Will It Become Harder to Afford a Home? Experts Say Yes

Despite a red-hot real estate market, most aspiring buyers can still afford to buy a home—if they can find one. But it may not be that way for much longer.
Households bringing in at least $68,000 a year, the national median, could afford about 59.6% of all newly constructed and existing (previously lived in) homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a recent National Association of Home Builders report. But that doesn’t take into account the most expensive coastal markets such as San Francisco and New York City, where buyers need six-figure salaries for even the smallest and oldest of residences.
The quarterly report looked at three figures: home prices, mortgage interest rates, and the median household income, across the nation and in 238 metropolitan markets. It did not take into consideration down payments, and the struggle that many would-be buyers face accumulating a lump sum to pay upfront.
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“Buyers should be prepared,” says the association’s chief economist, Robert Dietz. “It’s going to be more expensive to afford a house over the course of 2018. … Interest rates went up a little bit, and home prices went up as well.”
Thank the lack of homes on the market, and of construction to build new ones, for the price bumps. The lack of inventory has led to bidding wars, offers over asking, and a whole lot of frustration.
Buyers have more peace of mind in Syracuse, NY, and Youngstown, OH, which tied for the most affordable major housing markets. In focusing on individual markets, the report used local median figures for household income and home price.
About 88.3% of homes sold were affordable to folks earning the areas’ respective median incomes of $54,600 and $68,000. These areas have struggled as manufacturing jobs, and then residents, have left in recent decades.
The rest of the most affordable markets were Indianapolis; Scranton, PA; and Columbia, SC.
Cumberland, MD, was named the most affordable smaller market in the country. Residents bringing home the area’s median income of $53,900 could afford about 96.9% of homes sold.
There were even several abodes under $20,000 for sale—including a three-bed, two-bath, single-family house going for $17,900.
The least affordable metros were all in California, with San Francisco topping the list. No surprise there as the median home list price in the city limits is a jaw-dropping $1,200,000, according to realtor.com® data. It was followed by Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

BY:Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of realtor.com and an adjunct journalism professor. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication and the New York Daily News.

buying, selling, financing  Millennium Sales.


A Guide of estimating closing costs!

Calculating Closing Costs

calculator to calculate home closing costs for homebuyers

In the sale, the sellers usually pay the larger figure of closing costs because they are charged with paying out the commission to the real estate agents. But buyers can try to negotiate with the seller for the seller to pay a portion of the closing costs on behalf of the buyer. We’ll assume for the point of this article that the seller is not paying anything for the buyer.

First, there are several variables that go into the closing cost calculation including the cost of your new home. A good estimate for buyer’s closing costs are around 3-6% of the purchase price. According to Bankrate.com, closing costs increased 6% from 2014-2015 but only 1.6% from 2015 to 2016, which is some consolation. Still, the average across the US on a 200,000 home is around $3,000.

But what goes into closing costs for the buyer?

Components of Closing Costs

The following are some of the costs you can expect to pay at closing:

Ways to Reduce Closing Fees

While there are some services that can be shopped around like title insurance and home inspections, there are also a few other tips to help you pay the least amount possible at closing.

calculator with fees and magnifying glass closing costs for home buyers

  • Close at the end of the month: you’ll be charged per diem interest so if you close at the beginning of the month, you’ll have a larger portion to pay than if you close with one day left.
  • Check with your employer and memberships. Some employers like the military (U.S. government) and some unions offer discounts on closing costs or home prices, though they may require a specific lender be used.
  • Ask the seller to cover them. You can negotiate with the seller to pay your closing costs. However, this is probably not advisable in a hot real estate market.

The State Matters

Closing costs do vary by state due to local and statewide regulations and fees. Here’s a list of the least expensive and most expensive states in which to close.

When you first obtain your loan, you will receive an estimated closing statement. Three business days before closing, you’ll receive a revised one. Compare the two numbers. They may be off slightly but should be very close. If not, notify the sender immediately.

At Bay National Title, we put our clients first. We take the time to make sure all of their questions are answered to their satisfaction.

#millenniumsales buyers home waterfront, oceanfront Berta Correa, Broker 954-802-2143

FHA Loan Requirements: What Home Buyers Need to Qualify

If you’re looking up “FHA loan requirements,” you are very likely wondering if you qualify for an FHA loan. These mortgages, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, help home buyers secure financing to buy a home despite their low income, lack of savings, or poor credit scores—the kind of things that often prevent people from getting a conventional loan.

“FHA loans are a great option for a lot of home buyers, particularly if they’re buying their first home,” says Todd Sheinin, mortgage lender and chief operating officer at New America Financial in Gaithersburg, MD. And while not all lenders offer FHA loans, many do, because their government backing guarantees that lenders won’t lose their money if the buyer defaults. So it’s win-win all round!

Yet although FHA loans have looser qualification requirements than traditional mortgages, that doesn’t mean they have none at all. While the exact rules and thresholds will vary a bit by lender, here’s a ballpark guide to what you can expect you’ll need to qualify for an FHA loan.

1. A minimum down payment of 3.5%

With conventional loans, it’s generally recommended that you make a 20% down payment, which would amount to a whopping $50,000 on a $250,000 home. FHA loans lower the bar to a far more realistic level, requiring as little as 3.5%. So, on a $250,000 house, you would only need to plunk down $8,750 to qualify for an FHA loan.

This is a boon, particularly for first-time home buyers, who tend to have less money socked away to put toward their dream of home ownership. In fact, a recent study from Apartment List found that more than two-thirds of millennials don’t even have $1,000 saved up for a down payment. And millennials are now the largest group of home buyers.

2. A minimum credit score of 500

To qualify for an FHA loan, your credit score—the numerical representation of your track record paying past debts—will need to be at least 500—although if your score is indeed in this low range, you’ll have to make a slightly larger down payment, of 10%. To take advantage of that teeny weeny 3.5% down, you’ll need a credit score that’s slightly higher, at 580 or above. All that said, keep in mind that credit requirements may fluctuate not only by lender but based on changes in the housing market.

3. You’ll have to pay mortgage insurance

Because the federal government insures these loans, borrowers must pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP). Currently, the fee is 1.75%—that’s $4,375 on a $250,000 home loan. However, once you’ve accrued 20% equity in the home, the MIP should drop off from your mortgage payments. (Note: You’ll want to follow up with your lender at that point, to make sure the insurance premium has been removed.)

Borrowers will also have to pay annual mortgage insurance, currently around 0.85% of the borrowed loan amount—or $2,125 more per year. For most loans, this mortgage insurance remains throughout the life of the loan, or until you refinance out of an FHA loan to get rid of it, says Jordan Dobbs, a loan officer at Washington First Mortgage in Rockville, MD.

4. A maximum debt-to-income ratio of 59%

Debt-to-income ratio is a way lenders determine whether you can afford your housing payments, by comparing the amount of money you make to what you owe. Currently, the maximum debt-to-income ratio for an FHA loan is 31%. In other words, if your monthly pretax salary is $6,000, your housing expenses should not exceed about a third of your income, or $1,860.

More realistically, however, debt-to-income ratio should factor in all of your recurring debts, including college and car loans. In this context, the FHA generally looks for a borrower’s total debt load not to exceed 59% of pretax income. To use the $6,000 example above, that would mean that the maximum amount you should be paying for your mortgage and other debts (credit card not included) is $2,580. Check this FHA handbook for more information.

5. The home must undergo a rigorous appraisal

While pretty much all loans require a home appraisal, so lenders can make sure their money isn’t funding a shack, FHA appraisal guidelines are more rigid than those for conventional loans, and not all houses will get the green light for FHA approval. This may mean that the seller of your desired home will need to make some repairs in order for your lender to approve the loan.

What are the FHA loan limits?

FHA loan programs only insure loans up to the maximum limit, which varies by county. In most areas, the limit is $417,000, but in certain high-cost areas, the limit is $636,150. You can see the FHA loan limits for your county at Hud.gov.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.
First home buyers, Millenniumsales, FHA, morgages, qualify for a mortgage, financial news.


The zero-down loan? It’s making a comeback

NEW YORK – June 16, 2017 – Buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-downpayment loans another shot.

Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation’s largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well.

Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent downpayment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.

Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a non-repayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer’s closing costs.

So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.

For Movement’s new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement:

“(We’re) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch (test programs) that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratios for all loans we acquire.” They add that there “is no commitment beyond the pilots,” which are “focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions.”

During the housing crisis, zero-down loans were among the biggest losses for lenders, investors and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what’s owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing.

Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement’s rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.

Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren’t able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that “it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don’t qualify.”

Source: “No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases,” The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)

Buy a home, Millennium Sales, Berta Correa, Investing in Real Estate.


Vacation in Fort Lauderdale – with your dog.

Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90% of dog-owning travellers consider their pet when booking accommodation? If you’re one of that huge number of people, then allow me to introduce to you our Fort Lauderdale vacation paradise – and yes, your dog is most welcome too.

In fact, we have special treats and amenities that are especially for him or her. But first, let’s look at your gorgeous home-from-home.

508HendricksIsle 690
Yes, that’s your apartment on the right – upper floor. It has direct views over the wonderful Rio Grande canal. Right from your apartment, you can watch the water traffic go by. From the upper balcony or from the dock, enjoy your morning coffee or your evening glass of wine watching yachts, cruisers, paddle-boarders and more.

The apartment is located midway between the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach and the fabulous Las Olas Boulevard with its incredible boutiques, galleries and dining options – and many of those restaurants and cafés are dog-friendly.

Your vacation apartment is close to the very best Fort Lauderdale can offer – art museums, theatres, concert venues, historical sites, fine dining and so many attractions and events. And for your dog? In your apartment you’ll find:

  • A beautiful, ultra-soft microfibre dog bed
  • Organic dog treats
  • Feeding and water bowls
  • Custom-prepared book showing all the local facilities available to your pet
  • Aromatherapy dog shampoo and conditioner (great for after the beach)
  • Dog towel
  • Collapsible dog bowl for when you’re out sightseeing
  • Um … waste bags

And for the human guests?

  • A cute Mid Century Modern apartment right on the water
  • Free wifi and cable TV
  • Free designated parking right in front of the building
  • Central air conditioning (so important in Florida)
  • Beach chairs, beach umbrella, cooler for your snacks
  • Onsite manager to answer your questions / supply extra provisions
  • Tourist guides and money-off coupons
  • Top quality linens and towels

What Stays With the House When You Move?

What Stays With the House When You Move?

| Feb 9, 2015

When you’re selling your home, it is natural to assume that anything you can safely remove is yours to keep—like the light fixtures you painstakingly cleaned and repaired, or the appliances you bought last year—but the buyer may want some of those items, too.

Rather than keep everything, you should decide what you can keep and what you should leave as a way to entice buyers into making an offer. Here’s what you should consider:

What stays with the house?

Generally, certain items stay with the house when you sell and move. Here’s what to expect:

Built-ins: Built-in bookshelves, benches, and pull-out furniture generally stays inside the home.

Landscaping: Trees, shrubs, and any flowers planted in the ground should stay in the yard.

Wall mounts: If you have TV wall mounts or picture mounts that might damage the wall if you remove them, it is a good idea to leave them in place when you move.

Custom-fit items: If you have custom-made curtains, plantation shutters, or blinds, leave them on the windows and doors.

Hardware: If you upgraded the knobs and drawer pulls in your bathrooms and the kitchen, you’ll either have to leave those behind or install replacements before you move.

Alarm systems: Wireless alarm systems are designed to be removed. Otherwise, leave the alarm monitoring station attached and either relocate or cancel the monitoring service.

Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors and sprinkler systems should stay in the house, especially if you plan to move before selling the house.

What can you take?

While you’re expected to leave some items behind, in general your belongings are yours to keep. Here are some examples:

Patio furniture, lawn equipment, and play sets: If you have a wooden swing set in the backyard and a bistro table on the front porch, take those items with you.

Appliances: Some lenders require that a home have an oven installed before approving a loan, but for all other appliances, it’s up to you to decide what you will take and what you will offer as part of the home.

Some light fixtures: Generally, homeowners leave light fixtures behind, but if you’re attached to a certain fixture, you can make arrangements with the buyer to take it.

Built-in kitchen tools: If you can safely remove a mounted spice rack or the pasta arm, you can take it with you.

Rugs, basic curtains, wreaths: Small decor items like rugs or curtain rods that can be safely removed can be taken.

What should you consider leaving?

Some of your personal items can be used to help sell your house—or increase the asking price. Before you take everything just to take it, consider offering some hot items like the following:

Appliances: Homeowners, especially new homeowners, don’t always have their own appliances. Many buyers would be more likely to place an offer on a home if it came fully stocked with appliances.

Custom swing and play sets: If you have a swing set or playhouse your children have outgrown and you notice a potential buyer has children, offer to include the item with the deal.

Kitchen built-ins: Built-in spice racks, pantry organization, and windowsill shelves can really help sell a kitchen. Consider offering the items to an interested buyer.

Light fixtures, curtains, rugs, and other upgrades: If you’ve upgraded the light fixtures or have custom rugs in the entryway, a buyer may be willing to increase his or her offer to keep those items in the home.

If you’re not sure what would entice a buyer, ask your Realtor® to provide suggestions.

Angela Colley writes about real estate and all things renting and moving for realtor.com.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is your home’s first impression on prospective buyers and, as we all know, first impressions matter. Make a big mistake in the presentation, and you’ll have a hard time getting buyers through the door.

But how do you know if you’re making a big mistake? It depends. Check out how close you are to these curb appeal disasters.

1. The outside doesn’t match the inside

Ugly Infill in College Hill

Paul Sableman/Flickr CC

Chain-link fence, overgrown lawn, no landscaping … even if your house is gorgeous inside, potential buyers might not be able to see its beauty if they need a weed whacker to get to the front door.

We’ll repeat it: First impressions matter. No matter how great your personality is, you wouldn’t go on a first date without brushing your teeth and hair and putting on pants (we hope). So you shouldn’t put your home on the market without a little TLC, either.

“There is nothing worse than seeing pictures of a home’s beautiful interior online only to find that they completely neglected the outside of their home,” says Liz MacDonald, Philadelphia-based home stager and host of the web series Shelf Help.

2. Overflowing (or visible) trash cans


Charles Wagner/Flickr CC

Trash, shockingly enough, is a nonstarter for most home buyers. Obviously, garbage spilling over your lawn is a big no-no. But even the sight of trash cans on the curb can be a turnoff.

“Make sure to keep those trash bins out of sight and as empty as possible at all times,” MacDonald says. “The last thing you want buyers to think about when making a first impression is the trash.”

If you need to move out before the home sells, make sure to check in on things regularly (or have a friend or neighbor do it for you). Movers may leave stuff behind or the neighbor’s trash may blow into your yard—things happen—just don’t let buyers see it.

3. The half-finished house


Joffre Essley/Flickr CC

Unless you’re selling your house as is or as a tear-down, don’t leave any outdoor home improvement projects incomplete. If the first thing that buyers see is an unfinished paint job or patchy roofing, odds are good they’ll assume the inside is unfinished as well and just keep on driving.

4. An overly unique sense of style


Chad Miller/Flickr

Love your bright violet front door? Think your flock of pink flamingos is delightfully kitsch? Are you certain your giant dinosaur-shaped mailbox is so you? We get it. Being able to display a style all your own is one of the best aspects of homeownership.

That is, until you go to sell your house.

“Keeping items like lawn art or ornaments is too specific to appeal to the masses,” MacDonald says.

Rein it in on the inside and the outside, otherwise potential buyers will just see a whole lot of weekend work ahead.

“Your best bet is to go neutral to appeal to the broadest range of buyers,” MacDonald says. That means no bright colors, no unusual trim choices, and no DIY garage-door mural (even if it is kind of adorable).

5. The barren wasteland


Carolyn Williams/Flickr CC

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to do nothing at all. No matter how clean, updated, and sellable your house is, there’s something extremely off-putting about not having any landscaping.

Houses with nothing green going on just seem, well, naked. And you don’t even have to do much—or spend much—to make your yard pop.

“Modern and minimal is always the way to go,” MacDonald says.

Add some simple shrubs that are native to your area, a few flower beds or fruit trees for some color, and voila—you’ve got curb appeal.

6. The overcrowded porch

Lawn Ornaments Gone Wild

Karen Apricot/Flickr

A big, comfy porch is like catnip to buyers on the prowl, but only if you’ve done it right. If your porch is overflowing with large chairs, planters, and hanging baskets, buyers are going to feel claustrophobic—not cozy.

“Keeping it simple is key,” MacDonald says. “You want to showcase the space without any clutter or extra pieces of furniture that don’t function specifically for the purpose of enjoying your porch.”

Sellers, buying a house, properties, listing.

Pricing your home to sell?

Do your research, choose your listing price, and watch the buyers line up.

Unlike the cost of a gallon of milk or a flat-screen television, a home’s price can be hard to pin down. It’s complicated because each home is unique, and has its own story to tell.

When it comes to setting the price of a house, the only thing to do is to look at the recent sales and active listings of similar homes in your area. Combine this research with the inside market knowledge of a local real estate agent, and you can confidently choose your list price.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when determining how much to ask for your house.

Make sure to look at recent comps

Markets change fast, so it’s best to find comparable sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal might have been made many months before it closed.

Real estate markets can turn on a dime, so a deal put together more than six months ago isn’t applicable. Pending sales are your best indicator of the current market’s conditions.

Understand that fixtures and finishes matter

Let’s face it, buyers prefer a tastefully renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures over an unrenovated home, one stuck in the ’80s, or one with outlandish decorations.

When looking at comparable houses online, you must be objective. If your home isn’t updated, it’s not going to sell for as much.

Here’s the good news: The amount of money it would cost to upgrade your house is probably a lot less than the difference in value. Be open to making some small changes before listing.

No two homes are alike

The 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home with two-car parking on a quarter acre down the street just closed for $500,000. That means your home — also a 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with two-car parking on a quarter acre — is also worth $500,000, right?

Not so fast. What you don’t realize is that the other home’s three bedrooms are not all on the top floor, and that the home lacks an en-suite master bathroom, its kitchen is closed off from the living areas, and the layout is choppy.

Buyers pay more for better floor plans and flow. Your home, with an open concept kitchen/living area and three bedrooms all near each other, is much more valuable.

Small nuances in the market will affect price

Understand that each comparable home requires some serious research before calling it a “comp.” A house down the block may seem like it’s the same location as yours, but it could be in a different school or tax district, which will affect its value.

A smaller home may have sold for 20 percent more than yours, but maybe it was on a double lot that could be split, which makes it more valuable to a builder or developer.

If you see a nearby home with a price that seems off the mark, there must be a reason. Dig deeper to uncover what it is, and realize that the home may not, in fact, be a comparable one.

Go see homes for sale

Rarely does anyone decide to sell overnight. Once you realize a sale is in your future, get out and see what’s in your market. Check out open houses nearby to see the interiors for yourself.

Homes you see in January will likely be pending or closed by the time you list in April. Or they may still be on the market, which is an indication of poor pricing.

Check out the different floor plans, finishes and fixtures of nearby homes for sale, and consider whether each is more or less valuable than yours.

The best seller is the informed one. So don’t rely solely on your agent’s word about a particular house, or the market in general.

Use your agent as a resource

The earlier you bring a local real estate agent into the fold, the better. Top agents tour properties regularly, and know their market inside and out. They can likely explain the seemingly inexplicable, and offer tips to help make your home more valuable.

A good agent has the inside knowledge on pending homes sales and their finger on the pulse of the market 24/7. But remember to research independently, and never rely solely on the advice of your agent.

Article Zillow

Selling your home, properties to sell, right price to list, waterfront porperties, buying a home, new homes