Saturday, June 28, 2008

Interest rate update

Here's the latest from Loan Officer, Troy Chambers, of Arboretum Mortgage:

"Rates have made a bit of a comeback and are looking like they may go even lower next week. The Federal Reserve chose to stand pat with their persistent prime rate lowering. This signaled a little bit of stability in the marketplace, thus increasing market confidence. Hopefully we will continue to see rates drop, as the weather gets nicer. Now is the time to buy a house!"

"Please contact me, should you know of anyone who has mortgage needs or questions. My cell phone is 425-418-5103."

Click here to see a table of current loan rates.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Does Zillow.com provide valuable info?

The following is reprinted from Daily Real Estate News.

"Online home-value sites offer some useful tools, but their estimates are often wrong."The percentage of error on these estimates is still very large," says Delores Conway, director of the Casden Forecast at the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate. If there are not many comparable sales in one area, for example, she says, "the estimates will have huge errors in them."

Zillow.com and Cyberhomes.com rely on computer-generated automated models to estimate values. The models help compensate for the fact that many neighborhoods don’t have enough sales to generate accurate values based on experience. But these computer models don’t reflect home condition, improvements, and may not even accurately convey property descriptions.

Marty Frame, general manager of Cyberhomes.com, says the data on the site is best used as a way to form an overall impression of a neighborhood."Our goal is to provide you all this information and let you cherry-pick the things that are most interesting to you," Frame says. "You're going to look at an estimate and say, "that makes sense' or 'that doesn't make any sense.""

So, is it worth your time to search Zillow for an estimate of your home's value? Certainly! It's quick and easy and free! Just use the information as a starting point, realizing its limitations, and then get input from a real estate professional as well. The more information you have, the better.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How's the market?

I get asked that question just about every day. It seems as if most people expect to hear me complain about how slow the market is and how tough it is to be in this business right now. Worse yet, is when I hear my fellow agents whine about current market conditions. Here's my take on things. The market is what it is. It's neither good nor bad, it just is. The real estate market (as with most things) is constantly changing and evolving. It's my job to adapt to those changing conditions. I can't control the overall market, but I can adjust my strategies and behaviors to make the most of any given market.

The fact is that EVERY type of market is good for SOME people and not-so-good for others. This market happens to favor buyers and investors, whereas the market of a year ago (and for many years before that) favored sellers. Yes, there is much more inventory on the market. Yes, the average selling time has increased. Yes, the rate of appreciation has slowed. And, yes, prices are going down. Nevertheless, people are still selling and people are still buying -- that will always be true. We simply need to adjust our expectations. And you can bet that just about the time we get used to these new conditions, they will change again.

So, whether you are buying or selling, if you want to work with an agent who knows how to thrive by rolling with the punches, give me a call. 206-708-9800. No whining allowed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The beauty of a "renovation loan"

Are you interested in buying a "fixer" but wondering how you can finance the improvements without have two loans outstanding? A "rehab" aka "renovation" loan might be the answer.

By way of example, let's say you are qualified for a home loan of $400,000. You find a home for $350,000 that could be worth $400,000 or more once you have made improvements. With a renovation loan, the bank considers the estimated value of the house AFTER the improvements. The money for the improvements is rolled into the loan for the house, so you are essentially financing the work at the rates for a 30-year conventional loan instead of taking out a second (typically higher interest) loan, such as a home equity line of credit.

Although I have used the example of buying a "fixer", this type of loan is also available for any home you might want to buy and renovate to your own tastes.

If you'd like more information, give me a call. 206-708-9800.