January 11th, 2019

Saving for retirement takes careful planning

Posted by at 12:12 pm

Remember the story of the grasshopper and the ant? In times of plenty, the grasshopper played and played, while the ant stashed and stored for the hard winter ahead. When it comes to retirement, you should be thinking like an ant, not a grasshopper. In 2018, long-stagnant wages are finally on the rise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earnings are up more than 83 cents an hour year-over-year, the largest such increase since 2009. The human – and grasshopper –  response to extra money in a paycheck is an accompanying increase in personal spending. Instead, experts recommend small sacrifices today to set up a better tomorrow. While everyone has at least some degree of control over income, they have a great deal of control over spending. Top areas of compromise are: Driving older vehicles Taking fewer and less...
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A New Year’s path to homeownership

Posted by at 12:44 pm

The New Year always begins with New Year’s resolutions – with a list nearly always topped by getting fit (i.e. giving up fatty food, alcohol or smoking), getting organized or taking better care of finances. Our Bay Equity Loan Officers are experts in helping customers make a similar list of resolutions. Let us help you make it a happy New Homeowner’s Year, too. Ready to get started? Credit Check:  Good credit is key to getting a mortgage but it takes discipline and planning. First, find out what your score is. Pay bills on time, and work to improve your credit establish it independently by opening up checking/savings accounts and using credit cards carefully. How much? Figure out how much you can spend with a handy mortgage calculator. Don’t forget to consider closing costs, ongoing maintenance and insurance, too. Experts recommend...
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December 15th, 2018

HUD announces new FHA loan limits for 2019

Posted by at 2:10 pm

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is raising loan limits for most of the country in 2019. The FHA’s loan limit ceiling is increasing in more than 3,000 counties, with the loan limit in high-cost areas increasing to $726,525 from $679,650. FHA will also increase its floor to $314,827 from $294,515. Single-family forward loans are limited to 115% of median house prices, subject to a floor and a ceiling. FHA also set its maximum loan limit ‘ceiling’ for high-cost areas at 150% ($726,525) of the national conforming limit. Click here to see county-by-county limits and read the FHA letter to mortgagees...
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December 10th, 2018

The X Factor

Posted by at 10:46 am

Young homeowners who scuffled through the economic strife of the Housing Crash appear now to be reaping the spoils of their resilience. According to the Pew Research Center, Generation X (born 1965-1980) homeowners have seen their home equity nearly double since 2010.. In the same timeframe, Gen X household wealth has risen by 115 percent, surpassing 2007 levels. Baby Boomers (born 1950 to 1964) and the Silent Generation (born 1935 to 1949) have yet to recover their pre-crisis wealth levels. Members of Generation X were hit disproportionately hard by the Housing Crisis. At the time, most were in their late 20s – a sort of first-time homebuyer “sweet spot.” Credit access was running like water. They were excited at their prospects and starting to build a little equity. Just as things were looking up, several concurrent financial calamities resulted in...
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Conforming loan limits set to rise again in 2019

Posted by at 10:57 am

Due to generally rising home prices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency will increase conforming loan limits in 2019 for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s the third straight year with an increase after nearly a decade without a change. Limits will rise to $484,350 from $453,100 in all but 47 counties in the U.S., an increase of 6.9%. Loan limits will also be increasing in what the FHFA calls “high-cost areas,” where median home prices are more than 115% of the baseline cost. Most of the high-cost counties in CA, CO, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, TN, UT, VA, WA and the District of Columbia will have a ceiling of $726,525, which is 150% of $484,350. In Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the baseline loan limit will be $726,525 for one-unit properties. For a county-by-county...
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Water Floods Future Real Estate Concerns

Posted by at 10:18 am

The construction and ongoing maintenance of utilities, roads and other infrastructure is essential to meeting the growing housing need in the 21st Century. First among these needs is ensuring the availability of usable water, especially in drought-stricken parts of the Southwest and West already dealing with supply issues. In May, California became the first state in the nation to pass laws permanently limiting indoor water use: 55 gallons per person per day by 2022, gradually dropping to 50 gallons by 2030. The Department of Water Resources says it will recommend standards for outdoor use by October 2021. Water districts who fail the to meet the goals face fines of up to $10,000. Officials say they put the onus on providers to motivate cleaning up overall system problems. Estimates say up to 30 percent of urban water loss comes from supplier...
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Housing taking a peak?

Posted by at 11:02 am

After rapid acceleration for most of the past two years, home prices in many parts of the country are slowing as interest rates rise and inventory in some markets increases. Evidence that the market is cooling can be seen in price drops. In October, 31.3 percent of homes for sale had at least one price drop of more than 1 percent after listing, 6.3 percent higher than last October’s level of 25 percent. Ten years after the financial crisis, the notion of a housing “peak” – which would naturally be followed by a downturn – seems downright spooky. Is it time to start talking about a “housing bubble?” Most economists say no. Historically, price crashes are usually caused by over-supply. In contrast, the present moment is probably a simple “cycle top” – the kind of correction normal in any consumer...
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November 14th, 2018

Builders feel pinch of fewer young workers

Posted by at 9:41 am

There is a shortage of construction workers, especially in the Northeast and California. The nation lost tens of thousands of workers during the economic downturn. Even as demand has returned, the industry is having trouble replenishing its ranks. The share of workers 24 years old or younger has declined in 48 states, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. After hitting a peak of 11.7 million during the Housing Boom years, the number of construction workers fell to 10.2 million by 2016. States hit hardest by the housing bust saw the greatest decrease in younger workers between 2005 and 2010, led by Delaware, Vermont, Maryland, California and Arizona. Home construction per household has dropped to the lowest level in 60 years – a big reason why U.S. home prices are rising, and why the home ownership rate remains stuck...
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Refinancing student loan requires careful consideration

Posted by at 12:03 pm

With untapped home equity at an all-time high of $14.4 trillion, homeowners could be poised to start cashing in. One way you can do that is to roll other debt into your mortgage. In 2017, Fannie Mae added the Student Loan Cash-out refinance option. With Fannie Mae adjusting the loan level depending on risk, some borrowers may pay as little as 1 percent of the loan for this arrangement. As of 2018, student debt in the U.S. totals a staggering $1.5 trillion. For many, rolling it into their mortgage seems like a viable option. Also referred to as debt reshuffling, paying one loan with another may seem amazing – after all, you have seemingly made a big chunk of debt “disappear.” But it’s no magic trick. You still owe the money, you’ve just changed the terms. Attaching student debt to...
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October 19th, 2018

Think pickles

Posted by at 9:15 am

How does your garden grow? Well, after the uncommonly warm growing season of 2018, the answer is probably “pretty darn well.” With bountiful backyard harvests coming in faster than families can eat, many home gardeners are making up more farm-to-fork soups, pies and salads than they ever thought possible. But the onslaught continues. As the late season crops come in, this prodigious produce inevitably makes its way to the office, to church and the family reunion. At first, the people in your life may appear to appreciate it, but there’s a limit! Remember, they have their excesses too! Have you considered pickling? Pickling is an old-school, economical method for keeping fruits and vegetables out of the compost bin. The basic process is simple. First, add slices of fruits and/or vegetables to sterilized jars. Pretty much everything that grows can be...
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