What Every First Time Home Buyer Should Know About Home Loans

Home Buying 11First-time home buyers who work with us often have the same question: Should we or shouldn’t we get a first-time home buyer loan?

In fact, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages attached to this type of loan.

So today, we thought we would take a few moments to share with you what you can expect from getting this type of loan as a first-time home buyer. That way, when it comes time for your to decide how you’re going to finance your first home, you’ll have all of the information you need right at your fingertips.

First-Time Home Buyer Loans 101

A first time home buyer loan offers financial assistance to qualified buyers by utilizing a variety of methods:

  • Very low down payments or none at all
  • Subsidezed interest costs
  • Grants
  • Forgive loans
  • Defer payments

Generally speaking, the best candidates for this type of loan are home buyers who have never owned a home, although those who have not owned a home in more than three years may also qualify.

With these types of loans, certain restrictions may apply in order to qualify. Thus, it’s important to research beforehand whether you meet those restrictions.

First-time home buyers should also be aware of the specific restrictions attached to using the loan. These may or may not include:

  • Being prohibited from buying homes in higher price ranges
  • Being required to make the newly purchased home your primary residence
  • Being prohibited from renting the home to others

These types of loans are certainly great for those buyers who otherwise might not be able to purchase the home. But there are some disadvantages to this type of loan.

Some of those drawbacks include:

  • Buyers are limited to the type of home they want by price range
  • Buyers may not be eligible for certain program benefits if they sell their home before a predetermined time limit.
  • Buyers may have a limited number of loan types to choose from.
  • Buyers may have to pay for recapture taxes in exchange for benefits they receive through the program

For these reasons and more, some first-time home buyers may find it just as beneficial to get a traditional loan, although this should be considered on a case by case basis.

We’ll Help You Through Your First Home Buying Experience

Contact us today to learn even more valuable information that is sure to help you as a first-time home buyer. We are glad to offer you our expert assistance, which includes straight-forward advice and user-friendly resources.

Until next time!

Buying a Home? 4 Things You Should Know About Home Appraisals

home mortgageAs you might already know, summertime is a very busy time for real estate agents. That’s why so many home buyers decide to enter the market during this time of year.

If you too are a prospective home buyer planning to enter the market soon, then you’ve visited the right real estate blog!

Today, we’re going to share four things that every home buyer should know about appraisals.

What Are Appraisals and Why Are They Important?

An appraisal is the valuation of a property by the estimate of an authorized person.

These are particularly important for those who will be taking out a loan on their next home.

And unless you’re independently wealthy (or have been successful in building a sizeable savings account), you will more than likely end up requesting a loan.

When you ask for that loan, banks reference your home’s appraisal as a way of deciding how much to give you. That’s why appraisals are so important.

Consider this example: Let’s say you make a purchase offer on a home for $120,000. You need a loan for exactly that amount.

However, when the appraisal comes back, it says the home is worth only $100,000 – and the bank isn’t willing to give you a penny more.

This means that you’re faced with a $20,000 budget gap. And that’s enough to kill many a real estate deal.

But Don’t Worry – We Can Help!

Here is some valuable information on appraisals that may help you avoid unfortunate situations like the one above:

Appraisers must meet certain criteria first. According to the Appraisal Institute, a qualified appraiser should be licensed or certified and also should be familiar with the local area. What’s more, federal regulations stipulate that the appraiser must be impartial and have no direct or indirect interest in the transaction. Fannie Mae even requires that appraisers certify that they have experience appraising similar properties in the same area.

Appraisal values are influenced by a number of factors. For instance, appraisers will consider recent sales of similar properties as well as current market trends. They’ll also factor in such things as the home’s amenities, number of bedrooms, floor plan functionality and more.

Appraisers are required to do a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. During this time, they’re also required to note any conditions that may adversely impact the property’s value. This may include needed repairs.

Generally speaking, appraisers use Fannie Mae’s Uniform Residential Appraisal Report for single-family homes. This report asks the appraiser a number of questions, including what the home’s interior and exterior look like, what neighborhood it’s located in and what nearby comparable sales there are. Other parts of the report include: a street map showing the appraised property, an exterior building sketch, an explanation of how the square footage was calculated, and photos of the home. After providing all of this information, the appraiser offers an analysis and conclusions about the property’s value based on this information.

We’ll Help You At Every Stage of the Home Buying Process

We hope you found the above information insightful as a prospective home buyer.

Hopefully, if all goes well, the appraisal on your next home will go smoothly and you’ll be that much closer to owning your own home.

For EVERY stage of the home buying process, we want you to know that we’ll be there to assist you in order to make the experience as seamless as possible. Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide and the valuable advice and insight we can offer.

Report: US Housing Market Experienced Fantastic Gains This Spring

construction 4We just love having the opportunity to share with you good news about the US housing market and this is one of those weeks!

Evidently, according to a recent article we were reading, sales of newly built homes as well as home prices in general saw some great increases during the month of April, further demonstrating that the housing market continues to improve.

If you’re considering buying or selling real estate anytime soon, we encourage you to continue reading to learn more about this exciting development.

What You Should Know About the National Housing Market

Here is some of the most pertinent information you’ll need about the current state of the housing market:

  • New home sales increased 6.8 percent from March to April, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 517,000.
  • The median price of a new home sold in April was $297,300, up 8.3 percent from the year before.
  • Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index increased 4.1 percent in the 12 months that ended in March.
  • Supplies of existing homes remain tight and home builders are still slow to start construction on new project.
  • So far in 2015, builders have constructed just more than 1 million housing units, which is not too much different from 2014.
  • The construction pace increased some in April and actually hit the best level it’s seen since November 2007.
  • Also so far in 2015, monthly sales of new homes have average 515,000.
  • Meanwhile, new home purchases have been up 26.1 percent over the last year.
  • The housing market in April had 4.8 months of supply of new homes, although this is still short of the six months inventory that experts consider a balanced market.
  • New home sales represent about a tenth of all home purchases.
  • Historically, new home sales peaked in July 2005, when they hit an annual pace of almost 1.4 million.
  • Sales bottomed out in February 2011 at 270,0000 units.

Experts attribute steady job growth, historically low interest rates and rising rental costs and key catalysts for the recent improvements on the national housing market.

They have also noted that they believe that the US needs construction of at least 1.5 million new homes a year in order to keep up with the growing population as well as the average loss of existing stock each year because of age.

We’re Your Dedicated Real Estate Experts!

We hope you found the above data as encouraging as we did. The market definitely continues to improve month after month and the memory of the housing market crash continues to fade overtime. This is great news for everyone!

Check back here next time for more valuable information on the current state of the housing market and how it may impact your efforts as a buyer or seller.

US Housing Market Well Positioned for Busy Summer Home Buying Season

home buying 20The summer months should be quite busy for home buyers, sellers and real estate agents alike!

As we head into June, real estate analysts are saying that the national housing market is poised for a successful (and busy!) summer home buying market.

Several factors are at play, experts say, including low housing inventory, pent up demand and increasingly optimistic sellers.

One thing’s for sure: The next few months should be very interesting from a national housing market perspective!

What Every Buyer and Seller Should Know About Market Activity

According to the latest sales figures released by the National Association of Realtors, sales of previously owned homes increased in March by the most in four years.

In fact, purchases increased 6.1 percent to a 5.19 million annualized rate, which is the highest level it’s been since September 2013.

On average, homes were being purchased in 52 days on average, which is the fastest sales rate the country has seen since July.

Here are some more highlights from the latest data report:

  • The share of first-time buyers increased slightly while distressed properties made up a smaller part of the market
  • The number of homes for sale increased in March for a second month.
  • In fact, that gain was the biggest since December 2010.
  • Figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed that the group’s index of purchase applications increased in recent weeks to the highest level since June 2013.
  • The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.5 percent to 2,107.96 recently, which is within 12 points of a record high.
  • More sellers expressed confidence about buyers entering the market as the weather warms, further helping to increase the supply of properties for sale.
  • In fact, the number of existing properties for sale increased 5.3 percent to 2 million in March from a month earlier.
  • And sellers’ instincts about buyer interests appear to be spot on. For instance, 40 percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.
  • The median price of an existing home jumped 7.8 percent from March 2014 to March 2015, to $212,100. That’s the most since February 2014.
  • Meanwhile, the cost of a purchased house was 5.4 percent higher in February from the same time last year, which is tied with May 2014 for the biggest gain.
  • Purchases increased in all four U.S. regions, led by a 10.1 percent increase in the Midwest. They were up 6.9 percent in the Northeast, 6.3 percent in the West and 3.8 percent in the South.
  • Sales of single-family homes rose 5.5 percent to an annual rate of 4.59 million, which is the most it’s been since August 2013.
  • Meanwhile, closings on multifamily properties (including condominiums) increased 11.1 percent.
  • Purchases of distressed properties represented 10 percent of the total, which is down from 11 percent in February.
  • Also, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.67 percent recently. The rate was 3.59 percent in February, which was the lowest in almost two years.

One Small Concern is On the Minds of Experts

Experts did express concerns about how fast home prices were rising, which they credited in part to low housing inventory. Thus, economists said the best way to fix that is to increase the supply of homes for sale on the market.
It will be interesting to see if enough sellers enter the market in the next couple of months to temper those price increases.

We’re Your Real Estate Market Experts!

We hope you have found the information above as insightful and encouraging as we did. Seeing the national housing market recover is definitely a welcome sight!

Please check back here soon for more updates on the state of the housing market. We’re confident that having this knowledge will help you make savvier decisions as a buyer or seller.

US Pending Home Sales Rise for Third Month in a Row

home buying 18We have some excellent news to report from the national housing market: Evidently US pending home sales index increased for the third straight month in April.

This is a great testament that the national housing market is getting back on track and becoming increasingly stable.

If you’re considering entering the market anytime soon as a buyer or seller, we encourage you to continue reading to learn more about this new trend.

The Latest Outlook from the Housing Market is Positive

Let’s take a closer look at the recent report from the National Association of Realtors.

According to recent data, the pending home sales index (which is based on contract signings for purchases of previously owned homes) increased 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted level of 108.6 in March.

This is also higher than in February, when the level was 107.4.

And evidently, the increase in the home sales index is higher than many economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal thought it would be. They had expected the increase to be 1 percent.

Here are some additional highlights from the recent report:

  • When comparing March 2014 to March 2015, the index increased 11.1 percent.
  • Completed existing-home sales increased 6.1 percent in March. This increase followed two months in which the gains were lackluster.
  • And although sales of newly built single-family homes decreased from February to March, they increased almost 20 percent from the sales pace of a year ago.
  • The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.77 percent in March, which is slightly above the previous month but also down from a year earlier.
  • And pending sales of existing homes increased in the South and the West during the month of March, but decreased in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • Meanwhile, markets across the country are seeing home prices increase.

Experts believe that low housing inventory have driven prices up on existing homes. And while that has helped to close the gap in cost between newer homes (which are typically more expensive) and previously-owned homes, existing home sales still account for roughly 90 percent of the overall market.

Will These Positive Housing Market Trends Continue?

Check back with us soon to see if national real estate activity continues on this upward trend or takes a dip.

Having the most up-to-date market data is critical to ensuring a successful outcome as a buyer or seller. That’s why we hope you’ll check back here again soon for the most up-to-date information on the market possible.

5 Baby Boomer Housing Market Trends to Watch

boomersRegardless of where you live, experts are expecting that Baby Boomers will have a major impact on the local housing market.

That’s because this sizeable portion of the population is comprised of 76.4 million individuals. And many of them are expected to make major moves over the next several years as they continue to retire.

To that effect, we wanted to share with you the top 5 Baby Boomer real estate trends to watch for in the coming months and years.

The Top 5 Real Estate Trends for Baby Boomers

Although many Baby Boomers plan to move to the Sunbelt when they retire, others may be motivated by different factors.

For instance, some may be motivated by staying closer to families. Others may be looking for the least expensive place to live. Still others may be more interested in moving to a place with a high quality of life for seniors.

Thus, regardless of where you live, it’s important to consider the following Baby Boomer trends:

Boomers want to pay off their mortgage. Many Baby Boomers own their own home. They’ve been paying a mortgage for decades. Thus, one of their primary goals is going to be to finally pay off the mortgage and own their home outright. In fact, for many, paying off the mortgage is a crucial consideration before they’re willing to retire.

They want more convenience. This may look like a smaller home with less maintenance and less work, but it may not. Baby Boomers also care about living in homes that have modern appliances, energy-efficient doors and other features that will make their life easy. As such, many are also opting for one-story homes because of their bad knees, bad hips, etc.

Baby Boomers want a walkable neighborhood. They’ve already spent a lot of time in their car, what with commuting to work, taking their kids to and from hobbies, etc. So now they’re trying to get back to simpler times, where they lived just a couple of blocks from the grocery store or the local restaurant. They want to be able to access the amenities they want and need without having to always get in the car.

They want to remain on their own. In fact, according to a Merrill Lynch survey, only 10 percent of Baby Boomers say they want to move into any kind of retirement or age-restricted community. Instead, they want to stay in their own homes, in their own neighborhood nad have their own friends.

Baby Boomers want to stay close to their loved ones. This is also a high priority for residents. They not only want to be close to their children, but also their grandchildren as well. Proximity to loved ones is certainly key with this segment of the population.

We’re Your #1 Source for National Real Estate Trends

We hope you’ve learned something new after reading today’s real estate blog. The Baby Boomers will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the real estate market as they prepare for where they want to live their Golden Years.

Please check back here soon to learn about more trends that may impact your local housing market.

Signed Contracts for US Homes Increase, Report Shows.

Home contractIn the latest sign that the U.S. real estate market is improving, more Americans signed contracts to purchase homes in February than in nearly a year.

The National Association of Realtors released the data, which showed that the seasonally adjusted pending home sales index increased 3.1 percent to 106.9 in February.

That’s the highest it’s been since June 2013!

If you’re preparing to list your home anytime soon on the local housing market, we encourage you to continue reading to learn more about this trend!

US Home Sales Are On the Rise!

Here are some additional highlights from the recent National Association of Realtors report:

  • Buying activity increased in the Midwest and West during the month of February, although it actually decreased slightly in the Northeast and South.
  • Existing homes sold at an annual pace of 4.88 million in February, which is slightly below last year’s levels.
  • The supply of homes was just 4.6 months, compared to five months a year ago. It should be noted that a six month inventory is considered a balanced market.
  • Average 30-year fixed rates were 3.69 percent last week, according to the mortgage giant Freddie Mac. That was down from a 52-week high of 4.41 percent recently.
  • Home prices have increased 17 percent since the middle of 2012, which is when the market bottomed out.
  • Analysts are particularly encouraged by the recent gains because it means that the housing market was able to overcome such unforeseen and uncontrollable hurdles like freezing weather and a particularly harsh winter.

Experts say that the upturn suggests that the spring home buying season will be robust.

They added that home sales are likely to be further supported since the unemployment rate is down to 5.5 percent.

In fact, the unemployment rate is down to its lowest level in nearly seven years!  And employers have added 3.3 million jobs during the last year, including 295,000 jobs in February.

All of this is giving would-be home buyers more buying power as well as consumer confidence. This, in turn, is leading more to enter the national housing market in search of their dream home.

We’re Your #1 Real Estate Resource!

We hope you found the above information insightful as a prospective home seller.

As you can see, it really is a great time to list your property on the market.  After all, there’s plenty of pent-up home buyer demand and home sales activity appears to be picking up.

Please check back here soon for more valuable insight on that national housing market and how it may impact you.  We’d be happy to offer our expert insight in order to help you enjoy a successful outcome as a home seller!

Report: US Home Prices See Gains in February

home pricesThe national housing market continues to show gains, with home prices rising year-over-year during the month of February.

This is fantastic news as it shows that the U.S. real estate market continues to rebound from the Great Recession.

If you’re considering listing your home anytime soon, please continue reading to learn more about current national housing market trends.

A Closer Look at Recent US Sales Activity

CoreLogic released its February 2015 CoreLogic Home Price Index and the conclusions are favorable for home sellers.

Here are some of the highlights of that report:

  • US home prices (including distressed sales) increased by 5.6 percent in February 2015 compared to February 2014.
  • That increase marks three years of consecutive year-over-year increases in national home prices.
  • Month-over-month, national home prices (including distressed sales) increased 1.1 percent in February 2015 compared to January 2015.
  • 26 states and Washington DC were at or within 10 percent of their peak prices during the month of February.
  • Six states, including Colorado (+9.8 percent), New York (+8.2 percent), North Dakota (+7.7 percent), Texas (+8.5 percent), Wyoming (+8.4 percent) and Oklahoma (+5.2 percent), marked new home price highs since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI began.
  • When you exclude distressed sales, home prices increased by 5.8 percent in February 2015 compared to February 2014.
  • And home prices increased by 1.5 percent month over month compared to January 2015.

Certain states stood out for various achievements during the month of February:

  • If you include distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+9.8 percent), South Carolina (+9.3), Michigan (+8.5 percent), Texas (+8.5 percent) and Wyoming (+8.4 percent).
  • If you exclude distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+9.7 percent), New York (+9.2 percent), Colorado (+9 percent), Texas (+7.9 percent) and Florida (+7.8 percent).
  • If you include distressed sales, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2015) was -12.2 percent. If you exclude distressed sales, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -7.8 percent.
  • If you include distressed sales, only Connecticut had a decline in home prices, with a 0.9 percent decrease.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-35.4 percent), Florida (-32.4 percent), Rhode Island (-29.6 percent), Arizona (-28.4 percent) and Connecticut (-24.7 percent).
  • If you include distressed sales, the U.S. saw 36 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
  • 92 of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population had year-over-year increases in January 2015.
  • Those core based statistical areas that saw year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT; New Orleans-Metairie, LA; Rochester, NY; Worcester, MA-CT.; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; and New Haven-Milford, CT.

Based on recent market data and projections, the CoreLogic HPI Forecast suggests that home prices, including distressed sales, will increase by 0.6 percent month over month from February 2015 to March 2015 and on a year-over-year basis by 5.1 percent from February 2015 to February 2016.

If you exclude distressed sales, home prices are expected to increase by 0.5 percent month over month from February 2015 to March 2015 and by 4.8 percent year over year from February 2015 to February 2016.

How Can We Help You With Your Next US Home Sale?

If you’re interested in entering the market anytime soon as a home seller, please make sure to contact us.

We would be happy to assist you by further analyzing recent market activity to see how it may affect your specific efforts as a home seller.

Shop Smart for Your Dream Home During the Spring Buying Season

Home Buying 14This is the time of year that has home buyers and home sellers alike excited: The Spring Home Buying Season!

For buyers, it’s a great time to purchase a home because the school year is coming to an end and residents have all summer to move before it’s back in session. For sellers, it’s a great chance to reach a lot of home buyers as they navigate the market searching for their dream home.

In preparation for the spring home buying season, we wanted to share with you some tips on how you can shop smart as a home buyer. Enjoy!

4 Home Buying Tips for the Spring Market

Don’t just rely on the Internet for your home searches. While you can certainly find a treasure trove of information on the Internet, it’s not the only way to find your dream home. In addition to searching real estate websites, you might consider also getting out and canvassing homes for sale the old fashioned way. After all, Internet pictures and listing information only tell part of the story. For full context, you need to view the home in person. And don’t hesitate, either! This year’s spring home buying market is expected to be particularly competitive and so you want to make sure you get to that home before other buyers do.

Learn about current market values in trend. Obviously, every market is going to be slightly different and so it behooves you to lean about your local housing markets specific trends. Let’s consider the recent Case-Shiller 2014 home price index, which shows you how much of a difference there can be among major markets. In that report, San Francisco saw the largest annual regional gain at 9.3 percent. Meanwhile, other major markets like New York, Chicago and Washington DC saw less than 2 percent. A qualified and experienced agent can talk with you about current trends and how they impact you.

Lock in low mortgage rates now. Those near-historic lows won’t be around forever. Thus, make sure you get a good mortgage rate now. By doing so, you ensure that your monthly mortgage will be reasonable for you. And in some cases, you may qualify for a larger or more expensive home thanks to low mortgage rates. Here’s another reason to get a mortgage now: In January, the Federal Housing Authority (which backs loans for borrowers who make low down payments), lowered the annual insurance premium it requires from 1.35 percent of a home loan to just 0.85 percent. All told, the Housing Department estimates that will save FHA homeowners roughly $900 a year.

Keep “Sweeten-the-Deals” Strategies in Your Back Pocket. As previously mentioned, this is going to be a competitive spring home buying season. In other words, you may face a bidding war. So to prepare, consider ways that you can sway the seller in your favor. This might include an escalation card, which is the amount that you’d automatically be willing to pay above a competing bid. You might also consider foregoing certain contingency clauses. Contingencies are stipulations that allow buyers to get out of contracts. These include appraisals, home inspections and financing contingencies. By removing such contingencies, you’re likely to impress the home seller enough to want to accept your offer.

We Are Your #1 Resource for Home Buying Tips

We hope you found the above information helpful as a prospective home buyer. Please make sure to check back here soon for even more tips that will help you as you navigate the market!

Have a great day!

The National Real Estate Market Shows Positive Signs of Growth

Home Selling 8Things are certainly looking up on the national real estate market! According to a recent report from the national Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices increased during the month of January despite cooling home sales.

Experts believe that a tightening inventory helped to spur the rise in home prices.

This is important information for home sellers as it will help determine their home selling strategy on the local housing market. So continue reading to learn more!

What National Home Sellers Should Know About the Market

Here are the highlights of the most recent report from Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index:

  • National home prices increased 4.6 percent year over year in December, bolstered by increased of 9.3 percent in San Francisco and 8.4 percent in Miami.
  • Home prices in Chicago increased 1.3 percent year-over-year while Cleveland and Washington saw price gains of 1.5 percent.
  • Here are some additional cities mentioned in the report, including their year-over-year index change:

Atlanta: 5.1
Boston: 3.8
Chicago: 1.3
Cleveland: 1.5
Dallas: 7.5
Denver: 8.1
Detroit: 2.8
Las Vegas: 6.9
Los Angeles: 5.5
Miami: 8.4
New York: 1.9
San Francisco: 9.3
Washington: 1.5

  • Meanwhile, experts described how regional housing indicators in the south and west were generally positive while the harsh winter continued to hold back home sales in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • Specifically, existing home sales in the West dropped 7.1 percent in the month of January, according to National Association of Realtors’ data released Monday.
  • Meanwhile, national home sales decreased 4.9 percent month over month.
  • Sales in the Northeast dropped 6 percent month over month, while declining 4.6 percent in the South and 2.7 percent in the Midwest.
  • Home sales were, however, up year over year in all four regions in January.

How Can We Help Make Your Real Estate Dreams a Reality as a Seller?

Please contact us for more valuable insight on the current state of the national housing market and how it may benefit you as a home seller. We would love to assist you!

And make sure to check back here next time for even more information that will aid you in your real estate endeavors!