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Fournier Law Blog

Intelligent legal insight from our team of experienced attorneys.

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No Cash for a Down Payment? New Mortgage Programs Might Offer Options

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Would be home buyers who have been held back from purchasing a home due to a lack of cash for the down payment may be able to see their dreams become a reality, even without a hefty down payment. Both Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac have introduced home mortgage programs that require as little as 3% down payment.

According to an article published by Fox Business, written by Brittany De Lea, “These new products are designed to compete with the low-down-payment options offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which offers loans for as little as 3.5 percent down for those with a credit score of at least 580.”
Freddie Mae’s program is named Home Ready and applicants can get approved with credit scores as low as 620 . The program allows parents to co-sign, even if they will not reside at the home. The product is geared toward prospective home buyers in with low to moderate income; both first time and repeat home buyers can qualify for a Home Ready Mortgage.
Similarly, Freddie Mac’s program, Home Possible, serves to offer affordable, low down payment loans specifically to “homebuyers in high-cost and underserved communities”. Either first time or repeat home buyers can qualify, even with credit scores as low as 640.
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Housing Market Predictions: Are We In Store for a Crash?

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Could a housing market slowdown, or worse a housing market crash, be looming?  If Lawrence Yun’s, National Association of Realtors chief economist, analysis is correct, the answer is a resounding “no”.   In fact, the slowdown in the housing market that some areas are experiencing is due to “insufficient supply”, not a lack of demand by buyers.

In an article published by Realtor Magazine, many positive signs for the housing market are present.  For example, the article states “home price growth remains strong in markets across the country—about 5 percent on a nationwide basis so far this year”.

However, the negative effect of the lack of housing supply is that the prices are being driven into price ranges that price some buyers out of the market.  A solution to that issue,the article notes , would be to have builders increase the supply of homes available.

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Why Should You Stage Your Home To Sell

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There are many decisions to make when deciding to sell your home.  You need to decide if you are going to use a real estate agent,  decide which agent to use, when to put the house on the market, what price to ask for the house.  It can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Once all those decisions have been made, it is then time for photos of the house to be taken for the listing, not to mention getting the house ready for showings and open houses.

A step in the home selling process that might either be overlooked or undervalued is the process of “staging” your home.  In an article written by Devon Thorsby, published in U.S. News and World Report, Thorsby states, “Home staging is the act of cleaning, rearranging and remodeling parts of a property to make it more appealing to potential homebuyers. Professional home stagers are often brought in by real estate agents – or the agents practice a bit of staging themselves – to help homeowners make a house ready to show to potential homebuyers.”

The spectrum of staging services is vast and the prices vary depending on how involved the project is.  Some stagers may go as far as recommending some personal items be put in a storage unit and staging furniture brought in.  It may not include every room in the house, but certainly some of the rooms that are most critiqued by buyers such as the kitchen, living room and master bedroom.

In the end, the purpose of staging is to help sell your home as quickly as possible for as close to asking price as possible.  Personal style choices, décor and clutter may make your house feel like a home, but it needs to appeal to the general buyer so it may not have a place in the house during the process.

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Finding the Best Real Estate Agent: Tips and Considerations

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Buying and selling  a home might be one or the biggest personal financial transactions of your life.  It can be emotional, confusing and time consuming.  Many home owners and those looking to purchase a home will eventually look to a real estate professional to guide them through the process.

In an article published by US News and World Report, the author, Devon Thorsby, provides some helpful tips and suggestions for finding a real estate agent for your next real estate transaction.  Thorsby begins by suggesting that potential home buyers or those considering listing their home begin the process of searching or a real estate agent earlier rather than later.  A real estate agent can help make important decisions and suggestions early on that may help the process go more smoothly.

Its important, of course, to find the right agent.  Narrowing down what kind go real estate professional you need is important:  an agent, Realtor or broker; each provides a different level of service and expertise.  Having a prepared list of questions for a potential agent can help ensure that there aren’t any surprises or concerns late in the process.  You  want to be sure you feel comfortable with the type and level service the agent will provide and what the ultimate price of using the agent will be.

Read the entire article for more specific information and details about tools to use when selecting a real estate professional.

 

 

Photo Credit:  Scott Maxwell

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Disappointing News for Many Chicago Homeowners

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Many American home owners have been relieved to see the real estate market, and their home value, rebound from the real estate collapse which began more than ten years ago.  At the height of the real estate market crash, many homeowners found that their homes were worth less than they owed on the home.  In a recent report from Zillow, the percentage of homeowners “underwater” on their mortgage has finally fallen below ten percent, the first time the number has been this low since the collapse.

However, according to an article published in the Chicago Tribune, by Darcel Rockett, Chicago homeowners may not be feeling the same market rebound.  In fact,  Rockett states, “According to Zillow’s 2017 Q4 Negative Equity report, the city has the most homes with negative equity of all the metro areas in the country.”   A little over 15% of Chicago metro homeowners are underwater on their mortgage.  More alarming, about 20% of these homeowners with negative equity owe two times as much as their home value.

Homeowners are faced with limited options when they owe more than their house is worth.  They can wait out the market until their home value returns to a value that matches what they owe.  However, some homeowners may choose to cut their losses and sell their homes at the current value.  Fournier Law Firm can assist homeowners with the process of a short sale.  Contact us at 630-792-1000 or info@fournierlawfirmltd.com

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Photo Credit: ANNA SZLACHTA

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Surprising New Trends Revealed in Recent Home Mortgage Data

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Freddie Mac recently released data on mortgage trends for the first quarter of 2018.  One figure that may surprise many:  almost half of new mortgages in the first quarter of 2018 were secured by first time home buyers.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the age of these first time home buyers is around 32 years old.  It would, therefore, seem that these first time home buyers are, in fact, millennials.  A generation entering the economy with student debt, rising home prices, rising interest rates and a shortage of homes for sale, many would not have expected them to account for 46 percent of the new mortgages.

According to an article written by Phashant Gopal published by Bloomberg, with the improving job market and access to easier credit regulations, this group has been moving out of the rental market and becoming home owners.  These young adults are aware that mortgage rates and home prices are increasing and have decided to enter the home ownership ranks before they are priced out.

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Photo Credit: Investment Zen

 

 

 

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Real Estate Experts Provide Advice for Investors

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Real Estate is a popular investment vehicle for American investors.  In fact, 89% of investors put their money into real estate, according to a report by Better Homes and Garden Real Estate.  In a recent article published by Forbes, real estate experts provide reminders and warnings regarding real estate investments in order to help insure a profitable investment.

One real estate professional, Lee Kiser, reminds investors to study the real estate taxes of a property before making the purchase.  Its important to understand what the upcoming tax liability may be down the road, and a real estate tax professional may be able to help an investor prepare accordingly.

Shelling out the money for a professional inspection and appraisal might not be top of the list for investors, but according to Angela Yaun of the Day Realty Group, it may help save more money for the investor later.  The investor may be able to get items covered under a home warranty if they are proven to be functioning at the time of the inspection.  It can also make the buyer aware of repair expenses they should plan for later.  A professional appraisal will provide the most accurate square footage and appraised value, important facts to have on hand when the investor is looking to sell their property.

The article goes on to detail the importance of understanding Home Owners Association restrictions, obtaining a Master Land Use plan for the area surrounding the property, and getting accurate and professional estimates for repairs, holding costs and closing costs.

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Photo Credit: Antonio Carlos Cascatrina

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Before Listing Your Home: Real Estate Myths Debunked

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Low housing inventory coupled with low interest rates has helped encourage home owners to finally consider putting their home on the market.  There are many considerations to take into account before listing a home.  Being able to determine what home selling advice is based on fact versus myth is vital for a successful and profitable transaction.  An article published in U.S. News and World Report, written by Teresa Mears, helps homeowners navigate the process by debunking some of the rumors and myths.

One home selling myth is that home owners should list the home at a price above what they actually expect to get for the home.  According to Mears, “That’s because shoppers and their real estate agents often don’t even look at homes that are priced above market value.”  Even if a homeowner lowers the price after a few weeks, the fact that it sat on the market for 3 weeks or more makes prospective buyers suspicious about issues with the home.

Sellers might often be tempted to sell a house on their own, without the use of a real estate professional, in order to save money.  The value real estate professionals add to the process comes in the form of marketing to buyers and their agents, negotiating the sales price and sales contract and helping navigate any issues that come up after the inspection.  When you hire and pay a real estate professional, you are able to take advantage of their experience and expertise from previous sales transactions.

Additional myths touched on include which home renovations home owners can expect to see a return on investment, and which renovations should not be done just to sell a home, whether open houses benefit the home owner and what your expectation for future market prices should be.  Read the entire article.

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Could 2018 Be The Right Time to Sell Your Home?

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If you have been waiting for the right time to sell your home, there are many reasons experts are saying that the time has come.  In an article written by Devon Thorsby, published by U.S. News and World Report, the reasons that 2018 might prove to be a good time to sell a home are listed.

First and foremost, the past few years of low inventory of homes for sale has left prospective home buyers more than ready to scoop up the perfect house.  Their frustration with available homes has led many house hunters to begin their search earlier than normal with the hopes of purchasing a home before other buyers make their offer.

Additionally, interest rates are still relatively low.  They have been slowly creeping up and are expected increase to 5 percent in 2019.  Many home buyers are motivated to purchase a home sooner rather than later in order to secure a lower interest rate.

Thorsby details additional rationale for putting that “For Sale” sign up this year.  Read the entire article here.

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Disappointing Sales Figures for New Homes Reported

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In many parts of the U.S., sales of new homes continued to have a downward trend in February, falling .6 percent from January.  This, according to an article published by CNBC, is the third month in a row that the sales of new homes dropped.

In the article, the details of regional new home sales were provided.  Bringing the U.S. average down were the Midwest with a 3.7 percent decrease in sales as well as the west, with a drop of almost 18 percent.  The south and northeast regions of the U.S., however, saw increases in new home sales of 19.4 percent and 9 percent respectively.

An overall slow-down in sales is being attributed to a shortage of homes, specifically lower priced homes.  As a result, the prices are being driven up, the median price of new homes is up almost 10 percent from last year.  Couple this with rising mortgage interest rates, many first time homebuyers may have a difficult time entering the real estate market.

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