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Hello everyone, Do you get Rock Star Service from your lender? This is a recent testimonial from one of our realtor partners:

“WOW…..I want to thank each and everyone involved in “making it happen” for the Smith family. To fund their loan on time and on schedule despite the many hurdles and obstacles sent our way in three (3) weeks with two (2) long holiday weekends in between is a true testamen…t to our abilities to perform and exceed our clients expectations.” This is how we earn life-long customers.

The Meredith Team @ CMG
Erin & Kathleen
The Bay Area’s Premier

Mortgage Banker and Broker
(925)983-3048 office
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meredithteam@comcast.net
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The population is getting older, and those who are 65 and up now make up the biggest part of the nation’s population in size and percentage, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Older residents comprise 13 percent of the population, or 40.3 million people.

The older adult population increased by 15.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, while the combined remaining age groups saw 9.7 percent growth.

The states with the highest number of senior residents are:

  • Florida
  • West Virginia
  • Maine
  • Pennsylvania
  • Iowa

The state with the lowest number of seniors is Alaska (7.7 percent compared to Florida’s 17.6 percent). However, Alaska also has the largest growth rate for older populations, according to Census data.

Source: “New Census Data Show Increase in Older Adults,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Dec. 1, 2011)

Read More

Baby Boomers Seek Smaller, Affordable Homes

Selling a home in the cold, dreary winter months may not be ideal but there’s still plenty you can do to get a home to standout.

“Buyers out looking at homes in December or January are, as a group, quite serious about buying,” Laura Ortoleva, a spokesperson for the RE/MAX Northern Illinois, told RISMedia. “Therefore, sellers tend to benefit because each showing is more productive, and fewer showings are needed to sell the property.”

RE/MAX agents offer some of the following tips when selling a home in winter in a recent article at RISMedia.

Turn on the lights: Counter winter’s cloudy and short days by turning on all of the lights in a home for each showing. “Also, it’s a great idea to keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled,” says Marlene Granacki of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago. “People are always driving past the house, and keeping it lighted makes it look happy and welcoming.”

Have a place for shoes: Prospective buyers may arrive at the front door with shoes coated in snow or salt. “Make it easy for buyers to deal with their shoes when they arrive,” says Barbara Hibnick of RE/MAX Showcase, Long Grove, Ill. “Put a festive area rug at the front door for a great first impression and so visitors can wipe their feet. Have slippers or disposable booties available, along with a bench or chair, if there is room for one, where a visitor can sit and easily remove or put on their boots.”

Watch for odors: Homes can get stuffy in the winter. “Pet odors can be especially worrisome in winter,” says Mike Mondello of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill. “Use a room fragrance if needed, but nothing too strong, and I recommend that in winter sellers clean more often.”

Don’t make it too toasty: “Don’t blast buyers with hot air,” the RISMedia article notes. Keep the temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees during your showings (although keep in mind that a comfortable temperature for your thermostat can vary form house to house.) Potential buyers will most likely be wearing their winter coats when they tour the house so no reason to make them sweat.

Read more winter-selling tips.

Source: “10 Ways to Get the Best of Winter When Selling Your Home,” RISMedia (Dec. 1, 2011)

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Add Some Holiday Charm to Your Listings

7 Tips for Showing Property in the Dead of Winter

Forget the toasters and champagne flutes: More engaged couples are doing a different type of wedding registry that allows them to collect cash for a down payment on a home, according to a recent article in The Washington Times.

Dana Ostomel, founder of Deposit a Gift in New York City, says that about 15 percent of their registries are to raise down-payment funds for a home and another 15 percent are for home-improvement funds to pay for upgrades like a new roof or furniture.

“Given that 75 percent of today’s engaged couples already live together and are older, very often they are already established with the household basics that you find on a traditional registry,” Ostomel said. “What they want is the gift of big-ticket items and longer term goals, like the gift of home ownership.”

The FHA permits gifts from a wedding to be used as a down payment, but lenders are required to document that the funds are gifts. About 27 percent of first-time home buyers use gift money from relatives and friends for a down payment, according to a 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey.

Source: “Registries Raise Cash Gifts, Avoid Etiquette No-No,” The Washington Times (Oct. 20, 2011)

Read More:
Down Payment Remains Obstacle to Home Ownership

Men vs. Women: How They Differ in Real Estate

 
Daily Real Estate News | Friday, October 14, 2011 
 It’s the battle of the sexes in a new analysis by Trulia, which pits the sexes against each other to find out whether male or female real estate agents tend to list the most homes, whom tends to list the priciest homes for sale, and which sex is outnumbered in the industry.

Some of Trulia’s findings:

-Who dominates: More women work in real estate than men, according to Trulia. For example, Trulia found big pockets where females outnumbered men in the industry, such as in Mississippi and Oklahoma where there are 64 percent more women working as real estate agents than men.

-Who lists the most homes: Men tend to list more homes for sale, according to Trulia, when looking at the average number of homes that men and women put up for sale by state. For example, in North Dakota, men had 129 percent more homes for sale on the market than females.

-Who lists the priciest homes: Female real estate professionals tend to list more expensive homes than males, according to Trulia. In West Virginia, for example, homes for sale by female real estate agents were 63 percent more expensive than those listed with male agents. (Trulia notes in its article that pricing a home to sell factors in a lot of things about the property and neighborhood and does not necessarily reflect how aggressive an agent is on the pricing.)

Source: “Is Real Estate a Man’s or Woman’s World?” Trulia Blog (Oct. 13, 2011)

Read More:
More Women in Commercial Real Estate, But Pay Still Lags

S&P Lowers Fannie, Freddie Credit Rating-Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of lenders backed by the federal

government on the heels of the first-ever lowering of the U.S.’s credit rating.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government-backed lenders were lowered one step from AAA to AA+, S&P reported in a statement issued Monday. Some analysts say the downgrade may force home buyers to pay higher mortgage rates.

“The downgrades of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reflect their direct reliance on the U.S. government,” S&P said in a statement. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into conservatorship in September 2008 and their ability to fund operations relies heavily on the U.S. government.”

The GSEs own or guarantee more than half of U.S. mortgage debt.

Freddie Mac said that the lower debt rating will cause “major disruptions” in its home-lending by possibly reducing the supply of mortgages it can purchase. It said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the lower rating could hamper home prices and even lead to more home-loan defaults on mortgages it guarantees.

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Monday assured investors that securities issued by GSEs are sound. “The government commitment to ensure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sufficient capital to meet their obligations, as provided for in the Treasury’s senior preferred stock purchase agreement with each enterprise, remains unaffected by the Standard & Poor’s action,” said Edward DeMarco, FHFA acting director.

Some analysts and lenders have said they don’t see the fallout from the S&P downgrade on the U.S. and other banks as having such a widespread affect. “It’s likely that once the storm passes, you’ll get an increase in mortgage rates because of this, but it won’t be significant,” says Anika Khan, a housing economist at Wells Fargo.

S&P also announced on Monday that it had lowered its credit ratings for 10 of 12 federal home loan banks and federal farm credit banks from AAA to AA+.

Source: “S&P Lowers Fannie, Freddie Citing Reliance on Government,” Bloomberg (Aug. 8, 2011); “S&P Downgrades Fannie and Freddie, Farm Lenders and Bank Debt Backed by U.S. Government,” Associated Press (Aug. 8, 2011); Freddie Mac Reports $4.7B Loss, Says S&P Downgrade Will Disrupt Mortgage Market,” Associated Press (Aug. 8, 2011); and “FHFA Assures Investors After Fannie, Freddie Downgrade,” HousingWire (Aug. 8. 2011)

Read More:
Will the S&P Downgrade Affect Interest Rates?

Mortgage lending at lowest level since 1997

Despite near-record-low mortgage rates, a combination of factors is depressing the industry. Many people have simply decided homeownership isn’t for them.

 

  • Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are down by a third compared with 2010. Lenders will write about $1 trillion in home loans this year, the smallest total since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., which projects home lending will fall even lower in 2012.
Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are… (Seth Perlman, Associated Press)

 

August 06, 2011|By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
Despite near-record-low mortgage rates and the cheapest housing prices in eight years, home lending has slipped this year to the lowest level since 1997.The laggard loan market can be explained in part by the slow economy, numerous foreclosures and the proliferation of “underwater” loans, those that exceed the value of the properties they secure.

 

But other factors are compounding the problem, including so-called refi burnout — how many times, after all, can one refinance a home? — and a wave of people who have simply decided that homeownership isn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Weary of a noisy tenant on the other side of a common wall, Bruce and Deborah Dennis sold their Arcadia duplex in April, banked a $600,000 profit and went looking for a quieter place to spend their 60s.

Bruce’s boss, a property manager, urged them to buy another home, saying they’d never again see prices and mortgage rates so low at the same time. The couple searched seriously for two months, even bidding on a home. In the end, they opted to rent a house, leery of tying up capital and taking on the headaches of ownership with the housing market so shaky.

“We thought, ‘Is buying really what we want to do?’ I have no confidence that home prices are going back up any time soon,” Bruce Dennis said.

Opt-outs like the Dennises are one reason the mortgage business, which led the way into the Great Recession, is taking so long to come out of it.

Another factor is the slowing of the refinance market. Mortgage costs are near historical lows, with lenders offering 30-year fixed-rate loans at about 4.2% to Californians seeking $400,000 mortgages, online home-loan specialist Lending Tree said Thursday.

But most of the lucky homeowners who still have equity and solid finances have already refinanced once or more and have long since locked in annual rates of less than 5%.

In 2003, as the housing boom took hold and 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell below 6%, refinancings propelled home lending to four times the current volume. And as the rate tumbled toward 5% and then smashed that barrier in 2009 for the first time since 1956, there was twice as much mortgage lending as now.

“There is a burnout phenomenon,” said Mortgage Bankers Assn. economist Michael Fratantoni. In addition, many would-be refinancers have been stopped by the declines in home prices, now back at 2003 levels, which has left them owing far more than their homes are worth.

“Borrowers who couldn’t qualify for 4.5% mortgages last year for the most part still can’t qualify this year,” Fratantoni said.

And getting the purchase market up and running again would require “significant job growth,” he said, something that has failed to materialize in the sluggish recovery that is threatening to fall back into recession.

 

 

The result of all this: Despite the confluence of lower home prices and rates, new mortgages are down by a third compared with 2010. Lenders will write about $1 trillion in home loans this year, the smallest total since 1997, according to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., which projects that home lending will fall even lower in 2012.Some say the combination of falling home prices, tight credit in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the flood of foreclosure sales has undermined the traditional view of homeownership as the engine of financial success.

“The previous assumptions that housing is a good investment, or that home prices can only go up, or that all Americans should be able to buy a home, are being seriously challenged,” Morgan Stanley housing analysts wrote last month in a study titled “A Rentership Society.”

In the middle of the last decade, when the term “ownership society” was coined, the homeownership rate was nearly 70%, the report noted. If delinquent borrowers were excluded, it said, the current rate of 66.4% today would instead be 59.7%.

For those willing to take out mortgages despite all the grim news, the prospects are improving slightly. Lenders have eased certain terms for the first time since the mortgage meltdown took hold, and some on the front lines say banks are abandoning the scrutiny bordering on suspicion with which they had come to regard potential borrowers.

“All those granular issues we were beating people up about over the last three years seem to be going away,” Laguna Niguel mortgage broker Jeff Lazerson said. “The hassles over old credit inquiries. Having to explain every entry on a bank statement.”

Spokesmen for Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., the largest mortgage companies, said they recently eased standards slightly for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which are attractive to first-time buyers because they require relatively small down payments.

However, among younger buyers, “there’s not much feeling that they need to buy right away,” Fratantoni said. “I expect that may change over the next couple of years, but certainly for the first-time buyer there’s less near-term demand.”

Older people can be ownership-averse as well, like the Dennises, who intend to work five more years before they retire.

“To buy another house, we were going to have to come up with a chunk of change for a down payment,” Bruce Dennis said. “Then there were property taxes, and of course maintenance — that gets expensive in a hurry.

“The glories of homeownership we no longer have to face.”

scott.reckard@latimes.com

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