Wednesday, December 16, 2009

OBX is a great place to vacation and buy property

Looking for a good investment?
The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a great place to start.  2nd home loans are available and can provide for a future retirement home or a great tax write off.  In addition, there are opportunities available for you to be able to purchase a home that will almost pay for itself while providing the comfort of a get away when you need time away from home.
I have sold and owned property on the OBX for years, there is no better time than now to look into property there.

Give me a call and we can discuss your options.
Chrisine Parrish Va Realtor, NC Associate Broker

Are you thinking about selling and are upside down with your mortgage?

Short Sale Heaven Coming April 5th 2010
Treasury sets guidance to simplify "short sales"
Read on:

If you want to discuss this please call me I have some answers that will help you.  You may e mail me too @


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"If You Don't Buy a House Now, You're Stupid or Broke"

Interest rates are at historic lows but cyclical trends suggest they will soon rise. Home buyers may never see such a chance again, writes Marc Roth

By Marc Roth


If You Don't Buy a House Now, You're Stupid or Broke

Well, you may not be stupid or broke. Maybe you already have a house and you don't want to move. Or maybe you're a Trappist monk and have forsworn all earthly possessions. Or whatever. But if you want to buy a house, now is the time, and if you don't act soon, you will regret it. Here's why: historically low interest rates.

As of today, the average 30-year fixed-rate loan with no points or fees is around 5%. That, as the graph above—which you can find on—shows, is the lowest the rate has been in nearly 40 years.

In fact, rates are so well below historic averages that it should make all current and prospective homeowners take notice of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And it is exactly that, based on what the graph shows us. Let's look at the point on the far left.

In 1970 the rate was approximately 7.25%. After hovering there for a couple of years, it began a trend upward, landing near 10% in late 1973. It settled at 8.5% to 9% from 1974 to the end of 1976. After the rise to 10%, that probably seemed O.K. to most home buyers.

But they weren't happy soon thereafter. From 1977 to 1981, a period of only 60 months, the 30-year fixed rate climbed to 18%. As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, my dad was one of those unluckily stuck needing a loan at that time.

Interest Rate Lessons

And when rates started to decline after that, they took a long time to recede to previous levels. They hit 9% for a brief time in 1986 and bounced around 10% to 11% until 1990. For the next 11 years through 2001, the rates slowly ebbed and flowed downward, ranging from 7% to 9%. We've since spent the last nine years, until very recently, at 6% to 7%. So you can see why 5% is so remarkable.

So, what can we learn from the historical trends and numbers?

First, rates have far further to move upward than downward; for more than 30 years, 7% was the low and 18% the high. The norm was 9% in the 1970s, 10% in the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, 7% to 8% for much of the 1990s, and 6% only over the last handful of years.

Second, the last time the long-term trends reversed from low to high, it took more than 20 years (1970 to 1992) for the rate to get back to where it was, and 30 years to actually start trending below the 1970 low.

Finally, the most important lesson is to understand the actual financial impact the rate has on the cost of purchasing and paying off a home.

Every quarter-point change in interest rates is equivalent to approximately $6,000 for every $100,000 borrowed over the course of a 30-year fixed. While different in each region, for the sake of simplicity, let's assume that the average person is putting $40,000 down and borrowing $200,000 to pay the price of a typical home nationwide. Thus, over the course of the life of the loan, each quarter-point move up in interest rates will cost that buyer $12,000.
Loan Costs

Stay with me now. We are at 5%. As you can see by the graph above, as the economy stabilizes, it is reasonable for us to see 30-year fixed rates climb to 6% within the foreseeable future and probably to a range of 7% to 8% when the economy is humming again. If every quarter of a point is worth $12,000 per $200,000 borrowed, then each point is worth almost $50,000.

Let's put that into perspective. You have a good stable job (yes, unemployment is at 10%, but another way of looking at that figure is that most of us have good stable jobs). You would like to own a $240,000 home. However, even though home prices have steadied, you may be thinking you can get another $5,000 or $10,000 discount if you wait (never mind the $8,500 or $6,500 tax credit due to run out next spring). Or you may be waiting for the news to tell you the economy is "more stable" and it's safe to get back in the pool. In exchange for what you may think is prudence, you will risk paying $50,000 more per point in interest rate changes between now and the time you decide you are ready to buy. And you are ignoring the fact that according to the Case-Shiller index, home prices in most regions have been trending back up for the last several months.

If you are someone who is looking to buy or upgrade in the $350,000-to-$800,000 home price range, and many people out there are, then you're borrowing $300,000 to $600,000. At 7%, the $300,000 loan will cost just under $150,000 more over the lifetime, and the $600,000 loan an additional $300,000, if rates move up just 2% before you pull the trigger.

What I'm trying to impress upon everyone is that if you are planning on being a homeowner now and/or in the foreseeable future, or if you are looking to move your family into a bigger home, then pay more attention to the interest rates than the price of the home. If you have a steady job, good credit, and the down payment, then you really are being offered the gift of a lifetime.

Marc Roth is the founder and president of Home Warranty of America, which touches just about every part of the real estate industry since it sells through builders, real estate agents, title companies, mortgage companies, and directly to consumers.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Proactive or Reactive?

Proactive or Reactive?
Steven Covey says principles are "natural laws that govern the world." To attain a proactive mind-set, he emphasizes one must create beneficial relationships, build trust and commit to self-renewal. "To be trusted, you must be trustworthy over time," Covey asserts. As for self-renewal, he says renewal means "preserving and enhancing your greatest asset - yourself.”  

It's up to You

Everyone makes choices. Their outlook on life, whether at home, at work, behind the wheel or at the theater, directly correlates to the decision to be either positive or negative. In essence, it's as simple as whether you see the glass half full or half empty. As author Stephen R. Covey puts it in his much publicized book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,* you can choose to be proactive or you can choose to be reactive. He takes his theory a step further, saying that a proactive stance leads to greater success and contentment. From that perspective, a reactive person is sabotaging himself or herself.

Covey contends that every single day, people have 100 opportunities to be proactive or reactive. Let's say you're in your car on the freeway and an overly zealous driver is practically sitting on your tail in the fast lane. You're driving at the speed limit, actually a couple of miles faster than the law permits. But the motorist behind you thinks he's at the Indy 500. You can stay where you are, infuriate him and possibly get rear-ended. Or, you can move out of harm's way, to that opening in the right-hand lane and let him pass. He's in the wrong, and there's no question about it. Will you follow his lead? Will you be proactive or reactive? It's up to you.

"If you ignore the principles of human effectiveness, you (can) work very hard, but still not get what you want," Covey says. Say that you've been working with a prospective client for the past three weeks, really putting a lot of effort into the new relationship. Then you learn, through some mutual acquaintance, that this would-be client ended up going to a competitor for the same service. It happens, and you don't have to necessarily blame yourself. But, you should take time to reflect on the past three weeks. Were you really proactive or were you reactive? How did you interact with the client?

Covey says principles are "natural laws that govern the world." To attain a proactive mind-set, he emphasizes one must create beneficial relationships, build trust and commit to self-renewal. "To be trusted, you must be trustworthy over time," Covey asserts. As for self-renewal, he says renewal means "preserving and enhancing your greatest asset - yourself.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Shopping online is a great way to find deals. But, if you're not careful, you could be putting your personal information at risk of being stolen by identity thieves.

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself while shopping – or doing anything – online. Follow these tips to protect your personal information while buying gifts this year.

1. Never shop online from a public Wi-Fi connection. Hackers can tap into Wi-Fi connections at hotspots, such as coffee shops, airports and hotels, to capture your personal information. If you must use public Wi-Fi, you can download for free the AnchorFree HotSpot Shield to hide your IP address while you're online and protect your computer from snoopers. Also, never use a public computer to shop or check accounts online.

2. Don't use your smartphone to shop. Hackers can use the same tactics for tapping into your smartphone as they use for your laptop or PC.

3. Don't use your debit card for online shopping. If hackers steal your debit-card information and raid your bank account, you must report any misuse within two days to get the same $50 limited liability as you would with a credit card. Miss that deadline but report your loss within 60 days and you could be liable for up to $500. After 60 days, your liability is unlimited.

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended & Expanded

On November 6, 2009, President Obama signed a bill into law that immediately extended the popular tax credit program offering up to $8,000 for qualified first-time homebuyers (FTHBs) into the first half of 2010.

The bill also instantly expanded the program, offering up to $6,500 in tax credits for qualified repeat home buyers, swinging open the door for even more qualified homebuyers to take advantage of this valuable opportunity at a time when mortgage rates are still near historical lows.

First-Time Buyers

For FTHBs (defined as someone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title), the basic rules remain the same, with one important exception – higher income limits are now in place, increasing the pool of potential buyers eligible for the tax credit of up to 10% of the purchase price or up to $8,000. This is money that does not have to be repaid as long you stay in your new home for at least 36 months.

Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are now eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap (but less than $145,000) can receive a partial credit. Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap (but less than $245,000) can receive a partial credit.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Housing and Economy Headed for Sustainable Recovery; First-Time Homebuyers Lead the Way

Aided by the home buyer tax credit, the outlook for housing and the economy appears headed for a sustainable recovery, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the projections are enhanced by a tax credit expansion to more home buyers through the middle of 2010. “Given the success of the first-time buyer tax credit to date, and the need for qualified buyers to continue to absorb inventory that will include additional foreclosures over the coming year, we are hopeful about the impact of the expanded tax credit because it will stabilize home prices,” he said. “In fact, the credit is working better than first projected – it now looks like we’ll have 2.3 to 2.4 million first-time buyers this year.”

The 2009 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, shows first-time buyers accounted for a record 47% share of home sales over the past year, up from 41% in the 2008 survey. The share has risen steadily since a cyclical low of 36% in 2006.

Existing-home sales are expected to total 5.01 million in 2009, a gain of 2.0% over last year, and then are forecast to rise 13.6% to 5.69 million in 2010. “A steady draw down of inventory will help home values to turn positive in 2010, but risks such as unemployment remain in the economy,” Yun said.

New-home sales are projected at 397,000 this year, recovering to 549,000 in 2010. Housing starts, including multifamily units, should total 564,000 units this year but grow to 752,000 in 2010.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will probably average 5.3% in the fourth quarter, rising gradually to 5.8% by the end of next year. NAR’s housing affordability index will set a record in 2009, averaging 30 percentage points higher than 2008. Affordability will decline from record highs next year but will remain at historically attractive levels for home buyers.

“We’ve seen a steady downtrend in housing inventory for well over a year and home prices appear to be in the early stages of stabilizing. With the expansion of the tax credit to additional buyers through the middle of next year, and no major unforeseen events impacting the economy, home prices should rise between 3 and 5% in 2010, but with wide geographic differences,” Yun said. He expects growth in the U.S. gross domestic product to be at a pace of 2.5% in the current quarter, with GDP up 2.8% in 2010.

The unemployment rate is close to peaking and is projected to ease to 9.5% by the end of next year.

“The size of the U.S. budget deficit is a concern going forward, and carries the risk of higher inflation. At this point, that risk appears to be restrained,” Yun said. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is seen contracting 0.4% this year, then rising 1.6% in 2010. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is estimated to grow 0.4% this year and 1.2% next year.

Video on first time home buyers tax credit

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting ready to sell? Here are some tips.....

HomeGain’s recent survey shows the top do-it-yourself home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers. HomeGain received responses from nearly 1,000 Realtors nationwide and configured a list of the top 12 do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements that cost under $5,000 and benefit sellers most when they sell their homes.

According to the HomeGain survey, the top five home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers based on cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:

1. Cleaning and de-cluttering
2. Home staging
3. Lightening and brightening
4. Landscaping
5. Repairing plumbing 

Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2000), recommended by 98% of Realtors, costing less than $200 and returning a value of nearly $1,700 to the home’s sale price, or an 872% return on investment.

“Many Realtors agree, especially in a buyer’s market, that sellers who make these recommended home improvements often get their homes sold faster and at higher prices,” stated Louis Cammarosano, General Manager at HomeGain. “We have customized our Home Sale Maximizer online home improvement tool to help identify and prioritize the projects that can increase the salability and selling price of a home.”

Rounding out the top 12, the list of low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements includes: updating electrical, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, updating kitchen, painting outside of home, and updating bathroom/s.

The home improvement projects with the highest price increases to a home’s resale value are updating the kitchen ($1,200 cost / $2,850 price increase), followed by painting the outside of the home ($900 cost / $1,815 price increase) and home staging ($300 cost / $1,780 price increase).

“Inexpensive cosmetic home improvements and basic improvements greatly enhance the value of the home,” stated Carol Wilson of Carpenter Real Estate in Indianapolis, IN, HomeGain AgentEvaluator member since 1999.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The details for condo purchasers

A Hampton Roads condo is a desireable product for a large number of buyers. Choose well and Make sure you do your homework! By Law you have the right to review the condo docs to get the answers. Know your questions first.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Hampton Roads Condo Association:

If you’re looking at buying a Hampton Roads condo, you need to be aware that there are condominium associations that oversee condo developments just like there are homeowner’s associations that oversee subdivisions. However, they may not work the same and can vary widely from condo to condo. Here are a few things you need to ask the association before signing that contract:

1. What’s the ratio of owner-occupied to tenant-occupied units? More owner-occupied units means better marketability if you want to resell.

2. Do the assessments rise with inflation? This doesn’t sound like a good thing, but matching assessments with the rate of inflation means the ability to build reserves for any future repairs.

3. What does the assessment cover (trash collection, condo maintenance, etc.) in the Hampton Roads condo? Some association assessments may not cover recreational facilities, for instance, while other condos’ assessments may cover a broad range of areas.

4. What is the turnover in the building? If it’s high, that’s an indication of issues you may not be familiar with.

5. How much of the assessments do they keep in reserve and for what? How do they invest the money? If you’re paying fees and assessments, you want to make sure they aren’t spent frivolously.

6. Are they involved in a lawsuit? If the condo is in litigation, those reserves can disappear quickly.

7. How reputable is the builder? If you can, visit other projects and ask the residents how they feel about their place. Get an engineer’s report to find out if the building is in good shape. Any problems that are there when you buy are yours once you sign the contract.

8. What are the condominium’s bylaws, restrictions, covenants and grandfather clauses? You want to make sure you can live with them. In addition, you’ll want an attorney to look over the documents with you.

9. Is more than one association involved? The larger the development, the more likely that there are umbrella associations. Several associations can mean several assessments.

If you’re looking for a condo that perfectly fits your lifestyle and needs, I can help.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Distressed Properties Lend Opportunities for Everyone

We’ve heard a lot about the ‘perfect storm’ over the past year—appreciating home prices, plus loans gone bad, plus unemployment equals a devastating downturn for real estate. But there’s another perfect storm you should know about: distressed properties,  plus HUD’s FHA 203k rehab loans.

Real Estate is the best avenue to build wealth and there are opportunities for everyone in this market. Are you thinking about a move or interested in investing in real estate?   We have the knowledge and resources to find the fit for you and help you with a property purchase or sale.

Contact me to discuss the opportunities available.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tax Credit to extend and offer $6,500 to others

The amendment would extend the existing $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers and offer a new $6,500 credit for existing homeowners who have lived in their current residence for a consecutive five-year period within the past eight years. Under the amendment, home buyers would be required to be under contract by April 30 and close before July 1.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Daylight Savings Time - Set your clocks back Sat night!

                         Some Useful Trivia!
Since 2007, Daylight Saving Time has actually been four weeks longer, thanks to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks in an attempt to save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, the Department of Energy (DOE) says that it's difficult to determine actual energy savings, if any, as a result of Daylight Saving Time. But, there are definitely some easy steps you can take to save significantly on your household energy bills.

Did you know that water heating can account for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in your home, especially in the coming months? According to the DOE, it's true. With this in mind, we thought we'd share with you a few of the DOE's energy-efficient water heating strategies to help you save throughout the holidays.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.  
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.  
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.  
  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads. Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency.  
  • Consider natural-gas on-demand or tankless water heaters. Researchers have found savings can be up to 30% compared with a standard natural-gas storage tank water heater.  
  • Consider installing a drain water waste heat recovery system. A recent DOE study showed energy savings of 25% to about 30% for water heating using such a system.
  • Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.  
  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.

Have a safe and happy Halloween – and enjoy your "extra hour" of standard time. Call us if you want to explore the real estate market.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit

The senate is favoring the extension of the first time home buyers tax credit. The 8,000 tax credit can be used to offset closing costs and down payments. In working with this group of buyers, I have found that the possibility of owning a home has been extended to people allowing them to take advantage of the foreclosures and low priced properties that exist in our market inventory. Don't hesitate to look into the possibilities available for you or someone that you know could benefit from this amazing gift. Read information provided on my website to gain additional information or contact me.