I’m not one who just takes recent economic news as gospel. But having said that, it does look like we are moving forward with a better housing market. Just take a look at this recent post by Don DeZube of the National Association of Realtors. Spring Market. You have to admit its pretty positive. The increases are slight but are running ahead of last year. The office that I manage is up about 6% over last year. That includes all categories: average sale price, less time on the market, list price of homes, total volume sold and total listing volume.
If there is one problem, it’s that we do not have enough good salable properties on the market. The buyer demand is there and we find ourselves in multiple offer situations. The sellers are happy but the buyers are not. One cause for the shortage certainly can be attributed in part to thousands of properties still”underwater”, that is, the owners owe more than the house is worth. Banks are slow in approving possible short sales. Also the Feds have not extended the “debt forgiveness ” provision that allowed sellers to escape the tax consequences of such a sale. There is also some implication that lenders are holding back millions of stalled foreclosures from the market in the hope that rising prices will allow the lenders to recoup a larger return of dollars at the “Sheriff Sale”. Who knows…Plus under the new QM rules (Qualified Mortgage), underwriting guidelines are making it much harder for the average home purchaser to qualify for a mortgage.
Lenders are trying to address the above issues by loosing up certain underwriting criteria. Credit scores of 620 and in some cases 550 will get you into a home. The fact that mortgage applications for all types of loans are off in some cases 60% from last year might be one reason that lenders are looking for business with less than a truant officer’s mentality. If they don’t lend it, they are not going to make it. Not rocket science.
Here is an explanation to help you better understand the “QM” rules.
One last thing that I have mentioned several times. If you are in financial trouble, wondering about whether you can stay in your home because you are behind in your mortgage, are considering bankruptcy or in a reverse mortgage and you have any questions, please give me a call. Don’t do anything drastic until you have a chance to talk to a professional. I can recommend several that can help. Call me at 6107372310. No obligation.
I don’t have a clue. Used to be able to gauge the housing market by what’s going on in the Stock Market.
I gave up on that comparison a long time ago. To me it makes absolutely no sense. How can a barometer of the economy change so fast. I mean really, up 200 points one day, down 225 the next. I saw a pundit on a business show the other day that said traders are now using computer programs that make changes in a nano second. How is that possible? They buy, sell and set the tone for the market before you or I even have a chance to act before our first cup of coffee. Crazy…. There is a thing called “Penny Stocks”. Companies that are looking for money and issue stocks that are worth literally less than a penny a share. Okay…… I’ll buy a hundred shares for a dollar? Still sounds like a night at the Casinos to me. Kinda like playing the penny slot machines. Maybe I’ll hit it big and get a 1000% return.
Wall street might be a dead-end for the average family. But then there is the housing market. The great banking debacle of 2007 seems like a generation ago. Mention to a millennial that their grandparents actually had double-digit interest rates when they bought their first house, they look at you like you have two heads. But it’s 2014 and there is a zero point 30 year fixed rate at 4.875%. Pretty good. The values of homes are rising again and home owners are looking at increased equity. Buyers are coming out of hibernation but are still a little unsure of how to go about that purchase. One thing that is a must, is that both buyers and sellers have to be reasonable in negotiating.
Credit is still a concern but there are programs to address the buyer with as little as 580 credit score. How can that be? I have always said that there are only a few ways that banks can make money. The main way is to lend it. The refinance boom is over for lenders. That means they have to go after purchasers of homes who need mortgages. Now is a great time to be a buyer and negotiate with a lender for a great rate. For a really concise explanation of the current market and what you might need for a down payment and minimum credit scores for potential buyers, listen to this podcast.
There is no getting away from the financial trauma we all experienced over the last several years, but the housing market is coming back and there is no better investment for the average family. The volatility of the stock market is something that a lot of us just don’t want to risk, at least not right now. There’s something about an”Inverted Yield Curve” that leaves me wondering what it all means. Call me for housing info at 6107372310. Or email me at my new email address firstname.lastname@example.org
I think you know what I mean. Its inevitable. But I guess I anticipate the tax portion of this phrase with utmost dread every year. April 15, or some day real close when the government comes a calling and tells me to pay up. God I hate it. and I always pay. Oh I know what some you are thinking… you always get money back. How come I don’t. Well because I basically don’t want to give the government the use of my money interest free all year-long. That what it is. They take it out of my paycheck send it in and then those spend happy bureaucrats use it all year-long without so much as a thank you let alone any interest on it. Where’s the fairness in that?
No, I’ll take my chances in taking as many exemptions as I can to get as much cash as I can in my paycheck. I’ll pay up once a year and the penalty. But in the meantime I am using the money for me and my family. But ideally I should zero out, no refund, no penalty. I’m working on that.
But regardless,you can’t escape. But the good news is, if you are a home owner and borrowed money to purchase the home ,the mortgage interest is deductible. That, along with any property taxes that you pay. Pray to God that our leaders in Washington stop trying to eliminate these deductions from the average homeowner. That fact that we are almost 18 trillion dollars in debt as a country, leaves little doubt that they will continue to come up with creative waves of separating you from your hard-earned money.
It really is a war. Us fighting to keep it, and them fighting to take it. And even death won’t free you from the tax man. Your federal estate is taxable over 5.4 million dollars and in some states like Pa. the inheritance tax can be as high as 20%.
Because of the terrible economic situation that has occurred since the crash of 2007-2008, many folks have found themselves owing money to the Federal government when they thought they were out of the woods and on the way back to stability. Let me give you some examples.
1. Selling your home short. This is where you received the okay from your lender to sell your home for less than what you owe. Up until the end of 2013, there was no income tax due on debt forgiveness by a lender for an owner occupied single family home. This exclusion expired at the end of 2013 and Congress has shown no interest in extending this provision. So if you sell underwater in 2014 you may owe a big fat tax bill to Uncle Sam. The only way to escape this is to file Bankruptcy or be declared “Insolvent” by the IRS. There is a difference. Talk to a lawyer and an accountant about these alternatives.
2. Forgiveness on credit card debt. This is similar to the above scenario except there has never been an exclusion. I have met several folks who have worked long and hard to rearrange credit card debt only to receive a 1099 C from the credit card company indicating that the debt is forgiven but now report it to the IRS as income.
It really is a shame that folks are trying hard to work out some equitable solution to pay their bills and find out that the hole is some cases is deeper.
Because of situations I mentioned, it is getting harder and harder to reestablish oneself for the possible purchase of a home, let alone pay off debt. But there is hope. Did you know that you can buy a house and get a mortgage after a discharged bankruptcy. Also if you lost a home to foreclosure, yes you can buy another house after a period of time. There are some new credit caveats for sure, but it is possible. If you are in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy your time frame is even quicker. Chapter 13 is when you are actually making payments to a creditor under court supervision.
Look, we all have problems. Some are financial, some are medical, some are emotional. But I am one of those guys that feels if you recognize your limitations and mistakes and are willing to keep on plugging for you and your family, then don’t give up the dream. That’s why I’m here, to discuss the options and give you some advice. Those experts that I can suggest you meet with will help you, not for free, but they won’t break the bank for you again.You owe it to yourself and those you love. But you have to take the initiative. Call me and get started. 6107372310. The first meeting with me is on the house. Click here for some additional 2013 tax tips.
Internet, smart phone,voice mail, email,Facebook. What do they all have in common? Heck this one is easy. They all allow so-called communication between two or more people without any overt face to face interaction. No, you can’t count Skype.You know you all have heard or seen the story, or perhaps you actually participated in the event, where two or more people are at some location, function, or event, where or at least the majority of people are transfixed on their cell phones and everyone is texting, emailing or Facebooking to someone else and are not even looking or speaking at the person next to them. By the way is Facebooking really a verb?
I’ll probably be accused of paranoia or at a minimum some old senior member of the real estate community who just doesn’t quite get it. They will say this is not the wave of the future but it is the present. It’s reality, and get on board. Well I think, notwithstanding my age, I get around pretty good in the Digital Age. I am Linked In, Facebooked, Pinned, Twittered and am blogging away. But I know from my long life in the Real Estate profession, that after searching online for their dream house, buyers want to talk to somebody for advice, they want to go out and look at the house, drive by the neighborhood, go inside, look at the carpeting, paint and room sizes. They want to smell the air inside to see if there were smokers in the house, if it smells like, cat, dog or a beauty salon. A Buyer is not going to get the “feel” for those things just looking online. And most importantly, they want to be with a professional who can provide decent council about the house. Here are some additional tips on preparing yourself before you buy. Tips
If you are a seller , can you really be objective about the house where your kids were born, or where you grew up? Maybe you really liked all of that Flock wallpaper when you lived there. Or those metal kitchen cabinets that you painted 3 times different colors over the last 20 years. And 1 and half baths were just fine for your family of 5 and you never had any problems with the 20 year stove, refrigerator or the dark walnut paneling in the family room or finished basement. You get the drift. If you are honest with your self, if you are a seller, here are some examples of things you can do to get your house ready. Click here.
I guess what I am saying that if you want to sell or buy a home and you think you can do it by yourself using only digital and social media marketing; then maybe you might want to rethink your purchasing and selling strategy. Go with an agent and touch the house, feel it, see it and ask a million questions. If your selling home sweet home, look that agent straight in the eye and make him give you no baloney answers on what you need to do to get it sold. You might have to spend a few dollars, but it might save you some eye strain staring at those digital devices. And you might make a connection with someone who will become a trusted adviser.
I am getting more geekitized the older I get. I really have become fascinated with all aspects of Social Media and the profound ramifications that it has on the practice of my business, which is selling houses and helping buyers find their dream homes. I don’t feel like I am a johnny come lately to this era but it has been a learning experience. Here are some ways that I promise I’ll stay connected with you and get results.
1. Facebook. This blog is linked to my Facebook page and will also provide us with an opportunity for a 2 way communication. I’ll try to keep the blog real estate related but I have to say I can slip out of that on occasion . I love the Military and the men and women who serve and have served. You will pick up my bias.
2. Linked In. Purported to be more of a business venue, I am glad to participate, and though the professions are diverse , they all need advice on real estate. Be glad to give you mine.
3. Twitter. 140 characters to get your point across makes a lot of sense in initiating a conversation. I have to get better at this to get my point across quickly. It will be a tease but then I hope you will contact me for an in depth analysis.
4. Pinterest. I am new to this site but I like the chance to “Pin” and also to provide pictures and video to get a real sense of visual reality of one’s opinion.
5. Google Plus. The big bad boy of internet everything. How can you not be aware of Google and ignore its power.
The fact of the matter it really has a way to go to match Facebook as far as popularity, but can’t be ignored.
There are a plethora of other contact venues but I’ll start with the above to get you to discuss what’s on your mind. I’m pretty easy. And of course I am open and eager to interact with you on any platform that you might think beneficial. In fact, please give me your recommendations. Look forward to hearing from you.
There is nothing I like to do in this world than to be with my grandkids and mess around. I also love my job in helping and advising folks on the purchase or sale of their home. I have been doing it for over 35 years. There is something about watching the excitement in the eyes of the first time home buyer or the satisfaction from a senior citizen (me by the way) when he or she is able to move on, supplement their nest egg and enjoy a nice retirement.
Well, I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon. I like working. Besides, I am not a big hobby guy. I am sure my wife Gloria would get tired of me real fast following her around like some puppy dog while she does her thing with her girlfriends. Forget it.
I gladly prognosticate on the future of the real estate market. What are you waiting for? If you are a buyer, rates are still low. Under 5%. Prices are still reasonable. But they are starting to creep up. Mortgage lenders are aggressively going after FHA and 5% down buyers. Foreclosures are down and a lot of folks are pulling out of their underwater status. And they have to sell.
Now all this doesn’t mean we will have the free for all that we had in the early 2000’s when you didn’t even need a job to get a loan. Thank goodness those days are over. But don’t let those that have a home and are not in my business given you a bunch of baloney that you need an 800 credit score to get a loan. Did you know that you get a new FHA home loan if you filed for Bankruptcy and have been discharged for at least 2 years, and of course if you have been paying your bills on time since then.
Did you know that as a Veteran, you don’t even need a down payment and you can have the owner of the home pay for all of your closing costs. There are also 100% loans available through the USDA , that would be the United States Department of Agriculture. They are loans that are available for single family homes in designated rural areas.
This is for real. Give me a call at 6107372310 or email me at email@example.com to discuss some real possibilities. I’m not kidding.
I don’t know, I just kind of gave up last fall. When someone told me it was hard to keep a blog up and have a fresh ideas day after day, I knew it was hard but I didn’t think I would go into brain freeze almost permanently. Well I did. I thought to myself I have to become more aggressive and try to get some reaction from folks who read this stuff. Well that didn’t happen and I thought I might as well get on to bigger and better things. I really don’t know what that means either.
In the final analysis I guess I had to ask myself the question; was I doing a blog for you or for me. For me, because at one time I thought I actually enjoyed writing . For you because I hope I could drum up some business while giving you some helpful information.
At this point I’ll just try to write about some things I am passionate about, which is cathartic for me. Maybe you will join in and let me know how you feel, but if you don’t that’s okay too. Because now I don’t feel the pressure to perform for anybody else but me.
So here goes….. Since I last wrote we have had the reelection of the President, the murder of 26 folks, 20 of whom were kids, a Pope resigned, avoided a Fiscal Cliff, did not avoid a Sequester, watched the rebound of the housing market begin, (which by the way I still don’t trust), QE infinity courtesy of the Fed and saw the Unemployment rate drop to 7.9%
Maybe its the Jesuit training in me but its smoke and mirrors to me. How the heck can we have an almost $17 trillion dollar deficit and growing each day, printing money like its drug to an addict and 1-2% Interest rates set for the next several years, and listen to all of those folks in Washington saying things are getting better. Who is going to pay for all of this insanity? You and me folks and our kids and grandchildren. That’s because the boys and girls in DC can’t get along. The cost of servicing that debt will eventually eclipse the total GDP of the entire country.
One thing is for sure. Regardless of your feeling of the housing market, the freaking mortgage rates are at an all time low. A $100,000 mortgage at 3.5% not including taxes and bank fees will cost $449 a month. Try renting for that kind of monthly payment.
Foreclosures are down, that’s good. Short sales are up, that stinks. No matter what the banks tell you, they still take months and I have had more than one buying client walk away. Because foreclosures are down and short sales take a while, we have a decrease in available housing. So Buyers beware, the sellers that are not underwater are going to start raising their prices. It’s already happening. And if Uncle Ben ever stops buying bonds and mortgages, rates will go through the roof.
Anyway, I feel better, that was a good start. It’s like when I talk to myself in the shower. It’s probably the most creative time for me.
I just need someone to turn up the temperature of the water.
Bringing the Generations Together
By Salvatore(Sam) Ruta
Although your home may have been housing a traditional family of a mom, dad and two kids, savvy real estate agents will tell you that in order to attract more buyers, staging your house as one fit for multi-generations is the way to go.
More parents and grandparents are finding a need to move in with family, as many can no longer afford the increasing rates of the adult communities where they once lived. Furthermore, the economic climate is forcing many kids to return home once their schooling is done.
A recent multi-generational study conducted by the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C., revealed that multigenerational living has been on the rise over the past decade, fueled by demographic and cultural shifts.
“One of the things that struck me about this change is that it’s coming from all directions,” said Paul Taylor, author of the report. “More young adults are moving back home, more elderly are moving in with their middle-age children and more middle-aged children are moving back with their elderly parents.”
Data from the study shows that in the 10-year span between 2000 and 2009, the number of households practicing multi-generational living increased to 33 percent, with more than 49 million Americans currently living in homes with three or more generations.
Real estate professionals are tending to highlight features such as finished walkout basements and bonus bedrooms today more than ever. That’s why when your agent tells you that switching out your office or transposing the basement play area to one that resembles more of a bedroom is the way to go, you should be listening.
When selling your home, you need to look at the process from the perspective of all buyers, not just yours. Consider how a multi generational family might use the various spaces available, and give prospective homebuyers options to easily transform from single-family to multi generational living.
Therefore, any home that contains bonus space is a viable candidate for a multi generational buyer who’s planning to bring an ill or out-of-work family member back into the fold.
Experts agree that intergenerational living is easier when each family subunit has its own space. “Everyone who is going to share the home should have a private area of their own,” said Amy Goyer, a multigenerational expert at AARP. “It is best if there is more than one common area so that children and adults have spaces to relax in without everyone having to spend all their free time in the same room together.”
Multigenerational house design can be applied to just one structure or can be accomplished with two or three units to keep families together while preserving their independence and privacy.
According to Cam Marston, author and founder of the research firm Generational Insight, there are a number of benefits for different generations of a family living together. “It’s less expensive, obviously, but more importantly, they can learn from one another,” Marston said. “Separating generations keeps them aloof from the trends and important things impacting each generation. When they are all under one roof, they can grow up sooner and stay young longer. It works on both ends of the generations.”
Another thing for home sellers to consider when it comes to attracting multigenerational buyers is the home’s accessibility for people who might be living with aging parents who use wheel chairs or walkers.
Creating a complete, accessible living space on one level with safety features can make a home attractive to people of all ages.
Well lets see, I can sit around thinking about the Presidential election and come up with some esoteric, ideological baloney that no one will believe anyway or actually give you some interesting real estate investment information that might even make you a couple of bucks if you act to buy some property.
Well I picked this up from our friends at the National Association of Realtors. Seems like Fannie Mae is going to give a break to so called “Mom and Pop” Investors. You can now purchase up to 20 properties now and get a Fannie approval. The underwriting for those mortgages…. well that is a whole separate article that we can discuss later and that I would place under the heading of “Miracles in La La Land”. Oh ye of little faith. But what the heck. Give me a call if you have any questions. Good stuff.
Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.
Copyright 2012 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Selling in Colder Months
By Salvatore (Sam) Ruta
While the warmer months are generally regarded as the time for home sellers to get their property ready for sale, marketing the home in winter and early spring is just as important. Homebuyers are out looking for homes 12 months a year and there’s no reason to drop the ball on sprucing up a home December through March.
Here are some tips for selling a home in the winter months.
Heat it up: If you are planning an open house or have showings scheduled, turn up the thermostat and make the home warm and inviting. A cold home shopper will race through a house and start questioning the windows and insulation.
Light it up: For homes with fireplaces, this is the perfect opportunity to show the potential buyer how cozy a fireplace can be. Leave some marshmallows and sticks nearby and invite those seeing the home to test it out.
Take care of snow and ice: For those selling in heavy wintry climates, make sure that the walk is clear, the driveway is shoveled and put down salt to control any icy surfaces. If a buyer pulls up to the house and has to slush through inches of snow, they may not even bother to enter. For those who don’t currently live in the home that is for sale, make sure to hire someone to clear it for you.
Use photographs: If you have a beautiful lawn, stellar landscaping or an outdoor pool or deck, many times these are quickly overlooked or passed by because of snow. Take some eye-catching photos of these amenities during the warm months and display them during a winter showing so buyers can get a better understanding of what the outside truly offers.
Schedule Open Houses: There are still many who don’t believe that selling in the winter is a good idea, so it’s a great time to take advantage of less competition. Many serious buyers often come out during the winter months, including corporate clients who usually need to relocate within the first quarter of the year.
Emphasize the Positives: Does your street get plowed quickly? Is it near public transportation to make it easier to get to work in the snow? Is it within walking distance of stores? Does it have a great hill for the kids to sled down in a safe environment? If so, accentuate these features.
Since a lot of people are waiting until spring to put their home on the market, having a home ready in winter is a great way to beat the rush.