Wednesday, December 25, 2013

St. James could save third of cost with switch to LED streetlights

A switch to LED illumination to reduce the Town of St. James’s greatest expense may take a while to complete, but a planned January 7 presentation should shed light on the potential long-term cost savings.
The topic was part of town council’s broader discussion last Thursday on street-lighting in the town. An ad hoc committee will be formed to address the location of streetlights, and a single council member was designated to accept the increasing number of requests for specific lighting improvements.
Council member and finance officer Jim Donnelly noted that the town’s 2013-14 budget includes $254,000 for lighting, the single largest expenditure. He said if the switch to LED lighting were made, costs could be “cut by a minimum of a third.”
As one of its functions, the town assumes the cost of electricity for the approximately 700 streetlights installed for the developer. There is agreement on how much the town shall spend on each light, but nothing that limits the number of lights on the streets, which were built by the developer and are maintained by the St. James Property Owners Association.
Donnelly said the move to LED would require a major investment by the town.
“The units are not cheap,” he said, about $600 per light to change-out the fixture. He said Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has just spent $10-million on a similar project.
For St. James, Donnelly suggested a “demonstration area”—the Town Hall/Community Center complex—where LED lights would be installed and costs compared. There are 27 light fixtures on-site, and billing is separate from those within the gated St. James Plantation.
The lights, both at the Town Hall/Community Center and throughout the development, are owned by Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation. The member-owned cooperative has incentive to pursue cost-saving initiatives, Donnelly said; “I anticipate we will have some cooperation.”
Brunswick Electric has been invited to make a presentation at the town’s regular meeting the first Tuesday of the month. If that goes well, the Town Hall/Community Center test-lighting will be considered.
Article from State Port Pilot

Ken Keegan Real Estate Broker
(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail Click here for more information on Brunswick, County Real Estate St. James Plantation

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Foreclosures drop to lowest level in 7 years

The foreclosure crisis is showing signs that it's finally fading away.

The number of new foreclosure filings -- which includes default notices, auctions and bank repossessions -- dropped 15% to a total of 113,454 properties in November, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties.
That was the biggest monthly decline since November 2010, and foreclosure filings are now at the lowest level since December 2006. From a year ago, filings are down 37%.
"[T]he 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," Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in a statement.
Along with general economic improvements that have made it possible for homeowners to stay on top of mortgage payments, people are also trying harder to hold onto their homes as housing prices continue to rise.
"People have more to lose if they lose their home," said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.
While filings are much lower than the average of 300,000 filings per month during the height of the foreclosure crisis, they haven't quite recovered to the level of around 86,000 that was seen in 2005 and 2006, before the housing bubble burst. And certain markets, like Florida, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina, are still struggling with high rates of foreclosures.
"While foreclosures will likely continue to stage a weak rally in certain markets next year as the last of the distress left over from the Great Recession is dealt with, 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," said Blomquist.

Ken Keegan Real Estate Broker
(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail Click here for more information on Brunswick, County Real Estate St. James Plantation

Monday, December 2, 2013

October Pending Home Sales Down Again, but Expected to Level Out

WASHINGTON (November 25, 2013) – Although conditions were mixed across the country, pending home sales continued to move lower in October, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline, according to theNational Association of Realtors®.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, slipped 0.6 percent to 102.1 in October from an upwardly revised 102.7 in September, and is 1.6 percent below October 2012 when it was 103.8. The index is at the lowest level since December 2012 when it was 101.3; the data reflect contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said weaker activity was expected. “The government shutdown in the first half of last month sidelined some potential buyers. In a survey, 17 percent of Realtors® reported delays in October, mostly from waiting for IRS income verification for mortgage approval,” he said.
“We could rebound a bit from this level, but still face the headwinds of limited inventory and falling affordability conditions. Job creation and a slight dialing down from current stringent mortgage underwriting standards going into 2014 can help offset the headwind factors,” Yun said.
Modest gains in the Northeast and Midwest were offset by declines in the South and West. Yun notes there was a greater impact in the high-cost region of the West, where tight inventory also is holding back contract offers. He expects generally flat home sales going into 2014, but continued growth in home prices from limited inventory conditions.
The PHSI in the Northeast rose 2.8 percent to 85.8 in October, and is 8.1 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index increased 1.2 percent to 104.1 in October, and is 3.2 percent higher than October 2012. Pending home sales in the South slipped 0.8 percent to an index of 114.5 in October, and are 1.5 percent below a year ago. The index in the West fell 4.1 percent in October to 93.3, and is 12.1 percent lower than October 2012.
Yun said there are concerns heading into 2014. “New mortgage rules in January could delay the approval process, and another government shutdown would harm both housing and the economy,” he said.
Annual existing-home sales should be nearly 10 percent higher this year than in 2012, totaling just above 5.1 million, with a comparable volume expected in 2014. The national median existing-home price for 2013 is projected to be 11 percent above last year, and then cool to a 5.0 to 5.5 percent increase in 2014.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. For additional commentary and consumer information, and

Ken Keegan Real Estate Broker
(910) 523-0903 mobileEmail Click here for more information on Brunswick, County Real Estate St. James Plantation