REMAX 440/Central Blog

Real Estate Survey Shows New Trend in College Town Home Buying

November 16, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 16, 2010--Every fall parents wave goodbye as their college-bound kids pack up their belongings, make the drive down university lane and prepare for football games, mid-terms and freedom. While college living is often associated with dorms and campus housing, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC discovered that many parents are opting to purchase a home rather than spend money on rent or dorm fees.

According to a recent survey among the Coldwell Banker network of real estate professionals in college towns, 64% see a significant number of "parent investors" buying homes for their kids to live in while attending the university.

To see how college towns stack up in home price affordability, Coldwell Banker Real Estate released its new College Home Listing Report (College HLR), which provides the average home listing price of four-bedroom, two-bathroom properties listed for sale between April and September 2010 in markets home to the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision. With almost two-thirds of the College HLR markets having subject homes priced less than $250,000 (78 in total), college towns prove to be a touchdown for homebuyers.

The top 10 most affordable markets in the Coldwell Banker Real Estate College Home Listing Report are:

1. Ball State University, Muncie, Ind. Average listing price: $105,115

2. University of Buffalo: The State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y. Average listing price: $117,223

3. University of Memphis, Memphis, Tenn. Average listing price: $135,090

4. University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. Average listing price: $137,707

5. University of Akron, Akron, Ohio Average listing price: $139,711

6. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Mich. Average listing price: $141,629

7. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio Average listing price: $141,964

8. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio Average listing price: $153,662

9. University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio Average listing price: $155,286

10. Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, La. Average listing price: $157,110

Coldwell Banker Real Estate found that college towns have continued to be a hot spot for real estate investing, regardless of the downturn in the economy. Seventy-three percent of Coldwell Banker real estate professionals surveyed said they see a significant number of investors buying homes near campus and renting them to people in the community, with only 21% seeing a decrease in this trend over the past five years.

With so many benefits to living in a college town, they aren't just for investors. Alumni and retirees are finding reasons to re-live their glory days, as well. Fifty one percent of the survey respondents noted they see a lot of alumni homebuyers, and 49% see a significant number of retirees moving to their college town.

"It's not just students who want to live near campus, attend games and take interesting classes," Gillespie said. "For a few years now, college towns have been popular markets for alumni and retirees. I'm a great example," he said. "I purchased a home in Champaign, Ill. to be near my alma mater, the University of Illinois, and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made, from both a lifestyle and a financial perspective."


Tips for a Successful Open House During the Holiday Season

November 16, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 16, 2010--Holidays, and the religious or non-religious implications that go with them, can get very personal, which goes against one of the major rules when showing your home--keep everything impersonal. Finding a balance can be difficult for homeowners that are trying to sell, but still want to celebrate the season. Follow these Dos and Donts from FrontDoor to help successfully show your home during the holiday season:

DO keep decorations to a minimum. You dont want to take away or cover up important selling features (stairs, windows, fireplaces). For that reason, consider getting a smaller tree. Having a ten foot tree can be overwhelming for buyers, and may make the room look smaller because of the space it uses. DONT crowd your home with decorations; rather, opt for general fall and winter ones without any religious themes.

DONT decorate your exterior more than two weeks in advance and do not leave holiday decorations up for more than two weeks after the holiday. DO take your neighborhood into account, but go light on the lights. If everyone on your street is decorated to the nines, add a few lights to the outside of your housebut dont overdo it. While the lights will show well at night, they will do nothing during the day and too many lights on the outside of a house can be an eye sore. Just don't use holiday lawn ornaments. Overdoing it on the lawn decorations can be tacky and may turn off some buyers. There's no accounting for taste.

DO create a warm, holiday atmosphere inside by replacing white light bulbs with amber colored ones. This is a great way to shake up the feel of the house for touring potential buyers, without going overboard. DO play music during an open house, but avoid Christmas carols. Instrumental music is a nice touch.

DO put out some holiday treats. No matter what holiday people celebrate, most will appreciate a plate of cookies and apple cider. Add some festive napkins and you give a holiday feel without being overwhelming. In addition, do keep the temperature in your home at a warm comfortable level. If you have a fireplace, light a fire during the open house. This will entice your visitors to stay awhile and enjoy the various features your home has to offer.

DONT forget to clear away ice and snow from all walkways, the driveway and all entrances to your home (this includes decks, patios or sliding doors).

By following these tips, you can still show your home without potentially offensive and garish decorations. By keeping your holiday dcor to a minimum, you are allowing any potential buyer to paint their own picture of their new life in your home.


10 Foreclosure Avoidance Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

November 15, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 15, 2010--Despite the many signs of market stabilization, some are still hearing that very scary word thrown about: foreclosure. Even though foreclosure is a problem all over the country, there are steps you can take to protect your home and prevent it from happening to you. Here are 10 suggestions from the American Homeowners Foundation to help you avoid foreclosure and stay in your home.

1. Dont ignore the problem. The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and the more likely that you will lose your home. If you are behind on your mortgage payments or have received notice that you are behind in payments, you need to contact your lender quickly and ask to speak with a loss mitigator. Typically, your lender will mail you a loan workout package. This package contains information, forms and instructions. If you want to be considered for assistance, you must complete the forms fully and truthfully and return them to your lender quickly. Your lender will review the complete package before talking about a solution with you.

2. A smart, simultaneous step is to contact a HUD-approved local nonprofit counseling agency that may be aware of programs that could help you, may have personal knowledge of your lenders flexibility in terms of available options, and may know the best person to contact with your lender. To find call HUD at (800) 569-4287 on weekdays. Time is of the essence, so dont let this step slow the process more than a few days.

3. At the same time, find out what your home is worth so you will know how much equity you have (or if its worth less than the mortgage balance). There are online home valuation tools on Zillow.com, Trulia, and several other websites, but an experienced and knowledgeable local real estate agents written market valuation is likely to be more accurate and will be helpful in discussing options with lenders. Modifications, forbearance and recasting are all possible if you have sufficient equity in your home, and if you have sufficient equity, selling the home, if necessary, may not be the worst idea if home values are dropping.

4. Avoid fee-based for-profit mortgage prevention companies or counseling agencies. Many are rip-offs that provide few if any meaningful services for distressed homeowners, and you can get quality counseling for free. Also, be wary of investors who advertise offers of immediate cash for your home. Many of them are also unethical or outright crooks, seeking to strip home equity through a variety of techniques. If any firm claims they can stop your foreclosure immediately if you sign a document appointing them to act on your behalf, you may well be signing over the title to your property. Never sign any legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice from an attorney or a trusted real estate professional, or a HUD-approved housing counselor.

5. Know your mortgage rights. Find your loan documents and read them so you know what your lender may do if you cant make your payments. Learn about the foreclosure laws and timeframes in your state (as every state is different) by contacting the State Government Housing Office.

6. Foreclosures are expensive for lenders, so they are usually willing to listen to reasonable ideas that can reduce their potential losses, such as restructuring the loan at lower rates or accepting a short sale, which occurs when the lender agrees to let the owner sell the home for less than the mortgage balance, and agrees to forgive the shortfall and not downgrade the homeowners credit. Your willingness to cooperate is a negotiating tool if your suggestions are likely to be less expensive than a foreclosure action.

7. Bankruptcy is an option, particularly if your lender is inflexible or your mortgage is on a second home or a rental property. Bankruptcy judges can reduce debts and modify interest rates on commercial loans, second home mortgages, and investment property mortgages when it is in the best interest of both parties. Unfortunately, they have no such latitude with the mortgage on your primary residence, but if your mortgage lender is inflexible, bankruptcy proceedings may be the wisest choice.

8. Even if you are current on your mortgage payments but have an adjustable loan, thoroughly review your mortgage documents, even if your reset date is many months in the future. Check the reset interest rate - or formula for determining the reset rate - and any future rate resets, and see if there are mortgage prepayment penalties.

9. If you think you could have trouble keeping up with the new payments on an adjustable mortgage, consider refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage if possible. Some lenders may be willing to forgive all or part of a prepayment penalty if that payment presents a problem and you qualify for their fixed rate product.

10. Dont assume that you are immune to a foreclosure in the future. Dont assume that a mortgage lenders underwriting process will assure that youll not be approved for an unaffordable mortgage in the future. When lenders discovered that they could package and very profitably sell risky loans to investors, they became way less focused on responsible underwriting because they werent at risk if they sold the loans. Sound underwriting practices began to deteriorate, eventually causing the current mortgage meltdown. This could happen again. In the future, you need to consider the total amount of likely monthly payments, including taxes and insurance, and be comfortable in your own mind that you can handle those payments. Adjustable rate loans are risky because you cant control the future interest rate at the time they will be adjusted, so you need to assume the worst (in other words, a substantially higher index interest rate when they adjust) in deciding whether they will still be affordable.

For more information on how you can avoid foreclosure, visit www.AmericanHomeowners.org and www.hud.gov.


Third Quarter Metro Area Home Prices Hold Steady, Buying Power Remains High

November 15, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 15, 2010--Half of metropolitan areas tracked in the third quarter continued to show modest home price increases from a year ago, despite a sharp decline in home sales after the deadline for the home buyer tax credit, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors.

In the third quarter, 77 out of 155 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) had higher median existing single-family home prices in comparison with the third quarter of 2009, including 11 with double-digit increases. In the third quarter of 2009 only 30 MSAs experienced annual price gains.

The national median existing single-family price was little changed at $177,900 in the third quarter, down just 0.2 percent from $178,200 in the third quarter of 2009. The median is where half sold for more and half sold for less. Distressed homes, typically sold at discount, accounted for 34 percent of third-quarter sales, up from 30 percent a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said relatively flat home prices have been the hallmark of the 2010 housing market. "Even with swings in home sales, prices this year have been changing very little from year-ago readings. Areas with some larger swings in home prices reflect the degree of distressed sales in those markets," he said.

"Home sales through the first three quarters of this year are virtually the same as year-to-date sales at this time last year and, therefore, broadly support home values. However, there are large local market differences with prices rising in job-creating regions like the Washington, D.C. area, the Dakotas and Texas; and also in markets recovering from over-correction such as California coastal cities," Yun said.

NAR President Ron Phipps said the outstanding factor in the current market is housing affordability. "The great news for home buyers in todays market is historically low mortgage interest rates and affordable home prices in much of the country, along with a great selection of properties," he said.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was a record low 4.45% in the third quarter, down from 4.91% in the second quarter; it was 5.16% in the third quarter of 2009.

"Given the relationship between mortgage interest rates, home prices and median family income, the buying power in todays market is matching the highest levels weve seen dating all the way back to 1970. Although credit is still tight, a Realtor can guide you toward responsible, sustainable homeownership in todays market by helping you find both the right home and a mortgage that meets your needs," Phipps said.

Yun added that there are additional indicators for home price stabilization. "A recent surge in commodity prices, along with the fact that the cost of constructing a new home exceeds the value of existing homes in many markets, bode well for continuing home price stabilization," he said.


MBA Shares Concerns in Letters to Regulators

November 15, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 15, 2010--The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) sent two letters to federal regulators last week, sharing concerns that the influx of new rules being written under the Dodd-Frank Act are taking a toll on banks struggling to keep up.

The Dodd-Frank Act aims to tackle the issues surrounding risky lending, but the MBA warns that the setup of the "qualified mortgage," as outlined by Dodd-Frank, could actually work against the mortgage market. The MBA states that lenders should "retain discretion" for determining who is and is not eligible for a loan.

"We must also remember that many of the loan products and characteristics under consideration to be restricted were, for many years, not problematic when underwritten prudently," the MBA writes in the letter.

With the new rules in place, the MBA believes fewer loans will be deemed "qualified," and therefore, it will be much harder for borrowers to achieve a mortgage. They are pushing for exemption from these rules for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) and for loans with terms longer than 30 years, reports HousingWire.

In the second letter sent to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the MBA claimed that the new rules would threaten mortgage availability in an already weakened market.

"Major changes under TILA, including HOEPA revisions, and new loan officer compensation rules, along with new RESPA disclosures, SAFE Act compliance and appraisal standards, to name a few, have stretched thin the compliance capabilities of financial institutions," according to the MBA.

The association suggested stalling efforts to improve TILA disclosures in lieu of combining RESPA and TILA and simplifying many of the requirements recently laid out.


Saving Money with Hired Moving Labor

November 12, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 12, 2010Whether you're moving in state or across the country, there are many different options for those seeking professional moving help. For those on a budget, full-service moves may be too pricey, while doing everything yourself is back-breaking and tiresome without an army of friends bribed by beer and pizza. Fortunately, there is a middle groundmoving labor services.

Halfway between full service and DIY, moving labor services allow you to hire and pay only for the services you need and want. Relocation breaks down these services into the following three options: rental trucks, portable storage containers and space rental in commercial trailers.

For in-state moves, a rental truck might be all you need. For a couple hundred dollars (depending on the company), you might able to complete your move with a single truck and a couple of hours. After renting the vehicle, you can hire moving labor to load and unload it for you. Websites such as HireAHelper.com and XPressMovers.com can connect you with reliable and experienced help. Reviews of workers can be found on these sites ensuring that the helpers you hire are on time and ready for action. You can even hire them for additional services, such as driving the rental truck for you for an additional fee. For short moves, hired help and a rental truck may be all you need to get the job done.

For temporary storage, you may want to consider renting a portable service container. The container company delivers a container for you to fill up however you'd like. They then pick it up and store it for however long you need and then deliver it back to you at your new address. With this option, you can either load it yourself or hire help to do it for you. You can even split the labor between hired help and your own hard work. These containers are a great optionthe company takes care of the entire method of transportation and you only worry about loading and unloading.

What many movers fail to utilize is rented space in commercial trailers. For long-distance moves, you can rent part of a trailer to move your belongings. Trailers are split up and shared amongst many customers so that the cost is shared and cheaper for all involved. Moving labor can be hired to help you unload your share, providing you with a cost effective way to transport your things and preventing you from having to drive cross-country yourself.

There are many different options available to you when planning for your next big move. With hired moving labor and a variety of transportation options, any mover can find a method that suits his or her specific needs and budget.


Foreclosure Activity Decreases 4% in October According to RealtyTrac

November 12, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 12, 2010--RealtyTrac, a leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for October 2010, which shows foreclosure filingsdefault notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessionswere reported on 332,172 properties in October, a 4% decrease from the previous month and almost exactly the same total reported in October 2009. One in every 389 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.

"October marks the 20th consecutive month where over 300,000U.S. homeowners received a foreclosure notice," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent 'robo-signing' controversy, which is the mostlikely reason for the 9% monthly drop in REOs we saw from September to October and whichmay result in further decreases in November."

Foreclosure Activity by Type

A total of 100,575 U.S. properties received default notices (NOD, LIS) in October, a 2% decrease from the previous month and a 19% decrease from October 2009the ninth straight month where default notices have decreased on a year-over-year basis.

Default notices were still up on a monthly basis in some states, however, NODs decreased on a monthly basis in California (down 9% from the previous month), Nevada (down 17%), and Michigan (down 18%).

Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for the first time on a total of 138,361 U.S. properties in October, a 3 % decrease from the previous month but still a 6 % increase from October 2009. Scheduled auctions decreased month-over-month in 26 states and the District of Columbia, while 16 states posted year-over-year decreases in scheduled auctions.

Lenders foreclosed on 93,236 U.S. properties in October, down 9% from the record high in the previous month but still up 21% from October 2009. Bank repossessions (REOs) decreased month-over month in 33 states and the District of Columbia, while 14 states posted year-over-year decreases in REOs. Including October, lenders have foreclosed on an average of more than 91,000 properties each month this year.

Report methodology

The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides a count of the total number of properties with at least one foreclosure filing entered into the RealtyTrac database during the month, broken out by type of filing. Data is collected from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, and those counties account for more than 90% of the U.S. population. RealtyTracs report incorporates documents filed in all three phases of foreclosure: DefaultNotice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS); AuctionNotice of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); and Real Estate Owned, or REO properties (that have been foreclosed on and repurchased by a bank). The report does not count a property again if it receives the same type of foreclosure filing multiple times within the estimated foreclosure timeframe for the state where the property is located.

For more findings from RealtyTrac's Foreclosure Market Report, please visit www.realtytrac.com.


NAR Extends Operation Home Relief to Keep More Veterans in Their Homes

November 12, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 12, 2010--The National Association of Realtors is extending its widely successful Facebook Causes campaign, "Operation Home Relief." The campaign was launched just last month to help military families obtain foreclosure assistance, and America responded with enthusiasmwithin 20 days, NAR matched $20,000 in donations to the cause.

"NAR believes that any family who loses a home to foreclosure is one family too many," said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker/president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, Rhode Island. "Foreclosures don't just affect the families that lose their homes; a foreclosure lowers the value of every home in the surrounding neighborhood. That's why we're so pleased with America's response to Operation Home Relief, and why we're committing additional funds to support military families who need assistance."

NAR launched Operation Home Relief through its consumer website, HouseLogic.com, a free comprehensive website about homeownership for homeowners. Operation Home Relief aims to increase awareness, rally support and raise funding for USA Cares, a nonprofit that provides foreclosure assistance in the form of financial counseling and grants to post-9/11 active duty U.S. military service personnel, veterans and their families.

Initially, HouseLogic donated $1 to USA Cares every time someone "joined" the Cause page, and agreed to match donations made to the Cause up to $20,000. In honor of Veteran's Day, HouseLogic is increasing its match grant to USA Cares by $11,000.

HouseLogic also offers an online foreclosure guide to help home owners avoid the pitfalls of foreclosure, with tips and solutions to help more families stay in their homes.

For more information on sustaining homeownership, and many other housing topics, visit HouseLogic at www.houselogic.com.


Common Home Defects All Buyers and Sellers Should Be Aware Of

November 11, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 11, 2010--Home defects come in all shapes and sizes. From structural problems to air flow and ventilation issues, a lot of things can go wrong with your home. Whether you're buying or selling your home or simply staying put, you should be aware of some of the common home defects that abound so you can fix them quickly and easily before they become catastrophes.

Poor Drainage According to Elsa Home Inspections, poor drainage is the most common problem found by home inspectors. To improve your drainage, you may have to install a new system of eaves, troughs and downspouts to better aim water away from the house. Inadequate drainage can be a devastating defect. Water can damage basements, garages and crawl spaces, compromising the foundation of the home and creating mold. Taking care of this issue is of dire importance, and buyers should avoid purchasing homes that may have drainage problems.

Rotted Wood Another important defect to watch out for is rotted wood, both inside and outside the home. Wood exposed to excess moisture is bound to rot. This can happen in bathrooms, on flooring or even in the kitchen. The Home Team Inspection Service recommends finding these problem areas in your home and protecting them with a special paint or finish. Don't forget to check your deck and outside trim as well.

Bad Roofing Always be attentive of a structure's roof. Damaged shingles or improperly installed flashing are severe warning signs that trouble lurks ahead. Check for leaky ceilings as a sign of a damaged roof. Repairing the roof is crucial in order to prevent further damage later. Although it may be an expensive repair, it's always best to take care of it before it affects other parts of the home.

Inadequate Ventilation Without proper ventilation, a build up of moisture can attack a home's interior walls and structural components, says Elsa Home Inspections. Ventilation fans are a good idea for bathrooms without windows, and opening all of the home's windows during bouts of good weather also helps keep the air moving. Doing so can help prevent drywall replacements or other more expensive structural replacements. Find out the best way to keep your house ventilated and keep that air flowing.

Poor Overall Maintenance Has the house been properly maintained over the years? How confident are you in the previous owner's repair skills? Sometimes improper maintenance can affect many parts of the home, such as the plumbing and electrical systems. Scope out any makeshift repairs and have a professional take a look, if necessary. Faulty wiring jobs and plumbing situations are not cases to be taken lightly. If a house doesn't look well-kept, this may be reason enough to send buyers running.

With the proper maintenance, any home defect can be righted to ensure a safe living environment for any family. For sellers, make sure major problems with the home are taken care of before listing the home. This is a great way to make sure you get the most money from your investment. Buyers should ask questions regarding these common red flags and if a house has too many defects, they may want to walk away. For current homeowners, fixing these issues now will not only ensure safety for all of the home's inhabitants, but it will also help increase your home's value when it comes to selling time.

For more information, visit http://www.elsahomeinspections.com and http://www.hometeaminspection.com/.


Mortgage Applications See 5.8% Boost

November 11, 2010 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, November 11, 2010--The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that the market composite index experienced a 5.8% increase for the week ending with November 5, riding on the coattails of a 6% rise in refinancing applications.

These numbers are quite the comeback, according to HousingWire, which reports that the prior week saw a 5% drop for the overall market composite index. Refinances were also down the week before at a 6.4% decrease.

Purchase applications have risen 5.5% last week, and have been continually rising for three-straight weeks, according to the MBA. The unadjusted purchase index increased 3.1% last week, and was 33.9% higher than one year earlier.

"Although mortgage rates were little changed following the Federal Reserves decision to purchase $600 billion of Treasury bonds over the next eight months, mortgage applications increased last week," says Michael Fratantoni, MBAs vice president of Research and Economics. "The increases in purchase applications we have seen over the past couple of weeks align with the better than expected news from Octobers employment report and other data indicating some improvement in the economys growth prospects."

In addition, 81.7% of all mortgage applications last week were comprised of refinances, while the conventional purchase index's rise led it to the highest level since May.


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