Happy Halloween! Our hometown has been ranked in Zillow’s fourth annual “Best Cities to Trick or Treat.” The index ranks the top 20 cities in the nation, and Buffalo stands tall at number 17. There’s a good reason we’re considered the City of Good Neighbors for nothing, right?
Which neighborhoods are Buffalo’s best? Downtown neighborhoods ranked very well, so if you’re looking for a nice helping of candy, head to one of the top neighborhoods tonight!
As Sandy heads for the Northeast today, homeowners should do last minute checks to make sure that their home is safe.
1. Walk the exterior of your home, checking for any low-hanging branches. If it seems that a branch is weak, trim it, if possible. Look for any loose objects that could become a missile, if picked up by wind. Store any loose objects.
2. If you are worried about your basement flooding, place important objects high off the ground.
3. If you must evacuate, secure your home from weather and any other threats– like vandals and thieves.
4. Place all important documents, CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and other objects in a light, waterproof bag or suitcase. Make sure you can easily grab it should you need to flee.
5. Charge all necessary electronics– phones, laptops, iPods. Unplug unnecessary electronics. Do laundry, dishes, and other household tasks. Put important food products on ice.
Remember that property safety comes second to the safety of yourself and loved ones. Be prepared to lose power and make sure that family, friends, and neighbors are also prepared.
In an open letter to President Obama and Governor Romney, RE/MAX co-founder Dave Liniger expressed his disappointment in the candidates lack of discussion of depressed real estate markets across the country. Originally, Liniger had hoped that the election would bring out new ideas and tools for helping homeowners– but after three debates, he has found that neither candidate has brought anything to the table in regards to the housing crisis. The “peril” he sees across the country has gone mostly ignored; how can candidates talk about the economy without talking about the real estate crisis, Liniger asks. Indeed, it is strange that housing has been lost as an issue in 2012 when it remains such a large problem across the country.
For the full version of his letter, please click here.
The housing situation has barely been a topic of debate amongst the country’s presidential candidates. Even so, many voters will head to the polls on Election Day with the financial pain from the housing crisis still fresh on their minds.
Nowhere does this matter more for President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney than the nation’s so-called battleground states.
Home values are down a relatively modest 6.4 percent from the housing market’s peak. Over the past year, the median home value in this hotly contested state has risen more than 5 percent. While the number of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage is more than 1 in 4 (27.3 percent), that’s better than 1 in 3 — the average among these nine battleground states. Obama won Colorado in 2008 despite its history of voting Republican for president.
The country’s most infamous swing state is among the hardest hit when it comes to housing. Despite a bump in home prices this year, values were down more than half from its 2006 peak . Of Sunshine State homeowners with a mortgage, 44.5 percent owe more than their house is worth. Nothing sunny about that. Obama eked out a Florida victory last time with 50.9 percent of the vote. A damaged housing market might just damage his chances this time.
Polls are forecasting a neck-and-neck race in New Hampshire, which Obama won in 2008 and where Romney, who has a vacation home there, is often labeled a favorite son. Median home value is down almost 25 percent from 2006. Almost 1 in 3 mortgage holders (30.2 percent) are underwater, about average among swing states.
Romney has repeatedly stopped in Nevada to argue that Obama’s remedies for the economy have failed. With the nation’s highest unemployment rate (11.8 percent) and its worst housing market, it’s no wonder why. Obama won the state comfortably in 2008, but polls are showing a tighter race this year.
North Carolina was a nail-biter in the last election. Of 4.2 million votes cast, Obama came out on top by just 13,692. The selection of Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention illustrates just how vital Obama considers this state. Values, down 11 percent from the peak, have remained fairly flat over the past year, falling only 0.3 percent. Just over 1 in 4 homeowners are underwater on their mortgage.
The winner in Ohio has won the White House in the past 12 elections. The state’s housing market has yet to see an upswing, but the state’s home values have fallen by less here than across much of the country. At $102,100, the median home value is down 17.9 percent since the crash. A little under 1 in 3 homeowners are underwater on their mortgage (31.6 percent), with almost half of those owing 100-120 percent of the value of their home. Obama carried Ohio last time by 4 percentage points.
The state’s relatively high median home value, $210,800, has remained flat for the past year, down 20.8 percent from market peak. One in four Virginia homeowners with a mortgage (26.7 percent) owe more than the value of their house. A tight race is predicted in Virginia, where a solid tradition of voting Republican was broken in 2008 when Obama won the state.
The median home value of $139,100 is down 12.2 percent since the housing crisis began. One in four Wisconsinites with a home loan (26.6 percent) are underwater on their mortgage. Hometown popularity for Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, may help eat into the support that propelled Obama to an easy victory here in 2008.
While no state-level home value information is available for Iowa, its largest metro area, Des Moines, has been performing well lately, with the median home value up 3.2 percent in the past quarter alone. Underwater mortgages are much less widespread, too, with 1 in 5 owing more on their loan than their home value. So housing seems less likely to hurt Obama here, a state he won with 54 percent of the vote four years ago.
Buying land is an entirely speculative game– if you bought land in California in the 1970s, you may be reaping the rewards; but if you bought that same land in 2006, it’s worth just a fraction of what it once did. Real estate investors see buying land as one of the biggest risks in the business. While development companies with long-term goals and a diversified portfolio might find the risk worth the reward, others might just plain lose. There is a low rate of return– stocks, bonds, and other investments often yield better results.
Why is it a risky investment? Because, after buying it, you still need to pay for it through insurance and taxes. That means that you’re losing out on other capital gains that stocks and bonds could bring, while also risking the land itself losing value over time. What do you think? Is it worth the risk?