Buying Young

Posted by at 12:12 pm

  Buyers under the age of 35 are leading the way as consumer confidence in the housing market rises near all-time highs heading into the spring of 2017. In its February installment of the National Housing Survey, Fannie Mae saw surging Millennial confidence in the housing market, even with mortgage rates seemingly poised to rise, and home prices at near-record levels. Along with more job security and increasing income, Millennial home buyers are increasingly married with children – all three legs of the home demand stool. Nearly half (49 percent) of Millennial buyers reported at least one child – up from 45 percent last year and 43 percent two years ago. As with every aspect of the marketplace, young buyers with children are the key to shaping the future of real estate. With more kids in tow, more of these...
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Unmarried couples sign cohabitation agreements

Posted by at 2:36 pm

Many couples aren’t waiting for the bonds of matrimony before entering another partnership with similar monumental responsibilities – buying a home. According to research from real estate website Zillow, 15 percent of unmarried couples between the ages of 24 and 35 are making the move to purchase a home together, up from 11 percent in 2005. Generally armed with lots of debt, but two solid incomes, the idea is to get into the housing market as soon as possible. To be sure, co-ownership can soften the financial blow. But a whole new set of problems can arise when and if couples break up. Many do. One or both parties will still be liable for the monthly mortgage payments. Unlike marriage and divorce, there is no legal process for dividing shared assets. A solution is the “cohabitation agreement,” which like a marriage “pre-nup,” protects a person’s...
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February 17th, 2017

Robot Mortgages Still Far in the Future

Posted by at 11:18 am

In another “sign of the times,” Bank of America recently began testing three mini-bank branches – two in Denver, one in Minneapolis – that have ATMs and video-conference capability, but no actual human beings working there. But much like self-checkout at the grocery store or self-serve gas, customers can still conduct banking business of almost any kind. This news comes at the same time the country’s first robotic barista – nicknamed Gordon – came on line, serving up to 120 coffee drinks an hour in a San Francisco shopping complex. Today’s home loan consumers insist on the ability to conduct financial transactions electronically, as well. They search online for the right home, then email the real estate agent. After choosing a home, a potential borrower can power through pre-qualifying in just a few minutes via texts and maybe a phone call...
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February 10th, 2017

Many home buyers seek the best schools

Posted by at 11:47 am

For many home buyers, there is no factor more important than the schools their children will attend. Not all have the desire or the wherewithal to put their kids in the finest private institutions, so they go with the next-best option – moving to the best public school districts. For many home buyers, school quality ranks far above neighborhood quality or their commute. These buyers are willing to pay higher prices— and usually, higher property taxes — to live in “better” school districts. But opting for public schools isn’t always a dollars-and-cents decision. Some have missed deadlines or been rejected by private schools. Others are turned off by the small size or cultural isolation of some private institutions. Many parents believe public schools give kids a broader-based experience, including interaction with children of different races and socioeconomic status. Real estate agents aren’t...
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Know your fire insurance

Posted by at 3:58 pm

Despite constant public education, accidents – preventable or not – will happen. And thousands of American homeowners will eventually make claims on their home insurance. While claims related to weather are the most frequent, it’s home fires that do the most damage. “Partial losses,” where the home is not destroyed, are common. Damages can be difficult to assess. Make you know your policy well, and know how to handle a claim. Call the insurance company right away, and make an appointment for their investigator/adjuster to visit as soon as possible. The adjuster is legally bound to assess any “hidden damages,” including smoke, ash and air quality. If the fire required action by fire fighters, make sure foam and water damage is assessed, as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you don’t understand. Terms like “recoverable depreciation,” or...
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Trump trumps FHA insurance premium cut

Posted by at 4:44 pm

The Donald Trump administration quickly reversed a planned cut in FHA annual premiums about an hour after the new president took the oath of office Jan. 20. Due to have taken effect Jan. 27, the planned reduction of 25 basis points was announced Jan. 9 by Julian Castro, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama. FHA loans are popular among young and modest-income home buyers because they allow down payments of as little as 3.5 percent. However, FHA borrowers must pay for mortgage insurance to guard against the possibility of default. The cut from .85 to .60 percent of the total loan would have saved the average borrower about $500 a year. Trump and his team said it was too soon to make the cuts without further investigating the effects. Some Congressional Republicans say taxpayers already face...
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January 10th, 2017

FHA lowers rates for first-time buyers

Posted by at 2:28 pm

The FHA has announced lower insurance premiums for first-time homebuyers – lowering rates by about a quarter-point to 0.60 percent of the loan balance for most borrowers. Effective Jan. 27, the cuts would bring an average annual savings of about $500, and serve as a virtual parting gift from President Barack Obama’s administration. Incoming president Donald Trump will have a narrow window after his inauguration Jan. 20 to consider whether to play Scrooge – weighing objections to lower fees against the benefits. Some Congressional Republicans argue that taxpayers already face too much risk if borrowers default. They point to 2013, when the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) fell below its mandated reserve of 2 percent in the wake of the Housing Crisis, and had to dip into the U.S. Treasury for a cash infusion of $1.7 billion. But outgoing...
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December 29th, 2016

Nurturing relationships

Posted by at 2:32 pm

It’s true that relationships of all kinds can be very delicate things. Strong, long-lasting relationships need nourishment to not only survive, but to thrive. We spend the bulk of our lives building, protecting and preserving our family and personal relationships. That effort is essential to our well-being, our growth, and our happiness. Our business relationships deserve that same degree of care. Successful working relationships are born from mutual respect, and the essence of respect is open communication. In a strong working relationship, that means asking what each party wants and then listening to what they have to say. When we share what we know, it builds a lasting legacy of success. When cooperation and teamwork are respected, each party works for the good of the whole. In turn, this strong connection leads to strong shared relationships with clients and customers...
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New construction constructs

Posted by at 10:53 am

Existing homes are a great way to add your own chapter to an ongoing story, but new construction is a way to start your own book. Whether custom-designed or built on spec in a new subdivision, you won’t have to worry about dealing with the emotional baggage of a former owner. And as the first person to live in a house, you can generally count on a lot of nice amenities – new, energy-saving appliances, efficient plumbing, lots of closet space and modern design. You don’t have to smell anyone’s old smells, see what kids scrawled on the baseboards or find any “treasures” under the house from long ago. You just have to deal with the builder. So be aware that most new home sales operations function a lot like car lots. The onsite salespeople are looking out for the...
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December 5th, 2016

New construction turns 3-Car Monty

Posted by at 12:47 pm

If home prices continue upward in 2016 and 2017, more new home buyers will be established professionals – typically in their 40s, 50s and 60s. First-time buyers, usually younger, historically made up about 30 percent of new construction purchases, but today, that number has shrunk to about 22 percent. With customers having more family members – and decidedly more stuff – builders understandably gravitate to the “bigger” home market. According to Census data, the median size of a house built in 2015 was 2,467 square feet, up from 2,169 in 2010. But apparently, that still isn’t enough. Garages are getting bigger, too! A quarter of the homes built in 2015 were equipped with three-car garages, up from 16 percent of homes in 2010, and 11 percent in 1992. Most of the three-car garage buyers either have teen driver(s) with a car, or...
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