Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Single Family Housing Starts Unchanged While Crib Building Starts Skyrocket

The numbers are out for the month of June for single-family new home construction starts! I know you have all been eagerly awaiting these numbers. Well gather yourself for just a minute, because NOTHING CHANGED! Single-family housing starts in June were practically unchanged from the previous month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units, according to the most recent reports by the U.S. Commerce Department.

There was a decline however, but it occurred for multi-family construction starts. Multi-family structures, such as duplexes, tri-plexes, and four-plexes, fell 21.5% from May numbers, albeit that market is more volatile and irregular. The drastic drop in multi-family numbers effected the overall housing production number, which fell 5% to a 549,000-unit rate.

On the more personal front, my wife forced me into manual labor constructing a crib and bayonet. That is one more crib than I've ever built, so I suppose that means that new crib starts rose 100%! Of course, as a man I will never understand why it is so important for me to stop my important business where time is of the essence to put together a bed for a baby who is about 3 months away from sleeping in it. It brings her immense comfort to see the baby room and have it all set. Crib, changing table, pictures, paper lamps (he's half-Asian!), nursing chair, and diaper basket. The last one brings tears to my eyes. 

My life is about to take on a new set of experiences. They will in turn make me a more rounded man. I will possess a new set of skills, like a Navy SEAL. They time themselves cleaning and putting their gun together. I'll time myself cleaning a breast pump and arming it for flawless use. You can't have it catch during battle. That's the difference between life and death.

I know it's a "bassinet" and not a "bayonet" by the way. I know that was bothering most of you; it was a test. I know my child will sleep in a comfortable, rocking bed and not a sharp, stabbing blade made for war. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

7 Things All Borrowers Should Know About FHA Loans

1. FHA loans are not only for lower-income borrowers. FHA loans are available to everyone. There is no maximum income restriction associated with FHA loans, but borrowers do need to substantiate income and assets by submitting proper documentation. This requirement ensures that borrowers are well-vetted and truly able to afford their future homes.

2. FHA loans are not only for first-time buyers. Many people believe FHA loans are available only to first-time home buyers, but this is not the case. Whether borrowers are making their first home purchase or their fifth, they can look to FHA loans as a home financing option.

3. FHA loans are not just small loans; in fact, loan amounts can be as high as almost $800,000. The government recently raised the maximum loan amount from its original cap of $362,790 to $793,750 as a way to help stabilize the housing market. The amount a buyer can borrow varies from county to county though. In Travis and Williamson County, the FHA Loan Limit is $288,750 for single family households, $369,650 for duplex, $446,800 for tri-plex, and $555,300 for four-plex.

4. FHA loans are not affiliated with the section 8 housing program. While both programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), FHA loans have nothing to do with low-income subsidized housing. FHA loans are simply mortgages insured by FHA. This insurance provided by the federal government allows lenders to lend more freely by assuring them that they will be repaid in the event of default.

5. FHA loans are often more affordable than conventional loans. While FHA loans typically offer the same interest rates as other loans, borrowers benefit from a much lower down payment of as low as 3.5%.

6. FHA-approved condo developments are more desirable to buyers. With 87% of home buyers indicating that they plan to use FHA loans, condo associations that are not FHA approved are missing out on a significant pool of prospective buyers. Under rules in place since February 2010, an entire condominium development must now apply to HUD and be granted FHA approval before a buyer can purchase a unit in an association with an FHA loan or before an existing unit owner can refinance into an FHA loan.

7. FHA loans are assumable. In addition to lower down-payment and credit-qualifying requirements as compared to conventional loans, FHA loans are assumable. This means that when a seller with an FHA loan sells his or her property, the loan and its financing terms (interest rate) can be transferred to the new buyer. This unique feature will certainly make a property more valuable in times of rising interest rates.

Excerpt taken from: RISMedia

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chris, This Inspection Report is Driving Me Crazy!

If you have ever bought a home or put in an offer, an inspection is what SHOULD follow an accepted offer. Inspection reports tend to cause a fair amount of worry in buyer's when they are handed the 15+ page packet. Inspectors by law must report on certain things by up-to-date property codes. Therefore, if a house is built in 1996 the property codes of then are not the same as today. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the house is unsafe. Codes have just changed over time.

Another big worry to buyer's when they receive the inspection report is the amount of words and terms flying at them that can be a bit foreign to them. Most super agents, like yours truly, will help you with the translation of these reports, but here are a few commonly seen terms on inspection reports to get you started. Always ask for clarification!
Common terms used in an inspection report
-Recommend: The inspectors’ opinion of how to guide the client to resolve noteworthy issues found during the inspection. Common recommendations would be to replace, repair, monitor or evaluate.
-Visual inspection: The general scope of the inspection is limited to a visual inspection which means that the inspector is not required to disassemble equipment.
-HVAC: Heating ventilation air condition system.
-Condensate line: The copper pipe that runs from the outside air conditioning condenser to the inside furnace (where the A/C coil is located).
-Ductwork: A system of distribution channels used to transmit heated or cooled air from a central system (HVAC) throughout a home.
-Damper: An air valve that regulates the flow of air inside the flue of a furnace or fireplace.
-Pilot light: A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.
-Blow insulation: Fiber insulation in loose form used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.
-Board and batten: A method of siding in which the joints between vertically placed boards or plywood are covered by narrow strips of wood.
-Cantilever: A projecting beam or other structure supported only at one end. Any part of a structure that projects beyond its main support and is balanced on it.
-Ceiling joist: One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.
-Cellulose insulation: Ground-up newspaper that is treated with a fire retardant.
-Celotex: A brand of black fibrous board that is used as exterior sheathing.
-Flashing: Material used around any angle in a roof or wall to prevent leaks.
-Earthquake strap: A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house. It is intended to reduce the chances of having the water heater fall over in an earthquake and causing a gas leak.
-Sump: Pit or large plastic bucket/barrel inside the home designed to collect ground water from a perimeter drain system.
-Sump pump: A submersible pump in a sump pit that pumps any excess ground water to the outside of the home.
-Trap: A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas and vermin from backing up into a fixture.
-Knob and tube wiring: A common form of electrical wiring used before World War II. When in good condition, it may still be functional for low amperage use.
-BX cable: Armored electrical cable wrapped in galvanized steel outer covering. A factory assembly of insulated conductors inside a flexible metallic covering.
-Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): A device intended for the protection of personnel that functions to de-energize a circuit
-Grounded: Connected to earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Newsflash: Wife Returns To Her Man Of Steel

Picked my wife up from the airport last night at around midnight. My she's grown. Stuffing my unborn son full of Korean barbeque and kimchi for a month straight. The amount of growth in just one month time is incredible. Hips widening, increasingly top heavy, 100% gorgeous. 

I asked if she missed me and she said she missed watching the Bachelorette. "Did you record it?" Great! Yes, I did record it and then I took an empty garbage can into the middle of the backyard and through my DVR in and poured lighter fluid and charcoal all over it and cooked it. Speaking of the Bachelor and Bachelorette, those shows puts unrealistic expectations on men. Hey, let's take a private jet over to Paris on a whim and have wine and a picnic at the top of the Eiffel Tower! Then we'll walk around in tuxedos and dresses every night drinking wine and feed each other grapes by draping them above our heads and dropping them in our mouth like we were Julius Caesar. That's not real life. Those are people with no jobs, children, or obligations given scenario dates that costs thousands of dollars by the producers of a television show. Those shows are no different than romance novels really. The producers only amp up the romanticism to make the people FEEL like they are in love, when it's all just superficial and manufactured. At the end of the day, you cannot artificially CREATE the emotional act of love. That's why the majority of winners never stay together.

Anyways, that all was just a joke. She said she missed me. Hesitantly as it may have been. She said that the baby is tossing and turning and does thing to "protest" her behavior. For example, if she doesn't wake up and move around he'll cross his arms and push his elbows into her stomach. Gosh, how freaky is that? When she told me that, I pictured the diner scene in the movie Spaceballs when the guy orders the soup and the alien breaks out of his stomach and starts doing a kick-line dance back to the kitchen. I think about weird things in addition to real estate. 

Home safe and sound! Website just days from completion! Posts should come more often as I push through this busy time of balancing active clients, building a website, taking care of my wife, and basically trying to be everything to everyone. Some would say I'm like Spiderman, Superman, Ironman, and Batman wrapped into one glorious Super Agent. Minus the vanity of it all, of course. 

Tax Credit Closing Deadline Extended

The $8,000 First-time Home Buyer and $6,500 Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credits closing deadline has been extended to September 30, 2010. The deadline had previously been set at June 30th, 2010. This will give buyers a few more months to get those deals closed.

The extension applies only to transactions that had executed contracts in place as of April 30th, 2010, and have not yet closed. There will not be a gap between the original deadline of June 30th and the date President Obama signs the bill into law.

Additionally, Congress has extended the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30th, 2010. The bill is retroactive and will cover the lapse period from June 1, 2010, to the date the law is enacted.

For additional information on both the tax credit deadline and the National Flood Insurance Program, visit here:  http://www.realtor.org/Government_Affairs