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 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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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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A bit about buying via blockchain

Posted by at 12:20 pm

Though Bitcoin still hogs most of the blockchain headlines, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of applications likely to be affected by this burgeoning technology. However, Bitcoin does provide a simple way to illustrate how many different blockchain transactions might be conducted in the future. As a publicly-accessible ledger, blockchain record-keeping is far more efficient and secure than traditional central-server transactions. When a Bitcoin sales transaction occurs, imagine the users of the blockchain as members of a large audience. The seller and buyer are on a digital “stage,” in front of thousands, or millions, of “people.” In front of all those people, the seller transfers an item to the purchaser, and the purchaser hands over the Bitcoin. Thousands of witnesses can now vouch that the buyer owns the item, and the seller received payment. Since all the...
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Lending in the gig economy

Posted by at 12:20 pm

Plans are underway at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make home loan qualification easier for people earning money in the “gig” economy. For those not familiar, the “gig” economy refers to the pursuit of flexible, freelance employment instead of full-time work on a traditional career path. In today’s ever-changing economy, finding stable, salaried positions that cover the bills isn’t always so easy. Other people simply find working as an independent contractor better fits their lifestyle. Workers in the gig economy often make similar income to salaried positions. Arguably, their income is more dependable than that of salaried employees, whose jobs are closely tied to the success of their employer and stability of their field. But in many cases, gig earnings don’t qualify as income under existing mortgage-industry guidelines. Typical mortgages tend to require W-2 forms and IRS information going...
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Accessorize your dwelling with an ADU unit

Posted by at 2:56 pm

As home prices continue to  rise, many folks are left wondering how they can afford a piece of the American dream. Some have broached the idea of sharing, but co-ownership – even among family – is a little too cozy for most. The tenancy approach is probably the easiest. That’s why many buyers today are looking for homes with potential to add “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs. ADU residences can be build-ons, re-purposed space or even a separate, free-standing unit. The main draw is practicality. ADUs provide a sense of autonomy for the renter at a lower cost, and can provide the homeowners with help paying their mortgage. The majority (62 percent) of U.S. households are made up of one or two people, while most new and existing homes are designed to accommodate three or four. Legacy housing stock is...
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Manufacturing a new real estate market

Posted by at 9:44 am

Like tiny homes, manufactured homes are emerging as a possible solution to the current housing shortage. For those with low-to-moderate incomes, who don’t want to sleep in a tiny home bed that folds out of a closet just above the kitchen sink, the manufactured home might make a more palatable choice. Previously referred to as mobile homes, manufactured houses are built in a factory, and transported to a site on a flatbed truck – not to be confused with pre-fab homes, which are transported in pieces and mostly built on-site. New manufactured homes cost a median of $73,800, or about a quarter the cost of new homes nationally, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau. That might be just the remedy for first-time home shoppers who are having trouble saving up a down payment. But regulatory restrictions on zoning and...
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Rebuilding black homeownership

Posted by at 12:10 pm

After the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, black homeownership in the U.S. increased steadily for 30 years, reaching nearly 50 percent in 2004. But those gains have all but disappeared since. The homeownership rate among African-Americans has tumbled below 43 percent in 2018, more than 20 percentage points lower than the national rate of 63.7 percent. While young people of all races are buying homes at lower rates than their parents, this is particularly true of young blacks. Fear and distrust of the system may be a motivating factor. Studies show African-Americans were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending practices in the run-up to the Housing Crisis, resulting in higher percentages of foreclosures and other adverse financial situations affecting credit. Market dynamics have made it difficult for many black households to regain a foothold. Today, only 20 percent of African...
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Shopping heats up for summer home season

Posted by at 12:42 pm

Just when you thought the housing market couldn’t get any hotter, it’s a buying frenzy as the summer season begins. Most buyers are beset with confidence in the job market, and many also carry the ticking biological desire to start families. Even with all the talk about rising prices, rising interest rates and reduced tax benefits in 2018, demand is not cooling. If anything, it appears the potential homebuyer is just becoming more rugged and resilient! According to a March survey, 40 percent of home shoppers have been looking for seven months or more, while 34 percent have been searching for four to six months. The numbers show that there is only enough inventory on the market to last 3.4 months. In a statement, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, reported: “supply is woefully low, and...
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