The Importance of the 1st Time Buyer

The Importance of the 1st Time Buyer

 

The first-time homebuyer is the cornerstone of the real estate market.  Without this highly motivated individual – there would be no real estate market.

Why you ask?  Growth and market recovery starts from the bottom.  And there is no better foundation to grow upon than the hopes and dreams of the first-time buyer.

This group of determined individuals fuels the market.   These people are the movers and the shakers of the world.  Why?  Because they have determination.

There is no greater want than the security of a home.  Home is where the heart is, because that is where your family lives.  That’s why I became a Realtor – I digress.

The first-time homebuyer faces the most challenges.  First – you gotta nail that great paying job so the saving can begin.  Those who truly want to own a home will start saving aggressively.  They will need money for the down payment, the closing costs, not to mention about 6 months of emergency funds the bank likes to call “reserves”.  The prospective first-time homebuyer may need to cut back on the dinners out, vacations, new cars, etc and start to squirrel away enough dough to make it happen.

God Bless the first-time homebuyer.

When someone can buy their first home, it is the first rung to financial security.  When people can buy their first home, the sellers, who now have earned equity since they bought it – well now they can sell and move forward in their real estate journey and buy their second place.  So on and so forth, as a dear friend and client would say.

I love working with the first-time homebuyer because of the passion behind their eyes.  So much to learn and see – it’s exciting to go on this journey together.

So all you potential first-time buyers out there – keep saving your money, cut some corners and live your “mortgage” budget – because 2014 is primed to be a wonderful year here on the peninsula.

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

3 Costly Cases of Hot Market Wishful Thinking – Fabulous Article

I truly enjoyed reading this blog because I’ve been faced with this challenge in my own Real Estate career.  It’s one of the hardest conversations to have.  Please enjoy – and I added my 2 cents in italics.

 

3 Costly Cases of Hot Market Wishful Thinking

 

“Oh, how I wish. . .” started no wise real estate decision ever. There’s a reason they call it real estate, folks. That’s because we’re dealing with the most tangible type of property around – land – and the buildings that, formally speaking, represent improvements to that land.

Attempting to apply fantasy-realm wishes to real-life, real land situations is never a setup for success. But when the market is hot and you have a goal or a timeline, engaging in wishful thinking is not just foolhardy – it can be costly.

As evidence, here are three common, costly cases of wishful thinking that tend to arise in areas where the market is hot, offers are plentiful and prices are rising. Consider these red flags and take heed in the event you find yourself engaging in any of them:

1. Wishing the house you’re seeing was in a different neighborhood. You’ve seen 2 dozens houses, and put in offers on a dozen. No dice. And your agent keeps pushing you to look in a lower price range, assuring you that you can find what you want. And then they show it to you: safe neighborhood, good school district, good commute to work, just the house you wanted, really – but not in the tony hills or hot downtown district you’ve been trying to get into.

Wishing that you could “pick the place up and set it back down” in your desired neighborhood will not make it so, no matter how many times you say it. The reality is that when you have been outbid a double-digit number of times, something about your approach is not working. You either have to downgrade your specs in terms of the property you seek, maybe looking for something smaller, a condo instead of a single-family home or something in less-pristine condition or you need to shift your location criteria – and that can mean a neighborhood change.

Part of the reason this wish is dangerous is that the white-hot markets in many towns are hyper-localized in the Most Desirable Neighborhood in Town. That’s where the competition among buyers and bidding wars are the most intense. If you’re not prepared to house hunt for homes quite a bit lower than your top dollar to set yourself up for success, or if there simply are no homes in that neighborhood listed below your top dollar, you might need to face the reality check that you simply can’t afford to buy there now.

Stop wishing the home you can afford were in a different neighborhood, because if it were, chances are good you wouldn’t be able to afford it, either! Understand that you’ll be able to level-up your neighborhoods as time goes on and you buy your next home – and the one after that – and don’t let your inflexibility paralyze your house hunt so long that prices all over town rise even more.

A friend once told me – if wishes were horses – we’d all be riding.  Don’t be the buyer on the horse.  Buying in the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the hardest markets to get in to and catch up with.  If you cannot buy where you thought you wanted to live – look around – we’re still in the Bay Area and as prices increase – it will increase across the board.  Talk with your Realtor to find the next up and coming area.

2. Hoping that perfect house gets no other offers, even though every other house you’ve bid on has had 54. There’s a fine line between wishing something were true and denying the reality of what actually is true. Facing reality, even when it’s painful or means you can’t have what you want, allows you to make your own action plan for getting the best possible results with the resources you have – or a plan for getting more resources, whichever route you choose to go.

As a buyer in a seller’s market, actually as a buyer in any type of market, it’s ultimately up to you and only you how much you offer on a home. Your mortgage broker can try to get you qualified as high as your income will allow, your agent can get you the comps and give you strategic advice on the average list price-to-sale price ratio, but you are the be-all and end-all decision-maker on offer price, and that’s as it should be.

But if you wield your weighty decision-making power to make lowball or at-asking offers in situations where you are virtually guaranteed to run into high levels of competition, that’s a poor use of your powers. Not only do you set yourself up for failure, you do so at the near-certain likelihood of adding to the demotivating, depressing, discouraging momentum of the times when you get overbid despite giving it your legitimate best efforts. That frustration often leads to analysis and calling a house hunting time-out. And that, in turn, often leads to buying at a time when prices are even higher, and getting ultimately even less home for your money.

I have heard this exact comment and was speechless for a moment.  You cannot wish away the competition.  And asking your Realtor to find a house no one is bidding on – is nuts.  Stop wasting your time and that of the professional you hired and own the fact that you want to buy a home and so does everyone else.  Instead of beating yourself and your Realtor up – think outside the box.  The Caton Team has several offer strategies to set your offer above the rest.  

3. Wishing prices weren’t going up so fast. Here’s the deal: when prices were flat or falling, buyers were (understandably) stressed at the prospect of buying a depreciating asset. Now that they’re ascending, it’s not at all uncommon to hear buyers bemoan that, too. The fact is, the moment escrow closes and your Facebook status changes from house hunter to home owner the fact that prices are rising, and fast, will shift in your mind’s eye from curse to blessing, quick-like.

Rising prices and a recovering market might be what emboldened you to buy, empowered you to sell a formerly underwater home, and certainly have been inextricably intertwined with the increase in jobs. If prices weren’t rising, many of these other things might not be materializing, either, and that wouldn’t be so great.

Wishing prices weren’t going up so fast contributes to a costly form of denial – denial of the reality that they are. This can cause buyers to persist in making lowball offers and wasting their precious time on homes they can’t compete for within in their budget range, all while their smart targets are appreciating rapidly – and that’s how people get priced out of the market, right under their noses.

Don’t let your home buyer dreams fall prey to this costly wish-based pitfall. Work with your agent to stay in the loop about how prices are trending throughout your house hunt, and use that knowledge to power your decision-making about what price range to house hunt in and what price to offer for target properties.

Prices rising means recovery is in full swing.  I totally agree with Tara, it was interesting to watch buyers hang on the fence instead of buying during the bust.  Homes were so cheap – low competition – and there was so much inventory.  But it was scary for some people.  Me, I was born and raised on this blessed peninsula – so I always knew we’d recover.  Jobs, culture, weather – all the factors are here.  So, if you want to buy a home, give your Realtor a call – don’t have one?  Call The Caton Team.  We’ll sit down and review your plans and help you come up with a path to attain your goals.  650-568-5522.  

ALL: What are your real estate wishes, and how do you ground yourself in reality?

Thank you Tara for another great read!

I read this article at: http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2013/11/3_costly_cases_of_hot_market_wishful_thinking

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

New Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgage rules to reduce buyer purchasing power

New Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgage rules to reduce buyer purchasing power

A New Year’s gift from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: higher mortgage rates!

Fannie and Freddie recently announced a 10-point increase in the guarantee fee paid by lenders for loan commitments, effective on mortgages with commitment dates on or after April 1, 2014. The fee isn’t directly charged to homebuyers, but you can bet lenders are going to pass the extra cost along in the form of higher interest rates.

Plans to increase Fannie and Freddie’s guarantee fees have been loosely imminent since 2012. Still, the implementation of higher fees comes at a bad time for California’s housing market, which is still reeling from:

▪ a mid-2013 hike in mortgage rates that continues to hold on; and
▪ too-high home prices, brought about by rampant speculation in 2013.

Of course, Fannie and Freddie’s reasons for raising fees is sensible: they want more money to offset the risk associated with their business of guaranteeing home loans (made all the riskier in the aftermath of the housing crash and following foreclosure crisis). More money means becoming independent of U.S. taxpayers sooner. But their timing is questionable.

Buyer purchasing power is at an all-time low as of December 2013. Homebuyers qualify for 10.4% less principal when purchasing a home with the same income compared to a year ago, due to higher mortgage rates alone.

This is not only bad news for homebuyers in 2014, but it’s just another headwind facing California’s slow, bumpy plateau housing recovery.

Congressman Mel Watt, who replaced Edward DeMarco as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) earlier this week, is pushing to delay the increases until later in the year. If he’s successful, he’ll kick the can down the road a ways – but it’s coming.

What can agents do with this news?

First, educate your homebuyer and seller clients about the coming rise in mortgage rates. Knowing that rates will rise in the coming year may give them a needed push to buy or list before the rate hikes arrives and reduces buyer purchasing power further.

Second, caution your homebuyer when the inevitable temptation to turn to adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) arises. ARMs are not for everyone, though the low teaser rates they offer lure homebuyers to look past their drawbacks. Generally, buyer incomes cannot keep up once the teaser rate expires and the new ARM rate increases – and it’s just the beginning of the next 30-year cycle of climbing mortgage rates.

Interest Rates we cannot control – and it is frustrating to see our clients purchase power diminish with each increase. We are not kidding when we say the market is constantly changing. If you are on the fence about buying, come in and chat with us. The Caton Team is happy to answer questions and simply help you make the right decision. Because we cannot control interest rates increasing, or demand increasing, but you have control over your finances and the ability to work your dream into a reality.

I read this article at: http://journal.firsttuesday.us/new-fannie-maefreddie-mac-mortgage-rules-to-reduce-buyer-purchasing-power/31671/

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App: http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at: http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent – Great Article to Share

The Caton Teams strives for excellence. We are always learning, growing in our efforts to be the best agents we can be. I enjoyed reading this article and would love your feedback. Enjoy!

5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent
By Tara on Trulia

In this internet era, we’ve gotten to a place where we require all of our information in bite-sized, white-and-charcoal grey pieces. But when it comes to creating interpersonal and professional relationships that really work, lists of interview questions and “what to Google” articles can fall short of fully fleshing out the factors that make us mesh with someone.
So let’s go a little deeper. Picking a real estate agent is a business and a relationship challenge – one which has a potentially massive impact on your finances and future enjoyment of the place you and your family live. If you take that seriously, here are a handful of characteristics I recommend you look for as you evaluate prospective agents.

1. Creativity. Some transactions go precisely as planned, clicking right along on schedule. Others – many others – get messy:
• the loan underwriter issues bizzaro, last-minute document demands
• the appraisal comes in low
• the buyer backs out
• you see 50 homes without any winners, or
• the inspection reports reveal issues that make you wonder whether the home is a diamond in the rough or a money pit.
Whether your transaction will be easy-peasy or uber-messy, you cannot know until you’re in it. When you’re agent-hunting, it behooves you to look for someone who has the experience and creative problem-solving skill to help you methodically think through the facts, surface alternatives, propose solutions and engineer obstacle workarounds – just in case the going gets tough.

Problem solving is the core of any business. We’ve had plenty of bumps in the road, but together we get over the humps and bumps and come up with solutions that work for all parties involved.

2. Deep, varied expertise. Buying or selling a home is much more of a lifestyle design experience than it is a financial transaction, truth be told. To do it with results that work well for yourself, your family and your finances for the duration, you need an agent that’s an eager partner with you. One that will deep-dive into all the nooks and crannies of your aesthetics, your psychology, your life plans, your financials and even your relationship dynamics.
You also need an agent with deep – not surface – understanding of homes, neighborhoods and local real estate market metrics, practices and contracts, and someone who deeply *gets* the home buying or selling process itself – so they can brief you on it and fruitfully coach you through it.
Have you ever taken a class from a novice teacher vs. a class from an experienced professor? The difference is nuance: a deep, mature understanding of a complex subject allows the more experienced instructor to give you insights into patterns they’ve spotted over time and repeat transactions. Same goes for your real estate pro: you want to make sure that either your agent or someone that will be working with them on your transaction (like their manager or broker) has deep knowledge and understanding in most or all of these areas, so they can share the nuanced insights and patterns they have spotted in the past which you can harness to your advantage in the present.

With Susan in the business for over 15 years and myself hitting the 10 year mark – we’ve have a wide range of experience. From embarking on home addition, to DIY remodeling, to buying your first home and your last. Each moment is a teaching opportunity.

3. Calm resilience. When you lose out on a home to other offers, it can feel like the end of the world. When you list your home, stage it to the nines, and not a single offer is forthcoming, feelings of discouragement, frustration and even depression can easily arise. In both cases, it’s easy to delve into fear (fear that you’ll never get the home you need, or will never be able to move on to the next stage of your life) or paralysis (freezing up because you just don’t know what to do – period).
A great agent – and there are thousands and thousands out there – can bring a massive, game-changing dose of calm resilience to the table. They’ve been through this before. They know that there are lots of homes and lots of buyers out there, so losing out on any one is not a death knell to your dreams. They also know how to tell the difference between a normal delay in receiving an offer or an acceptance on your market and when your approach requires some serious course correction (see #4, below).
A great agent will be able to receive the news that you’ve lost out on a home or take in negative feedback from a prospective buyer, call you and deliver it calmly and right along with some smart, constructive suggestions for action items you should work on next, to keep the process moving forward.

Being patient and calm is what it takes in Real Estate. We’ve had a share of surprises and a level head always prevails. It’s our job to weather the storm, buffer the waves and get you to your port safely.
In this competitive San Francisco Peninsula market – we’ve had to make our share of some disappointing phone calls. However, looking back – each sad call was eventually followed by a fantastic happy call. So much so – Susan and I believe in never giving up – because we when it’s meant to be – it will be. Add some professional insight, write strong offers and keep your options open and we’ll definitely be handing over the keys to your new home soon.

4. Frankness and optimism. You want – no – you need your agent to be frankly honest. You need them to be frankly honest with themselves and with you about all facets of the reality you’ll face as you proceed through your transaction. Sellers, you cannot afford to have an agent who will let you persist in fantasy-land beliefs about what your home is worth – contrary to all evidence as to what homes in your area are actually selling for and feedback (read: silence) from prospective buyers who have seen your home – without challenging you to look at the data and adjust your pricing strategy. Buyers, by the same token, you can’t afford to work with an agent who encourages or allows you to make 5, 10, or 15 lowball offers on a home without urging you to face the truth that you need to house hunt at lower price points or make higher offers in order to be successful.
You need an agent who is willing to tell you the truth and have these sorts of hard conversations with you even when you won’t like it.
That said, you want an agent who possesses both this frank integrity and an ultimate optimism that, with right thinking and strategic action, you can and will ultimately succeed at making a great buy or sale.

Tara nailed it with this one. I am very honest. I am rather blunt sometimes, I do not beat around the bush. Real Estate is serious business, some of the largest decisions and purchases in one persons life. I need to be frank with you and you need to be open with me. Honest communication is a huge part of any relationship and in real estate – it is one of The Caton Teams core values. Work with an agent you feel comfortable talking to. We’ll be talking a lot!

5. Bandwidth. This one might sound strange, but the fact is that it can be difficult to get the advantages of having the best agent in the world if the agent is wildly over-subscribed and so busy they struggle to respond to calls and emails. This is why I don’t always say a great agent will necessarily have years and years of expertise. Some agents who have wonderful experience and wisdom are simply too busy to do the time-intensive guidance your situation may require. And some agents who are new to real estate bring highly relevant expertise and skills they’ve developed in other careers, have ample time to devote to your transaction and can enlist the real estate-specific insights of an experienced team leader, manager or broker.
If you know you’re going to want to meet up weekly for a house hunting session or debrief with your agent, tell them this up front and ask them flat-out how much time they can devote to your process. Make sure you’re comfortable with their response or solution (example – their listing specialist or partner can meet with you when they can’t) before you make your pick.
My advice for agent-finding is to engage in a multi-step process:
• First, make sure you get referrals from your friends, colleagues and relatives to the agents they have worked with and love.
• Also get a few names from our Agent Finder on Trulia, which allows you to get incredibly specific about what sort of homes, areas and transactions your ideal agent will have worked with.
• Then, check all of your prospective agent candidates out online. Narrow them down a bit by what you see in terms of reviews and style of advice you see them providing on channels like their blog, website or social media pages.
• Reach out to all the people on your short list through whatever medium you prefer to communicate – phone, email, etc. – and note how quickly you get responses.
• Then book appointments to meet with a handful of agents and let them present their method to you.
• Get references and check in with those past clients – ask them to tell you about their transaction experience, warts and all.
By the end of this process, you’ll likely find someone who fits just-right with your own personality, timing and transactional needs and possess these five traits.

I truly enjoyed reading this and hope you did too!

I read this article at: http://corp.truliablog.com/2014/01/09/5-traits-to-look-for-in-your-agent/?ecampaign=cnews201401B&eurl=corp.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F01%2F09%2F5-traits-to-look-for-in-your-agent%2F
Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/
Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.
Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com
Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200
Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App: http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp
Visit our Website at: http://thecatonteam.com/
Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834
Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city
Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw
Check out my photos on Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshineagogo
Check out our pins on Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/
Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro
Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com
Thanks for reading – Sabrina
The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors
Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Flood Insurance Update…

Flood Insurance Update
The Senate plans to vote on legislation that would create a 4-year “time out” for both impacted home buyers and future increases on “grandfathered” properties. The Senate Majority Leader has promised the sponsors a vote on S. 1846 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which would delay any increases for 4 years; they are currently negotiating the number of amendments and amount of debate time.  The bill is expected to come up the week of January 27 if not sooner, and will require 60 votes to move forward.  NAR issued a call for action and is urging every senator to vote yes.

2014 – What will the Real Estate Market be like?

It’s on my mind – maybe it’s on your mind – but I enjoyed this article about the 2014 market forecast. Enjoy!

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.

We’re banking on interest rates staying under 5%,

— Sarah Katz
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.

I read this article at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/01/home-prices-2014-housing-starts/4181021/#!

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How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

1. Decide what you can do yourself

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.

*  Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.

*  Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer

*  Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.

If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.

Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3. Check permit costs

Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home.

Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.

Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems. 

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.  Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

You’re getting it at a steep discount

You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem

You know the problem can be fixed

You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5. Check the cost of financing

Be sure you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings. 

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

*  Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.

*  Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

*  Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help homeowners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6. Calculate your fair purchase offer

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.

For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement. 

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently re-carpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.

Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.

7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

*  Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.

*  Radon, mold, lead-based paint

*  Septic and well

*  Pest

Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with. 

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

My words to the wise – if you get outbid – don’t fret – start again.  Each home you take the time to break down and understand the cost of repair – the better prepared you will be when the next opportunity arises.

We bought a condo as our first purchase – and though you mainly own just the paint in – we budgeted $10,000 in repairs only to spend $17,000 in the end.  Hind sight is always 20/20 – but now when we buy our next home, we’ll have the experience under out belt and a better picture of a budget and our limitations. 

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/how-assess-real-cost-fixer-upper-house/preview/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina