Thursday, January 24, 2008

Waiting for the Bank

The thing about the current market is there are a lot of short sales (homeowners trying to save themselves from foreclosure by selling the house) and bank-owned properties.

Dealing with the banks can be a time-consuming process. Banks are only open business hours and don't keep Realtor hours. The short sale responses can take a month or more, and the bank-owned properties can be really quick or really slow. And all of the bank departments are really really busy now, and I think some of them are even hiring temps to deal with all of the foreclosure work.

Right now I have a handful of purchase agreements from buyers out there that all need signatures from the bank. I'm just waiting! I am not good at waiting, but there is NOTHING I can do.

It's tough for buyers to purchase this property. They usually have some kind of condition problem (somewhere between needs new carpet to needs new everything) and they are usually sold as-is. And then to have to wait for answers to the offers is excruciating.

Keep your fingers crossed that these offers come through for me, will ya?

The Road to Hell: A New Kitchen

Long story short I bought some display model cabinets.
They fit my kitchen perfectly, and the style is so perfect for my house.

I'm going to have a new kitchen sometime this summer.

But, at my house, the motto has always been Champagne Living on a Beer Budget.

We're going to be doing the kitchen in phases. Not terribly long drawn out phases, but there might be a point when the current stove we have is in it's current place and there is an open spot for the new stove that is not yet installed.

And I think there might be some plumbing and wiring sticking out of the walls for a while.

It's all great news but I know it's going to be some trouble.

I guess the good news is the first of the contractors came by today. I wanted to find out if I needed to sister in some of the notched joists (don't ask if you don't know), or at worst, needed to replace some of the original 1900's supports. The answer is that my supports all look good! I think he was staring at my bra when he said that, though.

Anyhow, I'm getting a little kooky running through color scenarios in my head. For a while I could not get past dark khaki/forest green but now I am on to french gold to match the toile in the dining room.

Why Doesn't Someone Just Buy Up All of the $50,000 Houses on the East Side?

One of my colleagues asked me this earlier this week.

I told him it's because there are $50,000 houses on the West Side, and in Midway, and all over town.

I've just seen so many bottom-dollar houses lately. Good stuff, even, good condition. Just foreclosed, and needs to get sold. For me to see a house that is shockingly cheap I think it has to be under $50,000.

Speaking of Suing

Really, there is this dumb myth that "You can sue anyone for anything."

No. You can't. You just can't.

I can't sue Craig Finn because he won't come to my parties. Nor can I sue the asses that broke my dad's car windows, or the jackass that had that loud party.

Sometimes you can try to sue someone without a good reason and you will fail, if a lawyer will even bother to take the case. Lots of lawyers can't or won't take them.

So please stop thinking that. Or saying that. Because it's just not true.

Seriously Addicted to Marshmallows

Really, I've never loved marshmallows until this winter.

Now, I can't get enough. I told my husband I was going to get a drink when we were watching Lost last week. Came back with a mug full of hot chocolate with marshmallows, hold the hot chocolate.

I'm really trying to not eat the whole bag. We know where this is going.

The Declining Market is VERY Localized

So about a month back I applied for a HELOC (home equity line of credit).

When they ran my address through "the system" my ghetto address came back tagged as declining market and the bank wasn't too excited to give me tons of cash. It turned out okay in the end, but this declining market stuff is B.S.

So I had a buyer looking at a house one mile over and 3 blocks south of me... basically my old neighborhood. This owner is selling the house for $100k less than he bought it for in 2002. When talking to the mortgage guys about it, they checked it for declining market status: Nope! it's fine! No declining market there!

Seriously, this is such B.S.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let the Suing Begin

As you all know the foreclosure thing has really gotten out of hand. Foreclosures have even *gasp* hit the suburbs. Being good Americans and having a government that holds a loose grasp on business, when things get out of hand, we sue.

So the city of Baltimore has begun to sue Wells Fargo over "reverse redlining" -- a fancy way to say Wells Fargo is alleged to have given loans with the harshest terms to those in the poorest (read: blackest) neighborhoods. The city of Baltimore (as well as cities across the nation) must now deal with the fallout of having lots and lots of vacant homes to deal with. The city must inspect, maintain, and protect these homes. Sometimes they are set on fire, and there's no one to cut the lawn.

The cost to the other homeowners on the block is terrible. Lowered home prices on your block mean lower home prices for your own house -- as well as dealing with vacant houses that are never maintained and are a break in and fire risk.

Additionally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (quasi-governmental agencies that buy mortgages from Wells Fargo, Countrywide, US Bank, etc.) has announced new guidelines for lending. They are saying that if you are in a declining value area you may not be able to get a 100% loan as you have in the past. The funny thing is that no one can figure out what these declining areas are. Will the correspond with the poorest neighborhoods in town? Will they also correspond with the most ethnic neighborhoods in town? Will this lead to a Baltimore-style lawsuit?
Realtors are pretty up in arms over this. We are taught to be unendingly fair in our treatment of neighborhoods, and this announcement rubbed us all the wrong way. It will be interesting to see where it leads.

Hooray for Klondike Kate!

In a surprise move, my friend Audra tried out for AND WON the title of Klondike Kate!!
I am ridiculously thrilled for her. I can't wait to get my picture taken with her in her Kate getup.

Curiously, this is not the first Kate I have know. The very talented Kari Schaff is a past Kate and friend of a friend. Funny, I've never known any of the queens or princesses, though. I guess I am just more of a Klondike Kate kind of gal.

Photo from the Strib: