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Archive for April, 2009

Those about to graduate from college fear tough job market

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

For students just weeks from graduation, the current job market looks like a scary place – businesses are hiring 22 percent fewer graduates this year than in 2008.

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Skies brightening for real estate market

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

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The dark cloud that has been hovering over the real estate market may be breaking up.

Several real estate agents and mortgage brokers believe it’s a great time to buy a home for the first time.

“I think the real estate market in 2009 is phenomenal right now,” said President of Coldwell Banker Seacoast, Tim Milam.

According to many experts, it’s a great time for new homebuyers, which includes anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past 36 months.

Currently, there are some good incentives including an $8,000 tax credit, low interest rates, and reasonably priced homes.

President of Alpha Mortgage Michael Lopez calls it the triple threat. “We have the best rates in history right now.”

Realtors are seeing high foot traffic. Buyers are mostly looking for homes priced lower than $300,000.

Mohamad Elhenawy just bought his first home. He said the tax credit was a good incentive for him. “Made me think about it so much, because $8,000 is a lot of money for me.”

His new home is off Gordon Road, and he can’t wait to start working on it. “I love the yard, I love to work in my yard, to grow plants and fruit, I love to grow fruits.”

Some Wilmington mortgage brokers and realtors have come together and created a website that describes the $8,000 incentive and how it applies to buyers looking in our area.

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The dark cloud that has been hovering over the real estate market may be breaking up.

Several real estate agents and mortgage brokers believe it’s a great time to buy a home for the first time.

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Associated poll

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Disabled residents unhappy with new Wave Transit services

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

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The Vision Voucher Program has been around since the mid 90’s. But soon, the meter on the program, will run out.

Brenda Mellick considers herself pretty independent; a luxury most of us enjoy. But that independence is challenged daily. Ms. Mellick is legally blind. For the past four years she has been using Wave Transit’s Vision Taxi Program, a program that allows visually impaired residents to ride in taxis, at a reduced rate.

The vouchers cost $3 each, and residents can purchase up to ten a month. The cost difference is paid for by federal funds though Wave Transit. But as of June 30th, the voucher program will be replaced with a van service for the disabled.

Wave Transit assistant director Arlanda Rouse said, “Because this is a voucher program dedicated to only visually impaired passengers, the other disabled passengers on the other programs were not receiving the same type of service.”

Wave said they have to do away with the Vision Voucher Program because it is not meeting federal standards. To receive funding, equal service has to be provided for all people with disabilities.

Rouse said there are some pros to using the van service. It will meet federal requirements, and offer unlimited rides to users instead of just the ten a month. A con is that appointments need to be made 24 hours in advance. “There will be some loss of convenience, but you will have the ability to travel more during the month,” Rouse said.

Dozens of visually impaired residents will be absorbed into the Wave van service that already makes more than 300 trips a day. That is why Ken Lafar said the van service just will not do. “It’s worth it to us to have the mobility and the ability to get where we need to go, when we need to go,” he said. “As oppose to waiting a day ahead and trying to do all that it doesn’t make sense.”

Both Brenda Mellick and Ken Lafar said they are taking their fight for the taxi voucher program to lawmakers. They have already contacted city council, and Congressman Mike McIntyre.

This change will also hurt the taxi companies. Both companies WWAY spoke with Thursday said the loss of the income from the voucher system will be felt.

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videoFor years, Wave Transit has supplied the disabled in our community with specialized transportation services. But that is about to change.

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Associated poll

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Who will benefit from incentives?

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

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This week, we discussed the main agencies, which will receive stimulus money. The biggest dollar amounts go to Medicaid, education, and food stamps.

Who else will benefit from incentives? New car buyers can deduct their sales tax up to a limit. First time homebuyers also have a great incentive. Anyone unemployed will receive $25 per week more, their benefits may be extended for another six months, and the government will subsidize 65% of the cost of their health insurance under COBRA.

There are many more programs, which lower to middle income families will qualify for. Unless you are successful in business or have a higher income, you should receive some type of direct benefit from the stimulus package.

Next week we’ll answer the questions: Who are we borrowing from to pay for this? Can we ever repay it?

If you have any questions, click on Marino on Money, and send us a question.

Ross Marino will be answering questions right here on our 5 o’clock news every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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videoThis week, we discussed the main agencies, which will receive stimulus money. The biggest dollar amounts go to Medicaid, education, and food stamps.

Who else will benefit from incentives?

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Associated poll

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As retail sales fall, store vacancies rise

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

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You might not have to wait for a good parking spot at the mall these days. Despite hopeful projections, retail sales fell 1.1 percent in March. Commercial and investment specialist Hansen Matthews said, “Retail sectors that have been hit the hardest recently are electronics, home furnishings, and your heavy retailers.”

With consumers spending less, many retailers are having trouble just paying the rent. Last year, mall tenants vacated 8.6 million square feet of commercial property. This year, vacancies have already surpassed that. In just 4 months, retailers have moved out of 8.7 million square feet.

“Folks that still have money to spend are spending it only on items that are essential,” explains mortgage banker Jim Felds.

In New Hanover County alone there are more than 100 open retail spaces and some retail centers say they are making 50 percent less than last year. For the consumer, all the closings mean fewer choices and less comparison shopping, but that does not mean you will be paying more if you do your homework.

“An informed consumer can still find great deals no matter what they’re shopping for, whether it’s banking or retail or haircuts, whatever the case might be,” added Felds.

With consumers spending less, and more “For Lease” signs popping up at strip malls throughout the country, experts say lending needs to loosen up before commercial property starts to fill up. “They couldn’t get loans for their businesses or their real estate, you can’t sustain a business,” said Felds.

Even if retail spending continues to slow down, experts say it could never come to a complete stop. “Stuff in your closet, your garage, it’s going to break or it’s going to wear out, people cannot stay out of stores forever,” added Matthews.

Felds said all the empty stores mean better prices if you are looking to rent a space. Some developers are offering free rent for longer leases.

One industry that seems to be escaping the decline in spending is grocery stores.

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videoYou might have noticed fewer stores on your last trip to the mall. That is, if you have gone to the mall lately. Mall retailers are closing up shop at a record pace.

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Associated poll

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