Test article for publishing later.
What’s the best smartphone on the market?
This is one of the most common questions fielded by NAR Chief Technology Officer Mark Lesswing. He, along with Keith Garner, vice president of NAR’s Information Technology Services, Chris McKeever, managing director, Center for REALTOR® Technology (CRT), and Rob Mehta, 2011 Liaison for Technology, presented the latest technological advanced NAR is offering members at the 2010 Leadership Summit Geek Speak and Gadget Review panel in Chicago Thursday.
Rob Mehta was recently appointed by incoming National Association of REALTORS president Ron Phipps, as Liason to NAR’s Technology Group. Rob will be responsible for reporting to NAR’s executive committee regarding tech issues in the industry as well as issues facing consumers. Rob, who is no stranger to NAR, also serves on the Global Business Alliance Committee, and has also served on the Risk Management Committee. He also is also currently serving on the Board of Directors for the National Association of REALTORS.
This weekend I got a chance to ride the new Northstar line for the second time, the first time being just a week ago and taking the evening train into downtown to catch a movie at Block E. All I have to say is-it’s about time. After being milleniums behind just about every major metro on earth, the Twin Cities finally has the start of a true commuter rail system. I say that it’s the start mainly because this is a one-line system only, currently running from Big Lake to the new Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. The train makes the journey in about 50 minutes. The service itself is great, the train ran on-time, and of course being new equipment was a pleasure to travel on. The cars are double-decker and feature club seating, as well as power points and work tables on each set of seats on either end of each car. The current downside to the service, besides it’s limited route-service only runs several times each morning and evening rush hour, with special trains for events such as the Holidazzle in downtown Minneapolis, and Twins and possibly Vikings games. If your schedule doesn’t jive with the trains, you are SOL.
This time the message is clear: Don’t buy in Dubai. Do buy in Bangkok.
A decade ago, Thailand drastically overhauled its banking policies. It had too: the popping of a Thai real estate bubble triggered the catastrophic financial meltdown of the Asian Crisis.
But the prudent policies of Thailand’s banks has paid off. Thailand’s property sector can now wisely shake its head as Dubai’s real-estate sand castle gets swept away. Meanwhile, its own market is shrugging off the downturn and already showing a revival.
The area of Thai property with the greatest immunity to the global slowdown is probably Bangkok’s condo market.
Here a positive trend is partly propelled by the upcoming completion of new skytrain stations and a rail link to Suvarnabhumi airport, which promise big capital gains to astute real estate investors.
Not that Bangkok is currently lacking in terms of lifestyle. The city is consistently ranked at the top of international living surveys – and justly so, says Cyrille Hareux of Company Vauban, a Bangkok-based real estate company.
‘Foreign visitors tend to be really surprised at the quality of life in Bangkok,’ he says.
‘Before the sky train was built, the city probably deserved a reputation for traffic and stress. But now it’s pretty much the best of both worlds – all the character of a fascinating Asian city along with first-world convenience.’
Athip Pichanon, President of the Thai Condominium Association, has told the Pattaya Mail that Thailand is set to continue to appeal to foreign investors for top value for money. By square metre, a high-end condominium in Bangkok costs one-quarter of its equivalent in Singapore.
He added that about half of Thailand’s top-end condos are bought as investments, but that fewer people are buying luxury condos purely for profit speculation.
Meanwhile, Thongma Vijitpongpun, president and CEO of Preuksa Real Estate, has told the Nation newspaper that Thailand’s real estate market will grow by 5-10% next fiscal year.
For the longest time, there was no standardization in good faith estimates presented by Lenders when a loan application is made by a borrower. In efforts to facilitate a better shopping experience for the consumers, HUD requires all lenders use the new standardized format for Good Faith Estimates effective January 1 2010. At first glance, the standardized format of the Good Faith Estimate is easy to read, understand and digest by the average borrower. The summary of the loan is displayed on the 1st page with answers about the loan such as: (1) Can your interest rate rise? (Indicates if it is an adjustable rate mortgage) (2) Even if you make payments on time, can the loan balance rise? (Indicates if it is a negative amortization loan) (3) Even if you make payments on time, can your monthly amount rise? (Indicates if the account is escrowed or not) (4) Does the loan have a pre-payment penalty? (5) Does the loan have a balloon payment?
According to HUD, the “bottom line” numbers is what the consumers care about. This section of the Good Faith Estimate must be the same (ie. Zero Tolerance for differences) and borrowers can expect them to be the same on the HUD-1 settlement statement – if the terms and conditions of the loan are the same. Should there be a difference, HUD considers this Breached Tolerance and this breach will be cured with a credit at the closing table or writing a check to the borrower within 30 days of closing. This brings Lenders to more accountability towards the accuracy of their good faith estimates to their clients. It is a good thing. Other considerations could be expected should there be changed circumstances on these No Tolerance items above (ie. Lender charges). A changed circumstance may include acts of God, war, disaster, new information not known by the Lender, other information found not to be inaccurate. There are other charges associated in purchasing the property. These items are found as part of “B” on page 2 of the GFE. The similar lump & dump concept for Title charges in Section 3, 4, 5 and 6. These charges can deviate up to 10% on the HUD-1 statement – assuming that the borrowers services identified by the Lender. The total of these charges of page 2 on the GFE constitutes the “B” total. Along with the “A” total and “B” total, these costs add up to make the Total Estimated Settlement/ Closing Costs. However, this is NOT to be confused with Cash Needed for Settlement. Items A and B DOES NOT account for Seller’s concessions, property tax and HOA prorations, etc. Page 3 of the Good Faith Estimate is also known as the “finishing touches” for the loan. It gives borrowers instructions on what cannot be increased at settlement, what may increase up to 10% and what could potentially subject to change. There is also a tradeoff table for borrowers to see the various choices as provided by the same lender. Same loan with lower settlement charges or same loan with lower interest rates.
Last but not least, the GFE also provides a section to allow borrowers to compare various loan offers in the Shopping Chart section. The use of the form is MANDATORY. In the past, lenders have created their own formats and some not providing one at all. The new rules as directed by RESPA must be furnished to borrowers: * Within 3 days of loan application. A loan application is deemed taken by a lender with the borrowers’ names, social security numbers, incomes, estimate purchase value, loan amount, other information deemed necessary by lender and property address. This form must only be utilized if there is a specific property address. While home buyers have used the GFE to shop for lenders, they could no longer do that. Without a property address, the industry believes that lenders will come up with “preliminary” GFEs without the actual property address. * Without 10 days of GFE issuance. The GFE will be good for 10 days after the borrower receives it. The borrower MUST express an intent to proceed with the terms and conditions of the loan based on the GFE provided within 10 days business. After 10 business days, the lender is no longer bound by the issued GFE. This is HUD’s effort in facilitating consumer comparison shopping of Lenders. It is not the most perfect version out there but it is a much simpler method for an average consumer to understand. What this new GFE does not address is it does not specify the loan product (FHA, Conventional, VA, etc.) and it also does not inform the borrower the actual monthly payments in Principal, Interest, Property Taxes and Home Insurance (PITI). It only addresses the Principal, Interest and Mortgage Insurance (if applicable). The lender may furnish these information on other documents.