Friday, March 30, 2012

University of Michigan Survey of Consumers March 2012 (Final)

Today's final release of the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers for March indicated an increase in consumer sentiment with a reading of 74.5 and climbing 12.89% above the level seen last year while one year inflation expectations jumped to 3.9%.

The Index of Consumer Expectations (a component of the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators) declined to 69.8, and the Current Economic Conditions Index climbed to 86.

It's important to recognize that consumer sentiment has seriously eroded over the past few months with the current results remaining near levels not seen since 1980, a major indication that consumers are in the process of tightening even further on spending.

Organizing (aka De-Cluttering)

It finally happened.  I did it!  Well, not me precisely, but it is done.

As I had written before, a company by the name of "Allow Me" provides an incredible service.  Want something done?  "Allow me!" they say.

I can't remember what put me over the edge precisely, but the proximate cause was a friend's request for things to help her daughter set up a first apartment at college.  Did I have anything, she asked.  I honestly couldn't tell!  I could open drawers and cabinets, look into the closets - but was there anything really there that was of use?  Did I need it for the in-law apartment myself?

So I made the call and by golly they were at the house in a matter of days.  We walked through and I realized how truly bad it was.  There was real estate mixed in with Alex's things, my mother's heirlooms, and now we have Liam's toys and books and baby equipment.  The recumbant bike I was going to use to work myself into better shape sat in the middle of the sitting room.  I haven't been able to stand being in the room long enough to try it out, much less work out.  Friends have come to stay and we just shove things around...not good.  Even Christmas was sitting there!

So for four partial days, Patty and Suellen took over the apartment and organized me.  They dragged me in on occasion to make decisions, but they were fairly painless.  I had a pile or two every night to take back to the main house and sort through.  Yes, some is still in bags, but certainly will be attacked at some point.  They warned me not to go in Pomodoro any more - I have tons of cards that I bought but are now encased in plastic.  My files for real estate are gone except for the past six years.  There's even room in one of the shelves for the files sitting by my desk at the office.

Good things happened, too.  I found two addresses I thought had been lost, and cards go out today to the people.  They uncovered photos we had forgotten existed, of Boo as a puppy and me as a child.  I was able to look at obituaries I couldn't see before, and place them lovingly in albums for safe keeping.  The top drawer of the sideboard I use as a desk is now organized.  I will never have to buy paperclips again - or pens - because I know where they are.

Patty and Suellen were tough, but fair.  They took on me and the dogs, chasing Charlie when he escaped on them and affirming Sheba's limp.  They bought plastic to encase things, dragged away stuff for the Jumble Sale at St. James this summer, helped me make decisions.  My mother's Easter egg Irish linen cape will go on e-Bay through them.

I said afterwards that I felt "thinner."  In a good sense.  Will I miss the albums my mother accumulated over her lifetime?  Not really.  I still have the memory of listening to them in the old house - I don't need them sitting in the bedroom.  The books still need to be tackled - but that will take Alex's input when he comes this summer to sort them out.  "Tai Chi for Seniors" resides next to Stephen King novels on the shelf.  But that's okay.

So if you arre looking for a way to clean out and not take years doing it, I highly recommend  the services of "Allow Me."  Call them at 315-569-4737, e-mail is, or visit their website:  You will see that they do more than just "organize" - groceries, shopping, errand-running, pets...they will even be the "waiter" for you!  All I know is that finally, after all these years, I can go into the apartment and not feel overwhelmed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey: March 2012

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, like other district FRBs (New York, Philadelphia, Richmond and Dallas), tracks its region’s manufacturing activity by surveying a number of important indicators such as general activity, production, shipments, orders, employment and prices for raw materials and finished products.

The latest results are indicating that the manufacturing activity declined to a weak growth level of 9 in March with more component measure declining than increasing while prices paid for raw materials declined somewhat at 33.

It's important to note that although this data-set has a history that only runs as far back as mid-2001, the composite index never fell below 10 during the "recovery" that followed the tech-wreck of the early aughts.

Today, we see the composite index not only remaining depressed but occasionally turning notably negative, clearly indicating the internal weakness of our current economic expansion and possibly presenting a strong signal of recession to come.

The following chart plots the seasonally adjusted Composite index since 2001 with the solid red line indicating the threshold between expansion and contraction.

Bull Trip!: GDP Report Q4 2011 (Third Rough Estimate)

Today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released their third "estimate" of the Q4 2011 GDP report showing that the economy continued to expand at a faster pace than initially estimated with real GDP increasing at an annualized rate of 3.0% from Q3 2011.

On a year-over-year basis real GDP increased 1.61% while the quarter-to-quarter non-annualized percent change was 0.73%.

The latest quarterly results indicate that the most notable source of weakness in the economy came from government defense spending which declined at a rate of 12.1% from Q3 while change in private nonfarm inventories made notable contributions accounting for 1.81% of the percent change of final real GDP while providing the majority of the 22.1% quarter-to-quarter rate of change for the entire Gross Private Domestic Investment category. 

That very same category also saw fixed residential investment expand at a rate of 11.6% while fixed non-residential structures declined at a rate of 0.9% over the same period.

Keep in mind that these results are likely very poorly estimated and are sure to be revised notably in following quarters and even years to come.

Extended Unemployment: Initial, Continued and Extended Unemployment Claims March 29 2012

Today’s jobless claims report showed that both initial and continued unemployment claims declined while seasonally adjusted initial claims continued to trend well below the closely watched 400K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” declined to 359,000 claims from last week’s revised 364,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “continued” claims declined by 41,000 resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 2.6%.

Since the middle of 2008 though, two federal government sponsored “extended” unemployment benefit programs (the “extended benefits” and “EUC 2008” from recent legislation) have been picking up claimants that have fallen off of the traditional unemployment benefits rolls.

Currently there are some 3.23 million people receiving federal “extended” unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 3.81 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 7.04 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Skaneateles Real Estate - The Weekly Update

I've said this before - technology is not anything I do easily, but I do try.  This past week or so I have been working with a VA (if you read it as Veterans' Administration, you are in my age pool!).  A VA is in this case a Virtual Assistant.  Full disclosure - I have never met her, but she appeared in my e-mail and I realized that the services she offers would be a very good thing for me and my business.  And for you, too, because this gives you an easy way to see my listings and stay up to date without going through other websites.  So far Sarah Cole, my VA, has created and will maintain a business page for me on Facebook.  Please take a look:  Hooray! 

Currently there are ONLY 88 listings in the Skaneateles area of the multiple listing service.  Of these, 26 are in the village and 25 are considered waterfront; three are both.  No new listings came on the market, and only one re-list this past week.

Two new properties were placed in the contingent column, one hovering in the mid-$200,000 range and the other in the middle $100,000.  We now have a total of six in this category.  One other one - waterfront, about 1M - went straight to under contract, do not show.  There are nine altogether in "U".  Ten properties are just waiting to close in the pending area.

But once again we have another one that closed - astounding!  This is a home that had been listed for a bit but then closed above its list price.  You never know!  We now have 14 sold and closed single family homes this year-to-date. 

I know the very good weather has deserted us for a bit, but it's still time to think about summer, especially with everything taking so long to close.  A very pretty little camp on Otisco Lake was just re-listed for the incredible price of $205,000.  With the cute home you get two lots and 102 feet of waterfront.  The road is private and single lane, there is public water, and if you are like me you will be thrilled to get the French Open and Wimbledon because there's cable on the road.  If you buy it now, you may be in by Memorial Day - hopefully (wish I could say certainly) by the Third of July when we light up the lake.

To that end, 2264 Glen Cove Road will be open this Sunday, April 1st, from 1:00 until 3:00.  Come hang out on the deck, enjoy the views, imagine living there year-round - you could!  I promise I'll have some kind of refreshments - please do come, and say you read about it here on my blog - or on my Facebook page!

Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – March 28 2012

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) increased 4 basis points to 4.10% since last week while the purchase application volume increased 3.3% and the refinance application dropped 4.6% over the same period.

With rates jumping in recent weeks and housing activity remaining largely weak, it will be interesting to see if concern over housing leads the doves on the FOMC to further promote QE3 in an effort to keep long rates at historically low levels. 

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

S&P/Case-Shiller: January 2012

Note... be sure to bookmark the overall S&P/Case-Shiller Dashboard or the Scary Housing Dashboard of the weakest markets for a real-time view of all the markets tracked by S&P.

The latest release of the S&P/Case-Shiller (CSI) home price indices for January reported that the non-seasonally adjusted Composite-10 price index declined 0.83% since December while the Composite-20 index declined 0.84% over the same period resulting in the lowest level seen to on the Composite-10 since June 2003 and the largest peak decline seen since the nearly six year old housing bust began in 2006.

The latest CSI data clearly indicates that the price trends are experiencing a declining trend into the typically less active summer and fall season and as I recently pointed out, the more timely and less distorted Radar Logic RPX data is continuing to capture notable falling prices driven primarily by seasonality.

The 10-city composite index declined 3.86% as compared to January 2011 while the 20-city composite declined 3.78% over the same period.

Topping the list of regional peak decliners was Las Vegas at -61.56%, Phoenix at -54.78%, Miami at -50.66%, Tampa at -47.86% and Detroit at -45.84%.

Additionally, both of the broad composite indices show significant peak declines slumping -34.42% for the 10-city national index and -34.41% for the 20-city national index on a peak comparison basis.

To better visualize today’s results use to view the full release.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pending Home Sales: February 2012

Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Pending Home Sales Report for February showing that pending home sales declined a bit with the seasonally adjusted national index falling 0.5% since January while increasing 9.2% above the level seen in February 2011.

Meanwhile, the NARs chief economist Lawrence Yun suggests that the emerging spring selling season could be strong with potential for the best year seen in five years.

"The spring home buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year ... If activity is sustained near present levels, existing-home sales will see their best performance in five years. Based on all of the factors in the current market, that’s what we’re expecting with sales rising 7 to 10 percent in 2012."

The following chart shows the seasonally adjusted national pending home sales index along with the percent change on a year-over-year basis as well as the percent change from the peak set in 2005 (click for larger version).

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index: February 2012

Today’s release of the Chicago Federal Reserve National Activity Index (CFNAI) showed a weakening of the national economy with the index dropping into negative territory at -0.09 while the three month moving average improved to 0.30.

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity collected into four overall categories of “production and income”, “employment, unemployment and income”, “personal consumption and housing” and “sales, orders and inventories”.

The Chicago Fed regards a value of zero for the total index as indicating that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate while a negative value indicates below average growth.

A value at or below -0.70 for the three month moving average of the national activity index (CFNAI-MA3) indicates that the national economy has either just entered or continues in recession.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday News & Easter Basket DIY Tutorial

Today was a complete FUN DAY because ...

The CATS Won!

Our team was amazing... we played so hard and deserved this win without a doubt!

Who was there with open arms to welcome them back to Lexington...

Of course my famous assistant, Emily, who else? LOL 
Emily with Terrance Jones, Darius Miller and Michael KG 

I will not lie, I am a little jealous of her right now ha.. how does she always end up with famous people?
(yes I am calling those 3 "famous"...they will be in the NBA next year so that's famous in my book!)

Look who was so exhausted after the game that he had to take a little nap with his two favorite squirrel toys...

Hahaha <3 him!

Ok next on the agenda :

Am I the last to find out the news about Tori & Dean ??

Pregnant AGAIN with their 4th baby ... when she just had Hattie 5 months ago! 

Did yall know this??

They are crazzzzzy! But I still love them :)
Can't wait for their show to come back on!

A week from now we will be on our way to NYC!!

I am BEYOND excited!


I think I've asked before but since I have new followers ... if anyone has any advice/suggestions on where to eat/shop/visit please comment and let me know! This is my first trip to NYC and I am pumped! We are going to be doing so many fun things! It's the kid's spring break so we will be doing lots of exciting kid things too :)


My Pinterest has been BLOWING UP about these Easter Buckets I made for the kids last year...

and I have had several emails... so wanted to just give a quick run down on how to make them :)

You will need these supplies:

 Silver Tins
 (Hobby Lobby last year)

 Sharpie Paint Pens 
(also Hobby Lobby)

Fingernail Polish Remover, Q-Tips & Paper Towels
(The Fingernail Polish Remover will remove the paint pens on the tin should you mess up, then just wipe it down with a paper towel and start over!)

1. Make sure the tin is clean (no dust. wipe off with wet paper towel)
2. I started with the name FIRST in the center on one side so then you can determine how much room it takes up and what you can do on the sides
3. Next I did the bunny... the white paint pen takes a couple of coats
4. After that the grass at the bottom
5. Next, different colorful eggs
6. Then if you have room you can add little curly q's or whatnot around the tin for decoration

I am NO artist, let me tell you!

So if I can do this, so can you :)

They were a big hit, all the kids in my family loved them! Of course the kids knew I made them, but set them out for the Easter Bunny to fill the night before ;)

Link up with me if you make some, I would love to see them!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!
I've got a busy week ahead!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Week Catch Up/ OOTD/ Frankie & More

TGI-the weekend!!

I have so much to catch up on!

This is major random ... so I'm apologizing in advance!

This past week was so beautiful here in KY,  so we had to enjoy it and be outside a little ...

I got some flowers for our back patio, busted out the patio furniture and cushions and got it all spiffed up for Spring :)

We went to the park on Wednesday night and had a picnic with the kids
(I just spelled that picnik because I'm so used to typing that and then had to correct myself hahahaha!)
Picked up KFC (their choice ha) and ate on a blanket, enjoyed the weather and then played at the park for a while! So fun!

 I've picked up a few new Easter things for the house... still need to pull out my old stuff but these little knick knack patty whacks were too cute to pass up from Pier 1 ... LOVE all their Easter stuff!

Love the bunnies! I had to refrain myself because I could have bought every single solitary Easter thing in that store! If you go... you've been warned :)

I decided to wear white for the first time this year ... I am a skeptic of it usually... but loved this shirt!

 Jeans: JCrew Skinnies
Cowboy Boots: 1883's
Shirt: Lily Pulitzer Spring Collection -
Elsa Top Ruffles
Found here...

Now let's talk about Frankie... let's be honest... he is pretty popular, always has been, and we can not hide that ;)

Yes he is a taddddd spoiled maybe... but I just love that everyone knows who "Frankie" is if they know me, and even think of him while they're shopping!

Example - one of my friends/clients sent me a text saying she thought of us when she saw this shirt and that I needed to go get it ASAP ...

How funny is that shirt!? Two of my favorite things... Frankie and the KY Wildcats! hahhaha
Loves it!!!! Thanks Kristin!! :)

Speaking of this little shit angel... I have been sleeping terrible recently! My new featherbed and bedding came in (seperate post about this! It's amazing!!) and it has helped a bit... but I think I finally realized why I keep waking up exhausted ...

Take a look ...  

This is what I wake up to ... Chris thinks it's funny.... me, not so much. Frankie literally sits right on my chest and licks my mouth, face, lays down on my chest and snores in my face, walks all on my body in the middle of the night, digs at my blankets trying to "make a bed" ... he is TOTALLY out of control! I love him more than anything on this planet ha but this has to end bless his heart! :(

I have seen fellow bloggers doing photo jewelry dumps ... super cute!
So I thought tonight as I was getting a spray tan and taking my jewelry off, it would be a good time to do one.. however I forgot to take it in Instgram :( So it's not as cute! 

Michael Khors watch, Pandora Bracelet, David Yurman Opal Bracelet, JCrew Tortoise Shell Cuff, JCrew Turtle/Diamond gold long necklace, Moon & Lola Block Initial Necklace.

OK Lastly ...

We need to talk about this...

 ***Warning... if for some reason you haven't watched the finale of PLL (not to be mistaken for PinkLouLou, but Pretty Little Liars ha) and it's still on your DVR , DO NOT READ FURTHER***

I will start by saying I am OBSESSED with this show.

I don't know how you could watch one single episode and not be so obsessed that you literally can't wait until the next Monday. It is that good. If you don't watch it, you need to watch the past seasons and then catch up in time for next season this Summer! :) You won't regret it.

So now that you know how much I love the show, I will say, I was a little disappointed with the revealing of "A"

All along I thought it was this cray-cray girl ...

Then towards the end in the last couple episodes, I really thought it could have been her...

Never one time (before the last show) did I EVER think A was Mona... ???

It just didn't make sense to me and I was thinking it was just going to be something bigger!
Now I know at the end, someome still appears to be "A" visiting her in the loony bin ... but I still was a little disappointed.

Anyone else feel this way?

I still however, will be counting down the days until the Summer season starts!! Ahh!! Can't wait!!

Tomorrow is a big day...

my CATS play to go to the final four when if they WIN!!  :)

#BBN, #Wildcatforlife, #BeatBaylor

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!!!

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