Greetings from the Northwoods!

- Pat Hugunin, GTS Merrill Office Manager

Things have slowed down a bit here lately just in time for the seasonal Deer Hunting/Thanksgiving Holiday. That wonderful 10-day stretch when the orange clad masses push deep into the fields and forests in search of the 4-legged wonders who have, once again, perfectly timed their annual exodus to some tropic island and are now nowhere to be found.    

In talking with many of our customers, it seems there is a lot more optimism in the air than at this time last year. Lenders are forecasting that interest rates will continue to hold around their current levels over the coming year. Add to that the slowly increasing home values in the area, and this should keep the refinancing at moderate to good levels.

Hopefully this will help those who haven’t been able to take advantage of these rates up until now. Additionally, the lenders seem very optimistic about their new construction prospects for the coming year. They are getting an increased number of inquiries from their customers in this area. Again, another promising sign.

Of some concern however are potential changes in the works stemming from the CFPB proposed rule. (CFPB= Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or as I have heard some call it, Chicken Fried Peanut Butter…..). Among some items that will affect how lenders do business, and ultimately how we do business, are changes to the Truth in Lending, Good Faith Estimate, and the HUD-1. Another that could have a dramatic effect is the Proposed Three Day Rule, which in essence means that the buyer must receive their final numbers/ disclosure three days prior to closing.

As far as the resale market in the area, the realtors are optimistic as well. They are expecting that we will see continued improvement in the market similar to this year. 2012 for our area has been better than originally expected, and it looks to continue that trend in 2013. Prices in the area are seeing a very gradual increase, leading most in our area to believe that the worst is behind us. Of course that remains to be seen, but an increase in customer confidence can go a long way.

The largest concern for the realtors has been with the financing. Realtors are struggling with the difficulties that have arisen with stricter lending standards and underwriting guidelines.

Well, that’s the news from the Great (soon to be) White North. To all that deer hunt, have a safe and productive hunt. And to everyone, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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