Many Americans love a good deal, shopping around to save $10 or $20 on a pair of pants or winter coats for the kids — but when finding mortgages, nearly half don't even call around to different banks. Three-fourths only fill out an application with one lender.
Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says there may be a few reasons consumers aren't comparison shopping for loans.
"It is a surprising finding, and it suggests that they're still fairly intimidated by the mortgage transaction," he says. "Or they're a little distracted because, at the same time, they're picking out a house."
But Cordray explains how costly the oversight can be, using as an example a $200,000 loan at rates of either 4 percent or 4.5 percent.
"The difference in even a half percent of interest racks up pretty quickly over five years to about $3,500 — and over the life of a 30-year loan, obviously, far more than that," Cordray says. "So this is real money for people — meaningful money."
In response, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is launching a set of online tools today to make these comparisons and decisions easier for U.S. homebuyers. One, for instance, will let a user plug in their credit score and ZIP code to generate a range of interest rates being offered by lenders that day.
The median price of single-family homes sold in King County in September rose 9.5 percent over 12 months to $460,000, reversing a surprise slide the previous month, according to figures released Monday.
September’s 5.3 percent gain over August’s median price was the best September in at least 10 years, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data.
The market’s momentum had appeared to hit a wall in August after five consecutive months of price gains: The $437,000 median sales price in King County was down 6.6 percent over July, the worst August in at least 10 years.
September, however, was hot for King County home sales, and Seattle’s sizzled — the median price rose 12 percent from a year earlier to $517,000, the highest appreciation among the five major King County submarkets.
“It has all the classic signs of getting very, very frothy,” said Stephen O’Connor, director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington. “At some particular point in time, the market’s going to take a break.”
On the Eastside, the median price was $605,000, up 6.3 percent from a year ago. In Snohomish County, it was $330,000, up 8.4 percent.
The most affordable submarket in King County was the southwest region, with a median price of $267,250, 6.7 percent higher than a year ago.
Expected Growth Remains Sluggish as Supply Issues Persist
A flurry of recent housing data suggests that the market's spring selling season is getting off to a slow start, a worrisome sign after a winter of expectations that warmer weather would rekindle growth.
Reports from local real-estate agent groups in some of the markets that were the first to rebound, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego, show year-over-year declines in March home sales. February data for pending home sales nationally—a barometer of early-spring activity—show a decline of 11% from a year ago.
And in markets around the country, fewer people are showing up at open houses. An index of home-buyer traffic in 40 U.S. markets compiled by Credit Suisse was down a little more than a third from March of last year. In some parts of the country, cold weather has put a damper on traffic.
New construction of single family homes is also increasing slowly, according to new data released Wednesday. New building permits for single-family homes in March fell 1.2% below the year-earlier level, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. New single-family home starts rose 1.9% from a year earlier.
The sluggish start to the spring home-buying season—a crucial period for sales because families typically want to lock into a school district by the end of summer—comes as investors cut back on purchases of homes that can be rented or flipped for a quick profit. Meanwhile, potential buyers are still adjusting to a sharp rise in both home prices and borrowing costs over the past year. With prices and mortgage rates up, the nation's median monthly home payment—including principal and interest—has risen 20% in the past year to about $900.
In May, the median sale price of homes in the U.S. was up 15.4 percent year-over-year and sales were up 4.2 percent from April. Meanwhile, nationwide inventory remains tight, and the average time a home spent on the market dropped from 46 days to 41
Translation: The market is hot, and sellers have the upper hand. For my clients interested in purchasing a home, knowing how to position yourself as highly qualified buyers can mean the difference in your offer being accepted or passed up for another. As your trusted agent, what can I do to help make sure you successfully bid on the house you want? Here's my advice:
In May, the median sale price of homes in the U.S. was up 15.4 percent year-over-year and sales were up 4.2 percent from April. Meanwhile, nationwide inventory remains tight, and the average time a home spent on the market dropped from 46 days to 41.
Translation: The market is hot, and sellers have the upper hand. For my clients interested in purchasing a home, knowing how to position yourself as highly qualified buyers can mean the difference in your offer being accepted or passed up for another. As your trusted agent, what can I do to help make sure you successfully bid on the house you want? Here's my 3 pieces of advice:
A loan pre-approval offers numerous benefits to you throughout the sales process. For one, it lets you know how much house you can afford, saving you the time you might otherwise spend searching for homes out of your price range.
Buyers spend a lot of time looking at properties online, touring homes, and talking to me, their real estate agent. They’re laser-focused on finding the best home that meets their needs. The problem is, buyers sometimes don’t take the long view of a property. They’re only looking at a home as a potential buyer — and not as someone who, years down the road, may also have to sell the property. Given that homes are such a big investment, there should be a little inside your head, picking away at your options and decisions. I want you to make the right decision so take a look at these 10 suggestions....
A Home Buyer Poll released by TD Bank, has revealed that 64% of women believe homeownership is essential in defining the American Dream. In comparison, only 52% of men felt owning a home was important. Furthermore, aspirations of homeownership are more prominent with women, with 66% of current female renters stating they intend to own a home in the future as opposed to 57% of men.
As the home buying market continues to stabilize our survey tells us that Americans, and women in particular, are looking to buy homes. Chris White says, "Among my home buying clients, women are often the ones to first step in and begin a home search. When I help them narrow the list down the men in their lives step in with great excitement."
It’s a challenging market for home sellers right now. Buyers have a lot of options—and they don’t have to buy what you’re selling. Your house is likely just one located in a sea of for-sale signs, so you can’t be sloppy about putting it on the market. Luckily, we’ve rounded up the dos and don’ts that will help you collect thousands (if not hundreds of thousands!) for your place. Don’t … ask for too much money.
Yes, you know what you paid for the house. But that doesn’t mean that it’s still worth that amount—or that it’s appreciated in value since you bought it. “Your house is only worth what the market is willing to pay you,” says Chris White of the White and Weeks Team.
The tax law passed by Congress this week to avert the "fiscal cliff" turned out pretty well for the real estate industry.First, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2012, has been extended through the end of 2013.This means that homeowners who experience a debt reduction through mortgage principal forgiveness or a short sale of their principal residence during 2013 may exclude up to $2 million of forgiven debt from their taxable income.Had this law not been extended, income tax would have had to be paid on such forgiven debt -- making short sales and loan modifications less attractive to some distressed homeowners than foreclosure and bankruptcy.
Buying a first home is a huge financial step and it’s not unusual for kids to need a little help. Even though today’s housing prices are relatively affordable, it’s pretty common for parents to make a contribution. And I’m all for it. In my family, one generation has always helped the next. My parents helped me buy my first house and I’ll help my kids. To me it feels natural—as long as everyone understands the responsibilities involved.
Home prices will see steady increases through 2016 starting this year, according to a quarterly survey of more than 100 economists, real estate experts and investment strategists. Chris White of RE/MAX Eastside and Metro agrees, "My clients have seen their homes sell quickly and often with multiple offers when priced correctly. The housing market has made a terrific turn-around."
The survey, conducted by research and consulting firm Pulsenomics LLC on behalf of real estate search and valuation portal Zillow between Aug. 30-Sept. 14, 2012, asked 113 participants to project the path of the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index over the next five years.
For the first time in six years, the residential market is expected to add to U.S. economic growth in 2012. New home sales are up 28% from a year ago and new construction is running 35% higher.The long-awaited recovery in the devastated real-estate market was a long time coming, but it finally looks like it’s here to stay.
Barring another recession, most economists expect sales and construction to continue to rise steadily over the next few years.And that’s good for the U.S. given the widespread — though diminished — impact that the industry has on the broader economy.
Unfortunately many borrowers will judge one home loan against another simply on the interest rate, which can be a big mistake.If they make their decision on this "headline" rate, it could cost them tens of thousands of dollars extra, Resi Mortgage chief executive Lisa Montgomery says."Most borrowers don't look at the comparison rate but they must," Montgomery says."Check the comparison rate. It's a great rule of thumb that helps you understand at a glance the true cost of a loan."It includes all the upfront and ongoing fees that need to be paid during the course of the loan."Fees and charges can add several basis points to the cost of the loan. Read the mortgage contract for all the details.
"We've been seeing steep declines in housing inventory", according to Chris White. "Multiple offers are back on the board and well priced homes sell quickly. Obviously it's a great time to be a seller."
Though many home shoppers who assume they are still in a buyer's market find it hard to believe, one of the sobering fundamentals shaping real estate this summer is shrinking inventory: The supply of houses for sale is down significantly in most areas compared with a year ago, sometimes dramatically so.
And that is having important side impacts — raising prices and homeowners' equity stakes, and reducing total sales. In major metropolitan markets across the nation, the stock of homes listed for purchase is down by sometimes extraordinary amounts — 50 percent or more below year-ago levels.
Are some appraisers failing to see the improvements in real-estate values in local markets that have recently bottomed out and turned positive? Chris White says several recent offers on his listings have appraised lower than their true value. Fortunately he's been able to provide more data for the appraiser to review and increase the value.
When multiple bids push a house price thousands of dollars above what the seller is asking — not unusual in neighborhoods where demand is particularly robust — are appraisers still coming in with values below the agreed-upon contract number?
Yes. Growing numbers of loan officers and real-estate agents say appraiser reluctance to report local appreciation is becoming a significant complication in sales transactions.In a new poll of its members, the National Association of Realtors found that 33 percent of them reported appraisal problems during the month of May.
Is now a good time to consider investing in rental houses, condos and duplexes? These stats indicate rents are rising and there are fewer available on the market. We've hit the bottom of the real estate market and values are beginning to rise. So yes, it's a good time to consider an investment.
In recent years, builders pulled back on apartment construction, unsure how much demand they’d see from young adults, relocation cases, and downsizing boomers. But that’s all slowly changing. As more jobs emerge in tech and other sectors, renters are filling the market. Low rental inventory means that asking rents are rising. Asking rents rising makes for rising cranes: A new wave of apartment construction is expected to add more than 20,000 units of housing to the region in the next two years in downtown, Belltown, the Eastside, and West Seattle.
Take a look at these individual statistics for all of King county cities. Contact me for more detailed info and and I will email you sample listings so you can decide if this is right for your investment plans.
Some people believe negotiations are bound to be contentious. But they needn't be. It's clearly possible to negotiate with a cool head and reach an agreement that pretty much satisfies both parties. Here's how:
1. Start by listening
Don't reveal what you want right away. Let the other side go first, so you know what you're dealing with. If they're hesitant, be firm. Explain that you can't give them what they want without knowing what they need.
2. Stick to the process
Experts tell us there's a 3-step process to successful negotiations:
This could be the best time in a generation to buy a home. Here’s why:
* Housing affordability is the best it has been in decades.
* Nationwide, average home prices are approximately one-third lower today than at their peak in 2006.
* The cost to buy is very often less than the cost to rent a comparable property. In fact, buying is cheaper than renting in 98 out of America’s 100 major markets.
* Interest rates are at an historic low, and today’s low rates can be locked in for the next 30 years.
* The general economy appears to be improving, with employment increasing, median wages rising, and little indication of possible inflation.
For the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area, prices are seen rising at a 5 percent annualized rate.
But that won't come before an additional 3.3 percent price decline through the rest of this year. The Seattle area was late to the party, with prices reaching their peak in the second-quarter of 2007 compared with a national peak in the first quarter of 2006.
"There's always a danger of being premature," Case-Shiller Indexes revealed last week. "But a number of favorable factors are going to put a floor under prices."
Among them: better employment numbers, fewer markets dominated by foreclosure sales and bank-owned properties, and affordability at record levels. Fiserv studies data from 380 markets nationwide.
"Seattle is a very unique market," Stiff said. Chris White agrees and thanks to aerospace, software, life sciences and other economic assets, it has a deep, specialized labor pool making good money. He expects Seattle to stabilize sooner.
The White and Weeks Team has recently reviewed their client's home purchase and sale statistics for 2012. According to Chris White, "We're seeing a slight rise in prices and multiple offers are slowly increasing. 2012 will most likely be the last chance to purchase bargain homes."
Buying a home may never get any cheaper than this. Several housing experts are predicting that this year will be the last chance for bargain hunters to cash in on the best deals of the weak housing market.
With home prices down 34% nationally since 2006 and mortgage rates at historic lows, homes have never been more affordable -- but it won't stay this way for much longer. Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services (PNC, Fortune 500), said he expects home prices to flatten out by the third quarter and start climbing by next year.
A number of factors will help bolster the housing market, he said, including a decline in the number of foreclosures and continued job growth. In addition, homebuyers will have better access to mortgages as they get their finances in order and improve their credit scores. "Foreclosures are definitely down and the move is to short sales", says Chris White.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency laid out new rules aimed at speeding up the short sale process, a move that could keep many homes from falling into foreclosure. In a short sale, the bank that holds the mortgage must agree to accept a price for the home that is less than what is owed.
Even though short sales are considered a better alternative to foreclosure, banks often take so long to review and approve short sales that the deal falls apart and homes get repossessed. "Delays in approving short sale requests remain a significant challenge for realtors and consumers and often results in canceled contracts and the property going into foreclosure," said the president of the National Association of Realtors.
The organization attributed much of the closing problems to extended lender response times. Some agents said that lenders even foreclosed on the homes before a short sale could close.
The Urban Land Institute released its Real Estate Consensus Forecast Wednesday morning, and overall, the 38 real estate economists and analysts surveyed projected broad improvements for the economy.
With signs of improvement in the housing sector already emerging, participants expect to see housing starts nearly double by 2014 and project home prices will begin to rise in 2013.
The average home price, which has declined somewhere between 1.8 percent and 4.1 percent over each of the past three years, according to FHFA data, is expected to stabilize in 2012, followed by a 2 percent increase in 2013, and a 3.5 percent increase in 2014.
Single-family housing starts are expected to rise from 428,600 starts in 2011 to 500,000 in 2012, and jump to 800,000 in 2014.
Buying is more affordable than renting in 98 out of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas — even in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, according to real estate company Trulia's rent vs. buy index.The index is based on asking prices for rental units and homes for sale on the company's website between Dec. 1, 2011, and Feb. 29.
“As rents rise and prices stagnate, homeownership is becoming even more affordable, but rising rents create a dilemma for people who can’t afford to buy yet,” says Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. “Rising rents make it harder for people to save for a down payment, which is the biggest barrier to buying a home that aspiring homeowners face.”Homeowners are choosing, or being forced, to rent rather than buy even though the latter is cheaper in key markets Trulia reviewed.
If you own a home, it pays to know the tax breaks that could be available to you. Here are five deductions spotlighted by personal-finance writer David Bakke for the Zillow real-estate blog.
• Mortgage interest. You're generally entitled to reduce your taxable income by the amount of mortgage interest you pay, as long as you itemize deductions on your tax return. Your lender should have sent you a 1098 form in January showing exactly how much interest was paid.
• Private mortgage insurance. If you're paying PMI, the amount is likely to be fully deductible as long as your adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less ($50,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). Borrowers with incomes above $100,000 may qualify for a partial deduction.
Check out 3 more deductions...
The Obama administration is offering some relief to homeowners who have government-backed mortgages. Under a program President Barack Obama unveiledTuesday, the government would cut the fees it charges to insure those borrowers.
The idea is that lower fees would persuade millions to refinance their loans while interest rates are near record lows. It's the administration's latest attempt to minimize the damage from the foreclosure crisis and help more people keep their homes.
Check out the following questions and answers and if refinancing sounds right for you call me and I can put you in touch with the right people. 425-830-4620
Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.
The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.
Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters.However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings.
For those who purchased a home between 2003- 2009, they owe it to themselves to talk with a Realtor about the ins and outs of a short sale, says Chris White, and here's why...
"Freddie Mac, a taxpayer-owned mortgage company, is supposed to make homeownership easier. One thing that makes owning a home more affordable is getting a cheaper mortgage.But Freddie Mac has invested billions of dollars betting that U.S. homeowners won't be able to refinance their mortgages at today's lower rates, according to an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom", according to National Public Radio.
White is very concerned for his clients and these investments, while legal, raise concerns about a conflict of interest within Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac, formally called the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., was chartered by Congress in 1970. Their website says it has "a public mission to stabilize the nation's residential mortgage markets and expand opportunities for homeownership."
First-time buyers are often less patient than move-up buyers, and don’t want to wait for a short sale to go through. But with patience and a good short-sale savvy Realtor, first-time buyers can hit a jackpot.
According to the monthly Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, the share of short sales purchased by first-time buyers dropped to 40% in August 2011 after peaking at 54% of all short sales in November 2009.
“A short sale can be a great way to get an undervalued property, but buyers need to make sure that both agents, including their buyer’s agent and the listing agent, are experienced with short sales,” says Chris White. “I always recommend that buyers put in a drop-dead date into their contract, such as allowing the lender 30 days to approve the offer, because this puts pressure on the listing agent.”
Buying a home now (at the current rates) can almost ensure your home’s appreciation in the future. Mortgage rates are near historic lows and home prices in many parts of the country are down. This is the perfect recipe for home appreciation. Additionally, many foreclosed homes are available for a fraction of the original cost. This can translate to a higher profit if you decide to sell once the market rebounds.
Property Tax Deductions
For income tax purposes, real estate property taxes for a vacation home and first home are fully deductible. The IRS (Publication 530) provides detailed tax information for first-time buyers that may answer many questions about what deductions homeowners are eligible for.
It’s a tarnished silver lining for people at risk of losing their houses and homeowners in neighborhoods blighted by bank-owned properties, but the robosigning scandal that slowed the foreclosure process to a crawl appears to have increased lender interest in short sales.
“Foreclosure sales are pretty devastating,” said Faith Schwartz, executive director of Hope Now, a resource for homeowners facing foreclosure. “We’d much prefer a modification, but if [homeowners] don’t quality, then the next best alternative is deed-in-lieu or short sales.”
Short sales, in which the lender agrees to let the owner sell the home for less than the amount owed on the mortgage, and foreclosures both climbed in 2010, but while short sales rose by 26,000 this year, the number of foreclosures fell by 255,000, according to Hope Now.
Short sales, along with deed-in-lieu of foreclosure deals in which the lender takes the deed essentially as payment for the mortgage, still upend families, torch credit ratings and hurt neighboring property values, but they’re far less toxic than foreclosures.
A pressing question has always been, “How does spending the extra money on energy-efficient products help the value of my home”? It is nice to lower heating bills, but how long does it take to recoup the expense of some of these products?
There is now a way to capture these improvements and assign them a value in an appraisal. Real estate appraisers finally have a new form that helps standardize the way that energy efficient features are included in their reports. Until now, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration used a form that centered on maintaining sound lending practices but did not have a way to capture what energy-efficiency improvements contributed to the value of a home. Including a narrative of any green features in a description box was not always viewed by the lending institution.
NWMLS data of new homes sold from Sept 2007 through February 2010 comparing homes that sold with an environmental certification and those without a certification. According to the collected data, environmentally certified homes in Seattle sold for 9.2 percent more per square foot in 24 percent less time and make up 34 percent of the market.
Homes located within walking distance of amenities such as schools, parks and shopping aren’t only more convenient for their owners, often they’re also worth more than homes in neighborhoods where driving is the rule, according to a study released last month. The report, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities,” was commissioned by CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders from the civic, business, academic and philanthropic sectors.
Seattle is the center of one of 10 "megapolitan clusters" that will drive the U.S. economy over the next 30 years, according to a new book.
This growth will drive the Puget Sound area's density from less than that of Germany to about what Japan has now, according to "Megapolitan America: A New Vision for Understanding America's Metropolitan Geography,"
The 10 clusters consist of 23 "megapolitan areas" that have common economic, physical, social and cultural traits, according to the book, which the American Planning Association just published. "The sooner the United States recognizes it has evolved into a nation of 20-some very densely settled economic engines, the better able it will be to sustain long-term economic development to mid-century and beyond.
"Megapolitan areas have accounted for 70 percent of the growth in the contiguous 48 states since 1970 and will continue to gain people in coming decades, the book says. "The U.S. is the only developed country that is on track to add substantial population" and is "the fastest-growing industrialized nation in the world."
Foreclosure starts among private-label residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) have been rising toward historic averages over the past six months, which will lead to an influx of distressed properties bringing downward pressure to the housing market, according to recent RMBS Performance Metrics from Fitch Ratings.
According to Fitch, foreclosure start rates for severely delinquent RMBS loans have stayed above 10 percent since September — a rate they have not reached since November 2009 — and have been working their way toward their 14 percent average between 2000 and 2010.“Rising foreclosure start rates are likely a sign that servicers are playing catch-up on actions that have been delayed over the past year,” states Diane Pendley, managing director of Fitch Ratings.
Freddie Mac has expanded its winter REO sales incentive program to the states of Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington. That makes the promotional offer now active in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
“We’re expanding our winter promotion to focus additional incentives to encourage strong sales activity in our ‘cold weather’ states over the next several months,” said Chris Bowden, VP of HomeSteps.
Offers must be received by HomeSteps between November 15, 2011 and January 31, 2012, with escrow closed on or before March 15, 2012. This offer is valid only on HomeSteps homes sold to owner-occupant buyers.
The program also extends additional incentives to these owner-occupant buyers. Freddie Mac will pay up to 3 percent of the final sales price towards the borrower’s closing costs. Some homes are also eligible for a two-year Home Protect limited warranty that covers electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, heating, and other major systems and appliances.
Banks are not only approving more short sales, they’re doing it in less time. In the second quarter, short-sale homes, also known as pre-foreclosures, sold an average 245 days after default, down from 256 days in the previous period, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac. That reversed three straight quarters of increases.
"I use an attorney practice specializing in convincing the banks that a short sale benefits them as well as the seller. Our ratio of closed short sales outbeats other local agents", say Chris White, RE/MAX Metro and Eastside.
So, this question is posed. How much space does your family really need? This isn't a simple cut and dry question. Every family has different needs and dynamics.
Let's put things into perspective, though. Having a large, show-stopper home doesn't equate with family happiness. Many families in centuries past lived happily in one room cabins and small-scale homes.There are social benefits to sharing tighter quarters. Some families feel that smaller homes forces more together time, which means more time for bonding and strengthening relationships.
Smaller homes mean reduced costs across the board. Let's examine these for a moment. Property taxes are based on the value of your land and home. While more prestigious neighborhoods and homes within city limits typically pay higher taxes, remember that a smaller home in that same prestigious neighborhood will pay a smaller dollar amount in taxes each year. Maintenance costs are also lower. It costs much less to replace a roof on a 1,000 square foot house than it does on a 6,000 square foot one.
Homes represent the bulk of even a moderately affluent pre-retiree’s wealth, beyond pension and Social Security income. According to research by the Society of Actuaries, only about 20% of homeowners plan to use their home equity to help finance retirement. Of those who do, few have thought about tapping their home's value and simply plan to sell it to generate retirement money.
Pulling money out of your home is often not advised if the money is needed for basic living expenses. Lenders also need to be sure you’ll be able to repay the loan. One retirement-friendly use of home-equity loan funds is remodeling, to make your home “senior-friendly” so you can continue living there as you get older.
The White House is considering additional measures to slow the foreclosure crisis and aid homeowners, including a proposal that would allow underwater homeowners to refinance mortgages, despite a lack of equity in their homes.
As many as two million underwater homeowners could be helped under the proposal, which was first offered by California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. The effort would remove barriers that have halted millions of upside down homeowners from refinancing and save many additional homeowners from foreclosure.
The provision would remove refinancing limits on homes that are upside down on mortgages or owe more than their home’s current value. The bill gained momentum when a Republican Senator joined Boxer as a co-sponsor. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who ran one of the country’s largest independent real estate brokerages, joined Boxer to sponsor the proposal in Congress.
In a short sale, Freddie Mac agrees to accept less than a full payoff of a mortgage when the borrower is unable to sell their home for enough to pay off their entire loan. Freddie Mac short sales have risen from about 4 percent of completed workouts in 2000 to nearly 14 percent in 2010.Short sale fraud, also on the rise, enters the picture when real estate professionals fail to disclose affiliations with other parties involved in the transaction to rig sales at a low price and hide better offers from Freddie Mac and the distressed home seller. Then, after the house is sold, the fraudster can flip it a few hours later for the better price and walk away with the profitable difference.By concealing the higher offer, short sale fraud worsens losses to home sellers, Freddie Mac, and taxpayers.
When you need a quick source of funds, a home equity loan can be tempting. Done wisely, you can use the lower-interest debt secured by your house to pay off debts with high interest rates, like credit cards. It’s also a good choice if you know exactly how much you need to borrow for a big expenditure like a new kitchen.Home equity loans aren’t always the best choice for accessing cash. The best use for home equity is to buy things that will contribute to your home’s value, like a needed remodel, or your family’s future income, like a college education. Consider carefully before you cash in home equity to spend on consumer goods like clothing, furniture, or vacations.The fact that you’re staking your home against your ability to pay off the debt is just the beginning of the potential drawbacks.
As the seasons change, once again it's time to perform some home maintenance. Here are 10 yearly tasks that will help keep your household in working order when the temperatures drop.
Clean Gutters: Do so frequently. Clogged gutters can result in standing water and roof damage. Plus, if you clean them frequently, you're less likely to have to deal with decomposing leaves.
Mow and trim: It seems counter intuitive, but Fall is a wonderful time to both fertilize and reseed your lawn. A maintained lawn improves a home's value and saleability. Use this time to trim shrubs and grass one last time so that your yard stands out, even in a dormant season.
Prune trees: With Winter comes ice. With ice comes broken limbs. Take advantage of nice weather and cut back or remove precarious limbs. It only takes one heavy snow or ice to weigh down a limb and damage property.
Bank assisted short sales of homes surged in the second quarter of the year as buyers snapped up discount priced properties at some of the lowest mortgage rates in decades. The surge in home purchases from pre-foreclosures account for an eighth of all residential sales, but represent less than a quarter of all U.S. home sales.
Short sales, in which banks cooperate with mortgage holders to sell at a price for less than what is owed on the mortgage had an average sales price of $192,129, according to RealtyTrac. The figure represents a discount of about 21% under homes that are not foreclosures or short sale properties.
The surge in sales may be a major step for the housing market, troubled by record foreclosures and declining home values in most areas of the country. High unemployment and underemployment levels make it nearly impossible for more than a third of all U.S. households to qualify to purchase a home.
1. Get educated. "Education is the first step," says Chris White. "I have the CDPE ; you need this kind of training if you’re going to speak confidently and intelligently about the process." Remember that this is someone’s financial future in your hands, so you need to know what you’re doing, or you should refer the lead on to a Short Sale specialist.
2. Team up with experienced agents. If you’re new to Short Sales, it’s wise to find an agent who is doing them and is willing to partner up with you to share expenses and responsibilities. Not only will you learn the process and become better prepared, you’ll also minimize the chances of fudging your first few sales if you have a skilled mentor. "Fortunately I've successfully closed over 50 Short sales for my clients", says White.
We've learned over the years that helping our sellers remain stress free is important. Here are 10 tips to help you stay calm during negotiations.
Trust your Agent: You hired your agent for a reason. He has experience handling negotiations and contracts. Feel free to ask him any questions you have, but don't let the pressure of every minute detail overwhelm you.
Eat and Sleep: Our body needs to refuel in two ways: food and rest. Be sure to get plenty of both so that your brain is well-prepared for any big decisions you may need to make. Pack a bag lunch or some snacks if you think you may be too busy to stop for lunch or dinner on the way to your agent's office.
Our Team subscribes to Consumer Reports which rates appliances for quality and then matches with price to create their best buy recommendations. For instance, the top rated blender is priced at $425, but the second ranked blender with a close score is $95. Contact us and we'll do a quick research and send you the Consumer Reports recomendations for the product you are purchasing. It's one more way we help you not only purchase and sell your house, but run it efficiently.
If you’re shopping for products from appliances to plumbing systems with optimal energy performance — and you are, right? — three rating programs (the Consortium on Energy Efficiency [CEE], Energy Star, and Energy Guide) can help.Energy Star is the name you likely know, but if truly stellar energy performance revs your motor, go straight to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE).
By the end of the year, financial-services-technology firm Fiserv expects housing prices to stabilize in two-thirds of metropolitan areas, according to the latest analysis of home prices in 380 U.S. markets -- based on the Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes -- released Tuesday. That number will increase to 95% of all metro areas by the first quarter of 2013. "Relative to family income levels, the average U.S. home is now only 5% more expensive than it was in 2000," David Stiff, Fiserv's chief economist, tells DailyFinance.
By the end of the year, financial-services-technology firm Fiserv expects housing prices to stabilize in two-thirds of metropolitan areas, according to the latest analysis of home prices in 380 U.S. markets -- based on the Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes -- released Tuesday. That number will increase to 95% of all metro areas by the first quarter of 2013.
I get asked all the time about the short sale process. Is it a good idea? How bad does it damage your credit? Why does it take so long? While the process can be extremely lengthy at times, overall it is still a good idea for those in a specific situation.
We all know that market values on the majority of homes has dropped and in some cases quite significantly. If you are willing to take a loss on your home and want out of your current situation then a short sale is a great idea.
Fannie Mae quietly made a rule change last week that could be of huge significance for cash buyers of houses -- whether they're investors or owner-occupants -- starting immediately. Call it cash-outs for all-cash players.The company modified its long-standing requirement that all-cash home purchasers must be on the title for at least six months before pulling out money from the house by obtaining a mortgage.
Now you can do it -- if you qualify -- virtually overnight. Under Fannie's new "delayed financing" option, buyers paying cash to gain a competitive advantage -- lower prices, cleaner and quicker deals than purchasers requiring financing -- can now turn around and pull out substantial money from the transaction shortly after settlement. Given the growing role of all-cash purchases in many markets, Fannie's change could create new opportunities for players in the bank-owned, foreclosure and short-sale segments, including small-scale investors and ordinary buyers who have access to ready cash.
Pending home sales rose strongly in May with all regions experiencing gains from a year ago, pointing to higher housing activity in the second half of the year, according to the National Association of REALTORS.
The Pending Home Index rose 8.2 percent to 88.8 in May from an upwardly revised 82.1 in April and is 13.4 percent higher than the 78.3 reading in May 2010. The data reflects contracts but not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.
Housing affordability hit a new record high in the first quarter, surpassing the previous high set in fourth-quarter 2010, according to an index released by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo today.
The Housing Opportunity Index found that 74.6 percent of new and existing homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. That's up from 73.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and it's the highest level recorded in the more than 20 years the index has been measured.
A new bill to improve the process for approving short sales may soon bring relief to distressed homeowners who are unable to keep their homes and hope to avoid foreclosure. The bill, recently introduced in the U.S. House and strongly supported by the National Association of REALTORS®, would impose a deadline of 45 days on lenders to respond to short sale requests.The legislation, the “Prompt Decision for Qualification for Short Sale Act of 2011,” was offered in Congress by U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Robert Andrews (D-N.J.).
“The current short sale process can be time-consuming and inefficient, and many would-be buyers end up walking away from a sale that could have saved a homeowner from foreclosure."
Here are three signs downtown Bellevue is heating up:
Expedia is expanding and is rumored to be taking 50,000 square feet of space at Skyline Tower. Makes sense. The company is growing, with 349 job openings in Bellevue listed on its website. Plus, Skyline is next to Expedia's headquarters. Company officials did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Investors are interested. A brief article tucked inside yesterday's Wall Street Journal stated New York-based Thor Equities has agreed to buy Bellevue Galleria for $87.5 million. “We see enormous potential in this market and in this property in particular,” Thor Chairman and CEO Joe Sitt told the Journal. The 204,000-square-foot office and retail project is 99 percent leased. A spokesperson for the current owner, RP Realty Partners of Los Angeles, did not respond to an email...
Facing Foreclosure...Consider a Short Sale If you are one of the many homeowners who have fallen behind on your mortgage payments and you don't see any way to avoid foreclosure, a short sale may offer you the least painful way to resolve the situation. Obviously, the ideal scenario would be that you magically catch up on your mortgage payments and keep your home.
But for an increasing number of Americans, that is not a realistic possibility, so it's to your advantage to take an active role. This is what a short sale is all about -- resolving the problem, as opposed to simply hiding from your lender and hoping the issue will go away or, worse, walking away from the property.
Things are looking up in Seattle's apartment market — if you're a landlord — with the region's vacancy rate dropping below 5 percent for the first time in several years. The vacancy rate kept dropping over the past few months while rents kept rising, according to two recently released reports. Both trends began a year or more ago. They will continue for at least the rest of this year.
Rising rents are helping make for-sale housing more competitive, Jones said, especially among entry- and midlevel consumers.For the most part, however, apartment buildings are filling up faster than condo projects. At The Bravern luxury project in downtown Bellevue, which converted from condos to apartments last year, a spokeswoman for developer Schnitzer West said about half the 443 units are leased — even though more than 200 didn't come on the market until October.
One can only imagine all the high-fives and fist-bumps that erupt once a can't-make-ends-meet borrower finally, finally talks a lender into forgiving $3,000 in credit-card debt.
Now picture that person months later handing over a little piece of paper called a 1099-C to a tax preparer. The tax preparer must break the bad news: Most times, canceled debt is treated like income. And $3,000 of forgiven credit-card debt must be reported as income on the state and federal income-tax returns.
A substantial majority of both homeowners and current renters agree that owning a home is a smart decision over the long term. That’s according to the results of a National Association of REALTORS® survey of 3,793 adults conducted online by Harris Interactive.
The American Attitudes About Homeownership survey found that in today’s challenging economy, 95% of owners and 72% of renters believe that over a period of several years, it makes more sense to own a home. In addition, an overwhelming majority of homeowners are happy with their decision to own a home—93% of owners surveyed would buy again.
There is a smart way and a not-so-smart way to get the best price for your home in the new year. Selling is both a price war and a beauty contest, and to win both you should check these eight tips. Time it right Wait a few more weeks to put that "for sale" sign in front of your home. Few houses sell until after Super Bowl Sunday. But now is the time to get prepared and come out on the offense rather than needing to defend your house.
Price it at exactly what it’s worth. The most influential factor in selling a home is always price. Don't build "wiggle room" into the asking price. There's a price war out there and you have to win it from the get-go. Shop the competition to see what similar homes are selling for and price your home 10 to 15 percent lower so it's the first house shown.
Five renovation projects that experts say just aren’t worth your time or money.
Home office: “If you convert a bedroom into an office, your home will be listed as having one less bedroom―big mistake,” says CNN’s Gerry Willis. Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group, a Manhattan real estate firm, agrees: “People try to envision a room for little Jenny but can’t make the leap past your piles of messy papers.”
Concrete patio: “It’s almost guaranteed to crack,” says Corcoran. “And there’s no good way to repair it. Plus, it reflects light, causing a harsh glare.”
Still the focal point of many interior living spaces, the latest fireplaces look anything but traditional. Although their inner workings are largely standardized ― most new models contain prefabricated fireboxes ― the front can be much more expressive.
As long as you follow building codes regulating the distance that combustible materials must be from the firebox opening and the distance a mantel shelf can project from the wall, you are free to decide how you trim out, or decorate, the area around the firebox. From glass and steel to tile and stone, the material options are broad and enchanting. So read on and let the following examples inspire you to curl up by the fire.
Mortgage rates spent much of the year setting record lows. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was still as low as 4.5% in mid-November.
With rates this low, if your bank or mortgage lender hasn't called you to tell you to check into refinancing, you may want to give them a call. Swapping your old mortgage for a new one can result in big savings, totaling thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Refinancing makes sense if you:
In April, the Obama administration formally rolled out a new program, called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, that was designed to spur more short sales, where banks allow homeowners to sell their homes for less than the mortgage debt outstanding.
Like other foreclosure-prevention initiatives, this one appears to be off to a slow start — just 342 sales have been completed through September.HAFA was designed as a cousin to the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program, HAMP, whose woes have been well documented.
You don't have to sanitize your design to sell your home, as long as it stands out in the right way.
In this "Designed to Sell" world, many people try to market their home by appealing to as many buyers as possible. But during a tough housing market, having a home that stands apart can be a boon to your sales prospects -- as long as it stands out in the right way.
Here are five features that can give your listing a little more pizazz:
Bank of America announced last month it would freeze foreclosures in all 50 states, as concerns mounted over the legal basis for home repossessions. JP Morgan Chase and Ally Financial also halted foreclosures in 23 states, and other banks are considering following suit. Some congressional Democrats want a nationwide freeze on repossessions — a move the White House opposes. Here's an instant guide to America's mortgage mess:
Your credit may suffer for years to come, but most people aren’t worried about the distant future. A more pressing problem can be a deficiency judgment. The bank might bring legal action against you to try and collect what they couldn’t collect in foreclosure. Deficiency judgment are court orders that make you personally liable for unpaid debt such as when a home’s selling price at foreclosure auction is not enough to cover the loan balance. Let’s take a closer look at what deficiency judgments are and whether or not you should expect one.
Get insider secrets to avoid costly blunders on the most important investment of your life. We've brought together some of the top real estate experts to compile the definitive list of the biggest mistakes we all make when buying and selling our homes. Remember that you are buying the house, not the things inside it, so make sure you see beyond the decorations and look at the bones of the home. Focus on the floor plan and the square footage. You also might want to measure the dimensions and graph out how that's going to work with your belongings...
If you have a home with small spaces, it could be challenging to convince buyers of its potential. That's where staging, organization and decluttering come into the picture.
Buyers can't envision your home as their own if the living room or bedrooms are overwhelmed with furniture that's too big for the space. Although you want to show the functionality of a room, keep decorations, furniture and personal effects to a minimum, says Chris White, a sales associate with RE/MAX, and a professional home stager.
The Bremerton-Silverdale area, on Puget Sound's Kitsap Peninsula, has the highest growth forecast of all MSAs in the country, with prices expected to jump 44.7% by 2014, according to Fiserv. Cathy Doney, general manger for Reid Real Estate in Silverdale, says the waterfront community has benefited from government employment, which has helped sustain the job market, and attracted buyers looking to live close to Seattle at a lower cost. Washington’s second-strongest market is Tacoma, with a growth rate expected to be 33.1%. Prices in the Seattle area are expected to grow 25.5% by 2014.
Moving is complicated. It involves myriad activities and tasks that need to be coordinated to bring it all together. Without a plan, you will not have a full sense of what you need to accomplish, what help you will need, and how you will go forward to get everything done.
Hiring a moving company can be a substantial part of your moving budget. If you are moving from a large residence or moving a long distance, your moving services will likely cost thousands of dollars. Understand how these costs fit into your overall budget, and keep in mind other fees such as traveling to your new home, auto transport, temporary living expenses, insurance, etc.
If you are thinking of buying a home within the next two years, the following are the six most common mistakes buyers make before qualifying for a loan. If you can avoid these mistakes qualifying for a house loan easily for little cost can be a slam dunk.
If I purchase a condo with a 97 percent occupancy in its complex with a monthly maintenance fee per owner of $500 per month, and three years later, due to the economy, the occupancy rate drops to 70 percent, do the remaining owners absorb the maintenance fees that are not being paid by the missing occupants? Probably the single most underreported effect of the foreclosure crisis is the tailspin into which it has sent many homeowners associations (HOAs) across the country. When HOA members stop paying their dues or, worse, stop paying their mortgages and lose their homes to foreclosure, it has an immediate and intensely negative trickle-down effect on their fellow HOA members.
It's time to tackle home maintenance projects and improvements that can protect your home's value and prevent costly repairs. One half day of tasks can potentially save thousands of dollars. Replace your old furnace filters with new ones. While you’re at it, clean out those ducts. If you've changed your filters regularly, you can just lift off the register covers and vacuum out the boots with a shop vacuum.
Mortgage company Fannie Mae is introducing a website to help consumers who are struggling to avoid foreclosure learn about ways to get help. The government-controlled company has launched www.knowyouroptions.com. It is designed to provide easy-to-understand definitions of mortgage industry terms and online calculators that help consumers determine whether they can qualify for a refinanced mortgage or a loan modification.
The way to determine if you should do a short sale while in bankruptcy is to ask yourself this one simple question; Even though my creditis going to be damaged now, do I want to own a home again sometime in the future? If the answer is yes, then you should seriously consider the idea of doing a short sale regardless of a bankruptcy ﬁling.
The Obama administration last week introduced a program to encourage lenders to forgive some of the mortgage debt owed by homeowners. The purpose is to help people remain in their homes and reduce foreclosures. But the housing crisis is so huge that no one initiative can solve it all. So another kind of help is on the way. It's aimed at homeowners who can't afford to remain in their homes and instead want to sell them.
Is walking away really an option when facing foreclosure? A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal; When It’s Ok to Walk Away From Your Home, gives advise that could lead down a scary alley. If you walk away, who might be chasing you? Unless the deficiency is released in writing by the lender, it can haunt you.
This morning the mortgage news outlets ran this announcement that may be the start of banks passing on some relief to upside down home owners. Bank of America has announced it will make principal forgiveness– ahead of an interest rate reduction – the initial consideration toward modifying certain subprime, Pay-Option and prime two-year hybrid mortgages qualifying for its National Homeownership Retention Program (NHRP).
A real estate short sale is a form of agreement between the seller of a home in the beginning stages of foreclosure and their lender, allowing the home to be sold for less than the existing loan balance outstanding. The mortgagee would accept less than the loan amount in order to avoid a foreclosure proceeding. This short sale would result in a substantially discounted purchase price for the buyer of the home. The buyer would then proceed with the purchase of the home much the same as in any conventional realty transaction.
Loan modifications. I’ve heard of them and don’t know a single soul who has been successful in getting one. Are they worth the effort and what are my chances of getting one? Loan modifications are loans where the current servicer of the loan is asked to change the loan to a 30 year fixed or in other words modify the loan from its current state without refinancing costs or paperwork.
Despite a slow market and a slight decrease in the resale value of most remodeling projects, Realtors report that the smartest home improvement investments may also be some of the least expensive. Results from the 2009 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report show that small-scale exterior projects are the most profitable at resale, according to estimates by Realtors who completed a recent survey.
The U.S. Treasury Department recently announced new guidelines to the short sale process that could speed the housing market recovery, a move RE/MAX Executives have been promoting in Washington D.C. for the past year. Short sales, transactions that can occur when a lender accepts the sale of a home at a price below the actual amount owed on the home, have become an increasing part of the real estate business as besieged homeowners look for alternatives to foreclosure. RE/MAX Chairman Dave Liniger has promoted a streamlined short sale process since foreclosures began flooding the market and has presented specific proposals to government officials.
The minimum borrower FICO score will be raised although the final number has not yet been determined. (rumor is the min score will be 640 up from 620) The agency is studying whether new FICO minimums should be accompanied by changes in other underwriting criteria for lower down payment loans. The up-front cash that a borrower will be required to bring to the table for an FHA-backed loan will also be increased to make sure that borrowers have "skin in the game.
Fannie Mae announced a program aimed at helping ordinary home buyers compete with investors for foreclosed homes. Under the program, dubbed First Look, Fannie plans to consider offers only from potential owner-occupants and certain public-housing entities during the first 15 days in which a foreclosed home is on the market.
President Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 into law today. The legislation greatly expands the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit by making more first time homebuyers eligible for the credit and now includes homebuyers that are not first time homebuyers. The current law is extended until April 30, 2010. Buyers have until that date to have a signed purchase agreement. There is an additional 60 day grace period to complete the financing.
That is one of the most common objections to purchasing real estate where there is a community Association requiring the payment of regular dues and fees. These can range from less than a hundred dollars per month, if for example the only service is street scaping, to upwards of a couple of thousand dollars for a luxury penthouse. Depending on square footage and amenities, most fees range between $250 and $750.
Most plastics are recyclable,” says Keith Christman, senior director of packaging at the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division, in Arlington, Virginia. The problem is, not all plastics are recyclable everywhere. Almost all recycling programs accept plastics numbered 1 and 2. (Look for the number on the underside of a product, inside the ubiquitous triangle of chasing arrows.) But the numbers are not regulated federally; 39 states have various rules, so what you see can be inconsistent.
This question comes up more frequently with buyers now especially with the many changes to the way banks are doing business these days. In answer to this, a detailed description of appraiser’s approaches to determining a home’s value are below. Each comparable sale that is utilized must be analyzed for differences and similarities between it and the property being appraised. The appraiser must make appropriate adjustments for location, terms, and conditions of the sale, date of sale, and physical characteristics.
Get ready for the short sales. According to a Treasury spokeswoman, Treasury officials will soon announce a $2,500 subsidy ($1,000 to the servicer and $1,500 to the seller) to encourage short sales as a way to clear the excess inventory. The fees are designed to help compensate the servicer for the extra effort, and to incent the seller to be cooperative and leave the home in good condition. Presumably, the Treasury is trying to help facilitate a transaction that will result in less loss to the lender than in the case of a foreclosure.
The predominant method to foreclose a residential property in Washington is through a non-judicial foreclosure proceeding. The law has been in effect for many years with relatively few major changes overall. However, in its last session, the Legislature in Washington added a whole new section to the statute that changes the method of foreclosure dramatically for certain homeowners. Lenders are now required to provide credit counseling to certain homeowners
Here's the critical info you need to know in order to receive an $8000 government issued check for purchasing a home. See if you meet these six criteria now. 1. The first time home buyers credit is 10% of purchase price or a maximum of $8000, according to U.S. News and World Report. 2. A first time home buyer is defined as someone who hasn't owned a principal residence in the past three years. If you own a vacation home, but not principal residence you still qualify.
The following is a press release regarding the Fed Bank meetings held yesterday and today. The Fed Bank issues their minutes and it’s digested by news outlets and investors over time. This report appears to be rather flat with a warning of rates going up in the future (of course when the recession is over). Rates are steady in line with this mornings levels. Investors will be looking for more substance and their interpretation of the meeting minutes will be shown in the coming days.