First-Time Home Buyers: Sales Up at 4-Year High

 

There is a lot of upbeat news in the September 2016 existing home sales report released by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) on Thursday.

Sales rebounded sharply and the improvement was seen in all four regions.  More good news, NAR attributed part of that to increased participation from first-time home-buyers, a group that has worried the housing industry by its relative absence.

Total existing home sales during the month, including single-family homes, town homes, condos, and co-ops, rose 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million.  First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales, the highest portion in more than four years.

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Housing affordability Keeps on Going!

Homeownership closer than ever!

Housing affordability is up nationwide due to low-interest rates and home prices as National Homeownership Month begins in June, according to a recent release from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

In addition to lower prices and interest rates, low-down payment programs offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is also helping creditworthy borrowers who cannot afford a large down payment   for a mortgage. These programs offer down payments as low as 3 percent for eligible first-time homebuyers.

Homeownership is the key of building wealth, since it is often a primary source of net worth and a step toward accumulating long-term personal financial assets.   It is not only limited to financial freedom but also building stronger communities and personal achievement.

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$10 Million in Grants to Aid Homeownership

$10 Million in Grants to Aid Homeownership

construction-spending-misses-expectations-falls-06The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – HUD announced Wednesday that it is awarding $10 million in grants to four non-profit organizations that will create homes for hundreds of families.

These grants are known as “Sweat Equity” grants, which combine efforts and labor from volunteers and homebuyers themselves.   The non-profit organizations recipients of these grants are: Community Frameworks  ($540,000),   Habitat for Humanity International   ($6.21 million),   Housing Assistance Council   ($1.56 million), and   Tierra del Sol    (Western States Housing Consortium, $1.68 million).

Homebuyers are required to contribute a minimum number of “Sweat Equity” hours toward the building and development of their own homes as participation for this self-help homeownership programs, according to HUD. The minimum sweat equity requirement is 100 hours for a household consisting of two or more persons and 50 hours for a household consisting of one person.

Community volunteers labor participation is also required. Sweat equity and volunteer labor includes any number of activities related         to the construction of a home such as painting, carpentry, foundation work, drywall, trim work, roofing, or siding, among others.

What’s  better buy?  A New or Used Home.

What’s better buy? A New or Used Home.

There are several factors beyond economics that drive this decision, and there is not a specific answer for it. Buying a new home or resale home is more of a life style. It is to decide best what fits your needs, comfort and personality.

So how do you decide?

For once keep in mind that for every qualifier, there is a disqualifier.

You will find good arguments for buying a new home; however you will find also great arguments to buy a resale home.

The truth is that every house has its own unique attributes that will match your personality and needs. On the other hand, builders can never fully re-create the nation’s quaint old neighborhoods, where every house was built architecturally distinct from the neighbor’s. And home buyers will never be able to fully assemble their dream homes the way they want unless they customize the home starting from scratch. So the choice between the two is always a relative call.

First of all, the well-known phrase in real estate: Location, Location, Location should continue at the top of our list. Older homes usually are located in the town’s center of well stablished neighborhoods, which can be good or bad depending on the vitality of your urban area.

Existing homes are usually less expensive per square foot. In new homes although Prices can be more  negotiable than an existing homes, there may be also additional cost under these new subdivisions and homeowner’s association, with mandatory fees and other assessments for architectural controls.

A new development usually offers an opportunity for you to help create your own neighborhood lifestyle. In older communities, people have moved in and out over the years and tend to get more diversity in the neighborhood.

Older homes mean more houses for your money; they may have additional space you can eventually add to the current building structure. On the other hand, new-construction homes often employ more efficient, innovative uses of square footage and property, and may have limited space for future additions.

While new homes are built expressing a modern style, older homes on the other hand can maintain more of classic look, such as Victorian Style Homes for example.

New homes builders have to follow very strict regulations, and are usually more fire-safe structured, and are built with building materials that promote energy efficiency benefits, such as thicker insulation, Energy Star windows, and more efficient energy-saving appliances as well. Older homes, unless they have already undergone an energy retrofit, it will add additional cost to upgrade it. The cost of maintenance goes hand to hand with older homes, especially if the previous owner did not keep up with proper maintenance of the home. Building materials may be harder to replace or match in an expansion or remodeling.

Newer homes tend to impose higher taxes on you because these are new subdivisions, because the community will still need fire and police coverage, sidewalks, sewers and probably a new school, where a more established home in a built-out area has a little more predictable tax structure.

With new and old construction homes, is always recommended to perform a professional home inspection. This is the only way you may be able to find the actual condition of the property; regardless if is a brand new home. It is known that buyers that have purchased brand new homes have discovered defects after purchasing these homes.   Inspect the property before you settle!

 

Homeownership at Best!

Homeownership at Best!

Federal Housing Finance Agency has been working towards a plan to open what many we see as underwriting standards that are too restrictive.

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, their regulator and lenders are close to an agreement that could greatly expand mortgage credit while helping lenders protect themselves from charges of making bad loans, according to people familiar with the matter.

Homeownership getting better!

Homeownership Gets Better!

If the agreement is completed, lenders may be more willing to lend to borrowers with lower credit scores and smaller down payments.

Now that lenders are starting to remove some of the credit overlays, it is time to improve the growth of homeownership in the country

We expect FHFA to report the steps to further move and clarify lender liability and support the return of the 97% LTV product at the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have recouped tens of billions of dollars in penalties from lenders in recent years over claims that the lenders made underwriting mistakes on loans they sold to the mortgage giants.

However, Lenders have blamed those penalties for tight credit conditions and for prompting them to make loans only to borrowers with near-pristine credit.

We hope these initiatives will have a meaningful impact on the mortgage market, and we can see positive changes in the direction of the mortgages industry after years of tightening credit issues.

Next Tuesday will see the existing home sales report for September, on Thursday the FHFA purchase-only house price index for August, and Friday the new home sales report.