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Even with the prospect of tough times ahead for the global economy, Jeremy Rifkin, Adviser to the European Union, Senior Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC and one of the most influential economists and thinkers of these days, argues that it is not all bad. In his latest treatise “The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and World,”  Rifkin clearly states, that we are heading towards a new exciting era, one that combines new communication technologies with renewable energies aiming to completely escape the use of fossil fuels.


According to Rifkin, Economic Revolutions occur, when “new energy regimes emerge and communication systems enable them to become more operational.”  The First Industrial Revolution for instance, happened thanks to the combination of printing and the steam machine, allowing production of much higher quantities at considerably lower prices.


The second Industrial Revolution made electricity and communication tools such as radios, and later televisions and telephones, available to the general public. However, Rifkin speculates that this revolution is slowly coming to its end, as the price of almost every good is strongly dependent on the crude oil price. The economic crisis which began in the summer of 2008, caused the price per barrel to rise to almost $150 which, in turn, led to an economic downward spiral. In addition, coal, oil and natural gas, the so called “elite energies” requires an immense investment of capital due to their poor availability.  That makes them not efficient enough to remain the main energy source of the future.


This is where Jeremy Rifkin believes that the Third Industrial Revolution comes into action: contrary to the “elite energies,” renewable energy sources like the sun, wind, geothermal warmth or garbage are available in any form almost all over the world.  As adviser for the EU he had the honor to establish the “Roadmap For Moving To A Competitive Low Carbon Economy In 2050,” a five-pillar based concept. For this concept it is critical that one pillar can only function in relation to the other four, creating synergies that are likely to change Europe and the whole world and which will  significantly stimulate economic growth.


These pillars are designed (1) to establish renewable energy (the EU aims to support 20% of their energy needs from renewable resources); (2) transform the building stock of every continent into micro-power plants in order to collect renewable energies on-site; (3) develop storage technologies in every building to save any surplus of generated energy; (4) use Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy internet that acts just like the overall Internet (millions of buildings connected to each other, allowing them to sell/share any surplus of energy among each other) and (5) integrate the transportation sector in this power grid.


Currently, this project may seem difficult to attain as prices for such technologies remain very high, but Rifkin anticipates that the prices will very soon plummet, empowering the general public to adopt technologies and to become part of this new revolution, which will change the way power is distributed in the 21st century. Furthermore, this change will require “a wholesale and reconfiguration of the entire economic infrastructure of each country, creating millions of jobs and countless new goods and services.” The entire process requires a new way of thinking, working, doing business and therefore “a new humanity."

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Back in the 1970’s, kit houses were all the rage. Since then, architecture styles changed enough to allow modern interpretations to offer a trip down memory lane. This is the case of the Far Pond Residence by Bates Masi Architects – a 1970s kit house in Southampton, New York, revived with a contemporary appeal. The existing glulam post and beam construction connected with steel plates was extended with the help of an additional volume.


The design of the existing house was enhanced by building a modern interpretation of that theme, one that focuses on clearly expressing the structural system. Prefabricated elements were used to resolve space problems and keep the old and new parts related: “Examining the strategy of a kit of parts, current material fabrication technologies are utilized to expand on this idea. A different approach to sustainability is explored, minimizing waste by simplifying to the essential components in order to resolve multiple problems, thus eliminating typical construction waste.”


A modified version of prefabricated shear wall panels like the ones used in areas prone to hurricanes were mounted on site to keep a secure structure: “The new structural panels multitask throughout the addition. The solid steel transitions to a perforated panel that baffles the sunlight over windows and doors. The light quality varies throughout the day as light levels transition through the overlapped perforations. Fins that protrude from the wall panels are laser cut to accept shelving, seating and countertops. The same perforated steel becomes the dining room chandelier, and the platform for the stair and desk. ” Overlooking surrounding wetlands down to an estuary and an ocean bay, the fascinating kit house turned modern home exudes a casual vibe and an inviting warmth. Maybe this horse ranch turned into a stunningly elegant modern home will further convince you of the architect’s creativity, attention to details and hard work.


Do you live in a new house or was it transformed from an existing structure into what it is today?




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Home prices in the US continued to show solid growth in most of the country due to limited inventory conditions, but rising prices and severe winter weather caused existing home sales to slip in February.
According to the latest existing home sales index report from the National Association of Realtors, completed transactions fell 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.60 million in February from 4.62 million in January.

Sales were 7.1% below the 4.95 million unit level recorded in February 2013 and the month’s pace of sales was the lowest since July 2012, when it stood at 4.59 million.

‘We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards and housing affordability less favourable than a year ago,’ said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

‘Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead. With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year,’ he added.

The median existing home price for all housing types in February was $189,000, which is 9.1% above February 2013. ‘Price gains have translated into an additional $4 trillion of housing wealth recovery over the past three years,’ Yun explained.

The NAR data also shows that distressed homes sales, that is foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 16% of February sales, compared with 15% in January and 25% on February 2013. Some 11% of February sales were foreclosures and 5% were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16% below market value in February, while short sales were discounted 11%.

Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 6.4% to two million homes available for sale, which represents a 5.2 month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.9 months in January. Unsold inventory is 5.3% above a year ago, when there was a 4.6 month supply.

The median time on market for all homes was 62 days in February, down from 67 days in January and 74 days on market in February 2013. Short sales were on the market for a median of 94 days in February, while foreclosures typically sold in 60 days and non-distressed homes took 61 days. Some 34% of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

First time buyers accounted for 28% of purchases in February, up from 26% in January, but down from 30% in February 2013.

NAR president Steve Brown believes that student debt appears to be a factor in the weak level of first time buyers. ‘The biggest problems for first time buyers are tight credit and limited inventory in the lower price ranges. However, 20% of buyers under the age of 33, the prime group of first time buyers, delayed their purchase because of outstanding debt,’ he said.

‘In our recent consumer survey, some 56% of younger buyers who took longer to save for a down payment identified student debt as the biggest obstacle. It is also clear there are other people who would like to buy a home that are not in the market because of debt issues, so we can expect a lingering impact of delayed home buying,’ Brown added.

All cash sales comprised 35% of transactions in February, up from 33% in January and 32% in February 2013. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 21% of homes in February, compared with 20% in January and 22% in February 2013. Overall 73% of investors paid cash in February.

Single family home sales edged down 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million in February from 4.05 million in January, and are 6.9% below the 4.34 million unit level in February 2013. The median existing single family home price was $189,200 in February, up 9% from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales declined 1.8% to an annual rate of 560,000 units in February from 570,000 in January, and are 8.2% below a year ago. The median existing condo price was $187,900 in February, which is 9.8% above February 2013.

Regionally, existing home sales in the Northeast fell 11.3% to an annual rate of 550,000 in February, and are 12.7% below February 2013. The median price in the Northeast was $237,800, up 1.5% from a year ago.

Existing home sales in the Midwest declined 3.8% in February to a pace of one million, and are 12.3% below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $140,900, which is 8.6% higher than February 2013.

In the South, existing home sales rose 1.5% to an annual level of 1.98 million in January, but are 0.5% below February 2013. The median price in the South was $163,400, up 8.3% from a year ago.

Existing home sales in the West rose 5.9% to a pace of 1.07 million in February, but are 10.1% below a year ago. The median price in the West was $279,400, up 18% from February 2013. 

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Deducting Mortgage Points

Third in a four-part series of tax tips for homeowners

If you itemize your deductions and can take the mortgage interest deduction on your federal income tax, you may be able to deduct the points you paid on your home mortgage, too.

Points are prepaid interest, so they get reported as home mortgage interest on Form 1040, Schedule A .

The total deductible points you paid during the year (along with the interest your paid) show up on the Form 1098 your lender sends to you.

The median tax deduction for home mortgage interest points was $509 in 2011, according to most recent IRS data.

You can typically deduct points in full in the year they're paid, if your meet all these requirements:

  1. The mortgage was for your primary home.
  2. Paying points is an established business practice in your area.
  3. The points you paid were typical for your area.
  4. You use the cash method of accounting (you report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them).
  5. The points you paid didn't cover services or products that show up on your loan settlement sheet such as appraisal fees, inspection fees, title fees, attorney fees or property taxes.
  6. The points you paid at or before closing, plus the points the seller paid, were at least as much as the points charged. You didn't borrow money from your lender or mortgage broker to pay the points.
  7. You used your loan to buy or build your primary home.
  8. The points were computed as a percentage of the principal amount of your mortgage
  9. The amount is clearly shown as points on your settlement statement.

You can also fully deduct (in the year paid) points paid on a loan you used to improve your main home--if you met #1 through #6 above.

If you refinance and you use part of your loan to improve your main home, and you meet requirements #1 through #6, you can fully deduct the part of the points related to the improvement in the year you paid them.

If You Don't Meet The Requirements

If you don't meet the IRS' requirements (and this typically happens in a refinance) you may still be able to deduct your points over the life of your new mortgage rather than in a single year.

You can deduct the rest of the points over the life of the loan if you meet these requirements:

  • You use the cash method of accounting (you report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them).
  • Your loan is secured by a home. The home does not need to be your main home.
  • Your loan is for not more than 30 years.
  • If your loan period is more than 10 years, the terms of your loan are the same as other loans offered in your area for the same or longer period.
  • Either your loan amount is $250,000 or less, or the number of points is not more than:
  • 4 points, if your loan period is 15 years or less.
  • 6 points, if your loan period is more than 15 years.

Other Pointers On Points

If you're a seller and you paid points for a buyer, you don't get to deduct those as interest on your tax return. But, you can count them as a selling expense, which can reduce your capital gain.

When a seller pays points for you as a buyer, you have to subtract the amount of those points when you calculate your basis or cost of the residence. You'll likely do that capital gains calculation when you sell the home many years from now, so be sure to file your settlement sheet where you can find it in the future.

Points you pay on a second home loans can generally be deducted only over the life of the loan.

When you're deducting points and your mortgage ends you can generally deduct any remaining balance in the year your mortgage ended. But, if you refinance with the same lender, you have to deduct the remaining balance over the life of your new loan. Mortgages end when you prepay, refinance, lose your home to foreclosure, or experience a similar event.

You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions, including points. For more information on the adjusted gross income limitations, please refer to the Form 1040 Instructions.

If the mortgage you got to acquire your home was for more than $1 million or your home equity debt exceeds $100,000, you probably can't deduct all your mortgage interest or all your points. Read Publication 936,  Home Mortgage Interest Deduction, to figure out how to deduct your points.

Tax laws and tax rules are constantly being updated and interpreted. This article contains general information, so please discuss your individual situation with a trusted tax adviser before making tax decisions.

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Vacation Home Sales Surge in 2013

Vacation home sales rose strongly in 2013, according to the National Association of REALTORS. Vacation home sales jumped 29.7% to an estimated 717,000 last year, compared to just 553,000 in 2012. Vacation home sales accounted for 13% of all transactions last year, their highest market share since 2006.

The median vacation home price was $168,700, up 12.5% over 2012. All cash purchases remained fairly common, with 38% of vacation home buyers paying cash. Of buyers who financed their purchase with a mortgage, vacation home buyers typically put down 30%. Forty-two percent of vacation homes bought last year were distressed homes.

The typical vacation home buyer purchased a property that was a median distance of 180 miles from his or her primary residence. Eighty-seven percent of vacation home buyers want to use the property for vacations or as a family retreat; 31% plan to use it as a primary residence in the future.

The Roanoke Regions' "Best Of"

Thank you to the Roanoke Regional Partnership for bringing more and more attention to the Roanoke region. Here are the highlights of recent "Best Of" accolades:

          Blue Ridge Outdoors: #1 Trail Town

          Lumosity: Brainiest Cities

          NerdWallet.com: Salem - Best Cities for Young Families

          Gallup: Top 25% for Exercise and Low Obesity

          USA Today: 10 Beautiful Places to Run

          U.S. News: Best Regional Hospitals

          Forbes: Best Places for Career and Business

          Milken: Best Performing Cities

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The home of tomorrow isn't about Jetson-esque wonders and smartphone apps. It's about home value, the environment and our lifestyles. In an effort to predict what home features will be most valued in 25 years, we focus on 3 rising trends.

1. Extreme Energy Efficiency:  Utility bills are expected to skyrocket over the next couple of decades. You can expect to see:

  • Waterless toilets: Residential water rates are rising in the US and toilets are responsible for nearly 27% of our total water use.
  • Grey water systems: These systems will reuse up to 60% of your household water for watering the lawn and flushing toilets.
  • Energy dashboards: You know how cars share the miles per gallon we're getting? An energy dashboard will do the same for our homes.
  • And garages wired for electric vehicles.

2. The Rise of Super Storms: Since super storms are becoming the norm, homeowners can be left without electricity for weeks, even months. Expect to see whole house generators become a more common feature in homes.

3. The Locally Grown Movement: The desire to eat healthier, better-tasting foods continues to increase. This will make indoor gardens more common, allowing people to create the farm to table experience in their own kitchens.

Source: www.HouseLogic.com   Deirdre Sullivan

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A home’s curb appeal is crucial because it can be the first thing buyers notice about a home. That’s why Realtors® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects in the 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report.

“With many factors to consider such as cost and time, deciding what remodeling projects to undertake can be a difficult decision for homeowners,” said National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors® in Dayton, Ohio. “Realtors® know what home features are important to buyers in their area, but a home’s curb appeal is always critical since it’s the first impression for potential buyers. That’s why exterior replacement projects offer the greatest bang for the buck. Projects such as entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.”

NAR’s consumer website HouseLogic.com highlights the results of the report in its “Best Bets for Remodeling Your Home in 2014” slideshow. The site also provides information and advice on various home improvement projects, including a guide to kitchen remodeling with the best payback  and dozens of exterior replacement projects.

Realtors® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 96.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is consistently the least expensive project in the annual Cost vs. Value Report, costing little more than $1,100 on average.

Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally, in terms of value recouped, are exterior projects. A wood deck addition came in second with an estimated 87.4 percent of costs recouped upon resale. Two different siding replacement projects also landed in the top 10, including fiber-cement siding, expected to return 87 percent of costs, and vinyl siding, expected to return 78.2 percent of costs. Out of the top 10 projects, the fiber-cement siding replacement project improved the most since last year, with costs recouped increasing by more than 15 percent. Two garage door replacements were also in the top 10; a midrange garage door replacement is expected to return 83.7 percent while an upscale garage door replacement follows closely at 82.9 percent of costs recouped. Rounding out the top exterior remodeling projects were two window replacements; a wood window replacement is estimated to recoup 79.3 percent of costs and a vinyl window replacement is estimated to recoup 78.7 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. An attic bedroom is ranked fourth and is expected to return 84.3 percent of costs; nationally, the average cost for the project is just above $49,000. The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the minor kitchen remodel. The project landed at number seven and is estimated to recoup 82.7 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000. The improvement project likely to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup 48.9 percent.

For the report, Realtors® provided their insights into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. For 2014, the national average cost-value ratio stands at 66.1 percent, a jump of 5.5 points over last year and the largest increase since 2005, when the ratio increased 6.1 points to reach a high of 86.7 percent. For the second consecutive year,Cost vs. Value data shows that the value of remodeling is up for all 35 projects included in the survey. Additionally, for the first time in four years, improved resale value of residential housing had more of an influence in the cost-value ratio than construction costs. A modest 2.2 percent increase in average national construction costs was more than offset by an 11.5 percent improvement in average national resale value.

The 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 100 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 16th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

“Every neighborhood is different and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies by region and metro area. Before undertaking a remodeling project, homeowners should consult a Realtor® as they are the best resource when deciding what projects will provide the most return upon resale,” said Brown. “Realtors® have a unique understanding of local markets, home features and buyer preferences and know that there are a variety of factors that affect a home’s value, such as location, condition of surrounding properties and regional economic climate.”

Seven of the nine regions covered in the report outperformed the national average, a distinct improvement over 2013, when just four regions performed better than average. Once again, the Pacific region, consisting of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, led the nation with an average cost-value ratio of 88 percent, due mainly to strong resale values. The next best performing region was West South Central with 76.4 percent, followed by three regions tied at 74.6 percent: South Atlantic, which improved from 63.7 percent in 2013, New England, which improved from 56.2 percent in 2013, and East North Central, which improved from 54.8 percent in 2013.

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A final walk though is one of the last steps in the closing process and can be completed hours before you sign the final paper work or a few days prior. The final walk through is not a formal inspection and it’s not a basis for negotiating, it’s just the last step to make sure everything is as it should be. You’re just giving the house one final look before you officially become a brand new homeowner. Our company also encourages the original inspector to come to the final walk thru with us, since they can check to see if repairs were legally fixed as per contract.  Some inspectors do this and some do not, so you may want to ask while shopping for an inspector.

Most home buyers get carried away by the excitement of their new house and forget to really take their time with the walk though. It can feel like a formality that you can just breeze through in 5 minutes while you celebrate, but it is a vital (if small) step in the closing process. So stay focused and don’t forget these crucial things on your final checklist.


1. Garbage disposal and exhaust fans. During the final walk though you will want to try every light switch, outlet, sink, toilet and appliance to be sure it’s working correctly. But what most people forget to pay special attention to is the kitchen. Make sure you run the garbage disposal and any exhaust fans to make sure they run smoothly. The kitchen is possibly the most used room in your house so you don’t want any surprises the first time you go to cook dinner in your new home.

2. Inspect the garage. 
Don’t limit your home check up to the house; take a walk though the garage. Check garage door openers and any circuit breakers located in there.  If the garage door has a code, make sure you know it. If there are any personal items left by the seller, be sure they are removed. You want a fresh start when you buy your new home and having to clean up after the previous owners is just one more hassle you don’t need. The garage is the most likely place seller’s will leave unwanted junk and clutter they were too lazy to dispose of.


3. Make sure the things you negotiated for are present and unchanged. During closing there are hundreds of negotiations. What appliances are included in the homes sale? Is the seller paying to have the floors redone? Will the fixtures be staying? Bring along your contract so you have a reference sheet for what should be present in the house and the condition it should be in. If your agent negotiated for a washer and dryer, this is the time to make sure the seller made good on their promise.



4. Look out for any new damages. Not only do you need to check off your list to make sure everything you negotiated is present, be sure you look closely for any new damages.  Are there any new scratches on the floor from when the couch got dragged out? Did the wall paint get scrapped during moving? Don’t forget to be detail oriented, this is your last chance to have the seller’s full and complete attention. Once you sign the paperwork, your seller is moved out and moving on.

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You've heard the old saying - "Location, location, location."

The real truth is "Location, condition, and price." And price trumps every other factor.

Location affects the value of a home, but it's price that sells a home.

Oceanfront, mountainside, or penthouse, the most desirable location in the world won't sell at the wrong price.

Every property has a potential buyer, but like rock, paper, scissors, it's sometimes hard to know which factor is going to win the showdown.

A good location will sell at a fair price. A bad location will sell at a fair price, too. It just won't be as a high as it would be for a good location.

A home in good condition will sell for a fair price. A home in poor condition will also sell at a fair price. Again, it won't be as high as a comparable home in better condition.

But neither location or condition will sell any house. Only one thing does that - price.

So if you're a seller waiting for that "special buyer" who will appreciate your faded pink and black bathroom tile, your vintage orange shag carpet and is willing to help you put your kids through college because of your real estate prowess, you're going to have a long wait.

So if your home is represented by an agent, and it's been on the market for a long time, chances are it's your own fault.

Maybe you didn't listen to your agent when he said you're pricing your home above the market. Maybe you got mad at the first few folks who looked at your home and didn't make offers.

When the showings stopped completely, maybe you accused your agent of not doing a good enough job.

You put the blame on everyone except where it belongs - on you. It's not about you, what you want, or how much you need for your retirement.


It's about the price.

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Congratulations to Roanoke City, named #6 on the Top 10 Best Places to Retire list, by Livability.com , a national website that ranks quality of life and travel amenities of America's small and mid-sized cities. Roanoke was the only Virginia City to make this list.

Roanoke was chosen "because it exposes older adults to new experiences -- keeping them active, engaged, healthy and inspired. The City offers a host of quality of life amenities appealing to seniors -- from arts and cultural activities, outdoor recreation opportunities, top-notch medical facilities to economic assets, such as continuing education and lower cost of living."

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National predictions are for homes sales to hold steady in 2014, while prices continue to rise, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, speaking at the November NAR Convention. He expects the national median existing-home price, currently at $197,000, to increase nearly 6 percent next year.

Mortgage interest rates are expected to trend upward and reach 5.4 by the end of next year. With higher mortgage interest rates, he expects refinancings to collapse in 2014 to the lowest level in at least 15 years, and hopes purchase applications will begin to rise. He noted that "even with cheap mortgages for the past four years, all-cash buyers stayed high, accounting for over 30 percent of sales nationwide."

Limited supplies remain a big factor, with inventory bouncing around 13-year lows, and seriously delinquent mortgages have been trending steadily down. "Housing starts are the only way to alleviate inventory shortages. Housing starts need to rise 50 percent to meet underlying demand," according to Yun.

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Living cities www.grosvenor.comGrosvenor’s research perspective on world real estate markets Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 12 ForecastBoJ BoEFedECBSource:  Central banksUS$ bn

Money, Money, Money

The accelerating slowdown in China and the euro zone summit of December the 9th were the two most significant economic developments of the last month.  Both of these events point to further monetary stimulus in 2012.  The fall of the China manufacturing PMI, from 50.4 in October to 47.7, was widely reported in the press.  We think this understates the scale of the slowdown.  Our own in house indicator of economic activity, which ranges between 2 and -2 with 0 indicating trend growth, has fallen to -0.6.  With inflation falling, China should ease monetary policy quite quickly by cutting reserve requirements and, in 2012, interest rates.Although the euro zone summit failed to produce the comprehensive solution to the crisis that many were hoping for, it did make some progress.

The key measures are: a fiscal compact that constrains structural deficits to 0.5% of GDP; €200-€250bn additional funding for rescue packages; and some additional protection for private bondholders (relative to previous proposals) in the event of sovereign debt restructuring.  Importantly, the package opened the way for the ECB to engage in quantitative easing (QE) on a much bigger scale than before.By contrast, the US posted some very good economic numbers in Q3, particularly retail sales, and we think that this level of growth will continue into Q4.  Q1 and Q2 of 2012 are likely to see much tougher economic conditions.

Much of the current strength is due to high levels of capital expenditure induced by 100% capital allowances.  This policy will come to an end in December.  The recession in Europe will also hit the US harder than expected.  So, despite current optimism on the US economy, we believe the US is likely to engage in substantive monetary easing in 2012 to support economic activity....

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"Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay there will be double!" - The Clash. The unrest in Egypt has been boiling for the past few weeks, as protestors took to the streets and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak contemplated whether to stay in power... or step down.

Hosni Mubarak

And any time there's uncertainty, there is sure to be movement in the markets. For example, oil prices rose Thursday morning after rumors spread through the media that Mubarek would step down later that night. In the end, Mubarek didn't officially step down until Friday morning, at which point the streets of Cairo erupted in celebration, oil moved lower again, and the Stock market ticked up in hopes that the uncertainty in Egypt would soon be a memory.

Of course, Cairo wasn't the only place that has been reacting to uncertainty lately - and we don't have to look any further than Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates as an example. To say that Bonds have had a rough time lately would be a bit of an understatement, as Bond pricing and home loan rates worsened very significantly over the past week and a half. By the end of last week, however, Bonds looked like they were beginning to stabilize... at least for now.

Impacting Bonds last week were a number of remarks by Fed members, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who spoke on Capitol Hill, saying it will take several more years before the unemployment rate returns to a more normal level, and that lawmakers need to act to reduce the country's deficit.

The recent tough times for Bonds and home loan rates underscores the current opportunity... rates are still relatively low, but gradually creeping higher. This makes now an ideal time for consumers to take advantage of the still historically low rates. If you or someone you know is in the market for a new home or to review your home loan, now's the time to act.



After last week's slow schedule of economic reports, we'll see some influential reports this week... that have the potential to really move the markets.
  • We'll start off Tuesday morning with the January report of Retail Sales, which is considered a timely indicator of broad consumer spending patterns.
  • We'll also see manufacturing news this week with Tuesday's Empire State Index, which looks at New York State's manufacturing sector and is a good gauge of manufacturing overall. Then on Thursday, we'll see the Philadelphia Fed Index, which is another important manufacturing report. Those two indices have the potential to impact the market, since they indicate the health of the manufacturing sector in the U.S.
  • More news is headed our way on Wednesday with the Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures inflation at the wholesale level. Then, the very next day on Thursday morning, we'll see the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a look at inflation at the consumer level. In light of last week's news about inflation concerns around the globe - including in China and Brazil - it will be important to see what these reports reveal. Remember, inflation is important to keep an eye on because it is the archenemy of Bonds and home loan rates.
  • Wednesday will also bring more housing industry news with reports on the number of Housing Starts and Building Permits in January.
  • Finally, the busy week of reports caps off Thursday with the Initial Jobless Claims report. Last week's report showed that Initial Jobless Claims hit the lowest weekly reading since July 2008. Overall, the labor market appears to be slowly gaining positive traction... and further improvement will lead to an improvement in the housing market, but also higher rates over time.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

As you can see in the chart below, Bonds and home loan rates have had a tough time recently, but were able to stabilize at the end of last week. In the end, Bonds and home loan rates finished the week just slightly below where they started, but home loan rates are still near historic lows for now.

Chart: Fannie Mae 4.0% Mortgage Bond (Friday Feb 11, 2011)





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Smith Mountain Lake, Va offers over 22,000 acres and over 500 miles of beautiful waterfront luxury and living. each and every lifestyle can be met at Smith Mountain Lake. Sales over the past year were up, prices down, so any buyer has a great oppurtunity. The state of VA interestingly enough does not have a deficit, and Franklin County - one of the 3 counties the lake accesses was the second largest VA County growth, over 19%.

Our inventory started to go down September 2010 with several larger sales, and obviously alot throughout the year.   We do not have very many lakefront  foreclosures however, so that market is very limited and reflects a more stable enviroment. We have had only 10 lakefront foreclosures overall, this does not count off -water or cities like Roanoke or Lynchburg. Condos are struggling and those have the highest rate of foreclosures. However our lakefront home luxury market has dropped in price and is moving down the road.  Our prices range from $800,000 to over $20,000,000 for lakefront luxury. Naturally we have lower priced homes on our lake,startign at around $350,000, but this is more representative of our luxury market.

Currently several great opputurnities exist with a $1,450,000 lisitng, that has the best views on this lake, on a point lot. This can be found on my web, www.SmithMountainLakeProperties.org or this web site as well.   We have several more great opputunities that may not last

If you have a buyer that wants to purchase lakefront within 3 hours of DC and Charlotte, or 1.5 hours from raleigh and only 30 mins from Roanoke, then call me. We have some great investment properties as well as Luxury Lakefront Properties.

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Leslie Becker, AIA, AIPP, FIABCI, NAR
Licensed in the State of VA


P: 540.797.0477 | F: 866.507.5289
PO Box 50
Huddleston, VA 24104

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