Friday, March 27, 2009

Elkhart County Foreclosures For March

There were 94 properties scheduled for Sheriff's Auction for Elkhart County in the month of March, with 46 of those properties cancelled leaving 48 that were actually taken back. Of those 48, Elkhart had 24, Goshen 13, Bristol 4, Nappanee 3, Millersburg 2, with Middlebury and NewParis with 1 each.

There were only 2 properties that had less than $50,000 owed on them. One was in Elkhart and the other was in Goshen. And, there were only 2 properties that were owed more than $200,000 on them, both were in Elkhart.

Right now, there are 169 properties scheduled for Elkhart Counties Sheriff's auction for April, and 139 scheduled for May.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Morning Drive

This morning, I had an appointment all the way over in Warsaw. Sometimes, when I make a trip like this, I have the radio off or down low-relax, and let the thoughts flow about whatever comes to mind. You can call it alone time, God time, my good friend and pastor Mark would probably call it a form of meditation. Anyway, I thought that I would share some of those thoughts from today.

*What do you think would happen if everyone turned off the news for a week? No CNN, no MSNBC or Fox news or local news. How do you think that would effect every ones attitude right now?

*What if Christians ACTUALLY prayed, instead of just saying they are going to do so?

*What if I actually prayed for the people I disagree with? Better still, what if I prayed to help me better understand the person I disagree with instead of praying that the other person change their view?

*What if I only complained about something if I had a solution to that complaint?

*What if everyone started praying for our leaders to succeed rather than to hope that they fail. What kind of impact would that have?

*What kind of impact would it have, if I truly appreciated all of the time I get to spend with the people that I love? How would that effect everyone around me?

And then my mind started wandering to Tiger baseball and the season at hand, but that will be a post for another time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

St. Joseph County Foreclosures 3/26

In St. Joseph county Indiana, 49 homes were scheduled for sheriff's auction with 6 being canceled at last count for a total of 43 going to the sale. Of the remaining 43, 3 had more than $200,000 owed on them with two of those three being businesses in Walkerton and Mishawaka. The remaining property is out in New Carlisle.

There were 7 properties listed for the auction that had less than $50,000 owed, all of which were in South Bend.

In all, 31 properties are from South Bend, 7 from Mishawaka, 2 from Lakeville, and 1 from New Carlisle, Walkerton and Granger.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scammers Target Troubled Borrowers

This article is from the Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty (3/11/09)

Scam artists are proliferating, attempting to make money off troubled borrowers interested in taking advantage of President Barack Obama's foreclosure-prevention plan.

The firms charge fee for what they tell borrowers will be quick and effective negotiations with banks. In most cases, the firms take the home owners' money-often more than $1,000-and do nothing.

The Federal Reserve recently issued this advice for people seeking to modify their mortgages:
*Work only with HUD-approved nonprofit counselors. (see
*Don't agree to pay a fee before you are provided with the promised service.
*Beware of people offering "guaranteed" results.
*Don't sign blank forms or documents you have not read.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Helping Kids With Cancer Smile

Prudential Realty's national charity is called "The Sunshine Kids" which is a nonprofit organization to help provide positive group activities for kids with cancer. Every year Michiana's local Prudential offices, Prudential One Realty, sponsors a dinner auction benefit to raise money for local Sunshine Kids to go to camps and to take trips to help take their minds off of the treatments that they are receiving. This years auction benefit will be on Saturday, May 16, at the Mishawaka F.O.P.. The event will be from 4p.m. until Midnight and will include an Auction, live entertainment and a polish buffet.

This year, I have the honor and privilege of being the auction chairperson. The tickets are $30 each and there will be a cash bar. Local auctioneer, Jason Kaser, has volunteered his time to do the live auction portion which will feature weekend vacation packages to Chicago, dinner with a local mayor, various electronics and other exciting items. There will also be a silent auction, tip boards and raffles.

If you would like more information about this event, to donate or to purchase tickets to it, please feel free to call me on my cell phone at 574-370-8156 or email me at Below is a news clip about a Sunshine Kids event that was in Las Vegas. It was not our local kids that went, but you'll get a better idea about what this is all about.

Monday, March 16, 2009

February 2009 Numbers for Southwest Lower Michigan

Hot off of the press, here are the numbers that my board office just released for the month of February for Southwest Lower Michigan.

Total units were -37% from 167 in 2008 to 105 in 2009. The Hartford/Lawrence area (+67%) and the Dowagiac/Cassopolis area (+22%) were the only areas that showed gains over last year. The Coloma/Watervliet area was the largest downturn at -77%. Other notible downturns were Bridgman/New Buffalo (-71%), Edwardsburg/Cassopolis (-62%), Berrien Springs/Eau Claire (-60%), and the markets of St.Joseph/Lakeshore and South Haven/Bangor/Covert were -47%.

Other numbers: Days on the market is -15% over last year, from an average of 142 in 2008 to 117 in 2009. Average sales price has dropped from $181,292 in 2008 to $125,126 in 2009 which is -31% from last year. Dollar volume has dropped from $30,275,711 in 2008 to $13,226,874 in 2009 which is -56% over last year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Economic and Real Estate Recovery Plan

I have been a little hesitant to post this, but it has been on my mind for the last week or two, which is probably why I have not posted as much lately. I've been trying to think of the right way to present this, as I keep getting urged from people around me that I should speak up about how we might be able to get out of this economic/housing situation.

So first, I want to say, that this is not meant to replace any current programs out there that have been floated by our government. I think that there are some very good programs that have been started with the stimulus bill that was passed. I also think that there were a few things in that stimulus that should not have been a part of it.

Second, I do think that the new plan to help stop foreclosures could work, as long as the banks buy into it.

So, kind of the same thing with this, people would have to buy into it. The agents and business people I talk with (Democrat and Republican) seem to like what I am about to propose that our government look at doing. Now that the disclosures are out of the way, here it goes.

To fix the economy, job creation and real estate recovery must go hand in hand. My plan to create jobs, would be through energy independence. I would accomplish this by giving every new start up "green" business 100% exemption from taxes of any kind for the next 2 years. It seems a little radical, but, it would enable small business to avoid a huge barrier and empower them to hire employees and invest capital in research and development. For existing companies that chose to invest in "green" technology, they would get a partial tax break depending on the amount of their business is dedicated towards it. I think this would lay the foundation for a large employment and education "boom" in this country as people would need to be retrained as the old style blue collar jobs have gone away and probably are not coming back. This would create a new kind of blue collar job. Also, this would strengthen our national security by lessening our dependence on foreign energy.

The real estate side of things, I feel, can be fixed by smart lending. A few years ago, the mistake was made by letting people with bad credit history buy a house with zero down with a low interest rate. Since then, lending has went the opposite direction as a knee jerk reaction. We need to get back to sensible lending practices again. Zero down programs are not the problem. Giving zero down to people with bad credit is a problem. People with a credit score of 720 or higher and good debt to income ratio's should be able to buy a house with zero down and get a good rate. They have proven over time that they pay their bills on time and are responsible with their credit. People with 719 down to 660, should be able to by a home with 2% down and an interest rate slightly higher-say 1/2 point higher. People with 659 down to 600 should be able to buy with 5% down and a point or so higher for an interest rate. This will allow the people that should be buying to buy, and make it more difficult for others to buy, which is how it should be. I have known people that earn close to 7 figures a year that have 600 credit because they don't pay anything on time. It is not fair that they get the same or better rate than a person does making $80,000 per year that has a 790 credit score.

To fix foreclosures, in addition to what the government has already started, I would do a temporary moratorium on foreclosures for 6 months for the unemployed. After 6 months, they would have to make 1/2 mortgage payments for 3 months. At 9 months, they would have to make 3/4 of a mortgage payment monthly. After 1 year they would be back to having to make a full mortgage payment. All missed payments and monthly shortages would be put onto the back of the loan. This would give people enough time to find another job or get the necessary job training to get another job. It would slow up the glut of houses hitting the market and keep people in homes.

These are some radical ideas, but they could work, I think. Let me know what you think.


Today I was honored to receive a few different awards from Prudential Real Estate. I was the recipient of the Gold Award for achieving a certain level of sales for 2008. It was the second year in a row that I have won this award, as I have been a Prudential agent for 2 years. The next level award for me would be a Platinum Award which is what I am shooting for this year.

The 2nd award that I received was for most improved listing agent which was an award that I had not received before.

The 3rd and 4th awards were combined into one award. It was Listing agent of the year for St Joseph county Prudential Agents in terms of Units and Volume. Last year, I received the award for number of units, but not for volume.

It is very nice to get recognized for awards, but also very humbling, at least it is for me. This year, I hope to not only maintain what I have, but add to it. Thanks to all of you reading this that helped me make this happen, I could not have done it without you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

$8,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit

There has been a lot of confusion about the Tax Credit that was passed for home buyers in the recent stimulus passed by our government. So, hopefully this will help clear some things up about. This is actually a great program for 1st time homebuyers. If you have never owned a home or it has been awhile since you have owned a home, this is really something you need to look at this year!

There is an $8,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit that is being funded by our government. It is for 1st time buyers or someone that has not owned a home for at least 3 years. It does not have to be repayed, that is right--FREE MONEY, as long as you live in the house at least 3 years. It applies to buyers that purchase between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009. The maximum amount of the credit is $8,000. The credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price upto $8,000. So, if you recently bought a home for $75,000, you would receive a $7,500 credit. Also, to be eligible, you cannot make more that $75,000 per year if you are single, or $150,000 per year for married couples.

Here are some other questions with answers:

*What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
Someone who has not owned a home in the last 3 years prior to the purchase. For married people, this also includes your spouse. So, you cannot have a house in the husbands name, then purchase the new house in the wifes name. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to a buyer that qualifies. Example, a parent wants to buy a home jointly with their son or daughter, they may allocate that credit towards the son or daughter. A home must be lived in as a primary residence, not a vacation home or rental property.

*How is this different from the last 1st time buyer tax credit?
This one is not an interest free loan like the last one was, and does not have to be paid back. Plus, this credit is for upto $8,000 instead of the $7,500 that was passed last year. if you were to sell though within 3 years of the purchase, you would face a recapture of the credit from the IRS.

*How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application?
You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. You need to complete IRS Form 5405 to determine the tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on line 69 of the 1040 income tax return. There are no other forms or applications or pre-approval necessary.

*I bought my home early this year before the $8,000 credit was passed and I already filed my taxes and received the old credit that has to be repayed. Can I still qualify?
Yes, you will have to file an ameded 2008 tax return with a 1040X form and consult your tax advisor.

*I bought a home in 2008. Do I qualify for this credit?
No. But if you purchases your first home between April 9,2008 and January 1, 2009 you may qualify for the old credit.
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