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Archive for August 2012

31
Aug
The Federal Reserve

Quantitative Easing? As Fed action goes…

This quote from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should sum everything up nicely. From Jeff Cox on CNBC, reporting on Bernanke’s August 31 remarks from Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

“The hurdle for using nontraditional policies should be higher than for traditional policies,” he said. “At the same time, the costs of nontraditional policies, when considered carefully, appear manageable, implying that we should not rule out the further use of such policies if economic conditions warrant.”

In other words, same old, same old: the Fed stands ready to act, but for now, won’t. The economy isn’t going so well, but not bad enough that the Fed will act “nontraditionally.” The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently discussed another round of QE3 if the economy didn’t pick up, and while Bernanke reiterated the Fed’s willingness to act, the “hurdle” is set higher and we will have to settle for weeks of speculation leading up to the FOMC meetings on September 12 and 13.

30
Aug
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Users guide to public transportation San Luis Obispo County

I have lived in San Luis Obispo for over six years now and up until a few months ago, I had only ridden the bus a handful of times. I had a car and my previous attempts at using public transportation were a bit of a disaster. I have forgotten my ID and held up the line while I scrambled for cash, requested the wrong stop multiple times in a row, and missed my stop and ended up on the wrong side of town. Since I had a car, I saw public transportation as more of a stress and hassle than it was worth.

A little over two months ago, my 1996 Honda Accord took its final breaths, and went out with a smoke-filled bang, leaving me with a $300 check from the dump and no car. I felt stranded. I lived in SLO, but worked in Morro Bay. I was left with no choice; I would have to try my hand public transportation yet again.

RTA Schedule and Routes    ||    RTA Website    ||    Passes and Fares

Fast forward two months and countless trips via bus (with very few blunders), and I am absolutely thrilled I no longer have a car. Using public transportation has a lot more benefits than I ever realized. Keep reading to learn how you can save $300 a month, read that book you have been putting off, and learn a sense of direction.

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29
Aug
Darfur displaced people

How to conserve water and prevent dangerous rainwater runoff

Forty-six percent of people in underdeveloped countries walk an average of 3.7 miles for access to drinkable water. Think about that the next time you turn on the tap and let it run down the drain. We don’t have to walk for miles, but potable water is becoming less plentiful and continually more expensive.

As our water table drops due to diminished rainfall, we try to avoid using drinking water to wash our cars or water the garden. We take 3 minute showers to conserve this precious commodity. Then we allow billions of gallons to run down gutters to storm drains that flow directly into the ocean. Along the way, it collects all kinds of nasty stuff – road dirt, dog poop, disease and pesticides.

Rather than encourage runaway polluted water we need to “Slow it, Spread it, and Sink it”.  Allowing rainwater to soak into the ground will recharge both shallow and deep aquifers, reduce pressure on sewage systems, lower water bills and protect our steams and oceans.

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29
Aug

Aug 29 Market Update: GDP, pending home sales

Second quarter real U.S. Gross Domestic Production (GDP) fell during the second quarter from the start of the year. The GDP was revised upward from 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent. Domestic sales came in stronger than initially thought, which accounted for the change. The first quarter of 2012 had a 2.0 percent GDP pace.

The National Association of Realtors pending home sales index rose 12.4 percent in July 2012 compared to the previous year and 2.4 precent month-over-month. The Midwest (+20.2 percent) and South (+15.6 percent) showed the largest regional gains on the year, while the West (+1.3 percent) crept upward.

The Dow is up about 33 points as markets wait on the Beige book release. The Beige book is a summary of the findings of economic conditions from the 12 Federal Reserve districts.

29
Aug

Home price index shows first yearly gain since 2010

The 20-city Case-Shiller home price index showed gains for the fifth straight month and year-over-year advances for the first time since 2010.

June home prices rose by 0.5 percent from the previous year, and second quarter home prices rose 1.2 percent from the same quarter of 2011. When compared to the first quarter of 2012, prices rose a remarkable 6.9 percent, although some of this can be accounted for by the normal summer season bump.

Although the 20-city average showed improvement, there are still seven cities that are either at or below price levels from 2011. Atlanta (-12.1 percent), Chicago (-1.7 percent), Las Vegas (-1.8 percent), Los Angeles (-0.6 percent), New York (-2.1 percent) San Diego (-0.2 percent), and Boston (0.0 percent).

You can read the full press release HERE.

28
Aug
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Swinging mortgage rates: How to refinance and save thousands in this volatile market

For those of us who have kids, the start of the school year begins an entirely new morning routine. The mornings around my house the last few months have been filled with thoughts like, “what am I going to do to keep this little boy busy, happy, and active today?” At the end of every day I feel like an Olympic marathon runner conserving just enough energy to somehow lean forward and fall across the finish line.

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27
Aug
Boats-and-Rock-41-1

August 27, 2012: Mortgage Rates retain 3/4 point improvement

Little has changed since we posted a rate update for Thursday, August 23 entitled Mortgage rates drop in the wake of poor jobs report, Fed minutes. At the time, we wrote: “After several straight weeks of cost increases, rates have plummeted, in some cases by 3/4 of a point. Minutes from the Fed’s latest meetings reveal that the FOMC is concerned about the strength of the economy and is seriously considering another round of Quantitative Easing (QE3), a step that has been resisted thus far. The price of U.S. government debt rose, dropping the yield of the 10-year Treasury and bringing mortgage rates down with it.”

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27
Aug

Mortgage Matters Radio: August 25

This week on Mortgage Matters, Dan and Jason talk about extending the reach of listeners beyond solely the Central Coast through podcasts on our website. Jason takes us through the process he goes through with clients when figuring out which refinance options they are best suited for, and how personal habits and discipline plays a role when reviewing refinance options. Dan and Jason review the good news in housing, with increases in home prices and distressed properties down.

 
24
Aug

Nationwide, home sales rose in July

Lately, we have been trying to focus on local and regional housing data as opposed to the parade of nationwide statistics.  Home prices, sales, supply and demand are all influenced and reinforced by local factors, such as the economy and employment situation. As we say in the office, real estate is the “neighborhood problem.”

Every real estate market is different. New York has a robust real estate market, while overbuilt Atlanta struggles as it copes with excess supply and a poor employment situation.

So when we see the latest National Association of Realtors report that existing home sales have rebounded in July, rising 2.3 from the previous month, we smile slightly and go on about our work. The median sales price dropped 0.8 percent to 187,300, which helps account for the increase in sales.

On a national level, it is good to see that the real estate trend involves more sales and higher sales prices. Housing news and employment are two of the most watched indicators of the recovery. Still, for a better idea of the local situation, check out our Real Estate Professional Insight blog and the Keith Byrd real estate statistic aggregator SLO County Homes.

24
Aug
Boats-and-Rock-41-1

August 23 mortgage rates drop in the wake of poor jobs report, Fed frustration

After several straight weeks of cost increases, rates have plummeted, in some cases by 3/4 of a point. Minutes from the Fed’s latest meetings reveal that the FOMC is concerned about the strength of the economy and is seriously considering another round of Quantitative Easing (QE3), a step that has been resisted thus far. The price of U.S. government debt rose, dropping the yield of the 10-year Treasury and bringing mortgage rates down with it.

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