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Katherine Farber

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  1. 1. USE PINTEREST RESPONSIBLY. Browse for inspirat ion, but remember that offices in design magazines may not be set up to accommodate a 50-hour work week. Upholstered dining room chairs look amazing, but they won’t support your back. 2. FOLLOW ERGONOMIC RULES. The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or a little below. 3. EMBRACE NATURAL LIGHT. Move your desk close to the windows, but place it parallel to the panes. This ideal set-up gives you the happiness benefits of natural light, and a good reason to turn away from your computer every few minutes to take in the scene. 4. BUT DON’T FORGET THE LAMPS. Even with great natural light, you’ll still need additional lighting for darker hours of the day. 5. GET CREATIVE WITH STORAGE If you’re the sort of person who needs to see something to remember it exists, try wall storage: magazine type racks, or children’s library-style display shelves. 6. CREATE SOME COMFY SPACE. Your desk is for active work, but you probably need a place to think or read, too. 7. ADD GREENERY. Plants make people happier. 8. PERSONALIZE THOUGHTFULLY. rotate the photos, and include mementos of success, cartoons that make you laugh, even a scent that makes you happy–something you definitely can’t get away with in a cube. 9. HIDE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT. Modern offices have lots of cords. Run a power strip behind your desk and plug everything into that. 10. OVERSTOCK. Keep all your office supplies–pens, scissors, stapler, stamps–handy. Consider a small fridge or coffee maker if you like to enjoy a few beverages during the day.
  2. The Changing Middle-Class Household Demographics A report by the Brookings Institute assesses what metropolitan areas the middle class most inhabits, as well as how concentrated middle-class communities are, what forces shape them, and how they’ve changed since 2000. Defining the middle class as the middle three quintiles of the national income distribution—only adjusted to take account of regional price parities and household size—the study found that the metropolitan areas with the largest concentration of middle-class families are manufacturing centers, military towns, and Mormon communities: what the Brookings Institute refers to as “one of the three M's’’” These areas tend to have a high number of workers not only in manufacturing but also construction and administration. They also are mostly suburban in nature, lacking the subsidized housing and public transit found in older cities with a greater percentage of low-income residents. Demographically, they also tend to be less diverse, with predominately white populations. While small and mid-sized metro areas have the most homogenous middle-class communities, the majority of middle-class families can nevertheless be found in or around larger cities that tend to support the same labor force in addition to lower-paying and higher-paying jobs. The study also revealed fluctuations in the middle class since the beginning of the millennium. Overall the middle-class community has shrunk slightly, but this is due to a corresponding increase in higher incomes. The number of middle-class families in the areas described above have also decreased in relation to the number found in larger metro areas. Since 2000, the concentration of middle-class families in the South has grown substantially but fallen in the Northeast, along with the West Coast, and in a few cities located in the Midwest. Areas, where the middle class has grown, tend to have developed as newer metropolitan areas with distinct suburban characteristics. Metropolitan areas with the lowest share of middle-class families tend to be tech capitals and college towns. Whereas tech capitals are predominantly populated with high-income workers, college towns are mostly split between high-income faculty members and low-income students. For this reason, areas like the San Francisco Bay and towns like Boston, Boulder, and Huntsville, Alabama tend to have a much lower percentage of middle-class families. Also, older cities tend to have smaller middle classes, such as many cities in the Northeast like Bridgeport, Philadelphia, and New York. Author: J S Khan J S Khan is a contributing writer for DS News and MReport.
  3. The Connection Between Jobs, Wages, and Housing The unemployment rate in September fell to its lowest since 1969 to 3.7 percent, according to the latest jobs and wages data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. However, the growth of jobs softened to 134,000 in September compared with an average monthly gain of 201,000 over the last one year, the report revealed. Wage growth, though slow, continued its upward trend during the month rising 2.8 percent year-over-year. Despite this slow growth in wages and weak hiring, the report shouldn't spark any concerns regarding the strength of the labor market and the broader economy, according to Doug Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, who put the three-month average increase in jobs at a "healthy 190,000." "In addition, Hurricane Florence may have temporarily suppressed hiring, as suggested by the first drop in leisure and hospitality payrolls since last September, shortly after Harvey’s landfall," Duncan said. According to Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist, LendingTree, despite the disappointing jobs report, the "job market remains robust, emphasized by upward revisions to job numbers for both July and August totaling 87,000." "Although September’s wage increase pales in comparison to growing home prices—which rose another 7 percent last month—any increase is helpful for buyers trying to get in the market," said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com. "However, if this growth is seen as a sign of higher inflation, it could prompt mortgage rate increases, which would eat into home buying power." However, though home buying power has seen a decline, it hasn't been as much thanks to rising household incomes, according to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American. "In September, consumer house-buying power declined by $28,000, compared to a year ago. If household income had not increased compared to a year ago, the increase in mortgage rates would have reduced consumer house-buying power by $38,000," he said. However, despite rising incomes, wages have continued to disappoint throughout this year. "The low labor force participation rate may offer a clue as to why. The large pool of available people to enter the labor force is a drag on wages as it reduces the bargaining power of workers who are already employed," Kapfidze explained. However, according to Duncan, the "Annual growth in average hourly earnings, which slowed one-tenth from the expansion high in the prior month, shouldn’t stoke inflationary concerns." Wage growth, in fact, is a wild card, said Hale, that could have a significant implication on the housing market. "If we see significant wage increases, we could start to make up ground in home sales, which have been woefully behind last year’s gains. If wages remain stagnant, home sales will likely continue to taper," she said. The recently rising mortgage rates are also likely to have an impact according to Fleming. "While recently rising mortgage rates have reduced consumer house-buying power, rising household income increases house-buying power," he said. Looking at construction jobs which increased at a slower pace by 23,000 in November, Duncan said that the impact of Hurricane Florence was felt on the construction jobs market too. However, he said that any lost construction jobs associated with the hurricane should be recouped as the affected areas recover. Author: Radhika Ojha Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute
  4. The Key Elements of a ‘Green’ Home Improvements What is the biggest difference between a truly green home and a property with eco-friendly features? The answer lies in the value of the home. According to the Appraisal Institute homeowners looking to increase the value of their home must look at making six key elements of their property truly energy-efficient. They include site; water efficiency; energy efficiency; indoor air quality; materials; and operations and maintenance.
  5. Largest 45 U.S. Cities Ranked by Home Size Having analyzed data pulled from their property value database, LendingTree has created a list that ranks the 45 largest U.S. cities by the overall size of single-family homes. With its lower density population overall, the South dominates the list—with only wealthier cities like Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Boston acting as outliers to edge their way into the top 10. With three of the top five cities, Texas lives up to its outsized reputation; Houston ranks first, with the average home being 1,952 square feet, while Dallas takes fourth to beat Austin by a single square foot (1,862 and 1,861 square feet respectively). Citing the Census Bureau, Tendayi Kapfidze—LendingTree’s Chief Economist—also points out that the cities with the largest homes on average typically have more recently built homes. The median size of single-family homes constructed in the second quarter of the year was 2,412 square feet, down slightly from a few years ago, in the third quarter of 2015 when the size of new homes peaked at 2,488 square feet. Up to this point, newer homes constructed on average trended bigger than homes constructed in prior generations which on average were built almost four decades ago. Conversely, the cities with the smallest homes tend to be found in major cities of the Midwest, particularly in the Great Lakes region. Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Detroit round out the list’s bottom, with Detroit having the smallest homes on average (1,333 square feet). As a state, Missouri has the most urban areas on the lower end of the list as well, with St. Louis and Kansas City just barely beating the three cities mentioned above. To make the ranking of cities more intriguing, LendingTree has also calculated the average median price of homes per square foot, appending this information to the list and giving homebuyers a quick means for calculating the cities with the best price on average per size. Author: J S Khan
  6. More Home Sellers are Dropping Prices A large chunk of homes were sold for more than their asking price in September, according to a recent report from Redfin. Redfin found that In the four weeks ending on September 23, 22.9 percent of homes sold for more than their asking price. However, the report notes that this represents a 2.6 percentage point decline year over year, when 25.5 percent of homes sold above their list price. "With home price growth slowing to 4.7 percent in August, and a record-high share of sellers dropping their prices, the fact that fewer homes are selling above their asking price is another indication that competition is getting less intense than it has been in recent years," said Redfin Senior Economist Taylor Marr. "Inventory pressures are easing in the hottest markets, which is welcome news for homebuyers who are increasingly able to submit an offer without competition and get bids accepted without offering above list price. About Author: Seth Welborn Seth Welborn is a contributing writer for DS News.
  7. Senate Banking Committee Talks Housing Regulation The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing titled “Implementation of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.” Witnesses in the hearing included The Hon. Joseph M. Otting, Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; The Hon. Randal K. Quarles, Vice Chairman for Supervision, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; The Hon. Jelena McWilliams, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; and The Hon. J. Mark McWatters, Chairman, National Credit Union Administration. “As policymakers, it is our job to enact laws and regulations that not only ensure proper behavior and safety for our markets but are also tailored appropriately,” said Mike Crapo, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. “Shortly after Dodd-Frank was signed into law, we began to see some of the unintended cumulative regulatory burden it had on certain financial institutions.” “The OCC is participating actively in interagency consultations related to the rulemakings and other efforts underway by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to implement the Act’s changes to federal consumer financial protection laws,” Comptroller Otting said. One of the points of discussion was the implementation of new appraisal rules, notably section 103 of the Act which exempts certain loans for residential loans in rural areas. "The exemption applies to federally related transactions under $400,000 and secured by a lien on properties located in rural areas," McWilliams explained. "The exemption does not apply if a federal financial institution’s regulatory agency requires an appraisal for safety and soundness purposes or if the loan is a “high-cost mortgage,” as defined in the Truth in Lending Act. The agencies are currently working on changes to existing regulations" Otting also discussed the amendments made by section 401 of the Act, which enacts changes to the stress testing threshold. “Stress testing serves a critical function for both regulators and financial institutions by ensuring that financial institutions consider potential economic events that could cause significant balance sheet disruptions and prepare to mitigate such disruptions if necessary,” said Otting. Other exemptions discussed include section 104 of the Act, which provides partial exemptions to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. “The partial exemptions are generally available for: closed-end mortgage loans, if the credit union originated fewer than 500 closed-end mortgage loans in each of the two preceding calendar years; and open-end lines of credit, if the credit union originated fewer than 500 open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years,” said McWatters in his testimony. The Act also tries to ease the burden on small banks through the rule known as the small bank holding company policy statement. In his statement, Quarles discussed the importance of the rule. “This element of the Board’s rules aims to facilitate the transfer of ownership in small banks, which can require the use of acquisition of debt, while maintaining bank safety and soundness,” he said. About Author: Seth Welborn Seth Welborn is a contributing writer for DS News.
  8. Katherine Farber

    Investment Trends

  9. What’s Driving Mortgage Servicing? As Director of Structured Finance at S&P Global Ratings, Steven Frie’s primary responsibilities entail performing onsite reviews of mainly residential, and some asset-backed servicers, with subsequent production of an analysis and ranking of the entities’ operations. He recently spoke to DS News about the new trends he’s seeing in the servicing industry and his insights into the origination side of the business. What trends are you seeing in the servicing industry this year? One of the notable trends is the continuous growth of many non-bank servicers as they persist in their efforts to expand their servicing businesses through portfolio purchases of distressed accounts while also continuing to expand their portfolio of prime loans serviced. Additionally, although the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) has adopted a somewhat less assertive approach to enforcement, they continue to be involved in investigations, and most notably, many states have conversely indicated they will take a more assertive approach to regulation. Finally, servicers are more active in exploring artificial intelligence (AI) within their operations to reduce manual processes, and concurrently, reduce costs as the cost to service a loan has risen substantially over the last several years. All of these trends will continue into 2019. Author: Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institut
  10. Katherine Farber

    Why You Should Use A Realtor.

    Consider this: if you needed work done on your teeth, would you go to a dentist or do it yourself? The same theory applies to real estate. The art of selling a home is something that takes years to perfect. There are so many aspects of home sales that the average buyers and sellers are unaware of. Also there are many aspects of the process that are only easily available to a Realtor. Consider this: if you needed work done on your teeth, would you go to a dentist or do it yourself? The same theory applies to real estate. The art of selling a home is something that takes years to perfect. There are so many aspects of home sales that the average buyers and sellers are unaware of. Also there are many aspects of the process that are only easily available to a Realtor. The actual process of selling a home is very time consuming and right about now, the seller has many more important things to consider, such as the impending move. Realtors spend years learning the art of selling and how to interpret the real estate market. They can offer you insight and information that only comes from years of experience. Realtors are also experts on their area; they know the communities and what they have to offer, the location of schools, transport routes, and how the current market will affect the sale of your home. Using a Realtor to sell your home has several advantages over a FSBO. Perhaps the most important of these advantages is exposure. The marketing of your home is of the highest importance. Without a robust marketing plan, your home will not be seen by prospective buyers and as such, will take much longer to sell. Realtors utilize the latest in internet technology to ensure that your home is seen by as many buyers as possible. Also, realtors have a large budget to purchase newspaper ads, hold open houses, and create flyers and information packs about your property. Realtors can also utilize a CMA to evaluate the correct value of your home and to price it correctly in your local market. This will enable your home to be competitive and attractive to buyers. Remember, homes sold by a Realtor sell for an average of 20-30 thousand more than homes sold by the owner. use a professional to sell your home, and free up the time you need to organize yourself for the process of moving your own new home. Come Take A Tour.pdf
  11. Katherine Farber

    Working With a 1031 Exchange

    Working With a 1031 Exchange There are several ways to benefit off of owning property and being involved in real estate. Not only does this come from finding the right property, loans and people to work with, but also moves into finding the best ways to save money while you own a property. One of the well known ways to save an extra dollar is by becoming involved in a 1031 exchange. A 1031 exchange is a specific tax form that can help with the profits and losses that you have received for the year. They are usually used for those that own extra real estate property as an investment. This form will allow you to roll-over the profits that have been made from a sale made from a real estate property. From here, you can purchase another property instead of paying the tax back on the property that was already purchased. The major benefit of a 1031 exchange is that it allows for you to be able to delay specific taxes and instead invest into other properties. If the property is invested in, then the taxes that are taken from capital gain will not be used later on. A second benefit to a 1031 exchange is that it allows for more equity to be a part of the investment. Because of this, each time you invest in a new property from the 1031 exchange, the properties will gain a higher value. The one thing to keep in mind if you are considering a 1031 exchange is that the new investment has to be what is known as like kind. This means that the investment must be the same as the property that has already been made. Before getting into a 1031 exchange, it is important to consider this point, as it can cause for problems with new investments later. However, if you have enough that was made out of the purchase for the 1031 exchange, you can purchase more, or fewer, amounts of the same type of property. If you are moving into building your own type of benefits from real estate, then knowing about the 1031 exchange is important. This will help you with getting more out of your property and laying the foundation for your success in real estate.
  12. Katherine Farber

    Working With A Home Inspector

    Working with an Inspector The rule of real estate is to get your money's worth. When you are looking into finding a place, you will want to make sure that the rule immediately applies. One way to make sure that you are getting more for your money is by finding the right inspector. This will allow you to find a property that is worth the up keep. The job of an inspector is to find everything that might be a larger problem in the house before you move in. This will begin by checking the electricity, water supply, plumbing, furnace and heat supplies, and the general build of the home. They will take a part of their day in order to make sure that everything is built up to standard and that it won't cause problems before you move in. If there is something that the inspector says is wrong with your home, you will have the ability to ask for repairs or money back for the home. There are several who will save thousands of dollars by having an inspector look at what is in the home and how it needs to be changed. Because of this, you will want to make sure that the right inspector is coming to your home. Most likely, your real estate agent will have a specific inspector that they like to work with. However, you can find one on your own and have them inspect the home as contract work. You want to make sure that they will do a thorough job and that they have your best interests in mind. This will help you to walk into your home without any surprises and with potential replacements before you move in. Working with an inspector is an essential part to buying a home. It will help to determine and define the quality of the home and can help you to get the best deal in the end. Before you sign the final papers, make sure that the inspector you have worked with has looked through everything. This will help you to begin making your house into a home.
  13. Buying a condo can be way more involved than most buyers think. Make sure you are getting all the information from your REALTOR about purchasing a condo. For a list of common questions you should ask about purchasing condos in our area contact me. Meanwhile read this story of a gentleman that purchased a condo in Seattle and what he experienced. Your Condo View – Enjoy it While You Can Downtown condo living, complete with easy access to transit, shopping, a short walk to work, no maintenance yard and best of all, the view. It was the birds-eye view of the city, the mountains, and the breathtaking sunset that sold you on the place – no one mentioned it was only temporary. Downtown condo living, complete with easy access to transit, shopping, a short walk to work, no maintenance yard and best of all, the view. It was the birds-eye view of the city, the mountains, and the breathtaking sunset that sold you on the place – no one mentioned it was only temporary. What happens when the view that came along with your 33 story condominium disappears because a neighboring building is built only 18 feet away? That is what happened to Benjamin Shanfelder when he purchased a unit in the downtown Seattle Cosmopolitan building in 2005. He realized that other condos were slated for nearby developments, but at the time, the height restrictions limited the number of floors of an adjacent building. The rules were changed and a 34 story condo was constructed right next door, eliminating Shanfelder’s view, sunlight and privacy. Whose responsibility was it to inform the new tenants that the city regulations had changed? According to city requirements, the developer and the adjacent property owners should be notified; however, future tenants are on their own to discover these new developments. A new construction does not automatically assume the condo owner will lose their view. Different areas of the city have different separation requirements based on density. Some areas require no separation where as others mandate a minimum 60 to 200 feet. Potential buyers cannot depend solely on their realtor or developer for zoning information. A bit of research before purchasing their property may save some nasty surprises down the road. Here are some areas to consider: Get as much information as possible from the developers regarding nearby proposals for developments, zoning restrictions and whether they have invested in air rights for the surrounding real estate to protect views. Visit the city planning office and look up the zoning laws for the nearby sites. Look up the addresses for any project applications and add your name and email address to the notification list for changes or new developments. Speak to the city planners about possible changes to the existing zoning laws. Let your comments be heard at design review hearings about future projects. Spend the extra money to hire a land-use lawyer to complete this due diligence on your behalf.
  14. What's changing Starting on October 11, 2018, the new Google Ads will become the exclusive way to manage your account, and access to the previous experience will no longer be available. To help make this switch as easy as possible: • You'll have access to new, exclusive features—like cross-account recommendations, ad variations, and promotion extensions—to help you accomplish your unique business goals. • If you have any saved reports, filters and automated rules,* they have been automatically moved from the previous experience to the new one. You should have received a notification with more details. Making sure that your website, CRM, digital marketing, and ads all work together to get you the best results is hard. Reach out to our team SympleTrack for a FREE consultation to make sure that you are saving money, getting more value, and making your every day real estate tasks easier.
  15. In a seller’s market, there is a need to improve the condition of the house. Why not finance a small repair or cosmetic improvement to help get buyers off the fence? By allowing an improvement to the home, you give buyers the ability to customize a home to their own personal needs. Great for cosmetic fixes such as: paint, flooring, counter tops, replacement windows, or nonstructural projects like furnace, roof, HVAC, etc. New & Improved! Purchase or refinance option for any renovation project. Up to 75% of the as-completed appraised value of the property and up to 97% LTV. Can finance accessory units (e.g. in-law suites, basement apartments, etc.) Can use ANY contractor/subcontractor for project. Conventional Streamline Renovation As little as 5% down on standard and high balance loans. Can use up to 15% of the as completed value of the home for renovations. Available for primary, second homes, and investment properties. Refinances for recent homebuyers looking to cash in on the equity built in their homes. FHA Limited 203(K) As little as 3.5% down on standard and high balance loans. Can use up to $35,000 for renovations. Available for primary homes only. Refinances eligible.