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Kristian Alekov's Blog

By Kristian Alekov | Broker in Naples, FL
  • Mortgage Rates Dip to New Record Lows

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Fort Myers, Financing in Fort Myers, Credit Score in Fort Myers  |  November 15, 2012 2:22 PM  |  840 views  |  2 comments

    Fixed mortgage rates dipped to new all-time record lows amid indicators of higher consumer confidence and lower wholesale prices, according to the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

    The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.34 percent with an average .7 point for the week ending Nov. 15, down from last week when it averaged 3.40 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4 percent. The previous record low for the 30-year fixed was set the week of October 4 when it averaged 3.36 percent 

    Meanwhile, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.65 percent with an average .7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.69 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.31 percent. The previous record low for the 15-year fixed was set the week of October 18 when it averaged 2.66 percent. 

    The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.74 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.73 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.97 percent. 

    The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.55 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.59 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.98 percent.

    Brought to you by Affinity Title - Your Short Sales Expert!

  • Understanding the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing, Agent2Agent  |  March 6, 2012 1:15 PM  |  232 views  |  No comments

    RESPA is a federal regulation that governs certain aspects of the closing and settlement process in a real estate transaction. Designed to protect consumers who are buying houses, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) enforces RESPA. Essentially, RESPA requires that buyers be given certain disclosures or information at various points during the purchase process, and outlaws kickbacks that might increase the costs of closing and settlement.

    RESPA applies to most mortgage loans taken out for primary homes. When you apply for a mortgage loan, the lender must give you certain information about various real estate settlement services, a Good Faith Estimate as to the amount of settlement charges you will face if your loan is approved, and a Mortgage Servicing Disclosure Statement, which addresses whether the lender intends to service the loan or transfer it to another lender. You must also be given procedures for resolving any complaints that you might have. Lenders have to give you this information at the time of your loan application, or mail it to you within three business days of your application. The only exception is if the lender turns down your loan application within three days; in this case, the lender is not required to comply with this aspect of RESPA.

    A lender must also make certain disclosures before settlement or closing on the loan occurs. RESPA requires that you receive a completed HUD-1 Settlement Statement at least one day before closing. This document sets forth all of the charges that apply to both the buyer and seller at the time of closing. RESPA also mandates that you receive an Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure prior to settlement, if the settlement provider has referred you to a provider with whom it has some sort of business arrangement.

    In addition to the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, RESPA also provides that you receive an Initial Escrow Statement at settlement or within 45 days thereafter, which sets forth the estimated property taxes and insurance premiums that you will pay during the first year of the loan. This Statement also must contain the total amount of escrow payments you will make, as well as any required minimum amount that the lender requires to remain in your escrow account at all times.

    Following settlement of your loan, RESPA imposes an obligation on lenders to send you an Annual Escrow Statement that gives an itemized account of all payments and deposits on your escrow account. At that time, you will be refunded any overpayments, or be required to make up any shortages in your escrow account. You also are entitled to a Servicing Transfer Statement at any time that your lender sells or otherwise transfers the servicing of your loan to another company.

    Finally, RESPA prohibits any kickbacks, fee splitting, or other unearned fees that might unfairly increase your settlement costs. Violations of these provisions of RESPA can result in both civil and criminal penalties. Additionally, RESPA places limits on escrow accounts and outlaws lenders from requiring that you use a particular title company.

    This post brought to you by the good folks at Affinity Title. We would love to have you follow us on Facebook.

  • Title Insurance for Foreign Investors—What You Need to Know

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing, Home Insurance  |  March 5, 2012 11:03 AM  |  179 views  |  No comments

    As a foreign investor, you are often faced with confusing rules and regulations when investing in U.S. property. Real estate laws can differ significantly from your home country, making the process complicated and puzzling. The best course of action for a foreign seller or investor to avoid this confusion and ensure their closing process goes smoothly, is to work with a United States real estate professional or team of professionals when buying or selling property in the U.S.

    Real Estate Professionals That Aid A Foreign Seller

    A real estate closing in the United States can involve many players. Besides the buyer and seller, there may be realtors working with both sides. Each side might also have a lawyer representing their interests and reviewing contracts. In most cases there is a mortgage lender involved and a title insurance agency—like Affinity Title—pulls it all together.

    How FIRPTA Affects A Foreign Seller

    One of the most important considerations real estate and title insurance professionals must be familiar with when a foreign seller is involved is the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980, also known as FIRPTA. FIRPTA is an IRS regulation that requires a foreign seller of a property to remit 10% of the purchase price to the IRS.

    If Affinity Title is serving as your title insurance agency and escrow holder, we can withhold the required 10% of the purchase price and remit it to the IRS on your behalf.

    The Title Agency And A Foreign Investor

    By working with a reputable and experienced real estate title insurance agency like Affinity Title, a foreign investor can be assured that the closing process will go smoothly and all legal obligations will be met. Affinity Title serves as an impartial player in the closing, collecting documents, researching the property title and oftentimes holding funds as an escrow agent. It is our job to make sure the closing happens, and not to favor the buyer or the seller.

    Affinity Title often serves the role of communicator between all parties, which can be a very valuable service for a foreign investor. We are able to walk investors through U.S.-specific terminology, rules and regulations and answer any questions that come up. We are also up-to-date on IRS rules and regulations governing the FIRPTA. The law states that if the 10% withholding is not done at closing, the buyer can be held liable for it and potentially, the buyer’s realtor or the title agency. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest that we make sure the funds are withheld and deposited.

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