New APP For Home Buyers To Sort Listings

Doorsteps.com, operated by Move Inc., announced the launch of its first app for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows consumers to scan through homes for sale and give properties a thumbs up or thumbs down. The information is then used to help home buyers become more aware of their home-shopping preferences.    home buyers

Doorstep Swipe, a free app powered by realtor.com®, allows potential home buyers to collect listings that appeal to them in one spot. The app allows users the option to browse active listings from realtor.com® in their surrounding area or to manually insert up to three areas. The app also features a “surprise me” option for users who aren’t sure where they want to look.

Initially, when users access the app, they’ll see only a photo and street address of a home and will then decide if they want to learn more. If they do, they can give the photo a “thumbs up” or swipe the screen to the right to indicate a “like.” The “likes” form a log for users to view later, as well as options to learn more about the listing or share it.

If users don’t like a listing, they can give the photo a “thumbs down” or swipe the screen to the left to indicate a “dislike.” Once the user passes on a few homes, they will receive feedback from the app that gives them a better sense of their likes and dislikes based upon their behavior.

“Doorsteps Swipe was created to get soon-to-be first-time home buyers comfortable with the process of searching for a home and help them discover what they truly want through a simple, entertaining, and easy interface,” says Doorsteps founder Michele Serro. “This type of instantaneousness in mobile can help eliminate the endless search for a home with the perfect profile. The online home search for someone very early in their search is more fun when there’s a whole lot less to decide. The homes each user collects might not necessarily represent the homes they will actually buy, but rather the ones that will help them make the best decision for tomorrow.”

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Source: Doorsteps

 

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Florida Is Still #1 In Foreclosures

Florida Is Still #1 In Foreclosures, despite a 19 percent drop from year-ago levels, RealtyTrac reports in its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for March.                foreclosures

Foreclosure activity has fallen to its lowest level since 2007 nationwide, but RealtyTrac reports that the following states are still seeing the highest rates of foreclosures in the country.

  1. Florida: 1 in every 129 housing units received a foreclosure filing in the first quarter of 2014
  2. Maryland: 1 in every 189 housing units
  3. Nevada: 1 in every 224 housing units
  4. Illinois: 1 in every 230 housing units
  5. New Jersey: 1 in every 273 housing units
  6. Connecticut: 1 in every 277 housing units
  7. Ohio: 1 in every 278 housing units
  8. Delaware: 1 in every 293 housing units
  9. South Carolina: 1 in every 294 housing units
  10. Indiana: 1 in every 207 housing units

Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, the highest foreclosure rates were in Miami; Tampa, Fla.; Chicago; Riverside, Calif.; and Baltimore, RealtyTrac reports.

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Source: RealtyTrac

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Ways That Home Buyers Annoy Sellers

Ways That Home Buyers Annoy Sellers: Both parties have to come together in a transaction, and real estate professionals sometimes find themselves wedged in the middle of buyer and seller disagreements. Some sellers may accuse the home buyers of being too pushy with their demands.                              home buyers

Bankrate.com recently highlighted several ways that home buyers have been annoying some sellers recently, including:

  • Disrespectful house visitors: Some home buyers may not be respectful when touring a home, letting their child run wild or bounce on the furniture, cranking up the heat and air conditioning, or even using the restroom. Lisa Ramsey, a real estate professional with the The Ramsey Group, says it’s up to the real estate agents to lay down some house rules when the seller isn’t there. “I tell buyers, ‘Let’s just pretend we’re walking into the White House.” She’ll also talk to her buyers “about the trend of sellers putting [microphones and] cameras in the home. … I go into every house assuming there’s a recording device in the house. We’re not going to talk money or strategy in the house.”
  • Submitting a long list of defects: Ron Phipps, principal with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., and a former president of the National Association of REALTORS®, says that buyers are doing themselves a disservice when submitting an offer with a long list of what’s wrong with the house. It makes sellers question why the buyers would want this place. Instead, Phipps recommends a gentler approach: Submit a list of comparables with the offer as well as a personal letter where home buyers introduce themselves and explain why they want the house. In the letter, they can mention two or three of the major issues with the house while keeping it neutral and referencing third-party, empirical sources.
  • Too many visits: After buyers have committed to purchase a home, they want to make lots of visits to their future home, bringing the decorators, architects as well and entire family with them, says Mike Lubin, associate broker for Brown Harris Stevens in New York. The sellers may find the constant visits disruptive, however, as they’re busy packing and possibly doing repairs to meet a deadline. Lubin says a possible compromise could be to have the buyer arrange a visit while the inspector is present as well as another visit during the final walkthrough before closing.
  • Renegotiation: Buyers may agree on the price but then repeatedly demand concessions and discounts. The home inspection can be a culprit. For example, buyers may realize the furnace has about five good years left and then make a demand for a new furnace or monetary equivalent. “A realistic buyer knows everything’s not going to be perfect,” says Matt Laricy, managing partner with Americorp Real Estate in Chicago. But signed contracts don’t often stop a buyer from trying to renegotiate, Laricy adds. Buyers may say the market has changed or that they’ve overpaid or they may even suffer from buyer’s remorse, he says. “It’s extremely awkward,” Lubin says. “It’s violating the terms of the contract, and it’s insulting.”

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Source: Bankrate.com 04/2014

 

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Credit Standards To Loosen 2014

Access to mortgage credit is at its highest level in at least three years, and credit standards are expected to loosen even more this year, according to a newly-released index by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MBA’s index, which tracks mortgage credit availability, shows that in March the gauge rose to 114 – the highest reading in the gauge’s three-year history.              credit standards

“I don’t think there’s any question that mortgage underwriting has gotten easier or is looser than it was two or three years ago, but it’s nowhere near where it was in 2005, 2006,” Guy Cecala, publisher Inside Mortgage Finance, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are talking about easing from extremely tight underwriting standards.”

Some housing experts have been concerned that new mortgage rules for lenders and borrowers this year would tighten credit access. Indeed, 80 percent of bankers said they expected the new regulations to have a “measurable reduction in credit availability,” according to a survey by the American Bankers Association. However, Bob Davis, ABA’s executive vice president, says standards will likely loosen up as lenders adapt to the new rules.

“There will be a tendency for some liberalization over the course of the year,” Davis told The Wall Street Journal. After all, lending experts note that the number of mortgage refinancing applications has drastically fallen the past year, and more banks likely will be looking to the purchase market to make up for that lost share in income.

Indeed, nearly 17 percent of large banks have recently eased credit standards for prime purchase mortgages, while 5.6 percent have tightened their standards and the remainder have left standards the same, according to the Federal Reserve’s recent senior loan officer survey.

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Source: WSJ 04/09/2014

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FHA Program Allows Ex-Home Owners To Purchase In 12 Months

Typically, home owners who lost their homes to a short sale or foreclosure are required to wait about 36 months before being able to purchase a primary residence again with a Federal Housing Administration loan. But the FHA’s Back To Work Program is allowing buyers to purchase a primary home much sooner — possibly as soon as 12 months following a short sale, foreclosure, or deed in lieu of foreclosure.    home owners

The program runs through Sept. 30, 2016.

To qualify for the program, potential buyers will need to document the financial problem that prompted their short sale or foreclosure, such as showing a 20 percent loss in income for at least six consecutive months prior to losing the home. Buyers will also have to show that they have taken steps to re-establish their income and credit (having a credit score of at least 640 or having undergone a HUD-approved counseling agency program on home ownership or residential mortgage loans). The program does not consider divorce, previous loan modifications, or adjustable-rate loan recasting as reasons to qualify.

With conventional loans, boomerang buyers are typically eligible to buy again seven years after a short sale or foreclosure, or possibly three years with sufficient documentation of the circumstances and a lender exemption. FHA, VA, and USDA all offer opportunities for boomerang buyers to repurchase 36 months following a short sale or foreclosure.

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Source: Credit.com

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Top Ten Affordable Housing Markets 2014

The Chicago metro area tops the list of the most affordable major markets this year, according to ZipRealty’s newly released list of the 10 most affordable housing markets in 2014. To create the list, the real estate brokerage analyzed median home sales price data from 30 major metro areas as well as family income data from the Department of Housing & Urban Development.                            housing markets

“In the most affordable housing markets of the nation, homes are available for just over twice the annual average household income,” says ZipRealty CEO Lanny Baker. “While the cost of a home is still a very significant expenditure for families everywhere, it’s interesting to see these regional differences in affordability. The cities at the top of our affordable housing markets list are far more affordable than other places, particularly the large California metros.”

The following metros emerged at the top of its list for most affordable this year:

1. Chicago
Median home sales price (as of February 2014): $160,000
2014 estimated family income: $72,400

2. Philadelphia
Median home sales price: $190,000
2014 estimated family income: $78,800

3. Orlando, Fla.
Median home sales price: $140,000
2014 estimated family income: $54,800

4. Richmond, Va.
Median home sales price: $187,750
2014 estimated family income: $72,900

5. Dallas
Median home sales price: $180,000
2014 estimated family income: $67,900

6. Raleigh, N.C.
Median home sales price: $203,000
2014 estimated family income: $75,800

7. Baltimore
Median home sales price: $229,000
2014 estimated family income: $83,500

8. Houston
Median home sales price: $185,000
2014 estimated family income: $66,000

9. Tucson, Ariz.
Median home sales price: $157,000
2014 estimated family income: $56,300

10. Nashville, Tenn.
Median home sales price: $187,000
2014 estimated family income: $64,000

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Source: ZipRealty

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Buyers Do Want A ‘Green Home’

More than 65 percent of home buyers recently surveyed say they desire an “environment friendly” green home, but only about 15 percent are willing to pay more for a green home with such features, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ “What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences” study. The study showed energy efficiency was a top priority across races and ethnicities.                                green homes

But when NAHB changed the way the question was phrased to emphasize the benefits of environmentally friendly features in trimming utility bills more buyers said they were willing to pay more. For example, buyers were asked to choose between having a highly energy efficient home with lower utility bills over the life of the home versus a home without those features that cost 2 percent to 3 percent less. More than 80 percent of buyers said they preferred the more expensive home that had energy saving features, according to the NAHB survey.

The NAHB survey aimed to identify any ethnic differences in housing preferences. Researchers did find that some ethnicities showed more willingness to pay more for energy saving features. For example, the survey found that whites, on average, would pay $6,774 more for a home that had energy efficiency features that could lower utility bills, while African American buyers are willing to pay $7,578 more and Asian buyers are willing to pay $8,251 more. Hispanic buyers were willing to pay the most – an average of $9,146 more for a green home with such features, according to the survey.

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Source: NAHB 04/3/2014

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Home Buyers Have Sticker Shock With Spring Home Prices

Home buyers have sticker shock as the spring market heats up. More buyers are finding higher spring home prices than they may have expected, CNBC reports

“People quite frankly came out and got sticker shock … they picked up the price sheet and saw, ‘Wow, that’s way more than I thought’ because spring home prices had gone up so much in 2013,” Brad Hunter, chief economist at Metrostudy, told CNBC.  spring home prices

Existing-home prices were up 9.1 percent in February above year ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Meanwhile, incomes are up just 2.1 percent from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Home builders also have been raiding their prices over the past year. For example, D.R. Horton, one of the nation’s largest builders, announced earlier this year that it planned to raise home prices in some of its markets this spring. In January, the builder said the average price of its homes under contract was up 10 percent in the past year.

Buyers also are facing rising mortgage rates and tighter credit conditions.

Still, while prices have been on the rise, home prices are well off their peak from the housing boom in 2006, housing experts note. Inventories remain constrained in many markets as some home owners wait for higher home prices before they list.

“I think buyers are extremely fickle, and what’s weird about it is the market is in a funk on both sides, it’s like trying to get pandas to mate at the zoo,” Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, told CNBC. “Sellers feel like, ‘I can rent it out. I’ve got a very low mortgage rate on this place, and when I sell the house I’m also giving up a 30-year mortgage on it at 3.5 percent.’”

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Source: CNBC 04/04/2104

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Shadow Inventories Have Declined

Shadow inventories, for the past three years, have declined year-over-year and posted double-digit declines for the past 16 consecutive months as the housing market continues to heal, Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, says in the company’s Inventory Report.

The national residential shadow inventory was 1.7 million homes in January – a 23 percent year-over-year drop from 2.2 million in January 2013. Foreclosures also continued to fall last month, dropping to 43,000 in February, 15 percent lower than year ago levels.                            Shadow Inventories

“Although there is good news that completed foreclosures are trending lower, the bigger news is the impressive decline in the foreclosure and shadow inventories,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Every state has had double-digit, year-over-year declines in foreclosure inventory, which is reflected in the $70 billion decline in the shadow inventory.”

Over the past year, shadow inventory has been falling at an average monthly rate of 41,000 units, CoreLogic reports. The states that hold 42 percent of all distressed properties in the nation are: Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Other highlights from the report:

  • About 752,000 homes were in some stage of foreclosure or known as “foreclosure inventory” as of February 2014 – a 35 percent drop over year ago levels.
  • 1.9 million mortgages – or 4.9 percent – were in serious delinquency by the end of February. Serious delinquency is defined as loans that are 90 days or more past days and includes loans in foreclosure or REO.
  • The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory in February (as percentage of all homes with a mortgage) were: New Jersey (6.2%); Florida (6%); New York (4.7%); Maine (3.4%); and Connecticut (3.2%).
  • The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory in February were: Wyoming (0.3%); Alaska (0.4%); North Dakota (0.5%); Nebraska (0.5%); and Colorado (0.6%).

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Source: Corelogic

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US Census: Population Moving South

US Census: Population Moving South. Between 2010 and 2013, 51 percent of the population increase in 52 major metro nationwide was in the South.

In comparison, the West accounted for 30 percent of the increase, followed by the Northeast at 11 percent and the North Central (Midwest) area at 8 percent.             moving south

What’s more, the Census Bureau data shows that nearly 785,000 more people moved to major metro areas in the South than moved away. That’s far more than the 170,000 domestic migrants who moved to major metro areas in the West. On the other hand, the Northeast lost 485,000 net domestic migrants while the Midwest lost 280,000.

The largest growth in domestic migration was to Texas. The Census data showed the following metros as having the largest domestic migration growth between 2010 and 2013:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • Houston
  • Austin, Texas
  • Phoenix
  • Denver
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Seattle
  • Tampa-St. Petersburgh, Fla.

As for population growth, the New York metro area retains its top position in the U.S. with 19,950,000 residents, according to Census data. Los Angeles (13,131,431) and Chicago (9,537,289) retain their second and third positions, but two Texas cities have crept into the top five. Dallas-Fort Worth (6,810,913) overtook Philadelphia (6,034,678) to become the fourth largest metro area, and Houston (6,313,158) ranks number five. The National Conference of Mayors forecasts strong growth for Dallas-Forth Worth and Houston over the next 30 years and predicts that the metro areas could pass Chicago by 2050 in population growth.

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Source: New Geography 04/02/2014

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