Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fauntlee Hills Open House

Today and Sunday, from 1-4 each day, I will be holding open a classic brick rambler with daylight basement at 9114 40th Ave SW (corner of 40th & Barton). This 3 bedroom, 1.75 bath, mid-century home is an estate property which has been well maintained over the years. Keep the 50's feel or remodel this solid home to your own taste. Listed by my Prudential colleagues, the Johnson Team, for $515K. Come take a look and pick up your coupon for a free ice cream cone from West Seattle's own Husky Deli. Yum!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Current loan rates

Here's the scoop on interest rate activity for the past week, as presented by Troy Chambers of Arboretum Mortgage.

Rates have gotten a bit beaten up as the week went on. We saw them down near 5% flat on Monday, and the have gone back up to as high as 5.375%. Please let me know if you or anyone you are in contact with are in need of a refinance or a new purchase. I can be reached at any time on my cell phone at 425-418-5103.

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340

Click here to see a table of rates.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Homebuyer Tax Credit Deadline looms

Following is a reprint of my monthly e-newsletter, compliments of Prudential Real Estate.

Decision Time Draws Near for First Time Buyer's Credit
While the economy continues to show signs of improvement and many housing markets are beginning to heat up, scores of would-be buyers are still waiting on the sidelines for further positive housing trends. But for first-time buyers, time is running short on the federal government's $8,000 tax credit.

Though the official expiration date of the credit is December 1, in reality on-the-fence buyers will need to make a decision one way or the other fairly soon. The reason: in order to qualify for the credit, the home purchase must close by December 1st. Merely having loan approval, an accepted offer or a signed contract won't be enough to qualify for the Housing and Economic Recovery Act.

Decision-Making Timeline - While each transaction is unique, closing a real estate deal is no speedy matter. On average, closing takes place 30 to 45 days after the date that the contract is signed. In order to meet the December 1st deadline, this would mean having a signing date in late September or early October. Those who consider the tax credit an important incentive but are still unsure about entering the market will need to make a decision one way or another before many more summer days pass.

To have any chance at finding a home and having an offer accepted by early to mid October, buyers will want to wade into the home buying process right away. The immediate steps include making a final list of desired home attributes, scouting favorite neighborhoods and areas, starting the mortgage pre-approval process and beginning the home search process online.

Potential for Delays - Buying a home is a complicated process, and it is not unusual for purchases involving first-time buyers to take slightly longer than those involving experienced buyers. Some of the delays that first-time buyers may face over the coming months:
Competition with Other Buyers
While home may be selling at a lower rate than in years past, in many areas changes in inventory have created extremely competitive buying environments. Foreclosures or other homes with greatly lowered asking prices are particularly sought after, and in many cases investors are very active in the marketplace.
Disclosures & Contingencies
The seller is obligated to disclose any material facts about the property, including any property defects or any lawsuits regarding claim to ownership on the property. Disclosures can stall negotiations and delay the contract signing depending on their nature and severity. Contingencies (written clauses in the sales contract that give protection to both the buyer and the seller of a home) can also result in some delay in negotiation, particularly if the contingency requires the seller to make specific repairs.
The lender will arrange for appraisal of the property, which will include a thorough inspection of the home's interior and exterior. The appraiser's report will describe the physical characteristics of the property and comparable property values will be used to determine the value of the property. If the appraisal of the home's value is lower than the agreed upon sales price, the buyer's chance of loan approval can be in jeopardy. In addition, recently added rules for appraisers have been causing some delays based upon anecdotal evidence.
Loan Approval
While interest rates remain advantageous for buyers, lenders are being much more fastidious during the approval process. Obtaining pre-approval can help prevent many delays.
The Holiday Season
Buyers who submit an offer in mid-fall may likely run into another roadblock to a pre-December 1st closing date: the approaching holiday season. Closing a real estate sale requires the work and attention of a number of professionals; from real estate agents to attorneys to bankers. Like many Americans, it is not uncommon for individuals in these fields to use up vacation time in the last few weeks of November. Securing a closing date during Thanksgiving week may be something approaching miraculous.

Additional Delays for Short Sales and Foreclosures
Buyers who make an offer on a short sale property or bank-owned foreclosure may find that it takes a significantly longer time to receive a reply than expected. Overall, buying these types of properties is a longer process than buying homes listed on the market by individual owners.

Key Elements of the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit:
1. The tax credit only applies to first-time home buyers. The law defines a "first-time" buyer as any buyer who has not owned a home within the previous three tax years. For married couples, the homeownership history of both individuals must meet this qualification.
2. The tax credit is only available for homes purchased between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 1, 2009. For the purposes of this credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the new home owner.
3. As long as the property is purchased by a qualified buyer for use as a principal residence, any type of home, including single-family detached homes, townhouses, condominiums and manufactured homes can qualify for the credit.
4. The tax credit does not have to be repaid provided that the buyers use the home as their principal residence for at least three years.
5. The full tax credit is only available for individuals with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 and for married couples with a combined adjusted gross income of up to $150,000. The tax credit phases out for anyone above those income thresholds.
6. The tax credit applies for up to 10 percent of the home's purchase price, with a maximum of $8,000. For example, a first-time buyer of a $50,000 home would be eligible for a tax credit of $5,000 while a buyer of a $150,000 home could receive a tax credit of a maximum of $8,000.

Questions? Give me a call at 206-708-9800