The best stocking stuffer this season? A new home!

Making the Most of Your Buyers’ Winter Search

Daily Real Estate News |  December 03, 2013 | link

The holidays are the perfect time of year for some home buyers to purchase a house and snag a great year-end deal — but limited inventory may be the Scrooge.

After a challenging home-buying season in the spring and summer, many buyers say they plan to reignite their home search during the winter, according to a recent realtor.com® survey. They’re hoping for less competition from all-cash buyers and fewer bidding wars during that time.

However, winter often brings about limited inventories of homes for sale, so buyers will likely find fewer choices. It seems that buyers expect that: 45 percent of those surveyed in the realtor.com® Winter Home Buyer Report say they believe they’ll be up against inventory challenges again during the winter months.

Some real estate agents are grappling with that issue by finding homes that aren’t officially on the market to increase their buyers’ choices. They are even drumming up “old expires” — homes that were listed several years ago but never sold — to see if the owner will reconsider selling. Some brokers are also sending letters to home owners in their buyer’s preferred neighborhood to motivate a home owner to consider selling.

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Getting back on your feet faster…

Springboard helps formerly distressed borrowers get back on track

Firm qualifies as HUD-approved housing counselor for innovative program

Kerri Ann Panchuk |Housing Wire | November 19, 2013 2:30PM | link

Borrowers who suffered significant financial hardships in recent years are not completely ‘out’ when it comes to trying to buy homes again, says Heather Shanahan, a representative with housing counseling agency Springboard.

In fact, she says her company is playing a key role in helping qualified borrowers move through the Federal Housing Administration’s Back-to-Work program, which shortens the waiting period for once-distressed or first-time homebuyers who want to get back into properties.

All future homeowners have to show is that they’ve recovered from a financial hardship and received counseling from a HUD-approved agency. If they meet these qualifications, the borrowers can buy properties once again in as little as a year.

Luckily for Springboard, which is fully known as Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management, the agency is a HUD-approved counselor, which allows it to participate in these initiatives.

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Are are you insured against negative equity? Now you can be.

Underwater insurance, as millions of homeowners emerge for air

| CNBC Real Estate | November 21, 2013 | link
Millions of homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages. CNBC’s Diana Olick reports on a new insurance product designed to protect against negative equity.

Fast-rising home prices brought more borrowers up from underwater in the third quarter of this year than at any time since the housing recovery began. In the quarter, 1.4 million borrowers came into a positive equity position, and nearly 5 million have recovered since the crash.

“We should feel good that we’re moving in the right direction, and at a fast clip,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

We are not, however, out of the woods. Twenty-one percent of all homeowners with a mortgage, or nearly 11 million borrowers, still owe more on their loans than their homes are worth, though that is down from a peak of 31 percent early last year, according to Zillow.

And at 39 percent, the “effective” negative equity rate—borrowers who have less than 20 percent equity in their homes—is still staggering. To buy a new house, most homeowners need at least 20 percent equity to pay all the needed expenses, including today’s high down payments.

“Negative equity will remain a factor for years to come and must be considered part of the new normal in the housing market,” Humphries said. “Short sales will remain a persistent feature of the market as many homeowners remain too far underwater for reasonable price appreciation alone to help.”

Peter Gridley | Getty Images

Negative equity has been one of the greatest barriers to a full and robust housing recovery. Sale inventories are painfully low nationwide because so many homeowners don’t have the equity to move up (or even down). That lack of listings has depressed sales and pushed prices higher—good for the equity dilemma but bad for potential buyers.

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The cold isn’t stopping home buyers!

Survey: Tight Inventory Tops Winter Home Buyers’ Challenges

Realtor.com | November 20, 2013 | link

Pod2_300x195Home buyers unable to find a home earlier this year are taking to the market this winter despite the colder weather and limited inventory, according to realtor.com’s Winter Home Buyer Report.

More than 1,300 people looking to buy a home during the winter months told realtor.com that lingering conditions from the past home-buying season, including inventory challenges and all-cash offers, continue to set the tone for them as they enter the winter season.

“This summer and spring home-buying season was particularly challenging for buyers, especially first-time home buyers trying to compete with all-cash offers and bidding wars because of reduced inventory,” said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications at realtor.com. “In fact, a quarter of the winter home buyers revealed they are in the market now because they were unable to find a home during this last home-buying season.”

While the majority of winter home buyers describe themselves as relocation buyers, downsizers are also a large portion of those looking to buy a house in the next four months, according to the report.

There are advantages to looking for a home in the winter, Schwartz said.

“Motivated sellers, better prices and less competition between buyers are some of the top reasons winter home buyers are interested in purchasing a home during the colder months of the year,” she said.

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“A good professional team we can trust!” Thanks for the kind words, Winston & Belinda!

We first met DeAnna & Liz during an open-house session at Ruby Hill. That was an un-scheduled event. When we walked in, we were greeted by both of them in a professional & warm manner.  Before looking around that open house, we enjoyed a good first impression from both of them.  We did not purchase that house, but we have found a good professional team that we can trust! GOOD DEAL!!

We have been conducting our house search since the beginning of this year.  The process does take time & patience & both DeAnna & Liz have been giving us a lot of time & patience in our house searching process.  Based on the arrangement, we mostly work more directly with Liz.  With her fun & sincere personality, Liz has made our property-search process more interesting & comfortable.  One thing we really appreciate is the “no rush, no pushing, & no hard-sale” approach that Liz has used to help us. We do not feel pressure when working with Liz.

We started working with DeAnna & Liz to try to buy a single family house for us & we are still searching for it (with great help from both of them).  A few months ago, with their professional help, we  purchased a nice condominium in Dublin CA, as an investment property as well as a residence for our parents.  That transaction went smoothly. Thank you so much, DeAnna & Liz!

As our home search continues, we are grateful that we have the professional “D&L” team we can work with.  Keep up the good work, DeAnna & Liz!!!

Winston & Belinda Wong

Looking for the best lender?

5 Lenders Boasting Highest Customer Satisfaction

Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | link

Customer satisfaction with mortgage lenders reached a seven-year high this year, according to J.D. Power’s 2013 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. The study measures customer satisfaction in four key areas: application/approval process, loan representative, closing, and contact.

“As refinancing volumes are on the decline, consumers contemplating purchasing a home are likely to have multiple lenders competing for their business,” says Craig Martin, director of financial services practices at J.D. Power. “This can be particularly beneficial for those who are first-time home buyers. First-time buyers often have questions and should not be afraid to ask prospective lenders about the specifics of the mortgage process and how they will be kept informed. Much of the stress with borrowing comes from a lack of information and knowledge during the process.”

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