Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Future of Small Press & its Importance to Writers

Here's an interesting article by a small press publisher about the future of small presses and their importance to us writers.

The link is a distillation of an essay written by Eric Obenauf in the Brooklyn Rail. Eric is head of indie publisher Two-Dollar Radio.

It does raise the interesting question of how much publishing reflects American business in general. In these days of few dollars, small presses are lean and wiley enought to survive. But what about the big houses? Isn't this the same phenom that's overtaking the auto industry, real estate, and the rest of corporate centric business?

Read and enjoy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An (encouraging) update on Colorado real estate

Money Magazine has once again named Louisville, CO the number place to live in the country out of all communities with 50,000 or fewer residents. That's based on recreation, affordability, lifestyle, and job opportunities.

Superior, CO came in a respectable #13.

Also interesting to note this week is a Realty Times article which provided some insight into our rebounding market. Here are the highlights:

First, the national trend. Pending home sales rose sharply, by nearly 7 percent, in the last month measured by the National Association of Realtors.

Pending sales were up in all four major regions of the country—and that caught the attention of some key industry economists.

Orawin Velz, economic forecaster for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in a commentary that "the steady improvements in pending home sales are encouraging," and confirm the view that existing home sales hit their cyclical bottom in January and are likely to continue to rise in the coming months.

Since the January low point, she noted, the Realtors' pending sale index is up by 13 percent.
Mortgage rates continue to be favorable, an average of 5.3 percent last week for 30 year fixed rate loans, 4. 8 percent for 15 year fixed, and those rates are pulling in growing numbers of home purchase loan applications.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey, new applications to buy houses increased by nearly 7 percent in the week ending July 3rd.

Now let’s take a look at this week in real estate:

Boulder/Longmont—New listings took a jump of over 20% in the Boulder county market last week. Yes, I know - the number of houses on the market has been historically low this past year. That's one of the factors that allowed Boulder housing prices to increase in an otherwise pathetic economy. But consider that sales have been very steady for several weeks, seldom varying by more than 2% for the entire Boulder market.

That doesn't put us out of the rough. Agents continue to report that the ongoing problem of late and inaccurate appraisals continues to cause headaches. That's mostly because Boulder doesn't look like other markets. Appraisers are having a hard time keeping up with the prices that are offered. Bidding situations are happening. The loan process is not for the faint of heart. Underwriters are asking for lots of supporting documentation and they are asking for it more than once. Patience is being tested at every turn. The benefit is that most buyers are getting some wonderful homes at great prices.

We are still seeing homes under $250,000 move quickly.

Central Denver — There is still lots of activity in the price point below $400,000 with multiple offers more common than ever. We are seeing the upper end market moving. Sellers are getting their homes on the market & we are seeing offers coming in on those houses. Price is crucial, as well as staging, in order to get top dollar in this market.

Larimer County—Well priced inventory is moving very quickly and even the condo market is picking up steadily. We are still seeing issues with appraisals and underwriting is taking a significant amount of time to review buyer's credit history and clear loan conditions. The Northern Colorado real estate market is relatively strong in comparison to much of the state. Larimer County in particular is fairing better than surrounding counties. It is still a great time to buy & I really don't think we will be in the doom and gloom for much longer. We're already seeing signs of life in the Northern Colorado market and it is only a matter of time until those buyers sitting on the fence will be kicking themselves for not making a move in what was a declining market.

West Lakewood—Short sales are becoming more streamlined and we continue to have multiple offer situations on bank owned properties. We are hearing back from banks more expeditiously. It seems that sellers are listening to their Agents. They are becoming more realistic and are often adjusting their listing price.

Regardless of the market or the reason behind the recent upswing, things are starting to pick up throughout Colorado. It seems buyers are finally starting to get the message that we may have hit bottom and, as buyers take action, we’re slowly but surely working our way into a transitioning market. It’s been a challenging ride but what we have to look forward to is exciting. Prepare. The coming months and into 2010 are going to be an exciting ride.

Growth is an act of separating

When you plant a Linden tree and its roots are young, they’re tightly bound in a burlap sack. Drop the sack down a hole, fill it with dirt, water it, and the roots soon will break free and spread far away from one another. They wander from the trunk, each root spreading.

I heard about a mother who gave birth to a baby girl. Years later when the girl was a teen, she needed a blood transfusion, and the mother volunteered. The nurses found the blood types didn’t match, and they refused. Later the lab said that the mother and daughter did not even share the same DNA, and the girl must have been adopted. They scolded the mother, who insisted it was her birth child. The lab said impossible. Everyone played it like they were stumped.

The mother visited her own mother, the girl’s grandmother, and the grandmother told this story – that the girl’s mother had been conceived as a twin, but that the sister had died in the womb. It was a strange pregnancy, the grandmother said, sad and hopeful all at one time, carrying one living fetus and one dead. The grandmother wondered how she might give birth, one child crying for life and the other not. When the day came, it was joyous. Only one girl emerged, and she was fat, strong and red.

Upon hearing this story, the lab tested the mother’s DNA a second time. Only this time they did not draw blood, but saliva. The saliva proved a perfect match to the daughter. It seems the mother carried two sets of DNA – one her own, and the other of the dead sister she had absorbed in the womb. What had happened in there? Was it hunger, or just a rivalry between sisters that was nipped in the bud before it got out of hand?

Growth is an act of separating. Sometimes we separate by devouring those we mean to leave behind.