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Good News! Existing Home Sales Up And FHFA Home Prices Rise

Good News! Existing Home Sales FHFA Home Prices RiseAfter months of reports of slowing home price momentum and forecasts of a lagging housing market, we are pleased to report an increased volume of existing home sales as reported by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported rising prices for homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. Here are the details.

Pedal to the Metal: Existing Home Sales Achieve Fastest Rate in a Year

September sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million sales against expectations of 5.10 million sales and August’s reading of 5.05 million sales.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that the national reading for sales of previously owned homes rose by 2.40 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million sales.

Analysts had expected September’s reading for existing home sales to reach 5.10 million based on August’s reading of 5.05 million existing homes sold.

Three of four regions posted month-to-month gains in existing home sales for September; only the Midwest showed a decline. Overall, September’s sales pace for existing homes was 1.70 percent lower year-over-year.

Steady home prices and lower mortgage rates contributed to a higher pace of existing home sales, but obstacles remain. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® said that September’s reading for existing home sales reflected ongoing economic uncertainty; he said that labor markets will need to strengthen in order to maintain the pace of existing home sales.

Mr. Yun also said that restoration of more “normal” lending standards would allow more first-time and moderate income buyers to qualify for mortgage loans and could potentially increase home sales by 10 percent.

FHFA: Home Prices Rise, Mortgage Credit Standards May Ease

FHFA reported that home prices of properties connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose by 0.5 percent in August as compared to a month-to-month revised increase of 0.20 percent in July. August’s reading represents a year-over-year increase of 4.80 percent as compared to July’s year-over-year increase of 4.60 percent.

In related news, FHFA Director Mel Watt hinted at some welcome news during a meeting on October 21 in Las Vegas.

Strict mortgage requirements are frequently cited as a cause of lukewarm home sales, but there is some hope that mortgage credit requirements may return to pre-housing bubble standards. Mr. Watt said that the agency is working on relaxing certain rules affecting how and when mortgage lenders are required to repurchase loans that they’ve sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

These changes are designed to clarify FHFA regulations and to narrow the criteria for when repurchasing loans is required. Lenders have been using strict mortgage approval standards as a protection against Fannie and Freddie requests to repurchase loans categorized as “early defaults.”

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Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding a Family-friendly Community to Buy Your New Home In

Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding a Family-friendly Community to Buy Your New Home InIf you’re moving to a new city with children, one of your likely considerations is finding a family-friendly community where you can settle in and call home.

In this post we’ll share a handful of tips that you may find helpful if you’re searching for a family-friendly neighborhood in a new city.

Check Out The Quality Of Local Schools

Schools are one of the cornerstones of a community and high-quality schools are a sign that a community is suitable for your family. When you’ve made your short list of communities that you are considering, take some time to research the local elementary or high schools to see how they stack up against other schools in the surrounding area.

You may also want to connect with the school’s principal or dean to ask about the environment and whether or not it would be suitable for your children.

Look Around For Local Churches And Other Community Groups

Great communities are those which are filled with engaged citizens who are actively working to better the area for everyone. When you drive through a community that you’re considering, look around to see if there are churches and other groups that get local residents together on a regular basis.

You may find that these groups make for an excellent welcoming committee who can introduce you to the area and help to get your family settled.

Parks And Other Gathering Spaces Are A Good Sign

Another excellent way to determine if a community is suitable for raising a family is the number of nearby parks and public gathering spaces. You’ll want to ensure that your children have a nice area to run around and play with your family pet, or that you have a nice park in which to have the occasional picnic lunch to spend some quality time together.

When In Doubt: Ask The Locals

If you’re visiting a community or touring through homes, spend some time talking to the locals to hear their thoughts and opinions on how family-friendly the local area is. If you haven’t yet, you should also connect with a local real estate agent who can share the ups and downs of the community you’re thinking about moving to.

Follow these tips and trust your instincts, and you’ll be able to find a great new community that makes a perfect home for your family.

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Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms With

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms WithBuying a home is one of the most exciting times that an individual will undertake in life. However, a property purchase is not without its challenges, and these can cause frustration. In this article we’ll share five potential setbacks that home buyers will need to understand and come to terms with to make a successful purchase.

Homeowner’s Insurance is Necessary

Most lenders will require insurance before financing is approved. To fulfill these requirements, the policy should be for at least one year and proof that the policy has been paid for must be presented. Purchasing the policy is something that must be done before closing can take place, so if you’re sure that this is the home for you, don’t delay.

Some Sellers Are Firm, No Matter What

In an ideal situation, the buyer and the seller come to a mutual agreement very easily. However, in most cases negotiation of some type is likely to be a part of the process. As with most negotiations, to reach success both sides will need to compromise.

Probate Properties Have Special Terms

When the original homeowner has died, there are certain considerations to keep in mind that do not typically apply to other types of property. One is the fact that there is a special process that must be completed before the property can be sold, even though the heirs may advertise the property as being for sale ahead of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that a recently probated property may have been uninhabited for some time and will be sold ‘as is’.

Loan Offers May Not Be Set in Stone

A common pitfall for many buyers is the assumption that home financing will be approved without issue. Unexpected circumstances may arise that cause a mortgage loan to be denied, which can cause an unprepared buyer numerous issues. Many sellers, in anticipation of such problems, have a contingency requirement.

Expect Caution from Sellers

If a seller treats your offer with caution or trepidation, don’t take it personally. Many homeowners have been burned during previous sales, and you have no idea what the seller has been through with potential buyers this time around. If someone is exercising caution, there’s likely a good reason for it.

In closing, remember that the best way to purchase a home is through a real estate agent. When you’re ready to jump into the property market, contact a trusted local agent and they’ll be ready to assist.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Aug 11, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 11 2014

Last week’s housing related news was minimal, but a Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers revealed that although credit standards for commercial and industrial loans as well as credit cards are easing, current mortgage credit standards are more stringent than in 2005. This could be a contributing factor to slowing housing market gains while other sectors of the economy are recovering at a faster pace.

Qualified Mortgage Rules Impact Non-Conforming Mortgages

The Senior Loan Officers survey also noted that qualified mortgage rules have slowed approval of prime jumbo mortgages and non-traditional home loans. This suggests that applicants falling outside of stringent qualified mortgage rules can expect challenges when buying or refinancing their homes.

In other housing news, Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that last week’s mortgage rates were mixed. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent against last week’s reading of 4.12 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 3.27 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. This was an increase of four basis points, although discount points fell from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 2.98 percent, a drop of two basis points, with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Fewer Jobless Claims, Service-Related Business Growth Exceeds Expectations 

The weekly Jobless Claims report brought a lower than expected reading of 289,000 new claims as compared to predictions of 305,000 new jobless claims. In other economic news, the Institute for Service Management (ISM) reported that its non-manufacturing index rose from June’s reading of 56.00 percent to 58.70 percent in July. Analysts had forecasted July’s reading at 56.50 percent. July’s reading represented the highest growth rate for service-related businesses since 2005.

According to the Department of Commerce, June factory orders rose by 1.10 percent over May’s reading of -0.60 percent against an expected reading of 0.60 percent. As business expands and factory orders increase, it’s likely that jobs and hiring will also grow. Steady employment is a compelling factor for most home buyers and positive reports in labor and industrial sectors could boost housing markets as more buyers increase demand for homes.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include retail sales, retail sales excluding automotive, industrial production and the weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. While there isn’t much housing news expected next week, readings in other economic sectors can suggest potential trends in housing markets

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Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or Condo

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or CondoBuying a home is a huge step for people who are ready to make an investment in their future. Getting a great deal on a home is just as important and knowing how much to offer could be confusing. It is important to make sure the home seller is not insulted by the lowball offer and is ready to negotiate to make sure everyone wins.

Make a List of Necessary Improvements

One of the best ways to validate a lowball offer on a home is to list improvements that need to be made to the property. If the home needs a new roof or a new heating and air conditioning system, these are reasons to offer less than the asking price. Sometimes a home may also need new flooring, paint, or matching appliances which all cost money. The buyer can make a lowball offer stating additional expenses of making sure the home is move in ready.

Explain Any Issues with the Location

Another option when considering a lowball offer is to point out problems with the location. If the home is on a busy street or close to a manufacturing district, the buyer has legitimate concerns. In the offer, list the potential problems of living too close to fast food restaurants, train tracks, or airports. A less desirable location could equal a great buy on a new home.

Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area

A knowledgeable real estate agent can help compare homes that have sold in the area. When you are writing up a lowball offer, look at the lower priced homes that have sold in the same neighborhood. A seller will quickly realize that if he wants to sell the home, he will need to accept a reasonable offer or risk letting his house sit on the market for weeks or months.

Consider the Seller’s Reasons for Selling

Finally, the seller’s situation can also be key in getting a good deal on a home. If the seller is desperate to sell because of a job relocation or if he has already bought a new home this can be the perfect reason to make a low offer and take the home off the seller’s hands. Without insulting the seller, the buyer can make an offer for less than the asking price and agree to a quick closing.

Buying a home can be stressful and getting a good deal on the property without insulting the seller can take some negotiating. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent will make the experience more enjoyable. Call today to make your dreams come true.

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3 Reasons Why Changing Your Kitchen And Dining Room Lighting Fixtures Can Increase Your Sale Price

3 Reasons Why Changing Your Kitchen And Dining Room Lighting Fixtures Can Increase Your Sale PriceIf you are considering selling your home, you may be wondering if there are things that you can do to increase your sale price. The truth is, you could spend thousands of dollars updating your home, but most homeowners will not want to put in such a large investment without knowing how much it will add to the selling price. Fortunately, there are more affordable things that can be done.

One affordable change to your home that can increase your sale price is to change your kitchen and dining room lighting fixtures. There are a number of reasons why this can work. Here are three of them:

Buyers are Looking for Entertainment Areas in New Homes

One reason that changing your kitchen and dining room lighting fixtures can increase your sale price is because buyers are looking for areas where they can entertain. Most people who are looking for a new home will be thinking about the things they can do with the home, and one of these things is entertaining their friends and family.

Buyers are willing to pay more on homes that have these nicely decorated areas, so updating your kitchen and dining room lighting can help to bring in a bit more money.

The Kitchen and Dining Room are the Center of Family Life

Another reason that people will pay more on a home with new lighting fixtures is because the kitchen and dining room are seen as the center of family life. In this scenario, buyers know that they will be spending a lot of time in these rooms and thus, want to be sure that these areas are nicely decorated.

New Kitchen and Dining Room Light Fixtures Will Brighten Up the Home

Finally, you will want to update the lighting fixtures in your kitchen and dining room because new fixtures can brighten up your home. You might have heard real estate agents talk about how important it is to have bright lights and open window shades during open houses since it can make your home look better. New, brighter lights can also help your rooms look bigger. Sometimes it will all come down to an optical illusion.

For more information on adding new lighting fixtures to your kitchen and dining room in order to increase sales, contact a local real estate professional. They will be able to give you some tips on these rooms and offer information on how you can spruce up the rest of your home before putting it on the market.

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DIY Home Improvement: How to Spice Up That Boring Basement by Adding a New Bar

DIY Home Improvement: How to Spice Up That Boring Basement by Adding a New BarIf you live in a home with a basement, you may have already started finishing it, or you may have big plans to convert the space into something more usable and practical. When it comes to basement renovations, few projects add as much value and opportunity for entertainment as adding in a basement bar.

A bar is an easy home improvement project to complete, and you can use it for entertaining family and friends. Here’s a quick guide to installing a bar in your basement and turning that dank, dreary room into a great space for making new memories.

Preparing For The Bar Addition

First, you need to select the space that is best-suited for the bar. The ideal space will be an open area near the corner of the room or even near an entryway. The space should allow for seating for at least two or three bars stools, but you may desire a larger bar area.

Most bar areas will have water and electricity features, and it will be easier and less expensive if you choose an area of the room that has these services running through the walls. If water and electricity are easily accessible, you simply have to build a wall and add a counter top to the area. If you cannot complete this work on your own, you can hire a contractor for assistance.

Hiring Contractors For Special Tasks

A fully functional bar area may have overhead cabinetry for storage as well as a small sink to rinse out glasses and to wash hands. In addition, it may have electricity for lighting mounted under the cabinets or for display lights over the seating areas.

While some individuals may have the skills to complete this work on their own, you may consider outsourcing these special tasks to a contractor. This will ensure that the work is completed to code, and it also means the work might be completed sooner than if you tried to do it yourself.

Once you’ve built the bar and hooked up the water and electricity, you simply have to add a few bar stools, stock up on glasses and liquor, and start enjoying the space. A new bar addition will be a welcome feature in your home’s basement, and you can easily get started working on this project today. For more fun and trendy basement renovation ideas, contact a real estate professional in your community today.

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Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every Time

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every TimeHomeowners who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments can make it easier on themselves by cutting costs in other areas. Learning how to budget effectively will likely enable homeowners to pay their mortgage payments on-time, every time. Here are five of the best budget tips:

Conserve Energy

It is advisable to be mindful of energy use in order to keep utility bills down to a minimum. Lights, televisions and other devices requiring electrical power are best to leave off in unoccupied rooms. It is also a good idea to make sure that windows and doors are properly sealed so that energy is not wasted.

Stay Committed to Couponing

All too often, coupons that arrive in newspapers or through emails are quickly discarded. Collecting coupons from various sources can give homeowners the chance to save big on groceries, entertainment and other everyday purchases. Some of the savviest consumers have been known to spend practically nothing on their purchases by simply staying committed to the art of couponing.

Watch Credit Card Usage

Having a credit card often creates a false sense of financial security. Many card holders are tempted to charge their credit cards up to their limits only to be burdened with high interest rates and inflated minimum payments. Credit cards are best to use only in times of emergencies.

Consider Alternative Transportation Methods

Fuel costs, auto repairs and other expenses associated with driving a vehicle on a frequent basis can make it much harder for homeowners to stay on top of their mortgage payments. People who have access to adequate public transportation may be able to significantly reduce their commute costs. Car sharing services give people the opportunity to use a car on an as-needed basis and often prove to be a smarter alternative to owning a vehicle.

Keep Expense Records

It can also be easier to set money aside for mortgage payments if expenses are carefully monitored with a detailed eye. It is best to closely scrutinize receipts, bank statements and other financial documents for any discrepancies. Keeping track of expenses on a spreadsheet so that all financial information is clearly displayed may be another practical idea.

Smart budgeting practices can help homeowners save the extra money they need to pay their monthly mortgage payments before each due date passes.

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Former Smoker? A Quick Guide on Getting Rid of Smoke Smells and Paint Stains Before a Home Sale

Former Smoker? A Quick Guide on Getting Rid of Smoke Smells and Paint Stains Before a Home SaleAs exciting as selling a home should be, there’s no denying that it can be a stressful endeavor for those interested in making their home an attractive option for buyers. Nowhere is this more evident than for homeowners who were former smokers.

While it’s truly commendable to quit smoking, removing the smell of smoke from a home can feel like an impossible task. With that in mind, here are some of the most effective ways to make smoke smell and paint stain removal as effortless as possible.

Make Preparations Beforehand

Cigarette smoke has a nasty habit of permeating through every facet of a home. As such, it can be difficult to pinpoint the areas that are most problematic. Before starting the cleaning process, open all of the doors and windows throughout the home to help it air out naturally.

It’s also worth mentioning that many longtime smokers have difficulty picking up the odor that they’ve become accustomed to. If you know someone that isn’t a smoker, invite them over and ask them to point out any problem areas.

Treat Your Home Like a Quarantine Zone

Unfortunately, a home that is infested with smoke can create a cyclical effect on anything that is washed. If you want your clothing and linens to stop carrying the smell, you’ll need an alternative to your own washer and dryer. Of course, you’ll also need to keep them away from your home for the remaining duration of the cleaning process.

In particular, carpets have a habit of retaining smoke smells long after you’ve quit. With this in mind, taking care of any carpets or curtains in your home should be a top priority.

Account For Deeper Problems

Once you’ve given your home a steam cleaning treatment and washed all of the stained surfaces down with a mixture of water and bleach, you may still discover that some areas of the house are still affected. At this point, it’s time to simply accept your losses and purchase a replacement. A nice smelling home will be far more attractive to buyers than one that inexplicably reeks of smoke.

If you’re unsure of any further steps to take in preparing your home for a sale, don’t hesitate to contact your real estate agent and request more information. Your home deserves a high price for all of the effort you’ve put into cleaning it.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Aug 4, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 4 2014Last week’s economic news included a number of housing related reports. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent in June. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May noted that home prices are growing at a slower rate of 9.30 percent year-over-year than April’s year-over-year growth rate of 10.80 percent. Construction spending was also lower in June.

The Fed’s FOMC statement indicated that asset purchases connected to quantitative easing will cease in October, but that the current target federal funds rate is expected to stay in place “a considerable period” after asset purchases conclude. FOMC noted its concern over housing markets, which was based on slower home price growth and market activity.

Pending Home Sales, Home Price Growth Slower

Pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent nationwide in June. This was the first decrease in four months. Pending home sales rose by 1.10 percent in the Midwest and 0.20 percent in the West, but dropped by 2.90 percent in the Northeast and 2.40 percent in the South. Pending sales are measured by signed purchase contracts and provide an indicator of future completed sales and mortgage loan activity.

The 20-city Case-Shiller Home Price Index for May fell by 1.50 percent to a year-over-year reading of 9.30 percent from April’s 10.80 percent. No cities in the 20-city index reported declining home prices.

Construction spending fell by 1.80 percent in June against projections of an 0.30 percent increase in spending and May’s reading of an 0.80 percent increase. Reasons cited for lower construction spending included builder focus on high-demand areas. Builders have also indicated concerns about rising mortgage rates and tight loan requirements that impact numbers of home buyers that can qualify for home loans.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, Fed Continues Wind-Down of Asset Purchases

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates were little changed last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.12 percent as compared to 4.13 percent the prior week. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by three basis points to 3.23 percent with discount points higher by 10 basis points at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 2.38 percent with average discount points of 0.40 percent unchanged.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve issued its customary post-meeting statement on Wednesday. The FOMC plans to continue reducing asset purchase under the current quantitative easing program until the purchases cease in October. Although some analysts were concerned that the Fed may consider raising its target federal funds rate based on lower than expected unemployment figures, the FOMC said it doesn’t plan to raise the target federal funds “for a considerable time” after the QE purchases cease, but no specific timeline was given.

Labor Sector News

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Labor Statistics posted a national unemployment rate of 6.20 percent for July, which was higher than expectations of a 6.00 percent national unemployment rate and June’s reading of 6.10 percent. To put these readings in perspective, the Fed had established an unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a benchmark for winding down its asset purchases and potentially raising the target federal funds rate.

Non-farm payrolls reported 209,000 jobs added in July against projections of 235,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 298,000 jobs added. While July’s reading was lower, analysts said that job growth suggests ongoing recovery for labor markets. Labor markets have been cited in recent months as reasons for slower demand for homes and home builder skepticism.

Next week’s scheduled economic news contains no housing-related reports other than Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report.

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