thursday January 15, 2009, there were 50 homes originally scheduled to be taken back at sheriff's auction. Of those 50, 11 were able to stop the sale of their home leaving 39 that actually went back to the bank. Of those 39, 7 of them owed less than $50,000 and 3 owed more than $200,000. South Bend, once again, led the way with 32 homes taken back by the banks. Granger had 3, Osceola had 2 and Mishawaka and North Liberty had 1 each. Of the 7 below $50,000, 1 was in North Liberty the other 6 were in South Bend. Of the 3 above $200,000, 2 were from Granger and 1 was from South Bend.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Food Drop 2009

This morning, between 2,500 to 3,000 people came together to unload 7 semi-trailers full of food and personal care items. They did this despite extremely cold weather. They did this even though about 10 inches of snow fell over night. They did this in order to help the less fortunate in our community. They did this to tell people that they matter to God.

The yearly food drop is one of the many reasons that I love Granger Community Church and the people that attend there. In a time of economic problems everywhere. Through our giving, we were able to to donate 6,160 boxes of food and personal care items to 9 diferent community agencies and to 13 different neighborhoods. We were able to effect an estimated 3,000+ families today from Niles to Elkhart to Mishawaka to the west side of South Bend. For more information check out

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fun Facts About The Presidency

Wi th the inauguration of our 44th President of the United States coming up on January 20th, I thought it would be fun to look at some facts about the Presidency that you may or may not know.

On January 20th, Barack Obama will be our 44th president. Did you know that he will actually be only the 43rd person to hold the office? Gover Cleveland was elected to 2 terms as president, but they were not consecutive. He is listed as our 22nd and 24th president.

Did you know that John Adams became the first president to live in the presidential residence that we know as the White House? However, when he moved into the residence during 1800, it was not called the White House. Instead, it was referred to as the President's Palace, the President's House, or the Executive Mansion. The first president to live in the "White House" was Theodore Roosevelt, who gave the residence its official name in 1901.

The tallest president of the United States was Abraham Lincoln, who stood 6 feet 4 inches tall. The shortest president was James Madison who was 5 feet 4 inches tall.

Do you know who was the 1st president to be born as a US citizen? Martin Van Buren. The seven presidents prior to Van Buren (Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams and Jackson) were considered British subjects. William Harrison, who took office immediately after Van Buren, was also born as a British subject.

Abraham Lincoln was the first American born president that was born outside of the original colonies. Herbert Hoover was the 1st American born president born west of the Mississippi. Richard Nixon was the 1st and only president born in California.

Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president at age 42 when he took office, however, he became president after William McKinley died in office. The youngest elected president was John F. Kennedy at 43 years of age when elected. Ronald Reagan was the oldest at 69 when he was elected and age 77 when he left office.

John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush all lost the popular vote but still became president.

Jimmy Carter is the only president to have graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Woodrow Wilson was the only president who had a Ph.D. He received a doctorate in political science from Johns Hopkins University in 1886.

Who is the only person to become president without being elected as either president or vice president? Gerald Ford. He was nominated to be Richard Nixon's vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned. Later, when Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, For became the 38th president.

December #'s for Southwest Lower Michigan

I just received the December numbers for Southwest Lower Michigan and I thought I would share them with you.

Total units sold for December were 166 which is down 24% from the 217 sold in 2007. Hartford, Lawrence, Bridgman and New Buffalo areas were up for the month a combined 29%. The areas with the biggest decreases were Coloma and Watervliet -55%, Dowagiac and Marcellus -45% and the Edwardsburg to Cassopolis areas which were -44%.

Average sales price for December 08 was $166,504 which is -13% from the $191,097 average price in December of 07. The Coloma and Watervliet average price increased 108% over last December from $108,068 to $224,300. The South Haven area also showed an incread of 29% from $135,996 to $175,981. The biggest decline in average sale was in the Edwardsburg to Cassopolis area which had an average price of $85,160 which -69% over last years average of $272,144. Another area with a sharp decrease was Benton Harbor which was -50% at $40,160 from $80,037 a year ago.

Total dollar volume for December was at $27,639,651 which is -33% from December 07 which was $41,468,054. The Hartford and South Haven areas were +9% and the only areas of Southwest Lower Michigan that were up in total sales dollars for the month over last year. The Edwardsburg to Cassopolis area was the hardest hit being -82% in sales dollars. In December of 07 that area was at $6,803,605 compared to $1,192,240 this year. Other significate decreases were in Benton Harbor (-62%), Niles (-55%), Dowagiac area (-49%) and Berrien Springs (-43%).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

St. Joe County Housing Starts Down in 08

This post is actually from Mark Peterson @ WNDU. I am just re-posting it here for you to read.

Another economic crisis is vying for the attention of Congress.

The National Association of Home Builders has descended on Washington D.C. in search of a helping hand.

Some local home builders think that 2009 is bound to be the year things start looking up for the industry, if only because it's hard to imagine things getting any worse.

"You know, I don't thing we can honestly go lower," said Kim Baker with Weiss Homes. "As far as that is concerned, the market never goes to zero, I'm confident in that."

The market in St. Joseph county appears to have come dangerously close to zero, in 2008.

The city of Mishawaka had just 44 housing starts in 2008, compared to 112 the year before. In South Bend, there were just 55 housing start in 2008, down from 103 in 2007. In St. Joseph County, a total of 183 single family homes were built in 2008, compared to 287 the year before. Housing starts in the county had topped 500 back in 2004.

"Our national group is going before the capital to promote a stimulus package there," said Andy Place of Place Builders. "It's not a bailout, it's definitely not a bailout."

The plan is more a series of suggested tax incentives for people who buy new homes.

Last summer, Condgress did pass a tax credit for home buying, but that was limited to first time home buyers and it had to be paid back over a 15 year period.

The Home Builders Association would like to see a true tax credit extended to all buyers of principal residences. The group has also proposed that the credit amount be increased to as much as $22,000.

Some believe that the incentives would carry benefits well beyond those who wield power tools.

"If homes aren't being built, then the electrician might be out of work, or not have as much business, or the plumber might not have as much work," said Kim Baker.

"Let's look at carpeting, let's look at appliances, landscaping, all that is part of it," said Andy Place.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Appraisal

Over the past year there has been an uproar, so to speak, in the real estate world about the appraisal process. One of the many factors with what went on with the collapse in real estate was the appraisal process. Because of the lack of oversite in the industry, a lot of blame has been brought to the appraisors feet. Some of that is deserved and some of that is not, as there is plenty of blame to spread. The way it used to work, depending on the lender, some lenders had a couple of different appraiors that they would use and assign according to what their specialty was. An example would be that some appraisors specialize in FHA or VA while others are better at just doing good old fashioned Conventional. Some were more hardline to the rules, while others might have been a little more "forgiving" when appraising a property.

With the crackdown in the industry, more and more you are finding that the lenders have no control now over who gets assigned to do the appraisal of your purchase or refinance. Most lenders now have pool of appraisors that randomly get assigned to your purchase or refi. And those that have not implemented that system, from what I understand, will be forced to by May 1, 2009. The positives of this is that the appraisor will not feel pressured now in advance to "hit" the number for the transaction. They can do what their job is designed to do, which is a great thing in my opinion. Here is the only negative that I have ran into so far with this system. When a lender puts together their "pool" of appraisors, they often have several appraisors that might not be familiar with your market due to the wide areas that the lenders cover. We have ran into this lately here in St. Joseph County Indiana. These outside appraisors, because they are not familiar with this particular market, have been shorting most appraisals. A $2,000 to $5,000 short is one thing, but they have been shorting by $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the situation. How I have gotten around this, is that if the property is being financed, I write in the purchase agreement that the appraisor must be affiliated with the St. Joseph county board of REALTOR's. That way I am complying by not choosing my appraisor, but can narrow the field down to someone that I trust is going to do a proper appraisal. You can do this as well if you are refying your home. Don't be affraid to ask the appraisor, when they call to set up the appraisal with you, if they are a member of your local board of REALTOR's. If they say they are not, ask them to reassign the appraisal. You have the right to do that.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

In 2008, a bill was passed that has not received a lot of press. It is the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, also know as the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. This credit is actually a tax free loan from the government for people that have either never bought a house before or have not owned a principal residence in the 3 years prior to the purchase. The amount of the credit is 10% of the cost of the home not to exceed $7,500 and can be used on any single family residence including condo's and co-op's that will be used as a primary residence. This is designed for people making less than an adjusted gross income of no more than $75,000 per year or $150,000 per year if filed jointly and applies on purchases made on or after April 9, 2008 through July 1, 2009. This is a loan that has to be repaid. The repayment is made through your yearly income tax filing over 15 years. The yearly payment is 6.67% of the credit you were given. If the home is sold before 15 years, the remainder of the credit will be paid back at the time you sell your home. For more information feel free to call me at 574-370-8156 or contact your accountant as they should be up to date on the ins and outs of this program.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Housing Forecast for 2009

With the new year upon us, I thought that I would take a moment to give my opinion of what is ahead of us in the housing market for 2009. The picture to the left says it all. I do not feel that we have fit bottom yet. If you go back to what housing sales were like back in the early 2000's, say like 2001 and 2002 before the big housing boom, we actually have not declined quite to that point yet. In 2003, the lending requirements were lessened causing an influx of buyers into the market that caused this "bubble" that you have heard about. Early in 2008, we tightened the lending requirements back to, or maybe even a little tighter, than what they were in the early 2000's. Some of what you are seeing is an adjustment back to where housing sales should be at. The rest of what you are seeing is due to the economy and job loss. Earlier this week, MSNBC was predicting a summer unemployment number to be over 8% nationally and close to 10% by the end of 2009. I think that by the end of this year, you will see housing sales around what they were about 7-8 years ago.

In our area, South Bend and Elkhart have seen the bulk of the foreclosures. This is no suprise since they are highly populated areas. A trend though that I have observed, is that foreclosures are starting to hit more and more in other areas. Mishawaka has had a jump in recent months, Goshen has had a big increase as well. But I am starting to see more and more in Osceola, Granger, Bristol and other outlying areas. Those are the areas to keep an eye on. We'll always have numbers in the higher populated areas, but increases in the less populated and sometimes higher income areas are a sign that this is not over yet, and in fact might be worsening. Jobs are what is needed right now.

With all of that being said, values should not be dropping too much further, and that is good news. Interest rates are fluctuating all over the place, but are still at or near all time lows which makes it a great time to refinance or buy--that is if you do not have a house to sell. So, I see another year of decreases in both value, and in the number of houses being sold, but they should not be at the pace we saw this year. By the end of 2009, we should be close to being stable again which means we'll be close to the level back in 01 or 02 which is where we should actually be anyway.
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