Monthly Archives: April 2017

Take Pet Pampering to the Next Level with These Fabulous Dog Houses

Source: RISMedia

Dog owners are infamous for providing their furry ones with a better lifestyle than their own. For instance, you might recall the time Paris Hilton had a replica of her mansion done for her pet Chihuahua.

We don’t need to go there, but there are definitely plenty of crazy options in the market. Who knows, one of them might catch your fancy.

Mediterranean Villa

Is your dog named Quixote? Donatello? If not, you might as well rename them, especially if that means they get to live in this woof-tastic villa. Look at that wooden double door! Seriously, if you can’t win your dog’s affection with this one, then just stop trying.

The Full-Fledged Mansion



If you’re going to go all out, you might as well just get your dog a straight-up mansion. If you already own a mansion (like Paris), I’d say it’s only fair you share the wealth. (Although your dog probably has its own room in the house. But why not both? #Excess.)

Related: When it Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

The Victorian Home



I’m a big fan of Victorian homes, so I’d probably go for this one… for myself? How is that a dog house? I only wish my downtown New Haven apartment looked as picturesque as this puppy’s home. I hope his name is Darcy and that he wants to be my friend.

The Dog-equivalent of the “Home Alone” Mansion



I’d say this is pretty close to the McCallister home, right? (As far as dog houses go, at least.) I can totally imagine dogs holding town meetings inside this bad boy. If I were a dog myself, I’d probably prefer sleeping in here than inside my owner’s run-down home. Because let’s face it, the dog who owns this home is definitely much better off than his owner.

And this was just a quick search! There are legitimate houses for dogs out there. As in, a concrete building with rooms where only your dog(s) reside(s). I know there’s always stuff to fix around the house, but surely your four-legged friend takes priority?

Have some cool dog houses you want to share with us? Tweet them to @HousecallBlog!

Military Strikes Cause Boom In Underground Bunker Business

Source: CBS News

DALLAS (CBS11) – The Trump administration’s increased military strikes might cause fear for some people. But for one North Texas man, it means big bucks.

Nora Holloway of Dallas is one of those folks who is concerned about the state of the world.

Citing the recent bombings in Syria, Afghanistan and the growing tension with North Korea, Holloway posted online to see if anyone wanted to “go in” on an underground bunker.

“I’m in no position to buy one,” said Holloway. “However, I think that for a lot of people that is a serious concern and a lot of people have done so and will be doing so.”

The interest level Holloway is expressing is an understatement.

“If I took 30 people and I worked 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, I still wouldn’t be caught up right now,” said Clyde Scott of Rising S Bunkers in Murchison, Texas.

Scott said there is around a three-month backlog for one of his subterranean shelters.

“They don’t really call me and ask me about the price or colors,” said Scott. “They say how fast can they get it.”

The list is only growing with each bomb dropped and threat levied.

“You should have got it 6 months ago,” said Scott. “You shouldn’t wait until the threat, until the fuse is lit on the rocket.”

The most basic model is 100 square feet of protection that is installed for around $45,000.

Scott said the most common is a 500 square-foot model for a family of four that runs for around $120,000.

The bunkers have all the amenities of home, are solar powered and surrounded by 100 percent steel.

Scott said only an imagination and wallet stand in the way.

“Doomsday crazy person, ‘prepper’ that’s all kind of nutty that people make them out to be…they don’t have $3.5 million to by a 5,500 square-foot bunker. Right?” questioned Scott.

While all of his clients are kept confidential, Scott said everyone from star athletes, Forbes 500 CEOs and maybe even an unsuspecting next door neighbor is investing underground without anyone noticing.

“I’ve sold to billionaires and I’ve sold to average Joes,” said Scott.

Holloway said she does not have the money but can at least dream.

“It would prepare people, myself specifically for what could and very well may happen in the future,” said Holloway. list of models can be found here.

The most expensive model being offered is “The Aristocrat.”

For $8.3 million, the model comes with a pool, bowling alley and gun range.

Home Prices Keep on Upswing in February

Source: RISMedia

Home prices nationally kept on the upswing in February, rising 1 percent month-over-month and 7 percent year-over-year, according to CoreLogic®’s recent Home Price Index (HPI™). The HPI Forecast™ projects prices to rise 0.4 percent in March and 4.7 percent by February 2018.

“Home prices continue to grow at a torrid pace so far in 2017 and these gains are likely to continue well into the future,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic, in a statement on the Index. “Home prices are at peak levels in many major markets and the appreciation is being driven by a number of dynamics—high demand, stronger employment, lean supplies and affordability—that will continue to play out in the coming years. The CoreLogic Home Price Index is projecting an additional 5 percent rise in home prices nationally over the next 12 months.”

“Home prices and rents have risen the most in local markets with high demand and limited supply, such as Seattle, Portland and Denver,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The rise in housing costs has been largest for lower-tier-priced homes. For example, from December to February in Seattle, the CoreLogic Home Price Index rose 12 percent and our single-family rent index rose 6 percent for all price tiers compared with the same period a year earlier. However, when looking at only lower-cost homes in Seattle, the price increase was 13 percent and the rent increase was 7 percent.”

Source: CoreLogic

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

What Trump’s ‘Big Number’ on Dodd-Frank Means for Brokers

Source: Andrew King via RISMedia

President Donald Trump has promised many changes since being sworn in a couple short months ago, but one of the more specific—and likely to impact real estate brokers across the nation—is his pledge to “do a big number on Dodd-Frank.”

This call to action is a clear shot across the bow to regulators and Democrats who put new policies in place following the real estate market meltdown of the late 2000s. Much of the president’s stated agenda has been taken with a grain of salt due to his unorthodox approach to communicating with the public. Anyone who follows @POTUS on Twitter knows it’s hard to keep up with what is really being set as a new direction for the U.S. and what is a political sideshow. Yet, there’s something about the dismantling of Dodd-Frank that seems more legitimate than most of the other noise coming out of Washington since Trump assumed the highest office in the land.

But what does this “big number” mean for real estate?

Most likely, it will include a significant rollback in the hurdles that banks must leap in order to issue a loan. The idea is to spur small businesses and strengthen the economy, so small businesses can expect easier financing, such as smaller cash flows to justify larger loan amounts, and hefty interest rates to go along with it.

With mortgages, it’s a similar dynamic. Big banks and community lenders alike won’t be limited by many of the burdensome rules of Dodd-Frank that brokers have been complaining about for years. Income-to-debt ratios may become more favorable for borrowers, appraisers might be held to looser standards when analyzing valuations through comparable sales, and brokers might be able to more easily help facilitate a loan for clients who are at a higher risk of paying it back. Plus, the banks themselves might not be audited and stress-tested as much as they have been under the previous administration.

On the surface, any of this would be good for real estate prices in the short term, and brokers are already preparing for the new deregulatory environment.

“I do believe that rolling some things back will allow more people to qualify for financing,” says Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North America. “They will buy more properties and prices will go up.”

Hitt, who oversees 2,100 agents in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Cayman Islands, adds that an overhaul of lending regulations, which would stimulate the housing market in the short term, begs a big question for the long term: “Will we run into the issue where people qualify for loans who shouldn’t have?”

Regardless of the answer, Hitt says he is concerned that many people who went through the previous housing bubble will still be concerned about the question once lending standards are loosened. Those concerns might be hard to overcome as brokers send their agents out to close new business.

“The one thing we need to pay attention to is that a lot of the buying public was affected horribly the last time we went too far. A lot of people remember that, not only because they qualified for vehicles they couldn’t afford, but because people got into vehicles they could afford, but their property values plummeted,” Hitt says. “The good homebuyers might be concerned, and that could be a new phenomenon.”

Hitt adds that millennials are a key home-buying demographic that needs to be both incentivized to make their first purchase and also protected under any pending deregulation.

“Millennials are a growing category,” he says. “Will they have to go down the same road?”

Coming off the last crisis, the stakes are too high now to make another big mistake and there is a lot of attention on the White House and Congress to see how they address Dodd-Frank and the underlying systemic issues that it attempted to correct.

“My concern as a real estate broker is that while President Trump has a lot of knowledge of real estate and making deals, I’m not so sure how well versed he is in non-luxury real estate and non-commercial property,” says John Agostinelli, author of “Easy Money and the American Real Estate Ponzi Scheme and broker/owner of Agostinelli Realty Group based in Massachusetts. “President Trump would do well to become educated about the last real estate cycle, its true causes and why many of the systemic issues that brought us to the brink of financial collapse still exist. He needs to be made aware of eroding underwriting criteria, FICO scores and the pressures from the Real Estate Industrial Complex (REIC), their housing activist allies, together with the politicians who push the same wealth redistribution agenda. Failure to recognize these looming issues over the first years of a Trump administration will only advance the next housing crisis.”

Many say that a smart deregulation strategy would make alternative lending available to more people without qualifying subprime borrowers and inserting their mortgages into investment-grade securities, which endangered the whole credit system when they began defaulting. The problem, brokers say, is that the government tends to overreact to such panics, and Dodd-Frank had many overreaching aspects to it. The challenge now is to not overcorrect again, they say.

Lauren Taylor is the founder of Capaven, a brokerage that specializes in single-family investment properties. She says she would like to see the Trump administration stay out of the housing industry for the most part and establish a “normalcy in interest rates as the low rates are a false sense of affordability.

“For us in particular, Dodd-Frank has been very restrictive. It has tightened lending and made access to capital much harder to reach,” Taylor explains. “The Act, though well intended enough, was entirely too wide-reaching. We saw regulations pinned on the seller financing sector and capital that was needed many times was unreachable for small businesses and operators.”

Like the other issues that the president is tackling in his first months in office, housing deregulation will be one that people do not agree on 100 percent, even within the broker community. However, there does seem to be a growing consensus that Dodd-Frank could use some updating and that more certainty would probably improve consumer confidence—a major factor that fuels all sectors, but has particular importance for an industry such as real estate.

“Homeownership is definitely something that people crave,” says Hitt. “I just get concerned that we don’t learn from our mistakes.”

Home Prices on a 31-Month Hot Streak

Source: RISMedia

Home prices are on a hot streak, reaching a 31-month high in January in the recently released S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

Prices fired up 5.9 percent year-over-year in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, an increase from 5.7 percent the month prior. The Index’s 10-City Composite rose 5.1 percent, while its 20-City Composite rose 5.7 percent. The 10-City Composite eked out a 0.3 percent increase month-over-month; the 20-City Composite, 0.2 percent month-over-month.

Denver, Colo., Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., once again led the tear, with Seattle showing the most gains at 11.3 percent year-over-year.

The trend could be disrupted if the Federal Reserve decides to raise the key interest rate three or four more times this year, which would result in a significant impact to mortgage rates, says S&P Dow Jones Indices Chairman and Managing Director David M. Blitzer. The Fed raised the rate in December 2015, December 2016, and, most recently, in March.

“Housing and home prices continue on a generally positive upward trend,” Blitzer said in a statement. “The recent action by the Federal Reserve raising the target for the Fed funds rate by a quarter percentage point is expected to add less than a quarter percentage point to mortgage rates in the near future,. Given the market’s current strength and the economy, the small increase in interest rates isn’t expected to dampen home-buying. If we see three or four additional increases this year, rising mortgage rates could become [a] concern.”

The story continues to center on inventory, which, according to Trulia, hit a new low at the beginning of the year, with starter home supply especially tight.

“Tight supplies and rising prices may be deterring some people from trading up to a larger house, further aggravating supplies because fewer people are selling their homes,” said Blitzer. “The prices also hurt affordability as higher prices and mortgage rates shrink the number of households that can afford to buy at current price levels. At some point, this process will force prices to level off and decline; however, we don’t appear to be there yet.”

What will end the upward spell? According to Bill Banfield, vice president at Quicken Loans, more new home construction is needed to release the pressure.

“Home prices continue to reach new heights, propelled by the lack of available housing,” said Banfield in a statement. “This is the narrative we have heard many times, and it is likely to continue until construction increases and provides more options both move-up and first-time buyers.”

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

Puget Sound Energy Rebates For Appliance Purchases

As a reminder, PSE is currently offering the following rebates:

$25 Rebates on Energy Star® Certified Freezers
$75 Rebates on Energy Star® Certified Refrigerators and Clothes Washers
$75 Rebates on Smart Thermostats
$150 Rebates on Heat Pump Dryers
$500 Rebates on Energy Star® Certified Gas Dryers
$500 Rebates on Electric Vehicle Chargers

Visit to learn more information about these PSE Energy Efficiency programs.