04.25.2013 :: Skyward Suites purchases Madrid Hotel – Royal Oak:
by: Kortney Glassford 
Skyward Suites LLC Recently Purchased the Madrid Hotel, Royal Oak, MI
The Madrid Hotel in Downtown Royal Oak was recently purchased by the newly formed investment company Skyward Suites LLC. The partners plan to revamp the historic hotel into a high-end boutique hotel.
Royal Oak, MI, April 24, 2013 –(– The historic Madrid Hotel was recently purchased by Skyward Suites LLC who is working in conjunction with the long standing downtown Royal Oak company Skyward Real Estate.

Skyward Suites has proposed a plan to re-vamp and open the Madrid building as upscale boutique hotel. The plan is to restore the current structure as well as remodel and design the rooms to embody the refined yet creative motif, which Royal Oak has become inseparable from. Working in conjunction with the Royal Oak DDA (downtown development authority) Skyward Suites hopes to be rewarded a Grant to improve the exterior façade of the building. Skyward Suites managing partner, Dan Dubensky, talks about the impact of these improvements on downtown, “For years Royal Oak has been in need of downtown hotel. Our vision is to take the lead of the finest boutique hotels in New York, Miami and Chicago and make that style and functionality relate to Royal Oak. We aren’t competing with those developers who are also attempting to build hotels because this hotel will be completely unique and quite honestly, won’t be able to compete with a larger franchise style hotel simply based on the limited space.”

Skyward Suites plan begins with re-vamping the façade with help from DDA Grants. Phase two which is projected to begin in summer of 2014 will be the lobby build-out and room renovation. Skyward Suites plans to keep the Madrid Hotel name and hopes to be open for a business by the Holiday Season of 2014.


<a/> href=”“>Skyward Suites LLC Recently Purchased the Madrid Hotel, Royal Oak, MI</a>

03.29.2013 :: As the storm clears up….:


Fannie Mae sees housing upturn as ‘intact’

Sales could be ‘bumpy’ in first half of the year


Inman News®

Despite some bumps in the road, the housing upturn is “intact” and rising home prices are expected to boost household net worth and offset fiscal tightening, according to a monthly economic outlook released today by economists at Fannie Mae.

Tight inventories continue to restrain sales of existing homes. Although the number of homes on the marketgrew by nearly 10 percent from January to February, the 1.94 million homes for sale represented a 19.2 percent decline from the same time a year ago

Pending sales of existing homes dipped 0.4 percent from January to February, but remained at their second-highest level in nearly three years, according to the National Association of Realtors.

New-home sales also slipped from January to February and builder confidence was down for the second month in a row in March. But housing starts reached anear five-year high in February and new-home sales climbed 12.3 percent year-over-year.

Fannie Mae economists project that existing-home sales, which were up 9.4 percent last year, wlll grow by an additional 10.5 percent this year, to 5.15 million homes, and by 6.2 percent in 2014, to nearly 5.5 million homes. Sales of new single-family homes are expected to post even stronger growth — 15.1 percent this year and 44.1 percent in 2014.

The increases will be supported by a rebound in household formation, historically high housing affordability, improving sentiment toward the housing market, and continued strong demand from investors, Fannie Mae said.

“We expect home prices to firm further amid a durable housing recovery, continuing to boost household net worth, gradually diminishing the population of underwater borrowers, and reducing incentive for strategic defaults,” the Fannie Mae report said.

Potential headwinds to economic growth and housing headwinds include fallout from the ongoing European debt crisis, spending cuts by federal, state and local governments, and potential cutbacks in the Federal Reserve’s ongoing purchases of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities, which have helped keep interest rates low.

Although concerns about Europe’s financial stability flared up this month, and tax increases and government spending cuts known as “sequestration” that could restrain growth took effect March 1, Fannie Mae economists said their forecast for housing remains little changed from last month.

The forecast still assumes that Congress will reach a compromise on sequestration, but warned that the failure to avert full sequestration could amount to a 0.5 percent drag on economic growth for the year.

Fannie Mae economists expect the Federal Reserve will continue buying up Treasurys and MBS through the end of the year, but that rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will climb from an average of 3.5 percent during the first quarter to an average of 4 percent during the final three months of this year. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are expected to continue climbing to an average of 4.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Purchase mortgage applications fell in three out of four weeks in February and then rebounded strongly earlier this month, Fannie Mae economists said, “suggesting that the ongoing recovery in home sales could be bumpy during the first half of this year.”

Purchase loans are projected to rise by 16.8 percent this year, to $619 billion, and by 17.1 percent in 2014, to $725 billion. But expected declines in refinancings are expected to push total mortgage originations down by 14.5 percent this year, to $1.65 trillion, and by another 31.4 percent in 2014, to $1.13 trillion.

All in all, housing is providing a tailwind to the economy, the report said. Fannie Mae economists project the median price of an existing home to appreciate by 4 percent in 2013, to $184,000, and that the median price of a new home will increase 1.6 percent, to $249,000.

Fannie Mae economists expect unemployment will average 7.7 percent this year and 7.4 percent rate in 2014. After an upward revision, real gross domestic product growth clocked in at 1.6 percent for 2012. Fannie Mae economists predict 2.1 percent growth this year followed by 2.6 percent growth in 2014.

03.24.2013 :: Study: Buying a Home Is 44% Cheaper Than Renting:


The recent rises in asking prices has been outpacing the increases in rents, but home buying still may make more financial sense, a new study shows. Owning a house was found to be 44 percent cheaper than renting, according to the latest study from Trulia that compared the costs of the two.

The study found that owning is less than half the cost of renting in 46 of the 100 largest metros. “Buying a home is cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metro areas,” according to Trulia.

Falling mortgage rates are helping to keep home buying more affordable. But depending on where you live, the difference between owning versus renting can be big or small. For example, in San Francisco, home ownership was found to be 19 percent cheaper than renting, whereas in Detroit owning a house is 70 percent cheaper than renting.

The following are places where home purchases exceed renting by the highest amounts:

  • Detroit
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Gary, Ind.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich.
  • Toledo, Ohio
  • Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.
  • Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Indianapolis
03.23.2013 :: Realtors ask: “What can I do to get you OUT of that house?”:

So we are a few days late on this one– but nonetheless we admire this type of creativity!

by Shannon Mullen

It’s official — as of March 20th, the spring real estate season is upon us.  And with record low interest rates, we’ve been hearing for months now that there’s never been a better time to buy a home.

Trouble is there’s not much to buy, with inventory at its lowest point in over a decade.  The hunt for listings has some realtors trying new tricks and even pulling out some old ones.

In Boston, one of the hottest addresses is the city’s Seaport District.  It’s full of trendy new restaurants and warehouses converted to office space and condos.  There are plenty of units to rent here, but places for sale are rare.  So when a loft opened up in a former bra factory,Realtor Ken Snyder jumped on the listing.

“It’s really huge, just shy of 1500 square feet,” Snyder says, showing off the unit.  “So you’ve got the concrete columns, concrete floors, double-height windows, and the exposed HVAC pipes. A lot of people kind of like that aesthetic.”

Snyder says the owners have been renting the loft but were not planning to sell until they saw a post on his Facebook page about the shortage of homes on the market and bidding wars over new listings.

“I’ve been posting kind of my war stories with buyers, saying ‘Hey, you know what, I’ve had six offers on this, seven offers on that, twenty-five offers on this one.  Sellers, hello?  Where are you?!’” Snyder says.  “There’s such little inventory that my joke is it’s like the last shrimp at the buffet at a cocktail party and everyone’s jumping on it to try and get to it.”

Other realtors in the area are holding classes for first-time home sellers, instead of buyers.  There are half as many homes on the market in Massachusetts this year as there were before the recession.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says across the country, inventory hasn’t been this low in 13 years.

“Many of the investors have come into the market, scooped up property at bargain prices hoping to rent it out,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.  “The second part is that home building activity has been greatly suppressed for the past 5 years.”

Yun says new home construction is at a 50-year low.  One silver lining for sellers — the inventory shortage is driving up home prices.  That’s good news for people whose homes lost value during the housing crisis and the spring market might move some of them to sell.

“There will be some temporary relief, but very temporary, because over the long haul, the true way to add inventory is through new home construction,” says Yun.

So until building picks up, the bottleneck continues.  In the suburbs of Boston, Realtor Gary Rogers estimates there are ten buyers for every seller, and to find new listings he’s using tactics that he hasn’t relied on for a decade.

“We’re writing letters to sellers,” he says.  “We’re actually going back to snail mail.  We used to have these huge mailing campaigns and I’d drop a thousand dollars a month on mail.  It used to be junk mail. Now nobody else is doing it, and all the sudden I’m getting calls.”

But there’s still one big problem…

Even when Rogers does find potential sellers, he says a lot of them are afraid to go live with their listings; with such low inventory on the market, they’d have no place to go if their homes sold.


01.12.2013 :: Four big reasons to refinance now:

By Lisa Manterfield

Have you heard a lot about refinancing lately? Are you wondering if refinancing your own mortgage makes sense?

To figure this out, it’s a good idea to first understand what refinancing is. According to a mortgage refinancing guide published by the Federal Reserve System, the central bank of the United States, “When you refinance, you pay off your existing mortgage and create a new one.”

And there are many reasons to refinance, says Todd Huettner, a mortgage broker at Huettner Capital in Denver, Colorado.

“People refinance to lower their interest rate, obtain equity from their property, or go from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate,” Huettner says.

Think refinancing might be in the cards for you? Keep reading to learn about more smart reasons to refinance.

Reason #1: You Want a Lower Interest Rate

You may have heard that mortgage rates are at an all-time low. But what does this mean to you?

Potentially big savings, that’s what it means.

Just consider this: As of October 25th, 2012, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage had a 3.41 interest rate, according to a press release published by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (also known as Freddie Mac).

[Want to lower your interest rate? Click to compare rates from multiple lenders now.]

And scoring a lower rate mortgage could add up to considerable savings over the life of your loan, according to Andrew Schrage, editor of the consumer savings site,

Schrage offers this example to help illustrate the potential savings: “If you’re five years into your 30-year fixed mortgage, with a current loan balance of $200,000 at 5.5 percent, by refinancing to a 3.375 percent interest rate, you could lower your monthly payment by approximately $250,” he says.

Reason #2: You Can Afford a Higher Monthly Payment

Let’s say you just got a long-term job promotion and it came with a hefty pay increase. You could treat yourself to a new car or a new wardrobe, but why not invest that money in your home?

“The benefits of refinancing are not only for those looking to cut their monthly payment,” says Schrage. “If you can afford a slightly higher payment, you can save a bundle by refinancing to a 15-year fixed term.”

And refinancing from a 30-year fixed to 15-year fixed loan is a big, money-saving trend, says Huettner.

“People are extremely motivated to reduce debt,” Huettner says. “Far more people are shortening the term on their loans and trying to get out of debt as soon as possible.”

[Want to refinance to a shorter-term loan? Click to compare mortgage rates now.]

Shortening the term of your loan generally means you’ll have a lower interest rate, too, according to the Federal Reserve. And this could help you save a good chunk of change in the long run.

To highlight the potential savings, Schrage gives an example of someone who is five years into a 30-year fixed mortgage at 5.5 percent, with a current loan balance of $200,000.

“By switching to a 15-year fixed at 2.5 percent, your monthly payment goes up by $200, but you save almost $100,000 over the remainder of the mortgage,” he explains.

With this example, refinancing to pay a little extra month seems worth it, right?

Reason #3: You Plan to Stay in Your Home for the Long Term

How long do you plan to stay in your home? If your answer is “not much longer,” then it might not make sense for you to refinance.

Why? Because when you refinance your mortgage, it includes closing costs, which can amount to 3 to 6 percent of the loan, according to the Federal Reserve.

And if you decide to move soon after you refinance, then the refinancing costs may outweigh the savings.

[Think refinancing is right for you? Click to compare rates from multiple lenders now.]

On the other hand, if you plan to stay in your home for the long term, it could make sense to refinance into a low-interest rate loan, says Gloria Schulman, founder of Southern California mortgage lender, CenTek Capital Group.

“This could be an especially attractive option for young borrowers, who can lock themselves into a 30-year fixed mortgage at rates they may never see again in their lifetimes,” says Schulman.

Reason # 4: You Want to Get Out of Your Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)

If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), your monthly payments fluctuate as the interest rate changes. “With this kind of mortgage, your payments could increase or decrease,” the Federal Reserve notes.

And if they go down, that’s great. But if they go up…well, your bank account could take a hit.

Now, if you’re not a fan of unpredictability, this type of loan could be a bit unnerving. And if you’re looking to get out of it – and lock in a low fixed-rate loan – refinancing your mortgage could help you do just that.

[Want to switch to a fixed mortgage rate? Click to compare rates from multiple lenders now.]

By Lisa Manterfield

Before you do this, however, one thing to consider is that ARMs “may start with lower monthly payments than fixed-rate mortgages,” notes the Federal Reserve’s handbook on ARMs.

With that in mind, refinancing to an ARM with better terms (like a lower interest rate), could be a good idea, “especially if you can pay off the house within 10 years,” says Schulman. “Rates for 5- to 7-year ARMs are at historic lows,” she says, “and no one is expecting rates to rise at all until at least 2014.”

Deciding on which mortgage type is right for you is a big financial decision, which is why the Federal Reserve recommends asking a lot questions about the loan features.

“And keep asking until you get clear and complete answers,” the Federal Reserve adds.