Category Archives: Buying a Home

Why do people buy and sell homes?

So why do people buy and sell houses?

Bottom line it’s usually because of life circumstances.  My husband bought his first condo because I think he was ready to be an adult and was ready to ask me to marry him.  He probably thought owning a condo was a good step toward both of those ambitious goals.  Why did we buy our next home?  I was expecting our first child and the 17th floor of a Buckhead condo didn’t feel like the best place to start a family.   Our second home? Our 4 ½ year old son would soon be starting Kindergarten forcing us to consider important education decisions. We decided to move to a great public school district instead of paying private school tuition. Our next home?  We tore down our 1920’s bungalow to stay in a great neighborhood and increase our property value more than we could have with a renovation.  After that, with my husband and I both having careers in real estate, we got a little carried away and moved more times than I originally planned over the years.

Sure everyone is interested in interest rates and how the market is doing, but it’s the people that live in the homes and the circumstances at the time that prompt the move.  Having been blogging for a couple of years now, I’ve realized the posts I enjoy most are the ones that are from personal experience while still relating to great schools in the Atlanta area and all the things affecting families and children with their changing needs and interests.  For that reason, all my posts will now be original instead of stats or information that can be found on Google.

I have a wealth of information on all things relating to home buying and selling in and around the Atlanta area and would love to be considered your “go-to” for answers and advice.

Happy New Year and to a year full of many happy life circumstances.

5025 Riverside Park Drive, an Outdoor Enthusiast’s Dream

Recently driving down Riverside Road along the Chattahoochee River in Roswell on a Saturday morning gave me that itch only runners know as they pass other runners out on the road. It’s such a picturesque hidden gem that feels more like a resort area than a suburban neighborhood within minutes of the major arteries leading into downtown Atlanta. The winding paths were being enjoyed by runners training for their next race, the weekend warrior looking to burn a few calories, bike riders, and happy tail-wagging pets. Just beyond the path, the Chattahoochee River was dotted with fly fishermen among the river rocks and rippling flowing water.

Located just steps from this outdoor enthusiast’s dream is the upscale gated community of Riverside Park. I’m delighted to be representing the seller on the sale of their home at 5025 Riverside Park Drive. The sophisticated finishes within artfully extend to the outdoors for full enjoyment while entertaining or just spending time with family.

Interest Rates Remain Low But May Not Last After Election

Linda McNeeley, our trusted mortgage loan officer with SunTrust is great at keeping us up to date on interest rates and her observations of the market.  Below is her most recent list of 10 Reasons To Buy a Home Now in Atlanta. Love the positive insight!!

TEN REASONS TO BUY A HOUSE IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA RIGHT NOW!

1.  The lowest rates in history!   Jumbo and Conforming rates in the 3’s!   Rates historically rise after Presidential elections!  Time is of the essence to enjoy these low rates!

2.  Buying power with low rates means more house for your money. A buyer will lose $50,000 in buying power with only a 1% increase in interest rates.

3.  Sellers are continuing to listen to realtors for the 1st time in years and pricing accordingly. Again, more house for the money!  Realistic prices mean fast sales and oftentimes competing contracts!

4.  Foreclosures and short sales are tapering off, which might make prices rise because sellers no longer have to compete with this product!

5.  Atlanta had a banner spring market with houses selling quickly and oftentimes with multiple offers. We have not seen that in the past 3 years but this year is different. The number of sales has increased almost 50% in Atlanta in our market place. It makes perfect sense for prices to increase if rates stay low and supply continues to diminish.  Your buyers do not want to miss out on low prices and low rates.

6.  The supply of houses has decreased (# of sales) and the number of buyers has increased (low interest rates). For the 1st time in 3 years, supply and demand is going our way. Another reason to expect prices to increase in 2013!  You are telling me that your listings are selling in less than a week and with multiple offers!  ENFUEGO!  And, you are emailing each other begging for properties not listed.  All signs of a moving market and expected price increases.  This fall is the time to take advantage of the low rates and what is left of the low pricing!

7.  There are still foreclosures and short sales available to buy!  Not nearly as many as in times past, but still there.  This shadow inventory is a disappearing part of our market!  And, again, without that competition for our sellers, prices may increase.

8.  Sellers want and need to sell and are motivated to accept an offer going into the holiday and winter months. Waiting costs money in carrying costs and unexpected market conditions. It makes sense that a seller will accept an offer rather than to hang on for 6 more months to see what happens!

9.  The money supply is good and lenders are lending as much as they can to as many people as they can.  Guidelines are tight but the money is there!  Jumbo money is being held on the bank shelves but those portfolios are performing well.  Lock into these rates while they are low and the money is there to lend.

10. If your buyer has a house to sell, then buying now at a low price and selling as the market improves,  can put money in the pocket and makes perfect sense. The rental market is the best in history which leaves buyers with another option for not having to sell before they buy! This makes this time of year exceptionally right for the selling and buying client!

Now add to that that most appraisals now indicate that our market is STABLE or every now and again, Improving, instead of declining and there is a 3-6 month supply of houses and no longer an OVERSUPPLY and the marketing time average is now less than 6 months!  This is a huge indicator that our market has turned a critical corner!!

 

Atlanta Home Sales Seeing More Bidding Wars

The topic of multiple offers continues to come up in this ever changing, never boring real estate market.  Linda McNeeley with SunTrust Mortgage shared more positive points at our sales meeting this morning, one involving appraisals.  Being plagued by decreasing values over the last few years, many homes have been appraising for less than the home is under contract for, obviously creating difficult scenarios for buyers getting loans and for sellers hoping to sell their home for its market value.  Linda mentioned seeing her first appraisal this week since the beginning of the real estate crisis began that showed increasing prices in the subject neighborhood as opposed to decreasing prices or stable prices. 

Any buyers that have been waiting oh so patiently for the perfect steal may have missed the boat and find themselves missing out on a property to a more agressive buyer or being faced with a bidding war.

The article below was reported in the AJC by Christopher Quinn:

In an age of high foreclosures, rock-bottom home prices, slow sales and  dropping property values, bidding wars are breaking out for some metro  Atlanta homes.

The hot competition is spurred by shrinking inventory and a run on homes  with one or more desirable traits, such as good public schools, nearby  amenities and competitive prices. Buyers also want homes in fully developed  subdivisions and in locations that have maintained values, such as Buckhead,  south Forsyth County and trendy intown neighborhoods.

Those seeking such homes have been caught unaware.

The competition for homes started in early winter as homes sales rose, and the  bidding peaked in March, though multiple bids are still happening, said  Christina Rumbaugh, a real estate agent who specializes in finding buyers  homes in neighborhoods from Buckhead to Decatur.

“When I saw the trend in March I sent an email out to my prospects that they  needed to be prepared to pay over list price, and if not, they needed to sit  out about a month because it was getting kind of insane,” said Rumbaugh.

 

 

5 Signs Real Estate Markets are Improving

It’s about more than just low interest rates
Inman News® By BERNICE ROSS

We’re in the midst of spring selling season and mixed among  all the negative news about unemployment and the worrisome news from overseas  there are signs that the real estate market has begun taking its first  tentative steps to recovery.

Could the horrible housing recession that we have been  experiencing since 2007 finally be coming to an end? The answer depends upon  your local market; however, there are a number of national trends that bode  well for almost everyone.

1. Price increases  lag behind inventory declines    According to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Composite, an index of national home prices, housing prices peaked for the nation as a whole during the second quarter of 2006. But prices continued to increase in some housing markets in 2006 and 2007.  Normally, inventory increases result in decreasing prices. In some areas, it  took almost a full two years after the inventory started to climb before the  prices began to decline. It appears that in many areas, the exact reverse of  that situation is happening now. Even though inventories are down, prices in  some areas are still flat or declining slightly.

As the market absorbs the inventory and multiple offers  continue to occur, prices will start to increase. Normally when this happens,  buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines realize the bottom of the market  has passed them by. This can trigger a buying frenzy that causes prices to  increase even more.

There’s an even stronger impetus, however. Mortgage rates have never been lower. As of last week, rates on 30-year fixed mortgages were almost a full percentage point lower than they were a year ago, which translates into nearly $1,200 less in annual payments on a $200,000 loan.

Low rates have sparked another refinancing boom, but many would-be homebuyers are unable or unwilling to take advantage. The Mortgage Bankers Association expects purchase loan originations will climb by nearly 73 percent next year, to $706 billion. But the trade group recently lowered its purchase originations forecast for 2012, from $415 billion to $409 billion, citing lower home prices and weaker sales than previously expected.

Low interest rates are also driving another trend: It is now cheaper  to buy than rent in more than 90 percent of the major metropolitan areas in the  United States.

Moreover, the Zillow Real Estate Market Report for April showed monthly home-value appreciation in 88 of 166 metropolitan areas tracked. (Even though prices are increasing in certain areas, Zillow estimates prices are still down 24 percent since their 2007 peak.)

2. A major  improvement in the foreclosure market    RealtyTrac is reporting that in April, the number of U.S. homes subjected to foreclosure-related filings dropped to the lowest level since July 2007. Due to the robo-signing  scandal, however, the judicial foreclosure states may have a glut of  foreclosure property coming on the market very soon. Prime areas of concern  include Florida  and a number of states in the Northeast. The robo-signing issues delayed  lenders from making foreclosures thereby creating a major backlog. Now that the  robo-signing issues are resolved, these properties have already begun to come  back on the market now.

On the other hand, most other states have continued to push  through their foreclosure glut and are in the process of climbing out of this  mess. In fact, many report that their markets have stabilized.

3. New-home sales are  up    Newly released data from the Department of Housing and Urban  Development and the U.S. Census Bureau show that newly built, single-family  home sales increased by 3.3 percent in April. This is good news for builders  who have cut back production. Currently there are only 5.1 months of new-home  inventory available nationally, which is suggestive of the early stages of a  seller’s market.

What’s particularly interesting about the data is that “McMansion”  sales are back. These are large houses on relatively small lots with top-drawer  amenities. Homebuilders are reporting an uptick in the sizes of homes they are  building. The Census Bureau is reporting that the average size of new homes built in metro areas has jumped from 2,382 square feet in 2003 to 2,550 square feet last year.

4. Freddie Mac and  Fannie Mae make banks toe the line on short sales    In an attempt to shorten the short-sale process, which  RealtyTrac reports takes an average of 306 days, new regulations governing  short sales kick in on June 15 for mortgages held by Freddie Mac and Fannie  Mae. Lenders will have to respond to a short-sale request within 30 days. If  the lender cannot answer the homeowner within the 30-day period, the lender is  required to update the homeowner weekly until the short sale is accepted or declined.

The National Association of REALTORS® has also jumped into  the fray by recommending that lenders put more effort into doing loan  modifications that allow families to stay in their homes, reduce defaults and  stabilize neighborhoods.

5. Increased affordability According to the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells  Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, 77.5 percent of all homes sold in the first  quarter of 2012 were affordable to families earning the national median income  ($65,000). This is an increase from 75.9 percent in 2011.

Again, while these national signs bode well for the real  estate market, what is happening in your local market is influenced by the  amount of inventory, the number of foreclosures and REOs, as well as the  demand. The easiest way to track this is to watch the number of months of  inventory. If the inventory is declining, chances are there is good news for  your market in the very near future. If there are still too many foreclosures  and REOs, you still may have some rocky times ahead.

Buying a Home May Not Get Cheaper

From CNN MONEY

Buying a home may never get any cheaper than this. Several housing experts are predicting that this year will be the last chance for bargain hunters to cash in on the best deals of the weak housing market.

With home prices down 34% nationally since 2006 and mortgage rates at historic lows, homes have never been more affordable — but it won’t stay this way for much longer. Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services (PNC, Fortune 500), said he expects home prices to flatten out by the third quarter and start climbing by next year.

A number of factors will help bolster the housing market, he said, including a decline in the number of foreclosures and continued job growth. In addition, homebuyers will have better access to mortgages as they get their finances in order and improve their credit scores.

Some economists, like Trulia’s Jed Kolko, expect home prices to pick up even more quickly. Trulia’s data shows that the national average for asking prices already increased 1.4% in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the last three months of 2011.

“This is a strong indicator that we will start seeing home price indexes, like the S&P/Case-Shiller, start to report home price increases this summer,” he said.

Prospective homebuyers who’ve been sitting on the fence shouldn’t worry if they aren’t quite ready to make the leap. Analysts are predicting that the initial price gains will be modest, at least, in most markets.

Hoffman, for example, is forecasting a 2% increase in 2013 compared with 2012. Meanwhile David Stiff, chief economist for Fiserv, predicts that prices will turn in the last quarter of 2012 and will rise 4.2% for the 12 months through September 2013.

Foreclosures start to fade. One major factor that will drive the trend is the cooling of the foreclosure crisis. Stan Humphries, chief economist for Zillow, said that the percentage of mortgage loans 90 days or more late, a good predictor of future foreclosures, is “falling fast.”

That percentage dropped 15% year-over-year to 3.1% through the end of 2011, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And the decline is accelerating: More than 70% of the decline came in the last three months of the year.

Should you buy a home in 2012?

Before things slow down, however, buyers should brace themselves for a temporary spike in the number of foreclosures as banks start expediting the processing of hundreds of thousands foreclosures that were stuck in the system following the robo-signing scandal. That backlog should move more quickly now that new guidelines for processing foreclosures have been outlined in the $26 billion foreclosure settlement.

Many of the bank-owned properties currently coming out of the foreclosure pipeline are being snapped up by investors who are fixing them up and renting them out — often to those who were displaced by the foreclosure of their own home. That has helped to lift prices on foreclosed properties, according to Alex Villacorte, the director of analytics for Clear Capital, which specializes in housing market valuations.

“That could have a significant impact on the market overall in terms of providing a rising floor to home values,” he said.

In some markets hit hard by foreclosures, the turnaround in prices is already underway. Phoenix recorded an 8.4% jump in home prices during the three months ended April 30, compared with the three months ended January 31, according to Clear Capital.

“It’s crazy,” said Tanya Marchiol, founder of Team Investments, a Phoenix real estate investing firm. “Stuff I was selling six months ago for $60,000 to $80,000 is now $90,000 to $110,000.”

Miami saw a 4.6% increase quarter-over-quarter through April, and Tampa, Fla., was up 4.4%, according to Clear Capital.

Goodbye 3.8% mortgage. In addition to home prices, mortgages could also move higher.

Mortgage rates have been at or near historic lows for much of the past six months. The average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has not topped 4.5% since July 2011 and this week, it hit 3.84%, a new low.

But rates aren’t expected to remain at these record-low levels much longer. As the economy continues to recover, rates will move higher, said Doug Lebda, CEO of LendingTree, the online lending site. Although, he said,  they will “stay very reasonable.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association is forecasting that the 30-year fixed will hit 4.5% by the end of the year.

Greater demand for loans will help fuel the increase, according to Lebda.

Even though mortgage rates have been cheap, borrowing for home purchases has been sluggish. The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that homebuyers will take out mortgage loans totaling about $415 billion this year, an increase of less than 3% compared with 2011. Next year, however, it forecasts that amount will almost double to $706 billion.

As housing markets stabilize and prices stop falling, homebuyers will be even more confident about buying, said Humphries.

“People can now see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “And that can be enough to get them off the fence.” To top of page

10 Reasons to Buy a House in Atlanta Georgia Now

Thanks to Lynda McNeeley with SunTrust Mortgage for this informative market update

TEN REASONS TO BUY A HOUSE IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA RIGHT NOW!

1.  The lowest rates in history!    Rates historically rise after every Presidential election!  Time is of the essence to enjoy these low rates!

2.  Buying power with low rates means more house for your money. A buyer will lose $50,000 in buying power with only a 1% increase in interest rates.

3.  Sellers are continuing to listen to realtors for the 1st time in years and pricing accordingly. Again, more house for the money!

4.  Foreclosures and short sales are tapering off, which might make prices rise because sellers no longer have to compete with this product!

5.  Prices historically increase in a spring market. We have not seen that in the past 3 years but this year is different. The number of sales has increased almost 50% in Atlanta in our market place. It makes perfect sense for prices to increase if rates stay low and supply continues to diminish.  Your buyers do not want to miss out on these low  prices if that  happens.

6.  The supply of houses has decreased (# of sales) and the number of buyers has increased (low interest rates). For the 1st time in 3 years, supply and demand is going our way. Another reason to expect prices to increase in 2012!  You are telling me that your listings are selling in less than a week and with multiple offers!  ENFUEGO!  And, you are emailing each other begging for properties not listed.  All signs of a moving market and expected price increases.

7.  There are still foreclosures and short sales available to buy!

8.  Sellers want and need to sell and are motivated to accept an offer. Waiting costs money in carrying costs and unexpected market conditions. It makes sense that a seller will accept an offer rather than to hang on for 6 more months to see what happens!

9.  The money supply is good and lenders are lending as much as they can to as many people as they can.

10. If your buyer has a house to sell, then buying now at a low price and selling as the market improves,  can put money in the pocket and makes perfect sense. The rental market is the best in history which leaves buyers with another option for not having to sell before they buy! This makes this time of year exceptionally right for the selling and buying client!

Now add to that that most appraisals now indicate that our market is STABLE instead of declining and there is a 3-6 month supply of houses and no longer an OVERSUPPLY and the marketing time average is now less than 6 months!  This is a huge indicator that our market has turned a crucial corner!!

 

Right pricing can help right the housing market

Positive statistics and great insight from Nancy See, the broker of my company, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty.

from Atlanta Business Chronicle by Nancy See

Much like the weather, real estate tends to be cyclical and while we have been in a prolonged, painful drought in terms of sales and prices, there are encouraging signs that things may be turning around.

In 2011, the Atlanta Board of Realtors (ABR) began posting housing statistics on its website (www.abr.org) that reflect market activity for 11 counties in the metro Atlanta area. What we have seen over the last three months, and specifically in January, has many of us feeling “cautiously optimistic.”

The good news is that overall sales in our area jumped nearly 27 percent when comparing January 2011 to January 2012.

While much of that activity fell within the $0 to $150,000 range, it does support another optimistic trend we are witnessing. In a quarterly, year-over-year comparison, available inventory in this price range decreased by 27 percent.

Better yet, inventory for sales across all price ranges dropped even more — by 29 percent. For fans of the law of supply and demand, this can only portend good things for real estate’s current lagging indicator — housing prices. Speaking of which, one of the driving forces behind the rise in pending and closed sales across the pricing spectrum can be attributed to the revised expectations of sellers. There is no denying prices softened dramatically over the past several years, but it has taken sellers a lot longer to adjust to this “new reality” than buyers.

Supported by historic lows on interest rates, buyers have been active in the market waiting and searching for the best value for their dollar and with a plethora of choices, they could stand to be demanding.

As inventory continues to shrink, and more houses sell, stabilization in prices is sure to follow. Another positive sign we are seeing is the re-emergence of multiple offers on properties. The reason, I believe, is the fact that houses are being “priced right” from the start.

As the managing broker of a firm with offices in Alpharetta, Buckhead and Intown, I have seen this happening more and more frequently and am encouraged by the trend. It is also why I urge our Realtors to make certain homes are properly prepared for the market. That includes ensuring they are in good condition, effectively marketed and set at a price that’s right — for the home, for the neighborhood and for the market in general.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention that some news remains negative, including metro Atlanta’s ranking as fourth in the nation in foreclosures. Despite this undesirable distinction, ABR’s monthly statistics show that foreclosures made up 53 percent of total sales in January — a sign that these properties are moving off the market and being absorbed back into the ranks of homeownership. Based on the law of supply and demand, many view this as an indication prices will rise in the long term.

However, what encourages me most is that we are seeing such a marked increase in sales during a traditionally slower real estate selling season. If we are witnessing bumps of 27 to 29 percent in January, what then can we forecast for the market during spring when housing sales, much like the weather, usually begin to heat up?

Additionally, we are also seeing a tick upward in demand for new construction. With historically low interest rates, consumers are looking for bargains on something fresh, clean and new. Builders have begun searching for premium lots in good school districts, mostly through urban infill. One potential drag on this market is currently builders typically have to pay cash for the lots because of restricted financing. While there are some new reports indicating a slight easing in those requirements, it is difficult to portend exactly when that might happen. However, when it does, you can be sure builders will be ready to meet this growing consumer demand. As many of my fellow Realtors have recently observed, if you are currently in the market to buy a home, there may not come a better time.

See is senior vice president, managing broker and founding partner at Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty and president-elect of the Atlanta Board of Realtors.

Bank Owned Home in Brookwood Hills Under Contract

This home in the popular Brookwood Hills neighborhood went under contract in less than two weeks.

Search here for other homes in Brookwood Hills

[idx-listing mlsnumber=”4325759″ showschools=”true” showfeatures=”true” showlocation=”true”]

Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Home in 2012

Although this article is geared toward first-time buyers, it has many relevant points for all buyers.

by on January 6, 2012inHome Buying

The American dream of homeownership is a very feasible aspiration for  2012.

There are many benefits of owning a home.  Yet some first-time buyers  are skeptical of purchasing with the uncertainty surrounding the housing  market.

The uncertainty many reference when speaking about the housing market  involves a specific date when home values will increase. Since no one can  pinpoint this date, the word uncertainty (when paired with the housing market)  often reveals a negative connotation.

There are some factors we can be certain about in this housing market such as  home values rebounding.  This is true; the housing market often moves in  cycles.

It’s safe to assume that many Americans harbored the same uncertainty during  the George H. W. Bush administration in the early 1990s when the national  homeownership rate fell from its previous historic high of 64.4 percent in 1980  to a low of 64.1 percent in 1991.

In the 1960s Lyndon Johnson illustrated a correlation between homeownership  and accountability by stating “owning a home can increase responsibility and  stake out a man’s place in his community…The man who owns a home has something  to be proud of and reason to protect and preserve it.”

This statement is still true more than 50 years later.  There are many  reasons to take pride in homeownership such as:

  • Appreciation – Buying a home now (at the current  rates) can almost ensure your home’s appreciation in the future.  Mortgage rates are near  historic lows and home prices in many parts of the country are down.  This  is the perfect recipe for home appreciation.  Additionally, many foreclosed  homes are available for a fraction of the original cost.  This can  translate to a higher profit if you decide to sell once the market  rebounds.
  • Property Tax Deductions – For income tax purposes, real  estate property taxes for a vacation home and first home are fully  deductible.  The IRS (Publication  530) provides detailed tax information for first-time buyers that may answer  many questions about what deductions homeowners are eligible for.
  • Preferential Tax Treatment – If you own your home for more  than a year and receive more profit than the allowable exclusion after the sale  of your home, the profit will be considered a capital  asset.  Capital assets are given preferential tax treatment.
  • Equity Building – Many factors such as credit  qualification, loan flexibility, and annual  percentage rate (APR) contribute to the final decision of what type of mortgage loan best fits your  goals.  Yet, a new trend being used by some homeowners is to actually add  money to their monthly payment to decrease the principal balance of their loans  at a much faster pace.  This trend is called equity building.  Equity  builders usually select a home loan with a lower interest rate (and a shorter  term loan such as a 15-year fixed) to help build equity faster.  This rapid  payment process allows borrowers to:
  • Pay off the principal balance faster
  • Lock in near-record-low interest rates
  • Shorten the length of their home loan
  • Own their home faster
  • Pay substantially less mortgage interest

Equity building is a beneficial trend that’s becoming more and more popular  with fiscally responsible homeowners.  Also, home equity is the largest  single source of household wealth for most Americans.

  • Pride – Homeownership offers many benefits to many  different types of people.  For some homeowners, playing your music as loud  as you want and painting the walls the color of your choice is a perk.  For  me, homeownership will permit me to build an NBA regulation size basketball  court on my own property.  For my coworker Joel Jarvi, home ownership may  allow him to build the indoor  slide of his dreams.  No matter who you are, homeownership is a  purchase, commitment, and journey that’s sure to bring you pride.

Furthermore, when the uncertainty surrounding the housing market fades and  the market rebounds, homeownership may in fact transform that pride to profit  through a home sale.

 

Read more: http://www.quickenloans.com/blog/top-5-reasons-buy-home-2012#ixzz1jwppQ3pz