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Allegiant adding flights from MT to Oakland CA

Allegiant Travel Co. is adding another destination for flights from Montana.

The airline announced Tuesday it is adding nonstop flights from Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell and Missoula to the Oakland/San Francisco area starting in late April.

Allegiant Air says it will have flights from Billings to Oakland International Airport on Thursdays and Sundays starting on April 26, while its Bozeman, Kalispell and Missoula flights will be on Fridays and Mondays, starting on April 27. Allegiant flies MD-80 jets that seat 150 passengers.

Some initial seats will cost $39.99 each way, including taxes and airport fees.

Home Sales and Prices Up

Standing out from the other cities in Flathead County, Whitefish seemed to improve in its building and home sales numbers last year.

A report from Kelley Appraisal of Kalispell notes that 43 buidling permits were recorded in 2011 for single family homes in Whitefish.

In comparison, 42 permits were issued in Kalispell, and eight were issued in Columbia Falls.

The report is compiled by Jim Kelley, who compiles data on the building and real estate market in northwest Montana.

The number of new home permits in Whitefish is double the recorded 21 permits for 2010. The city recorded 14 permits in 2009, 29 in 2008, 22 in 2007 and 60 in 2006.

The report calls Whitefish the "bright spot" in the county with the highest number of single family units built since 2007.

In 2010, Kalispell recorded 50 homes and Columbia Falls had four. In addition to single-family permits, Kalispell issued one duplex, eight townhouse and 21 multi-family permits. Whitefish and Columbia Falls did not report any permits other than single-family homes.

Flathead County does not issue building permits. To estimate the new number of building permits in the county, the report looks at the number of septic permits. In 2011, there were 219 final septic inspections for both residential and commercial buildings. The number of septic inspections in 2010 was 241. The report says that the number is only a guide, because a community sewer system could have several new homes under one inspection.

In home sales, the report shows the percentage of new residential listings sold in the county is higher than it was in 2007.

"This is a good sign that suggests that the residential market is gaining strength," the report notes. The number of sales was up 2l.4 percent in Whitefish city limits.

The median price for sales inside Whitefish city limits increased 7.3 percent in 2011. This comes after three years of decreasing median sales prices. Median sales prices in 2009 dropped by 20.6 percent and then 10.5 percent in 2010.

Within three and a half miles of the city limits, the number of sales was up 0.9 percent. This is after the number of sales was up 37.6 percent in 2010.

The median price for sales increased by 9.1 percent for the Whitefish area outside the city limits.

The Kelley report also included foreclosure data from the Flathead County courthouse. Notices of trustee's sale were down almost 20 percent. The number of trustee's sale notices have increased every year from 2005 through 2010.

The actual number of trustee sale foreclosures that have occureed over the last five years continued to increase. In 2011 there were 481 sales, up 22.4 percent from 393 in 2010.

Trustee sales numbers include all types of real estate, not just residential properties.

It was a beautiful afternoon for flying over Big Mountain. Photo by Hunter Homes of Rocky Mountain Real Estate.

Obama Answers Bernanke Plea with Refinancing Plan

President Obama delivers the State of the Union address at the Capitol on Jan. 24, 2012.

President Barack Obama answered Ben S. Bernanke’s appeal for more action to fix the U.S. housing market that’s restraining the economic recovery by proposing a plan to help borrowers reduce their monthly mortgage payments.

Obama is sending Congress legislation that would allow homeowners to tap record-low borrowing costs, potentially boosting housing as he seeks re-election this year. The proposal could save participants about $3,000 a year, Obama said in his State of the Union speech to Congress.

Even with unemployment at the lowest level since February 2009 and housing sales increasing, homeowners have been blocked from refinancing by house prices that are 32 percent below their 2006 peak and tightened bank lending.

“It’s going to help homeowners who are struggling and it’s likely to be a first step to really opening up the market to more normal credit standards,” said Mayer, who along with fellow Columbia professor Glenn Hubbard first proposed a mass refinancing program in 2008.

The proposal follows Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke’s call for lawmakers and the Obama administration to offer more aid for housing as the U.S. central bank helps to push down rates on 30-year loans to 3.88 percent for homeowners who can qualify. The Fed, which is holding short-term borrowing costs near zero and buying government-backed mortgage bonds, said in a paper sent to Congress this month that a previous administration effort to make refinancing easier had failed to go far enough.

Last night, Obama promised to eliminate obstacles that prevented homeowners from refinancing.

The program will give “every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates,” Obama said. “No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks.”

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