Stricter Mortgage Rules Take Effect Friday

US GreenBrokers

On Friday, the federal government’s new “ability-to-repay” and “qualified mortgage” rules take effect, or ATR and QM for short. The ATR rules detail how your lender must document your income, expenses and assets.

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9 Out of 10 Home Buyers Seek Energy-Efficiency!

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 9 out of 10 Buyers look for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly features in their search for a new home. This is especially true in the north and south where extreme temperatures occur on a regular basis and homeowners in the north are bracing for this winter’s higher utility bills. Continue reading

Will You Be One of 400,000 Singled Out?

During the next thirty-some days over 400,000 homeowners in Florida will receive a letter from Citizens Insurance Company about their policies. Don’t worry, you won’t be left without insurance but you will have 2 options. The more informed you are the better your chances of making the best decision for you.
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Are Short Sales Coming To An End?

Earlier this week I attended a “Case Management” hearing with one of my Short Sale Sellers.  The Seller had received a notice to appear in a room at the courthouse at 8:30 AM.  As I walked down the hall to the assigned room I noticed a large number of people outside the door.  Once closer I saw people flipping through page after page of names to determine where they were on the docket.  It was my turn to look for my Sellers’ name even though I had seen them inside the courtroom waiting.  I leafed through 13 pages of cases set for hearings the same morning, approximately 105 cases in all.  I was unable to find the Sellers’ case number on the docket so I thought I would look through the dockets posted on the room next door which was supposed to be the “pre-foreclosure” courtroom. Continue reading

2012 Housing Market Saw Biggest Gain in 7 Years!

While many homebuyers and investors have sat on the sidelines expecting several more waves of foreclosures to keep the housing market depressed, the National median housing market ended 2012 with renewed strength and momentum.  According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) there were more closed sales, higher median home prices, more pending sales and the year ended with the lowest housing inventory in more than a decade in many states. Continue reading

CNN Money Votes St. Augustine, FL Ten Out Of Top 25 Places to Retire

Yes, I live in this wonderful city, Saint Augustine – the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the US.  Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in northeast Florida with some of the best sunrises and beaches anywhere around and I love it!  It was great to see my city picked as number 10 in a list of 25 top cities to consider for retirement.  Here is the article from CNN Money:

St-Augustine-FL-CNN-Votes-Top-10-Place-to-Retire

St. Augustine’s biggest draws: Miles of beaches and dozens of nearby golf courses.

BEST PLACES TO RETIRE 2012

25 Best Places to Retire

St. Augustine, FL 10 of 25

Best if you’re looking for: Resort area

Median home price: $156,000 Top state income tax: None

Legend has it that explorer Juan Ponce de León set foot in St. Augustine nearly 500 years ago and discovered the elusive fountain of youth. Alas, a move to the city today probably won’t turn back the clock (in fact, de León may not have ever been in St. Augustine).

But St. Augustine’s fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, and world-class golf will certainly do a body good. Although this small city 38 miles southeast of Jacksonville is a popular tourist destination, it has an active year-round community and lots of housing options. Its Flagler Hospital ranks among the top in the nation for clinical excellence and patient safety.

 

US GreenBrokers

The LA Times reported on a study of energy-efficient homes conducted by two University professors from 2007 to early 2012.  Matthew E. Kahn of UCLA and Nils Kok of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, used a real estate transaction base of 1.6 million homes in California to conduct a study on the value of green homes and whether there was a premium in the sale of that home due to green features.  Of the homes in the study 4,321 sold with EnergyStar, LEED or GreenPoint rating.  When analyzed with other similar homes that sold during that time, but without energy-efficient upgrades a 9% premium was noted for the energy-efficient homes.

Curiously they did not find a correlation between areas with higher utility costs and a premium for green homes but they did find what they called the “Prius Effect”.  Areas that had more registered hybrid cars had a higher percentage of…

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Mortgage Rates Hit A New Record Low – 3.53%!

As this week’s mortgage rates hit a new record low of 3.53%, buyers are being presented with more reasons to purchase a home.  According to Freddie Mac  these are the lowest rates since fixed rates were introduced in the 1950’s!  Click here to read the full article…

Parlaying this incredibly low mortgage rate incentive, buyers should seriously consider purchasing a more energy-efficient house or adding green remodeling costs into a mortgage while rates are low.  Consider this – when you buy a home with a higher HERS Index rating (like MPG stickers on cars) you can expect to live in a “leakier” home and have higher utility bills.  So what?

Well most everyone likes to enjoy more benefits from their money other than spending lots of cash every month to remain cool or have lots of hot water available 24/7.  I can’t think of any other benefits for the homeowner only the utility companies!  You might wonder what the benefit is of buying a house with a low HERS Index rating and paying thousands of dollars more for a place to live?  Imagine paying the same amount for your mortgage as you have been paying for rent or for the last house you owned but the monthly costs of keeping your home have dropped significantly…but that’s only one benefit of buying that new or remodeled energy-efficient home!  Other than the benefits of better indoor air quality which translates into better health for your family and possibly less days of missed work or lower medical costs you will also have the benefit of deducting the mortgage interest costs from your 1040 IRS returns each year!

I’m not a genius but I certainly believe I would rather have a deduction on my 1040 and live a healthier life than pay the utility companies and not receive any benefit from my hard-earned money!  So if you have been on the fence about buying a house AND you want to consider a healthier house NOW is a great time to consider buying!

US GreenBrokers

From Zillow.com:

Home values rose for the second month in a row in April, and saw the biggest increase since January 2006. The Zillow Home Value Index rose 0.7% from March to April, to $147,300.

It’s another positive sign for the housing market, and continued increases will mean a drop in the number we put out yesterday, which showed 31.4% of homeowners with mortgages are underwater.

Of course, as demand heats up, we’re seeing an even more interesting dynamic in the housing market. Many want to buy, but not enough homeowners are selling. Negative equity at least partially explains that. Because it ties homeowners to their homes, making it more difficult to sell. In turn, that can mean not enough homes for hungry buyers.

Our chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries explains it further: “The housing market continues to show positive signs, with home values increasing significantly in April. The recovery is moving in…

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HERS Energy Scores Gaining Ground As New Building Standard

US GreenBrokers

According to Marie Easley in a recent article from Builder:

Years ago, questioning a group of builders about the biggest problems facing the green and energy-efficient building movement would more often than not elicit a popular complaint: There’s no industry-wide standard.  While that refrain can still be heard today, it seems to be fading out as more and more builders have turned to what may be becoming the industry’s default: HERS scores.

In model homes across the country, small thermometer heat charts are popping up next to thermostats as builders use their Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score to compete with other new homes and, importantly, existing-home inventory.

Even as the number of homes being built in the U.S. has declined in recent years, the percentage of new homes being rated by HERS has been increasing, says Steve Baden, executive director at Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), which developed the…

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