Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FHA Reduces it's Mortgage Insurance Rate

FHA’s new MIP rates are projected to save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 this year.

The FHA recently announced that it is reducing its annual mortgage insurance premium by one quarter of a percent (25 basis points)—from 0.85% to 0.60%—for most new mortgages with a closing or disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017 Today's buyers have a great choice. Buyers who have already found their home will find a slightly lower payment than they expected.  Buyers who are still shopping will find that they qualify for slightly more house at the same payment and may have a little more flexibility when negotiating.

This MIP reduction provides two opportunities to home buyers, as shown in the two tables below:

TABLE 1. In these three sample scenarios, the homebuyer uses the MIP savings to increase the loan amount and purchase more home than they originally planned. Note that MIP savings vary, depending on the loan amount.

TABLE 2. In this sample comparison, the homebuyer’s $240,000 dream home may still be within reach, even though mortgage interest rates have recently increased. The $86.80 PI increase is partially offset by the $50.00 MIP decrease, so the net monthly payment increase is only $36.80.


Credit - Howard Strang, Academy Mortgage Corporation

Thinking of Selling Now?

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9 Tips for Selling Your House in Winter
Written by Laura Gaskill, from

With people away on trips and cold weather making house hunting less appealing, winter can be a challenging time to sell your home. On the other hand, fewer homes on the market means yours will get more attention from buyers. By upping the cozy factor, making the most of winter assets and paying attention to details, you can make your house really stand out.
Here are nine ways to prepare and stage your home for success, and create a warm and welcoming vision for buyers, even when the weather outside is frightful.

1. Have a cozy, crackling fire (or not)

Photo by Whitten Architects

If you have a gas fireplace or new clean burning wood stove or fireplace? Go ahead and light a fire to welcome visitors. But if your home's wood-burning fireplace is older and leaves a smoky smell in the room, hold off. Those with allergies or smoke sensitivities can be turned off — or literally turned away when they have to go outside. No fire? Consider offering warm apple cider instead.

2. Keep entryways scrupulously clean.
As with any time of year, a clean and clutter-free house will sell more easily (and maybe at a higher price) than one with more visible clutter. During winter it is especially important to remove mucky boots outside and keep family gear hidden in a closet or trunk, where potential buyers won't trip over them. A Swiffer-style mop kept in the coat closet can be used to quickly freshen entry floors before each showing.

3. Give each room a warm touch.
A folded throw draped over the back of an armchair, a plump quilt at the foot of the bed or an area rug in warm hues are a few small additions that will make a big difference in the way a room feels to prospective buyers. Also, be sure that every light is on — even for daytime showings. Winter days can be quite dim, and your house will look its best when it's as warmly lit as possible.
Photo by More Beach Style Living Room Photos

4. Show how outdoor rooms can be used even in the coldest months.
If you have a covered porch or outdoor fireplace, be sure to keep the area fully furnished. Turn on outdoor lights, light a fire in the fire pit, drape warm throw blankets across seating areas.
Photo by Laurel & Wolf

5. Emphasize spaces that will appeal in winter.
Basement playrooms, indoor exercise areas, heated toolsheds and the like will be especially welcome in a place with a cold winter. Remove all unrelated stuff to make the purpose of the room clear, and be sure to have your Realtor bring it up when showing the house to potential buyers.
Photo by Designing Solutions

6. Showcase the entertaining possibilities of your home.
Winter is prime time for festive parties and holiday open houses, so whet prospective buyers' appetites with an enticing display. Set out stacks of plates and fresh flowers on a dining room buffet or display holiday cookies on cake stands in the kitchen.
Photo by House & Home

7. Use structural elements in the garden for winter interest.
In the middle of winter, it can be hard to visualize a blooming garden. Large urns and planters, benches, rock walls and other garden structures will help buyers see the potential even in the snow.
Photo by The Garden Consultants, Inc.

8. Clear all exterior pathways of snow and ice.
Nothing will turn away potential buyers faster than a treacherously icy path. Open-house guests should be able to easily walk all the way around the house and access outbuildings. Provide as much off-street (snow-cleared) parking as you can to make things easy for visitors.
Photo by Rustic Garages

9. Do decorate for the holidays.
Buyers want to be able to envision living in your home, so it pays to make that vision as inviting as possible. Festive twinkling lights, green wreaths or topiary, and a decorated tree near Christmas will strike the right note. That doesn't mean you have to go overboard — in fact, a house overly cluttered with holiday decor, or leftover Christmas decorations on display in January and February can be a real turnoff.  Additionally, be aware of the desperate lack of daylight in the winter. If you have winter showings, light up your house. It starts getting dark at 3:30pm now. Dark houses don't show well.
Photo by Bldg Collective

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's 2017. Now what?

It's 2017. Now what? 

Yes, the new year is typically a time for hope and renewal and for those who are looking to sell - and simultaneously buy - a home, it can represent a fresh start. But this year, political and social realities are giving some would-be home sellers pause.

Thankfully, the real estate market continues to show real strength, with many housing experts projecting home sales prices and inventory to rise in 2017, replacing doubts with consumer confidence. 

"Housing prices rose nationally by around 6% in 2016, but the expected increase in 2017 ranges from 3% to 5%," according to 24/7 Wall St. "With inventory of existing homes at historic lows and a rise in interest rates thanks to the Federal Reserve, housing inventory for 2017 is almost certain to rise. For prospective sellers that means that if you were planning to sell your home this year, it's time to get cracking."

If you're thinking about selling this year, these tips will help.

Be patient: Sales have been swift in many parts of the country for several years now. That can make sellers who don't get offers on day one feel antsy. Despite some ultra-competitive markets where multiple offers and offer-asking-price sales skew the national numbers, across the country, the average days on market of a home for sale is 50.

Price it right: You may be tempted to price your home at the top of the market - or set a new top if you're in an especially desirable area and if inventory is low. But overpriced homes don't sell, which is probably why your real estate agent is recommending a lower listing price. If you're insistent about your price, don't be surprised if you get zero bites or the nibbles you do get are far below what you're asking. Your agent's pricing strategy will be based on market conditions and designed to get you the most money in the least amount of time. What it won't be based on: What you owe on the home, what you think it's worth based on your own estimation, or what you need to get out of it to buy your dream home.

Don't be afraid to loan shop: If you're selling your home to buy another, like most people, you might be concerned about rising mortgage rates. Rates are still near historic lows despite The Fed raising interest rates at the end of 2016 and indicating that further increases are in store for this year.
"Because the mortgage rate makes a big difference in how much you'll pay for your home, it makes financial sense to shop around for the lowest rate you can qualify for," says Investopedia. But many people don't look beyond the first offer. According to a mortgage borrowers survey, "Almost half of borrowers seriously consider only a single lender or broker before deciding where to apply," and "Seventy-seven percent of borrowers only end up applying with a single lender or broker, instead of filling out applications with multiple lenders or brokers to see which can offer the best deal," according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Asking your real estate agent for a few different trusted referrals could make a big difference. "Getting an interest rate of 4.0% instead of 4.5% translates into approximately $60 savings per month," they said. "Over the first five years, you would save about $3,500 in mortgage payments. In addition, the lower interest rate means that you'd pay off an additional $1,400 in principal in the first five years, even while making lower payments."

Make sure your home is clean and lean: It's more important than ever to make sure your home is as close to perfect as possible before you put it on the market. Unless your agent is planning to market the home as a "project," it needs to be spotless. You'd be surprised how much better your home can look just by applying some simple staging secrets.

Listen to your agent's advice: Staging may only be the beginning of what your home requires to get it sold, and your agent's advice will be critical to getting it where it needs to be. "Sure, you no doubt know more about your home than anyone else. But your real estate agent knows more about how to sell it," says "And your agent may make some suggestions you might not like to hear. It's tempting to take offense or just ignore this advice, but if you do, you could risk seeing your house sit on the market and grow stale."

Be wary of over improving: Getting your home in great shape may mean making some improvements, updates, and upgrades. But be careful not to go too far.
"Dying to install new kitchen cabinets or re-tile your master bath? Home sellers often assume any upgrades they make to their home will pay them back in full once they sell, but that's rarely the case," said "On average you will recoup just about 64% of the money you spend on renovations once you sell - and
certain improvements can actually work against you if they're unusual or undesirable in your market, Jason Shepherd, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group, told them.

-Credit 2017 Realty Times