Altos: Critics Are Wrong About Where Housing Is Headed

In Pinellas County, specifically the beaches along the barrier islands from Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, the housing market is strong and prices continue to rise.

Altos: Critics Are Wrong About Where Housing Is Headed.


Tax Reform Proposal Would Impact Every Single American

Tax Reform Proposal Would Dramatically Alter Housing Landscape.

New Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Rule – Required Inspection

Any homes 30 years or older, will be required to have a passing 4 point inspection after September 1, 2012.  This means that any home built in 1982 or earlier, and closing after September 1st must have and pass the additional inspection.

What does 4 point inspection mean?

The 4-point means that the inspector will examine the home to make sure that it is up to code. It covers the main four points in a home:

Plumbing          Electrical          Roof        HVAC

Other insurance companies have asked for this inspection for many years, so this is not going to be a surprise for many people.

For Third Week, Mortgage Rates Inch Higher

Fixed-rate mortgages once again inched up this week, the third consecutive week of increases after reaching all-time lows, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“The latest economic indicators point toward low inflation but gradually stronger economic activity which placed further upward pressure on long-term Treasury yields and, in turn, fixed mortgage rates,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said about why mortgage rates have been reversing course in recent weeks.

Here’s a closer look at mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 16:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.62 percent, with an average 0.6 point, this week, increasing from last week’s 3.59 percent average. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.15 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.88 percent, with an average 0.6 point, rising from last week’s 2.84 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.76 percent, with an average 0.6 point, falling slightly from last week’s 2.77 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.08 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.69 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 2.65 percent average. A year ago at this time, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.86 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac/Realtor Mag

Home Prices Perk Up

It’s what all home owners have been waiting for. For the last 12 months ending in May, U.S. home prices have increased 3.7 percent, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s latest House Price Index. Read more….

Home Prices Perk Up.

Market Update January 2012

January is an exciting month for Real Estate. This month’s visitors are motivated home buyers and they get busy searching, meeting with me and finding homes to buy as soon as Christmas is past.
Here’s how real estate market conditions across our coverage area closed 2011:
Median list price peaked in May and drifted back down to January 2011 levels by December;
interest rates managed to go even lower with 30 year rates below 4% for much of the month of December (rate history).
November sales volume was down versus October, but sales are still on track to be slightly higher in 2011 versus 2010 (NAR report). Also, NAR reported that they’ve been overstating home sales for the last 4 years – their adjustment to correct the report brought stated home sales from 1997 to Nov. 2011 down by as much as 20% in some months. We all knew it was bad, these changes just emphasize how bad;
MBA’s purchase loan index continues to scrape along at late 1990’s levels as December added to a string of slow months (Mortgage Bankers Assoc. Data From Calculated Risk);
Finally, inventory bottomed in November and showed a small increase in December.
December marks the last month of the seasonal end of the year market slowdown. What will 2012 bring? We think more of the same – inventory, prices and sales volumes will show a typical seasonal increase from now through May or June, but overall transaction volumes and prices will probably be little changed over the year.
WE’VE REACHED BOTTOM, prices are going up in my area, but they are not going to climb very high in 2012.
I will send your specific market area stats upon request.
One Forecaster Calls “The End of the US Housing Downturn”
Capital Economics analyst Paul Dales recently called 2011 the last year of the US housing downturn. Capital Economics forecast a 3% drop in home prices in 2011 and the actual Case-Schiller number will be around 2.3% and is showing signs of flattening. After recapping 2011 results, he says 2012 will be mostly sideways. “… for the first time in five years, months of unsold inventory (a measure of the balance between demand and supply) is almost in line with the long-term average…” They believe the biggest risk to the housing market is a melt down in Europe. Not too encouraging that we have to hope the Germans, Italians and French can all get along.
Who’s Buying?
People with cash. From a recent Mortgage News Daily newsletter: “2011 has seen a surprisingly high level of cash home purchases, according to the real estate research firm Hanley Wood Market Intelligence. Analysts say tight lending standards and a search for yield by investors … has driven all cash purchases of homes higher. Per the report, 38% of homes purchased in 2011 were bought with all cash, up from 34% in 2010, and double the 19% rate in 2006.” The cash purchase trend is driven by the strength of rental demand and rents. In some parts of the country, a cash investor can realize 7-10% annual return from a fully rented unit.
Thanks for visiting in 2011 and I hope to see you on the site and to help you buy a home in 2012. Interest rates and prices will continue to be favorable for buyers in 2012.
If your finances are ready, make the resolution to buy your dream home or invest in Real Estate this year.

5 Things to do NOW if you want to buy a home in 2012

At this point in December, it can start to feel like the New Year – along with all our hopes, dreams, wishes and expectations for it – are barreling down on us. Personally,

If you’re one of the millions who has an eye on 2012 as the year in which you’ll buy a home (first or not), here are five things you can do now to put yourself on the right path:

1. Check your credit. Take my word for it: there is no bad surprise worse than a bad credit surprise. Okay, maybe there is one thing worse – a credit surprise you receive while you’re in the midst of trying to buy a home!

2. Do your research. The more rapidly the real estate market changes, the more it behooves smart buyers to study up before they jump in. And now’s the time – you can start doing online and in-person research into topics ranging from:

· Target states, cities and neighborhoods. Whether you’re relocating or simply trying to narrow down the local districts to focus on during your 2012 house hunt, December is a great time to start your online research into decision-driving factors like tax rates, school districts, neighborhood character and even prices in various areas. Resident ratings and reviews sites like Trulia and NabeWise can help you make the neighborhood-lifestyle match.

· Real estate and mortgage pros. If you don’t already have your pros picked out, now is the time to get on the horn or drop an email or Facebook message to your circle of contacts, asking them for a referral to a broker or agent they love. Follow up by: checking whether these pros are active in answering questions on Trulia Voices, searching for their name and seeing what sort of feedback on them you can cull from the web, then giving them a ring and launching a conversation about whether you and they might be a good partnership.

· Short sales and REOs. Distressed property sales are not for the unwary. If you want to target upside down or foreclosed homes, or are planning to house hunt in an area where many of the listings are described as short sales or foreclosures, get educated about what you can expect from a distressed property purchase transaction before you get your heart set on a short sale.

· What you get for the money. Online house hunting is a powerful tool – especially when it’s cold and wet! But there comes a point in your house hunt where you’ve got to just get out into the actual physical homes you’re seeing online in order to get a strong, accurate sense of what home features, aesthetics and location characteristics correlate with what price points.

· Mortgage musts. You can read a bunch of articles about mortgages and get yourself pretty far down the path toward qualifying for a home loan, but you can only get a personalized action plan for a smooth road ‘home’ by talking with a local mortgage broker and having them assess your basic financials. They might say you need to move funds around, pay a bill down or off or produce some sort of documentation from your employer. And the time to start all that is now.

3. Fluff up your cash cushion. So, you’ve saved up your 3.5 percent down payment. Perhaps you saved a little extra for closing costs. Or maybe you’re even one of those uber-aggressive 20-percent-down-ers. No matter how much you’ve saved, you’ll find that you could use more once you activate your home buying action plan. Mark my words – after closing, you’ll crave extra cash to do some repairs, upgrade a couple of things, buy appliances or even just to hold onto in order to minimize your anxiety about depleting your savings!

So, if homebuying is on your personal 2012 action plan, don’t go hog wild on holiday gifts. Instead, wait until next year and give yourself the gift of a home.

4. Shed some stuff. Sell it. Donate it. Give it to relatives who’ve always coveted it. Just get rid of it. If you do it before year’s end, you can kill three birds with one stone: (a) getting some cold hard cash to go toward your savings, (b) getting some tax receipts so you can deduct the value of your donations in January, (c) minimizing money spent on holiday gifts for loved ones and these two bonus birds – clearing the mental clutter that physical clutter creates and prepping for your move in advance.

5. Sit very, very still. Sometimes, the best way to further our goals is to stop tripping ourselves up. In that vein, commit right now to refrain from making any major financial moves until you buy your home. Don’t quit your job to start that personal chef business (yet), don’t pull a bunch of cash out of your savings account (without getting clearance form your mortgage pro first), and don’t start buying cars and boats on credit – even if you do love the idea of putting the red bow on the car you give your wife, like in the commercials.

I assure you, the bow you’ll be able to put on that house or condo will be much bigger, redder and more tax-advantaged!

Excerpt from blog by Tara-Nicolle/Trulia