buying real estate: How To Buy Distressed Properties In A Period Of Rising Inventory - 04/15/10 03:12 AM
Foreclosure filings rose close to 20 percent nationwide last month versus February, according to foreclosure-tracking firm, and for the 13th straight month, total filings topped 300,000.
In addition, bank repossessions reached an all-time, quarterly record. Through the first three months of 2010, banks reclaimed more than 257,000 homes.
Nonetheless, 4 states dominated foreclosure activity nationwide.
California, Florida, Arizona and Georgia accounted for more than half of all bank repossessions. It's a disproportionate distribution of foreclosures. Together, the 4 states represent just 23 percent of the overall U.S. population.
The RealtyTrac report revealed some other interesting statistics, too.
Foreclosure activity … (0 comments)

buying real estate: Why You Shouldn't Schedule Your Closing For May 28, 2010 - 04/14/10 02:31 AM
The federal home buyer tax credit expires April 30 and the deadline is sparking a home sale surge. It figures to burden real estate, mortgage and title offices nationwide over the next 60 days so plan your closing date accordingly.
Especially because the last Friday in May is the Friday before Memorial Day.
Now, if the connection between the tax credit and Memorial Day is not immediately clear, think of your own office on a 3-day weekend's Friday. Some of your colleagues take a half-day at work, others take the entire day off.
Office-wide, productivity drops.
The same is true in … (1 comments)

buying real estate: Is It Time To Re-Approve Your Pre-Approval? - 04/09/10 07:16 AM
As the federal home buyer tax credit nears its April 30 end-date, there's a lot of would-be home buyers still working to get under contract.
A piece of advice for all of them : If your pre-qualification and/or pre-approval letter is more than 8 weeks old, it would be prudent to have your lender "re-pre-approve" you.  Mortgage guidelines have been in flux and your original lender letter may now be invalid.
For example, over the past half-dozen months, the majority of mortgage lenders have reduced their risk tolerance with respect to:
Maximum debt-to-income ratios Minimum allowable credit scores Calculation of … (0 comments)

buying real estate: What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : February 22, 2010 - 02/22/10 06:51 AM
Mortgage markets had a terrible, holiday-shortened week last week as Wall Street responded to worse-than-expected inflation data and action from the Federal Reserve. Mortgage bonds sold off with force, causing mortgage rates to rise for the second week in a row. Last week was a bad week to float a mortgage, to say the least. Rates rose by the largest margin in any week since late-2009. The two biggest stories from last week both came from the Federal Reserve. The first was the release of the FOMC January meeting minutes which showed more confidence in the U.S. economy than Wall Street … (0 comments)

buying real estate: The Best And Worst Cities For Commuters (2010 Edition) - 02/17/10 01:48 AM
According to the Census Bureau, 2.8 million people commute to work 90 minutes or more each day, in each direction. Now, your daily commute may not be as long, but time spent in cars, trains and buses is time away from work and from family. Drive-time can affect a person's Quality of Life and it's one reason why Forbes Magazine's Best and Worst Commutes is worth reviewing. Measuring travel time, road congestion and travel delays in the 60 largest metropolitan areas, Forbes ranks city commutes from best-to-worst with Salt Lake City topping the list and Tampa-St. Petersburg finishing it. The Top … (1 comments)

buying real estate: Is that short sale listing's price too good to be true? - 02/09/10 01:39 AM

Here's the way the process usually works. A listing comes on the market deliberately underpriced at $199k and attracts 15-20+ offers - the highest of which is probably $225k. That offer is then submitted to the lender who spends the next couple of months processing the offer - including asking a couple of local brokers what such properties have been selling for. ( In this case probably close to $250k.)
Now the lender finally comes back to the original offer with a counter-offer of $250k, and usually the original buyer walks away - as all the other offers did, previously. … (8 comments)

buying real estate: 3 Factors to Take Into Consideration Before Jumping Into Housing Market - 02/06/10 01:54 AM
Here's an article from today's
By Jim Gallagher
RISMEDIA, ( ) February 6, 2010—(MCT)—If you have a good job and good credit, the next few months might be a good time to go house hunting. Fence-sitters take the risk that Congress may let a rich tax credit expire, and that interest rates may rise. Buyers and sellers should consider the following factors as they consider jumping into the housing market.
First, mortgage rates are blissfully low, and that may not last. The rate on a 30-year mortgage averaged 5% last week, according to Freddie Mac. Rates are low … (0 comments)

buying real estate: 7 Ways To Protect Your Credit Score For Better Mortgage Rates - 02/05/10 06:31 AM
As mortgage lenders tighten approval standards nationwide, the importance of a good credit score is rising. Credit scores not only make the difference between a mortgage approval and mortgage turn-down, but they also play a large role in determining your actual mortgage note rate.
In this 3-minute video, the NBC Today Show talks about 7 ways that homebuyers ruin their credit — often by accident. Some of the highlighted mistakes include:
* Closing open credit cards
* Making appliance buys on credit prior to closing
* Asking creditors to lower credit balances prior to closing.
In general, a 740 FICO will … (0 comments)

buying real estate: There's 100 Days Left To Claim The Homebuyer Tax Credit - 01/23/10 07:48 PM
November 6, 2009, Congress voted to extend and expand the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program.  There's 100 days left to claim it.
The expiration date of the up-to-$8,000 tax credit has been pushed forward to spring, requiring homebuyers to be under contract for a home no later than April 30, 2010, and to be closed no later than June 30, 2010.
In addition, "move-up" buyers were also added to the program's eligibility list meaning you don't have to be a first-time home buyer to be eligible for the tax credit.  If you've lived in your home for 5 of the last … (4 comments)

buying real estate: 10 Cities For Home Bargains - 01/13/10 06:28 AM

As the housing market improves across the country, certain cities are emerging as relative bargains.  Some areas, like Miami, were hit hard by the recession, and other areas are buoyed by good school systems and strong labor markets.
In this 5-minute video from The Today Show, 10 cities are highlighted for their home prices.  And they're not "small towns", either. 
Among the featured cities:
Miami, Florida Akron, Ohio Tuscon, Arizona Minneapolis, Minnesota Trenton, New Jersey Now, this piece is about finding gems on a national scale.  They exist locally, here in Orange County, as well.  You just need to know … (0 comments)

buying real estate: Are There Any Foreclosure Deals Left? - 11/13/09 01:11 AM
For the eighth straight consecutive month, national foreclosure activity in the U.S. was dominated by a small set of states.
As reported by, more than half of October's foreclosure-related activity came from just 4 states:
California Florida Illinois Michigan The remaining Top 10 states in terms of total foreclosure activity included Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Foreclosures are up 19 percent from last October, but a deeper look at the RealtyTrac report revealed two positive developments for the housing market.
Foreclosure activity is down 3 percent from last month Foreclosures per Household decreased in 9 of the 10 most … (2 comments)

buying real estate: Higher Home Prices Ahead, Says The Pending Home Sales Index - 11/02/09 09:36 AM
The housing market continues to steam forward.
As reported by the National Association of Realtors®, the Pending Home Sales Index posted its 8th consecutive monthly gain in September.
It's the longest winning streak in the history of the index and Pending Home Sales are now at their highest levels since December 2006.
A Pending Home Sale is a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed.  It's the precursor to an Existing Home Sale. 
Trade group data shows that nearly 80 percent of "pending" homes close within 2 months.  The majority of those remaining close within months 3 and 4.
When … (1 comments)

buying real estate: Forecast predicts 9.5% O.C. house-price gain - 11/02/09 04:57 AM
This is an article by Jeff Collins, in this morning's Orange County Register:
Home-data firm First American CoreLogic predicts that Orange County house prices will be up 9.5% next August from this past summer.
If accurate, the median price of an Orange County house would increase by nearly $48,000 from the $500,000 median reported by DataQuick in August and September.
Those price gains would outstrip appreciation rates for the nation’s 10 largest metro areas, First American reported. For example, Los Angeles County is forecast to see home prices rise 6.3%, the highest rate among the big 10. That’s followed by Miami-Dade … (0 comments)

buying real estate: Falling Home Supplies Mean More Multiple-Offer Situations For Buyers - 10/29/09 05:58 AM
The national housing supply fell to a 2-year low last month, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
At the current sales pace, existing home inventories would sell out in 7.8 months -- 30 percent faster versus November 2008.
For a 10-month window, that's a major housing supply reduction and it helps to explain why multiple-offer situations have been so common lately.
Moreover, the same report from NAR showed sales activity reaching its highest point since July 2007, too.
If you're looking for evidence that the long-standing Buyers Market is ending, this month's Existing Home Sales report might be it.
Even … (2 comments)

buying real estate: Previewing The New Good Faith Estimate - 10/20/09 09:08 AM

The new Good Faith Estimate makes its debut January 1, 2010.
Expanded from 1page to 3, the legislators responsible for the new Good Faith Estimate want it to be simpler for homeowners and home buyers to understand than the former version.
By most accounts, Congress will meet this goal. 
The new Good Faith Estimate includes plain-English explanations of every fee, charge, and interest payment involved in a purchase or refinance.  It also includes a section called "The Shopping Cart" in which applicants can compare lenders.
The new Good Faith Estimate is concise, too.  Using a series of "Yes/No" checkboxes on … (15 comments)

buying real estate: Should Joint Homeowners Keep Separate Bank Accounts? - 10/14/09 03:18 AM

When you own a home with a spouse or partner, the issue of what's mine, what's yours, and what's ours can be a divisive one.
Each household has its own money management methodology and, according to financial talk-show host Suze Orman, most leave significant room for improvement.
In this 4-minute piece aired on NBC's The Today Show, Orman talks about co-managing finances with topics including:
How to determine how much money goes into a "personal" spending account versus a "family" spending account The importance of both parties taking an active role in bill-paying How to manage the money when one … (1 comments)

buying real estate: Pending Homes Sales Gain For The 7th Straight Month - 10/05/09 05:56 PM
Buoyed by a generous tax credit, affordable homes, and low mortgage rates, the Pending Home Sales Index posted its seventh consecutive monthly gain in August.
It's the longest winning streak in the index's history and the highest reading in 2-1/2 years.
It's also another signal that the housing market is in recovery.
"Pending home sales" are a forward-looking indicator, measuring the number homes under contract to sell, but not yet closed. 
Historically, 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days.  Most others close within 120 days.
It's no wonder home values are rising in so many markets.
Home buyers -- take note.  … (0 comments)

buying real estate: You’ve Got 15 More Days To Use The First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit - 10/01/09 08:07 AM
The government's First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program expires November 30, 2009 -- a scant 60 days from today.
Considering it can take up to 60 days to close on a home, first-time buyers have 2 weeks at most to find a home.
Buyers not under contract by October 15 have little chance of meeting the November 30 deadline and, therefore, little chance of claiming the tax credit.
This is especially true for purchases involving short sales and foreclosures.
Congress passed the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit program as part of the 2009 economic stimulus plan.  IRS Form 5405 outlines the program criteria which include … (0 comments)

buying real estate: Should You Lock Your Mortgage Rate In Advance Of Tomorrow's Federal Reserve Announcement? - 09/22/09 04:44 AM
The Federal Open Market Committee starts a 2-day meeting today in Washington. 
The scheduled get-together ends at 2:15 PM ET Wednesday after which the FOMC will issue a press release to the markets.
Consider locking your mortgage in advance of the press release. 
The FOMC meets 8 times annually and its adjournments are among the biggest market-movers of the year. 
The Fed's post-meeting press release is a direct look into the mind of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street is looking for clues anywhere it can find them.
After its August 2009 meeting, the FOMC said in its press release:
Financial … (0 comments)

buying real estate: Using 401(k) Funds For A Downpayment? First, Consider The Tax Implications. - 09/15/09 02:28 AM
As downpayment requirements increase, anecdotally, home buyers are tapping 401(k) plans for extra cash.
Classified as a "hardship withdrawal", loans against your retirement funds can be cheap and simple.
There's no credit check or approval process There's only a small set of paperwork Money can be available in as little as a day But just because you can get access to your retirement money doesn't mean that you should.  401(k) withdrawals should only be made after careful consideration. 
There are some serious negatives, specifically with respect to taxation. 
If you open a 401(k) loan and don't repay according to the loan … (1 comments)