Investors Are Looking to Buy Homes by the Thousands
In a modern day twist to the alchemist of medieval times,investors are buying up the leftover scraps from the housing bust hoping to create real estate gold. Waypoint Real Estate Group, a three year old startup based in California, sees potential returns in purchasing foreclosed homes that exceed securities and the stock market. And the plan seems simple enough- find a home in foreclosure, buy it at a fraction of the pre-bust value, renovate it, and fill it with tenants. The theory being that there are plenty of homes that have faced foreclosure, almost 1.5 million, and those homes were once filled by people now looking for a place to live. Eventually, people will even be allowed to remain in the house they once owned, and begin paying rent to a landlord and eventually build toward a down payment to repurchase the home. And the benefit for Waypoint and several others including Colony Capital, GTIS Partners and Oaktree Management- is a target return of 8 percent.
Waypoint reminds us of the supply and demand taught in high school economics. Banks dont want to own the homes, homeowners dont want to lose the homes, laborers want to renovate the homes, and Home Depot wants to sell every two penny nail they can. Large investment firms may just be the force that can bring all of these elements together into that shiny nugget of gold.
Top 10 metros for rising real estate values
Zillow: Rent values climb, home values may be close to bottomBy Inman News, Thursday, April 12, 2012.
Home values continue to approach an expected near-bottom as a flood of foreclosure sales in February 2012 contributed to a 4.5 percent year-over-year decline in U.S. home values, according to a Zillow report released this week.
The latest Zillow Home Value Index, which is based on estimated home values in markets across the country, found rising values in 13 of 165 (8 percent) of U.S. metros tracked on a year-over-year basis in February.
But there are some metros that saw positive trends in home values from February 2011 to February 2012.
The data shows that the Phoenix market, which has been hard-hit by heavy foreclosures and price drops during the downturn, is fluttering again: The metro is alone among the largest 25 U.S. metros to show a year-over-year increase in home values in February -- though very slight at 0.1 percent.
Only 13 -- 8 percent of all the 165 U.S. metros Zillow tracks for the index, posted positive year-over-year home-value increases this February. The tracked metros, as a whole, saw home values drop 4.5 percent in that time period, to $145,400.
Home values were dampened, Zillow noted in the report, by a large share of foreclosure sales: Foreclosed homes accounted for 20.3 percent of all home sales in February -- that bested a 20.2 percent share in March 2011.
"We have made it through the worst of the housing recession with a bottom on the horizon, but the deep backlog of foreclosures, elevated negative equity, and high unemployment are all still obstacles on the road to recovery," said Zillow economist Svenja Gudell.
Among the top 10 metros in the black were those with values below the February U.S. median existing-home price of $156,600, as reported by the National Association of Realtors last month.
Tulsa, Okla., ranked third on the list among those markets with the largest year-over-year home-value increase in February, had an estimated home value of $100,200, according to Zillow data, while Binghamton, N.Y., with an estimated home value of $106,000 in February, ranked fourth.
The average home value among the 10 markets with the highest year-over-year home-value gains in February was $136,880, while the average home value for all of the U.S. metros tracked by Zillow was $167,639, with an average year-over-year home-value change of 4.6 percent.
Morristown, Tenn., with a 5.5 percent year-over-year value gain, and Oklahoma City, Okla., up 5.2 percent, stand at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the index. The other eight markets to post the highest year-over-year gains in home values were, in order:
- Tulsa, Okla.
- Binghamton, N.Y.
- Fort Myers, Fla.
- Laconia, N.H.
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Fort Collins, Colo.
- Utica, N.Y.
- Lebanon, N.H.
App helps homeowners keep up with maintenance projectsMobile download provides reminders for range of tasks
By Inman News
If you'd like to use your smartphone to manage home maintenance and improvement projects -- you guessed it, there's an app for that.
HomeZada, a new online service and app, available on iPhone, Android and iPad platforms, helps homeowners track various home projects including maintenance, home improvement and home inventory.
"Do you remember when the furnace needs cleaning?" a spokesperson in a promotional video asks. "Are the gutters on the roof clogged?"
Ostensibly, HomeZada will help a homeowner plan, remember and get needed home maintenance jobs like those done. The app also helps homeowners keep track of cleaning, yard work and other projects. The app's alerts notify users when a certain task must be performed.
There's a function that allows homeowners to document all their possessions via photo.
This cloud-based home management tool is free in its "Essentials" version, which includes the inventory tool, property documents management, news and alerts, and access to the mobile versions of the app.
A premium version is available for $9.95 a month or $99 per year that adds tracking functionality for the home improvement project tool, including budget and shopping info; the paid version also offers the ability to integrate the app's calendar with others and to coordinate email reminders.
Removing pet odors from subfloorAmmonia is not the answer
By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Q: I have an in-law apartment that I foolishly rented to a person who had two cats. One or both cats apparently had a lot of accidents, because even a year after she left I can still smell the cat urine.
I've replaced both the carpet and padding. Do I need to rip up and replace the wood subfloor also? I did not treat the wood with any chemical before I replaced the carpet and padding. I thought it would not be necessary.
A: We're guessing that you now have a "no pets" clause or a hefty pets deposit in your lease agreement.
Unfortunately, you made a mistake by not treating the subfloor when you replaced the carpet and padding. The damage has been done. Parts of the subfloor and the padding will have to go, and maybe the carpet, too.
When cats and, for that matter, dogs, do their business in the house, they tend to go in the same place. Which means, with any luck, that the problem is localized.
When pet urine dries, it forms crystals that produce a stench. You were right to replace the carpet and pad, but urine soaked through the old carpet and pad and into the wooden subfloor. The odor you smell is from the crystallized urine in the impregnated wood.
You probably don't need to replace the entire subfloor. Pull up the carpet and pad and search the subfloor for urine stains.
In some cases, it is impossible to get urine odors out of wood. So, to be safe, cut out and replace the stained sections; treat the rest of the subfloor with a cleaner specially formulated for pet urine; and replace the pad.
It's worth trying to salvage the new carpet, but there's no guarantee that the odor hasn't impregnated the rug. If that's the case, a carpet-cleaning professional will have the right chemicals to neutralize the odor.
Cleaning cat urine effectively depends on a number of factors, such as where it's located, how long it was left unnoticed and the type of surface it was deposited on. In this case, it's been in the wooden subfloor for a long time.
The better cleaners contain enzymes that break down the urine and neutralize the odor. Usually, the first step is to take a rag or wad of paper towels and firmly press it into the area to soak up as much urine as possible. Obviously, your renter didn't do this.
There are a number of options for cleaners at your local pet store. When using a commercial product, follow the instructions.
Some products you might ask about include: Zero Odor, Anti-Icky-Poo, Nature's Miracle, Odorban, Odornil, Nilodor F.O.N., and Cat-Off.
Here are several homemade cleaners you might try, although given the situation, we'd go with a commercial product.
- Hydrogen peroxide. Spray 3 percent hydrogen peroxide on the spot and let sit for a few minutes. Blot dry with a clean cloth.
- For a stronger solution, mix 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a squirt of dish soap and a sprinkle of baking soda. Spray this mixture on; let it sit for a few minutes; then blot dry.
- White vinegar. Create a warm-water dilution with 25 to 30 percent vinegar. Spray this mixture on; let it sit for a few minutes; then blot dry.
Note: If you use any of these solutions, it's a good idea to test them first on a piece of scrap carpet or an out-of-sight area of the floor to ensure they don't cause damage.
Finally, avoid products that contain ammonia, as the odor of ammonia is similar to the odor of urine.
US home-buying season finally signaling a recovery
WASHINGTON AP - Five years after the U.S. housing bust sent sales and prices plunging, the spring home-buying season is pointing to a long-awaited recovery.
Reduced prices, record-low mortgage rates, higher rents and an improving job market appear to be emboldening many would-be buyers. Open houses are drawing crowds. A wave of foreclosures is leading investors to grab bargain-priced homes.
Read more . . . http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-04/D9U5D9D80.htm
By Alex Viega, AP Real Estate Writers
Photo Credit: Paint Quality Institute
Springtime is the best time to give a home a fresh coat of paint, according to the Paint Quality Institute.
By painting in moderate weather, youll likely get a longer-lasting paint job, says Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute. Zimmer says that exterior painting is best to do when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but not when it gets too hot. Very hot days can cause the paint to dry too quickly and impair good paint film formation, she notes.
Some more tips for exterior painting from Zimmer:
1. Paint in the shade and avoid painting in direct sunshine. Sunlit surfaces can be 10 to 20 degrees hotter than the air temperature.
2. Dont paint when its too windy. Wind can cause latex paint to dry too quickly as well as cause dust and other contaminates to imbed in the paint, possibly creating a surface ripe for mildew, Zimmer says.
3. Avoid the rain. Wait for another day if its rained within the last 24 hours. If several days of rain is forecast, postpone your painting for several days until a rain-free week.
4. Prime the surface. Apply a coat of primer to any new surface that has never been painted, or spot-prime areas where paint has worn away, Zimmer suggests.
5. Dont skimp on paint. Use top quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint. Its durable, flexible, colorfast, and can often last 10 years or more compared to ordinary paint, Zimmer says. To make the paint last even longer, apply at least two coatsa coat of primer and coat of paint, or two coats of house paint, she adds.
6. Dont postpone painting. Postponing painting the exterior of a home that is long overdue can actually cause damage to a home. Exposed wood can begin to rot and other types of exterior siding also can suffer when the paint starts to wear off, Zimmer says.
10 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring
When was the last time you checked your foundation vents?
By Paul Bianchina
The sun is peeking out and the plants are starting to blossom, so it must be about time for spring chores again. Here's my annual spring checklist of important issues to tend to around the house.
1. Roofing repairs: If you suspect winter storms may have damaged your roof, it needs to be inspected. (If you're not comfortable with the height or steepness of your roof, hire a licensed roofing contractor for the inspection.) Look for missing or loose shingles, including ridge-cap shingles.
Examine the condition of the flashings around chimneys, flue pipes, vent caps, and anyplace where the roof and walls intersect. Look for overhanging trees that could damage the roof in a wind storm, as well as buildups of leaves and other debris.
If you have roof damage in a number of areas, or if older shingles makes patching impractical, consider having the entire roof redone. Also, remember that if the shingles have been damaged by wind or by impact from falling tree limbs, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance.
2. Check gutters and downspouts: Look for areas where the fasteners may have pulled loose, and for any sags in the gutter run. Also, check for water stains that may indicate joints that have worked loose and are leaking. Clean leaves and debris to be ready for spring and summer rains.
3. Fences and gates: Fence posts are especially susceptible to groundwater saturation, and will loosen up and tilt if the soil around them gets soaked too deeply. Check fence posts in various areas by wiggling them to see how solidly embedded they are.
If any are loose, wait until the surrounding soil has dried out, then excavate around the bottom of the posts and pour additional concrete to stabilize them. Replace any posts that have rotted.
4. Clear yard debris: Inspect landscaping for damage, especially trees. If you see any cracked, leaning or otherwise dangerous conditions with any of your trees, have a licensed, insured tree company inspect and trim or remove them as needed.
Clean up leaves, needles, small limbs and other material that has accumulated. Do any spring pruning that's necessary. Remove and dispose of all dead plant material so it won't become a fire hazard as it dries.
5. Fans and air conditioners: Clean and check the operation of cooling fans, air conditioners and whole-house fans. Shut the power to the fan, remove the cover and wash with mild soapy water, then clean out dust from inside the fan with a shop vacuum -- do not operate the fan with the cover removed.
Check outdoor central air conditioning units for damage or debris buildup, and clean or replace any filters. Check the roof or wall caps where the fan ducts terminate to make sure they are undamaged and well sealed. Check dampers for smooth operation.
6. Check and adjust sprinklers: Run each set of in-ground sprinklers through a cycle, and watch how and where the water is hitting. Adjust or replace any sprinklers that are hitting your siding, washing out loose soil areas, spraying over foundation vents, or in any other way wetting areas on and around your house that shouldn't be getting wet.
7. Check vent blocks and faucet covers: As soon as you're comfortable that the danger of winter freezing is over, remove foundation vent blocks or open vent covers to allow air circulation in the crawl space.
While removing the vent covers, check the grade level around the foundation vents. Winter weather can move soil and create buildups or grade problems that will allow groundwater to drain through the vents into the crawl space, so regrade as necessary. Remove outdoor faucet covers. Turn on the water supply to outdoor faucets if it's been shut off.
8. Prepare yard tools: Replace broken or damaged handles, and clean and condition metal parts. Tighten fittings and fasteners, sharpen cutting tools and mower blades, and service engines and belts in lawn mowers and other power equipment.
9. Change furnace filters: Now is the time to replace furnace filters that have become choked with dust from the winter heating season. This is especially important if you have central air conditioning, or if you utilize your heating system's fan to circulate air during the summer.
10. Check smoke detectors: Daylight Savings Time snuck up early again this year, and that's usually the semi-annual reminder to check your smoke alarms. So if you haven't already done it, now's the time. Replace the batteries, clean the covers, and test the detector's operation before it's too late.
If you have gas-fired appliances in the house, add a carbon monoxide detector as well (or check the operation of your existing one). CO2 detectors are inexpensive and easy to install, and are available at most home centers and other retailers of electrical parts and supplies.