Sunday, May 16, 2010


4 Bd | 2 Ba | 3,359 Sq. Ft. | Single Family    Foreclosure Status: Bank-Owned (REO)

For an appointment Call:  JoAnne S Mercer  919 559 7584
Friday, March 12, 2010
Understanding Points, Rates and Points You do you have to understand what type of mortgage you should choose, you have to understand the costs associated with your mortgage. All of these costs will be paid upon closing your mortgage.

Purchase Points

Purchase points, also known as a "buy-down" or "discount points," are an up-front fee paid to the lender at closing to buy-down or lower your interest rate over the life of the loan. Each point is equal to one percent of your total loan amount. If you have a $100,000 loan, one point would equal $1,000. The more points you buy, the lower your interest rate, but the more money you'll need at closing.

How do you decide whether you should buy points and if so, how many? Well, the decision should be based on how long you plan on living in your home and what you can afford to pay each month toward your mortgage. If you plan on living in your home for more than five years, it's probably a good idea to purchase points. The longer you live in your home, the more you can save on interest over the life of the loan.

Interest Rate
When you get a mortgage, you are charged an interest rate.this is the rate which the lender charges you for using their money to buy a home. It determines how much your monthly payments will be. Generally speaking, the higher the interest rate, the higher your monthly payment.

Mortgage interest rates change constantly.daily, even hourly. If you speak to a lender and are quoted a specific interest rate, that's not to say you'll necessarily get that rate when you close on your loan. Not unless you formally lock-in that rate with the lender.locking in an interest rate will guarantee you get your loan with a particular interest rate. Lenders will allow you to lock in for 15, 45 or 60 days. But the longer you lock in, the more expensive it will be, since it's more of a risk to lenders.

Fees
There are always fees associated with getting a mortgage, these fees cover the cost of processing and underwriting the loan. These fees can include charges for ensuring the title to the home is free and clear; paying for a land survey; or paying for a home appraisal which gives you the estimated value of the property (lenders require an appraisal to close on your mortgage).

Deciding which mortgage to get may depend on what each lender does because different lenders may charge different amounts. Some may charge lesser closing fees to lure you in, but may charge you a higher interest rate, which means you may pay more in the long run. But everyone has different needs.you may or may not be able to afford to pay more at closing and are willing to pay more over the long term.

Before it comes time to close, do your homework, make sure there are no hidden fees, and ask your lender lots of questions so that you understand all the costs involved with your mortgage.

*Please consult your tax advisor.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Existing-Home Sales Down in January 2010 but Higher Than Year Ago
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RISMEDIA, March 4, 2010—Existing-home sales fell in January 2010 but are above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing-home sales- including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops- dropped 7.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million units in January from a revised 5.44 million in December, but remain 11.5% above the 4.53 million-unit level in January 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is still some delay between shopping and closing that affected current sales. “Most of the completed deals in January were based on contracts in November and December. People who got into the market after the home buyer tax credit was extended in November have only recently started to offer contracts, so it will take a couple months to close those sales,” he said. “Still, the latest monthly sales decline is not encouraging, and raises concern about the strength of a recovery.”

Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 0.5% to 3.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.2-month supply in December. Raw unsold inventory is 9.6% below a year ago, and is at the lowest level since March 2006.

“Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory,” Yun said. “With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,700 in January, unchanged from a year earlier. Distressed homes, which accounted for 38% of sales last month, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they typically are discounted in comparison with traditional homes in the same area.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 40% of homes in January, down from 43% in December. Investors accounted for 17% of transactions in January, up from 15% in December; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. The survey also shows that buyer traffic increased 9.4% in January.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said buying a home in the current environment has become more challenging. “First-time buyers and others who need a mortgage are increasingly losing out to all-cash investors for the best bargains in many areas, particularly for foreclosed homes where cash is king,” she said. “Inventory conditions vary by price range, and of course there are major differences depending on location. Realtors are the best buyer resource for strategies on winning bids in increasingly competitive markets,” Golder said. “The bidding for more desirable homes will only accelerate between now and the April 30 contract deadline to qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 5.03% in January from 4.93% in December; the rate was 5.05% in January 2009.

Single-family home sales fell 6.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million in January from a level of 4.76 million in December, but are 8.6% above the 4.08 million pace in January 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $163,600 in January, down 0.4% from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 8.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 in January from 675,000 in December, but are 38.1% above the 449,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price was $172,400 in January, which is 1.4 % higher than January 2009.

Northeast

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 10.9% to an annual pace of 820,000 in January but are 22.4% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $245,300, a gain of 8.8% from January 2009.

Midwest

Existing-home sales in the Midwest declined 6.9% in January to a level of 1.08 million but are 8.0% higher than January 2009. The median price in the Midwest was $130,300, which is 1.0% below a year ago.

South
In the South, existing-home sales dropped 7.4% to an annual pace of 1.87 million in January but are 12.0% above a year ago. The median price in the South was $140,200, down 2.0% from January 2009.

West
Existing-home sales in the West declined 5.2% to an annual rate of 1.28 million in January but are 7.6% higher than January 2009. The median price in the West was $203,400, down 5.8% from a year ago.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
10 Rookie Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

February 19, 2010 -

posted by- JoAnne S Mercer

With the extension and expansion of the popular first-time home buyer tax credit, which President Obama signed into law in November, as well as price declines and attractive mortgage rates, an influx of qualified first-time buyers are rushing to take advantage of the market. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, projects there will be 1.84 million home sales to first-time home buyers in 2010, compared with 1.73 million in 2009. If you’re a property virgin about to take the plunge, here are some common blunders to avoid—and helpful tips that could mean the difference between financial security and a mountain of debt:


1. Not checking your credit report and score


You’ve clicked through hundreds of online listings, compared floor plans and square footage, and are eager to jump-start your search. But before you even think of setting foot in an open house, make sure you get a copy of your credit report. The cleaner your credit report and the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be preapproved for a mortgage at a low interest rate. According to Keith Gumbinger of HSH.com, most home buyers will need a credit score of about 720 to obtain the most favorable mortgage rates.
Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct and dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. You can access a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months.

2. Not getting preapproved

After you’ve assessed your credit report, it’s time to establish with a qualified lender how much you can afford. “First-time home buyers need to take the time to get an approval from their lender before looking at homes,” advises Ray Boss Jr., a six-year licensed Realtor with RE/MAX Realty Group in Maryland. “This includes getting a credit check and giving their lender a copy of W-2s, pay stubs, and bank and brokerage statements.” Getting preapproved can help you save time by looking for homes that you know you can afford instead of lusting after something out of your price range. And it will put you in a better position over another bidder with no preapproval.

3. Not creating a long-term budget

If the housing crisis proved anything, it’s that mortgages were given to people who clearly did not have the means to pay them back. To avoid making this mistake, home buyers should create a budget before even beginning their home search to determine just how much house they can really afford. A good rule of thumb is to devote no more than a third of your monthly household income to housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. “A good number would be 30 percent,” Zandi says. “If you are over 35 percent, you are really pushing the en­velope.” There are several work sheets available online to help you figure out how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford each month for the next 15 or 30 years.

4. Forgetting about the hidden costs

You grossly underestimated what you can afford to pay each month. You factored in the purchase price of the home but didn’t consider the cost of taxes, insurance, utilities, and fees. There are several hidden costs that first-time home buyers neglect to prepare for. They can be anything from the closing costs to appraisal fees, escrow fees, homeowner’s insurance fees, property taxes, and even moving costs. Another factor is the cost of repairs and maintenance. “When you’re renting and the furnace goes out, what do you do? You call the landlord,” says Tom Vanderwell, mortgage officer for Fifth Third Bank in Michigan. “When you own a house, what do you do? You have to fix it yourself.” You may find there are numerous “nickel and dime” things to account for that could add up to a significant chunk of money over time.

5. Not using professional help

Sure, it’s possible to go out and buy a home without the aid of a professional real estate agent. But think about how much time and stress a good agent can save you. For starters, Realtors have access to all the homes on the market through the multiple listing service, or MLS, plus all the ones that are under contract and have been sold. A specialist has time to sift through all of these listings, says Boss, and make the appointments to show you the houses, create comparative market analyses to determine proper pricing,and meet with necessary inspectors. Real estate agents also can help buyers traverse a taxing, 70-page legal contract. “I would want someone who is going to look out for my interests first and foremost,” says Boss. “Someone who knows the contracts, who has experience negotiating, and who can walk me through the entire process smoothly—step by step—and make sure I get the house that’s right for me.”

6. Picking your real estate agent and lender blindly

“One of the mistakes a lot of people make is finding a Realtor they aren’t comfortable with,” says Boss. Begin your search at the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, a nonprofit that represents buyers. Or ask relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for referrals.


4. Forgetting about the hidden costs


You grossly underestimated what you can afford to pay each month. You factored in the purchase price of the home but didn't consider the cost of taxes, insurance, utilities, and fees. There are several hidden costs that first-time home buyers neglect to prepare for. They can be anything from the closing costs to appraisal fees, escrow fees, homeowner's insurance fees, property taxes, and even moving costs. Another factor is the cost of repairs and maintenance. "When you're renting and the furnace goes out, what do you do? You call the landlord," says Tom Vanderwell, mortgage officer for Fifth Third Bank in Michigan. "When you own a house, what do you do? You have to fix it yourself." You may find there are numerous "nickel and dime" things to account for that could add up to a significant chunk of money over time.

5. Not using professional help

Sure, it's possible to go out and buy a home without the aid of a professional real estate agent. But think about how much time and stress a good agent can save you. For starters, Realtors have access to all the homes on the market through the multiple listing service, or MLS, plus all the ones that are under contract and have been sold. A specialist has time to sift through all of these listings, says Boss, and make the appointments to show you the houses, create comparative market analyses to determine proper pricing, and meet with necessary inspectors. Real estate agents also can help buyers traverse a taxing, 70-page legal contract. "I would want someone who is going to look out for my interests first and foremost," says Boss. "Someone who knows the contracts, who has experience negotiating, and who can walk me through the entire process smoothly—step by step—and make sure I get the house that's right for me."

6. Picking your real estate agent and lender blindly

"One of the mistakes a lot of people make is finding a Realtor they aren't comfortable with," says Boss. Begin your search at the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, a nonprofit that represents buyers. Or ask relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for referrals.
First-time home buyers, Boss says, are generally more time-consuming than the average buyer and require more attention. A good real estate agent will be friendly and accommodating, show only homes that fit your parameters, and help you with strategies during the bidding process—but never pressure you into something you're not comfortable with. "It's important that the Realtor be experienced with first-time buyers, understand their wants and needs, and be able to connect with them well," says Boss.
Similarly, the buyers should feel at ease with and have complete confidence in their mortgage lender, and they should fully discuss and understand their financing options with that lender. "Don't apologize for asking questions," says Vanderwell, who stresses the importance of knowing what you're getting into. "There's a pretty substantial chunk of people who are in really rough straits right now and would not have been had they done their homework."

7. Thinking you'll get everything on your "wish list"

Another mistake people make is being too close-minded while searching for their home, says Boss. He suggests sitting down with your real estate broker before searching for a home and creating a need/want list. Some of the items you might want to include as "must haves" or deal breakers are the towns you'd want to live in, square footage, or accessibility to transportation. The second part of the list would be things you don't necessarily need but wish to have, such as a garage, new kitchen appliances, or an extra room for an office. "As you search for your home, you may realize there are certain parameters you really want or don't want," says Boss. "Understand that a certain amount of flexibility is essential." Your aim is to be able to afford everything you need—as well as some items you want—all while staying within a long-term budget.


8. Not keeping your feelings in check before hiring a home inspector

You've already chosen the perfect paint color to match your living room set. But hold on: Before you start picking out accent pillows for your sofa, you need to bring in a home inspector to check the safety of your potential new home. Inspectors will evaluate the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the home and will give you the approximate price of repairs that may be needed. They will examine everything from the electrical system, water heater, and HVAC system to the foundation and floors.
Buyers should find and hire their own inspector—independent of the real estate broker—to ensure there isn't a conflict of interest. When you make your offer, make sure the seller is aware that your offer is contingent on the house passing inspection. You can also add a clause to the contract stating that the seller will pay up to a certain amount for any repairs required as a result of the inspection.
[See the 5 Best—and 5 Worst—Home Improvement Projects for Your Money.]

9. Not researching your neighborhood

You may be living in your dream home, but your neighborhood's a nightmare. Or you may have children or are planning to have children in the near future, but you didn't consider the quality of the school districts or parks in the vicinity. You should ask yourself a number of questions during your home search, such as "Are there good schools nearby?" and "Do I feel safe coming home at night?"
Boss suggests that if schools are an important factor, you should go check them out personally. Speak with the principals or the parents waiting on the steps outside to pick up their kids. To learn more about the community, open up the local newspaper, Boss says. You can find out about community events or even how good the local high school football team is. Today's buyers can gather all sorts of neighborhood information from real estate blogs and websites like Zillow and Trulia. (U.S. News has a partnership with Trulia.) "It is the responsibility of the buyer to check crime reports, school options, churches, and shopping," says Boss. "Remember, you can change your house, but you can't change the neighborhood."

10. Not considering the resale value of your home

You've just started the home-buying process. The prospect of selling a home hasn't even crossed your mind. Besides, you're thinking you might live in whatever home you buy forever. Yet life is full of surprises, whether it is a job transfer or having another child or taking care of an incapacitated relative.
When the time comes to put your house on the market, will your home be easy or difficult to sell? While you're on the hunt, it's a good idea to account for preferences of the typical home buyer. Just because you love to landscape or enjoy a bright-pink backsplash doesn't mean a prospective buyer will. "How we make our plans initially has a big impact on our ability to adjust those plans and to deal with whatever comes our way," says Vanderwell.

Source: www.Usnews.com
Monday, February 8, 2010

Top 10 Home Updates
These projects will bring the biggest return on investment if you sell your home
By Dona DeZube, FrontDoor.com | Published: 2/02/2009
.The secret to successful remodeling is to keep up with the Joneses -- but never to surpass them. Whether you want to make more money than you spend, or just recoup your remodeling expenses if you sell your home, know what's standard in the neighborhood.

Does everyone have laminate kitchen countertops? Splurge on granite and you'll be the envy of your friends, but you won't get your money back at resale. Is your home in a high-end neighborhood? Laminate countertops will save you money, but if you have to sell, high-end buyers will discount their offer because your kitchen isn't what they expect or simply not buy your home at all.

In markets where home prices are declining, remodeling decisions are particularly tough to make, especially if you're remodeling to get your home sold. If you don't update, your home may not attract buyers. However, if you do update, you may not be able to recoup what you spend. Seek advice from at least three experienced real estate agents before making any decisions.

Before you pick up a hammer, visit real estate open houses and new-home communities. Ask the builder to show you a spec home (that's an already built home without the model home's decorative features and upgrades). Then, compare your home to homes on the market to make sure your remodeling project is on par with the competition.

"The homes that sell in a buyer's market have four things in common: an in-demand location, the right price, a perfectly maintained exterior and updated kitchens and baths," says Susan Huerta, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate, Clarksville, Md.

To get the biggest bang for your remodeling buck, try one of these 10 projects, which have the highest payoffs, according to Remodeling magazine's 2009 Cost vs. Value Report (CVR):


1.Spruce up or replace your siding.
2.Add a deck.
3.Tweak your kitchen.
4.Repair or replace windows.
5.Overhaul your kitchen.
6.Strip the bathroom.
7.Find cash in the attic.
8.Earn bucks from the basement.
9.Add space to add value.
10.Add low-cost landscaping.
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