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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Owners of Underwater Homes Should Consider Refinancing Options

The number of underwater homes, or those that are in negative equity, decreased in the third quarter of 2011, a new report has found. The findings may mean more current homeowners are in a good financial position to consider a mortgage refinance or even think about buying a home.

Homeowners with negative equity owe more on their homes than they are worth. The number of properties in negative equity decreased to 22.1 percent, or 10.7 million homeowners,  in the third quarter of 2011, while an additional 2.4 million borrowers were in near-negative equity, which comprises properties who owners have less than 5 percent equity. Overall, properties in negative or near-negative equity dropped by 0.4 percent from the second quarter.

Homeownership Escalating Among U.S. Hispanics

The burgeoning U.S. Hispanic population now accounts for half of new homebuyers in the United States.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, during the third quarter of 2011, the number of Hispanics who owned a home surged to 6.49 million, up from 6.21 million in the second quarter.

Owning Cheaper than Renting in Several U.S. Cities

In 15 major United States metro areas, prospective property buyers are facing lower costs than prospective property renters.

The monthly cost of owning a home has reached a 15-year low as housing prices declined in all but five of the 28 major metropolitan areas in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. These new figures, coupled with a surge in the costs of renting, have created a market that is favorable to homeownership.

Connecticut County Lone Exception to Steady Loan Limits

Prospective homebuyers in Fairfield County, Connecticut, may be less likely to require jumbo loans to purchase properties following a Federal Housing Finance Agency ruling on loan limits for 2012.

No other county in the United States will be subjected to a shift in the loan limit. Following positive news of increased home values, Fairfield County will see its limit increase from $575,000 this year to $601,450 next year.

October Home Sales Increase By 14 Percent Over 2010 Level

Prospective homebuyers should continue to invest in properties while prices are still low and more homes are available for purchase.

According to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing-home sales in October rose 1.4 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.97 million, which also represents a 13.5 percent increase over October 2010 levels. In addition, unsold home inventory rates have been declining since July 2008, when a record 4.58 million homes were available. October rates fell 2.2 percent to 3.33 million.

Reports: Congress Poised to Increase FHA Loan Limits

Long-established conforming loan limits expired September 30, decreasing the volume of mortgages that would qualify for backing from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and increasing the number that would have to be qualified as jumbo loans.

Now, congressional sources tell a number of publications that lawmakers in Congress plan to increase FHA loan limits once again, pushing the floor for jumbo loans back to $729,750 - the previous limit - in the highest-priced cities. 

Fixed-rate Loans in High Demand During Mortgage Refinance Process

Low interest rates have encouraged many homeowners to seek a mortgage refinance in recent years, and the vast majority are refinancing to shorter fixed-rate loans, according to a new industry report.

The government-sponsored entity Freddie Mac released its most recent Quarterly Transition Product Report this week, which described homeowners' preferences when negotiating a mortgage refinance during the third quarter of 2011. According to the report, 95 percent of borrowers chose to refinance to a fixed-rate loan during that period.

NAR: Buying a Home to Continue to be Affordable in 2012

As 2010 came to an end, many economists and housing experts predicted mortgage rates would rise from record-low levels in the following year. However, 2011 has again been dominated by low interest rates on adjustable- and fixed-rate loans, making buying a home more affordable for many consumers.

According to the latest projections from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), those homebuyer-friendly conditions could extend into 2012, which again might lead to more consumers buying a home.

FHA Loans Remain Popular Among First-Time Homebuyers

A new real estate industry report sheds light on the habits and preferences of consumers buying a home, revealing that more than half of first-time homebuyers turned to low down payment loan options from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA).

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers last week. According to the report, 54 percent of first-time homebuyers sought an FHA loan to finance their home purchase, while 6 percent relied on VA loans.

Housing Important to 70 Percent of American Voters

The 2012 presidential primaries continue to wage on, and many Americans are falling on either side of the political divide. However, one constant remains consumers' concern with federal housing policies, as a great number of Americans say this issue will be important to them when evaluating candidates.

Move, Inc., an online real estate service, commissioned a nationwide survey by OmniTel that showed 69.6 percent of Americans will seriously consider candidates' positions on housing policies this election season.