Nine must-dos after loan preapproval

Nine must-dos after loan preapproval

By Michele Lerner of

While it may seem obvious that you need to keep paying your bills during the period between a loan preapproval and your settlement date, some would-be borrowers neglect their finances in the excitement of shopping for a home.

"A preapproval letter is typically valid for 90 days but with the disclaimer that if anything changes with your finances it can impact your preapproval," says Patricia Napgezek, a senior loan officer with Inlanta Mortgage in Brookfield, Wis. "After 90 days, we can do a renewal letter with a recheck of your pay stubs and credit."

Read the entire article HERE.

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Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Client Satisfaction All-Stars

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Home Loans | Tagged , , , , , ,

Renters Thinking More about Owning a Home, Say Homeownership is a Top Priority

WASHINGTON (July 25, 2013) – Americans overwhelmingly believe owning a home is a good financial decision and a majority of renters say homeownership is one of their highest priorities for the future, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors®. The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that renters are thinking more about purchasing a home now than in past years, while the number of people who say they prefer to rent has declined.

“Homeownership matters to Americans who consistently realize the many benefits it provides to communities, families and the nation’s economy,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif. “Due to high housing affordability and today’s interest rates it makes sense for people to consider homeownership over renting. In fact, in many parts of the country it’s cheaper to own a home than to rent one. Therefore, it’s no surprise that renters recognize that owning a home offers tremendous long-term benefits and is an investment in their future.”

The survey, which measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities, found eight in 10 Americans believe buying a home is a good financial decision and more than two-thirds (68 percent) said now is a good time to buy a home. Since the last survey in 2011, more renters are now thinking about purchasing a home, up from 25 percent to 36 percent, while those who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31 percent to 25 percent. Half of renters say that eventually owning a home is one of their highest personal priorities, up from 42 percent to 51 percent.                                                                          

Attitudes toward the housing market have also improved over the years. Nearly four in 10 Americans (38 percent) identified an increase in activity within their local housing market in the past year, compared to just 22 percent who reported a slowdown in activity. By contrast, in 2011 some 51 percent reported a slowdown in activity. There was also less concern than in the past about the drop in home values; a majority said housing prices in their area are more expensive than a year ago.

In addition to these improved attitudes about the housing market, respondents also showed an improved outlook about the national economy. Just under half (48 percent) said job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, down from 61 percent in 2011. The concern over foreclosures showed a steep decline from 2011 when 47 percent characterized distressed properties as “very” or a “fairly big problem”; today only 29 percent say it’s a problem.

For many Americans, the perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained unchanged over the years; low wages, student loan debt, and little savings for a down payment and closing costs continue to make it difficult for many to become homeowners. Respondents across the board – young and old, college graduates and non-graduates – consider student loan debt to be a large obstacle.

“Student loan debt is a concern for many consumers in today’s market, especially first-time buyers,” said Thomas. “Buyers with student loan debt may find it difficult to access mortgage credit, as well as save for a down payment. Pending mortgage finance regulations requiring higher down payments could also contribute to the already tight lending environment. Realtors® are working with regulators to address this issue and are committed to making sure those who are willing and able to own a home have the opportunity to pursue that dream.”

When asked for reasons why homeownership is important, respondents’ top reasons underscored basic American values and freedoms; they were building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and the freedom to choose where to live. While these reasons have remained virtually unchanged since 2011, they do vary slightly according to demographics. The top scoring reason for African-Americans and Hispanics was that homeownership provides stability and a safe environment; women also placed more emphasis on environmental factors than men. Non-college graduates placed stronger emphasis on public schools, owning a home before retirement, and living in a safe and stable environment.

The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program, which aims to position, educate and help Realtors® promote housing opportunities in their community, in both the rental and homeownership sectors of the market. The telephone survey polled 2,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm
Steve Hill | Category: First Time Home Buyers | Tagged , , , ,

Housing market heats up — and it’s just getting started

If you tried to buy a home in Phoenix a year ago, you probably would have been able to land it for well under the asking price.

Those days are gone. In a city that was hit hard after the housing bubble burst in 2007, you’re more likely to encounter a bidding war for that split-level ranch on the cul-de-sac you had your eye on.

Prices have leapt 20 percent in the last year in Phoenix. Real estate agent Tucker Blaylock says they will keep rising as long as interest rates remain near historic lows, thanks to the Federal Reserve.

“You can borrow money so cheap it’s really pushing prices up,” he said. “A year or two ago, a buyer could bid 20- or 30-thousand under the list price and have a shot at getting it. Now sellers want list, or in some cases they get multiple offers and it’ll go above list price.”

It's not just Phoenix. The list of the hottest markets reads like the housing boom of the mid-2000s. In the past 12 months home prices are up 19 percent in Las Vegas. California hot spots include San Francisco (up 25 percent), San Diego (up 17 percent) and Los Angeles (up 19 percent.)

Nationwide, that momentum is dragging potential buyers off the fence, which is in turn feeding the higher prices, the experts say. Despite rising mortgage rates, demand for homes is surging with little sign of the bubble bursting anytime soon.

The latest monthly data from the widely followed Case-Shiller index showed home prices in May jumped 12.2 percent in the past year — the biggest yearly jump since March 2006 — supporting economists' views that the housing sector is one of the brightest spots for the economy.

In a handful of metro areas, housing is looking downright “bubbly,” according to Robert Shiller, co-founder of the index. “The cities that bubbled in the past are bubbling again,” he told CNBC. “To me, it’s seems partly psychological. They’ve seen it before and they’re ready for it again.”

But unlike the historic mid-2000s bubble, there are signs the latest price surge is more sustainable. One is that the mix of buyers is shifting from bottom-feeding investors to homeowners who plan to stay awhile. In Phoenix, “hot money” investors are cooling to new purchases even as prices keep rising, said Blaylock.

“It scares the guys who have been flipping stuff in the 100-to 200-thousand-dollar range that now they’ll have to pay 350,” he said.

(Read more: Home prices make biggest yearly jump since 2006)

And unlike the last bubble, mortgage lenders are much choosier when reviewing loan applications than the days when just about anyone with a pulse was approved.

Prices are also rising because the supply of homes for sale is getting tighter. Banks have shed much of their backlog of foreclosed properties. A four-year drought in home building, which is now beginning to ease, cut deeply into the supply of new homes.

One negative is that increasing mortgage rates could throw cold water on some of the hot markets. The average fixed rate on a 30-year mortgage hit 4.31 percent last week, up nearly a full percentage point since January, according to Freddie Mac.

“Once you put a five in front of it, it’s a different ballgame,” said Blaylock. “People have been so trained to this 3-5 (percent) range that five seems high.”

But so far, the home sales data indicate that home buyers are taking the relatively higher rates in stride, especially investors with a short-term horizon. New home sales rose 8.3 percent in July, as builders reported continued strong increases in foot traffic. That put the pace of June sales nearly 40 percent above the same month last year.

“Higher mortgage rates don’t appear to be denting new home sales,” said Paul Diggle, a housing economist with Capital Economics.

Video: Robert Shiller, co-founder of the Case-Shiller Index, breaks down the latest numbers on housing and which cities are "bubbling up."

That may be in part because, despite the recent jump in prices and mortgage rates, homes are still more affordable than they’ve been in decades, based on an index calculated by the National Association of Realtors. The index, which combines the impact of changes in home prices, mortgage rates and household incomes, has fallen sharply this year but still stands well above levels that typically have dampened home sales in the past.

While housing remain affordable by historical standards, the current recovery has left a large segment of U.S. households behind, including the more than 7 million whose homes were seized in the wave of foreclosures that followed the frenzy of reckless mortgage lending in the middle of the last decade.

The home ownership rate, which surged to 69.2 percent in 2004, has fallen back to 65 percent as of the second quarter, according to the latest Census data released Tuesday. The rate, now back to levels last seen in 1995, is expected to continue falling as more families move through a large backlog of pending foreclosures.

Many of those families are expected to remain renters, which has driven strong demand for new multi-family housing and strong rent increases in many markets.

To be sure, a continued rise in mortgage rates will eventually slow the climb in home sales and prices. But in the short term, the strong home price momentum is feeding on itself as buyers sitting on the sidelines fear paying higher prices by waiting.

“At least for the short term (prices) will probably continue to go up,” said Shiller. “For a flipper now who can get out in a year, it seems to me like a fairly safe bet.”

© 2013 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved

Seattle Real Estate Statistics

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Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Housing Market | Tagged , , , ,

Boomerang buyers return to market after foreclosure

Borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure during the housing bust are starting to buy again.

Since the housing bubble burst, 4.8 million borrowers have lost their homes to foreclosure, and another 2.2 million gave them up in short sales, according to RealtyTrac. While many are still struggling to recover financially, a growing number are starting to bounce back — and they are looking for a new place to call home. Read on HERE.

Check out current real estate statistics HERE,

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Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate Seattle Northwest

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm
Steve Hill | Category: Baby Boomer Home Buyers | Tagged , , , , , ,