Welcome to Trophy Realtors!

Opportunity to Make Homeownership More Affordable

 

 

 

Excerpts from article by Jon Boughtin @ Realtor.org

 

WASHINGTON (November 15, 2016) — The Federal Housing Administration’s just released(link is external) actuarial report shows that the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund is on a steady financial trajectory, a finding the National Association of Realtors® believes is an opportunity to make FHA’s low-down-payment mortgage option available to an even broader swath of borrowers.

FHA’s MMIF is responsible for paying lenders if a mortgagor defaults. In a sign of continuing health, the report shows that the fund’s “seriously delinquent” rate is at a ten-year low, while the overall economic value of the fund has increased by $3.8 billion.

Last year the MMIF also achieved a 2 percent capital reserve ratio for the first time since the Great Recession. This marked an important benchmark showing that the fund had strongly rebounded, a finding reinforced by the 2.3 percent capital reserve ratio FHA reported today. FHA also reported a 3.2 percent reserve ratio for the “forward” program, which encompasses FHA’s non-Home Equity Conversion Mortgage portfolio.

According to NAR estimates, the 50-basis-point premium cut announced in January 2015 provided an annual savings of $900 for nearly 2 million FHA homeowners. A recent Federal Reserve study(link is external) also found that the January 2015 reduction in mortgage insurance premiums had a quick and significant effect on FHA mortgage volume.

NAR also supports eliminating “life of loan” mortgage insurance, which borrowers must continue to pay until the loan is extinguished or refinanced. Conventional mortgage products, by contrast, traditionally require mortgage insurance only until a sufficient amount of equity is achieved on the property.

“FHA mortgages are an important option for buyers, but high premiums and lifetime insurance requirements can take that option right off the table,” Brown said. “By lowering premiums and eliminating life of loan mortgage insurance, FHA can expand on their work to serve a broad population of homebuyers. We look forward to working with them in the months ahead to bring these changes to light.”

Home Ownership Key in Retirement

 

 

 

Excerpts from DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2016 and also from website hud.gov

Older home owners who use the equity in their home may be better off in funding their retirement, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. However, the recession may have hampered many retirees’ abilities to do so.

“Not only does a house meet the basic needs of shelter, but it’s an asset that typically can be used to build wealth as home owners pay down their mortgages,” the study’s authors note. “In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources—Social Security, pensions and savings—is incomplete because it ignores the home.”

Before the recession, home owners aged 65 or older could have used their home’s equity to increase their retirement income by over 50 percent – up to $60,000 -either by borrowing a home equity line of credit, selling their home at a profit, or taking a cash-out refinance or second mortgage. However, the Urban Institute’s study notes that percentage fell to 50 percent – up to $49,000 – by 2012, even though retirees accumulated an average 10 percent more equity than in 1998. Home owner’s equity grew from $117,000 to $166,000 between 2000 and 2006 before falling to $129,000 by 2012.

A reverse mortgage (aged 62 or older) is a special type of home loan that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. The equity that you built up over years of making mortgage payments can be paid to you.  However, unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage.  You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.

With a second mortgage, or a home equity line of credit, borrowers must make monthly payments on the principal and interest.  A reverse mortgage is different, because it pays you – there are no monthly principal and interest payments.  With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities, and hazard and flood insurance premiums.

The study’s authors say that older home owners have more opportunity to unlock the wealth potential of their homes in retirement, particularly now with the recession over.

“The majority of older adults, regardless of income, race and ethnicity, and education, own homes that they could use to help finance their retirement,” the authors note.

7 Reasons Fall Might Just Be the Best Time to Buy a Home

 

 

 

Excerpts from Realtor.com, By Margaret Heidenry | Sep 30, 2016

Spring and summer usually get all the real estate glory with lofty accolades as the best time to buy a home—and, of course, the busiest. Meanwhile, their seasonal sibling, fall, often gets tossed to the leaf pile by potential buyers who might think autumn is just about haunted houses and turkey dinners rather than house hunting.

But surprise! Fall is not only a great time to buy a home, it might also be the best season to find the perfect property (and not just because you can browse the listings while cupping a pumpkin latte).

Reason No. 1: Lower home prices

The best month to snag a deal when buying a home? October. This isn’t just some random guess; it’s based on RealtyTrac’s analysis of more than 32 million home sales over 15 years. The resulting data showed that on average, October buyers paid 2.6% below market value estimated at the time for their homes.

For a house that would normally be $300,000, 2.6% translates into a $7,800 discount. Those savings are nothing to sneeze at, so bargain hunters should get hopping once autumn rolls around. (For an even better deal, aim for Oct. 8, when buyers get a home, on average, at 10.8% below estimated market value.)

Reason No. 2: Less competition

Like a beach after Labor Day, the realty market clears out as the days turn crisp. Most summer buyers have already found a home, meaning a fall buyer will have way less competition for the available houses on the market, says  Bill Golden of Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside. And don’t worry about those buyers who didn’t close before August, either.

“Many folks will drop out of the market until after the new year,” says Golden, giving a fall buyer even greater room to roam at open houses. There may not be as many properties to choose from, but as Golden says, “a little patience and perseverance could reap big rewards.”

Reason No. 3: Worn-out home sellers

Say hello to your little friend, leverage. Sellers who have their homes on the market in the fall “are generally people who need to sell, which can make for better negotiations for the buyer,” says Golden. And if a home you have your eye on has been on the market all summer, you’re really in the driver’s seat as far as making an offer the seller can’t refuse. The longer a home sits on the market, the more negotiating power the buyer wields.

Reason No. 4: The holidays are around the corner

Not only are most home sellers worn out after the summer selling season, they’re also caught between a real estate rock and a hard place in that the holidays are barreling down on them. If they want to move and settle down in time to host Thanksgiving and put up their Christmas lights, they’ll have to close, fast. So use this preholiday window to your advantage by offering to help them vacate fast if they cut you a deal.

Reason No. 5: Year-end tax credits

No one wants to buy a home purely to make their accountant happy. But there’s a sweet added incentive to closing on a home at the end of the fiscal year. Come the following April 15, you might be able to take some nice tax deductions, including closing costs, property tax, and mortgage interest, to offset your taxable earnings.

Reason No. 6: More quality time with your real estate team

As the year comes to an end, fewer buyers also means you should have the full attention of your real estate agent, mortgage broker, real estate lawyer, and everyone else on your house hunting team. You can take your time to ask all those questions you have about, title transfers, earnest money, due diligence and more without feeling like you’re intruding in their busiest season to turn a buck.

Reason No. 7: Home improvement bargains

Once you close on that home you found in the fall, you may want to upgrade your appliances. Luckily, December is when major appliances—refrigerators, stoves, washers, and dryers—are at their very cheapest, according to Consumer Reports. It’s also the best time of year to buy cookware and TVs.

So once you’re settled in (and provided you have any money left), get ready to renovate!

Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine..

 

6 Upgrades Under $1,000 That Give You The Most Bang For Your Buck

 

 

 

Excerpts from Forbes.com

 

1. A budget-friendly kitchen remodel

Real estate agents will tell you time and again: Kitchens and baths are what sell a home. A dated kitchen can be a big turnoff, and there are lots of ways, both big and small, you can make yours as refreshing and inviting as possible, without investing in a total overhaul. When it comes to spiffing up your kitchen for resale, you don’t need to majorly splurge to make a better impression on buyers.

Instead, bring the space to the point of what’s known as “builder-grade luxury”: Replace basic black appliances with stainless steel, for example, and ditch the laminate countertops in favor of granite. Yes, these home improvement ideas might sound pricey, and you could spend a pretty penny on appliances and granite, but builder-grade improvements stop far short of those over-the-top luxuries. So make your decisions with thriftiness in mind: choose one of the more affordable granite countertops (such as Napoli, Baltic Brown, or St. Cecilia), with a crisp and in-style beveled edge. Leave higher-end stone and more ornate beveling for your next home. The cost to upgrade appliances and/or countertops will vary within the four-digit range. But to keep this upgrade within your budget, try to find a deeply discounted appliance at an outlet or local “scratch-and-dent” store — where almost-perfect pieces come with perfectly approachable price tags.

Want an even cheaper way to give your kitchen a quick face-lift? Simply refinish or repaint your cabinetry and add updated hardware (such as new hinges and drawer pulls), which can dramatically transform the look of the room for less than $100. Your best bet is to choose colors and styles that are likely to appeal to the widest range of homebuyers and make them feel as if they’ve walked right into their dream kitchen Pinterest board.

2. Upgrade the bathroom

When it comes to bathrooms, most buyers envision themselves relaxing in a modern, sleek space. The most basic upgrade starts with replacing old, pastel, 3-by-3 ceramic tile with modern tile like white subway-style ceramic or 12-by-12 porcelain tiles in a neutral hue. Replacing your plastic tub surround with a tiled shower costs about $1,000 but makes a big difference, and for an extra $100 to $150, you can also add a recessed alcove (a built-in wall niche for your shampoo bottles).

As with a kitchen remodel, consider which changes will have maximum impact. You may not need to replace that old pedestal sink. Instead, you could change out the faucet — upgrade it from nicked brass to sleek new chrome — and hang some luxurious towels next to it. The same goes for quirky floor tile; choose a new paint color that will enhance it rather than clash with it. Make sure the colors and styles you choose are as universally appealing as possible so buyers see a space they know they can live with. And again, scrub your bathroom from top to bottom — there is no bigger turnoff than yellowed grout and leftover toothpaste in the sink.

3. Pick neutral paint colors

Paint still reigns supreme as the easiest and cheapest way to refresh any room, especially if you do the work yourself. Whites and neutrals can help buyers envision themselves in the space, since they provide a blank slate to serve as a backdrop for buyers’ stuff. Forgo that bold navy accent wall — the idea of priming and painting over it will just stress buyers out. Plus, lighter earth tones look good with hardwood floors, and white always brightens a room. If your rooms include mixed wood surfaces (floors, doors, and cabinets), select a neutral color and ask your local paint purveyor to mix in a few drops of gold to add warmth and harmonize discordant wood tones

4. Make an impact with flooring

Like paint, quality flooring can drastically change the look and feel of your rooms. Hardwood is always appealing to a wide range of buyers, as are high-quality laminate options and (affordable!) ecofriendly choices like bamboo and cork. If your home is hiding hardwood floors under that carpeting, let them shine if they’re in good condition. If you already have hardwood floors but they’re looking a little worse for wear, it’s time to invest in a good sanding and refinishing. Whether you go the DIY route and rent a sander or pay someone to get it up to snuff, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars for like-new floors. Just be realistic about your DIY skills before tackling a refinishing project. Gouged floors can bring your home’s appeal way down, so if you’re not handy, choose a pro instead.

Kitchens and baths gain value with tile or laminate flooring, which are both visually appealing and easy to clean. Carpeting is still acceptable in bedrooms, especially if it’s plush, in great condition, and in a neutral color. But more and more buyers are turning away from carpeting altogether, so if you’re in doubt about whether to replace your carpets or install different flooring, hardwood (or its more-affordable cousin, bamboo) is your best bet. Even a basic snap-to hardwood installation can beat out wall-to-wall carpeting when it comes time to sell.

5. Consider home staging

Staging your home helps buyers imagine themselves living in the space, and it’s a relatively inexpensive way to dress up features you’re trying to highlight. The first step is clearing the entire home of any clutter and removing any overly personal touches like family photos or children’s artwork. Furniture should be arranged in a way that flows well and maximizes space — buyers will feel claustrophobic if they need to navigate around big pieces as they move from room to room. If you can, bring in a professional home stager or interior designer to consult on the ideal room arrangements. Otherwise, use the following tips for a DIY approach.

In each room, place furniture so it feels inviting and functional — just because you can’t live without a footstool next to your bed for Fluffy to climb on doesn’t mean it should stay there when your home is on the market. In the living room, seating and tables can be configured into social and conversational areas, while placing an armchair in an empty bedroom nook will frame it as a cozy reading spot. Bright lighting will make spaces seem larger, so turn on those lamps, and make sure your decor and artwork enhance their surroundings rather than distract from them. Depending on whether you need to add, subtract, or rearrange, staging shouldn’t cost very much at all, especially relative to how much of a boost it could give your home when it comes to bringing in buyers and helping your home sell quickly.

6. Amp up your curb appeal

Don’t neglect your home’s exterior. If buyers don’t like what they see when they first pull up, they may not even get out of the car. To make the outside of your home appealing, ensure all walkways are clear, the landscaping is neat and tidy, and everything is in good repair. This may require more substantial repairs like repainting or replacing siding, fixing loose shutters, and sealing those cracks in the driveway. Or it could be as simple as mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, and planting a few colorful annuals to make sure nothing looks bare. Add one or two “homey” final touches, like a new welcome mat, new or repainted mailbox, updated house numbers, and an outdoor seating area with festive lights. Your home will feel extra inviting from the get-go — and just may get a quick offer if it’s love at first sight.

Buyer Cheat Sheet for a Seller’s Market

 

 

 

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, APRIL 08, 2016 http://realtormag.realtor.org/

In a seller’s market, home buyers need to be willing and able to act fast to snag the home they want. This spring, areas across the country are facing a limited number of homes for sale. Realtor.com® offers up a cheat sheet for surviving a seller’s market.

* Be on call. “If you’re only looking now and then when it’s convenient, you’re probably wasting your time,” says James Malmberg, a real estate professional in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He suggests treating house hunting like job hunting. If someone calls with a lead, follow up promptly to gauge whether it could be a good fit and don’t linger.

* Bring the paperwork. To be taken seriously, buyers would be wise to get a mortgage pre-approval letter as well as a “proof of funds” form from their bank to show they have enough to cover a down payment. They’ll be able to act quicker when they do find the right house.

* Limit the contingencies. In a seller’s market, buyers may need to drop some of the contingencies to score the house. Sellers prefer the fewest number of hurdles to closing as possible. If your buyers come in with several contingencies — such as “if” they secure financing — the sellers are more inclined to bypass their offer and take another with less hassle. Also, “don’t waste your time lowballing a seller,” advises Sean Kelley, a real estate professional with Howard Hannah in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Always put in an aggressive offer.”

* Cast a wide net. Search for homes outside prime locations if faced with limited or high-priced choices. Buyers need to carefully consider what they’re willing to compromise on. “Sometimes properties sit, even in a seller’s market, because of a problem that is scaring other buyers away,” such as some renovation work that may need to be done, Malmberg says. Those “flaws,” however, might not be a big deal to your buyers. “Finding a house this way can also cut down on the amount of competition you will face,” Malmberg adds.

Source: “Surviving a Seller’s Market: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet,” realtor.com® (April 7, 2016)