Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Realtors Predict Home Sales Continue Up-Swing in 2013

According to CNN Money a steady December home sales capped the best year for the U.S. real estate market in five years, according to an industry trade group report Tuesday.

The National Association of Realtors said that December sales of previously-owned homes came in just slightly below November's sales pace, but up 12.8% from a year ago. That brought full-year sales to 4.65 million, up 9% from 2011 and the best year for home sales since 2007, when there were 5 million homes sold just before the start of the recession.

Sales are being helped by a combination of strong market fundamentals -- near record low mortgage rates, lower unemployment and a rebound in home prices, all of which are bringing in buyers into the market who had been waiting for it to hit bottom. The mortgage rates and years of depressed home prices have also combined to create the most affordable housing market on record, according to the Realtors group.

Realtors are predicting strong sales should continue into 2013 and beyond. The forecast is for 5.1 million existing home sales this year, and 5.4 million next year.

The improved demand for homes in December led to the inventory of homes for sale to fall to 1.82 million homes on the market, the lowest supply since January 2001. One factor in tightening supplies is a drop in foreclosures and other distressed home sales, which made up only 24% of home sales in December compared to 32% a year ago. The tighter supply, and the drop in distressed sales, have helped to lift home prices so that the median sales price for the year rose to $176,600, up 6.3% from 2011. That's the biggest gain in prices in since the bubble year of 2005.

The rebound in the market for previously-owned homes is also showing up in the market for new homes, where sales rebounded to their highest levels since 2009, while housing starts reached the highest level since 2008.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

7 Must-Know Real Estate Trends

1. Homes in foreclosure have reach record highs. While some markets have started to show improvement, but the number of homes in foreclosure continues to rise.

2. Home prices continue to fall. But because real estate is local, the rate of decline varies on your market. And in some high-demand markets, prices are still climbing, though at a slower rate. In our market (Columbia, SC) few home buyers are walking away from the closing with much money and when they do it is rarely a profit.  Most homes are closing at the purchase price or lower.
3. Borrowers are have a harder time getting a mortgage. During the housing boom, mortgages were easy to to get.  U.S. banks have tightened their lending standards, limiting non-traditional loans such as interest-only mortgages and getting rid of sub prime mortgages.  None the less if the buyer is moviated anything is possible. 

4. Home sellers are looking for premium service from Realtors and expect them to know about all aspects of the the transaction whether it is getting pre-qualified for a mortgage or who is the best carpet cleaner at the best price.  Savvy buyers and sellers want an agent who offers insight and knowledge not available on the Internet.

5. Mortgage rates are still at historic lows and are available to most buyers.  Recent transaction for my clients have been in the three percent range.

6. Buyers are going green. Eco-friendly attributes such as radiant floor heating systems, Energy Star rated appliances and on-demand water heating units are all the rage with home buyers right now. For sellers, promoting your home’s green features will give you an edge in the competitive market.

7. Technology and social networking are changing how we buy and sell homes. Listings, home valuations and other information previously only available through real estate agents are now available on the Web.  It is more important to make sure your Realtor has a strong working knowledge of using the Internet particularly when it comes to advertising your home. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Borrower’s Guide to Timelines and Events SC HELP Foreclosure Mitigation Program

The speed with which your eligibility request can be reviewed and approved is due in large part to how complete it is when it is submitted. This will give you an idea of the steps you will take and the time that will be needed through the various steps in the process.Before starting the eligibility request be sure to read Borrower Documentation Checklist and make sure you have assembled all the information listed there. You will need this to fill out the SC HELP eligibility request.
  • Complete the eligibility request to the best of your ability. Once completed, deliver it by clicking the submit button.
  • You may select an approved Housing Counselor, or your eligibility request will be assigned to an approved Housing Counselor who will assist you in completing the remainder of the request and required exhibits. PLEASE ALLOW UP TO SEVEN (7) WORKING DAYS for the Counselor to contact you by phone or email.
  • The Counselor will contact you directly with a list of additional documentation you will need to provide. The request cannot proceed until all documentation is received.
  • After an eligibility request is completed and reviewed by the Counselor, it will be submitted to SC Housing Corp. for final approval or denial. This will take approximately three working days.
  • You will receive notice by mail giving you the final status of your request.
  • If approved, SC Housing Corp. will:In the case of the Monthly Payment Assistance Program, begin making payments directly to your lender for up to 24 months (if you live in a targeted county) or up to 12 months in a non‐targeted county.
  • In the case of Direct Loan Modification Program Reduction, issue a check for the arrearages and fees directly to your lender.
  • In the case of Property Disposition Assistance, issue a check directly to you for allowable expenses.
In the case of the Monthly Payment Assistance Program, you will be notified 30 days before your assistance is due to expire. Assistance under this Program will be limited to 24 months for targeted counties and 12 months in all others, subject to a maximum benefit amount of $36,000 per household. There are no extensions available.