Sunday, February 26, 2006

What We Own Vs. What We Owe

by Kenneth R. Harney Billowing appreciation rates have been the hot news in real estate for much of the past three years. But now, with many of the most effervescent local markets calming, the focus is turning to something much more fundamental: homeowners' equity stakes. (Read the Full Article) Source Washington Post

Interest-Only Borrowers Are Rolling the Dice

by Benny L. Kass Q: I am a first-time home buyer with limited income. My mortgage lender has suggested I consider an interest-only loan. I have heard that these kind of loans are not necessarily in the best interest of consumers. Can you explain what an interest-only loan is and why it could be problematic? (Read the Answer) Source: Washington Post

Friday, February 24, 2006

Home sellers add extras Soft market got couple to offer a Harley.

source: The Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA), December 18, 2005. via: HighBeam Research Logo HighBeam™ Research COPYRIGHT 2005 The Fresno Bee. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Dialog Corporation by Gale Group.

Home Sellers Turn to Real Estate 'Stagers'

source: Morning Edition (NPR), January 27, 2006. via: HighBeam Research Logo HighBeam™ Research

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Home Appraisal: More Than Just House Value

by Bill Wehr Most people, when buying a home, are first given a copy of the appraisal at the closing table. In the excitement and stress of signing the final mortgage papers, and arranging to get the keys to the new house, the appraisal may be tucked away with the other closing documents to be forgotten. There is information on the report worth knowing. The lender probably told you what the home value was soon after the appraiser completed the appraisal. Now that you have a written copy in front of you, it offers much detail, and tells you a lot about your home that you may not have considered. When you get home pour some coffee, pull up a chair and look it over. The first several pages of the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report offer an in depth profile of your property. The neighborhood section will reflect the appraiser’s analysis of whether the housing trends around you are increasing stable or declining in value. The high end and low-end prices and predominate values are given. This may be important to you as a benchmark to think about if you are planning to resell in the next several years. The section on improvements is where the appraiser gets to observe the general condition of the home. The comments could range from noting the upgrades such as new roof, interior painting or new carpeting. The flip side would be warning about lap siding now in good condition but subject to premature deterioration. Any negative comments about condition may be something that could be corrected by you to maintain or increase value. The page on comparable sales gives you the opportunity to see the exact homes with addresses that your home was rated against. You will read how the appraiser made the adjustments to each home’s value relating to square footage, rooms, garage, lot size and a number of other line items to come to a bottom line. There may be a page called “location map” that will have arrows showing where each of the comparable homes are located. You could take a little time and go for a leisurely drive to check out the curb appeal of each of the homes. These are just some of the highlights of the appraisal. In the back pages there will be photos of the home and likely photos of the comparable homes. The appraiser will go into more depth relating to the neighborhood description, additional features of the subject home and how the sales comparisons were analyzed. There should be a page reflecting the floor plan of your home as measured by the appraiser. In addition to the diagrams, there will be the calculations for total area a breakdown of each foot of living area. The appraisal will be a fairly complete picture of your home and will give you a sense of what a financial asset you really have. Bill Wehr publishes useful articles about mortgages at Bill is the owner of Great Pacific Northwest Mortgage, a residential mortgage company serving Oregon and Washington. If you are buying or refinancing property in Oregon or Washington & need mortgage information please call Bill, or complete a secure on-line application at Article Source:

Monday, February 20, 2006

One Size No Longer Fits FHA Borrowers

by: Kenneth R. Harney

Should home buyers with solid credit histories subsidize borrowers who pay their bills late? Should loan applicants be separated into categories according to how likely they are to default, with the lowest-risk borrowers charged the lowest rates and fees? (Read the Full Article)

source: The Washington Post, February 18, 2006. via: HighBeam Research Logo HighBeam™ Research

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't Believe It Unless It's in Writing

Did your loan officer sit you down and walk you through all the key operational details of your most recent mortgage before you signed? Did you see a copy of the appraisal and have a chance to review it carefully? Did you understand when, if ever, a prepayment penalty might take effect to discourage you from refinancing? Or was that whole subject left a little fuzzy? Did you receive a copy of your loan and settlement cost good-faith estimates within three business days of application? These may sound like the most basic of questions and you may well answer: Duh! Of course I understood everything I needed to, and yes, my loan officer was an absolute font of useful information. (Read Full Article )

source: The Washington Post, February 4, 2006. via: HighBeam Research Logo HighBeam™ Research

Government Web Sites, Home to Many Bargains

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Investing in property is simple!

by: Lim Lay Ying YOU don't need to be rich to invest in properties. In fact, you don't even need much money and it doesn't matter if the price is many times more than what you have in the bank. You only need to remember that banks are ever willing to extend you a loan to make your intention a reality. And once that happens; once you see the capital gains and rental income generated from your acquisition come pouring in, get ready and brace yourself for the adrenaline rush. Real estate investment is really not as difficult as you might think. It's like a game of musical chairs - everybody can play. Just grab the opportunity early and you won't be left out. Anxiety only starts to set in when "chairs" are removed. ( Read the full article )

A Good-Faith Effort To Clean Up Estimates

by Kenneth R. Harney

It's a distressingly familiar scenario for home buyers and refinancers, and it was one of the major mortgage-related consumer complaints to federal agencies in 2005: "good-faith estimates" of settlement costs that turn out to be hundreds, even thousands, of dollars off the mark.

(Read the full article)