Blogs tagged with "Author:Jan Weeks"

Should You Help Your Adult Kids Buy Their First Home?
Dec
2

Should You Help Your Adult Kids Buy Their First Home?

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.


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What is moving housing upward?
Oct
21

What is moving housing upward?

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.


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Five Common Mortgage Myths
Sep
10

Five Common Mortgage Myths

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.


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Are appraisers falling behind on home value increases?
Jun
23

Are appraisers falling behind on home value increases?

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.
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4 Guidelines for Successful Negotiations
May
30

4 Guidelines for Successful Negotiations

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:
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:


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5 Reasons Now is the Time to Buy
May
24

5 Reasons Now is the Time to Buy

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.

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Buying a home won’t get much cheaper
May
3

Buying a home won’t get much cheaper

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.


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Buying Cheaper than Renting in 98 of Top 100 Major U.S. Markets
Mar
22

Buying Cheaper than Renting in 98 of Top 100 Major U.S. Markets

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.
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Five Tax Breaks for Homeowners
Mar
11

Five Tax Breaks for Homeowners

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...
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When Freddie Mac Wins, Homeowners Lose
Jan
31

When Freddie Mac Wins, Homeowners Lose

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."
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First-Time Buyers and Short Sales
Jan
25

First-Time Buyers and Short Sales

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.”
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Why Short Sales Are Better for Homeowners
Jan
9

Why Short Sales Are Better for Homeowners

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.
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White House Considers Underwater Refinancing Relief
Oct
6

White House Considers Underwater Refinancing Relief

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.


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Teaming Up to Fight Short Sale Fraud
Sep
24

Teaming Up to Fight Short Sale Fraud

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.

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10 Ways Your Agent is Successful with Short Sales
Aug
26

10 Ways Your Agent is Successful with Short Sales

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.


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How To Select Best Appliances for Your Home
Aug
16

How To Select Best Appliances for Your Home

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). 

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Fannie-Mae’s Surprise for All Cash Buyers
Jul
13

Fannie-Mae’s Surprise for All Cash Buyers

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.


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Bellevue is Heating Up
Apr
29

Bellevue is Heating Up

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...


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Seattle Area Sees Fewer Apartment Vacancies, Higher Rents
Apr
11

Seattle Area Sees Fewer Apartment Vacancies, Higher Rents

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.


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Top 5 Unusual Features That Can Help You Sell
Nov
26

Top 5 Unusual Features That Can Help You Sell

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:



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What is a Deficiency Judgment?
Nov
13

What is a Deficiency Judgment?

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.


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Staging a Small Space for Sale
Oct
13

Staging a Small Space for Sale

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.
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.


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 Fall Maintenance Chores Save Money
Sep
2

Fall Maintenance Chores Save Money

Fall's nearly here; it's time to tackle home maintenance projects and improvements that can protect your home's value and prevent costly repairs. Below are some of the top maintenance projects for fall:
Furnace: 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. If you haven't cleaned them in awhile, consider calling a professional duct cleaning service to handle this important chore.
Windows: If you’ve opened and closed your windows much during the warmer months, dirt and debris can gather at the seals and prevent them from sealing properly. In the coming months, heat will escape through small gaps. Take the time to go around the house and clean each window. Replace any worn-down weather stripping. If you have an older home with its original, wood-framed windows, check the outside of them for dried, flaking caulk. Replace it with weather-proof caulk made for windows.
Deck: If your deck has never been treated, do it now. Pressure wash the entire deck, let it dry for at least three hours, then rub on water sealer and let it dry. A weekend afternoon of work will add years to the life of your patio.
Roof: Critters will try and enter your home through the roof. Look out for lifting shingles, wood chips or shavings. Remove any damaged shingles to assess the damage. Purchase matching shingles and roof nails and replace damaged singles. For severe damage, call a professional roofer before the start of the rainy season. (Remember: Don't go up on a roof alone. Always have someone on the ground in case of an emergency.)
Gutters: Clear them of debris, make sure the downspouts are unobstructed, and check for any structural problems.
On a side note, fall is generally a slower season for many contractors. If you have any larger projects that require professional help, there's a chance you can save time and money by doing them in the fall.

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.


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New Consumer Website for Borrowers
Aug
27

New Consumer Website for Borrowers

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.
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What Are My Chances of Getting a Loan Modification?
Feb
12

What Are My Chances of Getting 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.


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Fannie Looks to Level Foreclosed-Home Playing Field
Dec
2

Fannie Looks to Level Foreclosed-Home Playing Field

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.


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Understanding Home Owner Association Fees:  Is it too much?
Nov
5

Understanding Home Owner Association Fees: Is it too much?

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.
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Recycling: A Refresher Course
Nov
3

Recycling: A Refresher Course

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.

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Fed breathes a huge sigh of relief
Jun
24

Fed breathes a huge sigh of relief

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.


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Monday, April 21, 2014
Housing Market Slow to Hit Its Spring Stride

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Keys to Help Buyers Compete in a Seller's Market

Thursday, May 23, 2013
10 Things Buyers Need to Know

Sunday, April 14, 2013
Women Consider Owning a Home to be a Vital Component of the American Dream

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The 8 Top Home-Selling Mistakes You Should Avoid

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Fiscal Cliff Bill a Benefit for Homeowners

Sunday, December 2, 2012
Should You Help Your Adult Kids Buy Their First Home?

Monday, October 29, 2012
Economists Bullish on Housing Recovery

Sunday, October 21, 2012
What is moving housing upward?

Monday, September 10, 2012
Five Common Mortgage Myths

Thursday, August 2, 2012
It's a great time to be a seller

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Are appraisers falling behind on home value increases?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Is Now the Time to Invest in Rentals?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
4 Guidelines for Successful Negotiations

Thursday, May 24, 2012
5 Reasons Now is the Time to Buy

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Unique Housing Market

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Buying a home won’t get much cheaper

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
New Rules to Speed-up Short Sales

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Home Prices to Rise in 2013

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Buying Cheaper than Renting in 98 of Top 100 Major U.S. Markets

Sunday, March 11, 2012
Five Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Thursday, March 8, 2012
How the FHA Loan Plan Can Help You Refinance

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
When Freddie Mac Wins, Homeowners Lose

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
First-Time Buyers and Short Sales

Estella said
"That is a beautiful shot with very good lighting ." about Women Consider Owning a Home to be a Vital Component of the American Dream
on Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 9:57 AM

Chris White - Team Leader said
"Unfortunately you are not alone. It's more than an outcry. The powers that be really need to come down harder on Bofa than they already are. Working on these short sale for over 2 years now I've uncovered down right fraud happening on the lenders parts. If they cared more about moving this country forward than protecting their own wallets then they would cut the red tape and approve these short sales in a timely manner. Our team made the wise decision to get BofA loans which were FHA or Freddie Mac backed, approved prior to listing on the market. Then we can list the home as "Price Approved" and close in 30 days. In this instance BofA does a full appraisal, rather than an incompetent "Broker Price Opinion" (nothing against agents but they have no idea how to make adjustments on comparable homes) and then the bank issues an "Approval To Participate" letter which dictates what price we can go on the market and take anything north of 88%. I really do hope your situation improves. " about Congressional Bill to Speed Up Short Sales
on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 9:15 AM

Lisa Zeiner said
"We made an offer 4 months ago to BofA, and have heard nothing. It was a cash offer which is better than the zero money they are collecting now. And since the people don't care they are trashing the place, by the time BofA gets around to it our offer will be gone as the place is a mess!! Septic issues now, garbage being dumnped. All of this could have been avoided if BofA really wanted to correct their cash flow problem and sell these properties in a timely manner. They cry about cash but then do nothing intelligent to fix the problem" about Congressional Bill to Speed Up Short Sales
on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 9:06 AM

Jones Ramirez said
"Thank you for the work you have done into this post, it helps clear up a few questions I had." about How do appraiser’s determine a homes value?
on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 @ 10:07 PM

HollyRobsonf said
"Hey - I am certainly happy to find this. great job!" about Bank of America to Offer Principal Reduction to Underwater Borrowers
on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 @ 6:45 PM