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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

  

 

How Long Will It Take To Sell My House?

by Leslie Edwards

To figure out how long it should take to sell a home, I use a formula that will calculate the absorption rate of each neighborhood. Knowing the correct absorption rate for the neighborhood will help the seller determine a realistic asking price for their home. 

The absorption rate formula is based on past sales, days on market, and the amount of houses currently for sale in the neighborhood/area. This information tells us how many months supply of inventory is presently on the market, and therefore provides us with information that indicates just how many months it may take to sell a particular home.  

A 6 month supply of inventory is telling us that it may take a full six months or more to sell the house. In addition, a 6 month supply is considered a balanced market, but anything over 6 months indicates there are too many houses and too few buyers, indicating it may take up to a year or more to sell the house.  

A seller whose house falls into the category of 6 months or more should be willing to position their house, in terms of price, condition, and incentives, in a way that will give them a distinct advantage over their competition.

 Sellers have different needs, motivations and desires which typically determines how aggressive they should be on their asking price.     In today's challenging real estate market, because sellers are in a price war and a beauty contest at the same time, it takes aggressive pricing and staging to show the home at it's best.                                                                                                                                                               If you would like to discuss the absorption rates for homes like yours, call or email me.  I want to be your real estate resource. 

 

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 See all of the properties for sale in the Multiple Listing Service at www.SouthMetroAtlantaMLS.com                                                                                          .com                                              leslieedwards@leslie RE/MAX Around Atlanta.com/blogleslieedwardswww.

 Almost everyone knows someone who is behind on their mortgage payments and wants to avoid foreclosure to save their credit, relieve the uncertainty, and most of all, help their family.

Have them 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

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can't Change the World One Person at a Time

by Leslie Edwards

I watched a documentary last night on HBO called "A Small Act".  It was about a single woman, Hilde Back, who sent $15 a month to help a child in Kenya pay to go to school.  Education is the only way out of poverty in Kenyan and only the families with money or very smart children with scholarships get to go to high school. The boy she helped went on to graduate from Harvard and works with the UN for Human Rights around the world. He started an organization to pay for children's education by providing scholarships to the brightest students in Kenya and named it the "Hilde Back Foundation" although he had never met the woman who helped him.

While it is true that you cannot change the world one person at a time, if you help one person, you can change their world.

leslie edwards

environmentally aware, socially conscious, politically active

South Metro Atlanta real estate  770.460.9448 

 

This is not what I signed up for....

by Leslie Edwards

Way back in Elementary School, my expectation was that I would go to college and study to be a therapist.  Some say that lots of crazy people go into the field to figure out what is going on with themselves. Hmmm...                        College came 5 years after High School (that's a whole other story) and it took me another 5 years to get a degree in Psychology while working full-time.          It was pretty exciting when I got my first job/internship with the Fulton County Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center.  I thought I was on my way to the career I had planned for since Elementary School.                                                       The reality of the situation was not at all what I expected.  The failure rate of addiction treatment was huge compared to a very small success rate. I found out quickly that the chance that I could actually help someone was minuscule.  All I could really do is listen, which left me seriously depressed.  If the patient cried, I often cried too.  I carried their pain home with me and it did not take me long to realize that the job was too hard on my own mental health.                  

In 1977 I got a real estate license on a lark.  Part time I closed a few transactions and soon, real estate was in my blood. I could actually help people get what they wanted and if they came back, it was a success, not a failure. At closing, everyone was happy. The buyers got a house, the seller got a check, agents, loan officers and attorneys all got paid a fair fee for their work. 

There is a "new normal" in real estate today and my job has changed so much that it now looks and feels more like my Therapist experience than my real estate experience of the first 30 years.

Today, buyers have to wait months to close a foreclosure or a short sale, both of which dominate the current real estate market.  Sellers who have to move, because of the foreclosures and short sales in their neighborhoods, are bringing money to closing or negotiating a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure with their mortgage companies, which has a huge negative effect on their credit ratings.  The fees for real estate agents, loan officers and attorneys have steadily decreased while expenses and the work involved have more than doubled.  So rarely at closings today, is everyone happy.  Often nobody is happy.   Listing appointments today consist of telling sellers their homes are not worth what they paid and finding out if they are behind on their mortgage payments and if so, how much.                                                                 It often feels like I am in my Psychologist mode rather than in my Sales Person mode.  A lot has changed in the past few years. So many sellers are experiencing hardships that make it impossible to make the payments and are at risk of losing their homes.  When I listen to some of them tell me their stories, I still want to cry and I still take their pain home with me                                                         

It does not look like things are going to improve any time soon.  The news reports claim people are once again spending money so the economy must be recovering.  I don't think so.                                                                  Often, right after people have an accident or serious illness, they will drive more cautiously, quit smoking, eat right and exercise.  Human nature is such that, over time, these same people will start falling back into their old habits. 

           My sense is that those spending money are just reverting to old spending habits that got them into trouble in the first place.

Foreclosures are moving steadily up in the higher price ranges.  There are also many interest only loans that cannot be refinanced because the appraisals willl not support the loan amount they approved when the interest only loan was made.  Because we have had historically low interest rates, those loans have remained manageable for many.  Once the interest rate starts moving up, and it will, those interest only loans will start to adjust to higher interset rates and monthly payments, causing a whole new stream of foreclosures and short sales.

The job has changed. Because I have 32 years of experience in the real estate trenches, I can help some people fix their problems and that is some consolation. Some people can't be helped.  Sometimes it is their own fault but most often something bad has happened to cause them to lose their home.

If you know someone who needs help, have them call me. I will do a free consultation to find out what we can do for them.

I am ready for the business to return to the time when we all got to be happy at closing, but until then, I am trying to help everyone I can.

You cannot change the world one at a time but if you help one person, you can change their world.

leslie edwards 770.460.9448                                                               selling real estate throughout South Metro Atlanta

environmentally aware, socially conscious, politically active

 

 

PhrasesThat Bug Me

by Leslie Edwards

 I love you to death.  I'm starving.  I'm freezing.  I died laughing.  I hate him. This is the worst day of my life.  This is the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me. I am going to kill you.  It's a no brainer.  I'm like instead of I said. Fewer is a number and Less is an amount.  Less people instead of fewer people.

leslie edwards sells real estate all over south metro Atlanta, 770.460.9448 leslie@leslieedwards.com re/max around atlanta

 

 

Clayton Co. 3rd Quarter 2008

by Leslie Edwards

Clayton County real estate activity 7.1.2008 through 9.3.2008

3022 properties currently for sale throughout Clayton Co.

40% of those properties are listed for under $100,000

344 properties are under contract and may or may not close

70% of the under contract properties were listed under $100,000

843 properties sold within the 3rd Quarter

67% were sold for under $100,000

1066 properties expired unsold

44% sold

56% expired

The market in Clayton County is flooded with properties for sale, which is great for buyers because oversupply means lower prices.   Investors and home buyers can certainly benefit from low prices, lots of selection and low interest rate mortgages.

  Regardless of what you are hearing about the availability of home loans, there is always money for credit worthy buyers. 

  It is the buyers with slow credit and no money in the bank and no down payment that are having trouble getting financing.  The lending culture for years has been to find a way to squeeze every buyer into some kind of mortgage, even if they really cannot afford to buy. 

 The low starting interest rates for interest only loans and a variety of adjustable rate mortgage products gave buyers a starting payment they could afford.  Selling points of those mortgages were the assumptions that buyers would get a raise and make more money and the value of the home would increase. 

  The reality is that home prices continue to fall while the cost of living continues to increase, jobs are not secure, companies are failing and the expected raises aren't happening. 

  When the interest rates adjust, the payments keep going up until the homeowners can't make the new payments.  These homeowners can't sell because prices are falling instead of increasing and they owe more than the market value of the home. When they qualified for the loan, neither the lenders or the buyers factored in unexpected expenses, ie: a new transmission for the car, illness, job loss, babies, divorce etc.  When a couple qualifies for the maximum loan and one of them stops contributing financially, neither can afford the payments.  

  When homeowners can't make their payments it is too easy to walk away, especially if they did not make a down payment.  Letting the homes go into foreclosure continues to drive prices even lower.  This downward trend also shows homeowners that allowing a foreclosure no longer carries the stigman it did in the past.  The mentality seems to be that everybody else is doing it so why not?

 This market climate creates excellent opportunities for buyers to purchase a home for far less that the value of a few years ago and get more house for the money. 

 This is a great time to buy so if you can, take advantage.  My thirty years of real estate experience, through many up and down cycles, has convinced me that no matter how low the market goes, it always comes back, often with a vengance The variable is time.  

  No one really knows how long this downturn will last but it is clear that a down market creates opportunities for investors and home buyers. Some buyers are waiting for the bottom of the marke to get the best price.  We know the market is at the bottom when it starts going back up.  Don't miss out on great buys.

  Call me at 770.460.9448 for the help finding the very best properties for the very best prices.

   Sellers. It is not the best time to sell so, if possible, wait.  If you really want to move, considering renting the house until the market turns.  If neither waiting or renting are options for you, call me at 770.460.9448 for a FREE market consultation.  Let my 30 years experience work for you.

leslie edwards            

sells real estate  

770.460.9448

RE/MAX Around Atlanta

Think Green to save money and the planet

Sarah Palin for Vice President

by Leslie Edwards

It was a surprise to most of us that John McCain named the Governor of Alaska, former Mayor of Wassila and former beauty queen, Sarah Palin, as his running mate.  I wanted to know more about her so I read some blogs and found that there has been a Sarah Palin for Vice President movement for months.  I emailed my real estate agent friend, Kristan Cole, who happens to live in Wassila and is also a former Alaska beauty queen, to ask her about Governor Palin.  Kristan responded that Palin was "the real deal".  This morning Kristan was interviewed on CBS and is being interviewed by NBC, the New York Times and others.  I was not aware that Kristan and Sarah Palin have known eachother since the 4th grade and were in fact, good friends.  I hope everyone spends the time to get to know who this person is and will see that this is a totally new type of person for this job.  My enthusiam for the political process is renewed with this bold selection.  We need a different kind of politician in Washington.

Whoever you are for, be sure to vote in November.

leslie edwards                                                                               sells real estate                                                                     770.460.9448                                                                       RE/MAX Around Atlanta                                             leslie@leslieedwards.com

call me for all of your real estate wants and needs

Closed Captioning For The Hearing Impaired

by Leslie Edwards

Sometimes I mute the TV and listen through the surround sound only.  When muted, the closed captioning starts moving across the bottom of the screen.  I can hear the words and read them at the same time.  What I have noticed is that the words on the closed captioning are not what is being said on the TV.  I suspect the majority of  hearing impaired people using closed captioning have no idea what is going on in those TV programs.  The captioning will use entirely different words, miss entire sentences and will often stop before the ending.  Try It.

It would take a speed reader to be able to keep up with the rapidly scrolling words.  Although I am a pretty fast reader, I cannot keep up with the words running across the screen, especially if I am trying to actually watch the show at the same time.

I would love to hear from someone who uses closed captioning. 

Random Thoughts

Would love to hear your comments.  If you don't want to register, make something up.

If you need a real etate agent, call me. 

Thirty Years Experience is Not Expensive. It's Priceless

leslie edwards

sells real estate

770.460.9448

RE/MAX Around Atlanta All Stars

Clayton County Foreclosures

by Leslie Edwards

According to the news this morning, one in every ten homes in Clayton County is currently in default.  That statistic makes it very hard for owner occupants to sell their homes when the foreclosures in their neighborhoods continue to push prices down.  It is happening in all price ranges and the only homeowners who are immune to the fall in value are the ones who are not trying to sell. 

 The market will move back up over time but it will take some time for the market to absorb all of the homes for sale right now in Clayton County.  As always, the people who survive severe shifts in the market hang in there longer.  Don't panic sell if you on't have to move.  If you want to move, but don't have to move,you will have to decide how much equity are you willing to lose to move now.

If you are a buyer, this is the best buyer's market in years and buyers should be buying.  The rate is very low compared to not so long ago when rates were in the double digits: 10% to 16% interest rates were common.  Many buyers do not appreciate what an opportunity this is to buy more house than they could afford in any other market because of  low interest rates and the lower home prices.  Those buyers will regret the hesitation when the market shifts and it always does, and when interest rates increase.

Real estate moves in cycles and this is just part of that constant change.  History has shown that no matter how low and slow  the market gets, it has always  improved and often with a huge rise in values.  It is just part of the cycle.

Call me if you have to sell, really want to sell or if you want to take advantage of these great opportunities in the real estate market.

leslie edwards   sells real estate   770.460.9448   RE/MAX Around Atlanta

leslie@leslieewards.com

 

Clayton County Market Update January 1 -April 30, 2008

by Leslie Edwards

There are currently 3318 active single family residential properties in Clayton County listed for sale in Georgia MLS.  The average list price is $144,762 and the average number of days on the market is 133.

In the past twelve months 3161 listings sold with an average of 109 days on the market and an average sales price of $113,012 .  That sounds like a lot of home sales in the past year. 

However, during the same 12 months, 5110 homes expired unsold after an average of 180 days on the market and an average list price of $150,056.

38% SOLD and 62% Expired UNSOLD.  One clear explanation is that the difference in the list prices of the homes that did not sell and the homes that did sell is $37,044 which indicates that the majority of the unsold homes were overpriced. 

From January 1 through April 30, 2008, there were 991 homes sold with an average sales price of  $97,502 a drop of $15,510 from the 12 month average.

1530 homes expired unsold during the same period with an average list price of $153,594, up $3538 from the twelve month average list price.

Average sales price goes down while the average list price keeps going up which only cause more properties to expire unsold. 

There is increased competition with foreclosures that are selling well below market.If a homeowner has not been in the house for more than 5- 6 years or if they have refinanced and increased their mortgage amount, chances are the house is worth less than when they bought.  Sellers are writing checks to sell their homes and many sellers, unable to write the check are losing their homes in foreclosure.

The good news is that even in the worst market the best homes sell.  Best home at the best price.  The market will come back so if you don't have to sell, wait.  If you do have to sell, or if you really just want to sell, call me for a FREE consultation with no obligation. I want to be your resource for real estate information.  Ask me how I am selling homes at a rate that is 10 times the national average prouction for real estate agents.

leslie edwards   sells real estate    770.460.9448   RE/MAX Around Atlanta

Serving South Metro Atlanta       30 years experience isn't expensive, it's priceless

leslie@leslieewards.com     www.leslieedwards.com                                                                                 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12

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!