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.
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.
"Buying a home will end up being cheaper than renting", says Chris White, RE/MAX Metro and Eastside expert.
For people who are willing to stay put for a few years, buying a home has become a much better deal than renting in almost every major housing market in the nation.
In more than 75% of the 200 metro areas analyzed by real estate listing web site Zillow, homeowners would reach a "breakeven point" -- where owning the home makes better financial sense than renting it -- in three years or less.
"Historic levels of affordability make buying a home a better decision than ever, especially considering rents have risen more than 5% over the past year," said Stan Humphries, chief economist for Zillow.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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...
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.