4 Trends from US Green Building Council

Posted by ge.admin on TUE, DEC 17, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

Greenbuild green build

Last month’s GreenBuild in Philadelphia – the annual meeting of the U.S. Green Building Council – revealed dozens of nifty products that are new or will soon be released.  Here are our top 4 picks:

  1. Refridgerator Magnets Save $$$– A new material that cools when demagnetized, expected to hit the market in about five years, could revolutionize the world of fridges and air conditioners by replacing the decades-old use of refrigerants.  “This technology has the potential to be more efficient by 25 percent to 30 percent,” says Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, director of advanced technologies for GE Appliances, which has patents pending for the material. He says it’s ready now, but General Electric is working to lower costs.
  2. Need a Showerhead? Print It! – GE expects the home of 2025 could have under-cabinet 3-D printers.  Personal 3-D printers may sound like a pricey luxury or a niche product for geeks, but soon they could become a household appliance that saves consumers thousands of dollars a year on the purchase of common household objects.  A recent study found a shower head costs $2.53 to make on a 3-D printer (3 cents for electricity, $2.50 for plastic).  A comparable model showerhead costs anywhere from $8 to $437 at a store.
  3. Solar, Solar Everywhere – Everyone can be off the grid with all the new innovations in solar energy.  Quebec-based Renewz plans to begin selling residential Solar Charging Carports for about $30,000, says company CEO Sass Peress. The carport generates solar power that can be used to charge an electric vehicle or to supplement a home’s energy.  Princeton-based NG Energy will begin selling the gazebo-like Solar Canopy, which has solar panels on top. Once assembled, the modular kits could enable homes to go off grid or, by storing energy in batteries, provide backup power in case the grid goes down (e.g. hurricane).  United Technologies is making solar-powered elevators so it seems the skies the limit for solar (he, he, he).
  4. Now That’s Smart – Smartphone apps will allow home owners to perform all types of activities.  Apps will integrate with your home’s smart meter to provide real time adjustments.  “We can measure and control everything – every outlet, every light switch, every mechanical system and every fixture,” says David Gottfried, founder of the U.S. Green Building Council. He estimates monitoring can help consumers save 30 percent to 50 percent of energy and water.  Homeowners will use smart apps to control window glare & heat gain.  View (formerly Soladigm), began selling windows with thin-film electrochromic material between the panes. When a low-voltage current is applied, the material can reflect or absorb light and change the glass’ color.  This is something we Floridians would appreciate!

Some of these ideas may seem far-fetched, but recent breakthroughs and consumer demand will drive these innovations to become standard in every home.

Florida’s Foreclosure Crisis Over…

Posted by ge.admin on FRI, DEC 13, 2013 @ 09:08 AM

Brevard Foreclosures

Dec. 12, 2013 – RealtyTrac’s Foreclosure Market Report for November shows foreclosure filings – all default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – decreased 15 percent from the previous month and 37 percent year-to-year across the country.

FLORIDA RECOVERS

In Florida, the percentage drop in owners receiving a first-time foreclosure notice was also dramatic. The state had 6,744 foreclosure starts in November, an 18.02 percent decline month-to-month and a 45.9 percent drop year-to-year.

The number of Florida foreclosure completions – the final step where a lender takes back the home – also dropped in November, though not as dramatically. Completed state foreclosures were down 2.72 percent month-to-month and 15.59 percent year-to-year.

Florida foreclosure activity in November – starts, in progress and completions – decreased 15 percent from the previous month and 23 percent from a year ago for the fourth consecutive month with an annual decrease. However, the state still has the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate: one in every 392 housing units with a foreclosure filing.

Among metro areas with a population of 200,000 or more, those with the highest foreclosure rates were the Florida cities of Jacksonville, Miami, Port St. Lucie and Palm Bay, along with Rockford, Ill.

“While some of the decrease in November can be attributed to seasonality, the depth and breadth of the decrease provides strong evidence that we are entering the ninth inning of this foreclosure crisis with the outcome all but guaranteed,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

ACROSS THE NATION – Biggest drop in 3 years

The 15 percent monthly decrease in November was the biggest month-over-month decrease since November 2010 when U.S. foreclosure activity plummeted 21 percent in one month following the revelation of the so-called robo-signing scandal in October 2010.

 While the drop reflects all homes somewhere within the foreclosure process, a decline in the number of homes receiving their first foreclosure notice reflects a stronger improvement. A total of 52,826 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in November, down 10 percent from the previous month and 32 percent from a year ago, hitting its lowest level since December 2005.

“While foreclosures will likely continue to stage a weak rally in certain markets next year … it is highly unlikely that there will be a foreclosure comeback that poses any major threat to the solid housing recovery that has now taken hold,” concludes Blomquist.
 

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The Ranking & Rating of Brevard County Schools – Part 2

Posted by ge.admin on TUE, OCT 29, 2013 @ 11:00 AM

Brevard County Schools FCAT Grades

Part 2 – Creating a Ranked List

This is part 2 in a series that culminates with the creation of a list of all Brevard Public & Charter Schools ranked in order of 2013 FCAT performance and provides Florida DOE grade rating.

When my husband & I moved to Melbourne from Northern California six years ago, we placed a premium on ensuring our daughter went to good schools.  This drove us to target certain neighboorhoods when looking for our new home.  At the time, I swear I had a table, listing the FCAT scores for each Brevard County school printed by a newpaper.  Being an engineer, I strive to make “data driven decisions” so I referred to that list constantly while home shopping.  When exploring the School of Choice program for middle schools I again wanted to refer to a ranked list.

Finding the right school is more than just finding the school with the highest standardized test scores.  Enrichment programs, teachering staff, administrative staff, campus/facilities are just of few of the things that should be considered when looking at schools.  Florida’s Department of Education assigns A-F letter grades to every school in the state.  The grading is based on FCAT scores (performance & learning gains) for lower grades as well as accelerated course (participation & performance) and college prepardiness for upper grades.

It is cumbersome to wade through the 2013 FCAT 2.0 scores and grades on Florida Department of Education’s website to compare elementary schools in Brevard.  So Ellingson Properties commissioned the generation of a ranked list of all local public & charter schools for its clients.  The list includes each school’s A-F grade rating from the state.

The list ranks elementary, middle, & high schools according to their average Math and Reading score for all grades tested.  In Brevard, an elementary school performance includes scores from grades 3 through 6 although the districit considers grade 6 to be middle school.   Brevard middle school performance includes grades 7 and 8 while high school performance is based on reading scores for grades 9 and 10 only. 

 Below find the top three schools in each list:

Top Brevard County Schools

It is important to note that 2013 high school grades have not been released yet.  A school may have high average FCAT scores, but it’s state grade may be lower because improvement gains were not met.

Despite the pros & cons, FCAT scores do provide insight into a schools performance.  This information can help parents make informed decisions when home buying.  Use the link below for a copy of the 20130Brevard County Schools Ranking & Rating.

2013 Brevard County Schools FCAT & Grades

What schools are you zoned for?  Check out this districit link.

The Ranking & Rating of Brevard County Schools – Part 1

Posted by ge.admin on THU, OCT 24, 2013 @ 11:29 AM

Brevard County Schools 2013 FCAT & grades

Part 1 – Florida’s School Performance Terminology

This is Part 1 in a series that culminates with the creation of a list of all Brevard Public & Charter Schools ranked in order of 2013 FCAT performance and provides Florida DOE grade rating.

When the state published school grades this summer, 38 of 74 Brevard County’s elementary, middle and charter schools dropped by a grade compared to 2012.  This decline in grades was mirrored across the state.  Why the decrease?  Well, the Florida Department of Education has enacted more rigorous standards including tougher tests, changes in grading rules and the transition to Common Core standards.  If this leaves you confused, you’re in good company.

Below is a quick overview on some of the key school performance terms used by our educators, media, politicians and legislators. 

School Grades – Florida pioneered the A thru F school grade system in 1999.  Assigning a letter grade is a way to report a school’s effectiveness in a manner everyone can understand.  Every year the Florida Department of Education uses a formula to assign each public K-12 school a letter grade. 

For elementary schools, letter grades are based on a school’s FCAT scores (performance & learning gains).  Middle schools are similar to elementary but include a component for participation & performance in accelerated courses.  For high schools there is a new formula. Only 50% of a high schools grade comes from FCAT results.  The other half of the grade takes into account graduation rates, SAT results, participation and performance in college-level courses (e.g. AP -Advanced Placement courses).  2013 High school grades are expected to be released later this year.  Check out the districit’s School Grades Q & A for more detail on grading formulas.

Brevard County Schools 2013 FCAT & grades

Safety Net – 2013 Brevard school grades could have been lower for a third of the schools.   In 2012 amid growing controversy over Florida’s ever-changing quality measures, the state Board of Education imposed a one year ‘safety net’ to help schools cope.  The ‘safety net’ prevents school from dropping by more than one letter grade on their state issued report cards.  Last week the Florida State Board of Education voted to extend the ‘safety net’ through the 2014-15 school year, despite the complaints of some board members.

FCAT – The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is the foundation upon which the “Florida model” of education reform was built, serving as the basis for school and district report cards. An updated version of the standardized test, known as FCAT 2.0, began phasing out the original version in 2010.  FCAT 2.0 is given to students as young as 3rd grade, and increases the difficulty of the math, science and reading tests.  FCAT results comprise half of teacher evaluations once districts design their legislatively required merit pay systems. 

Common Core – The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a states-led effort that establishes a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics.  Common Core standards promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad.

Florida joined 44 other states, the District of Columbia, 4 territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity in adopting the Common Core State Standards.  States are collaborating to develop common assessments to replace existing end of year state assessments.  Florida plans to replace FCAT 2.0 in 2014-15 when the new Common Core State Standards assessments were to be released.  Recently, it was announced that Florida is pulling out of a state consortium designing Common Core aligned standarzied assessments.  Check out this article for more information.

Keep in mind common core standards refer to ‘what’ students should know.  Curriculum is ‘how’ those students learn those standards.  Curriculum (e.g. lesson plans, books, classroom materials, etc..) choices will still be handled locally after Common Core is fully in place.

Understanding what is meant by: school grades, safety net, FCAT, and Common Core helped me in my quest for a single ranked list of Brevard County Schools.  Did I miss any big items?

Part 2 – “Creating a Ranked List” to be published next week

Florida Consumer Confidence – 5 Year High

Posted by ge.admin on SAT, JUN 1, 2013 @ 10:17 AM

Consumer Confidence
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – May 29, 2013 – Floridians’ consumer confidence rose another two points in May to 81 – a third straight month of increases for a post-recession high, according to a University of Florida (UF) survey.

“The last time confidence was this high was August of 2007 when it was 82, shortly before the Great Recession began,” says Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Three of the five components used to determine the Florida Consumer Sentiment Index increased. Respondents’ expectations that their personal finances will improve a year from now rose three points to 82. Meanwhile, their overall confidence in the nation’s economic conditions over the coming year increased two points to 81.

Floridian’s trust in the national economy over the next five years surged, rising eight points to 85.

The survey showed a decline in two components, however. Survey takers’ perception that they’re better off financially now than a year ago fell three points to 68. In addition, their confidence in the timing to buy a big consumer product right now, such as an automobile, fell one point to 89.

Overall, though, Floridians’ confidence shows an upward trend.

“(Last month’s) increase was largely due to increased confidence among respondents under age 60, who were optimistic about their personal finances and U.S. economic conditions,” McCarty says. But this month’s increase found that older Floridians are even more optimistic. Confidence among respondents 60 and older in the national economy over next five years increased 15 points to 88.

“As the headlines turn to news other than budget cuts and possible changes to Social Security, consumer confidence improves for Floridians,” McCarty says. “This is especially true for seniors.”

Meanwhile, positive statewide economic news also boosts confidence. The legislative session in Tallahassee recently ended with a budget increase for the first time in several years. April’s unemployment rate was 7.2 percent, a drop of three-tenths of a percent from March. Construction, retail trade and service sectors saw job increases. Home sale prices improved again by $5,000 to a median price of $165,000. Sales have been strong, and new home construction is under way in some areas of Florida.

The stock market also reached record highs in May.

So far, most Floridians have not experienced the negative effects of sequestration. However, this could change as wide-reaching cuts in services and jobs trickle into the economy, McCarty says.

That process may have already begun. Employment in leisure and hospitality is down from March, and Florida’s sales tax revenue in April was less than expected. McCarty suggested sequestration might have affected plans for vacations for workers in other states.

“Our expectation is that the effects of sequestration will be more fully realized as the summer progresses and confidence will likely stay the same or pull back slightly,” McCarty says. “For now, optimism among Floridians is growing.”

Conducted May 13-23, the study reflects the responses of 410 individuals, representing a demographic cross-section of Florida. The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2; the highest is 150.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Things are Looking Up! 3 Positive Brevard County Real Estate Trends

Posted by ge.admin on FRI, MAY 31, 2013 @ 09:10 AM

brevard mls trends

It is hard for most to believe it has been about five years since the national real estate market crash of 2008.  Though homeowners and homebuyers alike have seen some low points in Brevard County real estate sales, recent surveys have shown that consumer confidence is once again on the rise.  Trulia compiled a list of real estate market trends concerning the remainder of the year for Brevard County property as well as properties nationwide.  Following are just a few of those big trends for 2013.

1.  Home Prices Rise

At the top of the list of real estate market trends is the rising prices homebuyers will find on the market.  Since the crash in 2008, new home construction has been at an all time low, which has created somewhat of a shortage of available properties on the market.  Many analysts say that 2012 was the year the market began to turn around, and we can expect to see prices continue to rise through this year and continuing into 2014.  Home prices are expected to rise about 5 percent this year.

2.  Short Sales Up

In short sales news, property owners and buyers can expect to see an increased number of short sales in Florida.  More and more banks are trying to avoid foreclosure procedures by reaching out to homeowners and offering foreclosure assistance. New rules have reduced the documentation that borrowers have to show to demonstrate hardship, and borrowers now aren’t necessarily required to pay the difference between what they owe on the mortgage and the final sales price. Homebuyers should look on brevardmls.com or ask their agents about short sales to find some great deals on today’s market.

3.  Rental Demand Increase

Finally, this is a great time for investors, as property management continues to boom.  Three to five million young people (most 20-30 years of age) have been riding out the shaky economy by moving back in with their parents or staying with friends.  As they start to get jobs, they’re looking for their own apartments. This pent-up demand will drive up rents as well.  Many investors have been buying Brevard County foreclosures and other distressed properties to turn them around as rentals.  As investors continue to get great deals on such properties, they are turning to management companies to maintain such properties, putting a high demand on their services.

Expect these trends and more in 2013 as the Brevard County real estate market turns around.

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Source: The Fiscal Times

Why Some Homes Don’t Sell – 4 Avoidable Reasons

Posted by ge.admin on TUE, MAY 21, 2013 @ 09:19 AM

Brevard County Real Estate

As the housing market continues to improve, and as demand begins to overtake supply, many homeowners are looking to sell their homes for a great profit.  Still, a number of sellers find that they are having trouble finding the right buyer for their property. 

Brevard County real estate specialists have noticed certain patterns amongst properties that seem more difficult to sell and have compiled a list of the most common issues homeowners come across when selling their Brevard County Real Estate. 

The following are four of the top reasons a home remains unsold and what savvy sellers can do to avoid them.

1.  THE PRICE IS WRONG, BOB

The first and foremost issue many analysts have noticed is that some homeowners tend to price their properties too high.  According to an article on usnews.com, “Sellers have emotional attachments to their homes,” and thus they may find it difficult to establish a proper home value.  Appraising the property and taking an objective stance to the pricing is a great way to ensure the property is not overpriced.

2.  A BAD IMPRESSION

Curb appeal really is a big deal when it comes to real estate.  Your home and property may be in great shape, but even the smallest sign of water damage, for example, can turn off a potential buyer.  Thoroughly inspect your home from top to bottom and make sure that everything is clean, neat, and as it should be.  “Fresh landscaping or a fresh coat of paint in certain areas” can do wonders for your property’s appearance and appeal.

What’s on the inside is just as important as what’s on the outside.  Nothing says stay out as well as blocked doorways or strong pet odors.  Few buyers will see past dirt, odors, or clutter to realize there’s a jem to be had.  A home should look and smell as good as it can from the minute it hits Brevard MLS.  A sellers who procrastenates staging their home risks having their property thought of as a problem property.

3.  MARKETING CAMPAIGN LACKS DEPTH

Your agent should be doing more than just listing your home on Brevard MLS and putting a sign in the yard.  90% of home-buyers search the Internet for their homes. The most important vehicle for advertising your home is Internet exposure.  Not submitting photos — or uploading only one unflattering photo of the front of the house can deter potential buyers.

4.  RESTRICITED ACCESS

Finally, homeowners should be flexible with their scheduling for showings and open houses.  Showing your home frequently is the best way to generate traffic and interest in your property.  No lockbox, restricited hours, 24 hour notice, or by appointment only can hamper showings.  Work out a schedule with your real estate agent that maximizes your exposure, and discuss your listing on Brevard MLS with your agent.

Sources:  http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/01/joint-nar/google-study-shows-more-people-use-internet-to-research-homes-for-sale

http://www.gregellingson.com/sellers-information/pricing-your-home-to-sell

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Interest Rates Rise

Posted by ge.admin on MON, MAY 20, 2013 @ 07:40 AM

Mortgage Trend
30 Year Up 0.07% & 15 Year Up 0.05%

WASHINGTON (AP) – May 10, 2013 – Average U.S. mortgage rates rose this week but remained near historic lows. Cheaper mortgages have encouraged more homebuying and refinancing.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up to 3.42 percent from 3.35 percent last week. That’s still near the average of 3.31 percent reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average on the 15-year fixed-rate loan rose to 2.61 percent from 2.56 percent last week, which was the lowest on records going back to 1991.

Low mortgage rates have buttressed the housing recovery that began last year. Home sales and construction are up from a year ago, and prices are rising in most U.S. markets.

A survey released Tuesday showed that U.S. home prices rose 10.5 percent in March compared with a year earlier, the biggest year-over-year gain since March 2006.

The survey from Core Logic, a real estate data provider, showed that year-over-year prices have risen for 13 straight months. Prices are rising in part because more buyers are bidding on a limited supply of homes for sale.

Prices rose in 46 states over the past year. Eleven states posted double-digit gains.

And excluding distressed sales, which comprise foreclosures and short sales, prices rose in every state. A short sale is when a home sells for less than what’s owed on the mortgage.

Sales are rising in some markets hit hardest by the housing bust in part because investors are scooping up homes in hopes of turning a profit.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year mortgages was 0.7 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for 15-year loans also held steady at 0.7 point.

The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 2.53 percent from 2.56 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable-rate loans rose to 0.4 point from 0.3 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage increased to 2.58 percent from 2.56 percent. The fee was unchanged at 0.5 point.
AP Logo Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Marcy Gordon, AP business writer.

Brevard County Real Estate Foreclosures Remain High

Posted by ge.admin on MON, APR 29, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

Brevard Real Estate Foreclosure

FLORIDA FORECLOSURE HIGHEST IN NATION

In the first quarter of 2013, nationwide foreclosure rates continue to drop.  Florida however, announced a 7% increase from the previous quarter and was up 17 percent from the first quarter of 2012.  Florida has the highest foreclosure rate at three times the national average.  Among U.S. cities and regions, seven of ten areas with the highest foreclosure rates were in Florida, with Brevard County at the number eight position according to RealtyTrac.

Q1’13 NATIONAL TOP TEN METRO FORECLOSURE RATES

  1. Miami, FL – 1 out of 79 housing units
  2. Orlando, FL – 1 out of 86 housing units
  3. Ocala, FL – 1 out of 92 housing units
  4. Las Vegas, NV  – 1 out of 99 housing units
  5. Tampa, FL – 1 out of 100 housing units
  6. Rockford, IL – 1 out of 102 housing units
  7. Jacksonville, FL – 1 out of 105 housing units
  8. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL – 1 out of 109 housing units
  9. Chicago, IL – 1 out of 116 housing units
  10. Lakeland, FL – 1 out of 128 housing units

This trend has been holding strong for the past three months. Statewide layoffs have certainly taken a toll on the market, though it has begun to turn around for the better. So what does this mean for those interested in Florida real estate?  Many investment properties are on the market, giving investors and snowbirds a great opportunity to expand their horizons. These numbers are also promising for those looking to move to Brevard County.

Shoppers who are willing to look at foreclosed homes understand that they have the potential to purchase property at deep discounts. With such great tools as Ellingson Properties’ Brevard MLS foreclosure tool, finding foreclosed properties is easier than ever. As foreclosure rates stay high in Brevard County, now is a great time to buy.

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Canadian Snowbirds Hot on Florida Real Estate Investing

Posted by ge.admin on FRI, APR 26, 2013 @ 12:53 PM

Brevard MLS Invest

A recent report published by the Bank of Montreal has demonstrated that Canadian Snowbirds now make up the majority of Florida’s property buyers. Recent studies have shown that the median price of a single-family home in Florida is almost half that of a single-family home in Canada. In 2010, thirty-six percent of all real estate transactions in Florida involved Canadian investors, who also provide the top source of tourism income in the state. According to the same report, over half a million Canadians now own Florida property.

As prices continue to plunge and the strength of foreign currency increases, now is a great time for investors and snowbirds to look at Brevard County properties for sale. Investment properties are a steal at this point in the market, enabling investors to make quick and easy profit.  But the market will not stay in this state forever. A recent BMO study has shown that the market has hit its bottom and the real estate market is beginning to make
a turn for the better. In future years, prices will increase once more. Anyone interested in real estate investment should peruse Brevard MLS for Space Coast investment property opportunities.

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