Having operated out of a temporary location since September, members of Castle & Cooke Mortgage's newest Indiana branch are putting down roots in their permanent location in Greenwood, Ind., a team that will be led by Karen Smith (pictured right), who has held branch management positions for the past 25 of her 30-year career in the mortgage industry.
Smith comes to Castle & Cooke Mortgage from Academy Mortgage and says she was attracted by the company's servicing, speed and lack of overlays.
"The programs and service Castle & Cooke Mortgage offers are the best of the best,” said Smith. “Castle & Cooke provides the speed of trust and ease, allowing us to provide our business partners and clients service they have never experienced before. The 24-hour average turn time in underwriting is unheard of!"
Holding veterans in high regard, Smith has developed an expertise with VA loans. She is also eager to offer the HomeStyle Renovation program, which allows buyers to purchase a home and finance repairs like replacing carpets, cabinets, appliances, paying for mold remediation and more, ultimately providing new opportunities for her clients to discover a new way of looking at homes.
"I am thrilled to welcome Karen and her team to the Castle & Cooke Mortgage family," said Castle & Cooke Mortgage President and COO Adam Thorpe. "Her experience and leadership style allows her to create an environment of pride and professionalism that provides a foundation for building solid relationships with her clients and business partners. Homebuyers in central Indiana are sure to receive exceptional service from Karen and her team."
The personal finance Web site WalletHub, observing that small U.S. cities have been growing at a rate that is 10 percent faster than the nation as a whole over the past 15 years, has released its list of 2016’s Best Small Cities in America.
In a number-crunch of 1,268 cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000, WalletHub factored in such considerations as housing costs and the quality of the local schools to the “number of restaurants per capita.” Topping its list is Westfield, Ind., followed by Princeton, N.J. Rounding out the top five on the list is Leawood, Kan., Littleton, Colo., and Brookfield, Wis. Castle Rock, Colo., had the sorry distinction of placing last on the list, although it tied with Parker, Colo., in having the lowest percentage of adults reporting fair or poor health, 7.2 percent each—which is 5.3 times lower than in Eagle Pass, Texas, the city with the highest, 38.3 percent.
As for homeownership rates, The Villages, Fla., ranked highest with a 96.50 percent rate, which is 148 times higher than in Fort Hood, Texas, the city with the lowest at 0.65 percent. Westfield, N.J., and Holly Springs, N.C., tied with the lowest percentage of residents below poverty level, at 2.20 percent each, which is 24.3 times lower than in Statesboro, Ga., the city with the highest, 53.40 percent. And the eating-out crowd might be interested to know that Duluth, Ga., has the most coffee shops per 100,000 residents, 194.10, which is 142 times more than in Pharr, Texas, the city with the fewest, 1.37.
A new wave of microbreweries is having an intoxicating impact on the commercial property market in Indianapolis, with industrial space being leased to keep up with the frothy demand for local beers.
According to an Indianapolis Business Journal report, the Indianapolis market is expected to have 50 microbreweries by the summer—seven years ago, it was only home to 10. A CBRE study of this market determined that the local microbreweries collectively cover approximately nearly 360,000 square feet of commercial space.
Steve Delaney, a retail broker at CBRE Sitehawk, noted that the new microbreweries have moved away from retail establishments in favor of revitalized manufacturing and industrial sites. And one microbrewery spanned the sacred to the profane by purchasing a former Catholic church, turning it into St. Joseph Brewery & Public House.
“They generally take a large amount of square footage, so that’s a factor that’s also positive for commercial real estate, because they have the additional brewing component,” Delaney said. “Therefore, they take more space than a typical restaurant.”
First-time home buyers looking for a great deal should consider Indianapolis, according to new data from Zillow, which crowned that Hoosier State metro as the nation’s best market for neophyte homeowners.
Zillow determined that Indianapolis home buyers can expect to spend 11 percent of their income on a monthly mortgage payment, which four percentage points below the national average. But those savings do not carry over for renters, who can expect to spend 26 percent of their income on monthly rent.
Joining Indianapolis in the top 10 list of best markets for first-time home buyers are Pittsburgh, Memphis, Cleveland, Chicago, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Houston, Tampa and Birmingham, Ala. At the other end of the spectrum, markets including San Jose, Seattle and Austin were cited as being among the hardest places for first-time home buyers to get a house.
"Buying your first home is a big decision that takes a lot of planning," said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. "First-time buyers across the U.S. are up against high prices and low inventory, but these are the places where the availability of affordable, entry-level homes and the presence of cash-buyers are less of an issue. First-time buyers in these markets won't have to deal with as many bidding wars or run-away prices; they'll be able to find a first home that fits their needs with less stress. With record low mortgage rates, it's a good time to buy a home and certainly worth considering."
However, home buyers—first-time and otherwise—were not in the market for property last week. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 22 found the Market Composite Index down 4.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and down three percent on an unadjusted basis compared with the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased two percent from one week earlier, while the unadjusted index decreased one percent compared with the previous week, but was nonetheless 14 percent higher than the same week one year ago. And the Refinance Index decreased five percent from the previous week as the refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 54.4 percent of total applications from 55.4 percent the previous week.