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Archive for the ‘Home Economics’ Category
Did you know there are more than 27 million veterans eligible for VA financing? These potential homebuyers enjoy significant loan advantages not available to non?veteran homebuyers. If you’re working with prospective homebuyers right now, check with them to see if they are veterans. If they are, make sure they are aware of the VA financing advantages available to them.
What are the advantages of VA financing?
? Loan may be up to 100 percent of the property value. Generally, loans may not exceed $417,000. Subject to change each year.
? You don’t have to be a first?time homebuyer.
? No PMI required.
? The VA limits the closing costs the buyer pays.
? Closing costs may be paid by the seller.
? Right to prepay the loan without penalty.
? VA offers personal loan servicing and financial counseling to help veterans during financial difficulties.
Who is eligible?
? Veterans and active duty personnel.
? Certain reservists and National Guard members.
? Surviving spouses of persons who die on active duty or of service?connected disabilities.
? Certain spouses of active duty personnel who are (a) missing in action, (b) captured in line of duty by a hostile force, or (c) forcibly detained by a foreign government or power.
What are the buyer requirements to obtain a VA loan?
? The applicant must be an eligible veteran who has available entitlement.
? The loan must be for an eligible property.
? The veteran must occupy the property as a home within a reasonable period of time after closing the loan.
? The veteran must be a satisfactory credit risk. The income of the veteran and spouse, if any, must be stable and sufficient to meet the mortgage payments, cover the costs of owning a home and other obligations and expenses.
What can you use a VA loan for?
? Purchase a home, condominium in a VA?approved project or cooperative.
? Purchase and improve a home.
? Refinance an existing home loan (up to 90 percent of the value) or refinance an existing VA loan for a lower interest rate.
? Buy a manufactured home and/or lot.
? Build a home.
? Improve a home by installing energy?related features such as solar or heating/cooling systems, water heaters, insulation or other energy efficient improvements.
How is the loan application process different?
Aside from securing a Certificate of Eligibility and the appraiser is assigned by the VA, the application process is the same as other mortgage loans. Your buyer gets the loan from a private lender and the VA stands behind the loan.
Four easy steps to obtain a VA loan
1. The veteran must apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). To get a Certificate of Eligibility, visit online at www.ebenefits.va.gov or call the VA Help Desk at 1?800?983?0937.
2. Choose a home to buy and sign a purchase agreement.
3. Apply to a mortgage lender for the loan.
4. Order an appraisal from the VA. (Usually done by the lender.) While the appraisal is being done, the lender can gather credit and income information. If the lender is authorized by the VA to process loans on the automatic basis, the loan can be approved and closed upon receipt of the appraised value determination without waiting for a VA review of the credit application.
Want to learn more about VA loans?
For additional information or to obtain forms please visit: http://www.homeloans.va.gov/. Or call: 1?800?827?1000.
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, AUGUST 13, 2012
“It’s hard to argue against buying a house now, assuming you can get a loan,” writes John Waggoner, a columnist with USA Today. Sure, Waggoner says that getting a credit check for approval of a mortgage can be a “only slightly less intrusive than a CIA background check,” but for those who are able to qualify, a lot of analysts say that now can be a good time to purchase a home.
1. The price is right. The median single-family home price hit its lowest in more than a decade when it reached $154,600 in January, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. That was the lowest since October 2001. During the height of the housing market in July 2006, the median home price for a single-family home was $230,900.
2. It’s cheaper to buy than rent. In nearly every major metro market, it is cheaper to buy a home than rent. Rents have been on the rise the last few years and are predicted to continue to rise. Meanwhile, home affordability is at record highs, which means that buying a home is more within reach to the median income family.
3. Inventories of for-sale homes are shrinking. Ned Davis Research estimates that excess inventories of homes to be eliminated by the end of next year. “When excess supply dries up, people start building more new houses, which has the virtuous effect of reducing the unemployment rate and increasing the economy generally,” according to the USA Today article.
4. Mortgage rates are at record lows. Mortgage rates have hovered near record lows for weeks, which has helped pushing housing affordability higher. For example, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is the most popular among home buyers, is 3.59 percent, according to Freddie Mac—just above its record low set on July 26 of 3.49 percent average. “It’s conceivable that at some point in the next 30 years, your interest rate would be less than the rate of inflation,” writes Waggoner for USA Today.
Source: “If You Can Pull it Off, a House is a Smart Investment,” USA Today (Aug. 9, 2012)
Itâ€™s the weekend and you have a whole list of household chores to do. Oh, we know youâ€™d rather be golfing or playing tennis or watching TV, but keeping your home in good shape is important. Your home may be the biggest investment you will ever make. Taking good care of it with regular maintenance is necessary to maintain its value and ensure it will provide a comfortable, safe shelter for you and your family for a long time.
Here is a home maintenance quiz that will test your maintenance knowledge. While this quiz does not address every home maintenance project, it does provide helpful tips and reminders for chores you may have overlooked.
1. How often do forced-air furnace filters need to be changed?
At least every three months during the heating season.
2. What part of the faucet usually needs to be replaced when you have a water leak?
3. Should you run hot or cold water through your garbage disposal?
4. How often should the moving parts of garage doors be oiled?
Every three months.
5. What tools can you use to unclog your drains?
A plunger and a plumberâ€™s snake.
6. What tool can be used to unclog a toilet?
Coil spring-steel auger.
7. What faucet part needs to be cleaned every three to four months?
Aeratorâ€”the screen inside the end of the faucet.
8. What can you use for traction on icy sidewalks, steps and driveways?
Cat litter or sandâ€”never use salt because it damages the pavement.
9. Where should the fire in your fireplace be built?
On the andirons or grate, never on the fireplace floor.
10. What will prevent soot and add color to the fire in your fireplace?
Throw in a handful of salt.
11. Where should your firewood be stored?
Outside, away from your house and not directly on the ground.
12. What helps keep unpainted concrete floors easy to keep clean?
13. What should you use to clean unpainted concrete floors?
A solution of 4 to 6 tablespoons of washing soda in a gallon of hot water. Mix scouring powder to the solution for tough jobs.
14. When can you clean hardwood floors with water?
When the floors have a polyurethane finish.
15. Do hardwood floors need to be waxed?
Hardwood floors that do not have a polyurethane finish probably will need to be waxed periodically. Use liquid or paste â€œspiritâ€ wax.
16. What is the best polish for vinyl floors?
Water emulsion wax.
17. When is basement condensation at its maximum?
In new homes because gallons of water went into the concrete of basement walls.
18. Why should noisy water pipes be fixed promptly?
The condition that causes noisy pipes may be accompanied by vibration that can cause fittings to loosen and leak.
19. Why should frozen pipes be thawed slowly?
Frozen pipes should be thawed slowly to prevent the formation of steam, which could cause the pipe to burst.
20. How often should your roof be inspected?
A qualified roofer should inspect your roof every three years.
21. What should be regularly checked on your security system?
The alarms and circuit breakers should be checked to make sure they are in working order and the sensors should be inspected one by one.
22. To ensure your safety, what household equipment uses batteries that must be checked regularly to make sure they are operable?
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
23. What do you use to fill nail holes and cracks in plaster walls and gypsum wallboard?
24. What is the white powdery substance that develops on masonry walls?
Efflorescence sometimes appears on masonry walls. It is crystallized soluble salts that can be removed by scrubbing with water and a stiff brush.
25. At what temperature should your water heater be set?
120 degrees Fahrenheit
26. How often do skylights need to be inspected?
Skylights should be inspected each time your roof is inspected so leaks donâ€™t develop from cracks and interruptions around its seals, caulking and flashings.
27. What is a simple solution you can use to wash extremely dirty exterior windows?
A solution of equal parts vinegar and water or 3 tablespoons of denatured alcohol per quart of warm water. Use a piece of crumpled newspaper to wash the glass to avoid lint left behind by paper towels.
28. What can you use to help a window slide easily?
Rub the channel with a piece of paraffin.
29. What should you look for when you inspect your siding yearly?
Determine if wood-sided homes need to be repainted; check to see if the caulking around the windows and doors has split and cracked, and replace the caulk; clean the mildew; trim shrubbery away so it does not touch the siding.
The green building sector is offering some hope for the homebuilding industry, which has battled sluggish sales in recent years that has practically brought new-home construction to a halt.
But home builders that have opted for green construction are beating the odds and have even seen their market share rise slightly, according to panelists at a Standard & Poorâ€™s housing summit this week in New York.
Home owners are being lured to green, seeing it as the greatest potential for appreciation of their home, panelists note. Green remodeling has also increased, partially due to federal tax credits available to home owners for energy-efficiency improvements.
In 2010, a third of all commercial real estate construction was green, as was 16 percent of residential construction. Jeff Mezger, president and CEO of KB Home, says one challenge is introducing more â€œgreenâ€ products for the starter and move-up markets that wonâ€™t increase costs.
Also, some consumers are still not sold on green building, lacking information about energy savings and finding a qualified person to do the upgrade work, panelists noted.
Source: â€œHousing Panelists See Opportunity in Green Building,â€ HousingWire (June 9, 2011)
Seventy-five percent of Americans say that â€œowning a home is the best long-term investment they can make and is worth the risk of ups and downs in the housing market,â€ according to a new survey of 2,000 bipartisan voters by the National Association of Home Builders.
Despite their situation â€” whether underwater on their home or even renters â€” the survey found Americans to be optimistic about home ownership. Eighty-one percent of those who own their homes outright, 76 percent with mortgages, 67 percent of renters, and 65 percent who have underwater mortgages cited home ownership as the â€œbest long-term investment.â€
When survey respondents were asked whether theyâ€™d recommend buying a home to a friend or family member just starting out, 80 percent of Americans said â€œyes.â€ Even home owners currently underwaterâ€” those who owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth â€” overwhelmingly (78 percent) said they would recommend home ownership to family or friends starting out.
More buyers are coming up through the pipeline too. The survey found that 73 percent of those surveyed who do not own a home said their goal is eventually to buy one.
The NAHB survey also found:
? 58 percent of Americans oppose eliminating the mortgage-interest deduction and 63 percent oppose lowering it. Whatâ€™s more, 57 percent of those surveyed say they are less likely to support a candidate for Congress who wanted to eliminate the mortgage-interest deduction.
? Respondents were split on about requiring a 20 percent down payment to purchase a home: 49 percent were in favor and 49 percent opposed it. However, mortgage holders and renters aged 18 to 54 were more opposed to it: 58 percent of younger mortgage holders and 59 percent of younger renters opposed adding a 20 percent down payment requirement.
Source: â€œThe Cook Report: The Home Front,â€ National Journal (June 2, 2011)
United States economic recovery, rebuilding efforts in Japan, a worldwide weakness in the dollar and unrest in the Middle East are creating the “perfect storm” for material pricing. Read more at this post on CNNMoney.com:
Published on Housing Zone (http://www.housingzone.com)
Byline: Jonathan Sweet, Editor in Chief
Publication Date: Wed, 2011-04-13 10:27
Despite the housing bubble and subsequent crash, more than 80 percent of remodelers still think buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make. That’s according to a recent Pew Research Center study , which found that 37 percent strongly agreed with that idea and 44 percent somewhat agreed with it. About half of homeowners in the survey said they believe their home has dropped in value since the recession began, while 31 percent said it worth about the same. Seventeen percent said they though their home had increased in value over the last few years. Of the renters in the survey, 81 percent said they intend to buy a house at some point. Only 17 percent they plan on continuing to rent.
Prospective home buyers have the choice of two types of houses on the market: resale or new. Home buyers planning to buy a brand-new house or condominium often cite energy-efficiency, open layout, a warranty, and being able to select appliances, flooring, paint colors and other design elements as factors driving their choice. But builders say that buyers can be drawn to a new house for reasons that arenâ€™t so obvious. Below are a few more benefits of a brand-new home that you may not see in the sales brochure.
Building a Community Together
A brand-new community is one of the built-in benefits of many new homes. When families move in to a subdivision at the same time, often lasting bonds of friendship and neighborliness are formed right away. Nobody is the â€œnew kid on the block,â€ and many home builders host community block parties in new developments to help owners meet and connect. Popular amenities like pools, walking trails and courts for tennis and basketball offer additional opportunities for interaction among neighbors of all ages. Often new communities are comprised of home owners in the same stage of life, such as young families or active retirees, so neighbors can get to know each other through carpools, PTA meetings, tennis matches or golf games.
Throwing a party in an older home can be a challenge because smaller, distinct rooms make it difficult to entertain guests in one large space. Builders are responding to todayâ€™s home buyer preferences with layouts featuring more open spaces and rooms that flow into each other more easily, like the popular great room. While you are in the kitchen preparing dinner, you can still interact with guests enjoying conversation in the family room without feeling closed off. The feeling of spaciousness in todayâ€™s new-home layouts often is enhanced the higher ceilings and additional windows that bringing in more light than you would find in an older home.
A Clean Slate
For some buyers, parking the car in a sparkling-clean garage or being the first to cook a dinner in a brand-new kitchen is part of the appeal of new construction. In addition, you wonâ€™t have to spend time stripping dated wallpaper or repainting to suit your own sense of style. You can create your own home dÃ©cor from the get-go! The advantages of being the first owner of a home extend to the outdoors. Instead of inheriting inconveniently or precariously placed trees, or having to tear up overgrown shrubs, you can design and plant the lawn and garden you want.
Outlets, Outlets Everywhere!
Homes built in the 1960â€™s and earlier were wired much differently than houses today. Builders had no way of anticipating the invention of high-definition televisions, DVRs and computers that we enjoy today â€” and the very different electrical requirements they would introduce. New homes can accommodate advanced technologies like structured wiring, security systems and sophisticated lighting plans, and can be tailored to meet the individual home ownerâ€™s needs. Anyone who has ever lived in an older home can also attest to the fact that there are never enough outlets, inside or out! New-home builders plan for the increased number and type of electronics and appliances used by todayâ€™s families, so you can safely operate a wine cooler, Christmas lights or your computer.
Mike Castleman, founder and CEO of Metrostudy, which tracks real-time data of the countryâ€™s inventory of new homes, says a housing shortage is looming that will soon will create a huge surge in demand for new homes. As such, now is the time to buy, he says.
In the 41 cities Metrostudy covers, 78,000 houses are either vacant and for sale, or under construction â€” that is less than a quarter of the new homes that fell in that category during the housing boom in 2006 and way below the level of a decade ago.
“If we had anything like normal levels of buying, those houses would sell in 2Â½ months,” says Castleman. “We’d see an incredible shortage. And that’s where we’re heading.”
The historic drop in new construction mixed with the decline in housing prices is laying the foundation for a dramatic recovery in residential real estate, Castleman told CNN. Castleman expects home owners soon will start returning, which will drive up prices in many markets later this year.
While demand remains low for new construction, he expects that to change. He foresees the recovery following a similar path as previous ones: A severe housing shortage will drive a big increase in demand.
â€œWe’ll get a big surge in demand and the drywall companies will take a long time to ramp up, and it will take years to get new lots approved,â€ he predicts. â€œBuyers will show up looking for a house in a subdivision, and all the houses will be sold. The builders will tell them it will take six months to deliver a house.” But theyâ€™ll want the house so bad that theyâ€™ll â€œbid the prices up.”
Source: â€œReal Estate: Itâ€™s Time to Buy Again,â€ CNN (March 28, 2011)