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Welcome to our blog! Check back here often to get the latest in local and national real estate news, statistics, and discussions. Click here to subscribe to our RSS Feed.

This is a personal story:

This topic falls into the category of a personal and recent experience. Although I saw the story this week, several months ago we had our dryer serviced for the first time in it’s long life of doing laundry for a two teenage boy family only to have the maintenance employee take apart our dryer and show us how close we were to burning down our house. The pictures below are eerily similar to what our dryer looked like… except ours had singe marks where small amounts of lint had already flamed up several times. It only took a short while to vacuum out all of the offending lint and apparently we were good to go. Someone who reads this is going to have their dryer checked, find the same thing and prevent a fire.


Clothes Dryer Fires Cost $35 Million a Year

August 20, 2012

An estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated $35 million in property losses, according to a new government report.

The report by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) said that 84 percent of clothes dryer fires took place in residential buildings.

Also, according to the report:

  • Clothes dryer fire incidence in residential buildings was higher in the fall and winter months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
  • Failure to clean (34 percent) was the leading factor contributing to the ignition of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
  • Dust, fiber and lint (28 percent) and clothing not on a person (27 percent) were, by far, the leading items first ignited in clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
  • Fifty-four percent of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings were confined to the object of origin.

The report, “Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings,” examines characteristics of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings and was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center, based on 2008 to 2010 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

Damaging fires can occur if clothes dryers are not properly installed or maintained.

The report notes that lint, a highly combustible material, can accumulate both in the dryer and in the dryer vent. Accumulated lint leads to reduced airflow and poses a fire hazard.  Reduced airflow can also occur when foam-backed rugs or athletic shoes are placed in dryers.

Small birds or other animals nesting in dryer exhaust vents is another hazard. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly, possibly resulting in overheating and/or fire.

Source: USFA

Clothes Dryer


Freddie Mac reported rates are the lowest since the government-sponsored enterprise began keeping records in 1971. Today's average 30-year rate is even lower than the average 20-year or 25-year rate, which was the typical loan in the 1950s. Data from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that between July 1950 and February 1951, long-term rates averaged 4.08 percent. This week's average 30-year rate was 3.78 percent. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is approximately 1.74 percent and that rate is the lowest level since the Federal Reserve Bank started keeping daily records in 1962. While it’s hard to imagine rates going lower (BUY NOW!  REFINANCE NOW!) a WSJ article points out that "Yes, interest rates can go lower".

The average annual interest rates have dropped each year for the last 5 years and are now again lower for 2012!

  • Average Interest Rate for YTD 2012 is 3.95%.
  • Average Interest Rate for 2011 was 4.45%.
  • Average Interest Rate for 2010 was 4.69%.
  • Average Interest Rate for 2009 was 5.04%.
  • Average Interest Rate for 2008 was 6.03%.
  • Average Interest Rate for 2007 was 6.34%.

 

About the “Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®)
Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) surveys lenders each week on the rates and points for their most popular 30-year fixed-rate, 15-year fixed-rate, 5/1 hybrid amortizing adjustable-rate, and 1-year amortizing adjustable-rate mortgage products. The survey is based on first-lien prime conventional conforming mortgages with a loan-to-value of 80 percent. In addition, the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) products are indexed to U.S. Treasury yields and lenders are asked for the both the initial coupon rate and points as well as the margin on the ARM products. Currently, about 125 lenders are surveyed each week and the mix of lender types – thrifts, credit unions, commercial banks and mortgage lending companies – is roughly proportional to the level of mortgage business that each type commands nationwide. The survey is collected from Monday through Wednesday and the results are posted on Thursdays.

For all Loan Officers…try out Gracy's Fee Quote System

US Existing Home Sales, on a Seasonally Adjusted Basis, have increased for 11 straight months. If you exclude the increase caused by the government tax credit, this is the first time since late 2005 for the US to experience a similar sustained increase in sales.

Other highlights:

  • April existing home sales rose 3.4 percent from March 2012 and were up 10 percent from April 2011, now at a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 4.62 million
  • Median home prices increased 3.1 percent from March 2012 and 10.1 percent from April 2011 (12 month moving average was up 1.1 percent year-over-year
  • Inventory is down 28.4 percent in the past 12 months, though it rose slightly sequentially from March, and currently rests at 2.54 million units for sale


There are positive signs spanning the spectrum indicating a turning real estate market despite some weak spots across the country.

Just a few days ago, USA Today reported that the number of existing homes for sales had dropped 22 percent from a year ago and now totals just 2.37 million units.  This is down 41 percent from the peak reached in mid 2007. That said, the National Association of Realtors ® reported rising prices in 74 of the 146 markets they track in the first quarter of 2012 versus declines in 72 locales. Even more significant is the dramatic decline in some of the hardest hit markets:

  • March inventory in Phoenix declined 64 percent from a year ago according to Arizona State University real estate expert.
  • NAR reports very tight inventories in Phoenix, Orange County, California, Naples, Florida, Seattle, suburban Washington, DC and North Dakota (driven by the energy boom being experienced in that state).
  • While mortgage delinquency rates remain above average (with average being 2 percent), they dropped from 6.19 percent in Q4 2011 to 5.78 percent in Q1 2012 according to TransUnion  (based on a sample of 10 percent of US mortgage holders) and are down from a 7 percent peak in Q4 2009. Click here for article.
  • All-cash transactions in Q1 2012 made up 31 of all sales—and I doubt these people would be buying and paying cash if they thought property values would decline further
  • 22 percent of all buyers were investors
  • Condominium prices rose 3.4 percent when compared to Q1 2011
  • Q1 2012 existing home sales were up 5.3 percent from the same period in 2011 and are now running at annualized rate of 4.57 million
  • Total existing home sales in Q1 2012 were at the highest level since 2007
  • Move.com reports that many of the hardest hit markets are now among the top recovering markets

Great article from Dr. Ted Jones on the increasing demand for second homes. Although we are not a “bargain price” market, this is a trend that will still impact Austin as our rents continue to rise and more people hear about Austin’s strong job market and interesting culture.  This trend also continues to support the downtown condo market with its declining number of units left to sell (or rent!). Read the full article here.