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.
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:
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.