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I Want to Wish You a Happy Thanksgiving!
The season of giving is upon us and I wanted to give thanks to you and everyone else that has touched our lives this year. I hope you also take this time to offer thanks to the people who have helped you through this past year. I wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and you can watch my latest video to hear my holiday message!
How Can You Increase Your Home’s Value for Less?
I was just reading the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report from Realtor Magazine and it brought me to a question that sellers are always asking me; what ways can they add value to their houses and what quick fixes/improvements will give them the best return when they go to sell their house. The magazine’s consensus was curb appeal because focusing on the outside of the house is going to bring you the most value.
The article stated the top three mid-range fixes would be replacing the front door, followed by adding a deck and thirdly, replacing the garage door. For upscale fixes, the top three are siding replacement (cement, stucco or stone facade), vinyl siding replacement and window replacement.
If you want to view the rest of the article, follow this link. Now is the time to start on these projects if you are looking to enter the market. If you would like, I can also go through your home and give you a realistic estimate of what your home would sell for. Thanks for watching!
Government Shutdown Risks Hurting The Housing Recovery
By: Morgan Brennan, Forbes Staff
The government shutdown is here. Whether it’s not being able to get a new Social Security card or visit a national park, Americans will immediately feel the effects. But there’s one bright spot of the economy that stands to be affected as well: housing.
One of the biggest questions regarding the shutdown and how it will affect housing has revolved around the mortgage market, specifically prospective buyers’ access to new home loans. After all, more than 90% of all loan activity is underwritten, insured, or owned by the government and its affiliated entities.
Initially at least, the mortgage market is likely to be only minimally impacted. New loans will continue to push through most government agency pipelines. What will change is how long the process takes, as many agencies expect to experience delays.
Mortgages purchased and securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be unaffected because their operations are paid for by fees charged to lenders. And the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to guarantee mortgages for Americans that have served in the military since these loans are funded by user fees as well.
But if the government shutdown of 1995-1996 is any indicator, the process will take longer than usual. “Loan Guaranty certificates of eligibility and certificates of reasonable value were delayed,” the VA warned in its September 25th contingency plan.
Where there has been mounting concern is the Federal Housing Administration, which currently endorses about 15% of the entire single-family mortgage market. Several media outlets recently reported that the FHA would be unable to endorse any single-family loans and that no staff would be available underwrite and approve new loans.
That prospect would be somewhat worrisome – if it were actually true. The FHA’s Office of Single Family Housing will indeed remain open for business, albeit with a smaller staff. “FHA will be able to endorse single family loans during the shutdown. A limited number of FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve new loans,” the report now states. In other words, other lenders’ loans will continue to be insured and some in-house lending will continue to take place at a reduced rate.
The reason for that mix-up: the initial draft of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s contingency plan mistakenly stated that single-family loan operations would cease. The report was amended over the weekend.
The FHA’s single-family loan operations are funded through multi-year appropriations, meaning their budget is not tied to the government’s standoff over funding for the new fiscal year that starts in October. On the other hand, what will be more affected is the agency’s Multifamily Housing Office, which is funded through yearly appropriations.
“Because we are able to endorse loans, we don’t expect the impact on the housing market to be significant, as long as the shutdown is brief,” continues the HUD report. “If the shutdown lasts and our commitment authority runs out, we do expect that potential homeowners will be impacted, as well as home sellers and the entire housing market.”
One government lender that will indeed suspend its home loan activity, however, is the Department of Agriculture. The USDA says that no new housing loans or guarantees will be issued through its Rural Development programs in a shutdown. The department also warns that such a scenario could cause “a setback in construction start-up,” and if the shutdown lasts for an extended period, “a substantial reduction in housing available in rural areas relative to population.”
“The government doesn’t generally approve loans, they basically just insure them,” says Don Frommeyer, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and a vice president at Amtrust Mortgage Funding. “For the most part you aren’t going to see much of a hit in the mortgage market unless it goes for a long period of time.”
If it does stretch on, he adds, the worry will be what mortgage rates do in a market shrouded in fiscal uncertainty and how that will affect the home buying, especially in light of recent rate spikes.
Home lending aside, many economists and real estate experts are keeping a close watch on how Americans will react to this shutdown. “Administratively everything should keep moving along, but it’s more about the confidence of consumers and whether they perceive that the government shutdown could lead to a recession,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi recently told the Senate Budget Committee that a partial shutdown could shave as much as 1.4 percentage points off of fourth quarter economic growth if it drags on for several weeks.
Americans’ confidence in their ability to buy and sell homes hit a record high in May, according to a Fannie Mae survey. Since then, as mortgage rates jumped more than a percentage point, that confidence level has plateaued. If prospective homebuyers fear that the country’s economic recovery will stall, or worse slip back into recession, they will pull back on purchases, worries Yun.
“Home sales is always the first housing variable that changes so one would see sales declining and that would naturally lead to more inventory on the market and eventually put pressure on prices,” he says. But that would be a worst-case scenario based on a long-term shutdown.
Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia TRLA +6.43%, notes that if the shutdown lasts longer than a few days, the first places to feel the impact will be local economies with large concentrations of federal government workers. Metro areas like Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Md., where 19% and 13% respectively of total local wages go to federal employees, would be the feel the negative effects of unpaid furloughs and with them, tightened consumer spending and weakening local economic growth. Though not all will be equally affected, other metro areas like Virginia Beach, Va., Honolulu, Hawaii, and Dayton, Ohio are areas that Kolko is keeping an eye on: “Whether there is a big effect depends on how long the shutdown lasts, how long people think the shutdown lasts, and whether people get back-pay. All those things matter for the impact.”
Still others are worrying even more about the next fiscal standoff, in mid-October, surrounding the debt ceiling debate and its accompanying threat of debt default by the U.S. ”With the threat of an impending partial government shutdown and yet another battle over the nation’s debt ceiling, in particular, we are really messing with fire right now—even if it doesn’t seem to bother some legislators,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow.
“But the effects of a government default associated with the impending debt-ceiling deadline would be more pronounced because of its greater impact on domestic and international markets. This will rattle consumers and investors alike, slow down the overall economic recovery and further slow the housing recovery, which is already undergoing a moderation in the pace of home value gains due to rising mortgage rates,” he warns.
Middletown, CT Home Tour
Hey, guys. Thanks for visiting my blog. Today, I am so excited to show you around Middletown. This beautiful town is just 15 miles south of Hartford on Route 9.
Middletown is really a one-of-a-kind place. Its combination of diverse culture, historic architecture and modern vibe makes it inviting to all people.
Main Street is lined with outdoor seating and cafes. College students often grab a cup of coffee and study. Families enjoy one of the many restaurants.
When Sharon Hunt was looking for a place to raise her three children as a single parent, she wanted a community with diversity and culture. Not only did she find that in Middletown, but the schools system went above and beyond to welcome her children and make them feel comfortable.
There are plenty of activities for families. The YMCA has different programs for children of all ages. Another great place is the Kid’s City Museum; there are arts and crafts, science and so many other wonderful things to enjoy as a family.
Middletown is also home to the beautiful 200 acre Wesleyan University campus. Beautiful historic buildings adorn the campus.
The town isn’t just for families, though. Whether your single, a professional or retired Middletown has something for you. The chamber of commerce is very pro business and strongly supports revitalization of the community.
One of the best things about this incredible town, though, is its real estate. Homes are affordable and inventory is abundant. There is plenty of new construction. So, give me a call. Let’s see if a home in Middletown is right for you.
Thanks for watching!
Fannie Mae Homepath Properties
Hey, guys! Welcome back to my video blog!
A lot of you are searching online for the perfect home. Have you found it yet?
Through The Federal National Mortgage Association, more commonly known as Fannie Mae, I know about some great homes before they are even listed. In fact, there are four homes coming on our market just this month!
So what is Fannie Mae? It’s a government-sponsored enterprise that was designed to promote first time home ownership. What’s great about this program is they are available to owner-occupants first.
Some of these properties need a lot of work; others just need a fresh coat of paint. We have access to these homes first and can help you. That’s why you should contact a realtor first; let them know what you’re needs are! We can help you find that perfect home.
Are you pricing your house to SIT or SELL?
Hey, everyone. Pricing properly is one of the most critical elements of selling a home. There are two approaches to pricing a property: you price it to sell or price it to sit.
Buyers today are more educated than ever. They want an up-to-date home in good condition with a reasonable price tag.
A couple of weeks ago we had a client whom had her home appraised. The appraisal value came in at above $300,000 and that is what she wanted to price the property at.
Now, the appraiser hadn’t taken into account all the work the home needed for it to be up-to-date in comparison with competing homes. We wanted to price the home lower. Because the client's independent appraisal came in above $300,000, against our better judgment, we agreed to list the home at that price.
The home had eight showings. We got feed back from six of the buyers and their agents. All the feedback affirmed what we had thought. The home needed too much work done and the price needed to be lower.
It’s important to listen to your real estate professional. They know the market; we work in a retail business. We want top dollar just as you do. There is a fine line, though, between overpricing your home and getting the most money out of your sale.
Thank you for watching. If you have any questions, please give me a call!
Hi everyone. Welcome back to our video blog where we are bringing you relevant information to make informed decisions in the marketplace.
I’ve been getting asked a lot lately if now is the time to buy a home. First, let me start off by saying that question is a personal decision. Do you have a steady job that will cover all your living expenses? Do you have 3-6 months of cash reserves in the bank if I were to lose my job and cover housing payments, car payments, student loans, etc.
If the answer to that is yes, then, let’s move on to the next deciding factors when determining whether to buy a home now.
One of the other common themes you have been hearing about lately are interest rates. We are experiencing incredibly low rates. If you received a $300,000 loan at 30 year fixed rate of 3.5%, over the entire life of the loan, you would pay $484,968.
Now, if rates increase to just 4.25% that same loan will end up costing you $531,292. That’s a $46,327 price difference for that same $300,000 home.
Another common question I keep hearing is ‘are home prices the lowest now and are they starting to trend upwards?’
I can’t speak nationally, but here in Connecticut prices are starting to steadily increase. It is turning into a sellers’ market. Right now, with the lowest interest rates and all of the inventory, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck.
So, to answer your question about whether 2013 is the year to buy, in my professional now is the best time. You are getting the biggest bang for you buck and the lowest interest rate.
If you have any questions please give me a call or shoot me a quick email! Thanks for watching!