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Joe: Team Ulster of Prudential Nutshell Realty is proud to present the Ulster County Real Estate Podcast.
Joe: Welcome to the July edition of our podcast. As the market for sub-prime and zero-down mortgages gets tighter, you might be surprised to see just how much the FHA has changed to help buyers and sellers in today's market.
Stay tuned as we discuss these new changes in FHA lending. It's all coming up next.
Joe: We're here today with Team Ulster, from Prudential Nutshell Realty. What's happening right now in the Ulster County real estate market?
Laurel Sweeney: Well, Joe, I'd like to talk about some statistics for Ulster County for sold listings of residential sales comparing 2007 to 2008 year to date. In 2007, our average sale price was $300,742 and to date, in January through July, our average sale price is $298,861, which is just a very small percentage reduction - certainly nothing of significance.
In addition, our list to sale ratio remains strong. Again, for 2007, that list to sale ratio was 94.74% and year to date, it's 93.69%, which is just about 1% change in, again, list to sale ratio.
Our days on market are holding steady in the 160s. For 2007, average days on market was 162 and for 2008 it's 168. So, unlike other parts of the country, we really are holding our own in terms of sale price, days on market, and list to sale ratio.
In addition, I'm happy to report that Prudential Nutshell has increased its market share for 2008 over 2007. This is specifically related to the fine work that we do in bringing buyers and sellers together, the use of our website, our virtual tours and our dedication to our buyers and sellers. Those statistics and that assistance coupled with pricing properties appropriately is what gets the job done. And that's what you'll find here at Prudential Nutshell Realty and Team Ulster.
Joe: OK, thanks. For a national perspective today, we're also joined by Terry Murphy, real estate author and CIO of U.S. Learning in Memphis, Tennessee. Terry's a regular contributor to both mortgage and real estate magazines and also helped with Donald Trump's new book, "The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received". Terry, share with us what's going on in today's market.
Terry: Hi, Joe. There's some really good news in the marketplace today. According to the June report from the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales increased in May, with buyers responding to those new lower home prices.
Now the report states that town homes, co-ops, condos and single family properties have increased 2%, but they're still 15.9% below the pace in May of 2007. But we have to remember, Joe, is that the pricing has been correcting now for over the past year.
The good news is that homebuyers are starting to get off the fence and get into the market and are drawn by drops in home prices in some areas. And they're armed with greater access to affordable mortgage options. Now, in some areas, Joe, there's still a lot of inventory in the market and that clearly favors our buyers. And it may take several months to draw the inventory down.
And in some areas of the country, foreclosures and short sales appear to be a large part of the market and they're creating a drag on current home prices.
Now here's some good news, Joe; the latest boost in the market is due, in part, to the resurgence of government-backed loans, especially with the higher lending limits that FHA now has. That supports both the high and the low ends of the marketplace.
Joe: Well, that's good news. It's important for buyers and sellers to be aware of the added options that are now available when considering FHA or government-backed loans. How do you advise your clients?
Laurel Sweeney: Joe, it's interesting to see how FHA loan limits have expanded to accommodate a much larger scope of buying and selling opportunities, especially in a marketplace where buyers seeking low down payment options can use a little help. But, both buyers and sellers need to know that FHA mortgage lending has changed significantly. And it's worth exploring as a viable option to owning property.
Joe: Can you tell us more about the FHA changes?
Laurel Sweeney: Well, to start, the recent Economic Stimulus Bill recently passed by Congress has helped jumpstart sluggish markets by expanding the FHA loan limits to the highest in FHA history. For instance, the maximum loan amount by law as of March 6th of this year, FHA cannot insure loans that exceed certain amounts based on the metropolitan area or country in which you live.
It may surprise you to know the highest maximum FHA mortgage right now is $729,750 and the lowest maximum amount is $271,500. This is dependent on where you live and where property is located in the U.S.
Still, for those that are cash restricted for down payments, and again, depending on where the property is located, the maximum FHA financing will either be 98.75 or 97.75 of the appraised value of the home or its selling price, whichever is lower.
Joe: Well, is there anything that hasn't changed?
Laurel Sweeney: Well, Joe, FHA still requires that the buyer invest at least 3% of the sales price in cash for the down payment and closing costs. But, what is new is that FHA now allows that the home buyer can use gifts from family, funds from local, state or government agencies, and now has new programs in place that allow other sources for the down payment, like bridal registry programs, new savings clubs, and down payment assistance programs.
Terry: Hey, with all of these new changes in FHA financing, buyers and sellers now have a solid option to help facilitate buying and selling in their area.
Laurel Sweeney 1: You know, that's really true, Terry. It's one of the things we love about helping buyers. We can help them look at a full range of options to get the properties they want and help sellers sell that property using the latest changes in FHA financing.
Joe: These new changes may offer options to buyers and sellers they didn't even know about. Thank you both for your help today.
Laurel Sweeney: You're welcome, Joe.
Terry: Thanks, Joe. We'll talk again next month.
Joe: For more information on our program, or for information on the Ulster County real estate market, contact Team Ulster, from Prudential Nutshell Realty. You can reach them at 845-687-2200. You can also find Team Ulster online at www.UlsterCountyHouse.com.
Until next time, thank you for listening to the Ulster County Real Estate Podcast.