HouseHunt Network

A Blog for Real Estate Agents

Month: September 2011 (Page 2 of 2)

Setting an asking price takes research, homework on homes

By Jim Droz

Market value is a tricky number, especially in these up-and-mostly down economic times. Comparable-sales data doesn’t always provide a good guide to a home’s value, which makes setting an asking price a moving target in some instances.

Nearby homes that have sold in the past six months or so might be different from yours in appearance or condition, and there might be too few recent sales to get a proper valuation. That being said, you won’t have much chance of getting a premium price on a cookie-cutter condo if identical units have sold for less.

As a seller, you have a right to ask for whatever price you want, which you can drop if no one bites. You could get lucky, but asking too much involves a number of risks, even if you’re just “testing the market” for a few weeks or months. More often, though, pricing your home too high works against you in some important ways. Here are three:

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Single living slips a bit in Manhattan, rises elsewhere in U.S.

By Jim Droz

Manhattan is still No. 1 when it comes to single living in the U.S., but New York’s most captivating borough slipped a bit during the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of 2010 census data.

Escalating rents during the past 10 years were cited as part of the reason why Manhattan’s single household percentage dipped from 48 in 2000 to 46.3 percent in 2010. Nationwide, however, the single-living rate has reached an all-time high at almost 27 percent of households.

The biggest growth in solo dwelling has been in small communities such as Chattahootchee County, Ga., near Fort Benning, and Park County, Colo., a result of other parts of the nation catching up with what had been a big-city trait. Nationally, women are more likely than men to live alone. A major reason is that older women tend to outlive their male mates, and older men tend to marry younger women.

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New mortgage regulations will affect buying and selling process

Just when you thought it was safe to jump back into the mortgage pool, new regulations that officially roll out on Oct. 1 will need to be taken into account before prospective homebuyers take the plunge.

Sellers also are advised to take note of the new mortgage regulations, which could lead to tighter credit availability as lenders start gearing up for lower loan caps.

In a recent attempt to boost the housing market, Congress increased the maximum loan amount that government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could guarantee, to a high of $729,750 in some markets. That made it easier for borrowers in pricier markets to get loans. But as the government begins to gradually reduce its footprint in the housing market, limits on government-backed loans are scheduled to reset to prior levels — a high of $625,500 in some markets — which could lead to higher mortgage rates and more downward pressure on home prices.

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As house prices drop, closing costs shoot up in most states

Buying a home is much cheaper these days than it has been in the past few years, but the cost of closing on a mortgage has increased in many states.

Nationwide, the average origination and title fees on a $200,000 purchase mortgage totaled $4,070, according to Bankrate. That’s an 8.8 percent jump from 2010, when the average closing costs totaled $3,741.

For the second year in a row, the states with the highest closing costs are New York, where costs average $6,183; Texas, at $4,944; and Utah, with $4,906. Next was California, where average closing costs in San Francisco totaled $4,832. New York and Texas have dominated the top spots for five years.

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Hurricane Irene puts damper on home sales in some states

By Jim Droz

Many home sales in the Northeast have been put on hold following the aftereffects of Hurricane Irene, which sparked flooding and caused damage in about 11 states.

One lender based in Connecticut estimated that anywhere between 15 percent to 50 percent of his company’s pending mortgage applications will need re-inspection.

Buyers with pending home purchases and home owners with refinancing applications in FEMA-designated disaster areas could be impacted by the re-inspections. If severe damage is found, financial institutions might not provide loans to buyers on the property.

Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Fannie Mae, said that it’s too early to tell how many purchase and refinancing applications will be impacted by Hurricane Irene. However, he said that home owners with Fannie Mae loans whose homes had flooding or other damage from the storm might qualify for a loan forbearance.

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