This Month in Real Estate July 2010

Commentary

The U.S. housing market continues to benefit from the tax credit: home prices and sales remain above year-ago levels. As the summer progresses, however, the positive impact of government stimulus will wind down. Experts point to improved stability as a sign the market can likely hold its ground without further support from the government. However, economists indicate that the key for the housing market through the end of 2010 will be job growth and a manageable level of distressed properties.

The economy continues its journey to recovery with two steps forward and one step back, but the ground lost during the recession was great and the progress so far should be celebrated. The road to this particular recovery has been expected to be more prolonged than many previous recovery periods. Consumer confidence lowered from its high in May primarily due to a disappointing employment report, while the swelling federal deficit has also raised concern. Unmanageable debt levels have lead some European countries into their current situation, and Americans do not want to follow suit.

A job bill that would have further extended unemployment benefits has not gotten off the ground due to concerns over the deficit. Sited as a top priority for the government, a financial overhaul bill continues to proceed though Congress. The bill’s goal is to protect the financial system and the average consumer from unnecessary risk and unsound lending practices in an effort to build a stronger system for the long-term stability of the U.S. economy.

The Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales slowed slightly in May to 5.66 million, down 2.2% from April but up 19.2% from last May. This is the eleventh consecutive month of year-over-year increase. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, attributes this to the “ongoing effects of the home buyer tax credit,” and he anticipates the same next month. In May, 46% of sales were from first-time buyers, down slightly from the previous month’s 49% but still considered high.

Median Home Price

The median price for an existing home was $179,600 in May, up 2.8% from a year ago and 4.2% from April. Distressed homes, accounting for 31% of last month’s sales, continued skewing prices downward slightly as they are usually discounted from comparable homes. Overall, prices this past year continued to show increased stability over the previous year. Vicki Cox Golder, president of NAR states, “With distressed sales at roughly the same level as a year ago, the gain in home prices is a hopeful sign that the market is in a good position to stand on its own without further government stimulus.”

Inventory

Total housing inventory declined slightly to 4.89 million in May, representing between eight and eight-and-a-half month supply of sales (if homes continue to sell at the current pace consistently and no new ones come on the market). There are about the same number of homes for sale as last year, with 1% more currently available. Although there continues to be a nice selection of available homes for buyers, the 3.4% fewer number from last month helps to further stabilize prices.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates fell to a new record low in June amid a drop in consumer confidence concerning the recovery. The tone of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting was notably tempered on the outlook for recovery, indicating that the economy is stronger than last year but there is still much ground to cover. Interest rates significantly below 5% may pique the interest of more investors.

Affordability

Affordability remains advantageous, supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades as well as lowered home prices. The home price-to-income ratio continues to remain well below the historical average of 25%, but stabilized home prices are drawing affordability back up toward more normal levels. The ratio now stands at 15.4%.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac

Government Action

Tax Credit’s Closing Deadline Extended

Home buyers who signed a contract before the end of April will now have three additional months to close and still be eligible for the homebuyer tax credit. A bill to extend the deadline to September 30 obtained congressional approval on June 30, the evening it was set to expire.

Many of these buyers are purchasing short sales which have notably slower contract-to-close time frames. A KW Research study found short sales often take twice as long to close as typical home sales.

While this does not extend the credit to any additional buyers, it is great news for those 180,000 who have not yet closed on their home sale through no fault of their own.

Source: WSJ.com

Topics For Buyers & Sellers

 

Real Estate Investing


The increased affordability and low interest rates may have some thinking about purchasing real estate investment properties. Here are a few key points on investing from The Millionaire Real Estate Investor:

  • Criteria: Criteria are the standards that define what kind of property you are looking for. These are the things that you list when you are hunting for the next opportunity to invest in: Is it a single family or multi-family opportunity? What features or amenities does it have? What is the location? These are aspects of the property that can’t be negotiated.
  • Terms: This is how you turn your opportunity into a good deal. Once the property meets your criteria, terms are the negotiable aspects of your investment, such as the offer price, the down payment, interest rates, occupancy date, and closing costs. Terms are where a great deal can be created from even the most modest criteria. They mean understanding the financial basics of a transaction, knowing which elements are flexible, being systematic about getting all you can from every deal, and also, for some, knowing when to walk away.

There are some great terms right now with record-low interest rates and discounted distressed properties. Keep in mind that the lending for investment properties has additional requirements – like cash reserves and total property limits. Talk to a professional for more information.

  • Network: the people who help you find, complete, and support your real estate investments.

This Month in Real Estate June 2010

Commentary:
The housing sector continues to show signs of recovery. Together the tax credit (which expired at the end of April), the more upbeat consumer confidence, and favorable market conditions all contributed to bolstering April’s sales activity – with existing home sales increasing for the second straight month.

The return of buyer confidence with much of the home price correction believed to be over, encouraging economic developments and historically low mortgage rates, will provide the stepping stone for further market stabilization.

Meanwhile, stagnant job growth and elevated levels of foreclosure continue to be cause for concern. The government is now taking proactive steps to restructure the mortgage industry with risk-management measures seen by experts as a “huge cut in red tape” that would ultimately benefit consumers.

The Housing Market:
Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales strengthened in April to 5.77 million, up 8.7% from March and 22.8%from last April. This is the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year increases.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, although part of the uptick was expected from the tax credit, there’s also been a return of buyer confidence, for those who remained on the sideline last year. The return of confidence is a result of stabilized prices, an improved economy, and continued advantageous interest rates.

In March, 49% of sales were from first-time buyers.

Median Home Price

The median price for an existing home was $173,100 in April, up 2.1% from a year ago and 4% from March. Distressed homes, accounting for a third of last month’s sales, continued skewing prices downward slightly as they typically are discounted 15% compared to typical home sales. Overall, prices this past year showed increased stability over the previous year.

Inventory

Total housing inventory rose slightly to 4.04 million in March, representing slightly less than an eight-and-a-half month supply of sales (if homes continue to sell at the current pace consistently and no new homes come on the market). Compared to the previous year, there are now 3% more homes on the market. Although this is the first rise in twenty consecutive months of decline when compared to the previous year, NAR’s chief economist believes this increase can be attributed to the summer selling season and that home prices are back on track.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates dipped back below 5% this month due largely in part to the European debt crisis. As confidence in the value of the Euro eroded, more investors chose the U.S. dollar instead. With more demand for dollars, the cost of debt (interest rate) dropped. This event has also shown the global recovery is not free-and-clear of roadblocks to complete recovery. However, experts still anticipate rates will increase to between 6% and 6.5% by the end of the year. As the recovery gains increasing traction, the Federal Reserve will need to increase rates to prevent inflation.

Affordability

Affordability remains advantageous, supported by some of the lowest mortgage rates in decades as well as less expensive home prices. The home price-to-income ratio continues to remain well below the historical average of 25%. The ratio now stands at 14.9%.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac

Government Action:
FHA Turns to Lenders to Monitor Brokers

As the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the government agency that insures home loans, saw its market share rise to about one-third of the mortgage market last year, up from 2% in 2006, the number of brokers seeking to arrange FHA-backed loans has mushroomed to 9,043 at the end of 2009 from 5,759 just two years earlier.

The agency, finding itself inadequately equipped to monitor its brokers, is shifting the responsibility to its lenders.

The FHA expects the new policies to result in better risk management, and the cut in red tape should produce better rates for consumers.

As of May 20, the FHA no longer certifies mortgage brokers or tracks the performance of brokers’ loans. Instead, lenders are now required to sponsor brokers and assume responsibility for loans they originate, including losses from fraud or mistakes in underwriting. In addition to revamping broker insight, the agency also beefed up oversight of its lenders by increasing net-worth requirements to $1 million from $250,000. The change is in effect for one year for existing lenders.

Source: WSJ.com

This Month in Real Estate May 2010

This Month in Real Estate
July 2010

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Commentary

The U.S. housing market continues to benefit from the tax credit: home prices and sales remain above year-ago levels. As the summer progresses, however, the positive impact of government stimulus will wind down. Experts point to improved stability as a sign the market can likely hold its ground without further support from the government. However, economists indicate that the key for the housing market through the end of 2010 will be job growth and a manageable level of distressed properties.

The economy continues its journey to recovery with two steps forward and one step back, but the ground lost during the recession was great and the progress so far should be celebrated. The road to this particular recovery has been expected to be more prolonged than many previous recovery periods. Consumer confidence lowered from its high in May primarily due to a disappointing employment report, while the swelling federal deficit has also raised concern. Unmanageable debt levels have lead some European countries into their current situation, and Americans do not want to follow suit.

A job bill that would have further extended unemployment benefits has not gotten off the ground due to concerns over the deficit. Sited as a top priority for the government, a financial overhaul bill continues to proceed though Congress. The bill’s goal is to protect the financial system and the average consumer from unnecessary risk and unsound lending practices in an effort to build a stronger system for the long-term stability of the U.S. economy.

The Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales slowed slightly in May to 5.66 million, down 2.2% from April but up 19.2% from last May. This is the eleventh consecutive month of year-over-year increase. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, attributes this to the “ongoing effects of the home buyer tax credit,” and he anticipates the same next month. In May, 46% of sales were from first-time buyers, down slightly from the previous month’s 49% but still considered high.

Median Home Price

The median price for an existing home was $179,600 in May, up 2.8% from a year ago and 4.2% from April. Distressed homes, accounting for 31% of last month’s sales, continued skewing prices downward slightly as they are usually discounted from comparable homes. Overall, prices this past year continued to show increased stability over the previous year. Vicki Cox Golder, president of NAR states, “With distressed sales at roughly the same level as a year ago, the gain in home prices is a hopeful sign that the market is in a good position to stand on its own without further government stimulus.”

Inventory

Total housing inventory declined slightly to 4.89 million in May, representing between eight and eight-and-a-half month supply of sales (if homes continue to sell at the current pace consistently and no new ones come on the market). There are about the same number of homes for sale as last year, with 1% more currently available. Although there continues to be a nice selection of available homes for buyers, the 3.4% fewer number from last month helps to further stabilize prices.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates fell to a new record low in June amid a drop in consumer confidence concerning the recovery. The tone of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting was notably tempered on the outlook for recovery, indicating that the economy is stronger than last year but there is still much ground to cover. Interest rates significantly below 5% may pique the interest of more investors.

Affordability

Affordability remains advantageous, supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades as well as lowered home prices. The home price-to-income ratio continues to remain well below the historical average of 25%, but stabilized home prices are drawing affordability back up toward more normal levels. The ratio now stands at 15.4%.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac
Government Action

Tax Credit’s Closing Deadline Extended

Home buyers who signed a contract before the end of April will now have three additional months to close and still be eligible for the homebuyer tax credit. A bill to extend the deadline to September 30 obtained congressional approval on June 30, the evening it was set to expire.

Many of these buyers are purchasing short sales which have notably slower contract-to-close time frames. A KW Research study found short sales often take twice as long to close as typical home sales.

While this does not extend the credit to any additional buyers, it is great news for those 180,000 who have not yet closed on their home sale through no fault of their own.

Source: WSJ.com
Topics For Buyers & Sellers

Real Estate Investing

The increased affordability and low interest rates may have some thinking about purchasing real estate investment properties. Here are a few key points on investing from The Millionaire Real Estate Investor:

•Criteria: Criteria are the standards that define what kind of property you are looking for. These are the things that you list when you are hunting for the next opportunity to invest in: Is it a single family or multi-family opportunity? What features or amenities does it have? What is the location? These are aspects of the property that can’t be negotiated.
•Terms: This is how you turn your opportunity into a good deal. Once the property meets your criteria, terms are the negotiable aspects of your investment, such as the offer price, the down payment, interest rates, occupancy date, and closing costs. Terms are where a great deal can be created from even the most modest criteria. They mean understanding the financial basics of a transaction, knowing which elements are flexible, being systematic about getting all you can from every deal, and also, for some, knowing when to walk away.

There are some great terms right now with record-low interest rates and discounted distressed properties. Keep in mind that the lending for investment properties has additional requirements – like cash reserves and total property limits. Talk to a professional for more information.

•Network: the people who help you find, complete, and support your real estate investments.

This Month in Real Estate April 2010

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

This Month in Real Estate
April 2010

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Commentary

The economic recovery continues to slowly but steadily deepen its roots.  Consumer sentiment ticked up in March and it appears businesses are feeling more positive as well. According to a CEO Economic Outlook Survey, America’s top CEOs are expecting an increase in sales, along with increased or stabilized capital spending and employment. 

Over the past several months, the hot topic of health care reform took much of Congress’s attention.  Now, with the bill passed into law, the government is turning its attention to other matters to help bolster the economy including the job bill and financial reform.

High unemployment and elevated levels of foreclosures and distressed homeowners continue to be two of the biggest factors in preventing a robust recovery.  The government’s attentive attitude toward these obstacles is seen as a positive sign by industry and economic experts. 

The Housing Market 

Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales softened in February. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, the widespread winter storms during the month may have masked underlying demand as “buyers couldn’t get out to look at homes in some areas and that should negatively impact near-term contract activity.” February sales of 5.02 million remained 7 percent above the 4.69 million-units last year. 

Median Home Price

The median price for an existing home was $165,100 in February, a 1.8 percent drop from February 2009. Distressed homes, which accounted for 35 percent of sales last month, continued to skew prices downward as they typically were discounted in comparison with non-distressed homes. 

Inventory

Total housing inventory rose 9.5 percent to 3.59 million, representing an 8.6-month supply at the current sales pace. Compared to the previous year, there were 5.5 percent fewer homes on the market.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates dipped to 4.99 percent in February from 5.03 percent in January. During the first week of April, rates crossed the 5 percent threshold but still remained near historically low levels. While the full effect of the Federal Reserve mortgage-backed securities purchase program’s expiration at the end of March is yet to be seen, the Fed echoed its accommodating policy to support the economy. 

Affordability

Affordability remains at record levels, supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades, low home prices, and the first-time home buyer tax credit. The home price-to-income ratio continues to remain well below the historical average of 25 percent. The ratio now stands at 14.2 percent.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac

Government Action

Mortgage Relief for Unemployed

Attempting to overhaul its foreclosure prevention program, the Obama administration took noteworthy steps to help the unemployed stay current on their mortgage through tough times.  

While the trouble in the housing market stemmed originally started with loose lending practices, high unemployment and underwater homeowners are now the major factors contributing to foreclosure. 

The program will now:

  • Require lenders to “slash” payments for the unemployed for 3-6 months. In some cases, payments could be deferred entirely. 
  • Cut payments to at least 31 percent of previous income, about the same amount that unemployment insurance pays.
  • Become effective over the next 6 months.
  • Not require new taxpayer funds.  The program has only used a
    small portion of its $75 billion allocation.  
Source: The Washington Post

         

                   Helping Underwater Homeowners

 Underwater borrowers are one of the major driving forces behind foreclosure.  It’s estimated that one in four homeowners owes more than their home is worth. Economists categorize these borrowers as “high risk” because they can’t sell or refinance. 

The government is taking the following steps to address underwater borrowers:

  1. Principal Reduction. Lenders will be asked to reduce the principal loan balance if it is 15 percent or greater than what the home is worth. This will only be available to borrowers who are current on their mortgage payments and they will need to stay current to “earn” the full reduction over three years. 
  2. FHA Refinancing. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers refinancing alternatives for borrowers who are underwater and offering incentives for lenders who reduce the principal on primary mortgages by at least 10 percent. 
  3. Second Mortgages. The government will double the incentive amount paid to lenders who help modify second mortgages. Half of all troubled homeowners have second mortgages, which have been an obstacle in providing modifications.
  4. Short Sales. Incentives to lenders who help troubled borrowers that don’t qualify for the program, most commonly a short sale, have been increased. 
Source: The Washington Post

Topics For Buyers & Sellers

Energy Efficient Tax Tips

Three Things You Need to Know About Home Improvements to Help Slash Energy Bills and 2010 Taxes

  1. Simple qualifying improvements include increasing insulation or insulating items such as door and windows, roofing, skylights, etc. These qualify for a 30 percent credit on the cost of the item, not installation,  up to a maximum credit cap of $1,500
  2. Certain big-ticket items have no maximum credit cap. The credit is still 30 percent of the cost of the item. These items include furnace, air conditioning, tankless water heater, heat pump, geothermal system, solar or wind installation. 
  3. It’s a tax credit, not a deduction.  That means it reduces the actual taxes you owe, not your taxable income.  Use IRS Form 5695, and hang onto receipts and product labels. 

Don’t forget to check your state and local area for additional incentives.

For more info on the federal tax credit, check out: EnergyStar.gov and NAHB.org/efficiencytaxcredit.

This Month in Real Estate – March 2010

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment
This Month in Real Estate
March 2010

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Commentary

As the market continues to show shoots of recovery, experts believe that the roots will continue to grow. In his annual letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett said, “Within a year or so, residential housing problems should largely be behind us.”

After a steep run-up in prices during the first half of the decade, home values have readjusted back to normalized levels. Fixed mortgage rates are sitting near record lows and the number of homes available for sale is providing home buyers with more options. Also encouraging are indications that the high end of the housing market could begin moving again as luxury financing becomes more readily available.

Despite high unemployment and looming foreclosures, experts maintain their expectations that the economy will grow in 2010, while the government carries on its search for solutions to help both troubled homeowners and the unemployed.

The Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales slowed in January. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, this is mainly due to the lack of urgency with the extension and expansion of the first-time buyer tax credit in November. January sales of 5.05 million remain 12 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level last year.

Median Home Price

Existing-home price was $164,700 in January, 3.4 percent below December and unchanged from January 2009. Distressed homes, which accounted for 38 percent of sales last month, continue to skew prices downward as they typically are discounted in comparison with traditional homes.

Inventory

The supply of homes continued to shrink, falling 0.5 percent to 3.27 million, representing a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace. Compared to a year ago, there are now 10 percent fewer homes on the market. This is the lowest level of competing homes on the market since March 2006.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates edged above the 5 percent threshold during the week of February 25, but remained near historically low levels. As the Federal Reserve mortgage-backed securities purchase program is scheduled to run out at the end of March, the Fed has held the door open to extending it if the economy weakens.

Affordability

Affordability remains at record levels, supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades, low home prices, as well as the first-time buyer tax credit. So far this year, the home price-to-income ratio has fallen well below the historical average of 25 percent. The ratio now stands at 14.1 percent.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac

Government Action

Jumbo Mortgages Begin to Thaw

The cost of jumbo loans, often used to purchase luxury homes, shot up during the financial crisis because lenders steered clear of anything that could be considered somewhat risky. Plus jumbo loans are too large for the government to support through the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac.

The good news:  The jumbo loan markets are beginning to unfreeze and return to normal.

The difference between interest rates on conventional loans and jumbo loans has decreased from higher levels seen last year.

In some cases, the down payment requirements are easing as well, but they often still depend on the level of borrowing – the more the mortgage, the higher the down payment percentage. In New York, mortgage professionals report the following common down payments:

Borrowers will still need a good credit score, typically at least 700, evidence of high income, and a sizable bank account.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Inman News

Topics For Buyers & Sellers

2009 Tax Tips

Tax time is coming up.  Don’t forget about the following benefits in 2009 for  homeowners.  What’s deductable in itemized deductions for homeowners?

1. Mortgage Interest

2. Points – paid at closing if you purchased or possibly if you refinanced this year

3. Mortgage Insurance Premiums

4. Property Tax

5. Energy Efficiency Credits – see IRS Form 5695 for qualifying projects

6. Home Buyer Tax Credit – see IRS Form 5405 to claim your credit if you qualify

Contact me,

your local real estate expert,

for information about what’s going on in our area.

Newsletter Contents

1. Commentary

2. The Housing Market

3. Government Action

4. Topics for Buyers
and Sellers

For a more detailed report with additional graphs and government action, please see the This Month in Real Estate PowerPoint Report.

* $729,750 is the upper limit in the most expensive areas. Limits vary depending on median home prices in local areas. ** Based on the week of February 25, 2010.  ***According to Bank of America’s Jeffrey Appel in Inman News.

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This Month in Real Estate – February 2010

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

COMMENTARY:

January began the new decade with indications that the economy is beginning to gain traction. Real GDP grew by 2.2 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and preliminary signals point to a continued positive trend for the following quarter. GDP is a measure of total products and services produced by a country and indicates the health of the country’s economy.

A dip in home sales in December was due in large part to timing.  First time buyers that would have liked to close in December but qualified for the tax credit bumped their timeline up in order to cash in.  News of the credit’s extension reached many of them after their plans to close in December were set.

Interest rates are back below 5% and home prices are up compared to last year. The government continues to attempt to minimize the impact of troubled homeowners by continuing to improve its foreclosure prevention program and  has also taken steps to help foreclosures buyers purchase faster.

Although the unemployment rate is expected to stay high as jobs increase modestly,  experts expect the economy to continue to grow in 2010.

The Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

After a rising surge for three straight months, existing home sales slowed in December after first-time buyers rushed to meet the original November tax credit deadline and evidenced by first timers accounting for 51% of sales in November compared to 43% in December. “It’s significant that home sales remain above year-ago levels, but the market is going through a period of swings driven by the tax credit,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. December sales of 5.45 million remain 15 percent above the 4.74 million-unit level last year.

Median Home Price

Existing-home price was $178,300 in December, 1.5 percent higher than December 2008 and 8.2 percent above its low in January 2009. It was the first year-over-year gain in median price since August 2007, attributable to an increase in the number of mid- to upper-priced homes in the sales.

Inventory

The supply of homes continued to shrink, falling 6.6 percent to 3.29 million, representing a 7.2-month supply at the current sales pace. Compared to a year ago, there are now 11 percent fewer homes on the market. This is the lowest level of competing homes on the market since March 2006.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates have moved back to less than 5 percent, which have been categorized by industry experts like Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft as “near a record low.” This move that may help boost home loan demand and lend support to the housing market recovery. On January 28, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.98 percent.

Affordability

Affordability remains at record levels, supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades, low home prices, as well as the first-time buyer tax credit. So far this year, the home price-to-income ratio has fallen well below the historical average of 25 percent. The ratio now stands at 15 percent.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac

Government Action

FHA Tightens Lending Requirements

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured almost 30 percent of all purchase loans and 20 percent of refinances from September 2008 to September 2009, up from about only 2 percent of all loans three years earlier. The influx of loans combined with falling capital reserves, which cushion against rising defaults, has led the FHA to announce several measures to strengthen its economic vitality.

On January 20, the FHA announced it will do the following:

1. Raise Insurance Fees – In exchange for FHA backing, borrowers pay an up-front premium.  Previously it was 1.75% of their loan. It’s now risen to 2.25%.

2. Cap Seller Contribution to Buyer’s Closing Costs – Sellers can contribute a maximum of 3%, down from 6%, of the sales price to the buyer’s closing costs. The higher cap created risk by incentivizing homes to sell at a substantially marked-up price to compensate for contribution. 3% is still a significant proportion to closing costs.

3. Require Higher Down Payments for Poor Credit – Beginning this summer, borrowers with a credit score below 580 will need to make a down payment of at least 10%. The FHA will still provide a viable alternative to the 1% of FHA borrowers who fall in this category, whereas most lenders’ credit score cutoff is 620.

The good news is the FHA, an integral player in the market, has stepped up to protect itself so it can continue helping first-time buyers, those with less cash for a down payment, and those with less-than-perfect credit obtain home loans. Additionally, these proactive measures aim to protect the agency from needing taxpayer funds from the government.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal

FHA to Help New Foreclosures Sell Fast

FHA has announced it will lift the 90-day seasoning requirement for one year. The FHA ‘s 90-day “seasoning” provision requires that a home sold to an FHA buyer must be owned for at least 90 days by the seller before closing.  This is intended to prevent buyers from purchasing property from “flippers” at an overly inflated value.

In the current climate, quickly selling foreclosures has risen in importance while the prominence of “flippers” has dramatically decreased. Acquiring, rehabbing, and reselling a foreclosure often takes fewer than 90 days. Banks have been reluctant to sell foreclosures to FHA buyers if they would need to push closing back to meet the FHA requirement.

There are additional stipulations; for more, please visit the press release.

Quickly moving foreclosures out of the bank’s hands and into those of home buyers is an important step in stabilizing home prices, neighborhoods, and communities leading toward a healthy housing market.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Topics For Buyers & Sellers

Price it Right

Sellers who listed their home at the price originally recommended by their agent sold it:

  • 38 days faster
  • For 2.25% higher
  • With 1 less price reduction

Compared to sellers who did not take their agent’s recommendation.

Staging Stats

Compared to homes that were not staged, staged homes had:

  • more showings
  • a higher list-to-sell percentage

Other notable stats found include:

  • Only 1 in 3 sellers staged their home, even with all the commonly accepted advantages of staging.
  • Staging typically took between 2 – 6 hours to complete.
  • Including the cost of a staging professional and items purchased or rented, staging cost an average of $523.

Although it has advantages at all price points, staging was also found to be particularly important for homes priced over $600,000.

Source: Keller Williams Realty Research Study

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Home Buyers Tax Credit Still Available

January 31, 2010 1 comment

The Extended Home Buyers Tax Credit offers current homeowners and first-time home buyers alike an incredible tax-saving opportunity when they buy a home through April 30, 2010. First time buyers, who haven’t owned a primary residence in the past three years, are eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of a home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000. Current homeowners, who are vacating a principle residence that they have lived in for 5 consecutive years of the past 8 are eligible for a tax credit of 10% of a home’s purchase price, up to maximum of $6,500.

The following conditions apply:

  • The tax credit is only awarded on homes purchased for $800,000, or less
  • Full tax credit is available to buyers earning up to $125,000 a year, or $225,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • Partial tax credit is available to buyers earning between $125,000 to $145,000, or for married couples earning between $225,000 to $245,000.
  • Under the rules, as long as a written binding purchase contract is in effect on April 30, 2010, the buyer has until July 1, 2010 to close.

The tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the buyers tax liability, and does not have to be paid back as long as the buyer remains in their home for three years or more. This is a once-in-a-lifetime offer to have Uncle Sam help you buy a house. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Hayden Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Post Falls Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Rathdrum Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Athol Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Bayview Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Twin Lakes Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Hayden Lake Coeur d’Alene Real Estate CDA Residential Homes