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10 Cities Where It's a Great Time to Buy

by Desi Sowers, REALTOR, ABR, GRI
The real estate business may be facing a softening in sales, but there are parts of the country where it makes sense to buy now. Forbes magazine examined current home sales patterns and sales projects in the country’s 40 largest real estate markets to identify these attractive markets.

Based on models that estimated 2008 housing inventory, sales rates, and turnover, the magazine compiled a list of markets that are experiencing price declines, but where buying looks attractive because there is likely to be an increase in sales in the near future.


Here are Forbes’ and Moody’s 10 most attractive markets, along with the median homes sales price and their price change from 2006.
  1. Fort Worth, Texas: $156,500, 1.7 percent
  2. Kansas City, Mo.: $157,700, -0.7 percent
  3. Houston: $154,900, 1.4 percent
  4. Cleveland: $128,700, -7.1 percent
  5. Denver: $255,200, none
  6. Long Island, N.Y.: $482,300, 1.7 percent
  7. Washington, D.C.: $445,300, 0.3 percent
  8. Orlando, Fla.: $265,100, -2.4 percent
  9. Phoenix: $264,800, -2.7 percent
  10. Las Vegas: $307,900, -3.6 percent

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (10/08/07)

Virginia Tech Tests Emergency Alert System

by Desi Sowers, REALTOR, ABR, GRI

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Hundreds of people reported they did not receive a message sent out during a trial run of Virginia Tech's expanded emergency alert system on Wednesday, though it was not clear whether all were signed up for the service, a university spokesman said.

The "VT Alerts" system sent text messages, voice mails, e-mails and online instant messages to the more than 18,000 people — about 60 percent of the university community — who signed up.

The Blacksburg school followed up with a campus-wide e-mail survey seeking feedback within hours of the test run and 711 people reported that they never received an alert, university spokesman Mark Owczarski said.

"It can be that they never signed up for it, or they signed up and they dropped out, or U.S. Cellular was having hiccups," he said. "It could mean a whole bunch of things."

The school already had been looking into expanding its alert system when student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and then himself on April 16. Plans began last fall, after an escaped prisoner accused of killing a hospital guard fled to the Tech area and caused the campus to shut down.

During the April shootings, the university relied mainly on e-mails, campus warning sirens and a message on Tech's Web site to alert students to the danger.

The expanded service gives subscribers the option of receiving their alerts by up to three delivery methods, and each subscriber designates a primary delivery method, such as a text message.

An analysis by a California provider of mass notification systems, 3n (National Notification Network), showed it took 18 minutes to send the test messages to all subscribers via their primary point of contact, and 31 minutes to send out alerts via all the contact methods, company spokesman Marc Ladin said.

There may have been external issues that delayed or prevented people from receiving the alerts, such as phone carrier delays delivering text messages, instant message systems that aren't configured to accept messages from the university and cell phone reception problems, Owczarski said.

Virginia Tech and 3n will review data from the test and the survey, Owczarski said. If there are problems within the system, adjustments will be made, he said.

"I would say that we're still learning," he said. "But it may just be that there is no such thing as a system that is perfect."

By KRISTEN GELINEAU

Surprising Demographic Changes That Will Impact Housing In the Future

by Desi Sowers, REALTOR, ABR, GRI

The latest 1,200-table 2006 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates key changes in social, economic, and housing characteristics for the nation.

As part of the Census Bureau’s re-engineered 2010 Census, the data collected by the ACS helps federal officials determine where to distribute more than $300 billion to state and local governments each year. The 2006 ACS estimates are based on an annual, nationwide sample of about 250,000 addresses per month. In addition, approximately 20,000 group quarters across the United States were sampled, comprising approximately 200,000 residents. Geographic areas for which data are available are based on total populations of 65,000 or more.

Among the findings, which are designed to refresh the often out-of-date 10-year census data, are the following hot topics that will impact housing in the future:

Older Workers

Wages have not kept up with inflation, which is one of the reasons why nearly one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 (23.2 percent) are still in the labor force (either working or looking for work) in 2006. That's an increase from 19.6 percent in 2000. States with some of the lowest rates of older workers in the labor force include West Virginia (15.7 percent), Michigan (18.8 percent) and Arizona (19.4 percent). Michigan and Arizona were not statistically different.

Some of the highest rates were found in South Dakota, Nebraska and Washington, D.C., all with about one-third of people in this age group in the labor force. Among the 20 largest metro areas, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of people in the labor force in this age group (31.8 percent). Others with high percentages include Boston (28.1 percent), Dallas-Fort Worth (27.9 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (27.4 percent) and Houston (26.5 percent), none of which were statistically different from the other.

Homeownership

Only recently has homeownership receded slightly, but it has increased overall since 2000, with more than two-thirds of all occupied homes (67.3 percent) currently owned by the occupant, compared to 66.2 percent in 2000. In 2006, the highest rates of homeownership were found in Minnesota (76.3), and some of the lowest were found in New York (55.6 percent) and Washington, D.C. (45.8 percent). Among the 20 largest metro areas, Minneapolis-St. Paul shared the top spot with Detroit (75.2 and 74.6 percent, respectively), with St. Louis ranking third (73.1 percent).

California and Hawaii were the two states with the highest median value of owner-occupied homes (more than $500,000). California cities Newport Beach and Santa Barbara had median home values of about $1 million.

More than half of California homeowners with a mortgage spent 30 percent or more of their household incomes on mortgage payments and other owner costs. Less than a quarter of North Dakota homeowners spent 30 percent or more of their household incomes on mortgage payments and other owner costs.

Non-English Speakers

In 2006, about 8 million more people spoke a foreign language at home than in 2000. Nationally, one in five (19.7 percent) over age 5 spoke a language other than English at home, compared to 17.9 percent in 2000. Among the states, California (42.5 percent) had the highest percentage in this category, followed by New Mexico (36.5 percent) and Texas (33.8 percent). About one in 10 California households were linguistically isolated, which means everyone 14 or older in those households had at least some difficulty speaking English.

Among the 20 largest metro areas, more than half of all people over 5 in Los Angeles (53.4 percent) spoke a language other than English at home. Miami ranked second in this category (48.6 percent), followed by San Francisco-Oakland and Riverside, Calif., where about four in 10 spoke a language other than English at home (not statistically different at 39.5 percent and 39 percent, respectively).

Married with Children

The percentage of households that were married-couple families with children under 18 decreased from 23.5 percent in 2000 to 21.6 percent in 2006.

All states, except Connecticut, saw a percentage point decrease in households in this category since 2000. In 2006, Utah had the greatest percentage of married-couple households with children under 18, at 32.3 percent. Other states with high rates included Idaho (25.5 percent), California (24.8 percent), Texas (24.7 percent), New Jersey (24.6 percent) and Alaska (24.3 percent), none of which were statistically different from each other. Florida (18.2 percent) and Washington, D.C. (7.3 percent) had some of the lowest.

Among the 20 largest metro areas, Riverside, Calif., had the highest percentage in this category (29.6 percent), followed by Dallas-Fort Worth (26.6 percent) and Houston (26.1 percent), which were not statistically different from each other.

The ACS estimates released are for the total population and, for the first time, include populations residing in group quarters.


Written by Blanche Evans

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