7 Steps to Simplify House Hunting

7 Steps to Simplify House Hunting

House hunting is a complicated process. From finding the right home, to locking down a mortgage rate you can afford, it is a process that requires an attention to detail and a well-thought-out plan. Below are seven steps to take as you begin house hunting to ensure you stay focused and on budget.

1. Establish your goal. Searching for your dream house? Upgrading your current digs or looking to downsize? Whatever the goal is behind your impending home purchase, be sure you understand it clearly before beginning your house hunt. This will eliminate wasted time spent viewing homes that don’t meet your top priority.
2. Create a wish list. Once your primary objective is in place, it’s time to list all of the additional features and amenities you expect from the property you eventually buy. Do you want a swimming pool in the backyard, a balcony off of your master bedroom or crown molding throughout? Brainstorming must-haves and also-nice-to-haves helps to further narrow down your search field.
3. Hire a real estate agent. No one understands the intricacies of a local housing market like a real estate agent with years of experience helping others buy and sell property within it. Save yourself time and headache and hire a highly rated agent to see you through the process.
4. Get pre-approved. Knowing exactly how much you can afford to spend ahead of time helps the house hunting process goes much smoother, not to mention, eliminates the disappointment of learning you don’t have enough saved for the home you’ve had your eye on all this time. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will set your budget straight off.
5. Ask questions and take notes. This is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so don’t hold back if you have questions or concerns. Ensure you have no lingering questions about the property, mortgage financing terms or anything else that could lead to regret down the line. And don’t forget to write down important notes as you view house after house — things that seem important in the moment are easily forgotten after five open houses.
6. Do some recon work. Spend time hanging around the house you have your eye on, and during different times of the day. Does it get noisy? Is the traffic a nightmare? What are the neighbors up to? The worst thing would be to lock into your mortgage, only to find that while you love your house, you hate the neighborhood around it.
7. Look out for hidden expenses. Finally, it’s important to investigate more than just the house itself to find out if there are potential money traps within. For example, find out when the home’s appliances, water heater, roof, etc. were last replaced so that you aren’t surprised with a big expense shortly after moving in.
Source: GoBankingRates.com

Mortgage Rates Virtually Unchanged

Freddie Mac
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates virtually unchanged and remaining near their record lows amid growing concerns around the fiscal cliff. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 4.00 percent all but one week in 2012, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 3.00 percent since the last week in May.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.32 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending November 29, 2012, up from last week when it averaged 3.31 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.00 percent.

Additionally, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.64 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.63 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.30 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.72 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.74 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.90 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.78 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

“Mortgage rates were virtually unchanged this week amid growing concerns around the fiscal cliff. Although low mortgage rates failed to boost new home sales in October, year-to-date sales are up 20 percent compared with 2011 volumes, and there are growing signs of a turnaround in house prices,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “The S&P/Case-Shiller® national home price index (seasonally adjusted) rose 5.2 percent over the first three quarters of this year. In addition, all 20 of the city indices (seasonally adjusted) had positive growth over the first 9 months, led by a 17.9 percent increase in Phoenix. More recently, the Federal Reserve’s November 28th regional economic review, known as the Beige Book, noted that 10 of the 12 districts reported the market for single-family homes continued to improve leading into mid-November.”

For more information, visit www.FreddieMac.com.

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Fannie Mae Announces Eviction Moratorium for the Holidays

By Andrew Wilson

Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTC) announced recently that it will suspend evictions of foreclosed single family and 2-4 unit properties from December 19, 2012 through January 2, 2013. Legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but families living in foreclosed properties will be allowed to remain in the home during this period.

"We’re taking this step in support of families who have faced financial challenges and gone through a foreclosure," says Terry Edwards, Executive Vice President of Credit Portfolio Management, Fannie Mae. "The holidays are a chance to be with loved ones and we want to relieve some stress at this time of year. We encourage homeowners having difficulty to reach out for help as soon as possible."

Previously, Fannie Mae announced a temporary suspension of foreclosure sales and evictions in areas designated for individual assistance by FEMA due to Hurricane Sandy. That 90-day suspension will last through February 1, 2013.

Homeowners can visit www.knowyouroptions.com for resources on how to prevent foreclosure, including contact information for Fannie Mae’s 12 Mortgage Help Centers located across the country.

For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com.

New Home Sales Hold Steady in October

English: New home construction in Rumson, New ...The Census Bureau and HUD reported October new home sales at a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 368,000, which is virtually the same as the three previous months. A 32 percent drop in sales in the Northeast was likely a result of the threat and ultimate impact of the storm named Sandy.

Inventories rose 2,000 to 147,000, which remains at a very low level but shows some promise that builders are able to begin restocking. The month’s supply was 4.8, well below an industry standard of 6 months.

Median home prices increased 5.7 percent and average prices rose 8 percent from October of last year. The rise is likely a dual effect of rising building costs and a continuation of a compositional effect. Recent homebuyers are those that can obtain a mortgage and the tight credit standards are making it less likely for moderate income households to qualify while higher income households are able to make it through the more restrictive thresholds.

Regionally, sales were up in the Midwest and West both month-to-month as well as comparing the October level to the third quarter average, which adjusts for typical unusual monthly movements. Sales were down in the South to 176,000 but the August level was unusually high. The three-month moving average still stands at 184,000, which is within a 3 percent range of the monthly levels from April to August 2012. The Northeast fell 32 percent but the monthly level of 21,000 was well below the three-month moving average as far back as February 2012.

On an annual basis, October sales were up 17.2 percent from one year earlier and continue to support an expected 22 percent increase in annual sales for 2012 over 2011. New home sales will continue to rise at this modest pace as the pent up demand is released and as the policy uncertainties at the end of 2012 are resolved.

To view this article on the NAHB blog, Eye on Housing, click here.

 

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What should I take into account when buying a new home?

New Home Being Framed

Q: What should I take into account when buying a new home?

A: You can find out more about an existing property and neighborhood before you buy than you can a new home in a newly developed community.

When the home is on the outskirts of town, ask the developer about future access to public transit, entertainment venues, shopping centers, churches, and schools. Also review local zoning ordinances. A remote area can quickly turn into a fast food haven.

You want to ensure the neighborhood will not spiral out of control and lose its residential appeal.

Other things to consider:

  • Ask homeowners already living in a development about the builder. If none currently live there, find out where the builder has previously built and speak to those owners to find out if the builder followed through on promises and needed repairs.
  • Ability to make changes. Most homes in a development resemble each other. But the developer may impose restrictions on house color, landscaping, renovations, and other items that a homeowner may want to alter.
  • Do not buy into the highfalutin images created by marketing experts. Form your own opinions about a property and only buy where you feel comfortable. After all, you are the one who will be living there.

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