Four recent news articles confirmed that most Americans still see real estate as a great long term investment. The Gallup organization polled the American people and discovered that they believe that real estate is a better long term investment than stocks/mutual funds, gold, savings or bonds:
A second survey was done by Edelman Berland which showed that:
At the same time, Tim Rood, chairman of the business advisory firm The Collingwood Group, explained that real estate is:
“…one of the last legitimate wealth creation opportunities…The leveraged return if you put down 10 percent on a house, the trajectory of appreciation lately is you’re going to get your money back inside of a year and then after that 5 to 10 percent appreciation rates. It’s phenomenal.”
Real estate continues to be a sensational long term investment. If you need help with any of your real estate needs, contact a local real estate professional and discuss the opportunities available in today’s market.
QUESTION: We had to do a short sale on our home in Nevada last year, but now we have landed on our feet again and want to buy a home in our new location in Oregon. We have enough money saved up for a 20 percent down payment for a house we can afford. Is it possible for us to qualify for a mortgage?
ANSWER: It’s great that you landed on your feet and have been able to save money for a down payment on a new house. Your bigger down payment can be a compensating factor that some lenders will use to qualify you for a loan in spite of a negative credit profile that’s a likely result of the short sale.
Conventional loan guidelines established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say that you must wait two years after the closing date on your short sale to finance another home, if you have 20 percent for a down payment. You would have to wait longer if you had less cash for a down payment (four years with 10 percent and seven years with less than 10 percent). So if you want a conventional loan, you’ll need to wait another year.
FHA-insured loans are available with a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent after a three-year waiting period. Veterans Administration loans, which don’t require a down payment at all, are available after a two-year waiting period.
However, the FHA recently introduced a “Back to Work – Extenuating Circumstances” program to help the many people who lost their homes during the recent housing crisis and recession. You may qualify now for this program if you lost your home due to a job loss or a drop in income or both. This temporary loan program will be available for FHA loans issued between Aug.t 15, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2016.
To qualify, you’ll have to meet standard FHA guidelines for a loan approval and a mortgage lender’s requirements. Typically, this means that your credit score must be 620 or 640 and above and your debt-to-income ratio must be 41 percent to 43 percent or less. You’ll be required to fully document your job history, income and assets.
In addition, the Back to Work program has other specific requirements. You must:
Participate in an FHA-approved housing counseling program.
Provide documentation for the “economic event” that caused the bankruptcy, which must have reduced your income by 20 percent or more for at least six months. In other words, you’ll need a W2 or tax returns or a termination letter.
Prove that you had good credit before the economic event damaged it.
Prove that you’ve fully recovered from the event by having a credit report without any late payments for at least 12 months on installment debt and without any major derogatory comments on revolving credit accounts. Your report cannot show any judgments or collections unless they’re related to medical bills or identity theft.
Consult a mortgage lender to see if you can qualify for this FHA program, but remember that FHA loans require mortgage insurance for at least 11 years, even if you make a down payment of 20 percent. You may want to consider asking a mortgage lender if any exceptions are possible for individuals who want to apply for a conventional loan after a short sale. If not, you should weigh the benefit of waiting one more year to buy a home rather than committing to years of mortgage insurance payments.
Sales volume rebounded for December, increasing 21.5% to 1,313 single family home sales. This is nearly an identical rebound from the 21.4% drop from October to November (1,375 sales down to 1,081 sales). This marks an increase in sales after four months of consecutive decline. Equity sale dominate the market, accounting for 87.5% of all sales (1,145 units). The remainder of sales comprised of 80 Short Sales (6.1%) and REO sales (6.7%). For the month, REO sales increased 26.4%, short sales decreased 1.6% and conventional sales decreased 1.4%.
Of the 1,313 sales this month, 202 used cash financing, 661 used conventional (mortgage‐backed) financing, 318 used FHA (Federal Housing Administration), 100 used VA (Veteran’s Affairs) and 32 used Other* types of financing. The average DOM (days on market) for homes sold this month was 41, while the Median DOM was 26. These numbers represent the days between the initial listing of the home as “active” and the day it goes “pending.” Breaking down the Days On Market, there were 709 listings that sold between 1 – 30 days, 287 listings that sold between 31 – 60 days, 160 between 61 – 90 days, 81 between 91 – 120 days and 76 sold after being on the market for over 120 days. See comparison of sales volume for 2013 and 2014 below.
The month‐to‐month median sales price increased 1.1% from $265,000 to $268,000. The current level is 7.2% above the $250,000 median sales price of December 2013. The current figure is up 67.5% from the January 2012 low of $160,000. When compared to the all‐time high ($392,750/Aug. ’08), the current figure is down 31.7%.n
Active Listing Inventory in Sacramento County decreased for the month, down 19.2% to 2,427 (from 3,002 listings). Compared year‐to‐year, the current number is up (32.2%) from the 2,836 units of December 2013. Following this drop, the current months of inventory decreased 35.7 % to 1.8 months.
A pet-friendly home is not just a fun and safe space for your pet, but also a space that can stand up to the kinds of things pets do to houses. Making pet-friendly choices in landscaping, design, and the materials you use will ensure that both you and your pet can enjoy your shared space together.
Opt for durable flooring – Even if your pet is perfectly well house-trained, they’re bound to have an accident or two. Choose a flooring material that’s easy to clean and won’t be damaged by accidents. Linoleum cleans easily and is naturally anti-microbial. Bamboo, cork, tile, and stone are also good picks. If you want carpet, try a modular kind, made of separate carpet squares. Buy back-up squares so if a section gets ruined, you can pop it out and replace it. Avoid wood and laminate floors. Wood is easily scratched and damaged by water and slippery laminate can cause injuries.
Choose pet-friendly materials and décor – Opt for satin paint instead of flat paint on walls. A glossier finish won’t show stains as prominently and wipes clean. Chose low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, especially if your pet bites or licks walls. Match the colors of throw rugs, upholstery, and other décor to your pet’s fur color to give yourself a little more leeway in how frequently you’ll be vacuuming and de-furring the furniture. Set up a feeding area in a spot where you won’t be accidentally kicking over the water bowl. Find a nearby place to store dog food, ideally in a sealed container, like a plastic bin or a metal garbage can with a lid.
Protect furniture – Choose upholstered pieces covered in tough, easily-cleaned fabrics like leather or ultrasuede. Consider washable slipcovers, throws to protect furniture, or extra-durable fabric designed especially for pet owners. Keep pets from chewing furniture by spraying with store-bought, anti-chewing spray or applying a bit of cayenne pepper to their favorite biting spots. If you need to keep a pet out of a particular area, put up baby gates and provide the pet with plenty of sturdy toys for diversion. Set up a special bed or blanket so your pet has a comfortable, cushiony place of his own.
Eliminate dangers around the house – Walk around your house and assess possible pet hazards. Move chemicals and cleaning materials to high shelves or locked cabinets. Make sure trash cans are safely secured so pets don’t get into something that could be harmful to them. (Many common household articles are toxic to pets including: coffee grounds, onions, grapes, and even nutmeg.) Latch lower cabinets with child locks if necessary and keep curtain and electrical cords out of pet reach. Put screens in upper level windows and make sure they’re intact and securely attached. Keep toilet lids closed and avoid automatic bowl cleaners. Wipe up spills in the driveway and garage immediately so pets don’t ingest poisons like antifreeze. Remove any indoor plants that are toxic to pets. You can find a list of toxic and non-toxic plants on the Humane Society’s web site (www.humanesociety.org).
Consider a pet door – If you are frequently away from home, consider putting in a pet door. Pet doors can be put in windows, doors, and walls. Smart models recognize your pet electronically and will only open for them, not for other animals. The doors can be controlled remotely and deactivated if you need the pet to stay inside. If you’re worried about the resale value of cutting a hole in the wall, consider a model that’s built into a glass sliding door. When you sell, you can replace that part of the door with a regular slider.
Create a yard for pets and people to share – Find safe, pet-friendly materials for plants and hardscape. Put in some mint or catnip for cats and a clover ground cover for dogs because it won’t yellow with urine. Outdoor cats like places to hide and things to climb and will make good use of trees and bushy areas. Dogs instinctively patrol the perimeter of the property and like running paths that follow the yard’s circumference. If your dog has already created a path, embrace it, covering it with mulch and lining with attractive plantings. Make sure your fence is in good condition with no secret ways out (including benches, large rocks, or other items that can serve as pet launching pads). Consider putting in a small eye-level panel in the fence so dog can peek out and keep a watch on things. For safety, keep sharp tools put away, keep compost bins covered, and avoid chemical like fertilizers and pesticides. Make sure plants are non-toxic and avoid plants with thorns. And pets like a lot of the same things humans like, so you’ll both be pleased if your yard has a shady spot to cool off and comfy places to sit.
Styles of houses vary across the country. From the New England Cape Cod to the Victorians of San Francisco, the choices are almost endless. Knowing which style you prefer is one of the basic elements in your hunt for the perfect home.
Following is a quick guide to help you recognize and use the professional terms for many of the most prevalent house styles:
Ranch: These long, low houses rank among the most popular types in the country. The ranch, which developed from early homes in the West and Southwest, is one-story with a low pitched room. The raised ranch, which is also common is the U.S.. has two levels, each accessible from the home’s entry foyer, which features staircases to both upper and lower levels.
Cape Cod: This compact story-and-a-half house is small and symmetrical with a central entrance and a step, gable roof. Brick, wood or aluminum siding are the materials most commonly seen.
Georgian: Popular in New England, the Georgian has a very formal appearance with tow or three stories and classic lines. Usually built of red brick, the rectangular house has thin columns alongside the entry, and multi-paned windows above the door and throughout the house. Two large chimneys rise high above the roof at each end.
Tudor: Modeled after the English country cottage. Tudor styling features trademark dark-wood timbering set against light-colored stucco that highlights the top half of the house and frames the numerous windows. The bottom half of the house is often made of brick.
Queen Anne/Victorian: Developed from styles originated in Great Britain, these homes are usually two-story frame with large rooms, high ceilings and porches along the front and sometimes sides of the house. Peaked roofs and ornamental wood trim, many times referred to as “gingerbread,” decorate these elaborate homes.
Pueblo/Santa Fe Style – Popular in the Southwest, these homes are either frame or adobe brick with a stucco exterior. The flat rood has protruding, rounded beams called vigas. One or two story, the homes feature covered/enclosed patios and an abundance of tile.
Dutch Colonial – the Dutch Colonial has two or two-and-one-half stories covered by a gambrel roof (having two lopes on each side, with the lower slope steeper than the upper, flatter slope) and eaves that flare outward. This style is traditionally make of brick or shingles.
New England Colonial – This two-and-one-half story early American style is box like with a gable roof. The traditional material is narrow clapboard siding and a shingle roof. The small-pane, double-hung windows usually have working wood shutters.
Southern Colonial: this large, two-to-three-story frame house is world famous for its large front columns and wide porches.
Split-levels: Split-level houses have one living level about half a floor above the other living level. When this type of home is built on three different levels, it is called a tri-level.
These are just a few of the many styles of homes available across the country – some are more prominent in different areas than others. Knowing home style terms will help you zero in on the type of house that will fill your needs and suit your taste.
About Century 21 Real Estate LLC – Century 21 Real Estate LLC (century21.com) is the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization, providing comprehensive training and marketing support for the CENTURY 21 System. The System is comprised of approximately 7,100 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices in 74 countries and territories worldwide with more than 100,000 sales professionals. Century 21 Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services.
Open the windows! Let in the fresh air! Spring has sprung!
It is time for picnics, long walks, froliking outdoors, and spring cleaning. In order to help you organize, we’ve made a series of printable spring cleaning checklists. To save the best for last we are starting with the least dreaded room to clean – the bathroom.
The California Association of REALTORS® announced yesterday it received a letter from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), obtained by Board of Equalization (BOE) member George Runner, clarifying that California families who lost their home in a short sale are not subject to state income tax liability on debt forgiveness “phantom income” they never received in a short sale.
Last month, in a letter to California Senator Barbara Boxer, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognized that the debt written off in a short sale does not constitute recourse debt under California law, and thus does not create so called “cancellation of debt” income to the underwater home seller for federal income tax purposes. Following the IRS’s clarification, C.A.R. sought a similar ruling by the California FTB. Now with the FTB’s clarification, underwater home sellers are also assured that they are not subject to state income tax liability, rescuing tens of thousands distressed home sellers from California tax liability for debt written off by lenders in short sales.
“We are pleased with the recent clarifications issued by the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board, which protect distressed homeowners from debt relief income tax associated with a short sale in California,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. “We would like to thank Senator Boxer and BOE member Runner for their leadership in obtaining this guidance from the IRS and FTB. Distressed California homeowners can now avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy and can opt for a short sale instead, without incurring federal and state tax liability, even after the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 expires at the end of the year.”
This is wonderful news for California families still struggling with an underwater home. We still recommend all REALTORS® encourage their clients to speak with a tax professional who can advise them on their specific situation. This information in no way should be taken as either legal or tax advice.
(Sacramento Association of REALTORS® Web Log, Caylyn Brown Thursday, December 5th, 2013)