Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Interest rates dip, supply up, it's a buyer's market

Home sales are up from a year ago, according to seasonally adjusted numbers, and prices are also up from a year ago, according to Keller Williams Real Estate statistics.
The increased sales prices are a good sign for sellers looking to list their homes. Combined with a recent dip in interest rates to 4.13 percent on a 30-year fixed rate a window of opportunity has opened for buyers who watched interest rates climb since spring.
Currently Freddie Mac reports rates at a fixed 4.13 percent for a 30-year mortgage and a 15-year fixed rate of 3.24 percent.
Although it's still higher than a year ago, the median existing home price dropped to $199,200 from $213,500 in July as the seasonal trend of price reductions continued through the fall months.
Inventory levels held steady this fall, as the dip in buyer activity brought the supply up slightly, which also accounted for a lower price trend over the past 5 months - an increase in supply and lower demand resulting in lower home prices.
Sellers can take heart that their home is worth more than it was last year, and buyers have an opportunity to take advantage of a seasonal stall in price increases as well as a low interest rate to find the home they are looking for.

-Ralph Bartholdt

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cole featured at Studio 107, ArtWalk

Inspiring, contemplative, vibrant.
The words don’t sum up the pieces on display at the dozen downtown art galleries but they are among the many that will tug at the right side of the brain.
This week’s ArtWalk, Friday from 5 to 8, features galleries including Steven A. Scroggins Fine Art, Blackwell, Painter’s Chair, Studio 107 and Art Spirit on Sherman Ave in Coeur d’Alene’s downtown.
Artist Melissa Cole, who studied natural history and zoology before turning her education to art, is featured at Studio 107.
Cole  http://www.melissacole.com/  paints animals, marine and terrestrial and her fish images are classic inland Northwest. Originally from Oregon, her exhibits have appeared in galleries from Alaska to Key West, including a public, outdoor display of salmon and trout that grace the 5th Street pedestrian bridge in Lewiston.
Ralph Bartholdt 

Idaho ranked in the top for retirees

Idaho is a better place to retire than Hawaii, according to a recent survey.
MoneyRates.com ranked Idaho as the best place to retire based on its stable economy and low crime rate. It ranked Iowa as the second best place and Hawaii as number three.
Idaho ranked marginally in just one of the many categories the magazine considered: The state’s winter climate may be unappealing to some retirees, according to the publication. Despite winter temperatures that can dip well below freezing, and the likelihood of snow, the Gem State has one of the fastest growing senior populations.
Idaho garnered a top 10 retiree slot by US News Money in its most recent survey, and was ranked number three by CNN Money.
Post Falls, according to one writer “is surrounded by 55 lakes and 30 golf courses within a 35-mile radius.” 
The city, noted the writer, is 10 minutes from cultural hub Coeur d’Alene – which boasts a vibrant art community, and less than 25 minutes from Spokane.
One theme that rang through the rankings is the state’s low income tax rates and lower than average home prices. Both are important factors for retirees looking for places to live.

Ralph Bartholdt

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Winter driving classes scheduled

As winter approaches many motorists new to North Idaho’s winter driving conditions may want to touch up their driving skills.
To assist in the effort, the Idaho State Police will have two Road Safe Classes for the 2013 winter season.
The classes are scheduled Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. and Saturday, December 7, 2013 at noon
.Both classes will be at the Idaho State Police District Office at 615 W. Wilbur Ave. in Coeur d Alene.

In their tenth year these award-winning programs have been offered year round to the public in a classroom setting designed to educate drivers on the typical problems associated with winter road conditions in Idaho.
ISP driving instructors use a power point presentation and video on safe driving tips as well as how to prepare for the winter driving season The free classes last for approximately 3 hours.

To enroll, call Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at (208) 209-8620, Class size is limited to 60 people, 

-Ralph Bartholdt

Fewer homes, higher prices, higher rates

Existing home sales declined in September but low inventory pushed prices up in North Idaho’s urban areas such as Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, as well as in much of the country, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Mortgage rates also crept up. The national average commitment for a 30-year fixed-rate conventional mortgage rose to 4.49 percent in September from 4.46 percent a month earlier. The rate is the highest since July 2011 when it was 4.55 percent, according to Freddie Mac.
The median existing home price was $199,200 in September nationally, an increase of almost 12 percent from last year.
Fewer than 10 percent of home sales were foreclosures.
The median time on the market for all homes was 50 days in September, up from 43 days in August.

In the Coeur d’Alene Market Center the average price of a sold home increased from $199,000 in May to $245,000 in September, and about 10 percent fewer homes sold in September than August, according to statistics compiled by the local MLS.
Economists think sales may slow further as the previously-enjoyed affordability of homes falls and prices increase, outpacing income growth in many areas. Mortgage rates could also lower the affordability of homes in upcoming months, according to the NAR.

-Ralph Bartholdt

Monday, October 28, 2013

FEMA flood insurance impacting Idaho homeowners

Idaho homeowners who live along some lakes and rivers are finding that changes made to the National Flood Insurance Program are causing their insurance premiums to increase.

Earlier this year part of a new law, called the Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act, went into effect phasing out flood insurance subsidies on many older homes. In addition, the federal government has been revising its flood zone maps and reassessing the level of flood risk for various areas.

As a result, many homeowners are being required to buy flood insurance for the first time or pay higher premiums on existing policies.
In some cases premiums of less than $1,000 a year may jump to $8000 over the next five years. FEMA, which monitors the program, said premiums are expected to jump to a level that FEMA estimates to be the property’s true value of coverage.
Because of the re-mapping, an effort that took place over the past 5 years or more, some homes that were not before considered to be in a flood zone are now designated as flood zone properties.
Critics of the program say that the spike of increased rates could have been avoided if FEMA had updated its maps regularly. The previous maps were 20 years old.  Map upgrading every few years would have prompted gradual rate hikes of around 5 percent.
The hikes are meant to shore up the coffers of FEMA’s federal flood insurance program which is $300 billion in debt due in part to disbursements made to property owners who fell victim to the Sandy and Katrina Hurricanes.

-Based on wire reports