Category: Housing Trends

Great news for first time buyers with less than stellar credit and little cash on hand, the credit score requirements with some lenders have become more favorable! Two of the largest lenders recently announced (with very little publicity) that the “overlay” requirements (lender mandated requirements that supersede FHA guidelines) on fico scores.

The two participating banks are Wells Fargo and Quicken Loans, and the new minimum requirements are a 580 fico score and 3.5% down payment.Let me repeat that: THE NEW MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS ARE A 580 FICO SCORE AND 3.5% DOWN PAYMENT!!!! That is down considerably from a previous minimum fico of 620.The reason lenders had gave prior for imposing higher guidelines was that they need an extra cushion of protection to shield them from borrows with a higher risk of default. The “overlays” contributed to the cost of obtaining a loan in the form of points and fees.

As everyone knows, many have gone through financial difficulties over the past few years, which has affected credit scores and decimated bank statements. It is refreshing news to hear that some lenders are willing to take a calculated risk, and present a scenario where both the borrower and lender win.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation.Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Anaheim, and Brea.



Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Two separate industry reports released Thursday show that mortgage interest rates across the board retreated this week, beginning the new year slightly lower than levels seen at the end of 2010, and still well below where they sat at the beginning of last year even with the sharp run-ups witnessed during November and December.

Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac, says the downward movement, however slight, “should help aid the recovery in the housing market.” Nothaft is expecting long-term mortgage interest rates to hold below the 5 percent threshold throughout 2011, although some degree of ups and downs is likely over the course of the year.

Freddie Mac’s latest rate survey found that for the week ending January 6, 2011, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.77 percent (0.8 point). That’s down from 4.86 percent the previous week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 5.09 percent.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage came in at 4.13 percent (0.8 point) in the GSE’s study, down from 4.20 percent last week. By comparison, during the first week of 2010, the 15-year rate was reported to be 4.50 percent.

Short-term rates also dropped this week in Freddie Mac’s survey. The 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) fell from 3.77 percent last week to 3.75 percent (0.7 point). The 1-year ARM slipped from 3.26 percent to 3.24 percent (0.6 point). Both were above the 4 percent mark this time last year.

Freddie Mac’s weekly rate survey is based on data gathered from about 125 lenders across the country. A separate study released by Bankrate Thursday, which derives its figures from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 U.S. markets, also showed declines for both long- and short-term loan products.

According to Bankrate’s survey, the benchmark conforming 30-year fixed-rate fell back to 4.94 percent (0.42 point) for the week ending January 6. That’s down from 5.02 percent reported the week before.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage retreated to 4.32 percent (0.41 point), falling from 4.39 percent last week, while the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate dropped from 5.64 percent to 5.59 percent.

Adjustable rate mortgages were mostly lower, as well, with the average 3-year ARM sinking to 3.9 percent and the 5-year ARM dipping to 3.99 percent in the tracking company’s study.

“After a sharp run-up in mortgage rates that started in early November, mortgage rates have spent the past month bouncing back-and-forth over the 5 percent mark,” Bankrate noted in its report. “While mortgage rates stayed range-bound through the holiday season, the tone of economic data has been decidedly better and a looming jobs report could push mortgage rates higher if it shows evidence of increased hiring.”

Bankrate surveys a panel of mortgage experts each week to gauge which direction they think rates will head. Half of the panelists this week said they expect mortgage rates to climb over the next seven days, while 31 percent say they’ll remain essentially unchanged.


Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.


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▪ Mortgage rates will stay low. Even with rates climbing — maybe to as high as 6 percent by 2012 — they are still well below where they have been historically.
▪ Tax cuts could help. Extending the tax cuts could encourage a more rapid recovery for the economy.
▪ Americans want to be home owners. A recent Fannie Mae survey showed that Americans still believe a home is a safe and desirable investment.
▪ Builders are about to begin building. Home builders have been sitting on the sidelines. This year, they think pent-up demand will create an appetite for new homes.
▪ Homes are shrinking. Homes are getting smaller, which has made them more affordable.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate?
Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Source: Investopedia, Michele Lerner (12/24/2010)


1.  Reality check yourself . . . before you wreck yourself (and the sale of your home, that is). The age-old real estate advice to wanna-be sellers is to get real about pricing – and like my sweet Grandma’s advice about always rinsing the cake batter out with cold water, never hot, the caution against overpricing is advice that will stand you in good stead. (And that cold water trick works, btw – rinsing with hot starts to cook the batter to the bowl!  But I digress)  Before you even get to pricing, though, first you should get real about what your goals really are. Why do you want or need to sell?  And how badly – how important is it to you?  What would it take to make selling make sense?  If you even think you may want to sell your home next year, get clear on these items in your own head before you even talk to anyone outside of your household. Your very next step is to look at your mortgage account statement online and find out what you owe, and find out what your payoff amount would be.

Step 3? Get a reality-based idea of what your home is worth – by talking with several local real estate agents who have a strong, recent track record of succesfully selling homes in your area; these are the folks who’ll have a strong idea of what recent sales are the most comparable to yours, and what a local buyer would agree to pay for your home, as well as what it might appraise at. If 3 agents give you one range, and one gives you a bizarrely higher number, be skeptical about the outlier; there are rare bad apples out there in the agent world who will tell you whatever it takes to get the listing.  Get real and stay there – don’t fall prey to the fallacy that your home is worth more than others, for no substantive reason beyond the fact that, well, it’s yours.

Then, move toward making a decision about whether selling actually makes sense for you. Whatever you do, don’t let your mental GPS steer you anywhere near that fantasyland where all your plans for selling, moving, etc. rest on the hypothetical that you can get 25% more than your home’s actual fair market value. That sort of magical thinking costs you and your agent the time, inconvenience and money it takes to try to conjure up a sale that just ain’t gonna happen, and that doesn’t even count the opportunity costs of other things you could be doing with those resources. If your home’s current value is bizarrely less than you want or need to move on, consider a short sale and price it appropriately or consider staying put and sprucing up your home so it better suits your needs – but don’t price it at your “wishful thinking” price and set yourself and your agent up for failure.

2.  Figure out the lay of your local land.  National blogs and media outlets offer all sorts of useful advice about whether, how and when to sell your home, but there’s one thing that sort of advice cannot convey: what’s going on in your local market. Get active in Trulia Voices, ask questions and read blogs in your local market and start talking with the real estate brokers and agents from your area who are actively blogging, listing properties and answering questions. They can give you the hyperlocal essentials you need to knows.  Sure, it’s a buyer’s market nationwide, on average.  But if you live in Omaha, that may mean that homes sell at or near asking in 45 days or less; in Mesa, Arizona, your home could stay on the market 6 months and sell for 30% below asking.  In my neck of the woods, it’s not bizarre for homes to sell at 5 percent above asking, in two weeks – and that’s still a buyer’s market compared to the 20% above asking sales that were common in 2006.  

Every market is different, and you can neither know what to expect when you list your home for sale, nor implement smart strategies for getting your home sold without knowing what’s going on in yours. 

3.  Tour nearby Open Houses. Your job, as the seller of your home, is to present a compelling package to buyers – compelling enough to make them sign away 30 years of their lives and the vast majority of their worldly possessions in exchange for your home (kinda ups the ante, doesn’t it?). To do that, it helps to get inside the minds of your home’s target buyers.  And to do that, you need to think how they think and see what they see.

Visiting the other homes your target buyers will also see online and/or in real life will give you a sense for how your home’s price and condition will measure up to the competition.  Go view other homes that are for sale in your area, making sure you see at least a few that fall into each of these categories: (a) properties in your neighborhood or similar neighborhoods, (b) homes in your home’s general price range, all around town, and (c) homes that have similar numbers of bedrooms, bathrooms and square feet – no matter what the price. You’ll likely end up seeing homes in a wide range when it comes to price and condition; know that your home, to sell, will need to beat these on one or both measures. Also, if you try to go to at least a few open houses, rather than just asking your agent to show them to you at your convenience, you’ll also get a sense for what sort of buyer traffic you can expect from open houses, and you can even chat with those home’s listing agents about local market dynamics and what factors they believe may help or hurt that particular listing.

4.  Formulate a plan: in A-B-C order.  Collaborate with your broker or agent to put an action plan in place.  Make sure you address: list price, list date, showing arrangements and the property prep work (see #5, below) that your agent recommends you do prior to listing the place. To minimize the stress of a somewhat inevitably stressful experience (i.e., selling your home!), work with your agent on Plans B and C now, too!  What is the average number of days a home stays on the market in your area before it sells (DOM)?  (Hint:  don’t look at the ones that never sold, because you don’t want to be part of that group!)  Decide up front if your home sits on the market for X number of days with no offer, you’ll lower the price to Y.  Also cover alternative marketing plans/vehicles for your home, and even calendar when you might start to offer transactional incentives, like closing cost credits, interest rate buy-downs, throwing in personal property and even making reverse offers to buyers who have expressed an interest but can’t seem to get off the fence. At some point along the timeline, include a pause where your agent can interview buyer’s brokers who have shown your home to collect buyer feedback, so you can course correct your pricing, marketing or staging strategies accordingly.

5.  Do your prep work – fix and pre-pack.  If you are sure you’re selling in 2011, and want to put your holiday vacay time to good use, make a list of all those little repairs you’ve been wanting to do forever, call up your neighborhood handyperson and get ’em done. Loose knobs and handles, double-hung windows that are painted shut, the frayed carpet on the steps, that broken bathroom tile – fixing those things can give your place just the patina and polish it’ll take to compete with the ample, low-priced competition you’ll have next year.

It may be tough for non-distressed home sellers to compete with foreclosures and short sales on price.  But one area where individual home sellers usually can best the competition is CONDITION! Your home can present to buyers in tip-top  condition in a way that most foreclosures and short sales cannot.  And this includes staging – most foreclosures will be shown vacant, and/or with the debris of the former owner’s lives tragically littering the premises.  Short sales are usually (but not always) a bit better, but are most often shown fully occupied, furnished and cluttered – just as the owners live in them, because of the distressed nature of the sale.  As a non-distressed home’s seller, it behooves you to ensure that your home’s curb appeal is at it’s best and that throughout the interior, the buyer is able to visualize the lovely life they can, scratch that, WILL live once they buy and move into your home.  Depersonalizing and decluttering are essential to this staging effort- put most of the personal items that make your home yours in a box, like you’re getting ready to move (which you are!) and leave your place in as close to model-home move-in condition as possible.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Source: Tara-Nicholle Nelson of trulia

Real Estate = Big Money

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Kathleen O’Reilly of Re/Max Horizon in Elgin, Ill., should get a medal for showing houses.

A recent client looked at 45 houses before deciding on one. And you guessed it: The buyer settled on the first one O’Reilly had shown him. The place had everything the buyer wanted, the Illinois agent says, but he looked at 44 others before feeling confident that he was getting the best deal possible.
“Buyers have read a lot about foreclosures, short sales and how desperate sellers are,” says Sarah Ritter, a Re/Max Properties agent in nearby Western Springs, Ill., who is working with a couple who have looked at more than 40 houses and have yet to make an offer. 

“They feel there is this fabulous deal out there, a mansion with all the bells and whistles,” Ritter says. “They are convinced the next house they look at will be a better deal, and with so much inventory now on the market, they keep looking and looking.”

It’s not just a northern Illinois phenomenon either. It’s happening all across the country. Agents use words like “petrified” and “paralyzed” to describe “unsure” buyers. And who can blame them? After all, no one wants to buy a house now only to see it drop in value as soon as they move in, or maybe even before they take title.

At the same time, though, people are buying houses, and according to the latest figures from the National Assn. of Realtors, first-timers are leading the charge. Rookie buyers now account for a record 50% of all sales.

How can buyers find their way through a mountain of distressed properties and regular old houses for sale? Here are some suggestions:

•Be committed. If you want to be successful, says Roberta Baldwin, an agent with Keller Williams New Jersey Metro Group in Essex County, N.J., you need that same sense of urgency that buyers exhibited during the real-estate run-up.

Today’s buyers “just aren’t committed to the search in the same dogged ways buyers were in the high market, when they thought if they didn’t catch the wave, they’d never see another one,” Baldwin says. Her advice: Stop fitting in the house hunt only when you have some extra time. Rather, make it a priority.

•Be ready. With lenders making it difficult to obtain a mortgage, it’s more important than ever to line up financing in advance. “It’s not a buyer’s market; it’s an able buyer’s market,” points out Beverly Meaux of Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, N.J.

Besides, knowing in advance how large a loan you qualify for will prevent you from looking at houses you can’t afford, even if you expect to be a hard negotiator.

•Do your homework. Smart buyers in today’s market “have already studied the market and are ready to jump on a good deal when it comes along,” says Juan Vazquez of RSVP Homes Realty in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Meaux agrees. She has had clients who have purchased after seeing only two or three houses. But they were ready only because they “have been researching for about a year and going to open houses,” the northern New Jersey agent says.

•Have a plan. Know what you want in advance. Identify the key features you need — the number of bedrooms, for example, or the number of bathrooms — and then refine your search. That way, you will be able to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer number of houses that are available, says Christina Holmes of Re/Max Real Estate Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

When one of Kent Dover’s clients becomes immobilized because of the sheer number of houses that seem to fill his bill, the Hot Springs, Ark., broker helps him create a list of “musts” and “wants.” Such a wish list “has been very effective in keeping buyers on track,” says Dover, of ERA Rushing McAdams Polychron.

•Get organized. Holmes in Tennessee points out that technology lets buyers preview properties online without ever leaving their living rooms. You can see pictures, videos, satellite views and then venture out to actually visit the three or four you like the most.

On the other hand, many agents say buyers can’t look at too many houses. For example, Julie Holden of JB Goodwin Realtors in Austin, Texas, suggests that buyers take advantage of the buyer’s market and “see everything.”

If there are two dozen places that meet your criteria, Holden suggests you “drive by every single one of them, take notes, compare details, and make an informed choice. It’s terrific that buyers have this luxury.”

•Start the process. Be ready to begin the negotiations. Otherwise, you could miss out on a great opportunity.

O’Reilly, the Elgin, Ill., agent, encourages her clients to make an offer when they find a house they like, even if the first number is well below the asking price.

“At worst, the seller won’t negotiate,” she says. “But in this market, that is unlikely. Sellers don’t want a viable buyer to walk away.”

Avoid distractions. Don’t be diverted by media reports that prices are still falling. They may well be, but perhaps not where you want to buy. All real estate is local, so find out what’s going on where you are looking.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Source:  Lew Sichelman/ Los Angeles Times

 Predictions for 2011
Freddie Mac analysts point to five features that they believe will likely characterize the 2011 housing and mortgage markets:

1. Low mortgage rates. With Fed observers expecting the central bank to keep the federal funds rate at its current target range of 0 percent to 0.25 percent for most (or all) of 2011, relatively low mortgage rates will be a feature of the 2011 mortgage market. Thirty-year fixed-rate loans are likely to remain below 5 percent throughout the year, and initial rates of 5/1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages will likely remain below 4 percent in 2011.

2. Prices have hit bottom. House prices are likely to begin a gradual, but sustained recovery in the second half of 2011.

3. Housing will remain affordable. With affordability high, many first-time buyers will be attracted to the housing market in the New Year, likely translating into more home sales in 2011 than in 2010.

4. Refinances will dwindle. Many eligible borrowers have already refinanced and the federal Making Home Affordable refinance program is expiring on June 30. While fixed-rate loans are likely to remain low, they will move up gradually, making it even less likely that refinances will be attractive to most home owners.

5. Delinquency rates will decline. Based on the last several business cycles, the share of loans that are 90 or more days delinquent or in foreclosure proceedings — known as the “seriously delinquent rate” — generally crests within a year of the start of the recovery in payroll employment, and this economic recovery appears to fit within that pattern. Payrolls began to rise last January, and by the spring the seriously delinquent rate had begun to fall.)

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Source: Freddie Mac (12/09/2010)

Mortgage Guaranty Building, aka City Lofts, 62...

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There are lots of purchases that are highly prone to impulse buying: shoes on sale, puppies at the pound, and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream frosting come instantly to mind. (But that’s just me.)

But houses?  Not so much. Savvy, regret-free homebuying can take weeks or months of financial and lifestyle research and planning.  If you want 2011 to be the year you become a homeowner, here are 5 things you should be doing, as we speak.

1.  Minimize your holiday spending and save your cash. Instead of using the holiday sales to acquire a new winter wardrobe of cashmere sweaters, hold the discretionary spending down so you can give yourself the gift of homeownership!  If you are serious about buying a home next year, don’t run up additional credit card debt on gifts this year. Instead, make homemade cards or write holiday letters this year for everyone except the kiddos.  And even for the kids, consider scaling back on the stuff, spending more of your time with them than your money, and getting started now saving toward your home purchase. (I don’t think too many folks would argue that a less materialistic holiday season would hurt anyone, at any age.) 

Kickstart your 2011 homebuying resolution by starting a “Home” savings account at an high-interest, online bank (the discipline-boosting goal is a bank that isn’t super easy to transfer funds out of when you run low on cash), and set up an automatic deposit into it every payday. To get specific about your savings goal, if you’re cash-flush, obviously a 20% down payment will get you top notch interest rates and provide you with the maximum ability to manage your monthly payments. If you’re going to be more of a bootstrapping buyer, an FHA loan might be right up your alley – they offer a down payment of 3.5% of the purchase price. 

All buyers should plan to have at least 3 percent of the purchase price saved up for closing costs, even if you want the seller to chip in.  The lower-priced the home you want to buy, the more percentage points you should be willing to chip in for closing costs.  It’s easy for closing costs on an $150,000 FHA loan to run as high as $4,000 or more, considering transfer taxes, inspections, appraisals and mortgage insurance fees. So, even the scrappiest buyer should have a savings target somewhere around 6.5% of their target home’s price.  To buy a $200,000 home, for example, that would mean a savings target of $13,000.

2.  Research financing, areas homes, prices, agents and online. Smart homebuying takes a lot of research and knowledge-gathering.  Since most buyers find it much harder to qualify for a mortgage than it is to find a home you’d love to live in, start with studying up on home financing and what it will take for you to get a home loan (note: FHA loans are preferred by the average homebuyer on today’s market who has less than a 10% down payment, so start your research there). 

If you’re considering relocating next year, now’s the time to start narrowing down states, cities and even neighborhoods that may or may not work for you. Take into account the job market, housing and other costs of living, and income and property tax rates, as well as the critical lifestyle inputs that vary from state-to-state, like weather and whether the place is a personality fit for you and the life you want to live, be it urban sophisticate or outdoors adventurer. 

Also, start to develop a feel for home prices in a what-you-get-for-your-money type way, and start narrowing down the home styles and even neighborhoods that might fit your aesthetic preferences and lifestyle.  If you’re one of those rare buyers-to-be who is not already obsessively house hunting, hop on Trulia and start regularly checking out homes and neighborhoods, making sure to take advantage of the neighborhood ratings and reviews feature, which empowers you to surface what other folks think and say about an area. 

3.  Rehab your credit, if you need to.  Go to and check out your credit reports – from all 3 bureaus – for free. (Note – these will not give you your credit score for free – that costs extra, but it will give you the actual detailed credit reports.)  Audit them for errors and do the work of disputing inaccuracies to have them corrected. Pay particular attention to: accounts that are not yours/you never opened, derogatory information that should have “aged off” your report by now (i.e., 7 years for late payments, 10 for bankruptcies) and balances or credit limits that are inaccurate (i.e., your credit card balance is listed at $2500, but you actually only owe $250.)  These are the errors most likely to foul up your financing, so follow the instructions each bureau provides to correct them, stat. While you’re at it, don’t close any accounts, even if you are able to pay some down or off – actually, check out these tips for getting the bank to give you the best possible home loan, without unintentionally making your score worse!

4.  Run your numbers. In the past, some overextended homeowners complained that they felt pushed into a mortgage they couldn’t afford. Pundits blamed that on the real estate and mortgage industry, but I have witnessed firsthand many a homebuyer push themselves or their spouses into buying too expensive of a home. Eliminate this issue entirely by doing this – run your own numbers, before you ever even talk to a salesperson or start looking at homes beyond your means. (I assure you, once you see the million dollar home you think you can afford, the $250,000 home you can actually afford will be underwhelming.)

Get your monthly finances in order, and get a clear read on how much your monthly bills are – outside of housing. Decide how much you can afford to spend every month for housing, when you buy your home.  Get clear on exactly how much cash you plan to have at hand to put into your transaction up front.  When, in the next step, you begin working with a mortgage broker, you’ll want to share these numbers with them, early on in your conversation, to empower them to tell you what home price you can afford – not based on their rubrics, but based on what you say you want to spend every month and what you want to put down.

5.  Talk to a real estate and mortgage broker (1 of each). Trulia is a great place to find an engaged, communicative, tech-savvy real estate broker or agent in your area.  You can use our Find a Pro directory or simply start participating in the Trulia Voices Community, asking your questions and tagging them for the town where you plan to buy a home, and paying attention to the agents who give timely, thorough responses to your questions, and communicate in a language you understand. 

Drop one (or a few) an email, letting them know you’d like to work on putting an action plan together for buying a home next year, and would like to talk with them about what action steps need to go on the list. Ask them to brief you on the timeline of a transaction in your local market, and to point out for you things like when along the process you’ll need to bring money in, when you’ll need to miss work and come into their office or the closing office, whether they offer conveniences like digital document signing, and generally the local standard practices about which buyers you’ll need to know.  Depending on your target home purchase timeline, they might even want you to take a spin with them and look at a few properties to reality-check your expectations or narrow down a broad wish list. 

In addition to chatting with them about timing your purchase vis-à-vis your other life events and plans for the year, make sure to ask for referrals to a local, trustworthy mortgage broker or two – preferably one that has worked with them and closed a number of transactions with their clients.  (In fact, many busy real estate pros will want you to talk with their trusty mortgage partner before they get too involved in your planning process.  You may think you only need a month to get ready to buy, but once the mortgage folks weigh in, it might turn out that you actually need a few.)  When you do get in touch with the mortgage maven, if you’re serious about buying, you will want them to actually pull your credit report, check the actual FICO scores that come up on their system and give you their professional recommendations for what final tweaks you can do to your debts to get your credit score where it needs to be.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Source: Tara Nelson of  Trulia

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its tallies of new mortgage activity Wednesday for the week ending December 3, 2010.

The trade group’s index of mortgage applications for the purchase of a home jumped 1.8 percent. This is the third weekly increase for the purchase index, which has reached its highest level since early May.

Mortgage interest rates have been steadily rising for several weeks now, and analysts expect the climb to continue. The fact that home purchase activity has been uninterrupted by the sustained hike in rates is likely an indication that buyers too are keenly conscious that the upward trajectory will carry on and realize the earlier they commit, the lower their borrowing costs will be.

MBA’s data covers over 50 percent of all U.S. residential mortgage applications taken by mortgage bankers, thrifts, and commercial banks, and it shows that the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.66 for the week ending December 3, up from 4.56 percent the week before. MBA says the 30-year rate has reached its highest mark since July.

The average contract rate for 15-year fixed mortgages came in at 3.98 percent last week, according to MBA’s study. That’s up from 3.91 percent the prior week. The 15-year rate is the highest it’s been since early September.

All market indicators point to further increases in borrowing costs for home loans. Data compiled by Bloomberg News shows that yields on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage securities, which are closely tied to the direction of mortgage interest rates, jumped to their highest reading in almost six months on Tuesday.

While rising rates seems to have prompted some homebuyers to act now, mortgage refinancing, on the other hand, is becoming less attractive. MBA reports that refinance applications fell back by 1.4 percent last week. It’s the fourth straight weekly decrease for the group’s refinance index, which has hit its lowest level since June.

With refinances still making up about three-quarters of the industry’s mortgage activity, their decline lowered MBA’s index of total loan application volume by 0.9 percent compared to the previous week.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (714) 626-8880 ext 117 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.


To Buy or Not to Buy

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In these uncertain times, people more than ever need to know which housing strategy makes more financial sense, buying or renting. Two brothers in Virginia have a website that can help answer that question.


Housing isn’t the investment it used to be. Or is it?

Certainly if you bought at the peak of the housing boom — say, 2004 or 2005 — it isn’t. But most people who took the plunge more recently think it is.

In fact, 85% of a sample of folks who bought houses in the 12-month period from July 2009 to June 2010 view their homes as sound financial investments, according to a recent National Assn. of Realtors survey.

Nearly half the 8,500 buyers and sellers polled consider their homes a better investment than stocks, while 3 in 10 say housing is at least on par with stocks. And the findings are roughly the same across all subcategories: new home or existing, first-time buyer or repeat offender, single or married, male or female.
But participants in NAR’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers were also asked how long they expect to stay in their homes, and their answers indicate that most people have come to the realization that housing as a quick dash to riches is a thing of the past.

The median expected length of residence is 10 years, with repeat buyers planning to remain a median of 15 years.

But is even a decade long enough at today’s appreciation rates for an investment in housing to turn a profit? Or put another way, which makes more financial sense nowadays, buying or renting?

To be sure, homeownership isn’t for everyone. Some people simply can’t afford it, and others simply aren’t cut out for it.

Then there are those who simply enjoy their renter lifestyle. They don’t have to mow the grass or rake the leaves. When something breaks, all they have to do is call the landlord. And, if they haven’t signed a lease, they can pick up and move with proper notice.

Of course, renters give up a lot too. They can’t make their home truly their own because they usually aren’t permitted to make improvements or even paint the walls any color they choose — only neutrals, please.

And they don’t have much of a say when it comes to how their communities are run.

Despite those factors, though, the decision to buy or rent has been pretty much a monetary one.

So forget for a moment all that intrinsic stuff about being able to turn a house into a home, giving your kids their own backyard in which to play and living where the schools are better. If a family has enough dough salted away to cover a down payment and closing costs, if it can qualify for a mortgage and if it can afford the monthly payments, property taxes and insurance, it often buys.

Nowadays, however, many people are thinking twice about homeownership. Otherwise, they would be out there bargain-hunting, snapping up prized houses at rock-bottom prices and record-low mortgage rates, and laughing all the way to the Promised Land.

More than ever, people need to know what makes more financial sense, buying or renting.

That’s a problem Steve Rossi faced in the mid-1980s. Fresh out of college, he was told that it would be foolish to buy. But when he looked into the pros and cons of ownership versus renting, “all I got was bits and pieces,” he recalls. “Nobody really had the whole picture.”

So Rossi turned to his older brother, John, a computer specialist, and together they wrote a program that answered Steve’s question: After six years as an owner, he would turn a profit.

“How long you stay determines whether or not ownership will be profitable,” Steve says. “If you buy today and sell tomorrow, you are going to lose money. But the longer you live there, the more it pays to buy.”

Steve still lives in the Annandale, Va., house he bought 26 years ago. By day, he and John work for Uncle Sam. By night, the brothers have turned Steve’s dilemma nearly three decades ago into a business telling anyone who asks how long it will take his or her house to make money.

Years ago, most people came to the Rossi brothers through the Learning Annex, a Washington-area open university where they taught the class To Buy or Not to Buy — That Is the Question. But now, thanks to the Internet, their reach is much wider. In fact, it doesn’t matter where you live. If you can answer some basic questions at their site — — and have $10 to spare, they can tell you when you will reach the break-even point.

When they first started, the brothers needed answers to 17 questions, things such as how much you expect to spend on utilities, insurance and maintenance, and where would you put the money if you don’t invest in a house. Now, they’ve pared their list of questions to 13.

The simplified “Buy or Not Buy” questionnaire doesn’t ask what you spend on utilities — the Rossis’ computer program adjusts for that automatically — but it still wants to know what you think you would be earning if you invested in something other than real estate. After all, Steve says, “money spent is money not being invested, so you have to adjust accordingly.”

Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions. The questionnaire has all kinds of prompts along the way, such as “3% is reasonable” when figuring the escalation rate of your utilities, maintenance and insurance. Even if some questions are left blank, the Rossi brothers have done so many of these analyses that they can answer them accurately for you, and all the information you provide is strictly confidential.

There are other programs that claim to do the same thing as the Rossis’. But most of those are written for or by real estate professionals who would like to sell you a house. The Rossi brothers, on the other hand, are independent and have nothing to gain whether you buy or not. Indeed, if there is room for bias in their program, it appears to be in favor of waiting.

Buying your first home? Selling your house? Looking to relocate? Give me a call,   Carlos J. Amador at (562) 833-4292 or visit my website For a no obligation free consultation. Free first time home buyer information for Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles residents. Real Estate information for Fullerton, Orange County and Los Angeles residents. Home Sellers in Fullerton, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Source : Los Angeles Times