Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Realogy calls for rates of 4.5% or lower on 30-year fixed rate mortgages

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (Oct. 29, 2008) – Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, today announced that the Company has approached the U.S. Department of Treasury with a practical solution to help stimulate the housing market and lead to a broader economic recovery. The Company also conducted separate national surveys with its real estate franchisees and U.S. homeowners, the results of which underscore the rationale behind its proposal.

“There are millions of credit-worthy people ready to jump back into the housing market, but they need to be motivated,” said Realogy President and CEO Richard A. Smith. “In our view, the incentive of substantially lower mortgage rates would directly stimulate the housing market — both in sales volume and price — and thus accelerate the overall U.S. economic recovery.”

Realogy’s proposal calls for a short-term government buy-down of mortgage rates to at least 4.5%, or lower, for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (down from current rates of approximately 6.04% ). This homebuyer incentive would apply to the purchase of all new and/or existing homes sold up to $1 million in price. There are a number of ways in which the government ultimately could decide to structure and fund this program, which could be addressed as part of the stimulus packages currently being discussed in Washington. Realogy is working with a number of other organizations to carry this message forward and encourage greater dialogue around solutions aimed at boosting the economy through a direct stimulus to the housing market.

With approximately 16,000 franchised or company-owned real estate brokerage offices around the world, Realogy has a unique perspective on home buyer behavior. The Company has seen a recurring theme in virtually all 50 states –- namely, there are substantial numbers of credit-worthy buyers waiting for lower rates and stability in home prices.

“We think the pent-up consumer demand for housing, if encouraged, is more than sufficient to stabilize housing,” continued Smith. “In our view, substantially lower mortgage rates will stimulate both existing and new home sales, reduce home inventory levels, stabilize home prices and, ultimately, help the overall economy. When home sales increase, housing-related consumer purchasing follows, and we would expect this to help lead our economy to a recovery. We feel strongly mortgage rates must be lowered to stimulate a recovery.”

Residential Broker Survey — Mortgage Rate Drop to 4.5% Would Stimulate Sales:
As recently as October 15th, Realogy conducted a national survey about mortgage rates with responses from approximately 1,500 broker/owners representing 2,300 independently owned and operated residential brokerage companies affiliated with the CENTURY 21®, Coldwell Banker®, ERA®, Sotheby’s International Realty® brands.

Here are the key findings from the Realogy broker survey:
• 95% of brokers said they would expect an increase in home sales if 30-year conforming fixed-rate mortgages were available at 4.5% rates today.
• Most notably, 54% of all responding brokers said the impact of a 4.5% mortgage rate would significantly increase home sales in their markets.
• Of the brokers who answered that rates would increase, nearly half (46%) indicated that they would anticipate unit sales levels to increase between 10% to 25% if 4.5% mortgage rates were available today.

The majority of brokers also agreed that substantially lower mortgage rates would have a strong stabilizing impact on average home sales prices.
• 51% of brokers felt home prices would increase somewhat and 38% felt home prices would stay the same.
• Of the brokers who felt prices would increase or significantly increase due to 4.5% mortgage rates, 22% felt the home price increases would be in the 3% to 5% range and 13% felt it would be in the 5% to 7.5% range.

“Our franchisees are small- to mid-sized business owners who have a strong understanding of what actions would help home sales and prices in their communities, and it’s clear to them that dropping mortgage rates to 4.5%, or lower, would have an immediate impact in helping to stabilize the housing markets throughout this country,” said Smith.

Consumer Survey — Americans still place a high value on homeownership; But the state of the U.S. economy has potential home buyers on the sidelines:
During the week of Oct. 24, Realogy used Ipsos Public Affairs, a global survey-based market research company, to conduct a national homeownership survey resulting in responses from more than 1,000 current homeowners . The key findings from this consumer survey are as follows:
• Even in today’s challenging economic environment, nine out of 10 survey respondents (91%) believe that owning a home is still the best long-term investment they can make with their money.
• At the same time, 27% of U.S. homeowners surveyed said the current U.S. economic environment was causing them to put their plans on hold for the purchase of a new or existing home. This response level was consistent across the four U.S. geographic regions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Coldwell Banker climbs real estate Web rankings

Coldwell Banker Real Estate's Web site soared to eighth place in a monthly ranking of real estate sites by online metrics company Hitwise -- the site had sat at 18th on the list for several months.

LoopNet, a commercial real estate search site, jumped onto the top-20 list for the first time, rising from 24th place in August to 20th in September.

No other sites on the top-20 list climbed or fell more than two places in the rankings from August to September.

The market share of visits to top-ranking real estate site dropped from 7.04 percent in August to 6.63 percent in September, Hitwise reported.

Yahoo's site gained in market share, rising from 2.63 percent in August to 3.51 percent in September.

Zillow was third with 2.52 percent market share and ZipRealty was fourth with a 2.13 percent market share of site visits to real estate category sites.

Nine Web sites joined the top-100 list of real estate category sites in September that were not on the list in August., a real estate search site and information site that is operated by Scripps Networks and integrates content from the Home & Garden Television network and the Web site, jumped from its 101st ranking in August to 46th in September. rose from 116th in August to 66th in September, and other sites joining the top-100 list included: (from 161st to 67th); (129th to 80th); (709th to 82nd); the Inman News Web site, (209th to 85th), (164th to 94th), the National Association of Realtors Web site, (106th to 96th); and (104th to 98th).

Sites that dropped off the top-100 list in September include: (from 83rd in August to 104th in September), (87th to 113th), (88th to 102nd), (91st to 117th), (93rd to 109th), (94th to 105th), (95th to 110th), (98th to 130th), and (99th to 115th).

About 65.6 percent of all visits to real estate Web sites went to the top-100 Web sites in that category in September, Hitwise reported, with 36.8 percent of visits going to the top-20 Web sites and 25.1 percent going to the top-10 Web sites in that category, which is comparable to the August statistics.

The average visit duration to real estate category Web sites was 11 minutes, 24 seconds in September, compared with 11 minutes, 36 seconds in August, and 11 minutes, 28 seconds in July.

Coldwell Banker is the first national real estate brand to debut home search interface for the iPhone

Continuing to blaze a path of innovation in the real estate industry, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC has become the first full-service national real estate brand to launch a customized online platform for iPhoneTM users.

The Coldwell Banker flagship Web site,, now has a different look and feel, along with navigation specifically tailored for optimal viewing on the iPhone, most notably with the property listings search and home value estimator functions. When a user accesses the site through his or her handset, the Coldwell Banker Web site automatically recognizes that it is being accessed by an iPhone, and will serve up the special iPhone interface. iPhone users do not need to download any special software to benefit from this enhancement to the Coldwell Banker mobile technology.

“Providing easy access to real-time real estate information is critical for consumers in the home buying and selling process,” said Michael Fischer, senior vice president of marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “Distribution of listings is crucial in today’s environment. Our mobile society is moving away from the desktop and utilizing cell phones and PDAs for more and more content and entertainment. With so many connecting to the Web by phone, we have to be where the consumer is in a way that makes sense.”

Those looking for a home will be able to search for homes and utilize the brand’s home value estimator. In addition, consumers will be able to enter specific search criteria such as city, state, price as well as optional filters including number of bedrooms and bathrooms. When a property is selected, iPhone users can view all of the specifications for that home and contact an agent directly.

“Now more than ever consumers want to access information about a home as they see it, pass it or hear about,” continued Fischer. “Being in front of a computer should not be mandatory.”

Earlier this year Coldwell Banker became the first national real estate brand to put its listings on in-car GPS devices through an exclusive feed to Dash Navigation. Drivers can now call up Coldwell Banker listings, map them, get directions and view other Coldwell Banker listings in close proximity.

iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple Computers, Inc.

Housing Market Should Improve With Takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

the U.S. Treasury Department announced its takeover of mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From it should come a much-needed boost to the nation's housing market.

“The takeover should help stabilize the housing market on the national level which would, in turn, help us in Kentucky as well,” said Robert Damron, president of the Kentucky Association of REALTORS®. “We could see interest rates continue to fall in the coming months, financing for first-time buyers pick up and housing inventories adjust back to normal levels. All of this would help keep home prices in the state from decreasing as they did in so many areas around the country.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together back around $5 trillion in home loans or about half the total in the U.S., don't offer mortgages themselves. But they do play a central role in the American system of home finance. The two mortgage giants buy home loans from banks and others lenders that make the initial loans, either keeping them as investments or packaging them for resale to investors. These two government sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, have been battered in the past year by declining home prices and rising foreclosures.

Although Kentucky does see its share of foreclosures, it consistently ranks in the bottom third of all states in the number of foreclosure filings according to a report released by RealtyTrac, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties.

“The rescue plan offered by the federal government could significantly help those looking to buy a home or hoping to refinance their mortgages if the announced takeover continues to lower interest rates,” continued Damron. “Unfortunately, the plan will offer little, if any, help to struggling homeowners who are already behind on payments and facing foreclosure.

Barren County was ranked #5 The Progressive Farmer’s Best Places To Live in Rural America

Barren County was ranked #5 in the southeast region of The Progressive Farmer’s Best Places To Live in Rural America choices appearing in the February 2008 issue of the magazine. Kent County, Maryland was the 2008 choice as the #1 Place To Live In Rural America and holds the #1 spot in the southeast region. The regional lists appear on Page 53 in the magazine.
The 2008 Top Ten List for the United States includes #1 Kent County, Maryland; #2 Ellis County, Kansas; #3 Livingston County, Missouri; #4 Obion County, Tennessee; #5 Columbia County, Pennsylvania; #6 Wexford County, Michigan; #7 Fayette County, Texas; #8 Coffee County, Alabama; #9 Gilchrist, Florida and #10, Laplata County, Colorado.

The Progressive Farmer compiles a list of rural counties based on the following criteria: home and land prices, crime rates, environment, education, economic factors, access to health care, and others. Counties are first ranked using a proprietary formula based on these statistics, then arranged again based on editorial opinion after the magazine staff travel to selected counties.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pending Home Sales up Strongly

Pending home sales activity surged as buyers took advantage of low home prices and affordable interest rates, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,1 a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in August, jumped 7.4 percent to 93.4 from an upwardly revised reading of 87.0 in July, and is 8.8 percent higher than August 2007 when it stood at 85.8. The index is at the highest level since June 2007 when it stood at 101.4.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home buyers were responding to improved affordability. “What we’re seeing is the momentum of people taking advantage of low home prices, with pending home sales up strongly in California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Rhode Island and the Washington, D.C., region,” he said. "It’s unclear how much contract activity may be impacted by the credit disruptions on Wall Street, but we’re hopeful most of the increase will translate into closed existing-home sales.”

The PHSI in the West surged 18.4 percent to 109.5 in August and remains 37.8 percent above a year ago. In the Northeast the index jumped 8.4 percent to 79.8 and is 2.0 percent higher than August 2007. The index in the Midwest rose 3.6 percent to 84.5 in August and is 6.6 percent above a year ago. In the South, the index increased 2.3 percent to 96.0 but is 2.1 percent below August 2007.

Yun notes the unusual timing of contract activity in August. “Home buyers in July were hampered by overly stringent lending criteria in the months before the government takeover of Fannie and Freddie,” he said. “August shows some unleashing of pent-up demand before the credit crisis accelerated in September.”

He cautioned that the sampling size for pending home sales is smaller than the track on existing-home sales, so there is more volatility in the forward-looking series. “We need to see just how much of this gain holds up,” Yun said.

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., said despite all the turmoil in world financial markets, home mortgages are available. “Mortgages have been harder to find, and availability and terms vary depending on credit score and location, but Realtors® can help buyers find reputable lenders while helping them navigate the transaction process,” he said. “The recently enacted economic stimulus package should help housing by gradually freeing the flow of credit.”

Yun now expects growth in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to contract for two consecutive quarters, in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2009, before expanding in latter part of 2009 as the housing market begins a steady improvement.

Looking at middle-ground assumptions, existing-home sales are forecast at 5.04 million this year and 5.41 million in 2009. Following national declines of 5 to 8 percent in 2008, home prices are projected to increase 2 to 3 percent next year.

New-home sales should total around 503,000 this year and 471,000 in 2009. Housing starts, including multifamily units, are likely to fall 28.2 percent to 973,000 units this year, and come in around 843,000 in 2009 as builders continue to clear the accumulation in inventory.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will probably average 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter and rise gradually to 6.6 percent by the end of 2009. NAR’s housing affordability index is expected to average 18 percentage points higher this year than in 2007.

The unemployment rate is projected to average 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter and then average 6.6 percent in 2009. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is estimated at 4.0 percent for 2008 and 2.0 percent next year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is forecast to grow 1.7 percent this year and 1.0 percent in 2009.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc. Continues to Grow Work-at-Home Program in Bowling Green

N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc. (NEW), the nation's leading provider of extended service plans and buyer protection programs for consumer products, hit the ground running in Bowling Green with their work-at-home customer service program. Back on May 29th, the company announced that they would be bringing a unique opportunity to the community with their work-at-home program. The program has been so successful that the VA-based company is launching a second group of company-paid training classes beginning on October 20th. This new training class is expected to bring an additional 160 jobs to Bowling Green over the course of a year bringing the total number of jobs to 320 by May 2009.

"Bowling Green has far exceeded our initial expectations back in May at the start of the program," said NEW's Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Ray Zukowski. "The caliber of the candidates and the tremendous support and enthusiasm we have received from the community has been the deciding factor in expanding the Bowling Green work-at-home training site."

"This is the third expansion announcement the Chamber has been a part of since the beginning of October," said Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chairman Doug Gorman. "We're grateful to NEW for their enthusiasm and support of our community, which they're showing once again by choosing to expand their operations here."

Many new NEW employees in the area are reaping the benefits of the work-at-home program. "There are several things that I love about working for NEW," said NEW Customer Care Representative, Jonita Woodcock. "The people are great - everyone has a winning 'can do' attitude. I work from my home, which is something I have always wanted to do, and the money I save on gas really helps the budget. But, the number one thing I love about working for NEW is the extra time I have for my family."

Saving on gas is just one of the perks of these customer care positions. NEW's work-at-home program offers paid time off, comprehensive company-paid training, set work schedules, competitive hourly wage, free DIRECTV and tremendous opportunities for professional growth.

"In May we were very proud to welcome NEW to our community," said Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker. "Their commitment to bringing jobs to South Central Kentucky was very exciting, and now our excitement continues because NEW has announced this expansion-all due to our outstanding workforce here!"

Warren County Judge Executive Michael Buchanon agreed with Mayor Walker. "It hasn't been five months since we announced that NEW would locate here, and they've already decided to expand their workforce. Their decision is a great testament to the quality of employees offered here in South Central Kentucky," he said.

Interested job candidates can learn more about the work-at-home customer care positions by visiting Virtual job fairs are also available on the website. Eligible candidates must have a computer and basic PC skills.

About N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc. (NEW)
NEW is the leading provider of extended service plans, buyer protection services and product support, providing coverage to more than 150 million consumers worldwide. Founded in 1983 with headquarters in Sterling, Va., NEW provides award-winning, post-sale consumer care for leading retailers, consumer service providers, wireless carriers and financial services firms. NEW has expanded its product offerings and now delivers a comprehensive customer care solution that begins on day one of the product purchase and extends through the end of the product lifecycle. For more information, please visit NEW at

First-Time Buyer Tax Credit: A Reason to Buy Now

The homeownership tax credit that the federal government created earlier this year is a hard-won tool to encourage Home Buyers to jump off the fence and get into the home buying market.

When you combine the tax credit with today’s continuing low interest rates, large selection of for-sale inventory, and low home prices, many of the pieces are in place for you to buy now.

How the Tax Credit Works

The First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit was passed this year as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 3221) on July 30 and targets any individual or household that hasn’t owned a home for at least three years. Taxpayers can take the credit on their 2008 tax return if they bought their house this year after April 9.

It’s worth up to $7,500 and can be taken in a single tax year. Authorization for the credit ends July 1, 2009, so if Home Buyers wait to buy in the first half of 2009 Home Buyers can take the credit on their 2009 tax return.

The actual credit amount is set as a percentage of the home purchase amount. That percentage amount is 10 percent, so Home Buyers can get 10 percent of the home price credited against their tax liability, up to a maximum $7,500.

Income limits are $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for households. Individuals whose income exceeds the $75,000 limit but isn’t more than $95,000 can still take the credit but on a reduced basis. The same thing applies to households earning up to $170,000.

Any house is eligible as long as it’s a primary residence and is in the United States.

Buyers Have 15 Years to Pay Back

To help keep the program cost effective for taxpayers, the federal government requires the tax credit to be paid back in small, 6.67-percent increments over 15 years. For that reason, some analysts have likened the credit to a 15-year, interest-free loan to help make home buying affordable.

There’s one restriction on the type of financing that a customers can use if they plan to take the credit. That restriction is on tax-exempt mortgage financing. That only applies if you are using below-market interest-rate financing from a public agency or nonprofit that’s funding the loan using proceeds from a tax-exempt mortgage-revenue bond issue. For most buyers, this won’t be an issue. It’s mainly an issue for low-income buyers using special mortgage financing.

The IRS Web site also offers tax-credit guidance in an article that provides answers to many frequently asked questions.

Bush reveals new steps to steady banking industry

President Bush on Tuesday announced a $250 billion plan by the government to directly buy shares in the nation's leading banks, saying the drastic steps were "not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it."

Nine major banks will participate initally including all of the country's largest institutions. Some of the big banks had to be pressured to participate in the program by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who wanted healthy institutions that did not necessarily need capital from the government to go first as a way of removing any stigma that might be associated with banks getting bailouts.

Bush, in brief remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House, said the government will initially buy stocks in nine major U.S. banks.

"These efforts are designed to directly benefit the American people by stabilizing the financial system and helping the economy recover," he said.

Paulson, at a news conference a short time later, said "today's actions are what we must do to restore confidence in our financial system."

"We regret having to take these actions," said Paulson. "Today's actions are not what we ever wanted to do — but today's actions are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system."

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that it will begin buying massive amounts of short-term debt on Oct. 27 — its latest effort to break through a credit clog. The Fed is invoking Depression-era emergency powers to buy commercial paper — a crucial short-term funding that many companies rely on to pay their workers and buy supplies. Last week the Fed said it intended to take the action but didn't specify when.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke welcomed all the new steps and said he believes they will help ease problems plaguing financial markets and threatening the economy. However, he also made clear that policymakers would continue to take actions as needed to battle the crisis.

"Our strategy will continue to evolve and be refined as we adapt to new developments and the inevitable set backs," he said. "But we will not stand down until we have achieved our goals of repairing and reforming our financial system and thereby restoring prosperity to our economy."

"The needs of our economy require that our financial institutions not take this new capital to hoard it, but to deploy it," Paulson said, meaning that they will use the money to bolster lending to each other and to their customers.

"Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans — me included," Paulson added. "Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable."

Said Bernanke: "We will not stand down until we have achieved our goals of repairing and reforming our financial system and thereby restoring prosperity to our economy."

Deed Transfers

Cecil and Beverly Simmons to Jeremy Rowletts, land near Lealand Drive, $105,000.

David and Dorothy Waters to Allen and Margaret Bell Revocable Trust, land on Nutwood Avenue, $135,000.

Millard and Sue Martin to Sergio Ortega, Lot 1 Robison minor subdivision, $135,000.

Kimmel and Lloyd Ferguson to Springhill Real Estate Holdings LLC, land near U.S. 68-80, $700,000.

Ronny and Annie Milliner to Ryan and Robyn Stokes, Lot 6 Fieldstone Farms subdivision, $107,500.

DTD Inc. to William and Patsy Lawrence, Lot 62 Wesley Estates, $200,000.

Gregory and Sharon Grooms to Russell and Kathy Barton, Lot 16 Saddlebook subdivision, $141,500.

Charles and Jamie Gibbs to Kristopher and Kortney Krohn, Lot 78 Sutherland Farms, $33,000.

Blue Level Properties LLC to J.Trapper Construction LLC, Lot 58 McLellan Farms, $35,000.

Jay and Allene Linville to William and Alice Allen, land on Parkside Drive, $66,000.

Carol Wilkerson and Gerrit Hoogenboom to Carlie and Lillie Smith, Lot 106 Drakesborough, $370,000.

Brenda Jones to Leonard and Betty Young, Lot 12 Gilbert Place, $130,000.

Shannon and Deanna Basham to Morehead Mobile Home Park Inc., land in deed book 635, page 84, no tax.

Ruth Hunton to Warren and Linda Stamper, Lot 2 Hunton subdivision, $20,000.

Frank and Robin Smith to Doris Arnold, Lot 4-2 George and Barbara Cowles subdivision, $130,000.

Linda Armstrong to Mark and Leisa Rister, Lot 43 Western Hills subdivision, $153,000.

George Garrity to Patrick Garrity, Lot 1 minor subdivision plat book 14, page 153, no tax.

Patrick and Diane Garrity to Matt Hardy Homes LLC, Lot 2 Patrick K. Garrity subdivision, $37,500.

Chris and Kelly Blevins to Charles Gant, Lot 172 Countryside Manor subdivision, $98,000.

Cumberland Ridge Inc. to Bilal and Beth Ann Qamar, Lot 94 Cumberland Ridge subdivision, $36,900.

Sherron and Fred Johnson Sr. to James and Imogene Maxfield, land on Morgantown Road, $145,000.

Eleise Tabor and Eloise Tabor to Wallace Randolph Real Estate Family Limited Partnership, land on Dodd’s Alley, $67,500.

Overholt Builders Inc. to Stanley and Renee Clement, Lot 263 Fieldstone Farms subdivision, $177,950.

Kenneth and Lisa Loague to Donald and Jennifer Smith, Lot 122 Crossridge subdivision, $585,000.

David and Stacey Forney to Kenneth and Lisa Loague, Lot 155 Hunters Crossing, $307,500.

Dow futures jump 320 after 936-point gain Monday;

NEW YORK (AP) -- Dow industrial futures are up 320, or 3.37 percent, this morning to 9,828, on top of yesterday's 936-point jump. Wall Street is gearing up for another surge with investors encouraged by the U.S. government's plans to spend $250 billion on buying stock in private banks.

Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 38.70, or 3.81 percent, to 1,055.50, and Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 35.00, or 2.40 percent, to 1,493.50.

New York Stock Exchange:

Nasdaq Stock Market:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fed and Other Central Banks Across Globe Cut Key Rates

Working to stem a global financial crisis, the Federal Reserve reduced the benchmark federal funds rate by 50 basis points as other central banking authorities around the world enacted similar cuts in a coordinated effort to stimulate economic growth.

The Fed reduced its key rate from 2% to 1.5% as the Bank of England cut its rate from 5% to 4.5% and the European Central Bank dropped its rate to 3.75%.

Other central banks participating in the global effort include the central banks of Canada, China, Sweden, and Switzerland.

With the rapid deterioration of the U.S. financial markets, the Federal Reserve decided it could not wait until its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 28-29 to take action.

''The pace of economic activity has slowed markedly in recent months,'' the Fed indicated in a statement accompanying the rate cut.

''Moreover, the intensification of financial market turmoil is likely to exert additional restraint on spending, partly by further reducing the ability of households and businesses to obtain credit.''

The Fed’s action restarts the central bank's rate-cutting campaign which had been frozen in June due to concerns that those low rates would cause inflation to get worse.

The last time the Fed’s cut rates was at the end of April, capping one of the most powerful rate-cutting campaigns in decades as it scrambled to shore up the uncertain economy.

Energy prices have recoiled from record highs attained in mid-July over the past few months, allowing the Fed to have more freedom to lower rates again.

In return, the prime lending rate for millions of borrowers will decrease by a related amount on mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards and other loans.

Additionally, the Fed lowered its emergency lending rate to banks by half a percentage point to 1.75%.

The Fed increased a short-term loan program on Monday to as much as $900 billion by the end of 2008 — far above even the government's bailout plan of $700 billion passed on Friday.

The next day the Fed proclaimed that it will purchase enormous amounts of corporate debt, even some of it unsecured, in hopes of replenishing the flow of money in so-called commercial paper markets.

That is where many companies turn for short-term loans to finance their most basic day-to-day operations

McCain Proposes Massive Program to Fight Mortgage Crisis

After questioning earlier this year whether federal money should be used to help homeowners at all, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has announced a plan to purchase failing mortgages directly from homeowners with $300 billion in taxpayer funds.

The Obama campaign quickly denounced the proposal as “erratic policy-making at its worst.”

The Arizona Senator first announced the program during Tuesday’s presidential debate.

"I would order the secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home-loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes — at the diminished values of those homes — and let people be able to make those payments and stay in their homes," said McCain.

The proposal to buy up troubled mortgages would use nearly half the $700 billion from the recently passed bailout package to directly assist struggling homeowners, rather than focusing the federal funds towards rescuing the nation's financial markets.

"Is it expensive?" McCain asked during the debate.

"Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we're never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing the economy."

As subsequently outlined by the McCain, the program would have the federal government pay both borrowers and lenders in full, allowing the borrower refinance into an FHA-backed loan and let tenders remove the bad mortgages from their balance sheets.

Where the Hope for Homeowners program demands that lenders lower mortgage balances down to 90% of the home's current value, McCain's plan would reduce loans to 100% of a home's current value.

Under his proposal, the cost of the writedown would be picked up by taxpayers rather than by the lenders.

To qualify, mortgage holders would have to prove they lived in the home and had good credit at the time of the original loan, as well as provide evidence that they are either delinquent or likely to become so in the near future.

They would also have to prove that they had provided a substantial down payment and adequate documentation to obtain the mortgage.

Eligibility for the program would not be affected by how sensible or fair the original transaction may have been.

McCain’s announcement represents a significant reversal from the initial position he took when he delivered his key economic policy address in March.

"I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers," said McCain at the time.

"Government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the entire financial system and the economy."

As part of that speech, McCain added, "I will not play election-year politics with the housing crisis."

After McCain was roundly criticized for his hands-off approach to the crisis, he proposed a week later spending up to $10 billion for government-backed mortgages for "well-meaning, deserving homeowners" facing foreclosure.

When Obama offered a plan earlier in March that included aggressive regulation of financial institutions, relief for struggling homeowners and a $30-billion economic stimulus package, McCain criticized it as a "multibillion-dollar bailout for big banks and speculators."

"There is a tendency for liberals to seek big government programs that sock it to American taxpayers while failing to solve the very real problems we face."

To an extent, the roles played by the two candidates have reversed as the Obama campaign criticized the details of McCain’s plan for its burden on taxpayers, calling it “erratic policy-making at its worst.”

“John McCain wants the government to massively overpay for mortgages in a plan that would guarantee taxpayers lose money, and put them at risk of losing even more if home values don’t recover,” said Obama economic adviser Jason Furman.

“The biggest beneficiaries of this plan will be the same financial institutions that got us into this mess, some of whom even committed fraud.”

Although the Obama campaign argued about the details of the plan, the candidate apparently endorses the premise – having proposed it himself last month.

At a news conference on Sept. 24, Obama said, "We should consider giving the government the authority to purchase mortgages directly instead of simply purchasing mortgage-backed securities."

Less than a week later, he said he would "encourage Treasury to study the option of buying individual mortgages like we did successfully in the 1930s."

"Since this beginning of this crisis, Barack Obama has demanded that any rescue plan must protect taxpayers and ensure that they share in any profit once the economy recovers, and he worked to include that principle in the plan that passed Congress,"

According to Real Clear Politics, McCain is currently behind 5.1% in an average of national polls, and faces major challenges in several battleground states that are among the hardest hit by foreclosures.

Several states listed by RealtyTrac as among the top ten foreclosure rates in the nation are being hotly contested in the presidential race, including Nevada, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado and Indiana.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Perot Systems Expands Bowling Green Operations

The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce announced today that Perot Systems Corporation is expanding its current operations in Bowling Green, adding up to 90 new jobs here for technology service desk operations. The new expansion will increase Perot Systems' total workforce in Bowling Green to more than 300 associates.

"We are very proud to call Bowling Green home to Perot Systems' service desk operations, and to join our existing team of healthcare business process solution professionals here," said Lynda Gera, service desk manager of the company's new Technology Infrastructure Solutions team in Bowling Green. "What's more, we have been very impressed by the skill and professional expertise of job candidates in the area, and have already hired more than 60 local professionals to full-time positions on the new team."

Located at the Western Kentucky University Center for Research and Development, Perot Systems currently operates an information technology service center to support the business operations of its healthcare customers throughout the U.S. Today's announced expansion will allow Perot Systems to enhance its healthcare services in Bowling Green by adding skilled technology associates to provide application re-engineering services and infrastructure services, including service desk functions.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced a bold initiative to bring home buyers and sellers together and help jump-start the U.S. real estate market. Starting on October 10, 2008, the nation’s oldest residential real estate brand will kick-off its first-ever national “10-Day Sales Event” – during which participating home sellers from across the United States will reduce the listing prices of their homes by up to 10 percent. The Coldwell Banker® 10-Day Sales Event will run nationally through October 19, 2008.

“Despite the difficult headlines regarding our overall economy, the residential real estate market has been showing several positive signs over recent months that could be signaling a tipping point,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “Because of higher inventory, buyers have more homes to choose from and they can take advantage of near historically low interest rates and affordability levels that are the best they have been in years. The recent housing and economic recovery legislation also provides first-time homebuyers with the added incentive of a $7,500 tax credit.[1]

“Yet our research and discussions with our brokers and sales associates shows that in many markets sellers remain reluctant to list their homes at the proper prices necessary to attract buyers,” continued Gillespie. “It’s our hope that the Coldwell Banker 10-Day Sales Event will move buyers off the sidelines and into the market. We are embarking on this initiative – which has never been done before on a national basis – because we believe it is critical for Coldwell Banker, as an industry leader, to help serve the needs of those individuals listing homes with a Coldwell Banker broker and to help move the U.S. real estate market in the right direction.”

In a recent survey of 3,379 Coldwell Banker real estate professionals in markets across the United States, 56 percent said that listing prices in their market remain above where they need to be to attract qualified buyers. Additional findings from the survey include:

-77 percent agreed that the majority of sellers in their market still have unrealistic expectations regarding the initial listing price for their homes
-79 percent agreed that homes in their market that are priced appropriately are attracting more buyers and moving more quickly
-76 percent feel that a 10 percent or less reduction in listing prices in their area is all it will take to help push these homes over the “tipping point” to a sale

“Our brokers and sales associates agreed that, even in the current climate, it will not take much movement to attract those buyers who have been watching and waiting,” noted Gillespie. “Depending on the market, a price reduction of just 10 percent or less just may make the difference in both satisfying sellers and bringing buyers to the table.”

DESA, LLC Announces Additional Manufacturing Operations to Move to Bowling Green Headquarters

BOWLING GREEN, KY-DESA, LLC announced its plans to bring more than 100 new jobs to its Bowling Green headquarters yesterday. These new jobs will come from the planned move of DESA's Power Tools Division manufacturing and distribution operations from Manchester, Tenn., to Bowling Green.

The consolidation and additional jobs in Bowling Green will provide additional manufacturing capacity to produce the new Remington Power Mower and support the continued growth of the Power Tools Division. DESA expects to add 100 new jobs to the Bowling Green headquarters over the next several months, along with additional jobs as new products from the Power Tools line are introduced into the marketplace in the coming years.

DESA, LLC is a manufacturer and marketer of electric lawn and garden tools and heating products. DESA's corporate office is located in Bowling Green, Ky., which is also home to the Retail Heating Division, the Power Tools Division and distribution. Other divisions include the Professional Heating Division and the International Division. DESA's products are marketed under the following brand names: Remington, Master, Vanguard, Reddy Heater, Comfort Glow, Design Dynamics, Outdoor Leisure, FMI and Glo Warm. The company's channels of distribution include home centers, distributors, contractors, mass merchants and hardware cooperatives.

The decision to consolidate existing manufacturing operations from Manchester to Bowling Green did not come easily to DESA; however, the company based its decision on the availability of several Lean process improvements at the Bowling Green headquarters, which will allow it to maintain a competitive edge in the power tools market.

"While this is an extremely difficult decision for everyone involved, it was required to provide the manufacturing capabilities to sustain our future growth" said Lance Servais, President, Power Tools Division. "Our headquarters in Bowling Green is growing substantially this year because of our primary goal, which is to remain the leader in the marketplace for electric lawn and garden tools and heating products."

Bowling Green Ranked 33rd Among Small U.S. Cities

Bowling Green has once again been recognized for its efforts in economic development growth. The Milken Institute, an economic think tank based out of Santa Monica, Calif., recently ranked Bowling Green 33rd on their list of 124 small cities in its Best Performing Cities 2008 index. This new recognition comes closely on the heels of Bowling Green being ranked 12th on the Forbes Magazine list of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers.

The Milken Institute determined these rankings based on the creation of new jobs, the sustaining of existing jobs and the rate of economic growth. Bowling Green has put forth a large effort to expand their economic environment and has also dedicated itself to help build and maintain the economic development of the entire South Central Kentucky Region. According to Warren County Judge Executive Michael Buchanon, "The economic development efforts made here and throughout South Central Kentucky are due in large part to the strength of our business community. Industries recognize that this is a great place to do business."

With a number of new industries moving to the area, Bowling Green is diversifying their industrial environment and expanding into new areas, such as technology. Mayor Elaine Walker recently discussed Bowling Green's move toward the technological arena. "Western Kentucky University's Innovation and Commercialization Center is helping us to create high-tech businesses and is very active in trying to build a quality work force in that sector." This recognition of the importance of diversifying the industrial environment is just one of the many reasons that Bowling Green continues to expand their economic development efforts.

Bowling Green's above average performance in increasing wage salary from year to year, along with its significant population growth and relative low cost of living also help to solidify their place on the Milken's list. Doug Gorman, chairman of the board of directors for the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, emphasizes, "The Chamber works hard to recruit and retain industries in South Central Kentucky because we understand the benefits of growing business here. By maintaining a strong workforce through our recruitment, expansion and training efforts, we show our commitment to our community, not just in the here-and-now, but for the future as well."

To learn more about The Milken Institute's rankings, visit

American Howa Kentucky Announces Expansion of Bowling Green Facility

Curtis Sullivan, chairman of the
Intermodal Transportation Authority,
congratulated American Howa Kentucky
on their expansion announcement, which
comes just over six months after the facility's
grand opening.

AHK's expansion project will add 56,000 square feet to its existing 81,294-square-foot facility, and will house three new manufacturing lines. The company manufactures various products for the automotive industry including headliners, dash insulators, and other interior items.

"We are very pleased with our facility here at the Kentucky Transpark, and we're happy to continue our investment here with this announced expansion. Our location in South Central Kentucky is ideal for our business, and we look forward to much more success here," said American Howa Kentucky, Inc. President Hiroshi Senga.

The project represents a more than $12 million investment in the Kentucky Transpark operation. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved American Howa Kentucky for tax benefits in the amount of $120,000 under the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. The incentive program allows approved companies to recoup sales and use tax for costs related to construction materials, building fixtures and equipment used for research and development.

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