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2015: Best Year for Real Estate In Nearly a Decade

December 15, 2015 |  Article By :   | 

Best Year for Sellers since 2006

As of December 11th of this year, 2015 is officially the best year in residential real estate since 2006 based on total number of closed sales in the Twin Cities! Better yet, there’s still another months’ worth of sales yet to be determined: as of the end of November 2015, there have been  52,377 closed sales. Both new listing and pending sales numbers were up over 10% over 2014’s numbers, and the average number of days on the market dropped by nearly 20%.


Best Year: Just SoldThe St. Paul Area Association of Realtors, or SPAAR, who issued the release, expects the trend of exceptional sales to continue through the end of the year and into 2016.

You can read the original release in full here.

US Home Sales Fall in August

October 2, 2015 |  Article By :   | 

US Home Sales Fall in August

U.S. home sales of existing homes fell more than expected in August, a cautionary sign for the U.S. housing market which has recently looked on stronger footing.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales dropped 4.8 percent to an annual rate of 5.31 million units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 5.51 million-unit pace of home sales last month. Sales were up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

The decline in August might be due to rising prices shutting out potential buyers, said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. Home sales fell most in America’s South and West, areas which had recently seen the fastest price gains, he said.

A Cautionary Sign

Nationwide, the median home price fell slightly in August to $228,700. That was still up 4.7 percent from a year earlier, but left the year-over-year rate at its lowest since August 2014. Prices in the West were up 7.1 percent from a year earlier.

July’s sales pace was revised slightly lower to 5.58 million units.

A string of strong reports on the U.S. housing market have supported the view that the U.S. economy is building up steam and closing in on the point when the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates to keep it from overheating.

The housing market has been adding to quarterly economic growth although home sales and construction remain far below levels seen in the years before the 2007-09 recession.

This article originally appeared on the CNBC website on September 21, 2015. The article can be viewed in its entirety here under its original title, “US existing home sales fall more than expected”.

Free Homes in Sicily?

August 4, 2015 |  Article By : 

This article originally appeared on the Bankrate® website on June 25, 2015. The article was written by Judy Martel and can be viewed in its entirety here under its original title, “Free-home offer hard to refuse“.

Free Homes in Sicily?

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Thursday, June 25, 2015


At first glance, the Sicilian town of Gangi’s offer to give away houses seems too good to refuse. But in fact, the homes need a little more than a fresh coat of paint.


© Bruno Morandi/Hemis/Corbis

The price is right! So far more than 100 homes in Gangi have been claimed.
© Bruno Morandi/Hemis/Corbis

Dilapidated for years

Many of the homes being offered have been abandoned for generations. New owners, who acquire a dwelling from the local government either for free or for a nominal fee, have four years to make it livable, according to the New York Times.

The abandoned homes are the result of waves of immigrants leaving Sicily for a better life in the U.S. According to Gangi’s mayor, the town’s population shrank from approximately 16,000 in the 1950s to approximately 7,000 today.

A difficult economy has kept buyers away — until now, that is. The town is enjoying a revival of sorts, with “dozens” of potential homebuyers seeking a holiday retreat, according to the Times.

Sicilian renaissance

Located in between Palermo and Catania, Gangi was considered too far from the sea to be a tourist attraction, Mayor Giuseppe Ferrarello told the Times. But the offer of free homes has “set in motion a mechanism that was previously unthinkable for a city in the center of Sicily,” he said.

So far, the unorthodox approach seems to be fruitful: The local government streamlined its notoriously tangled bureaucracy to facilitate the process and so far more than 100 houses have been given away or sold for less than market prices.

Interested in buying in Italy? Here’s what you need to know before calling the country home.


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This article originally appeared on the Bankrate® website on June 25, 2015. The article was written by Judy Martel and can be viewed in its entirety here under its original title, “Free-home offer hard to refuse“.



Closing Changes Coming August 1st

June 9, 2015 |  Article By : 

“Buyers and sellers take note! Gone are the days of a 30 day closing from purchase agreement acceptance to closing. Starting August 1st, the standard closing period will increase to 45-60 days from the purchase agreement. This makes it even more important for buyers and sellers to cooperate with lenders, realtors, and title companies to get them the information they need to finalize the sale on time.  Read the following article to understand how this will affect you as a buyer and seller.”

-Wendy Carson


This article was originally posted here. It was written by Robert Freedman on the Speaking of Real Estate blog. 

Understand the Aug. 1 Changes to HUD-1, Closing Process

The days of filling out the HUD-1 settlement form and getting a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) from the lender are winding down. On August 1, those two forms are going away. The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosure form is going away, too. Replacing them are two new forms: the Closing Disclosure and the Loan Estimate. You can familiarize yourself with these new forms on the website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has taken over administration of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) from HUD. Just go to CFPB.gov and type in the name of the forms in the search box.

There are also new rules for the closing procedure. One rule requires all forms to be ready three days prior to closing. NAR is recommending you actually get everything ready seven days prior to closing, so when you go into the three-day period, you don’t have to make any changes. Because making changes as the clock winds down comes with a cumbersome  set of hurdles.


Closing Disclosure Details

What this means is, you and the other settlement service providers, including the lender and title agent, are under the gun to get everything squared away earlier than you have to today. And the buyers and sellers have to be cooperative as well, because if last-minute changes are made, a new three-day waiting period kicks in, at least in some cases.

The good news is, you have until August 1 to get familiar with the new forms and learn about the new closing procedures, and NAR is hosting a series of webinars on the topic. To learn when the next one is, go to Realtor.org/respa.


Loan Estimate Details

The video above, with Ken Trepeta of NAR Government Affairs, provides a concise overview of what to expect and also shares some tips on how to decrease the likelihood of snags in this new environment.

The CFPB’s goal in making these changes is to increase transparency for consumers. Start your education process by accessing the 5-minute video.