Monday, April 11, 2005

New Update Notification System (trial)

Up until now, every update to the Lake Bridgeport Sandflat News came with an e-mail notification for our readers about once or twice a month. But lately, due to more and more spam and bulk mail filters, far too many notifications are bounced as undeliverable.

If you would like to be notified any time this page is updated, please scroll down to the end of this page and look for the Google Groups button to Subscribe to Lake Bridgeport News. You will also be able to browse the notification archives there as well. You can choose how to receive your notifications and you can always unsubscribe.

Wise County Flag???
Has anyone seen a picture of the official Wise County Flag? If you have seen it and can describe it, please contact Dave Pawson of County Flags of Texas

KCUB 98.3
“People to People” will remain on the air every Monday through Saturday, hosted by KBOC disc jockeys Miss Vicki on weekdays and Sally Lee on Saturday. Starting Monday the program will air from 9 to 11 a.m on KCUB 98.3 out of Stephenville.

Home For Sale
Copyright Ann Roth

HOME FOR SALE! A slice of the American dream. This one is a lovely single family detached home. No Homeowner Association (HOA). No gates. City amenities. Less liability. Your creativity welcome – so is your basketball hoop. This one is a Rare Gem!! Hurry - it won't last long!!The American Homeowner Resource Center in the late 90's was experiencing about 200-300 hits per month on their website. That figure has grown exponentially to upwards of 2.5 million hits per month. This is reflective of a public outcry over the abuses being inflicted upon homeowner association captives who were sold a bill of goods and unknowingly gave up their Constitutional protections in the process. When they thought they were buying a slice of the American Dream, they ended up in quite an Un-American nightmare, replete with little Commandos.

The traditional single family home without a homeowner association is a rare gem. Prospective homebuyers complain that in many cities like Irvine, California or Mesa, Arizona, it is increasingly difficult to find a No-HOA home. If they are available, they are usually located in older neighborhoods – which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. Look at the older home as an artist's palette for your creativity.Prospective homebuyers need to begin thinking 'out of the box' and get away from the beige stucco boxes and red tile roofs marching in lock step conformity to an HOA Constitution. They are so conforming that people have pulled into the wrong driveway thinking it was their own. There is value in creativity and diversity - and that doesn't mean hanging blue mini-blinds in a window so you can tell which box belongs to you.In a homeowner association - gone are the days of deciding to pick up a pail of paint and repaint your trim or your fence on the spur of the moment, or planting a tree just because it's a beautiful day on your day off and you have time, or building a small fountain in your garden, or putting in a new basketball hoop or a swing set, or God forbid put in a new window or door, or start on that patio cover in the back yard.

Such mundane maintenance items or small time improvements require 'approval'. Not approval from the city. Approval from the homeowner association board of directors because the work must conform to your "HOA Constitution". It requires everybody's approval but your own. This 'approval' must come from your neighbors, then from your board of director neighbors, who passes it on to the sub-committee, who passes it on to the management company, who passes it on to the association attorney, who may modify your plan and then bill the homeowner association for his time.You resubmit the association attorney's modified plan and start the approval waiting game all over again. Hopefully, your board of neighbors doesn't decide to amend your "HOA Constitution" in the interim. When you finally get your final approval and have completed your project - don't be at all shocked if they decide that you are a shade off on the paintcolor, or several inches off on the height of the fence. Go back to "GO" and start all over again. If you don't conform you may be facing a fine.When everybody else finally gets around to deciding what is best for you, it may not be at a convenient time. Perhaps you have scheduled a surgery, or have just had a baby, or have gone out of town for an extended trip, or simply can't afford to do it that month. Too bad. If this 'approval' expires, go back to "GO" and start all over again.

The stress of being at the mercy of neighbors you don't know, or who don't know you, or don't like you, but have the power to control you, is not a healthy lifestyle; nor do you ever feel at home - in your own home.In this day and age of so much government intrusion into our personal lives, Americans desire to fiercely guard even simple freedoms and to have some semblance of control over their destiny. Eking out an existence in any homeowner association type housing is not conducive to those desires. The opportunity to buy into a slice of the American Dream may only come once in a lifetime for some. Make it count. Leave nothing to chance. Giving up control over likely the largest investment you will ever make is a bad idea. Think about it.....would you let just any stranger have control of your entire investment portfolio with nary a background check? Then why would you let someone do that with your home?


Visit the Texas Homeowner Association News (American Homeowner Resource Center)
at http://www.texas.ahrc.com/

No Tax Breaks for HOA/POA Assessments and Co-op Dues

“While homeowners are eligible for many tax breaks, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA) reminds them that they must bear some of the expenses. These include general closing costs and commissions paid to mortgage brokers and real estate agents as well as homeowner’s insurance or private mortgage insurance when buying, building or improving a personal residence.

You may not deduct homeowner association and co-op dues or local assessments that increase the value of your neighborhood, such as new sidewalks. Keep in mind, too, that the amount of your adjusted gross income can affect your ability to claim certain deductions.

If you have questions, consultation with a tax professional is highly recommended.

Source: David S. Jones, News Release, The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, March 2005, http://recenter.tamu.edu/

What is a Common Interest Development (CID)?

“Common interest housing includes planned developments of single family homes,
townhouses, and condominiums. These developments involve a form of ownership in which
home buyers purchase both an individual interest in a particular unit and another interest,
consisting often of streets, recreation centers, golf courses, and other facilities, which they own in common with all residents in the development. They buy their property subject to voluminous sets of deed restrictions, rules, and regulations, under which all owners agree to make monthly payments to a homeowner association, a private government into which all residents are enlisted at the moment of purchase. The association is run by the residents, supported by cadres of lawyers and other professionals, and it enforces the deed restrictions against all residents and manages the use of property and other aspects of life in the development. Increasingly, CID housing involves homeowner association-administered security measures, which typically include walls and gates, and may involve hiring guards and even private police forces. . . . The homeowner association is not a passing fashion but an important institution reflecting the ideological shift toward privatism . . .Institutions insinuate themselves into people’s lives, shaping the way they think and the choices they make. Mandatory membership homeowner associations induce people to identify with a small neighborhood of people with similar social and economic characteristics, either by cooperating with the association or by opposing it.”

Source: Evan McKenzie, Political Science Department, University of Illinois at Chicago,
“Private Gated Communities in the American Urban Fabric:
Emerging Trends in their Production, Practices, and Regulation”, September 2003,

Putting Up The Gates – The New Segregation
Review of Book by Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder

“In their book, Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States, published in October 1997 by the Brookings Institution Press, we question the ability of this increasingly pervasive design tool to meet its security goals and strengthen the sense of community in America. . . . Gates – along with fences, private security forces, "residents only" restrictions on public parks, policies to control the homeless, land use policies, large-lot zoning, and other planning tools – are part of a trend throughout the country to restrict or limit access to residential, commercial, and public areas. These turf wars, representing a retreat from the public realm, are a troubling trend. Gated communities are a dramatic manifestation of the fortress mentality growing in America. . . What is the measure of nationhood when the divisions between neighborhoods require security patrols and fencing to keep out other citizens? When public services and even local government are privatized, when the community of responsibility stops at the gates, the function and the very idea of democracy is threatened. Gates and barricades that separate people from one another also reduce people's potential to understand one another and commit to any common or collective purpose. In short, gates reduce the opportunity for social contact, and without social contact, this nation becomes less likely to fulfill its social contract.

Source: National Housing Institute: http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/93/gates.html

Texas Population Could More Than Double by 2040!!!

“All scenarios point to a substantial Texas population boom. The state had 20.9 million residents in 2000; in 2040, it will be home to between 35.8 and 45.4 million. That is a jump of between 71.5 and 118 percent. Any way it's calculated, Texas faces a staggering population gain. . . . The Dallas metro area had roughly 5.2 million people living in it during 2000. State Data Center scenarios point to the area's population surging to between 10.1 and 15.9 million by 20 . . . Tarrant County is expected to grow from 1.4 million to between 2.4 and 3.8 million. Collin County will see its 2000 population of 592,000 swell to between 1.4 and 3.4 million.”

Source: Steve H. Murdock, Tierra Grande: The Journal of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, October, 2004)
The Texas Real Estate Center

Starter homes’ fuel explosive growth

Wise County Messenger, Published Sunday, April 10, 2005
By Brian Knox

“If real estate agents who attended Thursday’s conference at Northwest had any doubts before about the residential and economic growth potential of the area, they shouldn’t be doubting anymore. A demographer and the president of Hillwood Properties explained the explosive growth the Northwest area has seen and how it should continue in the future. . .”

For the Rest of the Story go to http://www.wcmessenger.com/newsbindata/news/news/Starterhomesfuelexplosiveg.shtml

Texas Real Estate Confidence Down

The latest Texas Real Estate Confidence Index (TRECI) is .54, or slightly better than neutral. It is down slightly (.01) from the fourth quarter survey but up a bit (.02) from the survey done one year ago.

Source: Texas Real Estate Confidence Index (March, 2005) http://www.ntxe-news.com/artman/publish/article_24122.shtml

Citizens begin crafting a vision for the future

Wise County Messenger, Published Sunday, April 10, 2005
By Skip Nichols


“More than 50 residents began the difficult task of molding the future of Wise County in the historic courthouse Thursday night in Decatur.The residents – including old-timers and newcomers – were volunteers and commissioner appointees for the Wise County Citizens Planning Committee. Their first official act: election of three officers and two at-large board members. . .”

The group elected Jim Joling of Boyd as chairperson. Joling said he would serve one year. . . Other sub-committee chairs named at Thursday’s meetings included Jerry Frank of Aurora for infrastructure; Kim Tinkham of Boyd for youth services; Mike Georgia of Rhome for environment; J.K. Miller of Decatur for housing development; and Charles “Doc” Cocanougher of Decatur for industrial development. . . . Fletcher, an agribusinessman and Slidell school board president, said that most good plans are dreams. A native of Wise County, he said protection of ground water is vital. He also emphasized the importance of having a good cross-section of residents to take part in the planning.

“The most important thing we can do for the future of Wise County is to have a long-range plan,” he concluded.Joling said he would do everything possible to publicize meetings so that citizens can continue to participate.”"

For the entire story go to http://www.wcmessenger.com/newsbindata/news/news/Citizensbegincraftingavisi.shtml

Fewer Condemnation Protections for Texas Homeowners

On July 2, 2004, the Texas Supreme Court decided Hubenak v. San Jacinto Gas Transmission Co. and removed several key restraints in the condemnation process that were favorable to landowners.

The Texas Supreme Court greatly diminished the protection afforded landowners in condemnation cases by eliminating the condemnors’ duty to make a bona fide attempt to purchase the property and to negotiate in good faith. Likewise, conferring jurisdictionon the courts when these two requirements are not satisfied leaves landowners with no option but to appear before the special commissioners to protest an
inadequate offer.

For more information on condemnation,
see “Understanding the Condemnation
Process in Texas,” at The Texas Real Estate Center

Texas Foreclosures Growing!

“NORTH TEXAS (DallasNews.com) – Of the almost 84,000 single-family homes and condominiums that were sold in North Texas in 2004, 13,049 later became foreclosures sold at auction, according to a study by Foreclosure Listing Service. In the four-county area, including Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, foreclosed homes had an average debt nearing $146,000.

“There are so many of these houses on the market that we now have three or four agents who do nothing but foreclosure sales,” said Bill Sabino of Re/Max Premier Group Realtors.

About 1,000 of the 13,049 homes were sold directly to investors at auction, and the rest were listed for resale by lenders. Although fewer than 2,000 foreclosed homes in North Texas are posted in the Multiple Listing Service, area agents estimate the number of actual foreclosed homes to be many times higher.

Because foreclosed properties aren’t a rarity anymore, Connie Zetterlund of Coldwell Banker Residential says that getting these homes for a steal is out of the question. “People think they can offer whatever they want for a foreclosure and they will get it — that is not happening.””


Mortgage Loan Applications Down

"WASHINGTON, D.C. (mbaa.org) — Mortgage loan application volume dropped 9.2 percent this week and is down more than 39 percent compared with the same week one year earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly survey. The purchase index declined 3.5 percent and the refinance index declined 16.5 percent from one week earlier.
"The increase in mortgage rates has reduced application activity across the board, particularly for refinances. Refinance applications are down more than 60 percent relative to this time last year," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's senior director of single family research and economics."


Predatory Loan Practices Include:

Balloon payments that require borrowers to pay off the entire balance of a loan by making a substantial payment after a period of time during which they have been making regular monthly payments;
Required single premium credit life insurance, where the borrower must pay the entire annual premium at the beginning of the policy period rather than in monthly or quarterly payments. (With this cost folded into the loan, the total costs, including interest payments, are higher throughout the life of the loan);
Homeowners insurance where the lender requires the borrower to pay for a policy selected by the lender;
High pre-payment penalties that trap borrowers in the loans;
Fees for services that may or may not actually be provided;
Loans based on the value of the property with no regard for the borrower’s ability to make payments;
Loan flipping, whereby lenders use deceptive and high-pressure tactics resulting in the frequent refinancing of loans with additional fees added each time;
Negatively amortized loans and loans for more than the value of the home, which result in the borrower owing more money at the end of the loan period than when they started making payments.

Source: Predatory Lending: Redlining in Reverse, By Gregory D. Squires

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