Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Elkhart County Foreclosures for April

For April, Elkhart County had 169 properties scheduled for sheriff's auction today with 53 of them getting canceled, leaving 116 being taken back by the bank at last count.

Of the 116 properties, 74 were from Elkhart, 27 from Goshen, 6 from Nappanee, 5 from Bristol, 2 from Middlebury, and 1 each from New Paris and Osceola.

There were 4 properties that were owed less than $50,000 on them with 3 of the properties in Elkhart and the remaining property being from Goshen.

There were 7 properties that had more than $200,000 owed on them with 5 of those owing more than $300,000 and one owing more than $1,000,000. The one owing more than $1,000,000 is a former grocery store in Elkhart that had been closed for awhile. Of the 7 properties, 4 were from Elkhart and 3 were from Goshen.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Swine Flu, The News and Priorities

Because of the job that I have, I drive around in my car a lot. And, since I am in my car so much, I have XM Radio to give me a variety of listening choices. This morning I was listening to CNN and they spent, what seemed like, a half hour talking about Swine Flu. I found this interesting, at first, because I had never heard of Swine Flu before and it sounded like this was some sort of big deal the way CNN was reporting it and devoting so much time to it.

Come to find out, there are 8 known cases of Swine Flu in the United States. A couple of these cases are in Texas and the rest are in California.

CNN interviewed Dr. Sanjay Gupta asking him various questions about this version of Flu. Dr. Gupta stated, and I am sumarizing, that the strain of Flu is hard to detect from other strains of Flu and he wasn't sure about treament. Maybe Thera-Flu would work, is what he said.

So, where am I going with this?

Why is CNN spending this much time on something that sounds like, well, the Flu? Don't get me wrong, I am sure that these 8 people are very sick and I hope that they recover. But a 1/2 hour on the FLU?

Why not spend that 1/2 hour talking about how there are an estimated 744,000 people in the United States that are homeless? What if they talked about how the average age of the homeless is 7 years old? What if they talked about how an estimated 13 million children in the US that are going hungry every day?

What if they had talked about how people can go out and help others in need? Think about the impact that could have. But, I guess, helping other people does not get ratings. Putting fear into people, I guess, does. What does that tell you about The News and Priorities?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St. Joseph County Foreclosures 4/23/09

The numbers that I am posting today are from the last 2 weeks and represent homes that were scheduled to be taken back by the bank.

There were 104 properties scheduled for Sheriff's auction, 11 were canceled, leaving 93 that appear to have gone back to the bank. Of that 93, 65 of them were from South Bend, 16 from Mishawaka, 6 from Granger, 3 from Osceola, 2 from Walkerton and 1 from Lakeville.

There was 1 home that had over $200,000 owed on it, and that home was in Granger. There were 16 homes that had less than $50,000 owed on them, 14 were from South Bend and 2 were from Mishawaka. Of that 16, 1 of them owed less than $12,000 on the home.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Federal Housing Rescue Plan Launches

The Obama Administration’s program to rescue distressed home owners got off the ground this week. The program was announced on Feb. 18, but it took several weeks to put the bureaucracy in place.

Six of the nation’s largest banks signed up to participate, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday. They are JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, GMAC Mortgage, Saxon Mortgage Services, and Select Portfolio Servicing.

Treasury says it is allocating $50 billion to the program. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide the rest.

The plan calls for loan servicers to reduce interest rates so a family’s monthly mortgage obligation is no more than 38 percent of its pre-tax income. Loan servicers also can reduce loan balances. After the loans are modified, the government then provides enough money to reduce payments to 31 percent of income.

Participating servicers get $1,000 a year for each modification and another $1,000 a year for three years if the borrower remains current. Servicers get an extra $500 if they do the modifications before the borrower falls behind in his payments—and the borrower gets $1,500. Also, homeowners get $1,000 a year for five years if they remain current on their payments. The money must be used to reduce their principal balances.

Source: CNN, Tami Luhby (04/16/2009)

2nd Largest Mall Owner Bankrupt

General Growth Properties Inc., the second-largest mall owner in the United States, declared bankruptcy Thursday. It was the largest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

General Growth and 158 of its more than 200 malls will operate under Chapter 11 protection as it seeks to refinance $27 billion in debt and restructure the business. General Growth said its properties would be open for business and operating as usual.

"Our core business remains sound and is performing well with stable cash flows," General Growth Chief Executive Adam Metz said in a statement. "While we have worked tirelessly in the past several months to address our maturing debts, the collapse of the credit markets has made it impossible for us to refinance maturing debt outside of Chapter 11."

The bankruptcy is seen as a warning sign of trouble ahead for other large commercial properties that are heavily leveraged.

Source: Reuters News (04/16/2009)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

GCC Weekend Update

This was a skit that my church, Granger Community Church, did a couple months back on the economy. I thought it was pretty funny stuff.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Current Events

I co-lead a men's bible study group that meets every Friday morning at 6:00 a.m. at a restaurant in Mishawaka called Honkers. We have a great group of guys that attend and I have really grown some good friendships from it from guys like Augie and Thane just to name a couple. This week, it is my week to pick a topic, below you will find it. If you are interested in joining the group, it is an open group just as long as you are a guy, feel free to stop by.

With everything going on in the world today, I thought that I would take a few current
events and see how they relate to the bible and your views on them. Part of this discussion was inspired by something Rob Wegner put on his blog at and by a suggestion made by my wife Kimberly. Other parts by Augie and Thane, the rest I just thought up. Anyway, here it goes:

With everything going on in the world today, I thought that I would take a few current
All last week we heard about the drama on the high seas when a little pirate ship about 30 ft long hijacked a U.S. ship and held it and the crew captive. The Navy was involved with one of their big war ships and had little effect for the first 4 days of this story until Sunday when it took some snipers to take out the pirates (which is super cool by the way). What I found fascinating about this, and this was from Rob’s blog, was how such a small thing (the pirate ship) could cause such a big problem. And how such a big problem could not be solved by a big solution (the Navy ship). It had to be solved with a smaller solution, the snipers.

1. Does this situation reflect anything that has gone on in your life in the past? Did you realize right away that the big problem required a small action to resolve or did you try a bigger solution first?

2. Can you draw any comparisons to this situation with anything in the bible?

3. Does this situation relate to our countries current economic situation?

There has been an uproar, of sorts, by Catholics lately over President Obama coming to Notre Dame because of his stance on abortion and stem cell research.

4. Should the President be allowed to speak at Norte Dame regardless of his policy? If you were the decision maker, would you allow him to speak? Why or why not?

Tony Morgan’s church, New Spring , played “Highway to Hell” to open up their Easter services this past weekend. When I first heard this, I did not know what to think about that. Part of me thought that there should be a much better way to open up an Easter service than with that song. Another, much bigger part of me thought “cool, I wonder how they used that?”

The service opened with scripture from Matthew scrolling the screen with flames coming off of each letter. Here was the scripture: You can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. They then sang the song Highway to Hell by AC/DC. And closed with the following scriptures scrolling across the screen:
Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

5. What do you think of a church playing Highway to Hell in service? Does the context and way it is presented matter to you? How would you react if your church played this song? Do you think that this was done for shock and awe?

Now more than ever, I think the parable of the talents applies more and more (Matthew 25:14-30).

6. How do you feel our government is handling the talents (tax $) that has been given to them over the past 8 months? Has the current economy made you change the way that you handle your talents? If it has, will it last or change again when things get better?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

States Contemplate Loans for Home Buyers

The $8,000 first-time home buyer mortgage tax credit, which is part of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is a great boon. But, it doesn’t help people who don’t have money for a down payment and closing costs.

Now some states are contemplating offering an $8,000 loan to home buyers before they close on the condition that they repay the loans as soon as they get their federal tax credits.

The idea has been adopted in Missouri, which advances the money to those who take out first mortgages offered through the state’s housing finance authority. The New York State Builders Association is lobbying the State of New York Mortgage Agency to adopt a similar strategy.

“A lot of states are trying to get through the technical aspects of this," says Gregory Brown, an assistant vice president for government affairs at the National Association of Home Builders. "I feel very confident they’ll find a way to make it work.”

Meanwhile, some home builders are taking matters into their own hands, offering programs that purchase the tax credit from borrowers prior to closing.

“This is a legitimate monetizing program that actually works,” says David Abrahamson, vice president of S.E. operations for American Home Key Mortgage Company, which makes the loans for many participating builders in the southeast.

Source: The New York Times, Bob Tedeschi and, Paul Jackson (04/10/2009)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

St. Joseph County Foreclosures 4/9/09

This week 71 properties were scheduled to be auctioned off at the sheriff's sale, 5 that I know of were canceled, leaving 66 properties for the auction. Of those 66 properties, 45 of them were from South Bend, 13 from Mishawaka, 4 from Osceola, 2 from Granger and 1 each in Walkerton and New Carlisle.

There were 2 properties that were owed more than $200,000 on them, 1 of which owed over $300,000. One was from Mishawaka and the one with the higher balance was from South Bend. Both are residential properties.

There were 9 properties that had less than $50,000 owed on them. One owed less than $20,000 which was up in Clay Twp. Of the 9 properties, 8 are from South Bend with the remaining property being from Mishawaka.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

March Numbers for South West Michigan

South West Lower Michigan showed some improvement in units sold in March as volume was down only 7% while still being -21% for year to date. Benton Harbor showed the biggest gain as they were up 85% while Coloma/Watervliet (+33%) and Niles/Galien (+6%) also showed gains while Edwardsburg/Cassopolis was even with last year.

Dowagiac/Marcellus showed the largest decrease in units sold at -61%, Berrien Springs/Eau Claire -55%, Hartford/Lawrence -33%, Bridgman/New Buffalo -19%, St. Joseph/Lakeshore -12% and the South Haven area -5%.

Average sales price is still a bit of a struggle at -38% from last year. However, Berrien Springs/Eau Claire was +59%, Dowagiac/Marcellus +29% and Coloma/Watervliet was +14%. The Edwardsburg/Cassopolis are stayed consistent with last year and was even.

The largest declines in average sale price was the South Haven/Bangor/Covert area at -64%. The other declines were: Niles/Galien (-52%), Bridgman/New Buffalo (-51%), Hartfor/Lawrence (-43%), St. Joseph/Lakeshore (31%) and Benton Harbor (-6%).

Dollar volume was -43% from last year. Last year volume was at $30,764,995 while this year is at $17,642,378.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Top Economists Say Recovery Has Begun

Economic recovery is about making people feel more confident, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s

Zandi evidenced increasing home sales and gains in the stock market are some promising signs that the worst is over and people will start spending again.

“We’re starting to see some pent-up demand for goods,” he says.

But Zandi warns that the situation is still fragile. "Confidence is a very fickle thing. It can go from abject pessimism that pervades now to a more balanced view of the world rather quickly.”

Robert Brusca of FAO Economics is predicting strong growth in the last half of the year and a quick recovery for the labor market. "You've lost 5 million jobs. It shouldn't be hard to put 2.5 million jobs back on rather quickly after you hit bottom," he said.

Joseph Carson, chief economist at AllianceBernstein, calls improving home sales, a rising stock market, and better-than-expected retail sales in February and March good signs of a turnaround. By the time President Obama’s stimulus package takes effect, the economy will be ready, he says.

"The stimulus has a much better chance of working if trends are already turning up than if it needs to halt a decline," he said.

Source: CNNMoney, Chris Isidore (04/06/2009)

Friday, April 3, 2009

You Found Me

I just love well written songs! They inspire me and make me think. One of the things I love about music is that it is up to the interpretation from the person listening to it. What I may or may not get out of a song, might not be the same message you may or may not get out of it. Anyway, for the past month or two I can't get out of my mind the newest song by The Fray called You Found Me. I find this to be an incredibly well written song and thought I would share with you my interpretation of it. After looking on the internet, there seems to be a fair amount of opinion as to what this song actually means. So, here is my take/vision of this song.

I feel that this is a song about a man who has lost the love of his life and is in a lot of pain. Then, one day, he finds God and he lets out his anger, frustration and hurt. He lays out his baggage to God, which is what God wants us to do. "Where were you when everything was falling apart?" "Losing her, the only one who's ever known who I am, who I'm not, and who I want to be" are a couple of the lines that I feel illustrate his venting towards God. The rest of this song, I feel, is a conversation going back and forth between this man and God. The way the singer demonstrates this to me, is by the changing of his tone and voice on different lines of the song. Some, to me, sound like it would be coming from this hurt person, while others sound like they are responses back from God. The lines "Lost and Insecure" "Lying on the Floor" are in a different, more somber tone by this hurt man. Then God saying "You Found Me, You Found Me" "Surrounded, Surrounded" in a more upbeat way. I picture those lines coming from God with a big smile on his face! Happy that this man finally found him and letting him know that he was surrounded by Gods love. The man then asks God "Why'd you have to wait?" God responds with a question of his own back to the man "Where were you, where were you?" in a way saying that he had been there all along, you just were not looking. The man replies very sadly "Just a little late" acknowledging that he had not been looking for God when God then responds again with "You found me, You found me" in a more rejoiceful tone.

Later in the song, I think, God says "I've been calling for years and years and years and years" when he is cut off by the man who says "And you never left me no messages, You never sent me no letters, You got some kind of nerve taking all I want." It then breaks back into the chorus and at the end of the song a somber God asks the man the same question the man had asked God earlier "Why'd you have to wait, To find me, to find me?" I feel that speaking to God is kind of like that. Not answering you directly, but giving you the answer by making you think, throwing it right back in your face where you have to confront the truth.

Below is the link to the video that The Fray released for this song. It doesn't indicate that my interpretation is right, at all. But I'm sticking to my interpretation, because that is what the song is saying to me. What's your interpretation?
Website Hit Counters