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By Jeff Mason | Agent in Surprise, AZ
  • Real estate expert: Buyers in Phoenix market uninterested

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Phoenix, Home Selling in Phoenix, Property Q&A in Phoenix  |  December 11, 2013 12:10 PM  |  467 views  |  1 comment

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    By Rod Lakin
    Originally published: Dec 9, 2013 - 12:26 pm

    Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the Phoenix real estate market goes into a hibernation state of sorts.

    Historically, the real estate market during the holidays is fairly quiet, as homeowners and prospective buyers put more emphasis on their holiday plans than they do on buying or selling a home. According to Arizona State University Director of Real Estate Michael Orr, this holiday season is no exception.

    "(The market) is behaving as expected," said Orr on his weekly appearance on That Real Estate Show. "Inventory tends to go down from Thanksgiving through Jan. 2."

    The question after Jan. 2 then becomes whether Phoenix's subdued buyer demand will pick up again.

    "Buyers are just not very interested right now," said Orr. "They seem to have lost interest from the summer onwards. So far, there's not much sign of them coming back. I don't think we'll see a lot of activity until we get to the start of the spring season."

    The "spring season" in real estate starts in late January, according to Orr. By then, Phoenix's real estate market might be in a state that strongly favors prospective homebuyers. Right now, according to Orr, that is not the case.

    "I'm not seeing it as a strong buyers' market at the moment," he said. "I'm seeing it as a fairly balanced market, with a just slight edge to buyers."

    Orr also believes a more accurate projection of the Phoenix real estate market is several weeks away.

    "There's not going to be a lot of change over the last few weeks of the year. It's not going to be until the end of January that things start looking different and who can tell which way (the market) is going to go?"

    That's a question many having been asking over the past few years in Phoenix real estate, and the uncertainty of an answer, at least for the moment, seems to be keeping buyers away.

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  • Are Seller Concessions Required?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Phoenix, Home Buying in Phoenix, Home Selling in Phoenix  |  December 11, 2013 12:02 PM  |  411 views  |  No comments
    Search for Phoenix area homes here

    Dec. 10, 2013 10:38 a.m. ET

    A reader asks if sellers must give buyers money toward closing costs and other expenses to help seal the deal


    Q. After years of having to take discounts, sellers around here are finally making money. But I paid top dollar for my house and expect I will only get back a little more than I paid for it. My agent says that I should be prepared to accept FHA and VA loans that require I give concessions. Is that necessary in a seller's market?

    -Phoenix

    A. You aren't required to pay any concessions for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    In fact, Arizona's housing market was as hot as its weather earlier this year, and seller concessions were rare, says Joseph Small, senior loan officer for Guild Mortgage Company, with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.

    But that may soon change, as the Phoenix market is in transition to a more balanced marketplace between buyers and sellers, says R.L. Brown, who runs a Phoenix-based housing market research firm.

    Usually in a seller's market, if buyers don't have enough cash to cover closing costs or other expenses, they ask the lender to roll them into the loan, Mr. Small noted. But the holidays are the slowest time of the year for real-estate sales, so you may have to give incentives, he said.

    While they will cost you, these incentives for buyers can help sell your house, as closing costs can be considerable, says North Palm Beach, Fla.-based financial publishing company Bankrate.com in a report.

    Bankrate surveyed the nation's lenders in 2012 to find the cost of originating a $200,000 loan, plus third-party fees such as appraisals and credit reports. In Arizona, these closing costs averaged $2,372; slightly below the national average of $2,402.

    The rules for FHA and VA loans are different, and limit the amount and types of concessions you can make.

    For an FHA loan, sellers may pay a maximum of 6% toward the buyer's closing costs, except the tax-service fee. The limit applies to the lower of the property's appraised value or the sale price. If a seller wants to exceed the 6% limit, the buyer's loan amount will be reduced dollar for dollar by the amount of the incentive over the cap.

    For a VA loan, the seller is allowed to pay all of the buyer's closing costs, with no cap, as well as discount points. But the seller cannot additionally pay more than 4% of the home's appraised value for other buyer expenses, such as pre-payment of property taxes or extra points to buy down the interest rate.

    Also included in this limit is the VA's funding fee, which varies depending on the amount of down payment, the buyer's military status and whether he or she has taken out a VA loan before. For example, for a no-down payment loan, veterans who are first-time VA borrowers pay 2.15%, and repeat users 3.3%.

    Any gifts that you give the borrower, from a decorator's allowance to something physical like a television, are also factored into the limit.

    Another point to keep in mind is that veterans who take out a VA loan are prohibited from paying real-estate agent commissions, brokerage fees or termite reports. Since lenders and real-estate agents don't want to absorb these costs, they usually fall on the seller, Mr. Small says. "Think of it as doing your part to help a veteran," he says.

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  • The Buyers and Sellers of 2013

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Phoenix, Home Buying in Phoenix, Home Selling in Phoenix  |  December 5, 2013 10:54 AM  |  419 views  |  No comments
  • New Home Sales Surge 25.4% in October in Biggest Leap Since '80

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Phoenix, Home Buying in Phoenix, Property Q&A in Phoenix  |  December 4, 2013 9:40 AM  |  421 views  |  No comments
    Search for Phoenix area homes for salePublished December 04, 2013
    Dow Jones Newswires
    • Building Home Construction Worker Carpenter 01
      Reuters

    New-home sales surged last month, a sign the housing market is regaining momentum after a rise in mortgage rates last summer.

    Sales of new single-family homes rose 25.4% in October from a month earlier to an annual rate of 444,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That marked the sharpest monthly increase in more than three decades.

    The surge came after sales fell 6.6% in September to an annual rate of 354,000.

    Economists had forecast sales to reach a pace of 426,000 in October and 421,000 in September, according to a Dow Jones survey.

    October's rise returned new-home sales to the pace seen over the summer, with the pace exceeding 400,000 for the first time since June. The brisk activity caused the inventory of homes to shrink sharply. The months' supply of homes for sale fell to 4.9 in October, down 23.4% from September.

    The latest data could mean prospective home buyers responded to a dip in mortgage rates in early fall after rates rose quickly during the summer. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage was 4.29% last week, down from summer levels but still up the 3.35% average registerd in early May.

    Because new-home sales are tallied at the signing of a contract rather than at the closing, they can be an early indicator of housing-market trends.

    There are signs home builders are preparing for higher demand. A Commerce report last week showed housing permits surged in October to the highest level in more than five years. Permits for multifamily homes such as apartments and condominiums rose sharply while single-family permits climbed modestly.

    To be sure, other reports point suggest the housing market isn't completely taking off yet. Sales of previously owned homes fell for the second straight month in October, according to the National Association of Realtors. Pending home sales-a gauge of upcoming sales-fell for the fifth straight month in October, according to the Realtors group.

    Mortgage applications have been falling in recent weeks, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And home-builder confidence was down in September and October compared to the summer, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

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  • Home prices are up again in metro Phoenix

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Phoenix, Home Buying in Phoenix, Property Q&A in Phoenix  |  December 2, 2013 10:44 AM  |  475 views  |  No comments
    Find out what your home is worth

    By Catherine Reagor
    The Republic | azcentral.com Tue Nov 5, 2013 4:52 PM

    Home prices climbed in metro Phoenix during September, and so did the number of houses on the market. The combination worked to curb sales.

    The median sales price reached $199,000 last month, up from $192,000 in August, according to Tuesday’s report from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Price gains are expected to slow in the rest of 2013. Traditionally, fewer home sales are made in the last months of the year.

    “The main change (in the housing market) is a steep fall in demand, which we can see in the 12 percent drop in single-family-home sales just between August and September,” said Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School.

    “Going forward, we anticipate a much slower rate of price appreciation than the furious pace we have witnessed over the last two years.”

    Orr said the government shutdown is at least partly to blame for September’s slower sales. Last month, 7,143 homes sold Valley-wide.

    The region’s shortage of homes for sale appears to be over for now. Rising prices are enticing more homeowners to try to sell. The supply of houses for sale in metro Phoenix climbed 32percent during the past year.

    Investor interest continues to wane. About 23percent of all sales were investor-driven in September, nearly half as many as in the same month a year ago.

    “If the current trend continues, supply will exceed demand by the end of the year,” Orr said.

    “We now expect a balanced market to prevail during November. This is great news for buyers since they will experience less competition and be in a strong position to negotiate.”

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  • 5 affordable November getaways

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Phoenix, Entertainment & Nightlife in Phoenix, Parks & Recreation in Phoenix  |  November 25, 2013 12:17 PM  |  391 views  |  No comments

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    In the market for an awesome travel deal? Say hello to November, which embodies a cold shoulder leading up to the holidays. For most of North America and the Caribbean, ‘tis the season—the shoulder season—when thin crowds and lower prices dance in our heads. Here are five places that make for an amazingly affordable November getaway.

    • 1Grand Canyon

      Grand Canyon National Park Service

      November marks the beginning of the least crowded season at the Grand Canyon, making it easier and cheaper to score lodging on the coveted South Rim. Weather tends to be sunny but cool, with temperatures in the low 50s.

    • Homes for sale in Phoenix
    • 2Riviera Maya, Mexico

      VisitMexico.com

      Are you a sucker for warm weather and a sandy beach? While hurricane season peaks between August and October, the risk of getting walloped by a monster storm is all but gone by mid-November. This is when in-the-know travelers flock to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, scooping up hotel rooms for half of what they’d pay in April. Go before the holiday rush, when beaches are empty and prices are at their lowest.

    • 3San Francisco, California

      Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation

      Believe it or not, San Francisco is sunnier and drier in the fall than in the summer. With November temperatures hovering between the mid 60s to low 70s and hotel prices falling, this is a great time of year to score an affordable getaway in the City by the Bay.

    • 4Charleston, South Carolina

      Charleston Visitor's Bureau

      Winter is high tourist season in Charleston, but hotel prices in this gorgeous Southern belle have not yet hit their peak in November. Temperatures this month tend to be mild—in the high 60s and low 70s—and rain is practically unheard of.

    • 5Turks and Caicos

      Turks and Caicos Tourism

      Peak hurricane season may be over, but November is still the rainy season in most of the Caribbean. Just southeast of the Bahamas, however, the Turks and Caicos islands typically experience less rainfall than many other Caribbean isles this time of year. With temperatures in the mid 70s to mid 80s and continuing sale prices through the third week of the month, it’s a great time to visit Paradise.

  • TransUnion: Rate of late payments on US mortgages falls to lowest level since 2008

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Phoenix, Home Buying in Phoenix, Home Selling in Phoenix  |  November 25, 2013 12:10 PM  |  411 views  |  No comments
    Published November 12, 2013
    Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES –  Fewer U.S. homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments, aided by rising home values, low interest rates and stable job gains.

    The trend brought down the national late-payment rate on home loans in the third quarter to a five-year low, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday.

    The percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the July-September quarter to 4.09 percent from a revised 5.33 percent a year earlier, according to the firm, whose data go back to 1992.

    The latest rate also declined from 4.32 percent in the second quarter.

    The last time the mortgage delinquency rate was lower was the third quarter of 2008.

    Within a few years of setting that mark, foreclosures began to mount as home values tumbled from housing-boom highs, leaving many homeowners in negative equity — owing more on their mortgage than the value of their home. The dynamic drove mortgage delinquencies higher, peaking at nearly 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

    The rate of late payments on home loans has been steadily declining over the past five quarters. At the same time, U.S. home sales and prices have been rebounding over the past two years, while foreclosures have been declining.

    Moderate but stable job gains, still-low mortgage interest rates, and tight supply of homes for sale have helped fuel the housing rebound. That's also made it easier for homeowners to refinance, catch up on payments or sell their home, avoiding foreclosure.

    Even so, the mortgage delinquency rate is still above the 1 to 2 percent average historical range. That suggests that many homeowners still are struggling to make their payments. It also reflects that many home loans made during the housing boom remain unpaid but have yet to work their way through the foreclosure process.

    Loans made in the years after the housing boom are generally being paid on time, so as more of the older loans listed on banks' books as unpaid get resolved, the overall mortgage delinquency rate should continue to decline, said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S Housing for TransUnion's financial services business unit.

    "The new mortgages are still performing very well, at very low delinquency rates," Martin said. "That's why we're expecting more improvement to come."

    TransUnion forecasts that the national mortgage delinquency rate will drop to just under 4 percent by the end of year.

    All the states posted an annual drop in late-payment rates during the third quarter, with California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Utah registering declines of more than 30 percent.

    TransUnion draws its data from 52 million installment-based mortgages in the U.S.

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