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As a real estate professional sometimes you have to deal with local or state laws that can really slow you down and cause some headaches. Many laws have a real purpose, and while they may be annoying at times, they really are necessary. Sometimes, though, even lawmakers miss the mark. Here are some really strange laws that are on the books. You never know. One day maybe you will come up against one of these laws when trying to help a client.

Do the potential buyers own an alligator? Well, if you are in Arkansas then you better inform them that it is illegal for them to keep that alligator in their bathtub. However, if you are in Georgia then proceed with the sale because it is legal there to keep your gator in the bathtub.

Make sure new homebuyers in Arizona own an outdoor thermometer and have plenty of cold water on hand because when temps rise above 110 degrees they are legally obligated to give beggars knocking at their door a drink. If they don’t obey they can face jail time.

Selling a home in Maine? Be sure to warn all buyers that they must be diligent about removing Christmas lights. If they keep them up past January 14th they are breaking the law.

Selling a home to a large family in Tennessee or Pennsylvania? Watch out because they could end up facing charges. In Tennessee no more than 8 women can live in one home and in Pennsylvania the limit is 16 – any more and the home is labeled an illegal brothel.

Are you an agent in Texas? Well, here’s a new sales point for you – Texas actually has a law on the books that states criminals must give homeowners 24 hours notice before they break into their home or commit another crime on their property. Now if only everybody obeyed that law, Texas real estate would be selling fast.


The events of September 11th will never be forgotten by any American. However, unless you live in the New York area or had someone close to you perish on that fateful day, you probably do not think about what is happening with the Ground Zero site.

There has actually be a lot happening, yet very little actually getting done. Just by looking at the area, not much has changed for a while. There has been a lot of talk of rebuilding and a lot of discussion about what to do with the piece of real estate where the former World Trade Center stood.

Most recently, then central tower, once called the Freedom Tower and now called 1 World Trade Center, is on the market. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is selling the $3.2 billion tower. Whoever makes the purchase is expected to also market and lease the space to corporate tenants.

The tower is still under construction and is not expected to be completed until 2013, but all the controversy surrounding it makes many fear, renting the office space to be a difficult task. A task many do not want to take on. However, the Port Authority still believes that this is a piece of real estate that many developers will still be vying for.

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Homebuyers Walked Away in November

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Now that we are into 2010 we are able to start looking back on 2009 and seeing what was happening. Learning from mistakes and trends of the past year is the only way to start off 2010 in the best way possible. One place to look is November when homebuyers started buying less.

In November, according to, homebuyers were walking away form contracts more than signing them, with a 16% drop in signed sales contracts than in October. The National Association of Realtors reported this as the first drop after nine months of gains.

The thought is that buyers were simple taking a break. It was at this time that the homebuyers credit was to expire (it has since been extended into mid-2010) and people had been trying to get in before that deadline. With the deadline looming people backed off and no longer felt they had to push to buy a home and get the credit.

The prediction is that we may continue to see this trend with a gain coming again in spring as buyers start to respond to the new deadline set for the credit. So, be prepared to get a boost in business in the spring as homebuyers once again scramble to beat the credit deadline.


According to Freddie Mac the numbers for the start of 2010 are down from 2009. Rates on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage for January 7th were at 5.09%, which were down from the previous week when they were 5.14%. However, looking back at the same time in the beginning of 2009 the rates were at 5.01%. So what is this telling us?

The numbers do not really tell us much, but when we look at why rates are changing the way they are we can get an idea. The opinion is that the economy is starting to rebound. That is prompting the Federal Reserve to raise the overnight target rate. This usually causes a rise in ARM rates. The good news is that any major changes from the Fed are not expected until later in the year, so rates may stabilize.

For you, the real estate agent, stable rates can be a great thing. It has truly been a buyers market and sellers have been losing big time. However, if buyers can start to get loans easier and current mortgages can be stabilized at a good rate then chances are that business may start to look up.

Buyers may be able to get more affordable loans. Sellers may be able to refinance and stop foreclosures or short sales. In the end, the hope is always that the market will start looking up. We need to hope that rates will go lower and stay lower, lenders will be lending and properties will start moving again at a good pace.

2010 may just bring a great chance for the market to rebound and for this slump to finally be over.


January 1st brought us more than just a new year in the real estate world. It also ushered in a new set of rules and a new mortgage form that lenders must use. The idea behind the change is to make borrowing for a mortgage easier for the borrower to understand.

This change comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The form is called the “Good Faith Estimate” form. The form has specific lines that cover all settlement fees, lists loan amount, term length, monthly payment, interest rates and details about prepayment penalties or balloon payments. All mortgage lenders must use the new form.

Those looking to buy a home in 2010 will get to use this new form to compare loans from multiple lenders. The hope is that borrowers will be able to make a more informed decision about their mortgage loan and that they will be better able to choose the loan that is really the best choice.

Only time will tell if the new form will actually make the mortgage lending process easier on home buyers or not. For now, many in the industry have said that it is a good idea and are looking forward to seeing just how well it works.


Nobody will argue that 2009 was not the best year in real estate. Many agents struggled through the year and welcomed the new year with some hope that it would bring about a swift recovery for the market. The sad news it that the housing market recovery is looking to be anything but quick.

Many had high hopes after a report that the tax credit program for first-time home buyers had helped the sale of existing homes to see a nice increase. The credit was supposed to expire in November but has been extended into April. That does lead to some hope that it will continue to help the market recover. On the flip side there is a lot of talk about the high number of foreclosures that have been forecasted for the next couple years. The jury is still out about whether 2010 will see the market rebound or if it will be another year of just trying to get by.

There are several things that we will need if we expect the housing market to have a good recovery. These things include:

- A lower unemployment rate
- A lower number of foreclosures
- More available and affordable credit

There really has to be a change in the overall economy in order to get the housing market back in shape. Can that happen in 2010? That remains to be seen. Right now it is just too soon to make any solid predictions.