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Real Estate Outlook: Good News Across the Nation

The market is changing out there, and the latest reports are showing that when it comes to buyers, less is more in some cases.

A recent study from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates that the recent housing slump has meant buyers are looking for smaller houses. The McMansions of the boom era are quickly losing their style.

The NAHB reports that the builders they “surveyed expect homes to average 2,152 square feet in 2015, 10 percent smaller than the average size of single-family homes started in the first three quarters of 2010. To save on square footage, the living room is high on the endangered list – 52 percent of builders expect it to be merged with other spaces in the home by 2015 and 30 percent said it will vanish entirely.”

Also a heavy influence on the housing front are green and eco-friendly features. The NAHB reports that “in addition to floor plan changes, 68 percent of builders surveyed say that homes in 2015 will also include more green features and technology, including low-E windows; engineered wood beams, joists or tresses; water-efficient features such as dual-flush toilets or low-flow faucets; and an Energy Star rating for the whole house.”

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By |March 14th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Keeping Your House Hunting on Track

The process of buying a home can be overwhelming–from the growing paperwork to the house-hunting search for a home, buyers sometimes feel a little intimidated.

But today, searching for your perfect home is easier than ever. There are many real estate agents to choose from, a large inventory of homes in many areas, and technology that makes checking out a home as easy as clicking on a few Internet sites. Of course, that’s just for a quick look. Getting in the car with an agent and exploring the properties in person will give you better ideas of what you want and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t want.

Now, there are even apps designed to help you keep track of the homes you visit. And there are many to choose from. Take for instance, CrumbTracks, a free app designed by a husband-wife team (Bobby and Eileen Beckmann). It’s an iPhone app aimed at helping you stay organized while viewing many different homes. The couple built the app based on their own need to keep information all in one place while house hunting.

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By |March 11th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Credit Score Changes Befuddle Consumers

Consumers, on average, can barely pass a test about recent changes in the credit score market and that means they may not know how their scores score — or don’t — when it comes to securing credit.

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and VantageScore Solutions say on 22 credit score questions administered by Opinion Research Corp. to over 1,000 consumers late last month, on average, consumers answered only 60 percent correctly.

Most did not know who makes credit scores available, what is a strong score, nor the financial cost of a poor score.

“The bad news is that consumer knowledge has lagged behind recent changes in the credit score marketplace,” said CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck.

(Take the CFA/VantageScore Quiz to see what you do and don’t know.)

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By |March 10th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Don’t Be Mystified By The Mortgage Maze

Years after the housing market tanked and sank the economy, more than 70 percent of Americans say getting a mortgage today is a serious national problem, according to a new study by MortgageMatch.com, a home loan and information site operated by Move, Inc.

According to the MortgageMatch.com survey, today’s lending environment is so confusing many borrowers are experiencing high levels of stress and frustration.

More than one in five recent home buyers (20.9 percent) told MortgageMatch.com, waiting to hear if they were approved for a mortgage was more stressful than waiting to hear if they got a job.

MortgageMatch.com says home buyers can significantly improve their chances of getting a mortgage application approved on the best possible terms in today’s tough lending marketplace by taking the following steps.

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By |February 17th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Explaining Credit Scores

Have you ever wondered what makes up your credit score? The three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, use a number of factors to calculate your score.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and are a buyer’s key to attaining loans. From cars and homes to everything in-between, if you need a loan, you need good credit. The way it works is simple. A high score is a door to lower interest rates and larger sums of credit. The higher your score, the less of a risk your pose to a lender, and therefore the more likely they’ll be to approve you for a loan.

The score is compiled by analyzing the following:

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By |February 16th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Borrowers Aim to Reduce Debt

Are borrowers taking aim at lowering their debt? Recent reports give evidence that exactly this could be on the minds of borrowers as they apply for mortgage refinancing.

According to the latest results of Freddie Mac’s 4th quarter 2010 cash-out refinance analysis, 46 percent of homeowners who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage lowered their principal balance by paying-in additional money at closing.

Borrowers are seeking refinancing to take advantage of historically low interest rates, and in many cases to reduce monthly payments in hopes of avoiding foreclosure. According to Frank Notehaft, Freddie Mac Chief Economist, “Early in the fourth quarter mortgage rates on 30-year fixed-rate conforming loans were at very low levels, the likes of which haven’t been seen in more than 50 years. This encouraged borrowers who could do so to refinance, and many looked at their other investment options and chose to pay down a bit of their mortgage at the same time.”

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By |February 10th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

How Much Home Can I Afford?

Home prices skyrocketed in the early 2000’s, with things really heating up between 2005 and 2007. According to the New York Times, HUD conducted a survey in 2007, finding that home values had risen 16 percent in just those two years. The housing bubble burst in the Spring of 2007 and markets tanked.

Now house values are resetting, with some areas still experiencing declines. In high boom areas, such as Florida, Arizona, and California, homes are having to correct from staggering rises of 20, 30 and even 40 percent in home values. This means values rose, and millions of homeowners bought at the top of the market, now finding themselves upside down in their loans.

Despite the crisis, there are still buyers on the market. But many are wary to make a mistake of buying a home they can’t pay for. How much home can you really afford? Home affordability, in general, is dependant on a range of factors. These include:

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By |January 26th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Freddie Mac and Foreclosure

If your mortgage is held by Freddie Mac, then you are one of over 12 million single-family homeowners, or part of approximately 23 percent of the mortgage market. Unfortunately, market-wide, there are over 2.1 million homes in foreclosure, including thousands held by Freddie Mac.

In order to better understand the Freddie Mac stance on foreclosures, here are a few facts.

First, fewer than 500,000 Freddie Mac homeowners are currently in serious default on their mortgage. That is just 10 percent of serious delinquencies in the market as a whole.

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By |January 18th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Tips for Appraisals

Appraisals allow for homeowners and buyers to establish what is fair market value of a property. In addition, an appraisal allows a lender to know how much they can safely lend.

According to The Appraisal Institute, a global membership association of professional real estate appraisers, “Appraisals are especially important because they are an objective and unbiased source of information. Unlike others involved in real estate transactions, the appraiser is an independent professional who performs a service for a fee rather than for a commission.”

This process, however, can be trying and even frustrating. Recent declines in the housing markets have spawned scapegoats across the industry, including appraisers. And increased caution from lenders has slowed the buying process.

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By |January 13th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Consequences of Defaults and Foreclosures

The economy has put a strain on thousands of households across the nation. In these tough times, many homeowners are struggling in the face of foreclosure. What are the consequences of defaulting on your loan? And what can you do to prevent this loss?

One of the most startling impacts of a foreclosure appears on one’s credit report. Your credit score may plummet by 200 to 300 points. In this economic climate, where credit lending standards are already tightened, you may then find it difficult to do everything from buying a car to renting an apartment. What’s worse is that the notation of foreclosure stays on your report for up to seven years.

Next, you may owe the lender money. They backed a loan on a home worth X amount. If they sell your home at foreclosure for less than that amount, you may be responsible for the difference. Many states have laws protecting you against this action, but speak with an attorney to find out for what you may be liable.

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By |January 6th, 2011|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments