The Economy, Inflation and Your Interest Rates

Posted: January 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm by: Leslie

We keep hearing that now is the time to buy, partially because interest rates are so low right now. However, unless you are purchasing an inventory new home, today’s rates might not be what your rate is when you go to settlement. What to do?

The most important thing to realize is that no one has a crystal ball and no one can tell you without a doubt what will happen with interest rates over time. Fortunately, there are some indicators that can give you an idea of where they could be headed – the economy, inflation rates and the Federal Fund Rate. Unfortunately, we aren’t all Economists so understanding how all of these factors affect your interest rate can be complex.

I found an article that very nicely explains all of this. While a bit lengthy, the article How Interest Rates Work really breaks everything down in very simple terms. If you really want to know how everything is woven together, I would suggest you check this out. The forecast right now is for rates to stay relatively low but how long that will last is anyone’s guess. But…if you can at least understand the forces behind the rise and fall of interest rates, maybe it will give you some peace of mind with what to expect. And if that peace of mind isn’t quite enough, it never hurts to ask your lender if they extend rate locks!

http://money.howstuffworks.com/interest-rate3.htm

Happy House Hunting!

Everyone loves a good contest!

Posted: September 2, 2011 at 10:16 am by: Leslie

I have some exciting news to share that I’m hoping you will enjoy – the announcement of a New Homes Guide Contest. It’s fun, it’s easy, and you can win money – what more could you ask for?!

 The New Homes Guide Facebook Photo Contest

Enter for the chance to win a $100 gift card from Home Depot

Email us a photograph of you and your family at the entry of your new home from the day you moved in and we will share it with all of our friends on Facebook. Tell us which Builder you purchased from, a brief comment about why you chose that Builder and the favorite thing about your new home. New Homes Guide will then post your picture on our Facebook page to share with everyone. Don’t forget to “Like” the New Homes Guide Facebook page so you can view all the entries.

 At the beginning of October, a winner will be randomly selected from all entries and be given a $100 gift card to Home Depot. Who doesn’t need something from Home Depot when you move into your new home?!

 Email entries to nicole@newhomesguide.com  by 11:59 p.m. September 30, 2011 to be entered into drawing to be held on October 3, 2011. Winner will be announced on October 3, 2011.

For the Official Rules (because you know there has to be Official Rules and all sorts of fine print), visit our Facebook page and click on the “Notes” tab.  

We can’t wait to see and share all of those wonderful photos!

Interest Rates and Buying Decisions

Posted: August 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm by: Leslie

Ok, it’s easy enough to say when the rates are low, it’s a good time to buy. But the big questions these days seems to be, “Will the rates keep going down?” and “Is now really the best time to buy?” The basic answer: “I don’t know”.   That doesn’t help you much, does it?

So will rates keep going down?  Rates are currently sitting at historical lows, hovering in the low to mid 4′s for 30-year fixed loans: http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/11/real_estate/mortgage_rates_record/index.htm?iid=EL).

What that translates to is huge savings on interest payments over the life of the loan. But how many of you will really pay off an entire mortgage? Are you planning on staying in your home for 30 years? Living in the DC Metro area, I think the safe answer here is that most homeowners do not stay put for 30 years and shouldn’t really be thinking that long term. You need to think in terms of your monthly savings – what is an affordable payment for my family and me that allows us to have a wonderful home and still maintain some life outside of the house – I.e.,  don’t allow yourself to be house-poor. 

  1. Prioritize your needs and figure out just how much you need/want in your new home.
  2. Get cost estimates from Builders to learn how much that wonderful home is going to cost.
  3. Know what your target monthly payment needs to be.
  4. Have your lender tell you where the rate needs to be in order to achieve your goal.
  5. BUY NOW if all the stars align and today’s rates get you what you want!

You may need to adjust your needs/wants list to be realistic but this is the only way to start your search and make your decision. If your wish list and today’s rates don’t get you what you want, learn to make some tough choices on what you really “need”. If your wish list and today’s rates get you your desired payment, why wait?

You don’t want to lose that dream house because you thought the rates MIGHT go down a little more and the Builder MIGHT give a better incentive…when you do the numbers, you will find that the monthly savings are not going to get significantly better with the rate dropping by 1/8% or the price dropping by $10,000. And if something significant does change – REFINANCE!

When it comes to concrete numbers, I am not your financial advisor or mortgage lender. However, when it comes to your buying decision, I am telling you what I’ve told hundreds of buyers before you…look at YOUR scenario and future goals and don’t worry about the rest – none of us have a crystal ball!

 

National Housing Survey Results Released

Posted: September 21, 2010 at 10:30 am by: Leslie

The results are in from Fannie Mae’s latest National Housing Survey. And after polling close to 3,400 Americans including renters, homeowners, mortgage borrowers, underwater borrowers and delinquent borrowers between June 2010 and July 2010, Fannie Mae releases its results.

Overall, respondents are increasingly more confident in the health of the housing market and think it has reached bottom.

Housing and the Economy

  • Eighty-two percent of respondents consider homeownership important to the economy.
  • Seventy percent of respondents think it is a good time to buy a house.
  • More than three-quarters (78 percent) think home prices will stay the same or go up over the next year.
  • Eighty-five percent of Americans think home rental prices will stay the same or go up over the next year.

Desirability of Homeownership

  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they believe buying a home is a safe investment.
  • Eighty-four percent of consumers believe owning makes more sense than renting.
  • Sixty-three percent of all survey respondents would likely buy instead of rent if they were to move.
  • Respondents cite non-financial reasons such as safety and quality of local schools as driving factors in wanting to own a home.

Visit Fannie Mae today to check out the Fact Sheet and Presentation on all the findings from its National Housing Survey.

New Home Communities Open This Weekend

Posted: September 14, 2010 at 10:30 am by: Leslie

Looking for a new home in the suburbs or searching for that perfect condo closer to the city? Well home shoppers now have the opportunity to check out these new communities hitting the market this week.

Boulevard at Brambleton by Camberley Homes – Loudoun County, VA

Camberley Homes is excited to introduce their newest series of contemporary townhomes located in Brambleton. Boulevard at Brambleton will include a total 48 townhomes with four model homes ranging in size from approximately 1,867 sq feet to 2375 with optional 4 stories. Each townhome features a convenient rear load garage and an innovative loft option with sought-after roof terrace space.

If you aren’t familiar with Brambleton, this award-winning master planned community located on Loudoun County, VA offers homeowners the convenience of shopping and restaurants at the Town Center, scenic parks, ponds, and trails, as well as sports fields, playgrounds and much, much more. It’s no surprise families look to Brambleton when looking for their new home.

The Isabella at Monticello Mews by Della Ratta Inc.  -  Alexandria, VA

For those looking to live inside the beltway, Della Ratta Inc. proudly introduces The Isabella at Monticello Mews. This 144-unit condominium residence located in Alexandria, VA near Kingstowne has been thoughtfully planned with its future residents’ lifestyles in mind. The Isabella is a gated community offering one- and two-bedroom condominium residences ranging in size from 781 – 1,673 sq feet. Other than enjoying the homes’ exceptional features and craftsmanship, homeowners will also have access to amenities such as a 25 meter lap pool with expansive sun deck, a poolside resident lounge and cabana, private Bark Park, an on-site fitness room and outdoor sports court, a private ¼-mile fitness and walking path, a front desk attendant, controlled lobby access, a secure 2-level underground parking garage and an on-site Metro shuttle. Home shoppers on the search for a new home in a convenient location be sure to visit The Isabella at Monticello Mews this weekend for their Grand Opening Event.

How To Evaluate Schools Before Making Your Homebuying Decision

Posted: August 31, 2010 at 10:30 am by: Leslie

Whether or not you’re looking for a new home in hopes of finding a better school district doesn’t change the fact that schools can play a huge part in any homebuying decision. And these days, parents and children aren’t the only ones who may feel the lasting effects of a school’s reputation . . . your home’s value may as well.

Before you go and spend those extra dollars purchasing a home in a highly rated school district, get to know your options first. Thankfully, there are several resources available to help home shoppers with or without children that will give some guidance along the way.

If schools aren’t really on the top of your new home priority list, there are a couple of websites that can help you get a general idea of a school’s reputation. Two that I’ve recently come across are GreatSchools.org and Education.com. You can search and compare school ratings, stats and much more. Even though school districts may not be important to you right now, it may be important later or to the family that moves in after you.

“School quality depends on many characteristics, not all easily measurable, and not all equally important for each individual child or family.” – Project Appleseed

For those of you who rely heavily on a school’s reputation when it comes down to a home buying decision, Project Appleseed offers up some good advice on how to evaluate and choose a school based on child, family and school characteristics. The website also offers advice when it comes to finding information on individual schools and gives recommendations from the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Questions and Tips from NAESP for choosing a school:

  • Check out the school district’s annual report
  • What is the school’s discipline policy?
  • Check to see what services are available at the school
  • What is the school’s safety policy?
  • Is there an active parent organization?

When searching for your new home, be sure to ask home builders and your realtor for information on the reputation of schools in and around your areas of interest. Both can be great resources when making a home purchasing decision.

What You Should Look For During Your Final Walk-Through

Posted: August 24, 2010 at 10:00 am by: Leslie

Making the decision to purchase a new home can come with a lot of great perks. Higher energy efficiency standards, less maintenance and fewer repairs are all examples of some of the many benefits that go along with purchasing new. But even though you’ve decided to buy a new home, there is one last step before closing that you’ll need to take very seriously . . . the final walk-through.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) advises homebuyers to pay close attention during the pre-settlement walk-through. It’s your responsibility to make sure your expectations have been met and that the builder has taken care of any needed changes or repairs. Here is a simple checklist from the NAHB website to give you a better idea of what to look out for.

Grading

•Does the ground around the foundation slope away from the house?

•Make sure the water does not pond in swales. To check, water the areas with a hose, if possible.

•Are there signs of erosion?

•Is the shrubbery placed at least 2-3 feet from the foundation?

•If the house has a basement, are the basement window wells clean and graveled?

Roof and Gutters

•Are the shingles flat and tight?

•Is the flashing securely in place?

•Do the gutters, downspouts and splash blocks direct water away from the house?

Exterior Appearance

•Are the windows and doors sealed and protected by weather stripping?

•Are the trim and fittings tight? Are there any cracks?

•Does the paint cover the surface and trim smoothly?

•Has landscaping been installed according to the terms of your contract? (more…)

Demographic Shifts Expected to Affect the Future of Housing

Posted: August 17, 2010 at 10:28 am by: Leslie

We can almost certainly expect to see a growth and shift in the American population in the years to come, which leaves builders questioning what to build and where to build new homes in the future. Hanley Wood, parent company of Builder, recently held a conference in Washington, DC among scholars, economists, technology experts and demographers to discuss this very issue. Among the data gathered, some of the most interesting came from real estate advisory firm Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO).

According to Charles Hewlett, RCLCO’s managing director and speaker at the Future of Housing Symposium, the American population will increase by another 100 million people by 2040, 60% of that jump within just 22 U.S. markets. Between now and 2025, RCLCO’s research suggests 85% of net household growth will consist of childless households. Some of the major groups leading the way towards changing the face of housing include Generation Y, Women, and Minorities.

If Generation Y, the group born between 1981 and 1999, begins purchasing their first homes within the next few years as expected, there will be more first-time home buyers in the market in 2013 to 2018 than ever before. RCLCO predicts by 2015 women, the majority of the workforce, will dominate the urban landscape preferring a walkable environment. And in the very near future, Hispanics will make up 40 percent of all first-time home buyers.

Hewlett ended his presentation with a few key points for builders:

Want to read the full RCLCO report from the Future of Housing Symposium? Click here.

Fannie Mae Launches New Website to Help Troubled Homeowners

Posted: August 10, 2010 at 10:30 am by: Leslie

For most it’s a nightmare, but for many it’s a reality, finding the perfect home only to be on the verge of losing it later. For those homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage, Fannie Mae has created KnowYourOptions.com where they can learn about options to help them get back on track and avoid foreclosure.

Recently launched, KnowYourOptions.com provides easy-to-understand information and advice in both English and Spanish for all borrowers, not just those with Fannie Mae loans. The website covers options to help you stay in your home and avoid foreclosure, as well as options when you can no longer stay in your home but want to avoid foreclosure.

●  The most important thing is to avoid foreclosure, don’t just walk away from your home.

If you know you need help but are unsure of where to start, the Options Finder is there to assist you. By simply answering a few questions, this feature will determine which options may be right for your situation. Fannie Mae also offers several other helpful resources such calculators, videos, checklists, advice on how to avoid scams and more.

 Scam artists are stealing millions of dollars from distressed homeowners by promising immediate relief from foreclosure.

If you are behind on your mortgage payments, or worried you may be soon, visit KnowYourOptions.com today and learn how you can get back on the right track.

Purchasing a New Home vs. Purchasing a Pre-Owned Home

Posted: August 3, 2010 at 10:00 am by: admin

Written by guest blogger, Cindy James New Homes Group | Century 21 New Millennium 

It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make!  Do you buy a “new home,” or do you select a “pre-owned” home? There are many things you should consider before making your decision.  A used home is typically in an established neighborhood with mature trees, shopping centers, and can be close to schools.  It is often priced lower than a new construction home, and it may have the character or charm that you are looking to purchase.  Unlike an older home, a “new home” is built with the latest energy saving materials, the newest technologies and follows the current building codes. Your new home offers you a clean palette so that you may design your home just the way you want it. Here are some of the things to think about when purchasing a new home vs. purchasing a pre-owned home.

Advantages to consider when buying a new home:

  • Newest architectural designs provide floor plans for today’s life-styles.
  • Enhanced energy efficiency will make your home more comfortable in summer and winter while lowering your energy bills.  (The National Association of REALTORS® poll from June 2010 found that 70% of home buyers are looking for “green” built homes.)  
  • A customized home reflects your personal tastes and desires.
  • Extended builder’s warranty usually provides a 10 year structural warranty, 2 year manufacturer’s warranty on appliances, and a one year walk through with repairs done by the builder.
  • Builders’ incentives typically offer free or reduced price options and /or special financing programs.
  • Your choice: you select the location of a new home community, the builder, your home site, and a floor plan that best meets your housing needs.
  • It is the simplest way to get what you want because you start with a clean slate.
  • You can personalize landscaping for your life-style.
  • There are added amenities such as parks, walking trails, swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf courses that provide a great venue for socializing, exercise and more.
  • You get additional peace of mind from knowing that no one else has lived in your home before you and your family and there’s just something about moving into a brand new home! (more…)
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