Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Maintaining Vacant Property Can Be Expensive

Anyone who turns down an offer to sell a house should consider how much it will cost to maintain the home while waiting for the next opportunity to sell.

Here’s just one example of a home seller who has felt the pain of a delayed sale.

Ed Tuttle, who has been trying to sell his unoccupied brick rancher in Oklahoma City for nearly two years, spends an average of $500 a month for utilities and maintenance along with the $1,600 mortgage payment. He also has repaired a hole in the roof caused by squirrels, hired an exterminator to trap the squirrels who had moved into the attic, and replaced portions of a fence that blew down.

"It's an absolute nightmare maintaining it," says Tuttle, who has moved to Rockville, Md., for a job. "It's absolutely the most frustrating and demoralizing thing in the world."

Source: The Associated Press (07/12/2009)

Home Lending Rates Falling Again

Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages fell to 5.14 percent for the week ended July 16, down from 5.20 percent a week before and 6.26 percent a year earlier, Freddie Mac reports.

Interest on fixed home loans has fallen in four of the past five weeks, and Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft says rate activity during that time has lowered the monthly payment on a $200,000 loan by $56.

Here’s a look at how other mortgage rates performed this week:

  • 15-year fixed loans fell to 4.63 percent from 4.69 percent.
  • One-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.76 percent from 4.82 percent.
  • Five-year hybrid ARMs bumped up a notch to 4.83 percent from 4.82 percent.

Source: Grand Junction Free Press, Wyatt Haupt Jr. (07/17/09)

Money Magazine Picks Best Places to Live

Money Magazine released its popular best-places-to-live list with the August 2009 issue. This year’s roundup has a few new twists.

On its Web site, the magazine allows users to find the best place to live near their current locations. It also introduces some subcategories, including 25 best places for affordable homes, towns where there are the most jobs, towns with quick commutes, 25 best places for singles, best places for pricey homes, 25 towns where the residents are young, and places with the cleanest air.

Here are its top 10 selections for the best overall places to live—all of them small towns with strong local economies, good schools, affordable homes, and low crime rates:

  1. Louisville, Colo.
  2. Chanhassen, Minn.
  3. Papillion, Neb.
  4. Middleton, Wisc.
  5. Milton, Mass.
  6. Warren, N.J.
  7. Keller, Texas
  8. Peachtree City, Ga.
  9. Lake St. Louis, Mo.
  10. Mukilteo, Wash.

Source: Money (August 2009)

Freddie Mac Calls for Appropriate Comparables

A July 10 lender bulletin from Freddie Mac says appraisers "must be familiar with the local market," select "appropriate comparable sales," and certify them as "most similar" to the property in question.

The bulletin also says appraisers are not required to use distressed properties in their comparable sales analyses unless they represent a good number of the properties on the market.

The bulletin is in response to the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, which is being criticized for causing a shift among lenders to appraisal management firms outside the local market and for weakening home sales.

Source: Inman News, Matt Carter (07/14/09)

Unemployed Might Get Anti-Foreclosure Help

The Obama administration is reportedly considering a program that would give loan forbearance to the unemployed. The aim of the program is to provide help without distorting the housing market.

The program would augment the federal loan modification program, giving unemployed workers more time and financial leeway to qualify for a new loan.

So far the loan modification program hasn’t been very successful for a variety of reasons, including the declining equity many troubled borrowers have in their homes and rising unemployment figures that make lenders unwilling to participate.

Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department asked the 25 largest mortgage service companies to appoint a liaison officer to work with the government to slow defaults. On July 28, Treasury will host a meeting with these servicers to examine whether qualified applicants are being ignored.

Source: Reuters News, Patrick Rucker and David Lawder (07/13/2009)