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by The Cincinnati Team

housing market trendRecent conflicting reports about the housing market and whether or not it is truly in recovery have left consumers as well as those in the real estate business more than a bit confused; those whose business plan is dependent upon a full or quick recovery should proceed with caution. I believe the housing market is far from recovered, and, in fact, will not return to the levels of the past decade for many years—if ever. I see six reasons why the housing market peaks can not return, that it will never regain its past “glory days.”

 

● Robust home sales are dependent upon consumer confidence in the economy. Consumers must feel that both their personal economy as well as that of the nation is on sound footing before committing to such a major, long-term purchase, especially on the heels of the longest recession in more than half a century. Thus far, consumers are far from confident.

● A vigorous recovery of the housing market cannot occur as long as we have unusually high unemployment. While there is much disagreement on when and how our recovery will occur, the financial experts all agree that unemployment will remain at higher than normal levels for several years, and some projections do not indicate a recovery to “full” employment for as much as ten years. With at least 20 million unemployed or underemployed, and with awareness that many of the jobs lost will never return, a high rate of joblessness could possibly become the norm.

● The dramatic loss of home equity will significantly limit the pool of available move-up buyers. In the past, move-up buyers used the equity from their former home to help them purchase a larger/more expensive one; however, declining home values with the associated loss of trillions in equity means fewer sellers will have the resources to purchase another home.

● A continued high rate of foreclosures will depress both the housing market and the hopes of many potential buyers. The millions who have experienced foreclosure will be automatically ousted from the buying pool. For some, several years of damage to their credit rating will be the defining factor; and others will become permanent renters, avoiding the potential for further pain and the trauma associated with foreclosure.

● A slow increase in mortgage rates will reduce the number of qualified buyers. As we experience the higher mortgage payments associated with rising interest rates, many will fail to qualify for loans on the homes of their choice. Others, having been “spoiled” by the low rates of the past decade, will stay out of the market hoping for a return to those rates.

● Tighter lending restrictions will also result in fewer buyers qualifying for home loans. And the restrictions, combined with the declines in credit scores experienced by millions of consumers will only further reduce the number of buyers.

 

Additionally, there are other factors such as: high levels of consumer debt, changing demographics, and a diminishing of the appeal of home ownership as a result of experiences during the current recession, will only serve to dramatically alter the housing market for the foreseeable future. While there will always be a group committed to home ownership and will always be homes available for them to purchase, an expectation that the housing market will soon recoup its losses and regain its momentum, for me, seems extremely unlikely.

 

More Snow in Cincinnati

by The Cincinnati Team

Can you believe that more snow is falling?  It is beautiful...but enough is enough!Snow in Cincinnati                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

daffodil bulbs in Cincinnati

 

It's comforting to know that under all that snow blanketing the ground are the first daffodil buds.

 

 

 

Spring is coming!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Mt. Lookout 3BR, 1 1/2 bath brick Home

by The Cincinnati Team

Jack and the Beanstalk at Taft Theater this Weekend

by The Cincinnati Team

Jack and the Beanstalk at Taft Theater this Weekend

Don't miss Children's Theatre of Cincinnati's latest presentation at Taft TheatreJack and the Beanstalk at Children's Theatre of Cincinnati this weekend...Jack and the Beanstalk.

If you remember, the traditional folk tale features Jack who trades his cow for five magic beans, much to his mother's dismay.  But, these beans are indeed magic and Jack subsequently meets the Giant.

Founded over 80 years ago as a project of the Junior League of Cincinnati, the Children's Theatre has lived on in the hearts of children, both young and old, throughout that time.  The organization aims to bring the magic of theater to children ages 4 and up.  They produce four plays each year, performing during the week for student groups and on the weekend for the general public.

For every show they produce, a study guide is designed to help students question the values taught in the show and assist learning before and after the show.  You will find the study guide on their website and might enjoy using it with your children.

The shows will be performed on Friday night 2/26 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, 2/27 at 2 pm and 5 pm and Sunday, 2/28 at 2 pm.  On Saturday 3/6 they will perform at 2 pm. Tickets can be purchased for as little as $7.

FHA's New Financing Rules Pinch Home Buyers

by The Cincinnati Team
FHA's New Financing Rules Pinch Home Buyers and May Reduce the Buyer Pool.
Changes to mortgage underwriting dictated by FHA will make it harder for households to secure affordable home financing.  FHA announced that these changes need to be made to shore up the FHA's capital reserves and help the agency do a better job of managing risk.
 
Why?
The value of the FHA's reserves to cover losses (that means BAD LOANS) has fallen to $3.6 billion, about 0.5% of the $685 billion in loans outstanding, down from 3% a year earlier. Congress requires the agency to maintain a 2% capital-reserve ratio.
 
Since the beginning of the economic downturn, an increasing number of borrowers have needed to use FHA loans in order to purchase a home.  These loans currently require 3.5% down payment plus closing costs and mortgage insurance.  However, it is the lowest cost alternative for those who have little down payment...the old 100% loans are simply no longer available.
 
FHA to Increase Mortgage Insurance Fees
FHA will require more-stringent lending requirements and higher borrower fees to cushion against rising defaults and stave off the need for a taxpayer bailout of the agency. FHA is set to raise the mortgage insurance premium to 2.25% from the current 1.75%. This will increase the monthly payment by $50-100, and increase the money needed to close. This change takes place on April 5th, so it will affect most of those trying to close by June 30 and qualify for the $8000 tax credit.  Higher closing costs= fewer buyers
 
Minimum Credit Score
FHA will require riskier borrowers with credit scores below 580 to make a minimum 10% down payment. While the FHA doesn't have a credit-score cutoff, most lenders require a minimum 600-620 score. This change is expected to go into effect in the early summer.  Higher credit scores and down payment = fewer buyers.
 
Seller Contributions
FHA will reduce the amount of money that sellers can kick in for closing costs to 3% of the sale price, down from the current level of 6%. This change is also expected to go into affect in early summer.  Reducing seller concessions = fewer buyers.
 
Increase enforcement on FHA lenders
HUD will also monitor lender performance and compliance with FHA guidelines and standards. This increased surveillance and enforcement will look at default rates as well.  Fear of making loans = fewer buyers.
Believe it or not, FHA makes nearly 40% of all loans made today.  It is important to keep this option available to borrowers, but in this tight market, we all worry that the additional down payment needed will deny home ownership to many prospective buyers and further damage the housing industry.

Cincinnati's Fine Art Fund Sampler Weekend Celebrates the Arts

by The Cincinnati Team

Cincinnati's Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend kicks off two days of excitement and adventure this weekend.  From Anderson Township to Middletown, from Oxford to College Hill, from Mt. Adams to Fairfield and from Downtown to Wyoming the cultural institutions strut their stuff and show off the reason arts are great in Cincinnati!

The weekend exemplifies the goal of the Fine Arts Fund to "enhance our community with arts and cultural experiences that offer joy, promote inclusion, and inspire creativity for a strong region."

Sample ideas that might be fun for you or your family include:

SATURDAY

Contemporary Arts Center -Talk with Shepherd Fairey, 4PM

College Hill Presbyterian Church - Cincinnati Opera performs Oh Freedom!, 10AM

Cincinnati Art Museum - Cincinnati Black Theatre Company performs A Revue of our Motown Celebration in the auditorium, noon

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park- Diane Macklin, storyteller, 10:30 AM and 1PM

SUNDAY

Cincinnati Art Museum - Madcap Puppets, noon

Cincinnati Ballet- Anaya Gypsy Dance performs a fusion belly dance, 1:30 PM

Greenacres Arts Center - Southern Gateway Chorus, 1PM

Carnegie Center in Columbia Tusculum - Ballet Theater Midwest - ballets including the Beatrice Potter Portfolio followed by a garden party and tea, 1PM

There will be activities all over the city, so why not experience one in your neighborhood?

Anyone for Golf in Cincinnati?

by The Cincinnati Team

This picture, taken at Ivy Hills Country Club in Anderson Township, just struck me as funny.  No gentlemen, I don't think they mean that this is where to drop your "old bag!" 

Bag drop - Ivy Hills Country Club, Anderson Township, Ohio 

Have faith, Spring is on its way!

Cincinnati Ranked 9th Most Literate City

by The Cincinnati Team

Once again Cincinnati has been rated by Central Connecticut State University as a highly literate city.  The ninth place ranking is attributable to the combination of local library resources, number of bookstores, Internet resources and educational attainment.  The study speculates that the combination of Fortune 500 companies, the thriving arts community and density of colleges and universities and hospitals all create a core population that values books and the written word.

Reading in CincinnatiDid you know that Cincinnati is tied for third nationally for the number of booksellers per 10,000 residents?  Plus, the Hamilton county voters showed their belief in the value of books when they supported the tax levy to maintain services at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton county. Both of these statistics add to Cincinnati's clout.

Seattle, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and Boston all ranked ahead of Cincinnati.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) Releases January Sales Analysis

by The Cincinnati Team

Existing home sales are up in 2010 compared to the same time a year ago. According to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), existing homes sales -- including single family, condominiums, townhomes and co-ops -- were up 11.5 percent from January 2009 levels. At the current pace, NAR is projecting existing home sales of 5.05 million units for the year. Total housing inventory is down 0.5 percent to 3.27 million units nationally.Existing Home Sales By Region

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun is watching the sales data very closely. "Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory," Yun said. "With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country."

Mortgage backer Freddie Mac reported an average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage of 5.03 percent in January. This is up slightly from 4.93 percent available in December 2009, but down overall from a year ago when the rate was 5.05 percent in January 2009.

Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center

by The Cincinnati Team

Billing itself as the place to spend time with your family, the home-style atmosphere at the Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center helps everyone relax from their busy lifestyles.  In their old, Northside mansion, there are multiple classes for all ages and even informal Friday night get togethers.  Cincinnati Family Enrichment CenterThe Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center has classes for infants (Tummy Time, Baby Yoga, Time Out Together, Jammin' in our Jammies), for families (interactive story time, Wiggle Worms, Spanish for the family), and for parents (Mom encouragement, pregnancy celebration).   Wellness classes include pediatric massage, CranioSacral therapy, baby reflexology and pampering of Mom.  Winter is a great time to experience these indoor activities.

The Best of Cincinnati named them the Best Place for Families!

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