Monday, April 25, 2011

Buyers “on the fence”? Here are the facts! - The Paul Paterakis Power Team - RE/MAX Showcase

The past lending practices caused the mess we are currently in; new and pending regulations are making the process of getting a mortgage a lot more time consuming and costly: expect higher fees, larger down payments and higher insurance premiums.

Forget the no money down, they will be looking at ten (10) percent minimum. They want the Home Buyer to have real “skin in the game.” In the past the Feds guaranteed nine out of ten loans; going forward we will see a major reduction and the buyer will have to qualify the old fashion way: on their own strength. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be restructured but don’t expect the Federal Housing Administration(FHA) to replace them.

On April 1, 2011 most of the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”
went into effect with more coming out in the fall and in 2012. Right now is the best time to buy
and get a mortgage before the process is much harder and expensive.
Regardless of regulations and costs, the buyer only has two basic questions: how much per
month and how much do I have to put down. Both of them are going up and will stay there for
the foreseeable future; isn’t time to get off the fence today?

A final quick recap:

• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going through major changes and complete restructuring since the Feds want to reduce their “lending” position to very little.
• Whatever loans will be made with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the back-up will result in much higher monthly insurance fees and higher total monthly payment.
• Some down payments currently at three (3) percent will be a thing of the past; look for a down payment (minimum) around ten (10) percent in the near future.
• FHA loans in general will cost more to build up reserves in case of default on the note.
• Credit score: like it or not, it’s controlling the loan and its interest rate
• More and more paperwork, disclosures, verifications; the ease of a loan in the past is gone, be ready for delays and a lot more time needed to complete the process.
• The sixty-day-lock will need to be longer, causing a higher cost for the longer period of time that the lender has to set aside the loan amount while not collecting interest on it.

Besides the financing part of the home, buyers now (and going forward) have the best inventory of
homes for the lowest prices in decades. Buyers…now is the time!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

809 Area Code: do not dial it! - The Paul Paterakis Power team of RE/MAX Showcase

Someone will actually call you from this area code and leave you a message along these lines:
“Hey, this is Karen, sorry I missed you – get back to us quickly. I have something important to
tell you.” Then she will repeat a phone number beginning with 809: do not respond, it’s a scam!
AT & T has been sending out emails NOT to ever dial area codes 809, 284 and 876. If you call from the U.S. you will be charged $2,425.00 per minute!

If you call back you will be listening to a very long message (just to keep you on and add minutes to the call). They will tell you that they have important information about a family member who has been ill or tell you that someone has been arrested, died or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize etc. With so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls by just tapping on the number and not even look at what’s on caller ID.

The 809 area code is located in the Dominican Republic. The charges can quickly become a nightmare since you made the call. Your local and long distance companies will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company and you will end up dealing with a foreign company that will argue having done nothing wrong. Nobody needs this kind of very expensive pain.

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Is green energy unrealistic? - The Paul Paterakis Power Team of RE/MAX Showcase

Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren had a great article in Forbes that helped me “balance” the ongoing conversation and costs of green energy compared to our current structure; wind, solar and biomass presently constitutes only 3.6% of fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S. How much will it cost to go green? Energy expert Vaclav Smil calculates that achieving that goal in a decade would incur building costs and write-downs on the order of $4 trillion; $2.5 trillion just to build the necessary generators alone.

Green energy/economy is old and back in the 13th century it was all they had; it is quite literally the energy of yesterday. Few seem to realize that we abandoned “green” energy centuries ago for five very good reasons.

First, green energy is diffuse and it takes a tremendous amount of land and material to harness even a little bit of energy. Jesse Ausubel, at Rockefeller University, calculates that the entire state of Connecticut would need to be devoted to wind turbines to power the city of New York.

Second, it is extremely costly. In 2016 President Obama’s own Energy Information Administration estimates that onshore wind (the least expensive of these green energies), will be 80% more expensive than combined cycle, gas-fired electricity. That doesn’t account for the costs associated with the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new transmission systems that
would be necessary to get wind and solar energy which is generally produced far from where consumers/ratepayers happen to live.

Third, it is unreliable. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine when the energy is needed. We account for that today by having a lot of coal and natural gas generation on “standby” to fire-up when renewables can’t produce. The cost of maintaining this back up is not even included in the cost estimates for green energy. It’s no wonder the peasants of the Dark Age could not rely upon the vagaries of the weather.

Fourth, it is scarce. The wind and sunlight are obviously not scarce but the real estate where those energies are reliably continuous and in economic proximity to ratepayers is scarce.

Finally, once the electricity is produced by the sun or wind, it cannot be stored because battery technology is not currently up to the task. Hence, we must immediately “use it or lose it.” Fossil fuels are everything that green energy is not. Approximately 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas (which costs about $4.00) can generate the same amount of electricity as running an average
rooftop solar system for 131 days. It is comparatively cheap, reliable, will burn and produce energy whenever you want it and you can store fossil fuels until you need them.

The federal government once promised that nuclear energy was on the cusp of being “too cheap to meter.” That was in the 1950s. Sixty-one billion dollars of subsidies and impossible-to-price regulatory preferences later, it’s still the most expensive source of conventional energy on the grid. So much for government promises!

The fundamental question that green energy proponents must answer is: if green energy is so inevitable and such a great investment, why do we need to subsidize it? If and when renewable energy makes economic sense, profit-hungry investors will build all that we need for us without government needing to lift a finger. But if it doesn’t make economic sense, all the subsidies in the world won’t change the fact.