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Ten Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

by Leslie Edwards

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-15, August 8, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service has some important information to share with individuals who have sold or are about to sell their home. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude all or part of that gain from your income. Here are ten tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.

  1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.
  2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).
  3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.

  4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.

  5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.

  6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.

  7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.

  8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.

  9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.

  10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.
For more information about selling your home, see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home. This publication is available at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
To buy or sell real estate, call me. Leslie Edwards 770.460.9448 leslie@leslieedwards.com www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com RE/MAX

Selling Your Home in a Down Market

by Leslie Edwards

Even in a down market, the best homes sell.  Read this USA Today Article for ways make sure your home gets SOLD.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2011-07-02-home-sellers-down-market_n.htm

If you are ready to sell, or just want to talk about it, call me.

leslie edwards                                                                             770.460.9448                                                            leslie@leslieedwards.com                                                 www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com                                                           RE/MAX Around Atlanta

 

The 7 Worst Things You Can Do to Your Credit Score

by Leslie Edwards

This Article Was Written by Broderick Perkins and Reposted
Because it is Great Information About Your Credit Score.

John Ulzheimer, president of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft.

Formerly with FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, Ulzheimer is a rare editorial source -- a recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry.

He often references in his writings the "Seven FICO Deadlies," credit score deflating actions, but only recently identified them in one consolidated list.

Your credit score, from about 350 (poor) to 800 (excellent) is a numerical rendition of your credit report. The higher your score, the more likely you'll get approved for credit and the more likely you'll get the best rate and terms. Negative actions posted to your credit report, take a bite out of your credit score.

Here's what Ulzheimer says are the seven worst things you can do to your credit score. And speaking of "seven," that's how many years these black marks can stay on your credit report.

 

  • Deadbeat behavior. Frequent, significant and late payments 30 days, 60 days, 90 days late. Don't believe a 30-day-late payment won't hurt. It may not ruin your credit but it's not helpful and can remain on your report for years.

    Collection activity. When the lender gets tired of your deadbeat behavior it will call out the dogs -- a third-party collection agency. The collection agency will report collection activity to the credit bureaus and again, seven years of bad luck.

  •  Charge offs. If the lender gives up on your collection case, acknowledging you'll never pay the bill, it charges off the debt and puts your credit report on notice for seven years.

  • Public recordings. Bankruptcy, tax liens, judgments and the like are killers for your credit rating. Judgments are good (or, from your viewpoint, bad) for seven years, even if you pay them off. Bankruptcies can dog your credit report for 10 years and unpaid tax liens never go away.

  • Settlements. If you pay a portion of a debt to your lender in a settlement, say a some of the mortgage in a short sale, you can get a settlement notice on your credit report card for seven years. Credit cards and other debts, likewise can be settled, with negative impact to your credit report.

  • Foreclosures. If you can't or won't pay your mortgage the lender will eventually foreclose and relieve you of your home. Another seven year negative notification will drag down your score. The same applies when you give the home to the lender in a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

  • Repossession – When you don't pay your vehicle loans a bounty hunter will be coming your way. He or she is not coming after you, but your vehicle, and that's often without notice, after you've been dunned for a while. It's all legal. The repo man can take your property down and your credit score will follow.

    Although getting a mortgage is more difficult today than it was a few years ago when the real estate market was hot, qualified buyers are getting approved everyday. Call me and let's discuss your situation and see how I can help you.  Your information is always confidential and as always, there is no obligation to do business with me.  Let's talk.

    leslie edwards                                                                       Environmentally Aware, Socially Conscious, Politically Active Real Estate Agent 770.460.9448                                                                                           

    CDPE Certified Distressed Property Expert                                                                              CRS   Certified Residential Specialist                                                                                          Epro  Certified Internet Professional                                                                                              ABR   Accredited Buyer Representative                                                                                       GRI   Graduate of the Realtor Institute                                                                                            Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider                                                                                   Selling South Metro Atlanta including:Clayton, Fayette, Henry, Coweta, Merewether, South Fulton & Spalding Counties. Call me now tow buy or sell in all the towns and cities south of the Atlanta International Airport, including, but not limited to:Brooks, College Park, Fairburn, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Locust Grove, McDonough, Newnan, Sharpsburg, Stockbridge, Palmetto, Peachtree City, Tyrone and more

    Moving Families Since 1978                                                                                                                 Let My Experience Work For You                                                                                     770.460.0739 Fax                                                                                                                                    See All the Lisings in The MLS At www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com      www.leslieedwards.com/blog                                                                     leslie@leslieedwards.com                                                                                                           RE/MAX Around Atlanta

     

    Save your credit, relieve the uncertainty, and most of all, help your family. Call me for Short Sale and Pre-Foreclosure Solutions and let's get started on the path to recovery.

    http://www.leslieedwards.com/Blog/What-is-a-Short-Sale-and-Why-You-Might-Want-One

      

     

     

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    Take a Minute on Memorial Day

    by Leslie Edwards

    Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in service to our Country so that we can continue to be free. We live in the greatest nation in the world. 

    Unlike Veterans Day which honors all the men and women who have served and those serving in our military now.

    Enjoy this weekend with family and friends.

    At 3 pm on Monday, in whichever time zone you are, please take one minute in silence to remember our fallen soldiers. Please watch and listen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFcuR34Gg-o

    leslie edwards                                                                                       environmentally conscious, socially aware, politically active real estate agent                                                                                                              Serving South Metro Atlanta GA                                                                             770.527.1983                                                                                                         RE/MAX Around Atlanta

     

    The Dalai Lama is a Really Smart Guy

    by Leslie Edwards

    The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

    By: Altered States

     

     

    Is it "Me", "Myself" or "I" ?

    by Leslie Edwards

    95% of the time when I hear someone use the word "myself" in a sentence, I cringe.  The word "myself" is rarely used correctly.  More often than not, the correct word is either "I" or "me". 

    Below are two explanations of when to use "Me" "Myself" or "I"

    "In the old days when people studied traditional grammar, we could simply say, "The first person singular pronoun is I when it's a subject and me when it's an object,' but now few people know what that means. [. . .] The misuse of I and myself for me is caused by nervousness about me. [. . .] But the notion that there is something wrong with me leads people to overcorrect and avoid it where it is perfectly appropriate. People will say, 'The document had to be signed by both Susan and I' when the correct statement would be, 'The document had to be signed by both Susan and me.'

    Trying even harder to avoid the lowly me, many people will substitute myself as in 'The suspect uttered epithets at Officer O'Leary and myself.' Myself is no better than I as an object. Myself is not a sort of all-purpose intensive form of me or I . Use myself only when you have used I earlier in the same sentence: 'I am not particularly fond of goat cheese myself'" (Brian’s, Common Errors in English Usage).  *** I wanna be, all by myself. le

    When do you use "me"?

    The craziest rule of all, to my ear, is the rule that governs the use of "myself" and "me". Which of these *sounds* correct to you?

    1. The Captain handed the medals to my partner and myself.

    2. The Captain handed the medals to my partner and I.

    3. The Captain handed the medals to my partner and me.

    The correct version, of course, is the 3rd. The word "me" is always a direct or indirect object (never a subject) and "I" is *always* a subject--that much doesn't sound too far-fetched, and it rules out the 2nd example.

    "Myself" is a special object (direct or indirect), to be used only when the subject is you (note I didn't write "...when the subject is yourself"). I can give a gift to *myself* since I am the one doing the giving. The Captain can never "give a gift to myself" since the subject is the Captain.

    Part of the confusion comes from the two-part indirect object in the examples above ("my partner and me") but the same grammar rules apply whether or not the object is compounded.

    leslie edwards, Realtor                                                                       770.460.9448                                                                                                        leslie@leslieedwards.com                                                                                          see all the listings at                                            www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com                                                                     As a Certified Distressed Property Expert, I help families avoid foreclosure.  If someone you know can't pay their mortgage, ask them to call me.

     

    How Buying a Home Is Likely to Change

    by leslie edwards

    In the future, it will be harder to buy a home. Read this February 10, 2011 article from US News and World Report, By Rick Newman and see if this might be the right time for you to take advantage of low interest rates, low down payments and low home prices.

    How Buying a Home Is Likely to Change

    By Rick Newman
    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Last year's sweeping financial-reform law revamped much of the banking system. But there's one industry it didn't touch: housing finance, for good reason. Unlike the convalescing banking sector, the housing market is still a wreck, with any false move likely to destabilize things even further and cause fresh damage.

     

    But the system can't continue the way it is either, so policymakers in Washington are gingerly starting to propose ways to fix the way we finance the purchase of homes and assure that there's never another housing bust like the one that began in 2006 -- and still isn't over.

    The biggest and thorniest question is what role the government should play in the housing market. The government has had a hand in housing since the 1930s, when it began to subsidize home purchases for some buyers. But today the government dominates housing finance, with our system effectively nationalized. The government backs nearly every new mortgage, bearing much of the risk that lenders would ordinarily take on. That has kept mortgage money flowing during a severe credit crunch, preventing a much bigger disaster in housing, and a deeper recession. But it has also cost taxpayers billions of dollars, created a perverse system ripe for political abuse, and crowded out private financing that might be deployed more efficiently.

    So with the economic recovery gaining strength, it's finally time to address the problem-to-be-named later. The Obama administration has come up with a set of options for winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the insolvent housing agencies that back many middle-class mortgages but suffered catastrophic losses in 2008 and were taken over by the government. Some Republicans would like to see Washington end its role in housing altogether, while many economists favor some kind of hybrid system that transfers much but not the government’s entire role to the private sector. A few small changes could happen this year, with the biggest reforms probably not likely until at least 2013, after the next presidential election. Even then, changes will probably be phased in slowly, to minimize disruption -- and panic.

    Still, we may be on the verge of a transformation in the way Americans pay for the biggest purchase they'll ever make, which determines how millions of families prioritize their household finances. Since many families spend years saving for a down payment, long-term planning is prudent. Here are some of the possible changes both buyers and sellers should anticipate:

    Rising mortgage rates. During the housing boom that ended in 2006, mortgage rates were artificially low because lenders failed to price in enough of a cushion to account for the kind of steep price declines that have occurred. Even the most responsible lenders figured the worst-case scenario might be a 10 percent decline in prices, and they priced their loans accordingly. So far, home values have declined by about 30 percent from the 2006 peak, and they could still fall another 5 to 10 percent. That's one reason losses at Fannie, Freddie, and other mortgage lenders were so severe. While the average rate on 30-year mortgages just rose to 5.05 percent, the highest level in 10 months, rates are still extremely low. That's largely because the government is effectively subsidizing them through taxpayer bailouts, Federal Reserve policies, and guarantees against losses on most new mortgages.

    If the government continues to back mortgages at current levels, rates might stay low -- but taxpayers will be on the hook for the cost of the next meltdown. A more likely outcome is a hybrid system in which private lenders bear more of the risk, while the government insures them against catastrophic losses and charges a fee to cover the cost -- similar to the way the FDIC insures banks. A recent study by Moody's Analytics calculates that such a system would raise mortgage rates by about 30 basis points, or 0.3 percentage points. If the whole system were privatized, Moody's estimates that could push rates up by about 120 basis points, or 1.2 percentage points, compared with a government-run system. On a $200,000 mortgage, a 30-basis-point bump would add about $39 to the monthly payment; a 120-point bump would add about $159. The spread would likely be greater for borrowers with weaker credit. And remember, those hikes would come in addition to other factors likely to drive long-term rates up over the next few years.

    Higher down payments. Last year's Dodd-Frank financial-reform law did contain a few provisions that affect mortgages, including one that's likely to lead to formal down-payment requirements for many traditional loans. The government hasn't yet spelled out the details, but it probably will sometime this year. It seems likely that the required down payment on the majority of mortgages could be 20 percent, and perhaps as high as 30 percent. It will still be possible to get a loan with less money down, but because of new ways that lenders will have to handle such loans, interest rates will probably end up higher than they would have under the old rules.

    Of course, many borrowers can't even get a loan these days unless they come up with a meaty down payment, so formal rules may not make that much of a difference, in reality. The biggest impact might be felt by hopeful buyers without a lot of cash who have been waiting for standards to ease, so they can get into a home with just 5 or 10 percent down. It might be a long time before standards ease that much, or banks make loans affordable for buyers financing most of the value of a house.

    Less backing for expensive homes. The government changed the rules during the financial crisis to allow federal backing for mortgages as high as $729,750 in some high-cost areas, which means loans up to that amount count as "qualifying" loans suitable for the lowest rates. That ceiling is set to drop back to $625,500 on September 30. Expect it to happen, since Republicans who now control the House of Representatives want to reduce the government's role in housing finance, not perpetuate it. Bigger loans will still be available -- but with higher rates. And the ceiling on qualifying loans could shrink further, since that might be one way to shrink Fannie and Freddie.

    Fewer fixed-rate mortgages. If the housing-finance system were to end up largely privatized, it would probably mean far fewer 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages -- which are the ones most popular with consumers. Banks don't like such mortgages because consumers can refinance if rates go lower, but banks can't hike rates if they go higher. "The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage exists because of the government backstop," says Mike Konczal, a fellow with the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute. "Getting rid of it would shift more of the risk onto households."

    In countries where the government plays a lesser role in financing homes, such as Canada and many European nations, the majority of mortgages are adjustable, with rates that reset every few years. That requires more cushion in the family budget for rising costs -- and more responsible homeowners. But it might be worth it, since many of those nations avoided the kind of bust that has left millions of Americans with mortgages that exceed the value of their home. The odds of Congress killing the 30-year mortgage outright are probably low, but the rules under a hybrid system could restrict access to a smaller subset of top-tier borrowers. People who once might have qualified for the best mortgages might have to settle for less. Good credit will remain more important than ever.

    Fewer homeowners. Loose lending and aggressive government policies pushed the homeownership rate to a peak of about 69 percent in 2005, a level that was probably unsustainable. It's now back to about 66 percent, and with foreclosures still mounting, the homeownership rate could very well dip below the historical average of 64 percent or so -- and stay below long-term norms. One bit of good news for home buyers is that a combination of steep price drops and low interest rates have suddenly made homes very affordable. But credit is obviously tight, and new rules could keep it that way.

    There's one other possible change that could discourage homeownership: The reduction or elimination of the mortgage-interest tax deduction, which costs the government about $80 billion per year. That tax break has been in place for decades, as a way to promote homeownership. But with Washington running record annual deficits and facing mounting pressure to start paying down its debt, giveaways like the mortgage deduction might have to go. At least two deficit-reduction panels have recommended a lower homeowner subsidy, which would hit middle- and high-income homeowners the most. If it ever happens, the result could be smaller, less expensive homes for many -- plus more renters.

    Less volatility. If policymakers do their job well, they'll ultimately produce a system less susceptible to hot money, speculators, bubbles, and shocks. For buyers, that means a return to the days when you bought a home to live in for a decade or two, not to occupy for a few years and then turn a profit on. "If I were a couple looking at a home, I'd be extra skeptical about investing," says Konczal. "I'd be prepared to sit in the home for 10, 20, even 25 years." It sounds restrictive, but many Americans might decide that a home for life is better than no home at all. And that they could live with a little stability.

    Call me and let's discuss your situation and see how I can help.  I closed 67 properties in 2009 and 62 in 2010 and I would love to close one for you to.

     

    leslie edwards

    Environmentally Aware, Socially Conscious, Politically Active Real Estate Agent

    770.460.9448

    CDPE Certified Distressed Property Expert

    CRS   Certified Residential Specialist

    Epro  Certified Internet Professional

    ABR   Accredited Buyer Representative

    GRI    Graduate of the Realtor Institute

    Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider

    Selling South Metro Atlanta including:

    Clayton, Fayette, Henry, Coweta, Merewether, South Fulton & Spalding Counties

    All the towns and cities south of the Atlanta International Airport, including:

    Brooks, College Park, Fairburn, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Locust Grove, McDonough

    Newnan, Sharpsburg, Stockbridge, Palmetto, Peachtree City, Tyrone and more

    Moving Families Since 1978

    Let My Experience Work For You

    fax:  770.460.0739

    www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com

    www.leslieedwards.com/blog

    leslie@leslieedwards.com

    RE/MAX Around Atlanta

     

    Save your credit, relieve the uncertainty, and most of all, help your family.

    Call me for Short Sale and Pre-Foreclosure Solutions and let's get started on the path to recovery.

    http://www.leslieedwards.com/Blog/What-is-a-Short-Sale-and-Why-You-Might-Want-One

      

     

    Lax Lending Could Blow Up Housing Market Again

    by Leslie Edwards

    I had a bad car accident once and for awhile after, I drove very carefully.  Slowly, over time, my bad driving habits returned. It is the same when someone has a health scare, like a heart attack.  Immediately after, they diligently follow the doctor's orders regarding diet, exercise and smoking.  But again, over time, most people revert back to their old habits. 

    Is the Government back to their old ways? People might think that the after this latest housing crisis, the Government would realize that not every one should own a home.  But already, the pressure is on for banks to lend to people using less stringent criteria and accepting lower credit scores.

    Are we destined for another housing crash? Read this article from the Washington Times.

    Double bubble Lax lending policy could blow up housing market again
    By THE WASHINGTON TIMES
    The Washington Times
    6:35 p.m., Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently guarantee about $5.5 trillion of outstanding mortgages and debts - nearly as much as the Treasury's own public debt. If the companies were fully nationalized, the government's books would have to reflect both the revenues and losses from those obligations. 

    Americans have lost more than $4 trillion in assets since the housing market collapsed in 2006. Risky government mortgage lending regulations helped inflate prices beyond reason, but those policies have not gone away. Instead, they've just moved into a new home, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Unless Congress acts to renovate eligibility requirements for borrowers, we could see an even worse financial disaster unfold.


    Signed into law in July, the Dodd-Frank Act pulled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending institutions out of the subprime loan business. Those government-sponsored monstrosities were fingered as prime culprits in the financial collapse, so the Obama administration has enlisted the FHA to perform the same functions. Peter Wallison and Edward Pinto of the American Enterprise Institute have raised the alarm, writing, "As in the period leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, these loans will again contribute to a housing bubble, which will feed on government funding and grow to enormous size."

    Congress began blowing the initial bubble in 1992 when it amended Fannie's and Freddie's charters to compel the mortgage giants to back financing for low- and middle-income families seeking housing. Subsequently, those enterprises induced mortgage lenders to relax their qualification standards, allowing millions to buy homes with no or little money down. As these properties went into foreclosure starting in 2006, the red ink at Fannie and Freddie ran into the hundreds of billions - with the public footing the bill. In October, the Federal Housing Finance Agency estimated the eventual cost to taxpayers would be up to $360 billion.

     The pressure to perpetuate dicey lending has begun already. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a housing rights group, filed complaints on Dec. 7 with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, claiming 22 banks across the country have violated fair-housing laws by denying FHA-insured loans to black and Hispanic borrowers with credit scores above the federal minimum.

     The FHA insures loans for borrowers with a minimal credit score of 580 and a down payment of 3.5 percent. The feds responded the next day by launching an investigation into the banks' practices.

    Participating lenders are caught between the Scylla of penalty for denying loans to marginal borrowers and the Charybdis of sanction for having too many defaults on their books. It will only get worse: The FHA has announced it intends to pump up its loan volume to $1.34 trillion by 2013 and make nearly half of its loans subprime by 2017. Thus, the stage is set for a second housing-market crash.

     If Republicans in the 112th Congress intend to make good on their promise to set the country back on the path to financial stability, they should toughen FHA mortgage lending standards by requiring higher credit scores and larger down payments. Better yet, the feds should get out of the mortgage business altogether and let the free market reach an equilibrium free of bubble and bust.

    While Uncle Sam may appear compassionate in assisting low-income families become homeowners, this "charity" has been disastrous. Millions have lost homes in the recent crash, with the burden falling most heavily on financially responsible Americans to clean up the billions in damage done. Learning from these mistakes of the past will prevent their return in the future.

    If you know someone who is behind on their mortgage payments, have them call me for a FREE confidential consultation.  As a Certified Distressed Property Expert, I help people avoid foreclosure. 

    leslie edwards

    Environmentally Aware, Socially Conscious, Politically Active Real Estate Agent

    770.460.9448

    CDPE Certified Distressed Property Expert

    CRS   Certified Residential Specialist

    Epro  Certified Internet Professional

    ABR   Accredited Buyer Representative

    GRI    Graduate of the Realtor Institute

    Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider

    Selling South Metro Atlanta including:

    Clayton, Fayette, Henry, Coweta, Merewether, South Fulton & Spalding Counties

    All the towns and cities south of the Atlanta International Airport, including:

    Brooks, College Park, Fairburn, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Locust Grove, McDonough

    Newnan, Sharpsburg, Stockbridge, Palmetto, Peachtree City, Tyrone and more

    Moving Families Since 1978

    Let My Experience Work For You

    fax:  770.460.0739

    www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com

    www.leslieedwards.com/blog

    leslie@leslieedwards.com

    RE/MAX Around Atlanta

     

     

    Mortgage Interest Rates

    by Leslie Edwards

    Mortgage interest updates courtesy of Mark King, Fairfield Mortgage. For a quick response call Mark at 770.314.3991.

    Email M.King@FairfieldMortgage.com

    After reaching the lowest levels in decades, mortgage rates have shot higher over the past few weeks, but why?  The simplest explanation is that when investors look ahead, they see few reasons for mortgage rates to move lower and many possible causes for them to move higher.  To fully understand this explanation, though, it is important to understand the unusual developments during the month of November and to look at all of the factors influencing mortgage rates at this time.  

    The story begins in late August when the Fed hinted that they would initiate a new stimulus program to purchase US Treasury securities, a process now famously known as quantitative easing.  The news of this stimulus program created a strong demand for bonds, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS), and mortgage rates fell lower.  Fast-forward to November 3rd when the Fed announced that they would indeed buy $600B. of US Treasury securities between now and the middle of 2011.  At that time, many predicted that rates would fall even lower during the winter months ahead.  A couple of days later, however, mortgage rates actually began to do the opposite and rose for the following four reasons:

    1.  Foreign and domestic opposition to quantitative easing.  The announcement of the program was met with substantial opposition from other countries and from many US politicians and economists.  Investors had viewed the $600 billion figure as a first step which would likely be increased in the future.  It is clear now that the Fed will face strong resistance to an expansion of the program, in fact, this resistance could be strong enough to end the program early.  

    2.  Stronger than expected economic data.  Stronger growth decreases the need for additional Fed stimulus, and it generally leads to higher inflation.  A few key reports released just after the Fed announcement caused investors to raise their outlook for economic growth.

    3.  Concerns about lower foreign demand for US securities.  The quantitative easing program pumps dollars into the economy, and the increased supply weakens the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. When foreign investors sell US securities, they must convert the US dollars they receive into their own currency. If the value of the dollar falls, then the value of their US investment falls in relative terms to their own currency. As a result, foreign investors may reduce their purchases of US securities, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which would cause yields to increase.

    4.  Rising foreign rates.  China's announcement of a rate hike was another negative for US mortgage rates.  Yields must rise in other markets to compete with higher yields in Chinese markets.

    The recent news has not been uniformly negative for mortgage rates, however.  Current inflation levels remain extremely low.  In fact, the Consumer Price Index data released last week showed that annual core inflation dropped to a record low in October.  Bottom line, though, when mortgage rates reached such extremely low levels, it left them in a position to reverse direction very quickly, and that is what has happened in November.  December and January should be very interesting...

                   

    Understanding Appraisals    

    If it’s too high, underwriters get nervous and get out their red pen.  If it’s too low, realtors get nervous and call their loan officer.  If it's right around the sales price, everyone's happy!  What is it?  The appraisal, of course!  An appraisal is a key component of the mortgage process.  It provides assurance to the lender that if the loan isn’t paid back, the lender could recoup any losses through the sale of the property.  Here are some key facts regarding this important piece of the loan approval process.

    Appraisers are independent experts
    Appraisers are beholden to no one.  They are independent third-parties hired by lenders to render an opinion on what a home is worth, based on specific data.  Recent guidelines put into place by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae prohibit anyone tied to the sales side of the mortgage process (loan officer, processor, etc) discussing the appraised valued with the appraiser.  Appraiser independence is a big deal in the mortgage world today and has forced many lenders to use impersonal national appraisal firms that are low on customer service.  At Fairfield Mortgage, however, we only use the best appraisers in Georgia that have been cherry-picked by county and are the very best in each given area.

    Appraisers use data and experience
    Appraisals are based on opinion, but that opinion is steeped in data that supports the conclusion.  A common practice for appraisers is to compare similar properties that are superior and inferior in features, size and condition to the subject property, making adjustments between them to support the final value.  This practice, called bracketing, would work like this.  A comparable property might have a fireplace whereas the subject property does not.  Or, the square footage might be greater in the subject property compared to the other comparable properties.  Appropriate positive or negative adjustments are made to the subject property's value accounting for differences in features (or lack of them), so the properties are compared as closely as possible.

    Adjustments based on market and not cost
    Some home remodeling projects will deliver a healthy return on the investment, but others do not.  A seller may have paid $30,000 to install a pool, but the current market is only willing to increase the price they’ll pay for that pool by $15,000.  Adjustments are based on what the market values the improvements, not the cost or opinion of the seller.

    Appraisals are a snapshot.
    As market conditions change, so will the appraised value of a home.  Appraisals capture the value at a specific point in time, but as we know, the housing market can change quickly.  Thus, the value of a home in the Fall of 2010 might be a lot different than the value of the same home in the Fall of 2009.  This is why appraisers are instructed to primarily look back only 3-6 months for data and appraisals are normally only good for four months.

    The appraisal piece of the mortgage puzzle, is more complicated and controversial today than ever before.  That is why it is critical to work only with lenders that use an in-house appraisal desk and the very best in appraisers.  At Fairfield Mortgage, our appraisers always involve the realtors involved in the transaction before turning in a low appraisal.  They will always ask for more data because they want to turn in a value that works if at all possible.  Like everyone at Fairfield Mortgage, they are looking for ways to make deals work, not the opposite.  Experience the difference.  Experience Fairfield Mortgage!

    Rate Update


    Rates are up a bit in November but there is no doubt that we can all be thankful for the low rates of 2010, which continue to be at amazing levels!

     

     

     

    Conforming

    Non-Conforming

    FHA

    VA

    Loan Amount

    < $417,000

    > $417,000

    < $346,250

    < $1,000,000

    30 Year Fixed

    4.375%

    5.375%

    4.375%

    4.375%

    15 Year Fixed

    3.750%

     4.750%

    4.000%

    4.000%

    10 Year ARM

     

     5.125%

       

    5 Year ARM

    3.250%

     3.500%

       

    3 Year ARM

     

     3.375%

       




    The above rates are for purchase loans for a primary residence and are intended to give you an overall idea of how rates are changing from week to week. Other factors such as credit score, down payment, and number of days the rate is locked all contribute to the exact rate, which is subject to change at any time and without notification. The Conforming rates above apply to purchase loan sizes $150,000 - $417,000 and carry zero discount points. Rates for lower loan amounts are slightly higher. Lower rates are also available for all programs with discount points.  Qualification is subject to credit and property approval and other restrictions may apply.




    Looking Ahead

    Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, all of this week's economic reports are due out prior to Thursday.  Revisions to third quarter GDP and Existing Home Sales will be released today.  Durable Orders, New Home Sales, Personal Income, Consumer Sentiment, and the Fed Minutes from the November 3 meeting will come out on Wednesday.  The mortgage markets will be closed on Thursday and will close early on Friday.








    Have a great week and when you think of financing, please think of Fairfield!

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    m.king@fairfieldmortgage.com.
    The information contained herein is believed to be accurate, however no representation or warranties are written or implied. All Rights Reserved.

     
       


     

     

     

     

    Stuffed Dates Appetizer

    by Leslie Edwards

    This recipe is new to most guests and a guaranteed crowd pleaser. With only three ingredients it is quick to make once you get  the hang of stuffing dates.

    Cheese Stuffed Dates with Bacon

     

    Pitted Dates

    Cheese Options for stuffing: Blue Cheeses, Gorgonzola, Ricotta, Goat, Feta, Mozzarella…..

    Bacon, each strip cut into three strips for wrapping the dates

     

    Stuff the dates with the cheese

    Wrap each date in a thin strip of bacon

    Secure with a toothpick

    Bake at 375 degrees until bacon is cooked, turning once

     

     

     

     

    Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 90

    If you hear of anyone who wants to buy or sell in any of these areas, please mention me and then call me so I can contact them. I appreciate your referrals!