Thursday, July 31, 2008

HUD Awards Funding to Provide Permanent Housing for Homeless Veterans

Today, Mayor Shirley Franklin joined the US Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Philip Mangano and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Director Burt Wilkerson to announce $2.9 million in funding that has been awarded to the DeKalb Housing Authority and Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center to provide permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans.

The funding is being awarded under HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) in which additional rental assistance vouchers are being provided under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. These vouchers, which are being administered by the DeKalb Housing Authority, are specifically targeted to homeless veterans. The Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center will provide outreach, supportive services and case management to eligible homeless veterans.

“This HUD funding will help Metro Atlanta expand its efforts to serve our veterans, who have given so much for our country. The money will be targeted toward providing homeless veterans with support services and the opportunity to obtain permanent housing, and I appreciate the efforts of all involved to make this program a success,” stated Mayor Shirley Franklin.

The DeKalb Housing Authority will determine income eligibility in accordance with HUD regulations for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Under the program, veterans can use vouchers to rent privately-owned housing and pay up to 30 percent of income towards rent. The federal subsidy will make up the difference between the actual rent and what the veteran will pay.

“This $2.9 million award we celebrate today for 350 new HUD-VASH vouchers for Atlanta and DeKalb County is invested in the central antidote to homelessness – housing - to ensure that all who have served their country have a place to live,” indicated Philip Mangano, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director. “These new housing resources – along with VA services and the record $9.8 million in HUD homeless resources awarded this year - will lead to new regional results in ending homelessness for veterans and continue the success documented in the 16% decrease in chronic homelessness that was reported for Atlanta and DeKalb and Fulton Counties in this week’s federal announcement of a second consecutive annual national average 15% decline in chronic homelessness that demonstrates that we are on track to meet the Administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness.”

The funding is part of $75 million awarded nationwide to assist 10,000 veterans across the country.
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President Bush Signs Landmark Housing Bill into Law

RISMEDIA - Landmark housing legislation signed into law yesterday by President Bush is aimed at ending the current cyclical downturn in the housing industry, helping home buyers and strapped borrowers and strengthening the housing finance system, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“This milestone bill contains several provisions to get home buyers back into the marketplace, stop the slide in home prices, provide a lifeline to borrowers facing foreclosure, improve mortgage liquidity and bolster confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said NAHB President Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va. “We commend Congress and the President for taking this action to provide much-needed relief to the American people.”

For the past year, NAHB has been in the forefront in pushing for legislation to address the turmoil in the financial and housing markets and to bolster the nation’s faltering economy.

“By helping Americans avoid foreclosure, cracking down on predatory lending, protecting communities from the blight of abandoned homes, and providing generous tax incentives to encourage home ownership, this legislation will help strengthen the housing market and create jobs,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), a chief architect of the bill, calls it “the most important piece of housing legislation in a generation.”

Prudential California/Nevada/Texas President Ed Krafchow agreed, saying the passing of the bill signifies an important turning point in the real estate industry.

“I think [the passing of the bill] is indicative of us coming through the storm,” Krafchow said. “The best part of this is, that this is a rebuilding process and now we’re on the other side of the perfect storm that hit the industry and certainly damaged the financial part of the business and greatly impeded doing real estate transactions. I’m not suggesting we’ve hit smooth sailing, but the majority of the storm is over and we’re starting to move forward in the business and the industry as it grows. That’s the most positive piece of the signing of this bill.”

Key elements of H.R. 3221, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, include:

- A temporary first-time home buyer tax credit. The tax credit will stimulate home buying, reduce excess supply in housing markets and shore up home prices.

- FHA modernization and expansion. A revitalized FHA will have greater flexibility to respond to the needs of borrowers, enable more working families to become home owners and play an important role in the mortgage markets. To address the foreclosure crisis, the FHA is given additional authority to insure up to $300 billion of mortgages to refinance loans headed for foreclosure.

- GSE (government-sponsored enterprise) reform. The law reforms the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and permanently increases the conforming loan limit to help buyers in high-cost markets. To reassure financial and global markets, the government will temporarily expand its line of credit to Fannie and Freddie and permit the U.S. Treasury to purchase an equity stake in the companies through the end of 2009.

- Mortgage Revenue Bond Program. The measure gives states the ability to issue an additional $11 billion in mortgage revenue bonds, which will help strapped borrowers seeking to refinance their home loans.

- Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Enhancing this program will expand the supply of much-needed affordable rental housing.

Tax Credit Centerpiece of Housing Bill

The centerpiece of the housing bill is a temporary, $7,500 first-time home buyer tax credit for the purchase of any home. The tax credit can be used for homes purchased between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009. It is expected to provide a significant-and temporary-financial incentive for home buyers.

“The tax credit is the best stimulative measure,” said Dunn. “It will increase housing demand, get home buyers back into the marketplace and fight falling home prices, which threaten the economy as a whole.”

The original eligibility period expired in April 2009, but following a major grassroots campaign from NAHB members, the period was extended to June 30, 2009 to enable home builders to include the credit in their sales and marketing next spring and into the early summer-the peak home buying season.

NAHB has launched a new website, www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com, which includes a set of comprehensive questions and answers about how the credit works and how consumers can put it to their advantage.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The 10 Most Controversial Provisions of the Housing Bill

GHRE Note: We found this blog of interest and thought you would as well.

Congress has officially cleaned its hands of the landmark Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and sent it to President Bush for his signature. The bill is about 694 pages long, but you don’t need to read any of it to find out about the parts you’ll probably hate the most....

Read the story.

GMAC Financial Services Provides Sponsorship, Volunteers to Help Cobb Habitat for Humanity Build Affordable Housing

PRNewswire/ -- Cobb Habitat for Humanity is getting a boost from GMAC Financial Services with volunteer help and house-funding. GMAC will provide a full sponsorship along with employee volunteers to build a home in Hillcrest East, Cobb Habitat's distinctive new-home community in Austell.

The new home will be for the Uhurebor family. Construction on the home began on July 24 and will continue until October. Each GMAC team member will work on the house 10 days over the next four months. GMAC Financial Services is represented in Atlanta by volunteers from GMAC Insurance and GMAC Auto Finance.

"We are grateful to GMAC for their donation that will help families locally and across the country have a simple, decent place to call home," said Don Martin, director of development, Cobb Habitat for Humanity.

GMAC's support will include funding to help build 12 Habitat homes in the United States, as well as additional homes in Canada and Mexico. More than 5000 GMAC employees will also join in efforts to build the homes this year.

"GMAC really values the philosophies behind Habitat for Humanity, and we're happy to contribute to their cause," said Wade Bontrager, vice president, marketing, GMAC Insurance. "We're eager to help make a significant, positive impact for a family right here in our own community."

Sponsorships have been awarded to Habitat affiliates in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Dallas; Detroit; Jacksonville, Fla.; Minneapolis; New York City; Philadelphia; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Waterloo, Iowa; Winston- Salem, N.C.; Toronto; Mexico City; and Monterrey, Mexico.

"Our long-standing partnership with GMAC has helped provide the resources needed to build affordable housing with hundreds of families," said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. "We are excited to have GMAC's support once again as we embark on another year of working together to make the dream of homeownership a reality for many families."

For more than 15 years, the financial and volunteer support offered by GMAC and its subsidiaries has helped Habitat build and rehabilitate hundreds of homes. Additionally, GMAC supports financial literacy and homeownership through several initiatives including foreclosure prevention programs via GMAC ResCap's Keychain Alliance and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, and financial literacy via GMAC SmartEdge, a program designed to educate consumers in the areas of credit, budget, banking, vehicle and home financing, and insurance. For more information on financial literacy go to www.SmartEdgebyGMAC.com

Cobb Habitat is currently building 51 homes in Hillcrest East and welcomes additional volunteers, funding and support.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Barr: Government's Fiscal Irresponsibility Reaches New Height with Housing Bail-out

“When George W. Bush entered the White House in 2001, the federal budget was in balance; no longer. This year the deficit is nearly $500 million – half a trillion dollars -- a record, and roughly three times larger than last year’s deficit. Yet, even as the economic downturn is forcing many American families to cut back their spending, Congress just passed and the president is preparing to sign a massive bail-out bill for the housing industry that significantly increases government red ink – raising our national debt to $10.6 trillion,” observes Libertarian presidential nominee and former Georgia congressman Bob Barr.

“Such bipartisan fiscal irresponsibility threatens to bankrupt our nation,” Barr notes, adding, “this housing bail-out, which provides massive new support to federally-sponsored mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which already hold some $1.0 trillion in bad loans –will expand further the federal government’s total unfunded liabilities. These new obligations come on top of some $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities for the Medicare and Social Security systems. When will the spending stop?” Barr asks.

“Clearly, the onslaught of red ink will not stop if either Barack Obama or John McCain is elected president,” Barr observes. “Both Senators Obama and McCain backed the housing bail-out, which will continue the practice of subsidizing irresponsible lenders and borrowers that caused the current problem, spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on “counseling” for homeowners facing mortgage problems, and enrich activist groups. Both of these major-party nominees support policies to impose massive regulatory burdens on the U.S. economy in the name of fighting climate change. Both of them want more military spending to defend wealthy allies and engage in nation-building, rather than to defend America. And both of them are beholden to lobbyists, who have helped push Congress to approve nearly $100 billion in corporate welfare every year.”

It is high time to say “no” to the status quo, Barr has said. “The American people simply cannot afford more of the same,” insists Barr, “which means more government spending; more special interest pay-offs; more fraud and waste; and continuing to treat American taxpayers like geese to be plucked rather than citizens of a free society and democratic republic.”

Barr has declared that if elected, he “will begin on Day One with a freeze on all discretionary spending,” and a “challenge to Congress to begin dramatically cutting federal spending, not just nibbling at the edges by going after pork barrel spending.” Barr also has said he “will insist that just as we had welfare reform in the 1990s, in a Barr Administration we will have corporate welfare reform, refocus our national defense policy on defense and closing overseas bases and bringing troops home.” Finally, Barr has said he will “push Congress to work with me to reform entitlement spending before it consumes our entire economy.”

“Returning responsible budget-making to Washington won’t be easy,” Barr admits, “but as Ronald Reagan challenged all of us, if not us, who? If not now, when? We owe it not only to ourselves, but more importantly to our children and grandchildren, to return to the principles of limited government and individual liberty.”

Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.

Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizen’s right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom.

Dolan Media Subsidiary American Processing Company Signs Agreement to Acquire National Default Exchange

BUSINESS WIRE --Dolan Media Company (NYSE: DM), a leading provider of business information and professional services to the legal, financial and real estate sectors in the United States, said today that its majority-owned subsidiary, American Processing Company, LLC, (APC), has signed a definitive agreement to purchase National Default Exchange (NDEx), a leading mortgage default processing services company based in Addison, Texas.

NDEx provides mortgage default processing services in Texas, California and Georgia, three of the top 10 states experiencing prolific default-related activity. APC currently provides similar services in Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota.

NDEx also provides property title services and licenses specialized software for the mortgage banking industry.

This is an accretive and highly complementary transaction that provides us with entry into three of the nations largest states in terms of their projected growth in mortgage defaults, said Dolan Media Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer James P. Dolan. NDEx is a well-respected company with an outstanding management team and operating track record. It will broaden our new market focus beyond acquisitions by providing us with the resources and knowledge to launch operations in new states. Adding NDExs capabilities will strengthen our ability to pursue a national footprint to address this problem and generate value for our shareholders, Dolan added.

NDEx, which is well established in Texas, launched its default processing services in 2007 in the fast-growing California market and entered Georgia earlier this year.

The transaction will be funded by a significant portion, or all, of a $64 million private placement of Dolan Media common stock and by debt from the companys credit facility.

The closing of the acquisition is conditioned upon National Default Exchange, LP entering into a long-term exclusive services agreement with Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner & Engel, L.L.P., an Addison, Texas, law firm which currently uses NDEx for processing services. It is also conditioned upon termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions. The company plans to make its Hart Scott Rodino filing with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice this week.

Dolan Media said it plans to update its financial guidance during the second quarter 2008 earnings call, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. CDT August 7, 2008.

According to the first quarter 2008 Mortgage Bankers Association delinquency survey, California, Texas and Georgia ranked first, third and seventh, respectively, among the 50 states in estimated foreclosure starts during the first quarter of 2008. In California, NDEx provides its default processing services directly to lenders and loan servicers. A license to practice law is not required to manage the mortgage default processes in California. In most other states, attorneys must oversee such matters.

APC President David Trott noted the importance of the California expansion. This transaction will establish APCs footprint in the state of California, the largest and one of the most active default management markets in the United States, he said. Our primary focus in the year ahead will be on integrating NDEx with APC and supporting the continued growth of our operations. We welcome Mike Barrett and his outstanding NDEx management team to APC and we look forward to their contributions.

APC and NDEx each use proprietary automated workflow process management systems that allow efficient and secure handling of large numbers of cases. Trott said the Dallas processing operations of NDEx would be maintained and that over time the best aspects of the APC and NDEx technology platforms would be combined.

NDEx President Michael C. Barrett pointed out the strength of the two companies together. The combination of APC and NDEx builds a stronger, more efficient company that is positioned to offer better service to clients, Barrett said. Now that we will provide default services in six states, we look forward to leveraging our opportunities in technology, customer service and marketing to further drive our business. We are extremely excited about the future growth opportunities for our company.

After closing, Barrett will remain with NDEx as its president and chairman emeritus. He also will remain as managing partner of the law firm Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner & Engel.

Private Placement of Equity

Dolan Media also said it entered into a securities purchase agreement for a $64.0 million private placement of 4.0 million shares of its common stock at $16.00 per share. The company plans to use a significant portion, or all, of the net proceeds of the private placement to fund the acquisition of NDEx and to use any remaining proceeds for other acquisitions, working capital and other general corporate purposes.

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, the company is obligated to file a registration statement covering re-sale of the privately-placed shares and to cause a registration statement to be effective within 120 days of the closing. The company has agreed to pay to the purchasers cash penalties associated with any failure to meet the registration deadline.

Allen & Company, New York, and Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC, Minneapolis, acted as placement agents for the equity transaction.

Amended Credit Agreement

Dolan Media also said that it amended its credit agreement with a lending syndicate led by US Bank, NA. The amendment approves the NDEx acquisition and waives the requirement that the company apply 50% of the proceeds of the private placement to the repayment of outstanding debt. It also lowers the maximum leverage ratios and increases the interest rate margins charged to the company on the loans under the credit facility.

Dolan said that at the closing of the NDEx transaction, We expect to have a debt-to-pro forma adjusted EBITDA ratio of approximately 2.7 times, well within our comfort level. We believe that we can reduce this ratio to less then two times by the end of next year.

Dolan Media Company is a leading provider of business information and professional services to the legal, financial and real estate sectors. Its Professional Services Division provides specialized services to the legal profession through APC and also through its Counsel Press, LLC unit. Counsel Press is the nation's largest provider of appellate services to the legal community. The Companys Business Information Division produces business journals, court and commercial media and other publications, operates web sites and conducts a broad range of events for targeted professional audiences in each of the 21 geographic markets that it serves across the United States.

Safe Harbor Statement

This release contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and projections about our future results, performance, prospects and opportunities. The words expect, believes, continue, will, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to us and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance, prospects or opportunities to be materially different from those expressed in, or implied by, such forward looking statements. These risks, uncertainties and other factors include, but are not limited to, the following: we have owned and operated the businesses in our Professional Services Division (APC and Counsel Press) for a short period of time; if the number of case files referred to APC by our customers decreases or fails to increase, our operating results and ability to execute our growth strategy could be adversely affected; government regulation of sub-prime, Alt-A and other non-traditional mortgage products, including voluntary programs adopted by lenders and loan servicers, may have an adverse effect on or restrict APCs operations; integration of acquired businesses may place a strain on our management and internal systems, processes and controls; we may not be able to close the acquisition of NDEx on a timely basis or at all; the acquisition of NDEx may expose us to particular business and financial risks that include, but are not limited to: (1) diverting managements time, attention and resources from managing the business; (2) incurring significant additional capital expenditures and operating expenses to improve, coordinate or integrate managerial, operational, financial and administrative systems; (3) failing to integrate the operations, personnel and internal controls of NDEx into APC or to manage NDEx or our growth; and (4) facing operational difficulties in new markets or with new product and service offerings; and we will be required to incur additional indebtedness to close the acquisition of NDEx and this additional debt will consume a significant portion of our ability to borrow and may limit our ability to pursue other acquisitions or growth strategies. Please also see Risk Factors contained in Item 1A of our annual report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 28, 2008 and Item 1A of Part II of our quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC on May 8, 2008, both available at the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov, for a description of some of these and other risks, uncertainties and factors that could cause our actual results, performance, prospects or opportunities to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, forward looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. Except as required by federal securities law, we assume no obligation to update publicly or to revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available, new events occur or circumstances change in the future.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two Bullard Agents Named to Coldwell Banker International President's Circle for 2007 Sales

Two agents from Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty have qualified to join the company's International President's Circle. The prestigious membership is awarded to the top three percent of the more than 116,800 sales associates worldwide in the Coldwell Banker system.
The honorees were Linda Jones of the company's McDonough/Henry County office and Shonda Sims of the Jonesboro/Clayton County office.

As members of the company's International President's Premier, Jones and Sims will be invited to attend the company's "Elite Retreat," a three-day conference August 21-23 in Toronto conducted exclusively for the company's top sales associates during 2007.

The two agents were presented with this distinguished honor for their 2007 production at the Coldwell Banker International Business Conference, held February 21-23 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The annual event brought thousands of Coldwell Banker sales associates, brokers, managers and employees together for an intensive professional development program and awards ceremony. The conference's keynote speakers were Bob Woodruff (co-anchor for ABC's World News Tonight) and his wife, Lee Woodruff. The couple recently released "In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love, Courage, and Healing," a memoir about Bob's recovery after being seriously injured by a roadside bomb while reporting near Taji, Iraq.

The Bullard organization was founded in 1956 by the late Cliff Bullard and worked out a franchise agreement with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation in early 1998. It is the largest Coldwell Banker franchise in Georgia. Steve Bullard, current owner and president, has been with the company for more than 35 years.

The oldest and largest real estate company headquartered in the Metro South area of Atlanta, Coldwell Banker Bullard (http://cbbullard.com) has its headquarters in Jonesboro. The organization now has other offices in Griffin, McDonough, Jackson, Peachtree City, Newnan, and Conyers, and a separate but affiliated company, Coldwell Banker American Land Mart in Conyers.

Since 1906, the Coldwell Banker organization has been a premier full-service real estate provider. In 2006, Franchise Times magazine's prestigious Top 200 issue ranked the Coldwell Banker system number one in real estate for the seventh straight year and number eight among all franchisors. The Coldwell Banker System has approximately 3,800 residential real estate offices and more than 120,000 sales associates in 42 countries and territories. The Coldwell Banker System is a leader in the industry in residential and commercial real estate, and in niche markets such as resort, new home and luxury property through its Coldwell Banker Previews International division. It is a pioneer in consumer services with its Coldwell Banker Concierge Service Program and award-winning Web site, www.coldwellbanker.com. Coldwell Banker Mortgage is one of the largest telephone/web based lenders in the country. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Corporation, the world's largest real estate franchisor. Coldwell Banker is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Each office is independently owned and operated.

Skyline Condominium Offers Amazing Amenities

Skyline at Lindbergh will offer an array of fabulous amenities which are not typically found in many condominium high-rises in the Atlanta area. Located at the corner of Morosgo Drive and Adina Street, Skyline's 21 stories will encompass 220 one- to three-bedroom SkyHomes priced from the $190,000s to $1 million-plus .

The location is the first amenity offered. It is exceptional on its own--just minutes from Midtown, Downtown and Buckhead. Skyline is situated in the heart of the emerging Lindbergh area near fabulous restaurants and world-class shopping. Upon entering the dramatic two-story lobby, residents will be greeted by a 24-hour concierge desk including security.

Moving beyond the lobby, residents will enjoy 700 to 2,400 square feet of living space and an array of upgrades which are included at no additional charge. Every SkyHome includes 10-foot smooth coat ceilings, granite countertops, Bosch stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, spacious bathrooms and floor to ceiling glass walls.

The amazing amenities continue outside of the homes including a pool with waterfalls, a sun deck and private cabanas. A contemporary club room with a kitchen and an outdoor terrace invites residents to come together for an evening of entertainment. Homeowners who enjoy an active lifestyle will feel right at home in the fully-equipped fitness center. As well as enjoying the great outdoors on the spacious lawn area where residents can walk their dogs, play bocce ball and badminton or enjoy afternoon picnics with friends and family. The ground floor of Skyline will also offer residents retail shops, and additional property recently purchased by MCL Companies is slated to include a grocery store, restaurant and other stores.

Developed by MCL Companies, Skyline Condominium was developed by MCL Companies.
For more information about Skyline, visit www.skyline-atl.com or call 404-467-4447.

MCL Companies was started by Daniel E. McLean in 1976 as a company that specializes in development, construction and marketing of urban properties nationally, including residences and retail centers. Skyline is the first Atlanta project for the Chicago-based company, which is building the high-rise in a joint venture with George S. Morgan Development Company Inc. MCL has been synonymous with excellence in creativity in Chicago, New York, Denver, Boston, Las Vegas and on Fisher Island in Florida. The company now brings its flair for the dramatic to Atlanta.

America Supports You: Organization Addresses Vets' Housing Challenges

Veterans transitioning from war to peace may need a place to call home, whether it's for the long or short term, the executive director of a North Carolina-based program that offers them that and a good bit more said.

"The needs we are addressing all, in some way, revolve around temporary and long-term living arrangements that are appropriate for the various challenges that our active duty and military veterans face," Lance Orndorff said about "Americans Heroes Return."

"Camp Hero" is an integral part of American Heroes Return, which, in turn, is part of the Virginia-based "Place of Solace, Inc."

The camp offers a phased living environment at no cost to active-duty servicemembers or veterans, he said. Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or permanent disability and in need of long-term care have access to the home-style camp that offers a mixed-use residential environment with shopping and social and recreational opportunities.

Active-duty servicemembers simply looking for someplace to hang out while they're home for rest and recuperation can stay in simple cabins and take in all that Camp Hero has to offer.

"Active-duty military on terminal leave and veterans post-active duty have a difficult time finding a 'landing zone' when returning to the states or leaving the base," Orndorff said. "They usually need just one to three months of living accommodations, as well as job location and training assistance, to get them reestablished in the civilian sector.

"This is where they can choose from either the rural farm or in-town contemporary housing experience, where they work with others like themselves who are transitioning back into civilian life," he added.

American Heroes Return is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

The organization's America Supports You affiliation is helping bridge the gap between its efforts to support both active-duty servicemembers and veterans, Orndorff said.

"I'm finding that my own review of other [America Supports You-affiliated] organizations ... is leading me to begin thinking about ways to network and partner," he added. "There may be portions of programs that we had intended to establish on our own that we can better accomplish by partnering with a group already accomplishing that task."

American Heroes Return
America Supports You

Isakson Praises Passage of Legislation to Stimulate Housing Market

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today praised the Senate’s passage of legislation to stimulate the nation’s declining housing market. The legislation passed by a vote of 72 to 13.
“One thing we must do is improve the plight of the American people economically, and there are two things overwhelming average Americans today. One is the price of gas at the pump. The second is the declining value of equity in their homes,” Isakson said. “This legislation is an infusion of confidence the financial markets need desperately. We'll put liquidity back in the mortgage market. There will be good underwriting and accountable credit issued by the mortgages that are then sold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to provide liquidity in the marketplace. This is not a bailout for those two institutions. It is an insurance policy that's good for this economy and good for this country.”

The comprehensive legislation is designed to stimulate the nation’s declining housing market as well as strengthen the regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. It also modernizes the Federal Housing Administration and expands the FHA’s loan insurance programs aimed at helping borrowers avoid foreclosure.

The legislation now goes to President Bush for his signature.

Isakson spent more than three decades in the real estate business, beginning his business career in 1967 when he opened the first Cobb County, Ga., office of a small, family-owned real estate business, Northside Realty. Isakson later served as president of Northside for 20 years, presiding over the company’s growth into the largest independent residential real estate brokerage company in the Southeast and one of the largest in America.

Chambliss Statement on Passage of Legislation to Stabilize Housing Market

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today made the following statement following passage of legislation to stabilize the housing market:

“Although this bill is not perfect, and I have some concerns with certain provisions included in it, I believe its passage is a step in the right direction toward addressing the current housing crisis and providing incentives for people to get in the market. This legislation also provides much-needed assistance to the communities that have been devastated by foreclosures by providing pre-foreclosure counseling for families in need and by enhancing mortgage disclosure. Georgians want Congress to address the challenges families are facing in a responsible way, and I believe we achieve that with a number of measures included in this bill.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Report Shows Subprime-Rate Lending Dominant with Non-Hispanic Whites and Upper Income Borrowers

RISMEDIA - ComplianceTech, a provider of technology and business intelligence for consumer lending institutions and government agencies, has released an industry report indicating that the majority of subprime-rate loans originated in 2006 were made to non-Hispanic Whites and upper-income borrowers (conventional, 1st lien, 1-to-4 family, owner-occupied, home purchase and refinance).The findings are contrary to the way subprime-rate lending has been portrayed. Frequent media portrayals and congressional dialogue refer to subprime-rate lending as a minority and low-income issue. Findings in the report are based on data submitted by lenders under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) analyzed with the data-mining tool LendingPatterns(TM).

The report concluded that a disproportionate share of loans made to minorities and low-income borrowers were subprime-rate loans, but the majority of subprime-rate loans were made to non-Hispanic Whites and upper-income borrowers. Of the 1,917,809 subprime-rate loans originated in 2006, non-Hispanic Whites had 70.82 percent of the loans, and 56.23 percent of the subprime-rate loans. Upper-income borrowers had the highest share of the subprime-rate loans at 39.37 percent, followed by 27.55 percent for middle-income borrowers and 20.99 percent for moderate-income borrowers.

Contrary to popular belief, low-income borrowers had only 149,173, or 7.57 percent, of 2006 subprime-rate loans. The report also concluded that the majority of subprime-rate loans were originated in predominately-White geographic regions (areas representing census tracts less than 30 percent minority).

Compared to joint applicants, the report also found that single men and single women received the highest share of 2006 subprime-rate loans. The frequency of subprime-rate loans for males without co-applicants and females without co-applicants was almost even at 32.60 percent and 32.21 percent, respectively. Together single borrowers received 64.81 percent of the subprime-rate loans originated in 2006.

For all racial and ethnic groups except Black, single men had the highest share of subprime-rate loans; White, 35.67 percent, Hispanic, 46.69 percent, Asian, 38.82 percent, Native American, 34.03 percent and Hawaiian, 32.44 percent, respectively. For Blacks however, single women had the highest share of 2006 subprime-rate loans at 42.10 percent followed by single Black men at 33.08 percent. According to Maurice Jourdain-Earl, co-founder and managing director of ComplianceTech, this data could imply more serious ramifications than previously considered, “These presumably single borrowers do not have two income sources to support the mortgage … and if these borrowers are single-head of households experiencing trouble making their mortgage payments, what about the children?”

Jourdain-Earl expresses that the problem with portraying the foreclosure crisis as a minority and low-income issue is that it affects how solutions will be approached. “If it is believed that subprime-rate loans were predominately made to Black, Hispanic or low-income households, housing policy-makers might approach solutions with biases about qualifications of those groups, such as low education, bad credit and low-paying jobs, etc. There could be a tendency to write-off the subprime lending debacle as a type of affirmative action gone bad. We must acknowledge that the foreclosure crisis affects broader and more demographically diverse segments of society. This politically responsible approach will likely change the tone, climate and context of how solutions are crafted.”

Jourdain-Earl also notes that “Not enough research and media attention has been devoted to other causes of the subprime crisis that might have race and ethnicity effects. Issues of steering, weak underwriting, fraud and discrimination have not been aggressively investigated. Despite the presence of federal regulation and periodic examinations for Safety and Soundness, Community Reinvestment Act and Fair Lending compliance, efforts to uncover whether subprime-rate loans can be explained by legitimate risk factors will be impaired if they are based on erroneous assumptions about the demographic distribution of subprime-rate loans.

He concludes, “To resolve the true issues, the subprime lending meltdown must be addressed as a nationwide problem with aspects that affect Whites as well as minorities, in suburban, rural and urban communities.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain - "Taxpayers On Hook To Bail Out Fannie, Freddie"

"With combined obligations of roughly $5-trillion, the rapid failure of Fannie and Freddie would be a threat to mortgage markets and financial markets as a whole. Because of that threat, I support taking the unfortunate but necessary steps needed to keep the financial troubles at these two companies from further squeezing American families. But let us not forget that the threat that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to financial markets is a tribute to crony capitalism that reflects the power of the Washington establishment." -- John McCain

"Taxpayers On Hook To Bail Out Fannie, Freddie"
Sen. John McCain
St. Petersburg Times
July 24, 2008

Americans should be outraged at the latest sweetheart deal in Washington. Congress will put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It's a tribute to what these two institutions -- which most Americans have never heard of -- have bought with more than $170-million worth of lobbyists in the past decade.

With combined obligations of roughly $5-trillion, the rapid failure of Fannie and Freddie would be a threat to mortgage markets and financial markets as a whole. Because of that threat, I support taking the unfortunate but necessary steps needed to keep the financial troubles at these two companies from further squeezing American families. But let us not forget that the threat that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to financial markets is a tribute to crony capitalism that reflects the power of the Washington establishment.

Fannie and Freddie buy home loans from lending institutions and reissue them as marketable securities -- creating a liquid market for mortgage debt that lowers borrowing costs for prospective homeowners. The two institutions have easy access to borrow at low interest rates because they were originally government agencies and continue to be viewed as being backed by the government. The irony is that by bailing them out, Congress is about to make that perception a reality, even though government backing is no longer needed for their original mission. There are lots of banks, savings and loans, and other financial institutions that can do this job.

Fannie and Freddie are the poster children for a lack of transparency and accountability. Fannie Mae employees deliberately manipulated financial reports to trigger bonuses for senior executives. Freddie Mac manipulated its earnings by $5-billion. They've misled us about their accounting, and now they are endangering financial markets. More than two years ago, I said: "If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose." Fannie and Freddie's lobbyists succeeded; Congress failed to act. They've stayed in business, grown, and profited mightily by showering money on lobbyists and favors on the Washington establishment. Now the bill has come due.

What should be done? We are stuck with the reality that they have grown so large that we must support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the current rough spell. But if a dime of taxpayer money ends up being directly invested, the management and the board should immediately be replaced, multimillion dollar salaries should be cut, and bonuses and other compensation should be eliminated. They should cease all lobbying activities and drop all payments to outside lobbyists. And taxpayers should be first in line for any repayments.

Even with those terms, sticking Main Street Americans with Wall Street's bill is a shame on Washington. If elected, I'll continue my crusade for the right reform of the institutions: making them go away. I will get real regulation that limits their ability to borrow, shrinks their size until they are no longer a threat to our economy, and privatizes and eliminates their links to the government.

It's time to get America on the right track by creating the jobs that will build a strong foundation under our housing markets. We need to address the high cost of gasoline and other energy sources, and transform health care to be cheaper, higher quality and built around the needs of patients. But most of all, we need to reform Washington and wrest control from the special interests that have created this problem.

Read The Op-Ed.

Eight Tips to Help You Qualify for a Mortgage

RISMEDIA - Three years ago, homeowners were earning thousands of dollars just from selling their house. Home buyers were qualifying for mortgages that normally wouldn’t quality for a mortgage. It was easy to get a mortgage, because homes were flying off the market before they were listed for sale. Lenders saw dollar signs, so they found a way to help buyers get a mortgage while throwing lending principles out of the window. It’s a different story in today’s housing market. The economy has slowed down, and the free market is correcting the housing sector’s inflated success. Qualifying for a mortgage is harder than it was three years ago, but it’s not impossible.


1. Inspect All Three of Your Credit Reports. Pull your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Make sure that all of the information is accurate. If you find an account that doesn’t belong to you, submit the necessary form to all three credit reporting agencies to dispute the account.

2. Improve Your FICO Score. Unfortunately, mortgage lenders heavily weight your lending eligibility based on a score that doesn’t accurately measure your financial stability. The FICO score only measures your ability to repay a loan. Improve your score by paying down debt, paying all of your credit accounts on time, and keeping open accounts with a $0 balance.

3. Save for a Down Payment. Buying a house with a 5% to 10% down payment shows you are serious about becoming a homeowner. If you’re looking for a Federal Housing Administration loan, you’ll need at least a 3% down payment. Mortgage lenders are more skeptical about doing 100% financing, because many of these loans are the ones going into default.

4. Increase Your Household Income. Mortgage lenders want you bringing in enough money to realistically pay for the loan. Two income families qualify easier than one income families. Pick up a second job, become a two income family, or start a home-based business.

5. Choose A Realistic Budget. The rule of thumb is a mortgage payment that is 25% of your monthly household income. Choose a price range that fits this criteria. If you make $4,000 a month, then choose a price range that gives you a mortgage payment of $1,250. The term “house poor” comes from people that spend the majority of their income on a mortgage payment. These are the same people that end up filing for foreclosure. Mortgage lenders will tell you that you can afford more than 25% of your household income, but they are the same people that helped the housing market crash.

6. Defer Your Student Loan Repayment. You get six months to defer your student loans before you need to start paying them back. If your student loans are deferred, the mortgage lender doesn’t need to include the debt in your debt ratio.

7. Stick with One Employer. Mortgage lenders like stability. Stick with the same employer for more than two years.

8. Negotiate a Price Lower Than the Appraised Value. The mortgage company will send their own appraiser out to assess the house. If you negotiated a purchase price that is lower than their appraised value, you can consider it instant equity in the eyes of the mortgage lender. You can check out Zillow.com to see the approximate value of the house.

Now is the time to buy, but lenders will no longer hand out loans to anyone. Don’t let this discourage you. Take this time as an opportunity to fine tune your personal finances. Don’t believe the fallacy that you need perfect credit to qualify for a loan. Mortgage companies are closing the doors every day. Countrywide was bought by Bank of America, and IndyMac Bank had their assets seized by the federal government last week. Lenders are looking for responsible borrowers. Your income and your credit history are the most important factors to determine if you qualify for a loan. Once you’re qualified for a loan, you can finally start the fun part of buying a house.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jim Chapman Communities Wins Gold and Silver at NAHB 2008 Best of 50+ Housing Awards Competition

Jim Chapman Communities' newest active adult development, Brookhaven of East Cobb, received both the Gold and Silver Awards at the National Association of Home Builders Best of 50+ Housing Awards Gala in New Orleans on May 20, 2008. The Best of 50+ Housing Awards is the premier design and marketing competition for the senior housing industry.
The awards gala was held in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders’ Building for Boomers & Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium, for which Chapman was a speaker. The Symposium is the leading education and networking conference for industry professionals involved in 50+ housing.

Brookhaven of East Cobb, a gated 96-unit ranch condo development, is the 2008 Gold Award Winner in the Active Adult Clubhouses: Small category as well as the Silver Award Winner for its Westminster II floor plan in the category of Active Adult Attached Home Design For Sale: 1,701 – 2,400 square feet. The community and its entries were recognized by an elite panel of 13 judges that included builders, developers, architects, marketing experts and other respected industry professionals. The panel chose finalists from nearly 300 entries in more than 40 categories.

“The recognition and receipt of these national housing awards is both a professional and a personal honor,” said Chapman. “You see, my father, a local award winning clubhouse architect, and I, designed both of these plans together in his home studio and he is really excited about winning these awards. For our joint work together to be honored will be quite memorable for both of us. Professionally, a great deal of time, research and planning has been dedicated to the look and feel of all five of our active adult communities. Knowing our team is designing and building the best homes, amenities and communities for our customers is what this is all about”.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

eon at Lindbergh and Sera Townhomes Proud Sponsors of the 2008 PRIDE Parade

eon at Lindbergh and Sera Townhomes proudly sponsored the 2008 Gay Pride Parade. The event was held in Atlanta over the July 4th weekend at the Atlanta Civic Center and Exhibition Hall. The move from Piedmont Park did not seem to discourage event goers, and participants enjoyed festivities all weekend long. Sera Townhomes and eon at Lindbergh co-sponsored a booth and drove a float in the parade. Their Mardi Gras inspired float theme, “Show Us Your Pride, We’ll show You Ours” was a huge hit despite the rain.

“We tossed beads, bags and magnets to the crowd as our mannequins lifted their shirts to reveal their pride—a rainbow flag across their chests,” said Whitney Stuckart New Home Consultant at eon. “The rain started just as the parade did, but that didn't stop Pride attendees from catching beads and cheering us on.”

eon and Sera Townhomes New Home Consultants also worked at their shared booth for the event to referee and judge the mannequin speed dressing contest as well as answer questions about each of their communities. Guests who visited the booth also had the pleasure of meeting the infamous “Sera”, of Sera Townhomes, and her love interest “Chase.” The pair took pictures with visitors, and told visitors about opportunities to purchase a new home in the heart of Atlanta.

Sera Townhomes and eon at Lindbergh were delighted to be a part of this year’s event and share their homes with the community. Both communities were developed by The Dawson Company and Lane Company.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mortgage Applications Continue to Increase for a 3-Week Rally

RISMEDIA - The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 11, 2008. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 522.2, an increase of 1.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis from 513.4 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 27.0% compared with the previous Independence Day holiday shortened week and was down 17.4% compared with the same week one year earlier. This marks the third week in a row that the MBA announced mortgage applications increasing, following last week’s 7.5% increase.

The Refinance Index increased 6.9% to 1474.9 from 1379.3 the previous week and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 1.7% to 359.7 from 365.8 one week earlier. The Conventional Purchase Index increased 1.4% while the Government Purchase Index (largely FHA) decreased 8.2%.

The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is up 0.7% to 493.7 from 490.2. The four week moving average for the Purchase Index edged up to 350.5 from 350.4, while this average is up 1.8% to 1333.9 from 1309.8 for the Refinance Index.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 39.2% of total applications from 37.3% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 9.1 from 10.0% of total applications from the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 6.22% from 6.43%, with points increasing to 1.21 from 1.06 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.74% from 5.94%, with points increasing to 1.13 from 1.10 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs decreased to 7.16% from 7.24%, with points increasing to 0.36 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.

The survey covers approximately 50% of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. Base period and value for all indexes is March 16, 1990=100.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oakland Park Condominium Closing Marks 100th TAD Closing

When Aiesha Bridges closed on her new Oakland Park condominium last month, she became the 100th person benefiting from the Atlanta's Eastside Tax Allocation District (TAD) Affordable Housing Purchase Program. Bridges purchased a one-bedroom condominium for $200,000, but will only finance $112,000 herself thanks to the layering of several subsidies from the Eastside TAD program. The various government subsidies made Bridges’ new Downtown one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo more affordable for a teacher’s salary.

Oakland Park is Atlanta's first Silver LEED Certified multi-family project - a particularly appropriate choice for a science teacher. Bridges says she plans to incorporate her new home into her lesson plans about conservation and sustainability when school starts up again.

“I think the program really is designed for people like me: those with a steady income and wanting to live in the city but not having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Bridges, who has already moved into her new condo. “Another teacher was just saying how impossible it is to find a home being 24 years old and being single. I was like, ‘Well, not exactly!’”

“Aiesha is a perfect example of the deserving individuals that are part of the Eastside TAD program, said Mark B. Riley, Managing Partner of Urban Realty Partners, one of the developers of the building, who presented Bridges with a welcoming gift of environmentally friendly home products on the day of the closing. “She dedicates her life to teaching our children and will now be able to enjoy the convenience and lifestyle of living in a new, vibrant downtown community.”

Other subsidy dollars for Bridges’s new home come from the HOME Atlanta and American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) programs, administered by the Atlanta Development Authority, and the Capitol Gateway down payment assistance program, administered by the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA). Bridges also received a grant from ADA in the amount of 4 percent of her home purchase price that she was able to use toward closing costs.

Bullard Offices, Agents Place Well in Coldwell Banker Quarterly Rankings

The Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty organization had several offices and agents with high placements in 1st Quarter 2008 rankings for residential affiliates released by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation.

Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty was No. 30 nationally in adjusted gross commission income among the 1,207 affiliate companies participating in the Top 50 Companies listing.

In Coldwell Banker Southern Region rankings, Bullard’s Jonesboro/Clayton County office was No. 8 in Listing Units among offices with 51 to 100 sales associates.

In state of Georgia Top 5 Office rankings, the results for Bullard were as follows:
Total Units - McDonough/Henry County office, No. 5.

Listing Units - Jonesboro/Clayton County office, No. 3; McDonough/Henry County office, No. 4.
Bullard organization representatives placing in the Top 10 in state of Georgia rankings for agents were as follows:

Adjusted Gross Commission Income (Team) - The Clowdus Team, Jonesboro/Clayton County office, No. 2; TeamTidwell, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 4.

Selling Units (Team) - The Clowdus Team, Jonesboro/Clayton County office, No. 4; TeamTidwell, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 6.

Total Units (Team) - TeamTidwell, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 3; The Clowdus Team, Jonesboro/Clayton County office, No. 7

Listing Units (Team) - TeamTidwell, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 3; The Clowdus Team, Jonesboro/Clayton County office, No. 9

Adjusted Gross Commission Income (Individual) - Tammi Lamb, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 5; Michelle Munda, Griffin/Spalding County office, No. 6; Donna Lasseter, Peachtree City/Fayette County office, No. 10.

Selling Units (Individual) - Michelle Munda, Griffin/Spalding County office, No. 1; Tammi Lamb, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 3.

Total Units (Individual) - Michelle Munda, Griffin/Spalding County office, No. 1; Tammi Lamb, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 2; Phil Wagner, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 3; Steven Dickens, Newnan/Coweta County office, No. 5

Listing Units (Individual) - Phil Wagner, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 1; Tammi Lamb, McDonough/Henry County office, No. 2; Michelle Munda, Griffin/Spalding County office, No. 3; Steven Dickens, Newnan/Coweta County office, No. 4; Melissa Stephens, Jonesboro/Clayton County office, No. 10.

The Bullard organization, founded in 1956 by the late Cliff Bullard, worked out a franchise agreement with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation in early 1998 and is the largest Coldwell Banker franchise in Georgia. Current Owner and President Steve Bullard has been with the company for more than 35 years.

The oldest and largest real estate company headquartered in the Metro South area of Atlanta, Coldwell Banker Bullard has its headquarters in Jonesboro. The organization now has other offices in Griffin, McDonough, Jackson, Peachtree City, Newnan, and Conyers, and the separate but affiliated company, Coldwell Banker American Land Mart in Conyers.
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The Industry Responds - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, New Guidelines

RISMEDIA - With Fannie and Freddie’s financial troubles sending shockwaves through the country, leaders in the industry have stepped up to the plate, offering their take on what the latest developments mean for those effected most-the consumers.

“The National Association of Realtors® welcomes the strong response this weekend by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board in response to the market turmoil and apparent overreactions that began last week affecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said National Association of Realtors® President Richard F. Gaylord. “The health of the American economy depends on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the steps taken by the U.S. government make clear that the role of Fannie and Freddie, in making fair and affordable mortgage loans available for home owners and home buyers, must not and cannot be interrupted.

“We support the federal government’s actions and authorization to help ensure the ability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to promote the availability of home mortgage credit during a period of stress in the financial markets. Fannie and Freddie play a central role in our housing finance system, and we agree that they must continue to do so as we work through the current housing correction,” he said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also commented on the Bush Administration’s proposals on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have historically played a vital role in the supply of home mortgages for lower- and middle-income Americans, and particularly in the current economic downturn,” she said in a statement. “This weekend, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson proposed additional measures to restore confidence in the strength of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which we must do. It is essential that this legislation become the law of the land.

“Under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank, in April 2007 and in May of this year, the House passed significant reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of comprehensive housing legislation that helps homeowners and renters and stabilizes the housing market. With Chairman Frank and Chairman Charlie Rangel again leading the way, Congress will soon pass comprehensive housing legislation that will include the Administration’s proposals on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and provide additional affordable mortgage loan options, offer new refinancing opportunities for families at risk of foreclosure, increase the nation’s stock of affordable rental housing, and expand homeownership opportunities for veterans living in high-cost areas.

“The legislation also strengthens and streamlines the low-income housing tax credit, ensuring that even more hardworking Americans will be able to access affordable housing,” she said.

What’s more, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors approved the Board’s final rules under the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). The rule prohibits unfair, abusive or deceptive home mortgage lending practices and restricts certain other mortgage practices. The final rule also establishes advertising standards and requires certain mortgage disclosures to be given to consumers earlier in the transaction.

Kieran P. Quinn, CMB, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers said, “These rules are a thoughtful effort to tackle difficult concerns and attempt to balance the need for new standards against the need for available, relatively low cost mortgage credit. MBA is carefully reviewing aspects of the rules including the new standards for determining which loans are treated as subprime thus demanding further protection. MBA strongly believes that it is essential for credit not to be unduly restricted.

“Notably the Board withdrew, for further consideration, its proposal to improve disclosure of mortgage broker compensation. We encourage the Board to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has also been working on this issue, so that the Government’s approach to this problem is coordinated in order to better protect American consumers.”

In other housing news, NAR announced their pledge to support finalizing the housing stimulus bill. The U.S. Senate has passed a bipartisan housing stimulus bill that “is a big step toward helping people buy and keep their homes,” said National Association of Realtors® President Dick Gaylord. The Senate action moves a housing stimulus package closer to law, which would help bring stability to the housing market and stop the rising rate of foreclosures.

“We are eager for the House and Senate to come together to finalize an aggressive bill that will ensure that every American who can afford to own a home and wants to do so will have the opportunity, and that every American who responsibly owns a home is able to keep it,” said Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif.

NAR has expressed ongoing support for many of the provisions in the legislation, including Federal Housing Administration Modernization that will simplify and make FHA-backed mortgages more available, a tax credit for first-time home buyers, reform of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, permanent increases to both GSE and FHA loan limits, and a program to expand FHA that would allow more mortgages to be refinanced.

“The tax credit for first-time home buyers would be a strong stimulus to a weak housing market, and FHA stabilization should help thousands of families refinance existing mortgages and in many cases keep their homes,” said Gaylord.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dollars for Dreams Home Event Returns

Bowen Family Homes is pleased to announce a return of the popular “Dollars for Dreams”* home event scheduled for Thursday, July 17-Sunday, July 20. Bowen Family Homes experienced incredible success during the Dollars for Dreams Home Event held in April, and the company expects similar success from the revival of this event. Earlier this year, the metro Atlanta homebuilding company sold 84 homes and offered interested new home buyers a chance to take advantage of the incredible savings of up to $50,000 on the single-family homes and townhomes built by Bowen Family Homes in the most sought-after metro Atlanta locations.

Those who purchase a home at any of Bowen Family Homes’ 26 metro Atlanta communities July 17-20 will receive up to $50,000 to spend on their new home! Buyers may opt to use the money towards a Pottery Barn shopping spree, designer upgrades, down payment/closing costs, free basement on available homesites, or to lower monthly payments. In addition, the metro Atlanta homebuilder is offering a drawing for a $5,000 Pottery Barn shopping spree. For more information about the Dollars for Dreams home event, visit www.bowendreamevent.com.

*Offer not valid on existing contracts and cannot be combined with other offers. Offer valid on new contracts written during the Dollars for Dreams Event. Purchaser must use seller’s preferred lender. Terms and conditions apply. See sales manager for details. Visit website for details on the $5,000 Pottery Barn drawing. Pottery Barn is a registered trademark of Williams-Sonoma and is not affiliated with Bowen Family Homes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Real Estate Prices Rise for Four Straight Months - Is Anyone Noticing?

RISMEDIA - Amidst the gloom on Wall Street about housing someone forgot to check the stats. The National Association of Realtors® has now reported four straight months of rising housing prices, but it seems no one is listening.

According to NAR statistics, the median home price has fallen from a high of $230,200 in July 2006 to a low in February 2008 at $195,600, a drop of 15%. Since February, however, it has risen steadily every month. By May the index (which will be revised on July 24) had risen to $208,600, up $13,000 and a full 6.6%. Another indicator, the mean home price (otherwise known as the average home price), has also shown strength and has risen from a low of $242,000 also in February of this year to $253,100, a rise of $11,100 or 4.5%. It, too, has risen every month since February of this year.

“I just don’t know where Wall Street’s brains are today,” said David Michonski, CEO of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy in New York City. “Everyone on the Street is wringing their hands over housing when in fact the average American has been out this spring buying homes and pushing the median price higher. This has got to go down as one of Wall Street and Main Street’s biggest disconnects in history.”

In addition, on an annualized basis the volume of home sales has also risen somewhat from a low of 4,890,000 homes in January to 4,990,000 in May.

“Rising prices on expanding volume should not a crisis make on Wall Street,” says Michonski.

So why the crisis?

“They say that there are bulls and bears on Wall Street but there are also pigs. Pigs try not just to profit from a crisis but create one to profit from. Today there are just so many people who have positioned themselves to profit from a crisis that they refuse to admit the reality of what is happening on Main Street. It might hurt their positions.”

Is this the bottom?

“No one can know for sure, but the hard data is clear. The median price has risen four straight months. The average American is out there taking advantage of bargains in their local real estate market. They are not listening to Wall Street but following their own belief that the best time to buy is when no one else is, and they are out there buying. If this keeps up, February may prove to have been the low in prices.”

“It is possible that it will not be Hank Paulson or Ben Bernanke who will pull this country out of a housing recession, but the good common sense of the average American whose affordability to buy a home is at a five year high and is acting on it.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Orchards of East Cherokee Holds Groundbreaking for New Clubhouse

Groundbreaking was held recently for the new Grand Clubhouse, swimming pool and amenities area in The Orchards of East Cherokee, The Orchards Group's 55 and older active adult age preferred community neighborhood near Woodstock.

Completion of the grand clubhouse in the community, located in the historic Hickory Flat area of Cherokee County, is expected by early fall. Amenities within the neighborhood will include a grand clubhouse with a fitness room, a card and games room, a large gathering room with a fireplace, a surround sound TV entertainment center, a gourmet kitchen, a barbecue grill and a community swimming pool. Serving the neighborhood and its homeowners is a Social Director � who coordinates social events and planned activities inside and outside the neighborhood.

Located on Hickory Road convenient to Interstate 575 and Georgia Highways 400 and 92, The Orchards of East Cherokee is The Orchard Group's first entry into the Cherokee County housing market.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fidelis Signature Homes Breaks Ground on Third Community Located in Forsyth County

Fidelis Signature Homes is pleased to announce the groundbreaking of their model home and several market homes at its newest community, Braemar. Building on the success of its previous Forsyth County communities, The Cottages at Creekstone and The Cottages at Dave’s Creek, Fidelis Homes is introducing new plans for Braemar as well as adding additional options and features to their most popular floorplans, including the Cambridge. The Cambridge Manor plan featured in Braemar has been modified to offer a luxurious, spa-type master bath retreat with an enlarged walk-in closet. Homes in all three communities are priced from the upper $400,000s. Upon completion, Braemar will consist of 37 beautiful homes in a luxurious, private surrounding.

“Like our other communities, Braemar will feature low-maintenance homes in a highly desirable location,” said Mike Sanders, President of Fidelis Signature Homes. “Our homes at Braemar offer elegant details and will feature new floorplans that include three-car garages, additional outdoor living space and master suite options such as sitting rooms. Located on Old Alpharetta Road, Braemar has an Alpharetta address but with favorable Forsyth County taxes and is only a few miles from GA-400. “

Clowdus Team Leads Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty in June

Susan Clowdus and The Clowdus Team from Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty's Jonesboro/Clayton County office was named June Team Agent Leader companywide.

Clowdus is a past president of the Metro South Association of Realtors.

She attended Clayton College and State University, completed the MLS Training Institute with honors, and took part in the Disney Institute of Customer Service and Floyd Wickman's Sweathogs sales and listing incentive program.

She and her husband Jimmy, who is a member of The Clowdus Team, are residents of Henry County, and they have one son, John. They are members of First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.

Specialty Real Estate Team Makes the Switch to Prudential Georgia Realty

Prudential Georgia Realty is proud to announce the real estate team of Cheryl Jindra, Rob Thelen and Cindy Camp have joined its sales team. They are based out of the company’s Fayetteville office on Glynn Street.

Calling themselves The Georgia Foreclosure Team, they make the switch to Prudential from Gateway Realty in Stockbridge. Originally from the Chicago area, Rob is a graduate of Illinois State University and Cheryl is a graduate of Bradley University. Rob and Cheryl are the lead agents on the team and Cindy serves as their licensed real estate assistant.

They specialize in real estate investing, assisting investors with foreclosure properties, HUD homes and REO (bank-owned) properties. Cheryl has eight years experience as a real estate investor and Rob entered the real estate field after a couple years as a mortgage loan officer. Rob is also a retired Major in the Army Infantry and is an active member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“We are pleased to have agents with their unique expertise in local real estate investments and foreclosures join our office,” said Prudential Georgia Realty Managing Broker Merry Holley, who has agents in her office specializing in everything from land to commercial real estate to new home construction.

Each week the team offers a hot properties list taken from the latest HUD foreclosure list. To view this list each Friday or to conduct a complete search of foreclosure properties in the metro Atlanta area, visit their site at www.GAforeclosureteam.com.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I’ll Buy Yours and You’ll Buy Mine - New Trend Sparks Win-Win Situations

RISMEDIA -Today’s market has made the prospect of buying a home a difficult task for most people. Whether you are in the market for a first home, a retirement home or something in between, a home trade may be your best option to get what you are looking for in a timely manner.

Home trading is not a new concept, but one that is often overlooked “as people don’t take the time to understand the process, one that is quite simple,” says Scott Warren, an agent with Villa Sotheby’s International Realty.

Warren, who has been in the industry for over 30 years and completed his first trade in 1979, recently orchestrated a real estate trade that resulted in the highest sales price ever recorded in The Bridges community in California. A $7.75 million custom home was successfully traded for a $2.5 million English Tudor-style home in La Costa in a process that took just 40 days.

A real estate trade is a simple process in which a seller with good equity, good employment and good credit who wishes to “move up” is matched with a seller who has good equity, employment and credit who wishes to “move down.”

“One motivating factor behind a real estate trade is for the financial benefit,” says Warren. “One buyer sees the ability to trade up in a market in order to gain equity and the other buyer who may not want to make the payment on their home-or can’t afford to-has the opportunity to get out of the situation before it is too late.”

The trading process is as simple as “I’ll buy yours and you’ll buy mine.”

“Once the match is made, the procedure turns into two purchase agreements that occur simultaneously,” says Warren.

Home buyers need to understand that trades are not limited to trading a home for a home.

“A successful trade can occur when someone has something of value such as a car, a boat or even diamonds,” says Warren.

One of the most unusual trades that Warren has been involved in was when a client traded a load of gravel for the down payment on a property.

“This goes to show that ‘non-traditional’ trades are just as successful,” concludes Warren. It all depends on how the deal is packaged and what motivates each party.

For more information, visit http://www.villasir.com.

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Bullard McDonough Names Top Agents for June

Individual Producer:

Phil Wagner has been named June Individual Agent Leader for the McDonough/Henry County office of Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty.

Sandra Stephens was No. 2 individual producer for the McDonough office during the month, and Carrie Davis was No. 3.

Wagner, who got his pre-licensing training through the MLS Training Institute, entered real estate with the Bullard organization five years ago. Active in all areas of real estate, he currently focuses on working with foreclosures and bank-owned properties. He has received membership in the Million Dollar Club for the past several years, was a member of the Bullard Bronze Society in 2004, and was selected for the Coldwell Banker International Diamond Society in 2005.

Team Production:

Donna Tidwell and TeamTidwell have again been recognized the Team Agent Leader for the McDonough/Henry County office of Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty. The most recent recognition was for June, and TeamTidwell was also the No. 2 team in production companywide.

The Penny Henderson Team was the No. 2 producer for the McDonough office during the month.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hutcheson Leads Jackson Office in Production

Loy Hutcheson has been named June Individual Agent Leader for the Jackson/Butts County office of Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty. He wss also the No. 3 producer companywide.

No. 2 producer for the office during the month was Lynn Thacker, and Dennis Kitchens finished at No. 3.

Hutcheson started working in real estate in 1989 after serving 23 years in education in Butts County as a football coach, teacher and two-term county school superintendent. He served as the first manager of the Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty office in Jackson when it opened in late 1994.

In his first full year with Bullard, he was the No. 2 producer companywide, and he was the company's No. 3 producer in 1997. He also topped the Jackson office in sales from 1995 through 1999, and he was also the office's top producer in 2006. For his production in 2006, he was selected to Bullard's Bronze Society.

In 2007, Hutcheson was the Jackson office's No. 2 producer, was named to the Million Dollar Club, and qualified for the Bullard Bronze Society.

Hutcheson was also a home builder in Butts County for many years, building 114 homes under the name Hutcheson Building Co.

He and his wife Jackie are Jackson residents, and they have two grown children and four grandchildren.

Sims Is Individual Agent Leader for Bullard Realty Jonesboro Office

Shonda Sims has been recognized as June Individual Agent Leader for the Jonesboro/Clayton County office of Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty. This is the second time in 2008 that she has received the monthly honor.

Sherry Mattox was the office's No. 2 individual producer during the month, and Melissa Stephens was No. 3.

Active in real estate for nearly eight years, Sims joined Coldwell Banker Bullard approximately three and one-half years ago. A member of the Metro South Association of Realtors, she is an Active Member of the Million Dollar Club. She is a graduate of the Leaders Choice Real Estate
Professional Training and is a Certified Relocation Specialist.

In 2004, she received membership in Coldwell Banker's International Sterling Society, was a member of Bullard's President's Relocation Club, and earned the Top Incoming Referral Agent award from the company's Relocation Department. The following year, she led her office in production, was selected to the Coldwell Banker International Diamond Society, and was again in the President's Relocation Club. In 2006, she was a member of the Bullard Bronze Society and repeated as a President's Relocation Club member, and last year, she was Top Producer for her office and earned membership in Coldwell Banker's International President's Circle.

Her website, www.shondasims.com, offers information and resources on the real estate buying and selling process.

Sims holds a B.A. degree in corporate communications from Northern Illinois University.

She and her husband Art are Stockbridge residents and have three children, Brandon, Brianna, and Brian.

Cosmopolitan at Lindberg Welcomes New Agents

Morris J. Kaplan Communities is pleased to welcome Mona Lisa Belcher and Alton Irby as their newest agents in Atlanta. Ms. Belcher and Mr. Irby, both Morris and Raper agents, will serve interested home buyers at Cosmopolitan, a resort-style townhome community located in Lindberg. Cosmopolitan opened a second phase after the overwhelming demand generated by the initial phase of the complex, and Kaplan Communities is excited to have Ms. Belcher and Mr. Irby onboard to answer questions and help buyers through the entire homebuying process.

Ms. Belcher has almost 14 years real estate experience and has worked for several companies including John Willis Homes, Jolly Development Group, Prudential Georgia Reality, and Jones and Minear Home Builders before coming to Morris and Raper. Mr. Irby has been involved in the real estate industry for seven years and has worked for the Condo Store and held several positions at Morris and Raper. Their combined experience brings a wealth of information about Luxury Condos, Brownstones, as well as the Atlanta area.

Ms. Belcher has been living in the Roswell area since 1994, while Mr. Irby is an Atlanta native currently living in Buckhead. Both belong to the Million Dollar Club and are a part of the Atlanta Board of Realtors. Ms. Belcher is also a Certified New Home Specialists. Mr. Irby has received a platinum award from Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association.

Both agents feel that Morris and Raper is the perfect company to work with Cosmopolitan. "Morris and Raper is the industry leader in codominiums and brownstones. Our reputation speaks for itself and I am confident we will bring success to Cosmopolitan while helping fellow Atlantans find their home here,“ commented Mr. Irby.

Ms. Belcher holds a degree in Marketing and Finance from the University of Cincinnati and is an active member in the PTA. She also enjoys motivational speaking and spending time with her family.

Mr. Irby graduated from Georgia State and enjoys running, traveling, scuba diving, and horseback riding. Mr. Irby is also very active in his community and enjoys walking his dog on weekends around his Atlanta home.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Seville Consulting Named 2008 Excellence Award Winner by Residential Design & Build Magazine

Seville Consulting has been named a 2008 Excellence Award winner by Residential Design & Build magazine. The annual program recognizes residential construction and design firms for excellence both in business and design in the custom home market.

The panel of judges that selected the Excellence Award winners from hundreds of applicants consisted of an architect, two custom home builders and an interior designer. As a highlight during a down year for the housing industry, the judges chose Seville Consulting for its creativity and dedication to success.

Seville Consulting received a first place award in the Green Home category in the annual competition for the Wallace home, which Seville Consulting built as the Showcase House which was featured at the 2007 Southern Building Show in Atlanta.

A new Tudor-styled home which was an infill project, the Wallace home replaced an existing pre-war house in a developed Intown Atlanta neighborhood. Carl Seville, owner of Seville Consulting, said the new home was designed to fit contextually with the existing homes in its neighborhood, while providing the amenities that today's homeowners demand.

Seville noted the project adhered to the principles of green building and the EarthCraft House Program in energy efficiency, indoor air quality, sustainable material use and durable
construction methods.

Profiles of the firms and projects selected as winners of the 2008 Excellence Awards were published in the July/August 2008 issue of Residential Design & Build and will appear on the magazine's website at www.rdbmagazine.com.

“It's always exciting to recognize these custom home builders and designers for their success. Publishing their excellent work in our magazine is our way of honoring these firms for their
professionalism and for helping raise the bar in the residential construction industry,” says Rob Heselbarth, editor of Residential Design & Build. “At a time when the housing market in general is in a slump, we're excited to hold these firms up high as examples
of success.”

Residential Design & Build magazine reaches both architects and builders in the luxury custom residential construction industry. It is the only trade magazine that focuses on the residential design/build process, which is fast becoming the preferred method of delivering custom homes in the United States. Cygnus Business Media (www.cygnusb2b.com) publishes Residential Design & Build magazine, which serves more than 51,000 readers nationwide.

Seville, who has both his home and his office in Decatur, is an Atlanta area-based green builder, educator and consultant on sustainability in America’s home building industry. More information about his company is available on the internet at www.sevilleconsulting.com.

Considered one of the nation’s leading experts on green building and remodeling, Seville was recipient of the 2005 and 2007 Green Remodeling Advocate of the Year and the 2004 and 2006 National Green Building Awards for Residential Remodeling from the National Association of Home Builders.

He was recently named Residential Green Building Advocate for the Atlanta chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. In this role, Seville is working closely with local homebuilders’ associations and other green homes organizations, as well as within his own USGBC chapter, to explain and promote residential green building.

Over the years, Seville has earned five Excellence in Design Awards from Environmental Design and Construction Magazine, the Southface Energy Institute Award of Excellence for Environmental Stewardship, and the 2006 EarthCraft House Leadership Award. He has been
featured in and writes for numerous publications, including Georgia Trend magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Green Builder, HGTVPRO.com, Professional Remodeling, Qualified Remodeler, Remodeling Magazine, Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine, Smart Homeowner, and Environmental Design and
Construction Magazine. His blog, “The Green Building Curmudgeon” can be found at http://www.housingzone.com/blog/1880000588.html

Seville has over 30 years of experience in renovation and home construction. He was the founder and vice president of SawHorse Inc., an Atlanta design/build firm, for 25 years before starting his current business.

Munda Leads Office in June Sales

Michelle Munda was named June Individual Agent Leader for the Griffin/Spalding County office of Coldwell Banker Bullard Realty. She has been the office's top producer every month in 2008.

Brandy Matthews was the Griffin office's No. 2 producer during the month, and Artelia Carter was No. 3.

Munda, who earned her real estate training through MLS Sales Associate Training and who joined Coldwell Banker Bullard in fall of 2001, is a resident of Griffin. Her business background includes 12 years in banking and investment.