Monday, October 18, 2010

Interest Rates Drop Again!

Ok, home loan interest rates have dropped again to like 4.19% (I saw that posted in a recent Virginian-Pilot article)so why aren't homebuyers snapping up homes? In my opinion, they are not confident in the economy, their current jobs or that the real estate market is done falling in value. If I didn't already own a home and rental property I would be seriouslsy considering getting in on a 4% mortgage myself! It's a scary thought to get into a 30 year mortgage, I know. The sad part about it is, anyone who rents is already paying a mortgage, just somebody elses. Why not pay your own? Even if you only stay in that home for say 10 of those 30 years, at the end of the 10 years you have "something tangible" to sell. Unlike a renter who has nothing but a shoebox full of reciepts. For all those years you got to live like you wanted in your own space with your own rules, no landlords. If the property has not increased in value well, then you still did better than if you had rented for 10 years! Bonus: It might be possible to "sell" your mortgage interest rate as part of the sale, do you think that a 4% interest rate will be valuable to buyers 10 years from now? Or maybe you would like to let someone else pay your mortgage ... rent out that home! Home ownership offers so many benefits and solutions, if you need assitance with any matter of real estate, please contact me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Virginia Tax FREE Holiday

Virginia will be having another "tax holiday", October 8-11, this time on "Energy Star and Water Sense" labeled products. What does that mean? If you have been thinking about or putting off replacing or upgrading these items in your home, why not do it while there is no tax! Following is a general list, please see the website for more details and terms: Air conditioners, ceiling fans, compact flourescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, programmable thermostats, refrigerators, washing machines/clothes washers, bathroom sink faucets, faucet accessories, showerheads, toilets and urinals. Of course these items must have the "EnergyStar or WaterSense" labels, be less than $2,500 and be for personal or noncommercial use. Hey, if you were going to have to replace it anyway, consider the "EnergyStar or WaterSense" replacement during this tax free holiday weekend. Save yourself some money and do some good for the environment. Saving our resources is good for the future. Besides, then you will have a clear conscience to reprimand anyone who doesn't!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mortgage Change Deadline Approaches

Would be home buyers take note, changes are coming to all new FHA mortgages, as of October 4th, 2010 all new case # files will be effected by the new rules, regulations and guidelines. There are several points that will be important for buyers:
1)The upfront MIP (mortgage insurance premium) will likely increase;
2) Buyers with FICO credit scores "over 580" buyers will still be able to put down only 3.5% (of the sales price) but with FICO scores "under 580" buyers will be required to put down at least 10%;
3) Closing cost assistance will be capped at 3% now instead of the 6% it has been.
*Of course there are other rules and I have included a link to it (click on the title) for more information. These rules are designed (I think) to bring back responsible home buying and lending. If you have been thinking about getting into a new home, now is the time! Even with all the changes it is still a great time to own a home. Interest rates have risen slightly but are still incredibly low and the selection of homes is still excellent. Contact a trusted Realtor.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dodging the (Hurricane) Bullet

The Hampton Roads/Tidewater area was recently fortunate to have only felt a brush with hurricane "Earl" as it made it's way up the East coast. This time we were spared but what about next time? Hurricane season runs until Novemeber, are you covered in the event of a direct hit or flooding? What does flood insurance cover? what does your homeowners policy cover? Homeowners insurance seems to cover damages from the top of the house down (not floods) and inside, but flood covers water damage from the ground up and the associated damages.{Ask a flood isurance agent for more info.} I'm not here to sell you anything, I will only say that logic tells me, if you live close to a water source that is capable of rising in levels or in a low lying area, you should have flood insurance. All of Hampton Roads/Tidewater has water capable of rising in inclement weather and many of the neighborhoods are in low lying areas that can not drain away rainfall if it accumulates too fast. Even though it is not "required" by mortgage companies or the government's 100 year flood maps, I feel flood insurance is just one more way I can live in this beautiful coastal community and be assured that I am covered and responsible for my risk of flood. I choose to live on the coast but I can also choose to be covered in the event of disaster. Be sure what your homeowners insurance will and will not cover, before the next storm. Don't let a flood be the time you found out you needed more coverage. FYI - Flood insurance policies can not be written when there is an approaching storm, so there is no waiting until the last minute to ask about it. If you are buying a home and trying to purchase flood insurance, consider assuming the previous owners policy for uninterrupted coverage. Call your current insurance agent and ask about flood today. Enjoy living with "peace of mind" in our lovely coastal communities.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tourist Season in VB

Here we are, already in the middle of August and "back to school" is in the air. The days are still hot and humid but the sun is setting sooner. Vacations are wrapping up, the tourists will all be gone soon and we can use our fine beaches again. Not that we don't LOVE our VB tourists, we do ... they keep our tax base low by coming in and paying taxes so we don't have to. If you have been one of our beloved tourists, thanks for coming, but have you ever given thought to moving here to Hampton Roads instead of only visiting once a year? Imagine if you could go to the beach anytime you wanted and not have to stay in a hotel room. Imagine owning a home that you could use as your primary residence or owning a beachfront second home, that when you are not occupying it, you could rent out and collect huge sums of rental monies from other tourists. (Could likely pay for itself and then some.) Imagine all the activities that take place here year round that you are missing. You already know that Va. Beach is a wonderful place to visit, why not stay and call it home? If you have given any thought to making the move to Va. Beach a permanent one, whether now or in the near future, contact me, let's make a plan and start looking. Maybe you are a "local" but never really thought about owning a second home, now may be the perfect opportunity to explore the possibility. This current market may be challenging for sellers but it is a varitable "smorgasboard" of opportunity for buyers. Let's see if owning a second home or income making property is right for you.
Have a safe summer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Duck, duck, GOO !

So, as ususal a mother Muskogee duck in my neighborhood has laid her eggs in a nest in someones front yard. The duck family has no access to water because they are a whole block away from the nearest pond and everyone has a fenced yard. She now parades the almost fully grown ducklings up and down the street, stopping at front doors and open garages, her babies begging for food. Ok, that's cute but ducks poop! Picture 10 babies and 1 mother pooping all over your sidewalks, driveways, lawn and decks and heaven forbid you leave your garage door open oh yes, they will come inside and poop there too! Next come the flies, just seconds after the green "goo" hits the ground! The terrific odor strikes you next, smells a lot like a barnyard! What's a homeowner to do? According to the city (animal control) nothing. They are a protected species. Argh! Hopefully in a few more weeks the ducklings will be big and strong enough to fly and go find a source of water, till then we keep power washing, sweeping and hosing out the garage. Mother nature has a funny sense of humor.

Monday, June 28, 2010

After the Tax Credit

Ok, so the tax credit has officially expired for most people. The government has extended the deadine for those buyers who are already under contract but will not be able to "close" by June 30th, 2010. Since so many of these deals are with bank foreclosures and they take considerabley longer than most real estate transactions, the deadline extension will help many buyers who thought they would be getting the tax credit to actually get it. There has also been an exception to the tax credit made for military members who were deployed for at least 90 days during the tax credit offering ... those members may still qualify for the credit if they meet all the guidelines. So aside from that, now that the tax credit is "gone" did you see how the home sales numbers have tumbled? Maybe it's time the goverment left well enough alone and just let the market recover. Real estate runs in cycles, if left to it's own, it will eventually recover. Does artificially injecting money into the system really solve anything? Why not save all those billions and just leave it alone? Imagine a world where only truly qualified people could get mortgages and they got good deals on homes instead of inflated prices! That seems like a good thing to me. Buying a home is a great responsibility and can be the greatest source of wealth for many individuals in the future, if they come into it prepared and do the right thing. Responsible homeowners pay the mortgage because they can afford the home they chose. It takes planning, saving and please, use a Realtor, that's what they do for a living, walk buyers through the process of buying a home. Buyer representation is typically "free" as the sellers agreed to pay the buyers agent when they listed the home for sale (in MLS), so there is no reason not to. We are simply getting back to the responsible way of doing business, not anyone with a pulse can qualify for a "crazy terms" loan that they can't afford ... jobs matter, history matters, credit matters, as it should be. Even if you are not in the right place to buy a home now, talk to a Realtor, they can get you headed in the right direction so that one day soon, you too will be one of the lucky ones, a homeowner.
Keep paying rent and you are only paying someone elses mortgage, and what do you have to show for it after 2, 5, 10 years? A box full of reciepts. Think anyone will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for that box of receipts? If you owned a home for 2, 5 or 10 years what would you have? A home to sell, possibly for a profit! At the very least you would have been in a home you loved, living the life you wanted (no landlord) and even if you break even when you sell, you will have lived somewhere for "free" for all those years. If you make a profit, well, yahoo! If you stay in that home for more than a few years, you will likely see a real profit. Then what? Sell and move to a bigger home? Keep it, take some of the cash value out and buy more real estate? Why not be a landlord yourself? Let someone else pay your mortgage, pocket the profit every month and when it's paid for (by other people) sell it for profit! People do become wealthy owning real estate, why not you?

Friday, April 16, 2010

What's a "Short Sale" anyway?

Short sales are everywhere! You see them online, in newspapers, homes magazines and hear about them on tv, but what are they? Short sale refers to a situation when a homeowner owes more on his/her home (mortgage) than it is currently worth on the market. So if he/she can sell it, and get the bank to agree to take less than is owed, the amount paid to the bank is "short" of the amount owed. Why would a bank allow this? The cost for them to go through the entire (legal) foreclosure process and then hold the properties and pay taxes on them and pay (real estate companies) to market them, would far exceed the smaller loss they would be willing to take on a short sale. Some banks will also excercise their right to persue the homeowner for a deficiency judgement, or basically go after them for some or all of the difference between the (short) sale price and the amount owed. A short sale will show up on future credit scores but is far less damaging than a foreclosure. So is short sale a viable option for getting out of financial trouble, it depends. 1st step if you are experiencing difficulties in making your mortage payments is to contact your lender. They would much rather work out a solution with you to keep the home and now there are programs set up to help. Ask. You are not alone. You see the news, you know that millions of people have suffered in these trying economic times, you may be one of them. If selling your home seems inevitable, call on me. We will get your home out there on the market as quickly as possible and do the best we can to get it sold before it's too late. I can help.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Running Out of Time

Spring has sprung, people are back outside and homeowners are working in their yards. Now is a great time to spruce things up with new plantings, fresh mulch and some much needed pruning after a hard winter. This winter was especially hard here in the Tidewater area, lots of snow, wind and cold. While you are out gardening, check those trees for deadwood branches that may just be dangling there waiting to fall on some unsuspecting passerby. Get to it before it gets to you or them. Spring also means the real deadline for taking advantage of the home buyers tax credit is about to arrive. As a reminder, buyers must be under contract by April 30th, 2010 and close before July 1st, 2010 to qualify. (There may be other terms see the website/link). There is just enough time to get in under the wire, if you want that tax money. There will always be homes for sale but the mortgage interest rates and home prices may never be lower! Now really may be the best time to buy a home.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow, Snow and More Snow!

Okay, so are you tired of this cold snowy weather already? It is nice to know that there is still some cold weather left in this old planet of ours, maybe we are making strides in that whole "global warming" trend. I know that soon it will be warmer and folks will be thinking about springtime. I want to remind anyone who has been thinking about making the move to a new home, that the tax credit initiative that president Obama put in place expires, (for real) on April 30th, 2010. Why not finally get a home of your own, stop paying someone elses mortgage, pay your own and have something to call your own (and sell later, possibly for profit). Or maybe the kids are gone and the house is just too big and empty for you, now is a great time to downsize, and there is even a tax credit of up to $6,500 for current homeowners! Or perhaps your family has outgrown the place you are in now, why not get a bigger home while the government is willing to pay you some of the money back as a tax credit or refund? Thinking about taking that job transfer to get that payraise or just save the job you have? Buying a home may never be this affordable again. Contact me to discuss your own personal real estate dreams or needs. Let's get you started today so that you too can reap the benefits of the current housing market.