3 Tips for Seller’s ‘Stay Or Go?’ Dilemma

3 Tips for Seller’s ‘Stay Or Go?’ Dilemma
Written by PJ Wade

Although the focus is on selling price during negotiations, sellers know that how they use their real estate, and all that represents, present and future, is the true measure of value. It’s this accumulated value, not just how much money they’ll get, that sellers should concentrate on when tackling the “Should we stay, or should we go?” dilemma.

Lack of experience or uneasiness with the unknown should not dissuade you from the mental adventure of weighing your options. Don’t shy away from a thorough, creative comparison of all that can be gained by staying and all that this would cost versusall that can be gained by going and all that would cost. Have fun talking to friends and exploring the internet to discover other people’s successes and experiments. Here’s 3 tips to get you started on your real estate adventure:

1. Don’t just compare possible selling price to potential purchase price.

When deciding whether this is the real estate market to jump into, many sellers concentrate on the possible selling price of their current real estate and the potential purchase price of the next property. These dollar figures get the most attention, but they are not all that buying and selling real estate involves. Yes, selling and purchasing prices matter, but it’s your TOTAL NET GAIN from the combined sell-and-buy real estate transactions that really counts:

TOTAL NET GAIN = NET GAIN from Sale + NET GAIN from next Purchase

Your real estate professional can help you estimate how much will end up in or out of your pocket after mortgages and a long list of fees (including theirs) for both the sale of your current real estate and the purchase of your next property. Add to the “sale cost” list any long-standing service contracts for which you’ll lose price benefits when you move, and any accumulated benefits like-lower-than-neighbours realty tax, earned by consistently disputing tax increases. Moving, legal, and renovation costs must be included in the equation, too. Broad strokes will get you started, so you can assess net benefits and net losses in every aspect of life and homeownership. Often this exercise reveals clear “stay” benefits or disadvantages that make deciding easier.

2. Don’t let financial promise distract you from assessing the true value ownership represents to you.

Before setting goals and scribbling down a “what comes next” action plan, assess the true value of ownership of your current real estate and all it connects you to, not just its financial value. One measure of what your home means to your life and family is whether you want to move out of the neighbourhood or just to a new location within it. If you don’t want a dramatic location change, list what you value about the neighbourhood. Will these items persist, or is social or economic change putting those value elements at risk? While you assess what’s keeping you here, consider these connections with open eyes not just nostalgia for what was. Moving to a new location brings change on many levels. How will the new neighbourhood enrich life and what will be sacrificed?

3. Don’t overlook how ‘staying’ could involve significant change.

Just because you are not handy and have never undertaken a renovation before does not mean you can’t or that you won’t be great at it. If there is a strong pattern of extensive renovation and new builds in the neighbourhood, take a close look at what these options, or a less ambitious refreshing of your property would give you and at what cost. If this pattern is common in your area, moving to a new location in the same neighbourhood may represent a lateral financial move or even require additional expenditure. Then, your choice may be to renovate your current property or move to a less expensive area. Also, check with your municipal office to see if secondary suites or duplexing would be an option for your property. Adding an income-generating suite will also give you choice in the future.

For example, you could live in the suite and spend time travelling on the rental income from the rest of your home. Tied to these considerations are modernizations and upgrades that are necessary, or will be, since 15 to 20 years is the average life of most residential systems. If you project ahead 5 or so years, what overhauls will be necessary? If a new furnace, roof, windows…are on the horizon, a renovation now may make sense. This may allow upgrades like solar panels, heat pumps, and energy-efficient windows which can also improve building efficiency, increase comfort, and reduce maintenance and costs, while increasing property value. Architects, renovation contractors, builders, and real estate professionals are the idea people to involve in these value investigations.

This mental exercise will open doors and expand horizons in ways you may not have been able to foresee. This is research, so step back from anyone intent on getting you to sign a contract for anything until you have had time to explore your options. This may take a while, especially if you have only a few gripes about your current home or cottage.

May I suggest a great place to start? Write out a two or three sentence description of how you want your life to change. Be very specific. I suggest this exercise to clients who want things to improve or who are faced with change they wish to triumph over. The clearer the future is to you, the more likely you are to achieve it. Finish this sentence with what a brilliant outcome represents to you: “When I/we are successful…”. If you don’t know where you want to end up, how will you know the best way to get there?

Onward & Upward…The directions that really matter!

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Why Short Sales Take So Long…

Why Short Sales Take So Long

 

When buyers hear the term “short sale,” they typically think about distressed sellers and good deals — especially in markets where prices have ticked upwards. But the word “sale” can be misleading. In fact, many real estate agents have renamed “short sales” as “long-and-drawn-out sales.”

Here’s why short sales often take a long time to complete.

Banks and Bureaucracy

In a short sale, you need the seller’s bank to approve before you can close. Banks require dozens of pages of paperwork to evaluate whether or not to approve a short sale. Since the seller is asking the bank to accept a sale price that’s less than the mortgage amount, the bank needs to verify that a short sale is the right thing to do. Banks want to make sure the seller is indeed unable to stay in the home and can’t afford to pay off the difference between the market value and the bank’s loan amount.
Just as a bank scrutinizes a buyer’s finances in order to approve their loan, the financial institution wants to closely examine the seller’s finances to be sure that it is not giving its money away. With many thousands of dollars at stake, banks don’t want to rush through this process. By comparison, when you’re buying from a person, he or she is more motivated to keep things moving.

Paperwork Gets Lost in the Process

Banks require many documents, disclosures and signatures to complete a short sale. Many times they request that they are faxed in. If just one signature or page is missing from a file, the bank will likely hold off on the process until the file is complete. Given that these banks are losing money on short sales, they don’t allocate the same amount of resources they would to the customer service department for paying (and profitable) customers. With limited staff and so much paperwork, things get lost — and then the short sale process drags on.

Two Lenders = Double the Time

Many times a short sale seller has two loans. The larger loan is being shorted while the second, smaller loan — usually a home equity line of credit — is being completely wiped out. Often, these loans are with two separate banks. Each bank has its own system that doesn’t in any way communicate with the other bank’s system. The second bank may approve the short sale but put on a 30-day expiration. If the first bank’s approval comes at day 31, the seller must go back to the second bank and start over. As you can see, this too can drag out the short sale.

How to Expedite a Short Sale

Is it possible to work the system and speed up short sales? Absolutely.

If you’re selling a home as a short sale, don’t use an agent who doesn’t not have short sale experience. There are so many areas where short sales can get tripped up, so look for an experienced agent who knows how to push through the process.

If you’re a buyer and you found a short sale home you love, determine if the agent is an expert in short sales. If the agent doesn’t have much (or any) short sale experience, expect a long, rocky road.
Short sales are a different animal from traditional home sales — from how they’re priced, how they’re marketed and the lengthy sales timeframe. A savvy short sale agent will know exactly what they’re dealing with and what to expect, and can shorten the process immensely.

Best Regards, Chris Mesunas.

 

Buying vs. Renting…

Buy vs. rent: What you'll pay in the 10 biggest cities

Despite rising home prices and climbing mortgage rates, it's still cheaper to buy a home than rent one in these 10 major cities, according to Trulia. Here's how much you'll save.

Despite rising home prices and climbing mortgage rates, it's still cheaper to buy a home than rent one in major cities across the country, according to real estate web site Trulia, which analyzed data in 100 metro areas.

But home prices are just one factor to consider. Deciding whether to buy or rent also depends on the location and how long you plan to stay there. In most of the Rust-Belt cities, like Toledo and Detroit, the math overwhelmingly favors buying. In more expensive coastal markets, like Los Angeles and New York, it's a closer call.

Nationwide, homebuyers who remain in their homes for seven years will save an average of 38% over renting, Trulia found. A year ago, buying was 44% cheaper.

That means all of the initial transaction costs of buying a home — the broker's commission, title insurance, legal fees and other closing costs — will be offset by benefits, like tax write-offs and price appreciation. And those costs will become cheaper than the total costs of renting, which include insurance and agent commissions.

Best Regards, Chris Mesunas.

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Investors Losing Interest…

Investors Losing Interest in Housing, Despite Rise in Distressed Sales Share

Institutional investors appear to be losing interest in purchasing foreclosed properties for rentals in the face of rising property prices and interest rates and increased competition from homebuyers.   According to RealtyTrac's January 2014U.S. Residential and Foreclosure Sales Report, the share of home sales tied to institutional investors – entities that purchase ten or more properties in a calendar year – dropped to 5.2 percent in January, down from 7.9 percent in December and 8.2 percent in January 2013.  The January number was a 22 month low.

Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president said, "Many have anticipated that the large institutional investors backed by private equity would start winding down their purchases of homes to rent, and the January sales numbers provide early evidence this is happening.  It's unlikely that this pullback in purchasing is weather-related given that there were increases in the institutional investor share of purchases in colder-weather markets such as Denver and Cincinnati, even while many warmer-weather markets in Florida and Arizona saw substantial decreases in the share of institutional investors from a year ago."

The fall back in institutional investors occurred in nearly three-quarters of the metropolitan areas tracked by the Irvine California company.  Areas with particularly large declines from a year earlier included Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida (-70 percent); Memphis (-64 percent), Tucson (-59 percent), and Tampa (-48 percent).  Institutional activity increased in 23 of the 101 areas with Austin, Texas notable for a 162 percent rise while Cincinnati was up 83 percent and Dallas 30 percent.

Institutional investment remains a major factor in sales in several areas including Jacksonville, Florida at 25.5 percent, Atlanta, (25.1 percent), and Austin (18.0).

Sales of all U.S. residential properties including single family homes, condos, and townhomes were at an estimated annual rate of 5.126 million units in January, a less than 1 percent increase from December and up 8 percent from a year earlier.  The rate of sales declined in seven states and 17 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

RealtyTrac said that foreclosure-related and short sales accounted for 17.5 percent of all residential sales in January, up from 14.9 percent in December.  In January 2013 distressed properties accounted for 18.7 percent of sales.  The distressed sales breakdown in January as a percent of all sales was 5.9 percent short sales, 10.2 percent bank owned real estate (REO) and 1.5 percent properties sold at foreclosure auction.

All-cash sales accounted for 44.4 percent of all U.S. residential sales in January, the seventh consecutive month where all-cash sales have been above the 35 percent level.  In several metro areas the majority of sales were all-cash; Miami (68.2 percent), Jacksonville, (66.2 percent), Memphis (64.4 percent) Tampa (61.5 percent) and Las Vegas (56.5 percent.)

The national median sales price of U.S. residential properties – including both distressed and non-distressed sales – was $165,957 in January, down 3 percent from December but up 1 percent from January 2013. The 3 percent monthly decrease was the biggest monthly drop since February 2013.  Some of the markets which had shown the fastest appreciation posted declines in January.  Some cities where prices fell 1 to 2 percent were San Francisco, Sacramento, Memphis, Cincinnati, Phoenix, and San Jose.  Prices in each, however, were a minimum of 19 percent above year-ago levels.

Best Regards, Chris Mesunas.

 

Student Debt and it’s Impact on First Time Home Buyers.

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Don’t Blame Tech Industry For High Home Prices…

Don't blame tech industry for tech hubs' high home prices

By:  | CNBC Real Estate Reporter
 

Housing in tech hubs is expensive. Just ask anyone in California. Home prices are in fact 82 percent higher in tech hubs than in other large metros, according to a report from Trulia. What is surprising, however, is that technology may not have contributed to that huge disparity, at least according to Trulia's chief economist Jed Kolko, who sifted through Census data to make his arguments.

"Housing in tech hubs was expensive even before the modern Internet era," noted Kolko. "In 1990, median price per square foot was 52 percent higher in tech hubs than in other large metros."

Powerfocusfotografie | Flickr | Getty Images
Victorian houses with San Francisco skyline.

So the tech industry didn't push prices higher. It was drawn to places that were already expensive. This may have been because these areas had major research universities, technically skilled workers, computer manufacturing industries or nice climates. Kolko points out that the year-over-year increase in home prices in tech hubs is actually in line with, not ahead of, the national trend; that is, after one accounts for the local severity of the housing bust.

Looking 10 tech hubs—San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego and San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Middlesex County, Mass.; Raleigh, N.C.; Bethesda, Md.; Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C.—the average price gain in 2013 was 13.4 percent from 2012. Compare that to an 11.4 percent gain for the 90 other large metros. The gap, Kolko argued, has to do with fact that tech hubs had steeper price declines during the housing crash but have fewer homes stuck in foreclosure today. If you adjust for that, the gap disappears.

(Read moreAll-cash offers crushing first-time homebuyers)

Still, there has been growing animosity, in San Francisco especially, that the influx of workers from Google has made the city increasingly unaffordable. Affordability actually varies pretty widely among the top 10 tech hubs. Just 14 percent of homes in San Francisco are considered affordable (based on median metro household income) compared with 60 percent in Raleigh, Bethesda and Washington, notes the Trulia report.

The reason San Francisco is so expensive may not be the high-paid tech workers, but a far more old-fashioned scenario: too little supply amid high demand.

(Read moreCold weather puts chill on home sales)

"Since 1990, there have been just 117 new housing units permitted per 1,000 housing units that existed in 1990 in San Francisco," Kolko said. "That's the lowest of the 10 tech hubs and among the lowest of all the 100 largest metros, even with the recent San Francisco construction boom."

Other tech hubs, like Raleigh and Austin, have 10 and eight times as much construction, respectively. The Bay Area's tough geography and regulatory environment have pushed development prices higher, limiting construction.

 

Non QM Lending…

Wells and Others Gear up For Non-QM LendingJan 8 2014, 11:02AM

With new rules defining Qualified Mortgages (QM) slated to kick in on Friday at least two lenders have indicated they will make room for loans that don't quite fit the government mandated mold.  The two, Wells Fargo and Bank of the West, plan to write at least some of the loans, retaining them for their own portfolios. 

Bank of the West, headquartered in Omaha says it will continue to offer interest only loans to its customers even though the loans fall outside the guidelines established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Paul Wible, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of the bank's National Finance Group said in a statement this week, "We extensively reviewed the CFPB's rules and found them broadly consistent with how Bank of the West has always done business. At the same time, we know that interest-only loans can fulfill the mortgage needs of many of our customers. Therefore, even though they do not fit the CFPB's definition of a QM, we will continue to offer them as before."

Wible said that the bank's analysis confirmed its belief that a well-underwritten, interest only loan could be good for its customers and safe for the bank to hold on its balance sheet.  These loans, he said, meet the needs of certain customers such as the self-employed and that the bank will continue to require that such borrowers meet its prudent underwriting criteria.

Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, has assets of $65 billion and operates 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 states.

On a much larger scale, Wells Fargo, the country's largest home lender is reported to be readying a group to handle nothing but portfolio loans.  Bloomberg says the bank has created "a swat team" of about 400 underwriters who will originate mortgages for the bank to hold.  As many as 40 percent of the loans are expected to be outside of new government guidelines. 

Bloomberg said they were told by Brad Blackwell, head of portfolio lending at the bank that the group will review loans that do not qualify for the safe harbor protections of new CFPB rules as a way to increase lending without losing control of quality.   

'"We have separated the underwriting group into a separate team that only underwrites loans" for the bank's own balance sheet,' Blackwell told Bloomberg.  '"We found it impossible to achieve our objectives" with the two groups together, he said.'

The bank's portfolio held $72.4 billion in non-conforming mortgages at the end of the third quarter, 14.5 billion of which Wells Fargo added in the second and third quarters of 2013.

 

How “2014 Changes” pushed transactions to close…

Buyers wrap up surprising number of new home sales from Thanksgiving to New Year’s

 

 

Housing Market 2014…What to expect…

Housing Market 2014: What Buyers, Sellers Should Brace for Now

By Donna Fuscaldo



The days of record-low interest rates and bidding wars may be a thing of the past in the new year. "For 2014, we expect that affordability will be worse," says Jed Kolko, chief economist at real estate website Trulia. Experts say homebuyers and sellers should brace themselves for higher mortgage rates and increased inventory in the new year along with looser mortgage lending standards.



The Federal Reserve's $85 billion bond-buying program has kept interest rates at or near record lows over the last few years, but the central bank will start tapering its purchases in January, a move that some experts say will cause mortgage rates to increase. " … We will see mortgage rates shoot up," says Svenja Gudell, director of economic research at real estate website Zillow. She points out that just talk of tapering in September sent rates jumping to around 4.6 percent. While rates have since moved back down, she doesn't expect them to stay there too long. "Will likely see mortgage rates move up in the coming months."



While buyers will pay more in terms of their interest rate when purchasing a new home, Zillow predicts they will have much more inventory to choose from in 2014. Tight inventory levels in some markets led to bidding wars breaking out across the country in 2013. Not only were would-be buyers competing with other buyers, many were going head to head with investors making all-cash offers.



In 2014, Zillow predicts the appreciation of home values will slow. "We had around 5 percent appreciation in 2013 and next year we think it will be close to 3 percent," says Gudell. She attributes the decline to the market stabilizing. "This year there was such a feeding frenzy, especially in the summer. We don't think we will see that next year."



Higher prices will lead investors out of the market, further helping the inventory levels. Rising mortgage rates will also have a negative impact on demand next year. Kolko at Trulia predicts it will be easier for buyers to get a loan in 2014 as refinancing demand wanes and banks look for other revenue sources. "It will be easier to get a loan but you will be paying more for that loan," he says.



Because interest rates will be higher and investors have exited the market, Zillow is predicting the homeownership rate to continue to fall and dip below 65%. During the height of the housing bubble, homeownership stood around 70% with a large portion of owners not in an ideal position to own a home.



The wave of foreclosures and plunging home prices after the bubble burst made homeownership less attractive and many would-be buyers turned to renting. Given the bidding wars and buying frenzy that defined 2013, one thing real estate experts are expecting to see in the new year are more savvy buyers. According to RedFin spokeswoman Rachel Musiker, there is a lot of demand leftover from 2013 and even 2012 and these buyers know the market and have high expectations.



"Redfin agents have told us that their clients are coming into 2014 ready to win, prepared to negotiate aggressively to get under contract before mortgage rates rise," says Musiker. "We're anticipating that this year's buyers will be savvier than ever."
 
MORTGAGES
Under Dodd-Frank, on Jan. 10 mortgage lenders are given more responsibility for making sure that borrowers have the ability to repay loans. The eight areas subject to more scrutiny by lenders are borrowers' income or assets; employment; projected monthly mortgage payments; payments on other loans; other monthly mortgage-related costs; other debts, alimony and child support; debt-to-income ratio or residual income; and credit history. Lenders are also banned from charging upfront fees or points greater than 3 percent of the loan and for selling mortgages that include negative amortization; interest-only periods; terms longer than 30 years; and rapidly increasing "balloon" payments.
 
Best Regards, Chris mesunas

 

Whats ahead for 2014 housing market….

What's ahead for 2014 housing market

Julie Schmit, USA TODAY10 a.m. EST January 1, 2014
 

The housing recovery hit high gear in 2013 with bigger than expected price gains and solid home sales. This year isn't likely to be as exciting. Rising mortgage interest rates will price out some potential buyers. Instead of double-digit price gains, look for single-digit ones, economists say, while existing home sales remain at last year's level.

Sound boring? "You want boring in the housing market," says Svenja Gudell, Zillow director of economic research.

Here's what's ahead for:

• Home prices. They were the highlight of the 2013 housing market, up 12.5% in October year over year, CoreLogic says. Prices are now 20% off their 2006 peaks after falling more than 30%, shows the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index.

Economist John Burns looks for a 6% gain in 2014. Many others see smaller increases ahead. Zillow forecasts just a 3% rise.

Prices will likely rise more slowly as more homes come on the market, fewer investors bid for homes and higher ownership costs — including interest rates and home prices — take a bite out of housing affordability, housing experts say.

Still, U.S. housing remains 4% undervalued when compared with other economic fundamentals, such as consumer incomes and the cost to rent, says Jed Kolko, Trulia economist. At their 2006 peak, home prices were 39% overvalued based on the same metrics, Kolko says.

•Existing home sales. They've started to slow. In November, they were down year over year for the first time in 29 months, National Association of Realtor data show.

The dip was driven by higher interest rates and a tight supply of homes for sale. It doesn't mean the housing recovery has come off the rails, because home prices and housing starts continue to improve, says Capital Economics economist Paul Ashworth.

Existing home sales, which came in at a 4.9 million seasonally adjusted pace in November, are expected to be about 10% higher in 2013 than 2012 and stay about the same at 5.1 million in 2014, NAR forecasts. That's roughly back to 2007 levels but below the inflated levels preceding the housing crash.

New-home sales, which make up a smaller part of the market, have more room to grow. They hit an annual pace of 464,000 in November, up almost 17% from a year ago but still below the 700,000-a-year pace generally considered healthy.

The new year will be different for home buyers, though.

Look for fewer bidding wars and a less frantic market, says Glenn Kelman, CEO of brokerage Redfin. Its data show bidding wars recently falling to one of two offers handled by Redfin agents, down from three of four at the peak in March.

Homes are taking longer to sell, and more sellers are also reducing prices to win sales, Kelman says. At the same time, the supply of existing homes for sale edged up to 5.1 months from 4.9 months in October, NAR says. That's still below the six-month supply that Realtors generally consider to be a balanced market for buyers and sellers.

Supply should get closer to that level in 2014, Kelman says.

Donaee and Jeff Reeve hope he's right. The couple sold their Seattle-area home in just 10 days amid a hot June market. They've been renting as they search for a new home with a few acres. Meanwhile, prices have risen. The lack of suitable homes for sale is "discouraging," says Donaee Reeve, 36, a dental hygienist.

• Housing construction. This part of the housing recovery has been a laggard.

November's data showed an improvement, with housing starts topping 1 million on an annual basis, the Commerce Department says. That was up almost 30% from a year earlier, but it's still far below the norm. Starts averaged 1.5 million a year before the mid-2000s housing boom.

Construction won't return to normal this year, but it will strengthen enough to be the main driver of the housing recovery as home price gains shrink, says investment manager Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

It sees housing starts increasing 20% a year for the next several years as household formation picks up with the strengthening economy.

More home construction means more jobs for construction workers, plumbers, civil engineers and others in the building trades, as well as related industries such as furniture manufacturing, it says.

Construction alone will add 300,000 to 500,000 jobs a year to the nation's job base for the next three years, GSAM predicts. That's up from about 100,000 in 2013.

"The construction revival is primarily a matter of when, not if," says Tom Teles, GSAM head of securitized and government investments.

• Mortgage rates. Sarah and Andrew Katz know home prices are going up, and mortgage interest rates, too. But they're still convinced it's a good time to buy a first home. They've set their sights on spring.

"We're banking on interest rates staying under 5%, but they are what they are," says Sarah, 29, who works in public relations in Manhattan.

The couple better not wait too long, economists warn.

Average rates for a fixed 30-year mortgage will rise to 5.5% by the end of 2014, says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. Rates have already risen about 1 percentage point in the past year as the economy has strengthened. They'll be pushed up further as the Federal Reserve winds down its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program.

Each percentage point increase in mortgage rates makes homes about 10% more expensive in terms of higher housing payments.

Another factor could weigh on borrowers. Starting in January, lenders must make home loans that meet new federal qualified mortgage standards or face greater liability from borrower lawsuits, should the loans go sour.

At least 5% of mortgages extended in 2013 wouldn't meet the new standard, Yun says. More than that will likely face additional scrutiny from lenders as they implement all parts of the new rule, says Brian Koss, executive vice president of lender Mortgage Network.

He says the higher rates and tighter rules will likely drive some home buyers out of the market or into lower-priced homes than they could have afforded last year.

"People have gotten spoiled," Koss says. Higher rates and home prices will test the strength of the housing recovery in 2014, he says.