Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014


Hello all  
With summer reaching it's highs here is some info to be aware of:
We've all heard of fake Rolexes and Gucci purses, but counterfeit refrigerant?! Counterfeit and alternative refrigerants may be rare, but you should be aware that they're out there—and they represent a safety hazard that could damage your clients' HVAC systems.

The cost of R-22 Freon is skyrocketing, and this rapid acceleration in price has created a market for counterfeit and alternative refrigerants. The same holds true for R-134a used in kitchen refrigerators, and the fake stuff can be dangerous!

Genuine, alternative, and counterfeit refrigerants… what's the difference?

Genuine Refrigerants have been laboratory tested and approved by the EPA and HVAC manufacturers for use in their equipment. When refrigerant is required to perform covered A/C system repairs, Old Republic Home Protection (ORHP) covers the cost of genuine refrigerant.

Alternative Refrigerants are approved by the EPA but not by manufacturers for use in their equipment. Using alternative refrigerants is legal, but can void the manufacturer's warrantyas an improper repair. Likewise, Old Republic Home Protection's Plan does not cover a system failure if alternative refrigerant is determined to be the cause (please see Limitations of Liability, paragraph 1.E. of our Home Warranty Plan). We follow manufacturer guidelines when adding refrigerant to complete repairs; we do not use alternatives!

Counterfeit Refrigerants are illegal to use or sell, and neither the EPA nor the equipment manufacturers have approved their use. Counterfeit refrigerants are often a concoction of genuine refrigerant and additives. These "cocktails" can be dangerous, as they may be toxic and/or explosive. ORHP's Plan does not cover a system failure if counterfeit refrigerant is determined to be the cause. In addition, it is not likely that any of our Independent Network Service Providers will provide service if they discover a counterfeit, as it may require specialized hazmat methods for cleanup.

Give your home buyers the best advice: suggest that they have the HVAC system checked by a trusted HVAC expert rather than relying on the usual home inspection. HVAC experts can spot alternative and counterfeit refrigerants, in addition to other potential HVAC issues that require correction prior to close-of-sale.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Buying a home? Don't make these mistakes!

5 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

First-timers can be eager to jump into home ownership. But real estate experts say they see them committing the same mistakes, time and time again. Here are some of the most common ones, as identified by experts in a recent CNBC article:
1. They’re unprepared to compete against all-cash offers. Buyers need to be ready to make a quick decision if they’re housing market is heating up. Buying a home is “really like finding a job – it’s going to take a lot of time to prepare,” says Cara Pierce, a certified housing counselor with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions. “That way, when the deal comes along, you’re ready to pounce on it.” Housing experts say buyers should have already saved as much as possible for a downpayment, repaired any credit report blemishes, and gotten preapproved for a loan as they start their house hunt to put them in a better position to compete.
Improve Your Relationships with First-Timers
2. They place a car ahead of the home. Lenders are going to scrutinize applicants’ debt-to-income ratio when assessing how well they can afford a mortgage payment. Consumers’ debt has gone on average from $40,000 in 2010 to $51,000 today, according to David Norris, president and COO of loanDepot, a non-bank mortgage lender. "It would be much easier to own a home if you can show a history of saving and not have gotten yourself into too much debt," Norris told CNBC.
3. They place too much emphasis on online loan information. Online sites can be good for finding out general information about loan products and estimated costs, but experts recommend visiting with mortgage lenders face-to-face to help demystify some of the process and to take into account your specific situationGo to different places and talk to loan officers to get a feel for what the differences are between similar types of loans," says Pierce. "Sometimes a company won't charge an origination fee, but then the interest rate is higher … and in some cases you can put many of the upfront costs—closing costs, title insurance—into the loan, which makes your balance larger."
4. They bank too much on online home values. Some real estate websites are giving buyers a false sense of home values, the CNBC article notes. "If a buyer believes that the actual value of the property is $1.1 million [as listed online] when it's really $1.3 million, it's a real disservice to the client,” says John Barrentine, co-founder and CEO of RED Real Estate Group. “You really should [spend time] with someone that understands the market, someone who's there day in and day out." Home buyers can get the best feel of the market by working with a real estate agent and driving around neighborhoods and get a sense of things about homes that may be less valuable or even more valuable than perceived online.
5. They forgo the home inspection. About 10 percent of homes recently purchased weren’t inspected by a home inspector, according to Bill Loden, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Some buyers were trying to cut down on the costs of hiring an inspector to investigate a home – which usually averages about $450 — but defects uncovered later could potentially result in the loss of thousands of dollars. "It takes a trained eye to be able to see the problems that can exist in a home," Loden said. "The inspection can also give the first-time buyer a bit of a schooling on the house and how to maintain it." Buyers should also be prepared to ask questions about conditions that are common to specific areas, such as radon in Midwest; sewers in California; and active clay soils in Dallas that can lead to foundation issues, the CNBC article notes. The home may require additional inspection from a specialist to rule out potential problems.
Source: “8 Biggest Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make,” CNBC (July 17, 2014)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Home sales in May

The number of home sales in metro Phoenix dipped 20 percent compared with May 2013.

As the temperatures climbed in May across metro Phoenix, prospective homebuyers stayed out of the market. Prices were flat, and sales fell dramatically from the year before.
The median sales price for a Valley house was $205,000 in May, the same price it has been since March, according to the latest report from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
In May, 7,935 houses sold. The number of sales was down 3 percent from April and down 20 percent from May 2013.
"Demand has been much weaker since July 2013," said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at W.P. Carey.
He said the housing market has become "extremely quiet" as some sellers canceled listings to wait for more buyers to enter the market.
Although the supply of houses for sale is falling, demand will have to pick up for median prices to climb again this year, Orr said.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Great time to buy in Phoenix? Yes it is!


Written by  on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 12:39 pm
The nature of market bottoms is that it's hard to tell one's occurred until prices and sales volume start to rise again. That's why the best time to buy is when market conditions suggest a bottom.
That means there's still some risk for homebuyers, since no one has a crystal ball that predicts the future. To take advantage of low mortgage interest rates and home prices still well below previous records, you may have to take a risk, such as riding out another short-term dip in property values.
But the rewards may be well worth it. Here are five reasons to buy a home right now.
1. More jobs are available
Total nonfarm payrolls rose by 217,000 in May, and the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment increased in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, and transportation and warehousing.
2. Houses are a great hedge against inflation
The Labor Department also says the May Computer Price Index is up 2.13 percent year-over-year. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in May, its largest increase since August 2011.
The CPI excludes volatile food and energy, so you can bet that the accelerating cost of things, otherwise known as inflation, also includes housing. You may be paying more for goods and services, but if you're a homeowner, you're better off financially. A major asset such as a home, purchased at a fixed cost, becomes more valuable when prices inflate.
3. Housing price increases are slowing
The median existing-home price was $213,400, over 5 percent above May 2013. Considering that the national median existing-home price was $158,800 in January 2011. That's when the PMI Insurance Company said home prices relative to income are below market fundamentals in more than half of U.S. states. Prices overcorrected during the recession, and then they soared by the double-digits in 2013.
Now housing is correcting once again from an overcorrection. Now's the time to take advantage of better homebuying conditions.
4. Mortgage interest rates are still low
During the recession, mortgage interest rates for a benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan, averaged 4.32 percent. Now they're close to that and there's no recession. That means mortgage rates have nowhere to go but up.
5. Pent-up demand ready to release
Since the recession, household formation fell dramatically to one percent of the national population. But considering that the leading age of the largest generation ever - 81 million Echo Boomers -- is now over 30, the numbers should be closer to the 2.3% annual growth of the 1970's, when 78 million Baby Boomers reached adulthood.
The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) said about 2.1 million households delayed formation due to the recession which allegedly ended in 2011. Now there's pent-up demand for housing that should continue to drive home prices higher.
The takeaway
A housing recovery doesn't occur in a straight line. There are surges and dips. Buyers could wait for better conditions, but the present alignment of falling mortgage interest rates, slower home prices, and larger selection is highly unlikely to reoccur.
This may not be the bottom, but it's close enough.