Posted in Real Estate

Redevelopment Opportunities Abound

Redevelopment Opportunities AboundHouses for a dollar. Millions (perhaps billions) in tax incentives. Reclaiming contaminated land. Partnering with Walmart to build town centers. What do all of these things have in common? They are examples of exciting redevelopment opportunities in different parts of America.

HUD Dollar Homes

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers homes for $1. Local governments may purchase them if they listed for sale without finding a buyer for six months. HUD acquired these homes through foreclosures.

The local governments purchase the homes for $1 so that they can fix them up and then re-sell them to low- to moderate-income families as part of a neighborhood revitalization program.

For investors and home buyers, there are also many bargain-priced HUD homes for sale, which need rehabilitation. First-responders and teachers get a 50% discount. Non-profits get a 30% discount.

Tax Incentives

Tax incentives attract investments by businesses in economically-disadvantaged areas. Federal, state, and local programs encourage redevelopment in many areas. Tax abatements come from the state, county, and the local community.

In 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department created Opportunity Zones in many states to give preferential tax treatment for investments made in these zones. Investors in these zones can defer federal income tax on capital gains. Under the new tax code, investments in Opportunity Zones held for 10 years have zero capital gains tax.

Super Fund Site Reuse

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI) to clean up toxic sites and reclaim contaminated land. There are now quite a few Superfund sites that went through the cleanup process and have EPA approval for reuse. Some successful projects under the SRI program include large solar energy collection arrays built on reclaimed land.

Walmart Parking Lots To Become Town Centers

Walmart plans to partner with developers to build Walmart Town Centers on underutilized acreage that surrounds some of its Walmart Super Centers.

Walmart invites small businesses and local communities to work with them on these redevelopment projects. Some plans include dog parks, day care centers, health clinics, farmer’s markets, basketball courts, and green spaces for picnics.

Sounds a bit like what downtown Main Street used to offer before Walmart came to town. Doesn’t it? Now, with these new redevelopment plans, the community space of a town center is coming back to some American towns.

Conclusion

Opportunities in redevelopment received support on a national level by the JOBS Act and the recent changes in the tax code. There are many redevelopment success stories happening in places where before everyone only saw problems and now real estate investors and developers find opportunities.

Whether you are in the market for a single family residence or a commercial investment, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.

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Posted in Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 29th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 29th, 2019

Last week’s economic reporting included readings on sales of new and pre-owned homes; weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released along with a report on consumer sentiment.

Sales of New Homes Hit 16-Month High

The Commerce Department reported that deep discounts offered by home builders boosted sales of new single-family homes to 692,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

March sales exceeded February’s reading by 4.50 percent and exceeded the expected sales pace of 656,000 sales. The average price of new single family homes fell to $302,700 in March; this was 9.70 percent lower year-over-year.

Real estate pros reported higher inventory of new homes for sale with a six-month supply of homes for sale in March. A six-month supply of available homes indicates that housing markets were evenly balanced between homes for sale and prospective buyers.

Previously-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.21 million sales in March. The National Association of Realtors® said that sales of pre-owned homes were 5.90 percent lower than the sales pace of 5.48 million pre owned homes posted for February and that March sales missed expectations of 5.35 million sales.

Sales were likely impacted by higher average sales price for pre-owned homes; the average selling price for pre-owned homes was $259,400, which was 3.80 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices challenge first-time and moderate income home buyers; this could explain the slower sales pace for pre-owned homes in March.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.20 percent and were three basis points higher than for the prior week. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged two basis points higher at 3.64 percent; Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell one basis point and averaged 3.77 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims jumped to 230,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 193,000 new claims filed. Analysts said that more first-time claims were likely related to the Easter holiday and spring breaks.

According to the Consumer Sentiment Index for April, consumer sentiment rose to an index reading of 97.20 percent as compared to an expected reading of 97.0 and March’s reading of 96.9.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from Case-Shiller, and Commerce Department readings on construction spending and pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will issue its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a press conference. ADP and Non-Farm Payrolls reports will be released along with the national unemployment rate.

Posted in Foreclosure

Pros And Cons Of Buying A Foreclosure

Pros And Cons Of Buying A ForeclosureWhen a homeowner stops making regular mortgage payments, the bank can foreclose on the property. This means that the bank takes possession of the property in an attempt to recover the debt the homeowner owes. In some cases, the bank may try to recover this debt by selling the property at auction. In other cases, the bank will simply list the foreclosed home for sale.

Choosing to purchase a foreclosed home has both advantages and disadvantages for the buyer. Weighing these advantages and disadvantages carefully is essential.

Pros Of Buying A Foreclosure

When you decide to buy a foreclosure, you will be working with a seller that is inherently more motivated. The longer the bank owns the property, the more money they lose. For this reason, banks are often more willing to negotiate on all of the terms of the sale, including the price, closing costs and other important factors.

Buying a foreclosure also ensures that you are getting a house that is already vacant, so you can move in whenever you are ready. In addition, you can be sure that the title on the home is clear.

In most cases, you will be able to finance a bank-owned foreclosure with a mortgage, and you will be able to obtain an inspection if you want one.

Cons Of Buying A Foreclosure

Buying a foreclosure also comes with disadvantages. For example, banks usually require additional paperwork when you are purchasing a foreclosed home.

In addition, most banks will refuse to complete any repairs on the home before the purchase. Most foreclosed homes are sold as-is, which means you may have to repair some problems or do some updates after you buy the home.

Finally, because the bank has only owned the home a short time, they cannot provide comprehensive disclosures related to the property’s current condition or history. This means that you may end up purchasing a home without being fully aware of the problems you’ll need to address.

Making A Choice

Buying a foreclosure isn’t the right option for every buyer. However, if you are a careful shopper, potential benefits are available.

Before making an offer on a foreclosed home, be sure to consult an experienced real estate agent. These professionals are well-versed in negotiation and can prove to be one of your most valued assets in your home-buying experience.

 

Posted in Real Estate

The Economics Of Going Green For Home Sales

The Economics Of Going Green For Home SalesEarth Day is celebrated each year in April to remind us all of the benefits of ecologically-sound living that is more in harmony with Mother Earth. There is quite a bit of positive news when it comes to going “green.” There are significant benefits for home sales.

Green homes may sell faster and for higher prices. Many people are willing to pay more for a green home in order to receive the long-term benefits of the savings on utility costs.

The Numbers Are Very Appealing

AHS reports many encouraging statistics. The estimates are about one-third of the real estate market for single family homes in 2016 was for green homes. The National Association of Builders says that 90% of home buyers consider looking for energy-efficient green homes to be a high priority when shopping for a home.

About 61% are willing to pay up to $5,000 more for a home that as low utility bills because of its green design. The Earth Advantage Study concluded that a green home, which is certified sells for up to 35% more than non-certified home.

The Green Value Proposition

Lawdepot reports that for every dollar that the utility bill is reduced for a home, the average resale value increases from 15 up to 20 dollars.

Here are some cost-effective investments that improve a home’s resale value:

  • Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors: Old, leaky windows and doors are horrible energy-wasters. Upgrade windows and doors to drastically lower energy costs. This also dramatically improves a home’s curb appeal. In terms of resale value, the return on investment is up to 100% over the cost of the installation.
  • LEED Certification: A home that has a LEED certification for energy-efficiency can sell for up to 35% more than a non-certified home.
  • Insulation: Upgrading attic insulation with high-performance blown fiberglass returns about 17% over the cost of the installation.
  • Solar Energy System: Solar energy installations return about 97% of the cost upon resale according to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Depending on the tax incentives and how much was saved on utility bills before the home is sold, there is typically a net positive financial benefit to a homeowner for installing a solar energy system. Moreover, these homes continue to operate normally in a grid-down emergency, which is a big selling point.

Conclusion

Going green, in these suggested ways, helps maximize a home’s resale value. This is helpful for the environment and makes excellent financial sense. Green homes are very attractive to potential buyers, especially in areas that typically have high monthly utility bills.

If buying a green home is a top priority, be sure to let your trusted real estate agent know so that they can help you find your dream property.

Posted in Mortgage

4 Ways To Get Your Home Loan Closed Faster

4 Ways To Get Your Home Loan Closed FasterYou’ve finally found the perfect home for your family. Now the only thing standing between you and domestic bliss is the loan process. Use these techniques to shorten the amount of time between placing your bid and getting the final approval on your new home mortgage.

Perfect Your Credit Rating

Your credit score is a measure of your financial responsibility. Lenders look closely at your creditworthiness in their attempt to decide your loan’s risk. Before you start shopping, take some time to clean up your credit history.

Some credit habits that help shorten your loan approval period include:

  • At least one year of on-time payments for utilities, loans, and other regular obligations.
  • A low debt-to-income ratio.
  • A credit utilization rate of 20% or less.

Lenders spend less time researching your financial history when your credit report is clear, which means you spend less time waiting to move in.

Practice Patience

Driven by the excitement of their new home purchase, many buyers spend the closing period investing in new furniture and appliances for their potential home. However, it’s better to wait until the final paperwork goes through before committing to new lines of credit.

Even after applications are filed, lenders still monitor your credit usage. Suddenly spending large amounts of money can cause red flags that delay your loan processing. Practice a little restraint and wait until you’re sure the process is complete before indulging in a spending spree.

Stabilize Yourself

Your ability to repay is a big part of your creditworthiness. A long and solid work history is your best ally in the fight for quality loan products. Establish at least one year of solid work history before starting the loan application process. Hold off on any career changes until you’re comfortably moved into your new residence.

Open The Lines Of Communication

Stay in touch with your trusted home mortgage professional to ensure a smooth loan process. If you move or change your phone number, be sure to update your information right away. While most institutions are very professional about keeping loan applicants updated, don’t be afraid to call and ask about the status of your account. If you feel you haven’t heard back in a timely manner, send a short email or leave a voicemail to ensure you haven’t missed any important requests.

These tips help you spend less time waiting and more time enjoying your new home purchase.

Posted in Mortgage

4 Ways To Pay Off My Mortgage Faster

4 Ways To Pay Off My Mortgage FasterFor most people, the mortgage payment is the biggest monthly expense. Whether you’re facing retirement or still working, it would be nice to be free of this debt. Although you probably can’t pay it off in one lump sum, it is possible to pay off your mortgage sooner than expected.

Here are four strategies to try.

1. Make Bi-Weekly Payments

You could shave eight years off a 30-year mortgage simply by breaking down your monthly payments into two payments instead of one. You’ll pay the same amount each month while the interest paid over the length of the loan is reduced. 

2. Make Principal-Only Payments

If you look at your mortgage payment slip, you’ll notice that the majority of your monthly payment goes toward interest. Slash years off your mortgage by making occasional principal-only payments on top of your regular payments. Consult your lender to see how many of these are allowed per year. If they’re limited, maximize each opportunity by making as large a principal-only payment as you can manage.

3. Refinance When Rates Drop

If your mortgage originated when interest rates were high, refinance it now that rates are still historically lower. You may need to pay closing costs, but you’ll still end up dramatically lowering the amount of interest you are paying on your mortgage. While you’re at the refinancing game, consider getting into a shorter term length. This tactic will probably increase your monthly payment, but if you can afford it, it’s a good strategy for paying down your mortgage quicker.

4. Pay Extra Each Month

If you can afford it, pad your monthly payment with a little extra as often as possible. Just paying $50 or $100 extra will enable you to get rid of your mortgage a little faster. Find the extra money by cutting back on small niceties, such as subscriptions, take-out food and more. You won’t notice the lack of small conveniences, but you will certainly notice a shortened mortgage loan term.

When you work to pay off your mortgage faster, you essentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. Implement one or more of these ideas to become mortgage-free just a little bit sooner.

If you are interested in purchasing a new property or listing your current home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

Posted in Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22nd, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22nd, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on home builder confidence in housing market conditions and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage ratees and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Builder Confidence Rises One Point in April

Home Builder Confidence readings posted by the National Association of Home Builders held steady for April and rose one point overall. Component readings for the NAHB Housing Market Index were mixed; builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 69, but builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months fell one point to 62.

Home builder confidence in potential buyer traffic rose three points to 47. NAHB Housing Market index readings above 50 indicate that most builders view market conditions as positive, but the reading for buyer traffic seldom rises above 50.

Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued Fall Short of Expectations in March

Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued in March were lower than in February and fell short of analyst expectations. Housing starts were reported at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.139 million starts. Analysts expected housing starts at an annual rate of 1,225 billion starts based on February’s reading of 1.142 million starts.

Builders continued to experience headwinds including higher materials costs, shortages of buildable lots and a lack of skilled labor. Analysts cited disparities between new housing developments, which tend to favor luxury homes and the need for affordable housing.

Exclusionary zoning and neighborhood politics can block construction of affordable housing in desirable areas; legal and zoning constraints prevent builders from producing enough affordable homes to meet demand. Housing starts year-to-date were 9.70 percent lower than for the same period in 2018.

Fewer building permits were issued in March than in February. 1.269 million permits were issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to expectations of 1.300 million permits issued and February’s reading of 1.291 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates were higher last week as average rates for fixed rate mortgages rose. 30-year mortgage rates averaged five basis points higher at 4.17 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged two basis points higher at 3.62 percent.  

Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged two basis points lower at 3.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell by 5000 new claims to 192,000 initial claims; this was significantly lower than 204,000 new claims expected.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims will also be released.

Posted in Real Estate

Home Maintenance Tips: How to Organize Your Garage

Home Maintenance Tips How to Organize Your GaragePerhaps you plan to sell your home in the next few months or years. Keeping your garage organized can save time and ensure that you have storage space when you need it most.

Get Your Purge On!

Clear out the garage and separate items into categories: keep, trash, donate and recycle. If you get rid of 50 percent of your stuff, you’re doing great. The more you can get rid of up front, the less you have to organize! And if you haven’t used it in years, why would you need to keep it around?

Create Zones

Map out space with masking tape, starting with where your vehicles go. Mask out where you can put heavy-duty shelves for tools, sports equipment and other stored items. Also, you can maximize storage by building cabinets or shelving from floor to ceiling.

Buying clear bins in various sizes and interlocking shapes helps you stay organized. When you store like items together, it’s much easier to find them, especially if everything is properly labeled.

Think strategically. If your garage doubles as a workshop, include space for a workbench. If you bike every day, hang your wheels on the wall near the garage door. Additionally, remember to include garbage and recycling bins near the door for easy access. 

Organizational Supplies
With the zones mapped, it’s time to get organized. For example, store shovels, rakes and brooms in a large trashcan. Meanwhile, sporting equipment such as bats, balls, skateboards and protective pads can go into larger bins, on shelves or inside lockers. Pegboards provide a versatile way to hang tools you use the most.

A cabinet that locks protects children and pets from hazardous materials like chemicals, paint and cleaning supplies. Meanwhile, constructing long open shelves of wood or metal gives you plenty of support for heavy storage bins, while a rolling cabinet lets you move craft supplies or gardening implements.

Storing Small Stuff

What can you do with screws, nails, hooks, nuts and myriad small items on a limited budget? Repurposed glass containers or mason jars let you see contents clearly while recycling. Use tin cans for screwdrivers and paint brushes. 

Once your garage is neat and clean, you may find yourself spending more time there. You might even have enough room for a home office or craft corner. A well-planned organizational strategy helps you keep it that way. 

If you are interested in listing your current property or buying a new property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

 

Posted in Market Outlook

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in April

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in AprilHome builder confidence increased in April to an index reading of 63, which was one point higher than for March and the highest reading in six months. Analysts said that April’s reading revealed more about housing market conditions in the past six months than it was an indicator of future market conditions.

November’s builder confidence reading was the lowest since housing markets tanked in 2008, Builder confidence recovered over the past few months despite headwinds including higher materials costs and shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady Despite Headwinds

NAHB Housing Market Index readings over 50 indicate that most home builders are confident about housing market conditions. While April’s reading was comfortably above the benchmark, the average reading so far in 2019 is 61 as compared to 2018’s annual average reading of 67.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index were mixed in April. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to 69; confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months dropped one point to 71 and the reading for builder confidence in buyer traffic rose three points to an index reading of 47. Readings for builder confidence in buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50.

Market Conditions Expected to Improve, but Obstacles Persist

Improving weather conditions and the peak home-buying season should boost builder confidence and housing market conditions, but rapidly rising home prices and affordability concerns could dampen housing markets and builder enthusiasm. Analysts report that no major changes are expected to mortgage rates in 2019. If this holds true, potential homebuyers are likely to take advantage of lower rates to buy homes. Analysts also said that initial impact of new tax laws has faded; more home buyers are expected to enter the market.

Market conditions depend on buyers and sellers; their motivations, resources and ability to “stay put” impact individual home sales. Buyers who depend on financing their home purchases are competing with increasing numbers of cash buyers; the National Association of Realtors ® traditionally reported about 10 percent of home sales were cash transactions, in recent years cash sales have increased to approximately 20 percent of home sales.

Homeowners are more likely to accept cash offers rather than accepting offers from buyers who must qualify for mortgages under a lengthy and precise approval process. Trends indicate that more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes; this and exclusionary zoning laws in some areas are reducing the number of homes available.

 

Posted in Real Estate

Staging Your Home: Here Are Your Self-Storage Options

Staging Your Home Here Are Your Self-Storage OptionsIf you’re staging your home to sell, you may find yourself with more stuff than space. Rather than selling possessions that you’d rather not part with, you can put your things into short-term storage until your home sells and you’re able to move.

Here are some options you have when choosing and using a self storage unit.

Climate Controlled Or Not

Climate controlled units are located inside buildings. They could be compared to an apartment building, except instead of housing people, these storage buildings house belongings. Inside, they are powered with electricity and a temperature control that is temperate.

The advantage of a climate controlled storage unit is that your possessions won’t get above average hot or below average cold. If you plan to store certain items that are temperature sensitive, such as photographs, antique wood furniture or heirloom paintings, a climate controlled unit is a must.

Self storage units that are not climate controlled are typically located in garage-like buildings with a garage door opening that is open to the outside. There is usually no electricity or power inside the unit, so if you want to visit at night or on a dark day you’ll need to bring a flashlight.

There is no temperature control, so whatever the temperature is outside, it will be similar inside the unit. Depending on the climate you live in, it could get freezing inside the unity or extremely hot. If you’re planning on storing things that can withstand extreme temperatures, like a small motor vehicle, clothing or kitchen goods, you could opt for a unit like this.

Ground Level Or Above

Climate controlled storage buildings usually have more than one floor. Often, the ground level units are considered to be more convenient, so the rental rate may be higher than those on a higher floor. If you choose a ground level unit, you’ll be able to access your unit without navigating up and down an elevator for every trip back and forth to your car.

Units on higher floors will have access via a freight elevator. The freight elevator will be large enough to hold even your larger furnishings, such as couches, bureaus and desks. You’ll still be able to use a hand truck to cart your belongings, but you’ll have the disadvantage of having to wait for the elevator since other renters will also be using it.

Knowing these things ahead of time will help you make your decision about what kind of self storage unit to rent. No matter which one you choose, you can rest assured that your belongings will be safe and sound until you’re ready to bring them to your new home.

If your house is on the market, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional for staging tips that will really appeal to prospective home buyers!