Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Real Estate Crisis?

I walked into the office this morning to find a copy of an article from Forbes Magazine lying on my desk. It was titled "What Real Estate Crisis?". It was a short article, three paragraphs long, but the graphic is what really caught my attention. According to the National Association of Realtors, Cumberland is the 10th hottest real estate market in the country with a price appreciation of 9.3% in the second quarter. I know that they are a little slow getting the data out but if you look at one of my previous post (November 1, 2007) you will notice that prices in the area are continuing to climb through the third quarter and into the fourth. It's nice to know that things are looking up.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Appraisal

As an appraiser I have noticed a big change over the past year on how banks are being more cautious about what the appraisers are sending them. When I send in an appraisal now I typically get a phone call from the mortgage underwriter asking about different sections of the report. Most of the time it is just to clarify some of the information. Granted most of the underwriters know nothing about Allegany or Garrett Counties, and typically they don't understand why I would be need to go more than 1/2 mile away to find a comparable property or why the houses I used for comparison aren't exactly like the subject property. I guess in the big city suburbs it is easy to find hundreds of three bedroom, two bath, 1500 square feet ranchers. So as you can imagine, I am usually trying to explain how our area is not like the big city suburbs or downtown's. In my opinion it is a good thing that I get to interact with the people reviewing my appraisals. It gives me feedback an helps to put out a better product.

A year ago I could go months without talking to anyone. There were times I believed that I could send in anything and the loan would get written because the appraisal really didn't matter. All that mattered was that banks had a lot of money to give away and their job was to get it out the door as soon as possible. I know that several of the appraisals that I turned down last year, because I was sure that the property was not worth what the bank was trying to lend on it, did end up being appraised by other appraisers. Typically they would come from the Baltimore/Washington area and like the mortgage underwriters know nothing about the area. I have reviewed appraisals that have compared houses on Columbia Avenue in Cumberland to ones on Washington Street. Anyone who has visited the area for any period of time knows that this is like comparing concrete to wood. Just goes to show how far some banks will go to make a loan.

I know that these are my opinions and luckily many of the local banks and mortgage brokers have high morals. This is why the market in our area is still in balance and hopefully will continue that way.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Prichard Farms

I read yesterday in the paper that the City of Frostburg sent the homeowners in the Prichard Farms Development a letter stating that the city would not clear the snow from the streets in that development this winter. This being due to the streets not being built to code. How surprising! It seems that the developer has continually attempted to skirt the codes since this development began nearly two years ago. First it was the vapor barrier in the crawl spaces wasn't constructed correctly, then the sewer lines went to nowhere. How much longer is the city going to put up with this? Although I can't completely blame the developer, the city has dropped the ball on insuring that all of these items were done right in the first place through the inspection company that they hired. Well, that's probably another story. I feel pretty bad that I sold a house in this development to one of my friend's. Too bad these issues are just coming out.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trends In The Local Market

I just read the local report from our Multiple Listing Service. The most recent data available is from the second quarter of 2007 which ended in June, the third quarter data is not available but I have tried to retrieve as much as I could. According to the data Allegany County is in a Stable Market with an indicator of 3. 1 meaning that we are in a buyers market and 5 meaning that we are in a sellers market.

Third quarter data shows that an average of 450 homes are on the market at any one time. This is down from the second quarter high of 597. The days on market has risen in the third quarter to about 110 days. This could be due to the number of homes that were on the market in the second quarter and hopefully we will see this number fall in the fourth quarter which will indicate better things to come.

Total units sold in the third quarter was 173. This number up from 152 in the second quarter and 118 in the third quarter. It should be noted that 174 units sold in the third quarter of 2006 before the market slowed. Average sales price for the third quarter was $125,350. This number is up from $122,800 in the third quarter and $111,200 in the first quarter of 2007.

I think I like what I am seeing for the Allegany County market. With the interest rates down the forth quarter should mean better times in the local market.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Listing

Just wanted to share with everyone this new listing at 160 W. Main Street, Frostburg. This is a cozy home with an in-law apartment attached. Would make an ideal starter home or perfect if you are downsizing.

Listed at $125,000.
Main House: 2 Bedrooms, 1 1/2 Baths.
Apartment: 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath

Call Donny at 301.268.3010 or Sean White at 301.876.5700 to make an appointment.

How thngs are shaping up

I am sure that everyone has read in the paper or heard on the news how bad the real estate market is right now and only going to get worse. This may be true for some parts of the country but indications are that the local market is stable. Sure, homes are taking a little longer to sell but the value is still there. We just aren't seeing the double digit returns that were here in 2005 & 2006. So don't necessarily believe everything that is being said on the news, I believe that we are going to be just fine.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Current Market

As I am sure most everyone knows that there has been a major downturn in the local market over the past several months as evidenced by the extended time on market of currently listed homes. But there may be hope in the near future. Phones at the office have begun to ring in the past few weeks and our office has more properties under contract than I can remember seeing all summer. Add this to all the buzz about the Federal Reserve contemplating lowering interest rates at their September meeting and we may begin to see things turn around.

This is all great news but the reality of it all is that the interest rates have not really changed much over the past two years. Yes they have increased but they are still hovering around all time lows. My view is that the banks are to blame for the current state of the market. For years they would give a loan to anybody who could make it through their doors. I don't know about you but I think that a payment on a $300,000 loan should be a little more than $100. Okay, that is a little extreme but I know that each one of you has received a flier in the mail advertising some extreme loan like this. The banks had to know that foreclosures woud go up so why would they do this to themselves.

Hopefully the above example is a thing of the past but a real estate goes in cycles predatory lending is sure to make a comeback!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Welcome to my Blog

Well here it is. I have been thinking about begining a blog for quite some time. I guess that I finally found the nerve to take that final plunge. My intentions are to give the average home buyers and sellers information that they will find both informative and useful that they will be able to apply in future real estate transactions.

I guess I should give you some information about me. I have been in the real estate business for over two years as a salesperson, although I dabbled in real estate long before that. Currently I am working on my hours to obtain my appraisal license and hope to have all of the work complete by the end of the year. I currently work for The Goodfellow Agency located in Frostburg, Maryland. My company services both Allegany and Garrett Counties with future plans to offer services in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I offer both seller and buyer agency (although not in the same transaction) and strive to give my clients honest and reliable service.

All area listings can be found on my web site donnycarter.com where you can also find informative information about purchasing or selling a home as well as other information and links to area attractions. Should you have any questions on any real estate matter or any other topic please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!