Friday, July 2, 2010

Marquette is featured in the Washington Post

Marquette was featured in Sunday's Washington Post. This was the last article in a month-long series spotlighting the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Distinctive Destinations for 2010.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mortgage Applications Spike

Mortgage applications to buy homes rose 10.1 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly survey.

On an unadjusted basis, the purchase index rose 11 percent compared with the previous week, but was down 5.2 percent from the same week a year ago.

“Purchase applications continued to increase coming out of the Easter holiday, as we approach the end of the home buyer tax credit, and are up modestly over last month.” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics.

Declining Treasury rates pushed loan rates down from the previous week:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.04 percent from 5.17 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.34 percent from 4.45 percent.
1-year ARMs decreased to 6.95 percent from 7.02 percent.

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association (04/21/2010)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Marquette Named a Best Housing Market

Best Housing Markets in 2010

A housing market research Web site has predicted Marquette will be one of the top 25 housing markets in the country for the coming year. Marquette ranked 12th in the calculations at, with a 3.2 percent increase in average housing prices predicted for 2010. Researchers at the Web site gather information on 20 factors for each market forecast, including income levels, employment rates and trends, commercial and residential construction, school enrollment levels, business openings and closings, new business development, regional political influences, real estate sales history and current housing market velocity. Analysts then review each market separately to forecast the percentage each individual market will increase or decrease in average housing prices. Cleveland topped the list while Marquette ranked above places like Grand Rapids, the only other Michigan city to make the top 25. Twelve states are represented on the top 25 list, including many Midwest and northern tier states that have been less severely impacted by the housing crisis, according to

Source: Mining Journal Feb 4th

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Get out there and enjoy February in the U.P.!!!

February marks the heighth of Winter activities in Marquette County. Get out there and enjoy what the U.P has to offer from sporting events to festivals!

February 5th and 6th
Michigan Tech. Winter Carnival and Ice Festival

February 12th, 13th
Annual Indoor Winter Softball Tournament at the Dome ADMISSION IS FREE!
Big Bay Fishing Derby

February 19th - 20th
UP 200 Sled Dog Race Opening Ceremonies 6:30pm and Start at 7:10pm

February 27th
Trenary Outhouse Classics

Friday, December 4, 2009

30-Year Rates Hit All Time Record Low!

The average interest rate for 30-year mortgages has fallen to the lowest level since Freddie Mac began compiling its weekly survey in 1971, declining to 4.71 percent this week from 4.78 percent a week ago.

Rates also were more attractive for 15-year fixed loans, which fell from 4.29 percent to 4.27 percent, but many consumers may not have qualified for them because they now face higher credit standards from lenders.

Still, the Mortgage Bankers Association's index of application demand, which rose 2.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis during Thanksgiving week from the previous week, shows that consumers were looking to take advantage of mortgage rates at a historic low.

Source: USA Today, Stephanie Armour (12/04/09)

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Home Sales Rise in October

New home sales rose 6.2 percent in October compared to September, according to a report released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This increase was 5.1 percent above the October 2008 level.

"New-home sales are what I am focusing on because they are the ones that are going to drive" gross domestic product, said Cameron Findlay, chief economist at

The median sale price of new homes was $212,200 in October with an estimated 239,000 units available at the end of that month, a 6.7-month inventory, according to the government.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, Alejandro Lazo (11/26/2009)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Existing-Home Sales Record Big Gains

Driven by the home buyer tax credit, existing-home sales showed another big gain in October with a strong uptrend established over the past seven months, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. At the same time, inventories have continued to decline.

Existing-home sales—including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops—surged 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.10 million units in October from a downwardly revised pace of 5.54 million in September, and are 23.5 percent above the 4.94 million-unit level in October 2008. Sales activity is at the highest pace since February 2007 when it hit 6.55 million.

Tax Credit Fuels Surge

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, was surprised at the size of the gain. “Many buyers have been rushing to beat the deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit that was scheduled to expire at the end of this month, and similarly robust sales may be occurring in November,” he said. “With such a sale spike, a measurable decline should be anticipated in December and early next year before another surge in spring and early summer.”

Now that the tax credit has been extended and expanded, potential buyers have until April 30 to have a contract in place. “There is still a large pent-up demand that can be tapped before the tax credit expires. Our recent consumer survey further shows that 13 percent of successful first-time buyers had a previous contract that was cancelled or fell through—there likely are many more buyers who were attempting to purchase but simply ran out of time,” Yun said.

Historically low interest rates also are boosting the market. “Mortgage interest rates last month were the third lowest on record dating back to 1971,” Yun noted. According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.95 percent in October from 5.06 percent in September; the rate was 6.20 percent in October 2008. Last week, Freddie Mac reporter the 30-year rate dropped to 4.83 percent.

Inventory Declines

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder said strong demand by first-time buyers is creating some unusual conditions. “In parts of the country, especially in Southwestern states but also in Florida and suburban Washington D.C., we’ve been getting many reports of multiple bids in the lower price ranges with foreclosed properties getting absorbed quickly,” she said.

“In fact, low-end inventory has become very tight in many areas and in some cases buyers are becoming more aggressive. In this kind of environment it’s important to work with a REALTOR® who can walk you through the process and help you negotiate a satisfactory deal,” Golder said.

Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 3.7 percent to 3.57 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from an 8.0-month supply in September. Unsold inventory totals are 14.9 percent below a year ago.

“The supply of homes on the market is now at the lowest level in over two-and-a half years – we’re getting closer to a general balance between buyers and sellers,” Yun said. The last time the relative housing inventory was this low was in February 2007 when it also was at a 7.0-month supply.

Existing Home Price by Type

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,100 in October, down 7.1 percent from October 2008. Distressed properties, which accounted for 30 percent of sales in October, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they usually sell at a discount relative to traditional homes in the same area.

“In the second half of 2010, if home values show consistent stabilization or even a modest increase, then home sales could remain at normal healthy levels because consumers would no longer be worried about a price overcorrection,” Yun said.

He added that low home prices also are contributing to extremely favorable affordability conditions. “With the abnormal drop in home prices over the past few years, the price-to-income ratio has fallen below the historic trend line,” Yun said. “This is adding to the buying power of the typical family, with affordability conditions this year at the highest on record dating back to 1970, but prices are beginning to flatten and are poised to rise next year.”

Single-family home sales rose 9.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million in October from a pace of 4.86 million in September, and are 21.4 percent above the 4.39 million-unit pace in October 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $173,100 in October, down 6.8 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales surged 13.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 units in October from 680,000 in September, and are 40.8 percent above the 547,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price was $172,900 in October, which is 10.4 percent below October 2008.

Regional Views

Here’s a look at existing-home sales figures in different regions of the United States:

Northeast: Existing-home sales rose 11.6 percent to an annual level of 1.06 million in October, and are 27.7 percent higher than October 2008. The median price in the Northeast was $235,400, down 2.6 percent from a year ago.

Midwest: Existing-home sales surged 14.4 percent in October to a pace of 1.43 million and are 28.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $146,600, a gain of 1.1 percent from October 2008.

South: Existing-home sales rose 12.7 percent to an annual level of 2.30 million in October and are 25.7 percent higher than October 2008. The median price in the South was $151,100, down 6.3 percent from a year ago.

West: Existing-home sales increased 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.31 million in October and are 12.0 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $220,200, which is 14.7 percent below October 2008.

—National Association of REALTORs

Real Estate Market FAQs

Got questions about where real estate is headed? Here are informed answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about today’s housing market.

  • When will housing hit bottom?
    There isn’t any single answer to this question. It depends on where you live. Home prices are rising again in the most convenient suburbs of such cities as New York and Washington, D.C. In other places that are in less demand, prices continue to fall.
  • How can I figure out the value of my home?
    Talking to a real estate professional and/or hiring an appraiser is the best idea. But even after getting a professional opinion, it is hard to tell what a home will sell for until you put it on the market.
  • Is now a good time for a renter to buy a home?
    It could be. Prices in many areas are down significantly from their peak a couple of years ago. Plus, Congress has extended the tax credit for first-time home buyers and added a $6,500 credit for many previous owners of homes who sign a contract to buy by April 30, 2010.
  • Should I invest in foreclosed homes?
    A foreclosure can be a risky buy, even for the most experienced real estate investors. Use caution.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty (11/17/2009)

Tax Credit Quandaries Answered

The complexity of new home buyer tax credits leaves potential buyers with many questions. Here are answers to some of the most confusing:

  • How does a current home owner qualify for the $6,500 credit?
    Buyers must have lived in their homes for at least five out of the last eight years. The home they buy must become their primary residence, but buyers don’t have to sell their previous home. They can use the previous home as a rental or a second home and still claim the credit.
  • Does the new home have to be more expensive than the one the buyer currently owns?
    No. It is fine to use it to downsize. If the property sells for more than $800,000, the buyers don’t qualify.
  • Can buyers who are building a new home claim the credit?
    Yes, although the contract must be in place by April 30 and the buyer must move in by July 1.
  • Can buyers claim the credit if they purchase a home from a relative?
    No. The legislation prohibits taxpayers from claiming the credit if the sale is between “related parties,” including parent, grandparent, child, or grandchild.

    Source: USA Today, Sandra Block (11/24/2009)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Both Houses OK Tax Credit Extension, Expansion

The House today and the Senate yesterday passed legislation to extend the $8,000 home buyer tax credit to May 1, 2010, for first-time buyers and add a $6,500 tax credit for repeat buyers if they've lived in their home for five of the past eight years. Home prices are capped at $800,000.

The legislation in both houses was included in a bill to extend unemployment benefits and is expected to be signed by President Obama shortly.

“REALTORS® appreciate the swift action by Congress to extend the home buyer tax credit and expand it to some current homeowners,” says NAR President Charles McMillan. “As the leading advocate of housing and real estate issues, we urge President Obama to sign this legislation into law quickly to keep the momentum going in the fragile recovery of the nation’s housing market.”

Under the bill, income limits are expanded to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for joint filers. Individuals with incomes up to $145,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $245,000 qualify for reduced credits.

Households who have binding contracts in place by April 30 will be allowed an additional 60 days to complete their transaction. The deadline for members of the military serving out the U.S. for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 1, 2010, has been extended one year.

Taxpayers can claim the credit on their federal income tax returns. If the credit exceeds their tax bill, the government will issue a check. Taxpayers will be able to claim the credit on their 2009 income tax return for purchases made in 2010.

Source: The Associated Press (11/5/2009)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

8 Ways to Spruce Up Your Listing's Curb Appeal

Spring is on it's way. The weather man assures us that we only have a day or two more of the cold and it will then start warming up! Here are some ideas for once the snow is gone...

Staging a yard can give a home the all-important, buyer-pleasing curb appeal. Here are some suggestions that are both inexpensive and easy.

  • Make it green. Balancing the pH level and feeding the lawn lots of nutrients will give it a lush and healthy look.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery. Overgrown branches hide a home’s good looks.
  • Mulch everything. Mulch gives flowerbeds visual appeal.
  • Edge the beds. Edging makes everything look neat.
  • Power wash the siding, sidewalks and patios. Power washing gets rid of all the winter grunge.
  • Plant annuals. Lots of geraniums, impatiens and petunias brighten up the look.
  • Plant a garden. If the Obama's can do it, so can everyone else.
  • Hang a hammock. It suggests life is easy.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal, June Fletcher (04/03/2009)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Now is the Time to Buy!!!

Every year the REALTORs in our area are given statistics by Bruce M. Closser, MAI, SRA, CRE at Closser Associates, Inc. in Marquette. These statistics represent the state of our housing market here in the Marquette area. We received an update from Bruce this week that suggests that our housing market is on the upswing. As with any sales environment, housing depends heavily on supply and demand. In general when the inventory is higher, more people are selling and less are buying, causing prices to fall. When the inventory decreases, more people are buying and less are selling, causing prices to increase. We have seen three consecutive quarters with a decrease in inventory, which would suggest that the current "buyer's market" may be on the way out. I am advising my clients that if they want to catch the market when it's a great time to buy, now is the time to do it, before we start seeing an upswing in pricing again.

Here is an excerpt from Closser's update...
"We have just completed our survey of MLS listings in the study area for the 2nd quarter, 2009. When we presented our 2008 Residential Market Analysis in January, we reported that the average number of residential listings for 2008 was up substantially over 2007 (an average of 246 in 2008 compared to 199 in 2007, or an increase of 24%). We also noted that the fourth quarter of 2008 showed a decline in listings as compared to the fourth quarter of 2007 (-17%) and that this pattern was repeated in the first quarter of 2009, which was down from the first quarter of 2008 (-19%). We can now report that this trend is continuing into the second quarter of 2009. Average listings in the study area for the 2nd quarter 2009 were 194, compared to 249 in the 2nd quarter 2008, a decline of 28%. We now have seen three consecutive quarters of declines in the number of listings compared to the corresponding quarters of the previous year. It appears that the number of listings peaked in the period from the 4th quarter, 2007 through the third quarter, 2008 and have been declining since then."

If you have any questions or would like to discuss, please feel free to call me at (906) 362-4747

Take Care,

Friday, December 26, 2008

Amid Rate Drops, Mortgage Applications Soar

With interest rates approaching reaching historic lows, the application volume for mortgages jumped a seasonally adjusted 48 percent last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey.

Application activity for the week ending December 19th was 124.6 percent over the same period a year ago,the Washington, D.C-based MBA said. The spike in applications coincided with another drop in mortgage rates, as the government's efforts to unfreeze the residential-mortgage market show further signs of having the desired effect.

Applications to refinance existing mortgages increased 62.6 percent on a week-to-week basis, while applications filed for mortgages to buy homes increased a seasonally adjusted 10.6 percent.

Refinancings made up 83.2 percent of all applications filed last week, up from 76.9 percent the previous week.

According to the MBA survey, interest rates fell across the board:

  • Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.04 percent last week, their lowest level in more than five years. This was down from 5.18 percent the previous week.
  • Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.91 percent, down from 4.93 percent the week before.
  • One-year ARMs averaged 6.36 percent, down from 6.63 percent.

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association and MarketWatch (12/24/08)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours!!!

Wishing you and your family good health, great spirits, festive holidays, and a prosperous 2009!
Chris, Jen, and Josh Cosco
(and Buddy too!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

5 Ways to Give Your Home Character

Far too many of today's homes and communities lack character, says urban designer and author Marianne Cusato, a featured speaker at this week's Sustainable Development & Restoration Summit in Newport, R.I. Urban sprawl is largely responsible for poorly constructed communities popping up across the country, Cusato says. It's resulting in homes that lack energy efficiency, cities with poor layouts, and long, congested commutes.

So how do you avoid the cookie-cutter look and create a sense of identity for your house? Start by using older homes as a model, Cusato suggested.

  • Use four-sided architecture. Many home designs focus exclusively on the front, but the side of the home can be just as important and prominent. For example, windows on the side of a home are not only aesthetically pleasing but they also are functional – they offer cross-ventilation for cooling the home during the summer months to curb air conditioning costs and they allow more light to enter the home.
  • Use color. Think beyond beige. Color can add more identity to a house. For example, if all the homes on the block have the same architecture, the color of the exterior can be one way to differentiate and add more character to the home.
  • Less is more. Don’t overdo it on design elements to the exterior of a home; Too many details can make a home lose character. Focus on creating a hierarchy of most important elements. For example, the entryway and the side windows are prominent areas. Be functional, not just stylish. Shutters along a window of a home that aren’t functional and don’t close, don’t make much sense. The towering, grandiose entryways on many McMansions won’t provide much covering when it’s raining outside.
  • One aspect of good design is that it’s functional, Cusato said. Connect with the outdoors. The home doesn’t have to be as big inside if it offers livable outdoor space. For example, a side private garden, front porch, and a public area near the house can connect home owners more to the outdoors.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey for REALTOR® magazine online

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Winter Parking Ban and Fall Brush Collection

If you are a resident of the City of Marquette, I thought you might find this info about the Winter Parking Ban and Fall Brush Collection to be useful.

Winter Parking Ban
If you live in the City of Marquette, please note that the winter parking ban for all city streets goes into effect on Nov. 1. The winter parking ban requires owners of vehicles to find off-street parking between the hours of 1-6 a.m. each morning. The fine for violating the ban is $50. The winter parking ban is in effect until April 1. You are encouraged to find off-street parking for your vehicles well in advance of the ban going into effect.

Fall Brush/Leaf Collection
If you use the "green bag" garbage system, the following information may be of interest to you.

The City of Marquette will begin its brush and leaf collection shortly. Check out to find out when your street will be collected and what is allowed for pick up. The brush and leaf collection is available only to those city residents who use the “green bag” garbage system. This service is supported by fees, not taxes.

All residents are asked to observe the following rules:

  • These collections are for brush, leaves, grass clipping and garden debris only. NO rubbish is allowed. Bags containing garbage or other rubbish mixed with yard waste will not be collected
  • Brush and leave piles should not be combined. Brush and leaves are collected on separate weeks. Leaves will not be picked up on the brush week, nor brush on leaf pickup weeks.
  • The volume to be collected from each property is limited to one pickup load (a pile approximately 12 feet long by 6 feet wide and 5 feet high).
  • Brush and/or leave piles should be neat and kep on your own property. For brush, the cut ends should be facing the back of the curb.
  • Pile your yard waste on the lawn next to the street edge, NOT in the gutter or on the street pavement.

Crews will collect loose or bagged leaves Oct. 27-31. Crews will return to the same routes Nov. 3-7 but will collect only bagged leaves. Do not use the green city garbage bags for yard waste.

If you miss the designated dates for your area, you are asked to deliver any yard materials that need disposing of to the composting site on Lakeshore Boulevard (one block from Hawley Street). The site is open on Mondays and Wednesday from 3-7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The site closes Nov. 22 for the season.

Week One (Oct. 20-24) is for brush pick up. Week Two (Oct. 27-31) is for loose or bagged leaves. Week Three (Nov. 3-7) is for bagged leaves only. Go to to find out which exact day of the week is designated for your street.

To learn more about the parking ordinance or brush/leaf collection, go to the city’s Web site or call the Public Works office at 228-0444.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

8 Ways to Make a Home Sell Faster

Simple fixes and staging practices can focus buyers' attention in the right places and keep them from getting sidetracked by personal items in the home. Here are some staging suggestions from Deborah Ehrlich-Layne of Staging Plus in Tampa, Fla., Handyman Matters, and HGTV's The Stagers.
  • Eliminate countertop clutter. A countertop covered with small appliances and utensils looks crowded, not spacious.
  • Pack up the too-personal. Don't leave toiletries on the counter. Stash family photos.
  • Be prepared for snoops. Prospective buyers pull open drawers, look in closets and peek behind the shower curtain.
  • Make sure things work. Dripping faucets, burned-out light bulbs, and squeaking hinges detract from the home's appeal.
  • Think "white-glove clean." Mop, dust, vacuum, clean baseboards, wash windows. Make sure the house looks fresh and smells neutral.
  • Make sure the front door is clean and the hardware polished. Power-wash walkways.
    Store furniture that makes rooms feel crowded.
  • Show every room for the kind of room it is. Maybe you've turned your formal dining room into a home office. Get rid of the desk and computer, and bring back the dining table and chairs.

Source: The Dallas Morning News (09/05/2008)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Plenty of Positive Housing Market News Today

New-Home Sales Surge in Northeast
Sales of new homes were up 3.3 percent in April, the first increase in six months, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly report.The rebound reflected a 41.7 percent surge in demand in the Northeast. Sales were up 8.3 percent in the West and 5.8 percent in the Midwest. They fell by 2.4 percent in the South.The inventory of unsold new homes was down slightly to 10.6 months’ supply at the April sales pace, compared with 11.1 months in March.The increase brought sales to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000.The median price of new homes sold in April fell to $246,100, down 4.2 percent compared with April 2007.

Source: The Associated Press, Martin Crutsinger (05/27/2008)

Plenty of Positive Market News Today
Hungry for a little good real estate news? Leon d’Ancona, president of IMS Inc., has something to cheer you up.D’Ancona, who provides real estate information to the industry, has set up a Web site that lists 2,319 markets in the United States where homes are selling well. For instance, Loganville, Ga., homes sold 38.5 percent faster in April than they did in March, and sales of homes in Avondale, Ariz., increased by 64 percent in April compared with March"The problem with glass-is-half-empty stories is that they have an undue psychological impact on markets that is not borne out by all the facts," says d’Ancona. "We know, because it's our business to know, that there are hundreds of cities and thousands of neighborhoods in the United States right now where the market is very healthy, thank you.”
Source: IMS Inc. (05/27/2008)

Purchase Mortgage Applications Rise
Mortgage applications fell 4.6 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis to 593.3 from 621.6 the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association says. On an unadjusted basis, the index also declined 4.6 percent compared with the previous week and was down 7.5 percent compared with the same week last year. The decline was driven by an 8.9 percent decline in refinance applications, whose share decreased to 46.1 percent from 48.2 percent the previous week. **Purchases actually increased 9.1 percent.
Mortgage rates were up marginally:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.96 percent from 5.90 percent
15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.49 percent from 5.42 percent
1-year ARMs increased to 6.92 percent from 6.71 percent
Source: Mortgage Bankers Association (05/28/2008)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Home Owners - 8 Skills Every Home Owner Should Master

These are skills every home owner should master to save lots of money over the years. Most can be tackled without fancy tools, although it helps to have a variable-speed power drill.
  1. Replace a door lock.
  2. Change furnace and air conditioning filters.
  3. Find a stud in wall.
  4. Learn to install wall anchors.
  5. Hang a ceiling fan.
  6. Drive drywall screws (to repair drywall).
  7. Master a caulking gun.
  8. Replace the flapper ball in the toilet.
Here are some books that are GREAT to have handy. They each contain information and helpful full color photos on home do-it-yourself projects:
  • "The Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual." First published in 1973, it was last updated in 2005. A great all-around book. Amazon Link
  • "Home Depot's Home Improvement 1-2-3" (Meredith Books, 2003, $34.95). Clear, helpful visuals. Home Depot Link
  • "Home & Garden Television's Complete Fix-It" (Time Life, 2000, $29.95). Amazon Link

Source: The News & Observer, Allen Norwood (05/17/2008)