Friday, September 28, 2007

"Please Don't Shoot The Messenger"

OK, tough times call for tough measures. I've always believed that having the best information gives me what I need to make the best decision. It's the old "Hobson's Choice," where two choices are available, neither of which is very palatable. However, if your new job is waiting in Atlanta - and you've simply got to sell your home in the current Palm Coast / Flagler Beach market - then you might want to read this letter. I'm mailing it to my seller customers this week:
Hello, “Mr. & Mrs. Seller” Well, I wish this could be a message addressing the “upswing in the market and rising prices and increased sales,” etc. Yet, as you know, it’s not like that at all. As sellers, you read the papers and watch the news… and you are fully aware that this is the most severe real estate market “correction” we have experienced since WWII. Prices are way down… and still falling. Foreclosures are way up… and still rising. Mortgage lenders and title companies are closing their doors. Builders are hurting and real estate agents are letting their licenses expire. It’s a true “buyer’s market” and it’s no fun to be a seller. During the first 8.5 months of 2005, our Association of Realtors here in Flagler closed nearly 6,000 transactions (all types: homes, condos, land, commercial, etc.) During the same time frame this year, we closed 1,700 transactions. That’s a raw statistic which says our market is off about 70% from 2005! You know me… and I am an upbeat fellow. I’m not about “gloom and doom” and I know about “making lemonade when I get lemons.” However, I am not going to bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything is rosy. As a seller… if you are really serious about getting this done, you must look at these factors and lower your price. It’s not about hiring another “better agent” or another ad or a superficial incentive… It’s about price. If you are “moving up” to a more expensive home, you’ll get to be a buyer next! If you’ve just got to sell, for whatever reason, it’s time to significantly lower your expectations. Please don’t get mad at me. I’m the “good guy” and really want the best for you, under these difficult circumstances. Based upon what I see and read and hear, we haven’t hit bottom yet. Maybe it’s time to make a bold move and get it done? Frank Zedar & Maritssa Vazquez RE/MAX Oceanside // 386-931-1987

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Time to Pounce"

If you are trying to "time the market" so that you "buy at the right time,"... NOW is "the time to pounce." Come on... Let's dump the shack and score the mansion. This may be the best "Move Up" market in history.

They say that timing is everything... and that may or may not be true. Yet, if you fancy yourself as somewhat savvy about real estate, you know how frustrating this can be. It's no secret that in most parts of the US, it's a "buyer's market." Not just a "buyer's market," but a "BUYER'S MARKET." Definitely not a lot of fun if you're a seller. So Alan Greenspan goes on all the talk shows this past week to hawk his new book, "The Age of Turbulence," , and says what we already knew: Prices will drop more before they rebound. And... interest rates must rise to prevent rampant inflation. Tricky stuff, this macroeconomics...

Here are the main scenarios: 1. Buy an investment house. I'll give this only a "B-" right now. Prices are great and interest rates are great, BUT what do you do with it? Rent it, you say? Well, sure, except that the rental market is presently saturated with every "buy and flip" house that got caught in the downturn. To buy and hold and absorb the mortgage may negate the price and interest rate benefits... AND it may take some time to actually see some equity. (On the other hand, maybe we'll see a big increase in the number of renters, as foreclosures continue to soar? I'm sorry - bad joke)

2. Buy a second or vacation home. This gets an "A." If you've got the extra bucks, it's the right time. If it's for your family's use... and you don't want or need it to produce income, all will be well. Property on or near the ocean in Flagler Beach, Intracoastal, and Salt Water Canals in Palm Coast... are now at amazing prices. Even the slightly higher rates and down payments charged to investors are inviting. I know I'll sound like a dinosaur here, but get this: When I was a new agent in 1986 (pre-laptop days, for sure) they gave us plastic "mortgage calculator wheels" to help us estimate payments. The only mortgage rates around the outside of the wheel were "10% to 20%." Wow... I'm still aghast when I recall that I paid 16.75% for a VA mortgage in 1981. The seller had to pay 5 "points" on this loan for me. A little different, don't you think? I was freshly assigned at the Pentagon, following my tour of duty in Berlin. Yes, there were still two Germanys and The Wall was still standing.

3. "Move up" (sell your 1600 ft., $200,000 house and buy the 3,000 ft. house on the water for $600,000). This gets an "A +." The timing couldn't be better. Remember, as you're "giving your house away," the other guy (the one you buy) is "giving his away," too. The beauty here is that on a percentage basis, you really make out. Same goes for when the market turns around. Because of the price differential, you'll enjoy a terrific "net gain on equity." And, of course, interest rates are really, really low now.

Now here's what I believe. The market will wallow around for about a year, before it turns the corner. But when it does, interest rates will start to creep up with it. This will actually fuel recovery. When folks see 8% and 9%, they will scurry to get on the train before it leaves the station. Question: Will you make your move now... or wait till then?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Reflections on the 9-11 Attacks

The cowardly attacks on the US on September 11th, 2001 changed the course of history. We still have not grasped the magnitude of the hatred which spawned this demonic outpouring. Today, Sunday, September 9th, 2007... we remembered and honored those who died that day. Memorial Park on Palm Coast Parkway was the scene, where hundreds of military veterans, Red Knights, Blue Knights, Rolling Thunder bikers, and Freedom Walkers gathered. The Ancient City Bagpipers played and the FPC Junior ROTC posted the colors. It was a fitting memorial, as we continue to wrestle with the unthinkable. I was honored to have been asked to address the crowd with the following remarks:
Rolling Thunder – Red Knights – Blue Knights RE/MAX Freedom Walk – 9/11 Memorial Remarks – 09/09/2007 (Good morning everyone. My name is Frank Zedar. I’m a twenty year veteran of the U.S. Army. I fought with the 196th Infantry Brigade in Viet Nam in 1968-1969. Hello to you brothers here today from those years. It is a privilege to be asked to make these remarks here today.) Depending on our ages, there are dates that all of us remember. They are branded in our minds – Never to be forgotten. We recall with clarity such events as VE Day… VJ Day… Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon… The assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King… But the dates which resonate from deep within us and arouse our most basic passions are: · December 7th, 1941: The day which will live in infamy… The day on which the sleeping giant was awakened… The day Pearl Harbor was attacked. And… · September 11th, 2001: The day on which the most cowardly act in modern history was executed against the United States. A day on which nearly 3,000 people lost their lives at the hands of a band of savage terrorists, hell-bent on spewing God-less hatred into the very heart of freedom. Yes, nearly 3,000 innocent Civilians, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Flight Crew Members and Passengers… All Gone. All of us here today remember where we were and what we were doing when someone told us that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. “How unfortunate,” we thought, “how could a pilot get in such a predicament?” Then we turned on the TV and watched… stunned… as the nightmare unraveled before our eyes. · Two huge aircraft slamming into the towers… on purpose… over and over in slow motion. · Terrified office workers plummeting from the inferno to the sidewalks below. · Panicked people running through the streets… away from the danger… And · Firefighters and Policemen running into the danger zone… putting themselves selflessly in harm’s way. · Another plane – this one flying low and burying itself into the Pentagon – just a mile or so from the White House… and The U.S. Capitol. How could this be happening? Was this the start of WWIII? · And yet another plane. This one crashing into a field in Pennsylvania, its evil mission of destruction having been thwarted by heroic passengers. So here we are – six years later. Still licking our wounds and living in a world forever changed. The Soviet Union and the nearly fifty years long Cold War are no more. However, now the specter of global terrorism looms large and ugly. We lash out against our enemy, yet he is stealthy and cowardly, often choosing women and children and the elderly as targets for his suicide bombs. “Dear God,” we ask ourselves, “Why?” “Why do they hate us so?” Those of you who are here today know that it’s a one word answer: Freedom! And freedom comes with a price. And it’s that price paid that we are here today to honor. To our men and women in military uniform who died that day… and to those who continue the fight. To our Firefighters and Law Enforcement Personnel who died that day. Thank you. We will never forget you. Thank you from deep down inside us. Thank you all for coming today. It’s important that we not forget. END (Frank Zedar – 09/09/2007)

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