Closing & Escrow 101

Buying and/or Selling a home can be a confusing process. There are lots of moving parts and lots of terms you may or may not fully understand… Escrow, Title Insurance, Preliminary Title Report… to name a few. To help you better understand the process, I’m sitting down with industry experts to breakdown the process for you. This week on Real Estate 101 we’re discussing closing and escrow with Janette Tims, an escrow officer at Western Title and Escrow in Eugene, Oregon.

What is Escrow?

Escrow is the process in which buyers and sellers of a piece of property establish terms and conditions for the transfer of ownership of the property. These terms and conditions are given to a third party known as the escrow holder. In turn, the escrow holder has the responsibility of seeing that the terms of the escrow are carried out. The escrow is an independent neutral account and the vehicle by which the mutual instructions of all parties to the transaction are compiled with.

What is Title Insurance

The purchase of a home is often the single largest investment people will make in a lifetime; therefore, the importance of fully protecting such an investment cannot be over stressed. Title insurance is protection which assures that the rights and interests to the property are as expected, that the transfer of ownership is smoothly completed and that the new owner receives protection from future claims against the property. It is the most effective, most accepted and least expensive way to protect property ownership rights.

What is a Preliminary Title Report

Before issuing a policy of title insurance, the title company must review the numerous public records concerning the property being sold and financed. The purpose of this title search is to identify and clear all problems before the new owner takes title or the lender loans money. The research helps determine if there are any rights or claims that may have an impact upon the title such as unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, judgements, tax liens against the current or past owners, easements, restrictions and court actions. These recorded defects, liens and encumbrances are reported in a preliminary report to applicable parties.

If you are thinking about buying or selling, be sure to build a team you can trust. People who will communicate clearly and keep the transaction on track, as well as, a team who will keep your best interests in mind. Excellent customer service is at the HEART of what I do. If you don’t have a lender, I’m happy to recommend several to choose from whom I trust and do business with regularly.

VA, Conventional, FHA, USDA? Which Loan is Right For You?

Whether you’re a first time buyer or a seasoned home buyer, there are several loan options available. I chat with local lender Todd Zimmerman of Finance of America to breakdown the details of some of the more popular loans including FHA, USDA, VA and Conventional loans. Let’s take a quick look!

Call, text, email or contact me on my website and I’ll be happy to help you start your home search. I work with some of the best lenders in the area to make sure you’re taken care of every step of the way. Excellent customer service is at the HEART of what I do!

541-579-9213 / aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com / aimeehartwigrealestate.com

How to Start the Lending Process

Starting the lending process is the first step to owning a home. Did you know you can buy a home with NO MONEY DOWN? Did you know that starting the lending process is FREE?

I enlist the help of an experienced lender to explain the basics of lending and common misconceptions about the home buying process.

Send me an email, text or give me a call and I will be happy to answer all of your real estate questions and recommend some of my most trusted lenders to get you on the path to homeownership.

aimeehartwigrealestate.com / 541-579-9213 / aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com

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Owning vs Renting

Emotional & Financial Benefits

Owning vs. Renting??? It’s a tough decision, especially if you’re a first time homebuyer. There’s no doubt that homeownership comes with strong emotional benefits. Homes are a place to feel secure, build a future and raise a family. Not to mention, the immense personal satisfaction that comes with homeownership.

Beyond the emotional benefits, there are strong financial reasons to buy a home.

  • A home generally builds equity over time through the combination of mortgage payments and appreciation.
  • A portion of your mortgage interest and real estate taxes are tax-deductible.
  • You may leverage your money – even though your down payment may be 20% of the home’s purchase price, you receive the full value of any appreciation.
  • In many markets, including ours, the cost of ownership can be less than renting.
  • You may strengthen your credit with your ongoing and timely mortgage payments.
  • You may pass on your home to your children.
  • And, as a homeowner, you are free to renovate, remodel, repair and repaint your property – you’re never dependent on a landlord to get the job done right.

A Cost Analysis

Western Title & Escrow in Eugene recently released a short graphic that compares the costs of renting to buying over a given amount of time.  

Photo courtesy of Western Title & Escrow, Eugene, OR

If you buy a $250,000 home with 10% down and an annual interest rate of 3.75%, in 2 years 6 months you will break even. Meaning you will have paid as much in rent as you would have to own the house. After that time, the benefit of ownership exceeds the benefit of renting through the financial gains made from tax deductions and by building equity through increased principal and appreciation.

If you are renting, NOW is the time to consider BUYING. I know the process can be a little scary for first-time buyers, but I’m happy to help you get started. I remember the first house I bought and at the time I didn’t think I would even qualify for a loan based on my income. I was wrong. It’s easier than you think and there are so many great loan options available now. Not to mention, mortgage rates are extremely low. The timing is perfect!

Give me a call, an email or drop me a message on social and I will be happy to recommend some of my favorite and most trusted lenders. Together we will walk you through the process. You have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to GAIN!

I’m here to help and happy to do it!

541-579-9213 / aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com / aimeehartwigrealestate.com

Real Estate Market Update

For the first time since at least World War II, mortgage rates and the unemployment rate are below 4-percent. As a result, some economists are predicting home prices will increase at a faster pace over the next 12 months than they have in 2019.

Corelogic says home prices will likely increase by 5.8% through August 2020. That’s a faster pace than the 3.8% seen in August of this year.

First-time homebuyers, Generation Z homebuyers and single female homebuyers are taking full advantage of this fifty-year low…

46-percent of all loans Freddie Mac has purchased this year came from first-time homebuyers, while there has been a 200% and 500% increase in Gen Z and single female homebuyers, respectively.

* Labor Costs Likely to Push Home Prices Higher. In an article in CoreLogic’s Insights blog, Nothaft quotes National Association of Home Builder (NAHB) figures that say about 60 percent of a new home’s sales price reflects the construction costs of the home. The major components of building costs are those associated with purchasing and preparing a lot, acquiring permits and inspections, hiring labor and buying materials. There was a significant price run-up in the two major components of framing, lumber and steel. Labor costs are another matter. Much has been written about the shortage of construction labor. Many workers left the trades during the Great Recession and the industry has had trouble luring young people and especially young women into the field. Vacancies as a percent of construction job are now at the highest level in 18 years and compensation has risen accordingly. It is up 3 percent this year, about double the rate of inflation. Worker retention is an issue as well. Nothaft says rising land and labor costs will probably offset any savings builders might realize from lower lumber prices and overall costs for a new home will continue to rise.

Full Story… http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/10092019_residential_construction.asp

* Mortgage Rates Drop Again – And First-Time Homebuyers Take Full Advantage. Mortgage rates dropped again, and according to Freddie Mac, the downward spiral has first-time buyers gaining ground. In fact, of all the loans Freddie Mac has purchased in 2019, 46% came from first-time homebuyers – a two-decade high for the company. According to representatives at online mortgage provider Better.com, the lender has seen a “huge uptick” in first-time homebuyers as well. There’s also been a 200% increase in Generation Z homebuyers (born 1997-2012) and a 500% increase in single female homebuyers aged 30-40. As Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, reported yesterday, “The fifty-year low in the unemployment rate, combined with low mortgage rates, has led to increased homebuyer demand this year. Much of this strength is coming from entry-level buyers.”  

Full Story…  https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/10/11/mortgage-rates-drop-againand-first-time-homebuyers-take-full-advantage/#4691dbabeb0d

Where Have All the Affordable Homes Gone? Housing affordability has been a growing concern in the housing ecosystem, but why is it such a problem? While home prices have been steadily rising for many years, Nothaft observed, “We find that lower-priced homes have appreciated much, much more than higher-priced homes.” Since May 2018, prices of homes more than 25% above the median have risen 3%, while homes in the lowest tier, those more than 25% below the median, have risen almost 5.5%.  As demand rises on affordable homes, the supply has become increasingly constrained. Nothaft noted, “New construction, while picking up gradually over the last few years, is still well below what it was prior to the housing boom.” The current inventory for homes is tightest in the lowest price tiers, particularly in those between 50 and 100 percent of the median home price. On the affordable housing shortage, Nothaft concluded, “I don’t see that changing any time soon unless we find ways to reduce the cost of producing or delivering lower-priced homes into the marketplace and reducing some of the regulatory costs.” In the meantime, with demand rising on an increasingly scarce product, we can expect prices to continue rising on affordable homes for the foreseeable future.

Full Story…  https://www.corelogic.com/blog/2019/10/where-have-all-the-affordable-homes-gone.aspx

AimeeHartwigRealEstate.com
541-579-9213

Easy Home Staging Tips

For most of us, our home is the biggest investment we will ever make. When it comes time to sell, treating your home as such will help you get a bigger return on your investment. You want it to look it’s very best when potential buyers come through or view your photos online. First impressions matter, which is where home staging comes in. Home staging emphasizes its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. This is important for your marketing photos and when potential buyers are trying to visualize a life there.

Here are a few tips to help you get your home ready to sell.

Declutter

One of the first things you want to do is declutter. Clutter takes up space and space is what sells. Make your home look bigger and more desirable by editing down to just the basics.

De-personalize

De-personalizing goes hand-in-hand with decluttering. You want potential buyers to be able to picture their things in the house. Go room-to-room and clear off the countertops, desk tops and shelves of all personal items. This includes your family photos. In this case, less is always more.

Clean

Cleaning goes a long way to improve the look and feel of your investment. A deep clean before you list the home is a good idea, but then set aside time each week to give the floors and bathrooms a once over.

Spackle and Paint

Now that your home is decluttered, de-personalized and clean, it’s a good time to spackle and paint. Filling in the holes and applying a fresh coat of paint will freshen the look of the house. Using lighter colors like white or beige will make the room feel bigger.

The National Association of REALTORS took a look at the value staging a home brings to the selling process, the return on investment or ROI. Here is what it determined.

  • 83% of buyers’ agents say that staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize the property as their future home.
  • 44% of buyers’ agents say that staging a home increases the dollar value offered
  • 53% of sellers’ agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market
  • 95% of agents recommend that sellers declutter their home before putting it on the market.

When it comes to the return on investment, a staged home will sell faster and for more money than a non-staged home. The results of a recent Coldwell Banker survey show staged homes sell for more than 6% above the asking price. For a $200,000 listing, that’s $12,000 extra in the seller’s pockets.

AimeeHartwigRealEstate.com / 541-579-9213 / aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com

This Week in Real Estate

photo credit: housingwire.com

September 10th, 2019

Mortgage Rates May Tumble to Record 3.3% by 2019’s End. Fixed mortgage rates could fall to 3.3% by the end of the year as the nation’s economy slows, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. That would put the rate just a smidge below the 3.31% seen in November of  2012 – the lowest average for a 30-year fixed mortgage in Freddie Mac data going back to 1971. “But lower rates may not help with affordability because home prices are re-accelerating higher, easily above the latest wage growth. Housing inventory has recently stopped rising, putting upward pressure on home prices of moderately priced homes,” Yun said. “But there is still a time to get the economy into a higher gear with increased home building of affordable homes and lessening trade tensions.”

Full Story… https://www.housingwire.com/articles/50102-nars-yun-mortgage-rates-may-tumble-to-record-33-by-2019s-end

A Smaller Share of Prospective Buyers is Actively Looking For a Home. A national poll in the second quarter of 2019 revealed that 12% of adults are thinking about buying a home in the next 12 months. Of that group, 41% are already actively engaged in the process of finding a home to purchase, which is a smaller share than a year earlier, when 50% of prospective buyers were engaged in the search process. This finding suggests that the lower mortgage rate environment of 2019 has not had the expected effect of nudging more people to start looking for a home to buy. Across generations, about 40% of Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomer buyers have moved beyond just planning and begun the home search, compared to only 21% of Senior buyers. Geographically, prospective buyers in the Northeast are the most likely to be actively looking for a home (47%), followed by those in the West (43%), and those in the Midwest and South (both 39%). How long are buyers who are actively engaged in the search process hunting for a home? In the second quarter of 2019, 45% had been at it for less than 3 months while the other 55% had been trying to find the right home for 3 months or longer. Those shares were essentially unchanged from a year earlier, when they stood at 46% and 54%, respectively.

Full Story… http://eyeonhousing.org/2019/09/a-smaller-share-of-prospective-buyers-is-actively-looking-for-a-home/

Residential Construction Spending Drops Further Off 2018 Pace. Construction spending inched up by 0.1 percent in July, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.289 trillion compared to $1.288 trillion in June. The July figure is 2.7 percent lower than the rate of spending in July 2018. On an unadjusted basis, spending for the month was $119.214 billion and for the year-to-date (YTD) stands at $733.782 billion, down 2.1 percent from the $749.888 billion spent during the first seven months of 2018. Private sector spending on residential spending was at an annual rate of $506.743 billion compared to $503.515 billion in June, an increase of 0.6 percent but down 6.6 percent from the prior July. Single family construction was at a rate of $268.138 billion a 1.4 percent month-over-month gain but a decrease of 8.5 percent on an annual basis. For the YTD, total residential spending has totaled $289.891 billion, $150.219 billion of it on single-family houses. During the same period in 2018 the respective totals were $316.929 billion and $164.529 billion. These represent declines of 8.5 and 8.7 percent. 

Full Story… http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/09042019_construction_spending.asp

aimeehartwigrealestate.com / 541-579-9213 / aimeehartwig@bhhsrep.com