Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tennessee ranks 15th in foreclosures

Tennessee ranks 15th in foreclosures

Nashville Business Journal

Tennessee had the 15th highest foreclosure rate in the nation in September, according to data released Thursday by RealtyTrac Inc.

Tennessee had 4,098 properties in foreclosure in September, or one per every 654 households, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based private marketer of foreclosure properties.

Tennessee’s foreclosure rate was up 1.61 percent from September 2007.

Nevada held the top spot for the 21st consecutive month in September. It was followed by Florida, California, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and Indiana.

Nationwide, foreclosure filings fell 12 percent in September from August to 265,968 properties. That is up 21 percent from September 2007. One in every 475 U.S. households was in foreclosure in September.

“Much of the 12 percent decrease in September can be attributed to changes in state laws that have at least temporarily slowed down the pace at which lenders are moving forward with foreclosures,” James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, says in a statement.

Six states — California, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan and Nevada — accounted for more than 60 percent of U.S. foreclosure activity in the third quarter, according to RealtyTrac. California alone accounted for more than 27 percent of total filings

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sales Continue Their Downward Trend

Continuing the downward trend the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors reported a 19.8% drop in sales compared to September 2007. (http://www.gnar.org/mlsrelease.htm) Year to date sale are down 27.5% and third quarter sales were down 26.5%.

There were two positive notes. Single Family inventory was down compared to last year for the second straight month, and down nearly 600 homes compared to last month. And the number of pending sale this year verses last year is tightening. This indicates that the percentage decline in sales in October is likely not going to match last months.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dirty Secret Of The Bailout: Thirty-Two Words That None Dare Utter

jason@huffingtonpost.com
A critical - and radical - component of the bailout package proposed by the Bush administration has thus far failed to garner the serious attention of anyone in the press. Section 8 (which ironically reminds one of the popular name of the portion of the 1937 Housing Act that paved the way for subsidized affordable housing ) of this legislation is just a single sentence of thirty-two words, but it represents a significant consolidation of power and an abdication of oversight authority that's so flat-out astounding that it ought to set one's hair on fire. It reads, in its entirety:
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
In short, the so-called "mother of all bailouts," which will transfer $700 billion taxpayer dollars to purchase the distressed assets of several failed financial institutions, will be conducted in a manner unchallengeable by courts and ungovernable by the People's duly sworn representatives. All decision-making power will be consolidated into the Executive Branch - who, we remind you, will have the incentive to act upon this privilege as quickly as possible, before they leave office. The measure will run up the budget deficit by a significant amount, with no guarantee of recouping the outlay, and no fundamental means of holding those who fail to do so accountable.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors released the August 2008 homes sales figures today. Single Family home sales were down 32.3% with median single family home prices dropping 6.4%.

As I indicated last month the inventory of homes has stabilized, and in fact dropped from 15,844 in July to 15,636 which is the lowest it has been since March. We will need to see a continuation of the declining inventory coupled with increase in sales to bring the market back in to balance. The decline in inventory is a good start.

http://www.gnar.org/mlsrelease.htm

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It is Joe Biden

I got my text at 2:43 this morning - so despite what MSNBC is reporting that it was not going out until 5:30 Eastern.

I was awake when it arrived because we are leaving to go to Tulane.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sliver of Hope in the July Home Sales Figures

The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors has released the July 2008 sales figures and sales are down 25.7%. Bad news. Pending sales which are an indication of future sales are down 23.1%. Bad news. Inventory is up 12.6%. Bad news.

So where is the sliver of hope? A significant increase in the inventory is due to a big jump in the number of Farms, Land and Lots. Up nearly 50% to 6,182 vs 4,170 in 2007. The sliver of hope is that Single Family listings are up less that 1,000 compared to 2007 which indicates that the inventory is beginning to stabilize.

So why is the inventory of Farms, Land, and Lots up? In better times many developers do not add their inventory of lots to the MLS, since they marketing them directly to builders. As times get tough they broaden their marketing and place their lot inventories on MLS. It appears that this is why there has been such a year over year increase.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

video
John McCain says Barack Obama acts like he's a celebrity. Maybe he should review his own life. Seems like the pot calling the kettle black.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tennessee ranks 13th in foreclosures

Nashville Business Journal - July 28, 2008
http://nashville.bizjournals.com/nashville/stories/2008/07/28/daily3.html

Monday, July 28, 2008 - 9:32 AM CDT

Tennessee ranks 13th in foreclosures Nashville Business Journal Tennessee ranks 13th among all states in foreclosure rates, according to second quarter data RealtyTrac Inc. reported Friday. The state of Tennessee had 12,008 foreclosure filings -- default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions -- in the second quarter. That's 105.2 percent more than the second quarter 2007. One out of every 223 Tennessee households got a foreclosure notice in the second quarter. In the U.S., foreclosure filings were reported on 739,714 properties during the second quarter -- a 121 percent increase from the second quarter of 2007. The report also shows that one in every 171 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing during the quarter. "Although much of the fallout from foreclosures is being driven by rampant activity in a few states, such as Nevada, California, Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Michigan, most areas of the country are seeing at least some increase in foreclosure activity," says James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, in a statement. "48 of 50 states and 95 out of the nation's 100 largest metro areas experienced year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in the second quarter." Saccacio noted bank repossessions accounted for 30 percent of total foreclosure activity in the second quarter, up from 24 percent of the total in the first quarter. "This shift in the distribution of activity indicates that there is a progression toward purging the problem loans out of the system -- at which point the housing market can regain some sense of normalcy," he says. "Of course, if another surge in defaults occurs, which could well happen later this year, it would refill the foreclosure pipeline and prolong the recovery."

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nashville, you won't miss your corporate caffine fix.

There are no scheduled Starbuck's closings in Nashville. Murfressboro, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga were not so "lucky." See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/18/starbucks-reveals-closure_n_113593.html for a complete list.

Friday, June 27, 2008

NAR reported that existing home sales increased 2.0% in May

The NAR reported that existing home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condos and co-ops, increased 2.0% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million units. Sales remain 15.9% below the 5.93 million-unit pace in May of last year. The Association believes that better-than-expected sales last month were a result of buyers wading back into the market because of recent price declines and more affordable mortgage products. Regionally, sales rose in all areas by varying degrees except for the South where they declined 0.5%. Stronger sales activity resulted in a slight decline in inventory levels. The inventory of homes on the market fell 1.4% to 4.49 million which represents a 10.8 month-supply at the current sales pace. Prices continued to decline amid rising foreclosures and short sales. The median price for an existing hom e nationwide fell 6.3% over the last year to $208,600 as average prices declined 6.5% to $253,100. The improvement in home sales is welcomed; however, the housing market remains weak as evidenced by sky-high inventories and declining sales prices. Weakness is expected to continue going forward.

Jobless claims were unchanged at a level of 384k for the week ending June 21. Claims remain elevated indicating sluggish labor market conditions at best. Expect the employment report for June, due out next Thursday to probably showing a larger decline in payrolls than in May.

The final revision to Q1 GDP showed the economy grew at a 1.0% rate, as expected. Economy-wide inflation increased slightly to 2.7% from 2.6% in the previous estimates. The data released so far in April and May suggest that Q2 growth will continue to be very soft.

John Cherry
LANDAMERICA VALUATION CORPORATION
Parkview One
925 North Point Parkway, Suite 400
Alpharetta, GA 30005
Toll Free: 800.207.7959
Fax: 770.777.6036

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Report Sees Illegal Hiring Practices at Justice Department

June 25, 2008

Report Sees Illegal Hiring Practices at Justice Department

WASHINGTON -- Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used “political or ideological” factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes, a new report found Tuesday.

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year’s scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

“Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

The shift began in 2002, when advisers to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft restructured the honors program in response to what some officials saw as a liberal tilt in recruiting young lawyers from elite law schools like Harvard and Yale. While the recruitment was once controlled largely by career officials in each section who would review applications, political officials in the department began to assume more control, rejecting candidates with liberal or Democratic affiliations “at a significantly higher rate” than those with Republican or conservative credentials, the report said.

The shift appeared to accelerate in 2006, under then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with two aides on the screening committee — Michael Elston and Esther Slater McDonald — singled out for particular criticism. The blocking of applicants with liberal credentials appeared to be a particular problem in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which has seen an exodus of career employees in recent years as the department has pursued a more conservative agenda in deciding what types of cases to bring.

Applications that contained what were seen as “leftist commentary” or “buzz words” like environmental and social justice were often grounds for rejecting applicants, according to e-mails reviewed by the inspector general’s office. Membership in liberal organizations like the American Constitution Society, Greenpeace, or the Poverty and Race Research Action Council were also seen as negative marks.

Affiliation with the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative group, was viewed positively.

Representative John Conyers Jr., the Michigan Democrat who heads the House Judiciary Committee, saw the report as affirmation that the Justice Department had crossed the line in “putting politics where it doesn’t belong.”

“When it comes to the hiring of nonpartisan career attorneys,” Mr. Conyers said, “our system of justice should not be corrupted by partisan politics. It appears the politicization at Justice was so pervasive that even interns had to pass a partisan litmus test. ‘’

The inspector general is still investigating other issues related to alleged politicization of the Justice Department, including the central question of why nine United States attorneys were fired in late 2006. Those findings have not been made public.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Home foreclosures set record in first quarter - Mortgage Mess- msnbc.com

Home foreclosures set record in first quarter - Mortgage Mess- msnbc.com



Economists expect defaults to keep rising as housing crisis deepens
The Associated Press
updated 3:46 p.m. CT, Thurs., June. 5, 2008

WASHINGTON - Home foreclosures and late payments set records over the first three months of the year and are expected to keep rising, stark signs of the housing crisis' mounting damage to homeowners and the economy.

The latest snapshot of the mortgage market showed that the proportion of mortgages that fell into foreclosure soared to 0.99 percent in the January-through-March period. That surpassed the previous high of 0.83 percent over the last three months in 2007.

The report by the Mortgage Bankers Association also found that more homeowners slipped behind on their monthly payments.

The delinquency rate jumped to 6.35 percent in the first quarter, compared with 5.82 percent for the three months earlier. Payments are considered delinquent if they are 30 or more days past due.

Both the rate of new foreclosures and late payments were the highest on record going back to 1979.

Jay Brinkmann, the association's vice president of research and economics, told The Associated Press that the slump in house prices was the biggest factor for rising foreclosures and late payments.

With prices expected to keep dropping, foreclosures and late payments "are going to continue to go up" in the months ahead, he said.

Homeowners with tarnished credit who have subprime adjustable-rate loans took the hardest hits. Foreclosures and late payments for these borrowers also swelled to all-time highs in the first quarter.

The percentage of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages that started the foreclosure process climbed to 6.35 percent. The rate was 5.29 percent in fourth quarter, the previous high.

Late payments rose to 22.07 percent from 20.02 percent, the previous high.

The association's survey covers just over 45 million home loans.

More problems also cropped up with loans to more creditworthy borrowers.

The percentage of such loans falling into foreclosure was 0.54 percent, compared with 0.41 percent at the end of last year. Late payment rose to 3.71 percent, compared with 3.24 percent.

The numbers were higher for prime borrowers with adjustable rate mortgages. The proportion of those loans falling into foreclosures jumped to 1.55 percent from 1.06 percent. The delinquency rate rose to 6.78 percent, compared with 5.51 percent.

"The number one problem is the drop in home prices," Brinkmann said. Declining prices, especially in newer built areas, "are hurting people's ability to recover when they run into trouble — a divorce or loss of job," he said. "In other days, you could sell the home. But because home prices have fallen so much, in many of those cases, the homes are going into foreclosure."

California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona accounted for 89 percent of the total increase in new home foreclosures, he said. Those are places where prices have fallen sharply and there was a lot of home building, creating too much supply, Brinkmann said.

The housing crisis is at the center of the country's economic troubles.

After a five-year boom, the market fell into a deep slump two years ago. That dragged down sales, and prices with it. As the value of homes plummeted, many newer homeowners found themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth.

Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages were clobbered when their initially low rates reset to much higher ones. That made it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with monthly mortgage payments.

As foreclosures and late payments climbed, financial companies took multibillion losses when their investments in mortgage-backed securities soured. A credit crisis erupted and spread, crimping other types of financing. The fallout plunged Wall Street in turmoil, disrupting the normal functioning of markets.

All those troubles have pushed the economy to the brink of a recession, if the country isn't already in one. Consumers and business have tightened their spending. Employers have cut more than a quarter-million jobs in the first four months of this year.

To bolster the economy, the Federal Reserve made aggressive interest rate cuts. That has helped homeowners facing rate resets on their adjustable-rate mortgages. But with inflation on the rise, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke this week sent his strongest signal yet that the central bank's rate-cutting campaign started that started in September is coming to an end.

The Bush administration has taken steps to help distressed homeowners. It has urged lenders to freeze rates for some homeowners and encouraged lenders to rework mortgage terms so troubled borrowers can stay in their homes.

Congress is considering giving government-backed mortgages to thousands of strapped borrowers. The White House has expressed some concerns.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24985540/


© 2008 MSNBC.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rising Prices, Falling Dollar Stoke Memories of the '70s

Rising Prices, Falling Dollar Stoke Memories of the '70s

By Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 4, 2008; A01

Prices have been soaring long enough and fast enough, economists say, that the nation is at risk of a self-reinforcing cycle of inflation like that experienced in the 1970s.

It is a risk Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke highlighted in a speech yesterday, saying that the falling value of the dollar can feed into inflation expectations, and that rapid price escalation, if sustained, "might lead the public to expect higher long-term inflation rates, an expectation that ultimately could become self-confirming."

For some businesses that already is the reality. Many companies making long-term investments are assuming that prices will rise at a pace well above that of the past 20 years, as they pencil in larger price increases for the supplies they buy and the prices they charge. Consumers are coming to take rapidly escalating food and energy prices for granted. And labor unions are starting to push harder for across-the-board wage increases, though overall wages are still climbing slowly.

U.S. consumers expect prices to rise 7.7 percent in the coming year, according to the Conference Board, a research company. Investors expect inflation over the coming decade to average 3.4 percent based on bond market data analyzed by the Cleveland Fed. That is well above the Fed's unofficial target of about 2 percent.

When the price of food or gasoline goes up, economists generally think of it as a one-time bump. For the past four years, it hasn't been. The last time there were sharp and sustained increases in those prices, in the 1970s, a wage and price spiral developed that was so severe that the Fed had to engineer the deepest downturn since the Great Depression to end it.

"We're at the edge of the cliff right now," said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. "It's still at an embryonic stage, like where we were in 1973 or 1974, not as bad as things were in 1979. But it could move in that direction if the Fed isn't aggressive."

Ordinary businesspeople, especially those in industries in which energy costs figure heavily, are responding as if that is the direction the economy is heading.

"We are assuming that prices will continue to go up, not that they're going to level off anytime soon," said John Benko, president of Manko Delivery Systems, a Tampa company that offers ground freight, logistics and other services. His company has been able to pass on about three-quarters of the higher fuel costs to customers in the form of higher prices, with the rest cutting into his firm's profit.

Ryder System has reduced the maximum speed on its fleet of trucks from 65 to 63 miles per hour, and many of its clients are making fewer shipments of goods with fuller trucks.

But these decisions are a logical response to higher fuel prices -- not necessarily signs that expectations for future inflation are coming unhinged. The best way to get a sense of those long-term expectations is through what executives assume as they make longer-term choices.

If a manufacturer expects energy prices to keep rising, it would be more inclined to pay extra for a more efficient machine, or choose to set up many small warehouses close to customers rather than one massive one that is far away.

That's what's happening, said Thomas L. Jones, a general manager for Ryder. "People are assuming prices have got nowhere to go but up," he said.

"Almost unilaterally our customers are expecting prices to continue rising," said Bob Strle, a vice president of Countermind, a Colorado firm that sells technology to help shipping firms plan their routes more efficiently -- an investment that offers a higher payoff when gasoline prices rise.

The big question is whether those expectations of higher fuel prices feed into a wage and price spiral like that of the 1970s, in which workers demanded -- and received -- double-digit wage increases to keep up with higher prices, which then fueled further inflation.

There are huge differences between now and the 1970s. In the past year, the average weekly wage for private sector non-managerial workers rose only 1.9 percent. A soft U.S. economy could continue to leave workers little leverage with which to demand pay hikes to match higher prices.

Moreover, fewer workers are unionized, fewer of those have automatic cost-of-living adjustments, and unions have less clout with which to negotiate wage increases. Finally, many of the most heavily unionized industries, such as the automakers, are in such dire financial straits that raises of any sort are unlikely.

"There is no evidence that wages have started to spiral up," Janet L. Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said in a recent speech.

But there are signs that higher prices are changing the dynamic of labor negotiations, at least in certain sectors. For most of the past 20 years, wage negotiations have centered on various pay-for-performance schemes. With higher inflation, unions in a position to do so are now pushing for higher across-the-board raises, said David B. Lipsky, a professor at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

"The pendulum had swung away from across-the-board wage increases, now we're seeing it swing back the other way," said Lipsky, citing recent contracts among public-sector workers and some in the hotel and casino businesses.

In a four-year contract for 40,000 janitors agreed to at the end of last year, for example, the Service Employees International Union managed to get annual raises of 4 percent, not the 3 percent during the time when inflation was lower (the raises were even higher in more recently organized cities, including Washington).

"The high inflation has adjusted our thinking of what kind of dollars we would ask for at the bargaining table," said Mike Fishman, president of SEIU Local 32BJ, who said the union worked from the assumption that inflation in the years ahead will continue at a similar pace as it has recently.

Bernanke, in his speech yesterday delivered by satellite to a group of central bankers in Barcelona, also made clear that the dropping value of the dollar creates a risk of heightened inflation expectations.

Bernanke, Harvard Class of '75, will have a chance to address whether he sees any similarities between the current situation and those when he was a college senior in a speech today for the university's graduation exercises. Its title is "Economic Challenges: 1975 and Now."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

No. of state real estate test-takers drops by 57% - Nashville Business Journal:

No. of state real estate test-takers drops by 57% - Nashville Business Journal:

The number of people taking state exams to be real estate agents has dropped 57 percent and Nashville area real estate schools are seeing enrollments cut in half.

Those signing up to use the Middle Tennessee Multiple Listing Service has also declined, down 43 percent from last year to 477 from 843 in the first quarter, according to Real Tracs.

Fewer are getting into the industry and there's been an increase in Realtors getting out, says Harold Crye, CEO of Nashville's largest real estate company Crye-Leike Realtors Inc.

Jason Murphy, administrative manager with Crye-Leike, says the romance is over.

London Home Sells for $230,000,000


A MANSION in London is set to sell for £117million - making it the world's costliest home. The palatial residence, on a street dubbed Billionaires' Row, is believed to have been bought by Britain's richest man, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

He is believed to be close to exchanging contracts with owner Noam Gottesman, 47, a US-born financier.

The home in Kensington Palace Gardens, West London, Princess Diana's former street, is being sold furnished and with an art collection. It works out at an astonishing £8,000 per square foot.

Mr Mittal, 57, who denies being the buyer, has been looking to splurge some of his £27.7billion fortune on a home for son Aditya, 32. Mr Mittal moved into the half-mile, tree-lined private avenue four years ago after paying £67million for a 12-bedroom home.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Home price index posts largest-ever decline - Mortgage Mess- msnbc.com

Home price index posts largest-ever decline - Mortgage Mess- msnbc.com: "WASHINGTON - U.S. home prices posted their sharpest first-quarter decline since the government began tracking the data 17 years ago.

The Washington-based Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said Thursday that home prices fell 3.1 percent in the first quarter compared with last year. The index also fell 1.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008, the largest quarterly price drop on record.

'The large overhang of real estate inventory awaiting sale continues to force price declines in many areas, but particularly in places that had seen very sharp appreciation,' Patrick Lawler, the agency's chief economist, said in a prepared statement."

Prices fell in 43 states, with California and Nevada showing the biggest declines. Home prices dropped by more than 8 percent in those states.

The government index is calculated by tracking mortgage loans of $417,000 or less that are bought or backed by the government-sponsored mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Legislation enacted in February temporarily raised the limit to as much as $729,750 in high-cost areas.

The government index focuses on less expensive properties and includes fewer houses bought with risky home loans that have gone sour over the past year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Martin Luther King and Hume Fogg rank 23rd and 24th in the Nation

Martin Luther King and Hume Fogg rank 23rd and 24th in the Nation in the new Newsweek rating of the the top 1300 best Public High Schools.

The next highest Tennessee schools - Brentwood at #187, Hillsboro at #390, and Ravenwood in Brentwood at #465, plus 10 more ranked in the survey.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/39380?GT1=43002

Thursday, May 8, 2008

NASHVILLE HOME SALES DECREASE; PRICES RISE IN APRIL

HOME SALES DECREASE; PRICES RISE IN APRIL; CONDO SALES AND PRICES DOWN

There were 2,135 home closings reported for the month of April, according to figures provided by the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors®. This represents a decrease of 28.5 percent from the 2,989 closings reported for the same period last year.

Year-to-date closings are down compared to last year with 7,898. That is a 28 percent decrease compared to the 10,979 closings reported through April 2007.

"While home sales are down, the decrease is running on par with previous months. That means the Greater Nashville market is performing with some consistency, even in these time of change. That can work to the advantage of buyers and sellers because they can adapt to the changes, and with the help of a real estate professional, make educated decisions," said Mandy Wachtler, 2008 President of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors. "At this time, Nashville area home sales are comparable to 2001, which is much better than some markets around the country which are experiencing home sales and prices comparable to what they had 15 or 20 years ago."

There were 2,342 sales pending at the end of April, compared with 3,339 sales that were pending at the same time last year. The median residential price during April was $180,000 and for a condominium it was $162,000. That compares with median residential and condominium prices at this time last year of $177,900 and $163,900 respectively. The average number of days on the market for a single-family residence was 80 days.

Inventory at the end of April was 24,670. That compares with an inventory of 20,129 at the end of April 2007.

http://www.gnar.org/mlsrelease.htm

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Existing home sales fell 2 percent in March - Real estate- msnbc.com

Existing home sales fell 2 percent in March - Real estate- msnbc.com

WASHINGTON - Sales of existing homes fell in March as a severe slump in housing showed no signs of abating. The median price of a home fell compared with the price a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums dropped by 2 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million units.

The median price of a home sold last month was $200,700, a decline of 7.7 percent from the median price a year ago. That was the second-biggest year-over-year price decline following a record 8.4 percent drop in February. The records go back to 1999.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Foreclosures in Nashville Up 6.9% Quarter to Quarter.

While the report below from Southeast Title of Tennessee, Inc. reports a 20.6% increase in foreclosures for the Nashville MSA, the numbers for Davidson County show an increase of 6.9%. It is my opinion that this is showing that Nashville is weathering the sub-prime crisis much better that the balance of the country.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

PRESS RELEASE

Foreclosure Index

Nashville, Tennessee

Subject: Foreclosure Sales – Nashville/Davidson County Metropolitan Statistical Area

For the 1st quarter of ’08, actual foreclosure sales in the Nashville MSA increased 20.6% year over year to 743 compared to 616 in 2007. Wilson County led the pack with a whopping 166% increase. Surprisingly affluent Williamson County was right behind with a 150% increase. Davidson County increased only 6.9 % for the same period while foreclosure sales in Cheatham County actually decreased by 13.3%.

The County by County breakdown is as follows:

County:

1q ‘08

1q ‘07

+/-

% change

Cheatham

13

15

-2

-13.3%

Davidson

509

476

+33

6.9%

Dickson

17

11

+6

54.5%

Robertson

26

21

+5

23.8%

Rutherford

84

56

+25

50%

Wilson

24

9

+15

166%

Williamson

70

28

+42

150%

The preceeding information has been compiled by Southeast Title of Tennessee, Inc., Brentwood, Tennessee and is based on the actual recordings of foreclosure deeds in the register of deeds offices for the 7 counties encompassing the Nashville/Davidson County Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Day Thought

I noticed today if you put THE in front of IRS you get a clear understanding of how they see your money.

Monday, March 10, 2008

HOME SALES DECREASE IN FEBRUARY

Greater Nashville Association of Realtors - "There were 1,892 home closings reported for February, which is a decrease of 26.5 percent from the 2,575 closings reported for the same period last year. The number of pending sales is 2,183, which is the first time since last October that there have been more than 2,000 pending sales. The median price for single-family homes remained stable, while the median price for condominiums decreased by 5 percent. Click here for a copy of the news release with additional details on home sales for February. And, you can click here for more information on history and trends of home sales in recent years."

The number of pending sale on 2008 compared to 2007 is down 24%. This is an indicator that March sales should continue the trend of be down year over year. Median single family prices sliped $1,900 or 1.1%. I believe that this is the first decline in at least the past five years. Inventory is up 26%.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tennessee Economy Ranks 5th Best

Report: Tennessee economy ranks 5th
Nashville Business Journal

Tennessee has the country's 5th best economy, according to a state economic competitiveness ranking released by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The report from ALEC, which bills itself as the nation's largest nonpartisan individual membership organization of state legislators, ranks the economic competitiveness of each state.

The state's top marginal personal income tax, a low state minimum wage and its right-to-work status helped place the state high in those rankings.

Tennessee ranked 1st in those three of the 16 categories examined.

According to the authors, Tennessee ranks below 20 other states in seven other categories, including top marginal corporate income tax, low property tax burden, debt service as a percentage of total tax revenue and state tort liability system.

Areas that needed improvement include lowering sales taxes and workers' compensation costs, according to ALEC.

Utah's economy was ranked the best followed by Arizona and South Dakota. Vermont was last.

The report's official title is Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rob Briley Will Not Run

State representative decides not to run for office in order to work on his health and new law office

By Ken Whitehouse

03-04-2008 2:30 PM — State Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville) said today that he will not seek re-election to the state legislature in order to continue working on his health, his very public battle with alcoholism, and to devote more time to his newly opened law office. He has served in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 1999.
Last Sept. 8, Briley, 41, was arrested in Wilson County for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. The arrest, which was caught on video from the dashboard camera of the police patrol car, quickly put him on the national news and made him fodder for late-night talk show hosts.

Asked about the incident today, Briley said, "You know, my worst day ever is on tape. I'd like to say that really wasn't me, or I was just really out of sorts, but I know that I was the guy on the film and I don't want be that person again. I have been working very hard to rebuild my life, continuing with counseling and recovery programs. Alcoholism is only one small part of the many issues I am dealing with and in order to fully commit to recovery it is time to step down from the legislature by not standing for re-election."

Many people have told him that the legislature exacerbated his troubles, but he disputes that notion. Briley said, "The people up here, both Democrats and Republicans, are here for the right reasons. While we don't always agree, we all care about each other and the people we serve. When my problems became public, I was embraced by members of both parties, many of whom I battled with tooth and nail on legislative issues that at times became personal. At first, I concentrated on a few members who seemed to take satisfaction in my disgrace, but that didn't last long... Too many people from all factions of the legislature have come forward and showed me the meaning of the word 'statesman.'"

When asked if he would consider a political comeback in the future, Briley said that for now he simply wants to finish off his work in the legislature and concentrate on his health.

"I feel a need to finish what the people of my district elected me to do," said Briley. "That is to serve out this term. I know I let them down and I feel if I walk away before then I would be doing it again. They have been there for me and have overwhelmingly supported me throughout, even more so after my troubles became public. They have meant more to me than they know, and for that I am eternally grateful."

Packers QB Favre to retire

Packers QB Favre to retire
Three-time MVP calling it quits following 17 seasons

Quarterback Brett Favre has started every Packers game since Sept. 27, 1992.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre has decided to retire from the NFL after 17 seasons.

"He has had one of the greatest careers in the history of the National Football League, and he is able to walk away from the game on his own terms -- not many players are able to do that," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said Tuesday.

Favre's agent Bus Cook said the 38-year-old quarterback told him of his decision Monday night.

"Nobody pushed Bret Favre out the door, but then nobody encouraged him not to go out that door, either," Cook said by phone from his Hattiesburg, Miss., office.

FOX Sports first reported Tuesday that the Green Bay Packers quarterback informed the team in the last few days. ESPN.com said that according to Favre's agent the quarterback told coach Mike McCarthy of his decision.

The news was a surprise to at least one of Favre's teammates. Most players expected Favre to return after a successful 2007 season.

"I just saw it come across the TV," Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson said, when reached on his cell phone by The Associated Press.

The 38-year-old Favre, a three-time NFL MVP and one of the NFL's grittiest players, has made his annual flirtation with retirement a winter tradition in Wisconsin. He has taken weeks and even months to make his decision after recent seasons, with Cheeseheads hanging on his every word.

But unlike the final game of the 2006 season -- when Favre provided a cliffhanger by getting choked up in a television interview as he walked off the field in Chicago, only to return once again -- nearly everyone assumed he would be back this time. They were wrong.

Only two years removed from perhaps his worst season, Favre had a resurgence in 2007. He broke several career records. Among them was Dan Marino's career mark for career touchdown passes. He powered the Packers to an NFC North title and a 13-3 regular-season record and earned his ninth Pro Bowl spot.

Surrounded by an underrated group of wide receivers who proved hard to tackle after the catch, Favre had a career-high completion percentage of 66.5. He threw for 4,155 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions.

It was a remarkable turnaround from 2005, Favre's final season under former head coach Mike Sherman, when he threw a career-worst 29 interceptions as the Packers went 4-12.

Given Favre's career resurgence, it was widely assumed that he was leaning toward returning for the 2008 season.

He even said as much just before the Packers' Jan. 12 divisional playoff game against Seattle, telling his hometown newspaper that he wasn't approaching the game as if it would be his last and was more optimistic than in years past about returning.

"For the first time in three years, I haven't thought this could be my last game," Favre told the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald. "I would like to continue longer."

Those comments sent premature shock waves across the state -- all the way up to the governor's office, where the political version of a false start was committed.

"Like all Packer fans, I am thrilled that Brett Favre will return to action next year for the green and gold," Gov. Jim Doyle said in a statement. "Brett Favre's tremendous work ethic and willingness to go out and play hard every day represent the true spirit of Wisconsin. I am hopeful that with this announcement behind us, Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers can focus on the task at hand: defeating the Seattle Seahawks."

The governor's office later amended the statement to say Doyle was "excited to hear Brett Favre talking about returning to action next year."

It was another example of the state's fascination with the future of its favorite quarterback.

Favre then finished the season on a sour note, suddenly showing his age in the Packers' 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.

Favre struggled in subzero temperatures, throwing an interception on the Packers' second play from scrimmage in overtime to set up the Giants' game-winning field goal.

After that game, Favre was noncommittal on his future. McCarthy said he wanted Favre to take a step back from the season before making a decision. But it was widely assumed he would be back.

"I think he's going to come back," Packers receiver Donald Driver said in early January. "I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back. He's having a great year, so it'd be great to see him come back if he decides to."

Retiring Packers chairman Bob Harlan figured Favre would be back, too.

"Yeah, I think he'll be back," Harlan said, on his final official day as the Packers' top executive. "And I felt that way the last couple years, when we've had these long debates about it. I just think he's such a competitor that as long as he feels he can compete, he's going to keep coming back."

Still, in the week leading to the playoff game against Seattle, Favre said his injuries were starting to linger.

"I'm not getting any younger," Favre said. "I wake up some days and think I can't even touch my toes. I think about that. I think, well, next year is not going to be like some refreshing, awakening season where all of a sudden you're going to feel great. That's not going to happen.

"I carry some of these things with me that maybe you wouldn't see. I tend to dwell on them, at least internally, more than I used to. I don't write them off as quickly as I used to."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Annual U.S. Home Prices Fall for First Time Since Depression

U.S. home prices fell in 2007 for the first time since the Great Depression, according to a release from the National Association of Realtors. That made it more difficult for homeowners to sell or refinance properties encumbered by mortgages higher than the value of the houses themselves. Additionally, sales of existing homes fell in January to the lowest in at least nine years, NAR said.

Since January 2007, the median price of an existing home fell 4.6 percent to $201,100. The median price for a single-family home dropped 5.1 percent to $198,700, and condominium and co-op prices fell 1 percent to $220,400.

Mortgage companies including Fannie Mae and HSBC Finance have joined a U.S. Treasury Department-led effort to offer 30-day foreclosure freezes to give delinquent borrowers more time to arrange payment plans. Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp. have initially agreed to participate in the effort.

In a February 26 release, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said that while pockets of strength remain, the coasts and the Midwest showed the biggest declines.

OFHEO’s research confirmed NAR’s findings. U.S. home prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2007 according to OFHEO’s seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index. The index, which is based on data from home sales, was 1.3 percent lower on a seasonally-adjusted basis in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter of 2007. This decline was substantially greater than the 0.3 percent price decline between the second and third quarters. Over the past year, prices fell 0.3 percent, as the fourth quarter decline erased earlier price gains.
However, OFHEO’s all-transactions House Price Index, which includes data from home sales and appraisals for refinancings, showed less weakness than the purchase-only index. The all-transactions HPI rose 0.1 percent over the latest quarter and 0.8 percent over the latest year.

OFHEO Director James B. Lockhart said, “Although prices for home purchases in the [fourth] quarter fell in every state except Maine, only 16 states plus the District of Columbia showed price declines for the full year 2007.”

“The year 2007 showed the first four-quarter decline in the purchase-only index since its earliest data in 1991,” Lockhart added. “However, both OFHEO’s purchase-only index and the all-transactions index show relatively greater house price stability than do other nationwide house price indexes. That may reflect, in part, the greater stability in the prime, conforming mortgage market served by the Enterprises than in other segments of the mortgage market,” said Lockhart.

“Given the recent turmoil in housing markets we thought it would be helpful to provide a greater amount of information about price trends,” Lockhart said.

“While the declines are significant and quite large in some areas, the market still needs to work through its overhang of unsold inventory,” said OFHEO Chief Economist Patrick Lawler. “How much further down that inventory will ultimately push prices will depend on a number of factors, including what happens to interest rates and the overall health of the U.S. economy,” Lawler said.

OFHEO’s purchase-only and all-transactions house price indexes track average house price changes in repeat sales or refinancings of the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than five million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index includes more than 34 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 32 years.

The full report is available at www.ofheo.gov/media/pdf/4q07hpi.pdf.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Message from Bob

Dear friends,

As some of you know, I have decided to run for the US Senate against Lamar Alexander.
I will bring the energy, focus, purpose and determination of a Marine to this campaign and to my service in the United States Senate.

I am not so much offering myself as a candidate as I again am answering a call to service. America is in crisis. Our economy is in trouble, our schools are struggling to excel, our health care system leaves millions uncovered, and there are parts of Tennessee where the good paying jobs of the future are just a mirage. And in too many places, the cold wind of hunger and poverty whistle through open doors of despair.

Perhaps most critically, we find ourselves in two wars, with enemies lying in wait at home and abroad. Veterans return from war to heal their bodies and their minds only to find a broken system that leaves them without care. I fought in Vietnam as a Marine officer, and I cared for my Marines. I understand the rigors of war and the responsibility of our government to wage it properly and to care for those who fight it and for their families.

My wife Susan and I have built our lives in Tennessee and have been married for nearly 39 years. We raised our children Andrew (27) and Sarah (24) in the traditions of faith, service to country and belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party.

I hope you will support me in this effort as you supported me when I was your Party Chairman.

Thank you and Semper Fi,

Bob Tuke
Tuke for Tennessee
222 Fourth Ave. No.
Nashville, TN 37219
615-256-8585
rtuke@tntlaw.net

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Housing Starts Lowest Level Since May 1991.

The contraction in new residential construction activity continued in December. Housing starts tumbled 14.2% last month to an annual rate of 1.01 million units compared to expectations for a more modest decline to a rate of 1.15 million. This was the lowest level of housing starts since May 1991. For all of 2007, 1.344 million housing units were started, 25.8% below the 2006 total and the lowest since 1995 when 1.361 million units were started. Weakness persisted in the single-family sector, with starts falling 2.9% on the month, 36.0% on the year to end at a rate of 794k. Multifamily starts, a highly volatile series, dropped over 40% in December to an annualized pace of 210k. Building permits, often used as an indicator of future building activity decreased 8.1% in December to an annual pace of 1.068 million. The pace of permit issuance suggests builders will continue to slash new starts as they try to work off high inventory levels amid sluggish new home sales. New residential starts are expected to weaken further from here and detract substantially from Q4 and Q1 economic growth.

Jobless claims fell 21k to 301k for the week that ended January 12. The large drop to such a low level is off trend for jobless claims in the past several weeks. Continuing claims for the prior week surged 66k suggests the pace of hiring remains weak and is contrary to the latest jobless claims reading. More weeks of initial claims data will be needed to understand if this week’s drop establishes a new lower trend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Titans fire offensive coordinator Chow

January 15, 2008
By JIM WYATTStaff Writer
The Titans have fired offensive coordinator Norm Chow after three seasons.

The Titans finished 21st in the NFL in total offense last season under Chow, who said Coach Jeff Fisher delivered the news by phone.

“I’m as shocked as the next guy,’’ Chow said Tuesday. “He said he wanted to go in a different direction."

Coach Jeff Fisher released a statement:

“Over the last week, we have done a lot of self-evaluation and I think we still have work ahead of us to reach our ultimate goal. I have informed Norm that he will not be retained as our offensive coordinator. I appreciate all of the hard work and contributions he made to the organization during his time here, but I have decided to go in a different direction and will start the process of finding a new offensive coordinator. We wish Norm and his family the best in their future endeavors.”

Chow, who had recently signed a two-year contract extension with the Titans, left town last week and has spent the last few days with his family in California. He was scheduled to return to Nashville before heading with the Titans coaching staff to Mobile, Ala., for Senior Bowl practices.

The 61-year-old coach said he’s unsure what he’ll do now. His name has been mentioned as a possibility for the offensive coordinator’s position at UCLA, where he earlier interviewed for the head coaching job that went to Rick Neuheisel.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,’’ Chow said. “I’m disappointed. I didn’t see this coming. No one had said a word about any of this until all of a sudden … I made a lot of good friends there.’’

Asked if he thought the next offensive coaching staff could make things work with quarterback Vince Young, who threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season, Chow replied: “Obviously Jeff didn’t think that I could. I thought I was. That’s the thing. I don’t know… but it’s going to take some patience.’’

The Titans had the NFL's 27th-ranked passing offense this season, one year after Young was the league's offensive rookie of the year.

Young was blindsided by the news of Chow's firing, according to a representative.“He was shocked,’’ said Mike Mu, Young's marketing agent.

“I broke the news to him. He thought I was kidding him and didn’t believe it.’’

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Edmund Hillary, First Atop Everest, Dies - World on The Huffington Post

Edmund Hillary, First Atop Everest, Dies: "WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Sir Edmund Hillary, the unassuming beekeeper who conquered Mount Everest to win renown as one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers, has died, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Friday. He was 88.

The gangling New Zealander devoted much of his life to aiding the mountain people of Nepal and took his fame in stride, preferring to be called 'Ed' and considering himself just an ordinary beekeeper.

'Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities. In reality, he was a colossus. He was an heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility, and generosity,' Clark said in a statement.

'The legendary mountaineer, adventurer, and philanthropist is the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived,' she said."

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Countrywide denies bankruptcy, but stock plunges

Tue Jan 8, 2008 3:38pm EST
(Recasts first paragraph, adds analyst comment and byline)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Countrywide Financial Corp (CFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Tuesday denied market speculation it might seek bankruptcy protection, but its shares suffered their biggest decline since the 1987 stock market crash on growing concern the largest U.S. mortgage lender's problems will deepen.

In late afternoon trading, Countrywide shares were down $2.03, or 26.5 percent, at $5.61 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares of other mortgage-related companies also slid, including lender IndyMac Bancorp Inc (IMB.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and bond insurers MBIA Inc (MBI.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Ambac Financial Group Inc (ABK.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

After traders reported rumors of a possible Countrywide bankruptcy, the company issued a statement that "there is no substance to the rumor that Countrywide is planning to file for bankruptcy, and we are not aware of any basis for the rumor that any of the major rating agencies are contemplating negative action relative to the company."

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In the Land of Many Ifs - New York Times

In the Land of Many Ifs - New York Times:
By PETER S. GOODMAN and VIKAS BAJAJ

"For months, the American economy has been assailed by a wave of troubling news, from plunging housing prices to the soaring cost of oil, provoking gloomy talk of a possible recession. Yet so far the economy has found a way to shrug it all off and keep growing.

How much longer can the expansion carry on? As a new year unfolds, analysts expect a verdict soon: Either the negatives finally metastasize and drag the economy down, or a fresh source of growth emerges, helping to sustain consumer spending despite the ongoing worries about housing and tight credit.

“There are even odds of a recession,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “It literally could go either way.”

The year that just ended was not for the faint of heart. As mortgage debt became synonymous with toxic waste, banks got spooked and tightfisted. Job growth slowed. Inflation fears grew. Still, consumers kept spending, and unemployment stayed flat. American companies found enough sales abroad to compensate for weakness at home.

The bursting housing bubble remains a locus of concern. An era of free-flowing credit and speculation has led to a far-flung empire of vacant, unsold homes — 2.1 million, or about 2.6 percent of the nation’s housing stock, Mr. Zandi said. Even in the worst years of recessions in the early 1980s and 1990s, the share of vacant homes did not exceed 1.9 percent."

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