Saturday, July 21, 2007

When Pets Are Forgotten

The plight of the housing market as it pertains to the record number of foreclosures continues to worsen and has expanded to include the most undeserving of innocent bystanders.

What you are about to read is truly disturbing and what I hope will be an awakening for those who will never have to experience the disdain and emptiness that accompanies these chance encounters.

Recently I arranged an appointment with a client to tour a home which was listed for sale on the active market and my preliminary research showed that the residence was a foreclosure. Almost all such properties are marketed with language that states the home offers no disclosures and is being sold “as is”.

It is always wise to inform the client that these homes are usually unkempt and may actually be in a major state of disrepair but nothing could have prepared us for what atrocities we were to discover on this particular day.

I find it wise to arrive in advance of the prescribed meeting time so that I may preview the home in the spirit of gaining familiarity, the lay of the land, so to speak and when I arrived at this particular location my first objective was to open up the home and make a cursory inspection.

Almost immediately my sense of smell was accosted by an acidic odor which I recognized as animal waste and one which I had witnessed many times before. Often times a wild animal such as a raccoon or other such creature will gain access to a vacant home but this, however, was more familiar. This was definitely a domestic animal and as I entered the home it was evident that the previous occupant took pride in trashing this once proud home.

There was trash, clothes, tires, and broken furniture strewn all over the house and hiding in one of the closets was the sole remaining occupant. Scared, confused, and starving this completely trusting little girl came out to greet me.

This poor soul was left behind with no food or water and clearly with no regard for her welfare. You could count her ribs and her beautiful eyes appeared sunken and sallow but her spirit remained unbroken.

Just as we were getting to know one another, my clients drove up and I introduced them to my new friend. They were completely shocked, as was I, and I cannot even remember showing them the home as my thoughts were engaged with saving this little victim and broadcasting this atrocity to all who would listen.

This story ends well as I was able to re-hydrate and feed her and ultimately had her placed with a rescue organization but it made me wonder how many other such cases like this must exist.
I mean, how does the human condition allow some of us to punish our beloved pets for our own shortcomings and failures? Economics do not dictate that one abandon all of their commitments just because they are suffering financial hardship.

Such experiences might easily cause one to question the state of humanity but I choose to focus those negative thoughts on a more positive platform of awareness.

This particular victim was a mixed breed dog but it could have easily have been a cat or any other type of domesticated creature.

The call to action is to simply get involved. Donate to a pet rescue organization or act as a foster family for lost or abandoned animals.

If you are in the housing service industry or even an unsuspecting potential homeowner and you should bear witness to such an event, do something positive.

Help those who cannot help themselves and tell everyone that you know about this.

Spread the word!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Investing In Foreclosures: Southwest Michigan Real Estate

The real estate market is experiencing a staggering amount of foreclosures nationwide and all indicators show that this trend will continue. The growing number of such properties in lender portfolios continues to create further instability throughout the marketplace as the number of available homes for sale increases while the number of available buyers decreases.

This stagnation is also compounded by the recent rise in interest rates as well as the increased scrutiny of underwriting due, in no small part, to the collapse of the sub-prime market.
Many qualified buyers are finding it more difficult to obtain financing and the result has been an even greater tentativeness by these buyers seeking an opportunity to capitalize on this market trend. Even home sellers are reticent to list their properties which includes those of the high income bracket.

The third point on this triangle is the advent of new construction units which is usually a residual effect of a previous upturn in the market. Not long ago ( perhaps eighteen to twenty four months ) when the rates were in the four or five percent range on Adjustable Rate Mortgages, many investors and speculators began to add to the housing inventory by developing sites and constructing new homes. The result: even more homes for less buyers.

The cumulative effect has been reported almost daily as more and more families lose their homes to foreclosure and our nation suffers through this vicious cycle of surplus and tenuous financial stability. However, like all markets which ebb and flow, there is always opportunity if you know where to look.

The foreclosure market offers a plethora of varied inventory and in many circumstances an opportunity for future windfall. Due to the large number of these type of homes there exists a much greater level of negotiability and as such, a great deal of opportunity for the educated consumer.

The potential investor must be advised that many of these homes are left in deplorable condition and will be offered for sale “As Is” with the sellers offering no concessions. These homes will need repair and updating and will require the purchaser to provide earnest money and will almost always allow a very short time frame in which to conduct any due diligence relating to structural, mechanical, or environmental concerns.

The upside is the alluring aspect of this type of real state transaction because all markets eventually recover.

An investor with a good line of credit and a reasonable amount of contracting knowledge and expertise can truly find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The key to success lies in having access to the necessary market data and this is where having a knowledgeable Real Estate Professional is invaluable.

Your chosen professional should have pertinent market data, financial solutions, an understanding of local municipal codes, and most importantly be a visionary.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Open Land In Southwest Michigan

Everyone yearns to get away from it all and to commune with Mother Nature. Southwest Michigan has offered such diversion for generations.

Vineyards, orchards, and rich fertile farms dotted the landscape like postage stamps, safe from the bastions of tourists who preferred the shores of Lake Michigan and would only visit these sprawling enclaves during the harvest.

Slowly, as the shore line filled in and the lakefront population increased, so too did the courtship of the speculative investor and the gentleman farmer as these large tracts of land beckoned.

This created a volatility in the market as developers and investors would suddenly offer a windfall to a fifth generation farmer who found the offer irresistible and opted for an early retirement. The fallout was the loss of the large open tract and the advent of medium to high density development of single family homes, planned unit developments ( PUD's ), and site condominiums.

Ownership of land and its encompassing "bundle of rights" bestows these gifts of ownership and it is certainly what was intended by the allodial system. The unfortunate casualty continues to be the loss of the open spaces.

My passion lies in the preservation of these big, beautiful, open spaces yet I am appointed to administer land divisions and other such functions of land use and land use controls for my township.

This presents and intriguing duality as I am both a licensed Realtor and a Township Zoning Administrator yet it is actually at this confluence that my two realities peacefully coexist.

Our Zoning Ordinance is currently being revised and by adopting language to support Purchase of Development Rights ( PDR's ) and Transfer of Development Rights ( TDR's ) we are potentially able to encourage our local framers to continue plying their generational trade while securing their financial security into the future.

A PDR allows for the purchase of the rights to develop and allows for compensation of fair and current market value. They may be offered and funds made available at the local, state, or national government level.

My platform for sharing this information is my alternate existence as a Realtor and the response has been quite encouraging.

The long term results of such a program's success will not be known for some time as we are at the mercy of budgetary funding and the political process, but if nothing else, there is hope and a new level of awareness.

Save the land, they are not making any more!