Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Declining First Time Home Buyers Slows Recovery

Bloomberg Personal Finance is reporting that Americans are being shut out of the housing recovery
because of rising prices and tougher credit standards. First-time buyers accounted for 26 percent of purchases in January, the lowest level recorded by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) since it began tracking the data in October 2008. The decline of these buyers threatens to slow the pace of the economic recovery.

Inventory Smaller

More moderately priced homes are usually the main inventory for first time home buyers, and that inventory has shrunk do to cash investors snapping them up for rentals. In December, 47 percent of U.S. purchases were paid for with cash, up from 27 percent a year earlier. In addition adding to the already shortened supply, thirty-nine percent of owners looking for better homes plan to keep their current house as a rental. Higher mortgage costs are also a burden for first timers. Rates for 30-year fixed loans climbed to 4.37 percent last week from a near-record low of 3.35 percent in early May.

Lender Issues

The FHA, the biggest source of financing for first-time buyers, has raised the cost of borrowing and tightened underwriting to cope with losses on mortgages it insured as the property bubble burst. The number of FHA borrowers purchasing their first homes declined by 38 percent last year. For buyers whom go with other lenders they are requiring higher FICO scores. More than 40 percent of borrowers in 2013 had FICO scores above 760, compared with about 25 percent in 2001. Because of these difficulties, new home owners aren't even applying for home loans.

Young People Home Ownership Down

The home ownership rate for people in their 20's and 30's fell to 42.2 percent in 2013, the lowest in 19 years of Census data. While purchases rose 8.2 percent for residences costing more than $250,000, they fell 10.7 percent for homes worth less. Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Association of Realtors sees the decline as ‘a huge problem’. Another economic factor to add to the decline of first time home buyers is, housing prices are rising faster than incomes at this point. What’s a first time home owner to do? Focused strategy oriented planning is the best path for those interested in purchasing their first home. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sustaining Communities in Savannah

Every Monday I write about a person, group of people or organization that is making a difference in the world, or their community. On some Monday’s I scour the internet and struggle to find material for this theme. However this weekend I realized that there are people making a difference all around me right here in Savannah. The movement towards sustainability in community is truly growing here in Savannah. The term "sustainability" means the responsible management of resources (both material and human) in the interest of long-term survival. There are many residents here in Savannah that are pursuing individually, as a business and as non-profit organizations the sustainability of our community. As it turns out many of them are working together in one way or another, which makes sense in the principal practice of community sustainability.

The Southern Pine Company located over on 34th and East Broad St. is a prime example of how this principal of community sustainability is making a difference. Southern Pine Company owners Pam and Ramsey Khalidi rescued the building from demolition in the early 2000’s and turned into a bustling reclaimed wood materials flooring and furniture building company. However using reclaimed materials is only one way Sothern Pine practices sustainability.

They lease a franchise of the national staffing agency Labor Ready out of the building, which draws day laborers from the surrounding neighborhood. Offering the economically sagging neighborhood a chance at sustaining itself. Print and design firm  STEAM  rents space at Southern Pine, and Gullah chef and cookbook author Sallie Ann Robinson is drawing up plans for a restaurant and cooking school. The coffee roaster PERC recently found its home in a corner of the property. PERC is filled with reclaimed salvaged wood tables, custom-built bathrooms and a giant new roaster. The Khalidi’s also make use of their large property by offering it up to the artistic community as a gathering space hosting all-age musical extravaganzas like Graveface Fest and No Control as well as the recent craft showcase Savannah Bazaar in its brick courtyard (laid with bricks reclaimed from a demolished city building – of course.) Southern Pine is also host to Maven Makers, an organization that is working to establish a collaborative work-space, run workshops and other community oriented events, with the goal of creating a community of knowledge, design, and creativity.

In the back corner of Southern Pine (behind PERC) an 18 foot tall greenhouse is under construction. The green house is being constructed completely with reclaimed materials, windows and all. The greenhouse is the vision of Meagan Hodge, President and co-founder of Design for Sustainability. Design for Ability, Inc. serves as a universally designed apprenticeship for youth with exceptional needs that advocates environmental stewardship through green jobs training and vocational education. They have partnered with Emergent Structures a non-profit whose mission is to increase the value and accessibility of building material waste streams through facilitation, collaboration, education, and advocacy. The project is sponsored by many companies from cash checks (Ikea) to material (DIRT Environmental Solutions & Guerry Lumber), skill and time (Sam Carroll Construction & RNR Home Improvements) donations.

The plan for the soon to be completed greenhouse, is to have the students and residents from the local neighborhood plant edible greens. Thus helping provide healthy economical food to people in a sustainable way. It’s a sustainability micro-environment right in the backyard of Southern Pine Company. An environment that I suspect will continue to reach out into our community in Savannah and continue to Make a Difference

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Charming Ardsley Park Bungalow, Savannah

314 E 50th St, Savannah, GA 31405 

Bedrooms: 2
Bath: 2
Year Built: 1925
Sq. Ft.: 1,302
Price: $239,000
MLS#: 119823

Renovated bungalow in Charming historic Ardsley Park just steps from McCauley Park. Entering through a welcoming front brick porch which then opens to a spacious living room with freshly painted walls and a centrally placed fireplace. There are plenty of windows, hardwood floors and
crown molding throughout this charming home. Off the living room is a separate roomy dining room. The two large archways in the living room, sandwiching the fireplace, create an open and airy feeling and lead to a cozy sunny family room. The updated kitchen is fully equipped with stainless steel appliance, newer cabinetry and a utility room. New lighting is well placed over the sink, and under the cabinetry for easier food preparation.

The first floor bedrooms all sport extra tall windows the original paneled doors and en-suite bathrooms. The bathrooms have been updated with new sinks, faucets and shower stall. There is also a walk-up attic for plenty of storage. The great backyard is kept private with a six foot wood surrounding the property. The patio is a great place to relax and view the yard with plenty of garden space that include built in benches. There is also a sturdy workshop to hold all your garden tools.

The home is located in the Chatham Crescent area of Ardsley which is one of the most sought after neighborhoods to live in. It’s clear why, the streets are lined with beautiful homes, mature plantings, and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. In addition the area is centrally located to the best of Savannah. Only 10 minutes from downtown, 30 minutes to Tybee Island, and 5 minutes to the exploding Skidaway, Victory shopping area with its new Whole Foods, Chipotle, and Brusters Ice Cream. This is a charming home in a sweet location and is sure to sell quickly.

View more photos of this property here
Call Don Callahan 912-441-4416 to set up a viewing or ask questions.