Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family and loved ones a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Happy Thanksgiving! How It Began…

Thanksgiving began in the U.S. in 1789 after the issuance of the proclamation below made by President George Washington and was initially a harvest festival.  Thanksgiving did not actually become a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator, and Ruler of the Universe.”.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving! How It Began…

HUD Files Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced that they have filed a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Federal Fair Housing Act by “allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination“.

Some of the ways HUD alleges that Facebook platform violates the Federal Fair Housing Act include:

  • display housing ads either only to men or women;
  • not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
  • to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
  • draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.

You can read the contents of the HUD complaint against Facebook here.

This is an example of why it is imperative that real estate agents, investors, landlords, and home sellers that choose to handle their own home sale know and understand the Federal Fair Housing Act including things that are prohibited under the Act.  It never ceases to amaze me how many FSBO’s (for sale by owners) feel they are exempt from all housing laws and regulations just because they are not a real estate agent.  I’m surprised as well by how many real estate agents really don’t fully understand it either and think things like what they do on Facebook is different than if done in a classified ad in a newspaper or just because a platform gives you the ability to do something (such as target just one sex) it makes it ok, which it obviously does not.

In any event, when it comes time to buy or sell real estate, I would encourage you to, first off, not try doing it on your own but use an agent, and then select an agent based upon he or she’s experience, qualifications and knowledge.  A good starting point is here – “How To Choose A Real Estate Agent“.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Paved The Path For Fair Housing

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a name synonymous with civil rights who, along with his followers, led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal, however, it did not address housing.

Four years later came the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also referred to, and more commonly known, as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968″, which expanded the original civil rights act to include prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.  President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968, one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resources and information…

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State .

Missouri Insurance Department Providing Assistance to Flood Victims With Insurance Needs

The Missouri Insurance Department announced they will have Consumer specialists in place this week and next at Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARC) throughout the state to assist flood victims with their insurance claims. The consumer specialists will be at the locations below, on the dates indicated and will be able to assist victims of the recent flooding with understanding their insurance policies as well as with filing insurance claims.  The Missouri Insurance Department did point out however that “generally, homeowners insurance does not offer protection against flood losses. Homeowners should check their policies for exclusions, such as ‘water damage’.”

Consumers that have questions or concerns about their insurance coverage can also contact the Missouri Insurance Department’s Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.

Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARC) Where MO Insurance Dept Consumer Specialists will Be

 

May 10 Ellington Ellington City Hall, 100 Tubbs Avenue
May 10 West Plains West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St.
May 11 Poplar Bluff Memorial Baptist Church 2215 South Broadway Bldg. C
May 11 Eminence United Methodist Church, 18321 Church St.
May 12 & 13 Van Buren Van Buren Youth & Community Center, CR 1204 State Hwy D
May 12 & 13 Valley Park Manchester United Methodist Church, 129 Woods Mill Rd.
May 15 Thomasville TBA
May 15 Pacific Pacific Eagles, 707 West Congress Pacific, MO 63069
May 16 Gainesville Gainesville School District, Gymnasium
May 16 House Springs Northwest Valley Middle School, 4300 Gravois Rd.
May 17 Doniphan Caring Community Partnership, 209 Highway St.
May 18 Arnold Arnold First Baptist Church, 2012 Missouri State Rd.

While it is too late to help with the recent flood, there is flood insurance available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  You purchase flood insurance, just like homeowners insurance, through insurance agents.  There are requirements to be eligible as well as generally a waiting period before the coverage takes affect.  If you would like to know more about flood insurance available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can contact them at 800-427-4661.

Want to know if your property is located in a flood zone?  Go to STLflood.com for an interactive flood map where you can enter your address and view your property on the flood map to determine if it is located within a flood hazard area:

 

Merry Christmas!

The Birth of Jesus
Luke 1-20

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

FEMA Announces Disaster Assistance Is Now Available to Missouri Flood and Storm Victims

Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to residents of 33 counties in Missouri that suffered damage as the result of severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that occurred between December 23, 2015 and January 9, 2016.

Residents in the following counties are eligible for the assistance:

  • Barry, Barton, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster, and Wright counties.

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Find Your Home’s Value Online NOW!
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Online Interactive Flood Map- See If Your Property Is In Flood Hazard Area
Continue reading “FEMA Announces Disaster Assistance Is Now Available to Missouri Flood and Storm Victims

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Impact On Fair Housing

mlkToday, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to focus on the dramatic change for the good that was brought about in the area of housing as a result of the efforts of Dr. King and the movement he started.

Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964. Continue reading “Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Impact On Fair Housing

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Inspired Peace Park Here in St Louis

mlkAuthors note: While setting out to write something in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King today, I found the article below I wrote a year ago at this time and realize it says what I would say today so I chose to publish it again…

Today, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is hard for me to believe that, during my lifetime, there was a time when it was legal to refuse to rent or sell a house to someone because of their race or skin color, but it was.  However, the  Civil Rights Act of 1968, also referred to as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968”, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, just one week after Dr. King’s assassination, corrected this atrocity and made it illegal to refuse to rent or lease a home to someone based upon their race.

Peace Park Sign - otis woodard - dr martin luther kingI know we have a long way to go and there may never come the time that discrimination does not exist in one form or another, but I am thankful for Dr. King and that he was willing to sacrifice his life to make life better for others.  While I was just 7 years old when Dr. King was assassinated and only knew of him through historical accounts, that changed a few years ago when I met my good friend Otis Woodard.  I now feel like I have gotten to know Dr. King a little better through Otis.  You see, Otis was part of the civil rights movement and was a friend of Dr. King’s.  When Otis talks about Dr. King you can see how much he respected him and what an influence Dr. King has had on his life.  In fact, a park in north St Louis where Otis converted vacant lots it into a safe haven for homeless and poor people of the neighborhood pays tribute to Dr. King, being named “Peace Park” and bearing a quote from Dr. King, “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”

While writing this article, I saw a tweet from another man I tremendous amount of respect for, Dr. Ben Carson, that says it all…  “As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let us pay more attention to the content of one’s character than the color of one’s skin.” 

God Bless America!

God Bless America - US Constitution

The best cities for romance and real estate

dennis-norman-realtor

Before you get all excited, no, St. Louis did not make the top ten list of the best cities in America for young singles to relocate for love.    Wait, before you think I have lost my mind, or are using a cheesy seasonal top-ten list for readership, it’s not my doing….it’s actually Zillow’s idea.  This week, Zillow introduced their “In the Move for Love Index“, which lists the best cities for young singles to relocate for love. In evaluating locations for their list, Zillow considered the cost of rent versus income, walkability of the city as well as “supply and demand”…well, um, “the ratio of, and abundance of, single males to single females under 35“.

So here you go, “The Top 10 Cities To Find your Valentine” (don’t blame me..blame Zillow): Continue reading “The best cities for romance and real estate

Mortgage relief received in 2012 may not be taxable

Saint Louis Realtor, Dennis Normanst-louis-real-estate-realtor-dennis-normanMissourians have received more than $112 million of mortgage relief as a result of the National Mortgage Settlement reached a year ago with the nations largest lenders, according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.  Koster, along with Attorney General’s from other states, sent a letter to Congress last November urging them to extend a measure that was due to expire at the end of 2012 that would provide tax relief for some people receiving mortgage relief in the form of principal reduction and short sales.    January 1, 2013, Congress passed the extension as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Continue reading “Mortgage relief received in 2012 may not be taxable

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

Four years ago on the day we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I wrote the article below on a personal blog. This morning while doing some research on Dr. King I ran across this article which I had almost forgotten I had written, read it and decided even though some of the data in it is a little dated with regard to current events, it is worthy of publishing again to pay honor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reprinted from January 19, 2009…

mlk

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the very influential, prominent leader and icon of the American Civil Rights movement.

One of the most important accomplishments of Dr King and the Civil Rights movement was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was signed into law on July 2, 1964, and prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal. It did not, however, make discrimination in housing illegal which Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement continued to work toward.

Finally, on April 11, 1968 discrimination in housing became illegal when Continue reading “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

manger-scene-christmas-

Photo by: John Pavelka

St Louis Home Inspector Shares Facts Home Buyers Need to know about Mold

mold-picture
A Nasty Mold Problem From One of Aaron’s Inspections

Most people today know enough about mold to know that it is a potential health problem. You may envision it as a serious respiratory health concern. This mysterious enigma does not wear a skull and crossbones, but some see it as a “deal killer” just the same. Today we’ll share some facts about dealing with potential mold problems in the middle of a real estate transaction.

Why is Mold a health concern?  Mold can trigger allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Some people are more sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Continue reading “St Louis Home Inspector Shares Facts Home Buyers Need to know about Mold

Missouri Attorney General Files Lawsuits Against Three Mortgage-Modification Companies For Misleading Consumers

Yesterday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed three separate lawsuits against individuals and their companies for misleading Missouri consumers in connection with mortgage-modification services. The lawsuits were filed against Colleen Kelly, a Missouri resident operating Heartland Loss Mitigation, LLC,; Eric Mader, a Florida attorney operating Mader Law Group, LLC, a Florida company; and Jim Caplan, a Florida attorney operating CAPLAW, P.A., a Florida company. Continue reading “Missouri Attorney General Files Lawsuits Against Three Mortgage-Modification Companies For Misleading Consumers

Should you consider a strategic default if you are underwater on your mortgage?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-

Over one in four homeowners in the U.S. with a mortgage are “underwatermeaning they owe more on their homes than they are currently worth and, according to data just released from a survey by Zillow, 75 percent of them are underwater by 40 percent or more meaning it will most likely be many years until they even have the hope of seeing equity in their home again. Nonetheless, this has not deterred the majority of these underwater homeowners from “staying the course” as 59 percent said would not consider a strategic default in order to get out from under their home. Continue reading “Should you consider a strategic default if you are underwater on your mortgage?

Is there a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health-care legislation?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-In the past few months I have received dozens of emails being forwarded around the internet warning of a new “3.8 percent real estate tax” or “tax on home sale” coming as a result of Obamacare. Given there seem to be many misconceptions out there about this topic I decided to address it this morning. For starters, there is not a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health care legislation per se. There is, however, a 3.8 percent on unearned income for high-income individuals and couples that could end up being applied to the sale of one’s home. Continue reading “Is there a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health-care legislation?

Watering your lawn could prevent a leaky basement

St Louis Home Inspectors Gerry LoeschAt present it looks as though 2012 may again be a year to remember for foundation issues. To date, this has been a very dry year. At present, St. Louis is somewhere around 5-6 inches behind in rainfall. You can see the cracks beginning to develop in the grounds. We have also been in the growth cycle for trees during this time and the growing season was advanced due to the unusually warm March.

Basements are also more prone to leakage should we have heavy rains during or following drought spells. Since the ground has cracked due to the drought these cracks create avenues for moisture to find its way to the foundation and into the basement.  Continue reading “Watering your lawn could prevent a leaky basement

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-Lately the $64 question for many people is whether to rent or buy a home. I think by now everyone knows that, as a result of the collapse in home prices and dirt-cheap interest rates, buying a home is now more affordable than ever, but for a lot of people there are still doubts or concerns that need to be addressed before making the decision whether or not to buy. Many of these issues stem around financing including; how much down payment will be necessary, what can I afford, etc. The American’s Banker Association (ABA)came out with five questions every potential buyer should ask when deciding to buy or rent a home that, along with the helpful online calculators they offer, I think may be very helpful: Continue reading “Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Top 100 web sites for do it yourself home improvement

chase-gentry-100-top-home-improevement-sites

Are you ready to tackle that bathroom renovation you’ve been putting off? Before you pick up the phone and hire a contractor, why not save some cash and try your hand at it. Considering the cost of renovations for homeowners, DIY has gained popularity. The following list, created by Construction Management Degree.com, contains 100 of the top DIY websites to help guide your home improvement projects, in no particular order. We arrived at this list through our own research, and for the benefit of our readers. The list is organized by area of the home including; General Remodeling, Interior Decorating, Kitchen and Bathroom, Office and Workspaces, Landscaping and Exterior, Basement, Storage, and Closets. Continue reading “Top 100 web sites for do it yourself home improvement

How to apply for independent foreclosure review

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-UPDATE – August 2, 2012 – The deadline for requesting a review of your mortgage foreclosure under the federal banking agencies’ Independent Foreclosure Review has been extended until December 31, 2012

If you feel you were a victim of an improper foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 by one of the companies below, you may apply for an independent foreclosure review and receive compensation if the independent review finds evidence of direct financial injury to you due to servicer error. Time is running out however as the deadline to apply is July 31, 2012. To make it easier to understand the process, the fed’s have produced a video on how to apply which I have included below. Continue reading “How to apply for independent foreclosure review

Helpful Spring Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Spring Maintenance
It is that time of year again. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Clean debris from the gutters and downspouts. Re-establish good slope and secure anygutters that may have sagged from ice and snow. Caulk any joints that leak. The maincause of moisture in basements is poor drainage (e.g. gutter, downspout and surface water).
  2. Continue reading “Helpful Spring Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Victims of bad foreclosure practices get more time to apply for review and possible compensation

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-foreclosures-Last November I wrote about how victims of wrongful foreclosure could apply for an independent review of their file and possibly receive compensation under a new presented by acting Comptroller of the Currency, John Walsh. The deadline to apply for this was to be April 30, 2012, however, today, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced they have extended the deadline to apply three months until July 31, 2012. Continue reading “Victims of bad foreclosure practices get more time to apply for review and possible compensation

Houses and the human body have a lot of similarities

Have you ever thought about the similarities between houses and the human body? For example as our bodies age, things are not quite as straight, square and firm as they once were in our younger years. At one time I had a 44 inch chest and now with age it seems that chest dimension is closer to my waist line. In most cases, this aging in homes translates into floors not being totally level and windows and doors being skewed slightly or not latching. While this may create slight operational issues these conditions are quite common in older homes, some more so than others depending on the age, floor plan, design etc. While one could, in theory go through and re-level the floors, in my opinion in most cases this would be an unnecessary expense and cause additional problems. Quite frankly many look at these conditions as part of the “character” and “charm” of an older home. Continue reading “Houses and the human body have a lot of similarities

Where is the St Louis Real Estate Market Headed in 2012?

dennis-norman-st-louis-real-estate-market-forecast-2012Shortly after finishing my video recap of the 2011 St Louis Real Estate Market I began analyzing our market data and giving thought to the 2012 St. Louis Real Estate market.  The end result?  The MORE St Louis Market 2012 Forecast.   For a link to my 15 minute video as well as a downloadable report, please submit your name and email address here and you will receive it immediately. Continue reading “Where is the St Louis Real Estate Market Headed in 2012?

Baby Boomers Helping Their Kids Buy Homes

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR - Better Homes and Gardens SurveyWant to buy a house but a little short on cash? If your parents or grandparents are of the baby boomer generation then no problem, they’ll give you the cash! Well, at least one in five will according to a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Continue reading “Baby Boomers Helping Their Kids Buy Homes