Friday, February 28, 2014

Mortgage Tips

We all know from one experience or another, there are many things beyond what your income is or has been that are key to getting a bank to make you a mortgage. Hopefully, the following helpful tips will allow you to avoid some of the stress that sometimes happens in the process.

In the market for a mortgage? Take a look at these helpful mortgage tips for 2014, compiled by Bankrate, an online aggregator of financial rate information:Yellow road sign bearing the word "Mortgage
1. Be Prepared to Document Your Finances
Mortgage regulations went into effect in January that put new pressure on lenders to verify that borrowers are able to repay their loans. Keep track of financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and investment accounts, and be ready to show them to a loan officer.
2. Rates Are Rising, So Don’t Delay
Mortgage rates will almost certainly climb in 2014 as the Federal Reserve scales back the economic stimulus program that helped keep rates low in recent years. If you are planning to get a mortgage, don’t put it off much longer.
3. Don’t Wait to Refinance, Either
Owners who are paying more than 5 percent interest on their home loans still have a chance to refinance at lower rates, but those rates won’t last forever (see above). Speak to a loan officer and take a look at the numbers to see if refinancing still makes sense.
4. You Have Bargaining Power. Use It.
Lenders saw a big drop in refinancing activity in 2013 as interest rates started climbing higher, so they will be more aggressive in courting homebuyers in 2014. Buyers should take advantage of the bargaining power they gain with that increased competition. Shop around for the best deal.
5. You Have New Rights, Too
New mortgage rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau go into effect in 2014, giving borrowers many new rights. Learn more about these rules, and if you have problems with your mortgage servicer or fall behind on payments, take advantage of your rights.
6. Pay Attention to Your Credit Score
Good credit is a essential when applying for a home loan. Monitor your credit history and score until your loan closes. The best mortgage rates go to borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher. Though you may still get a mortgage if your score is 680, lower numbers will result in higher rates or higher closing costs.
7. Keep Your Spending Under Control
You are less likely to get a home loan if you won’t have much money left each month after paying the mortgage and other obligations such as credit cards and student loans. Try to keep your monthly debt obligations — including mortgage and property taxes — to less than 43 percent of your income.
8. Which Mortgage Is Right for You?
A homeowner who expects to keep a house for seven to 10 years could get lower mortgage rates by choosing a seven- or 10-year ARM instead of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. If you are not sure how long you plan to own the property, a fixed-rate loan is probably the wisest option.
9. Think Twice About an FHA Loan
First-time buyers frequently turn to FHA loans, in part because they allow for low down payments and have more lenient underwriting standards than conventional loans. But consider these points: Mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans are expected to rise in 2014, and the borrower is now required to pay for mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.
10. Buy Your Home When You’re Ready
Mortgage rates will almost certainly rise in 2014. If you are in the process of house hunting, try to move quickly, but remember that this is likely the largest financial decisions of your life. Take the mortgage and homebuying process at a pace you feel comfortable with.
If you plan to buy a home in the Bay Area or the Tahoe/Truckee region, Pacific Union’s mortgage partner, Mortgage Services Professionals, can offer loan advice and consultation to help make your purchase a success.

So, there you have it. Hopefully this answers some questions you may have had.  As far as finding the "perfect" house is concerned, give us a call! We'd be pleased to assist. Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bahy Area Shows Strength

Wonder about how the Bay Area, and your part of it, are doing in the ongoing recovery from the recession of recent years? Well, the following from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development shows it's by far the strongest region in the entire nation!
The recession of 2007-2009 hit the Bay Area harder than the nation as a whole, but the region recovered faster and today outperforms the country in terms of economic growth and housing market conditions. In fact, Bay Area job growth is running 40 percent ahead of the national average, while the risk of foreclosing on a home here is lower than in 95 percent of the nation’s metropolitan areas.Map of the Bay Area
This portrait of a robust Bay Area economy was included in a pair of reports released this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD’s monthly Housing Scorecard offers a snapshot of residential real estate conditions nationwide. A separate “Spotlight” feature takes a closer look each month at one of the nation’s 381 metropolitan areas, with the latest focused on the San Francisco metro region, a federally designated area that includes five Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo.
Overall, the U.S. housing market “continues to make slow but steadily improving progress,” the latest Housing Scorecard noted. Home sales in 2013 showed their strongest performance in years, foreclosure starts reached their lowest annual level since 2005, and homeowners’ equity rose $3.4 trillion since the beginning of 2012.
Meanwhile, “as the housing market continues to improve nationwide, the San Francisco metropolitan area is also showing signs of significant improvement,” Kurt Usowski, HUD deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs, said in a statement accompanying the report.
The recession hit the San Francisco metro area especially hard, the Spotlight report noted, but the recovery was stronger, too. Employment grew at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent from the second quarter of 2010 through the third quarter of 2013, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent across the country. Job growth was especially strong in the construction, leisure and hospitality, and professional- and business-services sectors.
Home sales in the San Francisco region are improving at a fast pace, while mortgages at risk of foreclosure dropped 51 percent during the past year.
Citing data from LPS Applied Analytics, the HUD report said the San Francisco metro area placed 361st out of 381 metropolitan areas ranked by share of mortgages at risk of foreclosure.
Looking closer, the HUD said the share of mortgages that remain underwater dropped to 2.5 percent in the combined San Francisco-San Mateo County region by the third quarter of 2013, down from 9.0 percent a year earlier. In the Alameda-Contra Costa County region, negative equity declined to 13.9 percent from 29.7 percent over the same period.
The report noted that the Alameda-Contra Costa region fared less well than the rest of the metro area. During the housing bubble, home price appreciation there peaked earlier and rose higher than the metro area as a whole, but the subsequent decline in prices was greater for Alameda-Contra Costa (45 percent) than for the larger San Francisco metro area (22 percent) and the entire nation (30 percent).
Overall, federal mortgage-assistance programs helped more than 73,000 homeowners in the San Francisco metro area between April 2009 and December 2013, the HUD said.
So, if you're debating about how to take advantage of this great situation as far as your housing needs are concerned, or perhaps a real estate investment, give us a call! With well over 50 years combined experience in the Marin market, we can handle all of your needs! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bay Area (and Marin) Price Increases Continue! Why Are You Waiting?

Home price appreciation in the San Francisco metro area remained robust in November, with 20-plus percent year-over-year gains for the ninth consecutive month, according to both the most recent and past S&P/Case-Shiller reports.stack_of_hundreds
From November 2012 to November 2013, homes prices in the San Francisco region jumped 23.2 percent. Year-over-year price gains hit their 2013 peaks in September, at 25.7 percent, before declining slightly in each of the two following months.
Across Case-Shiller’s 20-city composite in the U.S., 2013 marked the strongest November in eight years, David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. The composite increased 13.7 percent from November 2012.
San Francisco was just one of three U.S. metro areas to post gains of more than 20 percent. Only the Las Vegas region saw larger yearly increases in November.
In October the San Francisco region experienced its first month-over-month price drop in more than a year and a half, according to the report. But monthly prices rebounded in November, inching up 0.4 percent.
Year-over-year median sales price growth across Pacific Union’s eight Bay Area regions was mostly vigorous in November, with six areas boasting double-digit percent increases for single-family homes, according to MLS data.
Appreciation was highest in Napa County, where prices shot up 36 percent between November 2012 and November 2013. Contra Costa County followed close behind, with price increases of 29 percent during that time frame.
Home prices in our Silicon Valley region topped the $2 million mark in every month of 2013 and spiked 20 percent from last November. Sonoma County also enjoyed gains of 20 percent, followed by San Francisco (18 percent), the East Bay (15 percent), and Marin County (6 percent).
The median sales price for a single-family home decreased by 6 percent in Sonoma Valley, the only one of our Bay Area regions to experience year-over-year November declines. The median home price hit a two-year peak in Sonoma Valley last August, when it reached $681,000.
See the chart below for more detailed Bay Area home price data.
Nov_2013_price gains
(Photo: Flickr/Rayana,,)
If you want to see how this affects you, be it buying or selling, call us! We'd be happy to help. Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091. Remember--our over 40 years experience in the Marin market can be very beneficial to you.