USDA/RURAL HOUSING MAPS CHANGE Oct. 1

August 21, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 19, 2014 – A favored mortgage product in some areas of Florida will undergo changes on Oct. 1, 2014. The USDA/rural housing mortgage is offered in areas – many times in outlying areas of major cities – with population up to 35,000 and “rural in character.”

To determine if an area is eligible for the program, the USDA has created maps and an online search tool where a buyer can key in a prospective home’s address and find out if a USDA loan is possible. The maps get updated regularly based on U.S. Census data.

Many homes in the current rural map will remain in the updated rural map. However, some homes in the current map will no longer qualify for a USDA mortgage after Oct. 1 unless Congress takes action to postpone the change.

Prospective homebuyers looking at a property in a currently qualified area may find that it won’t qualify after Oct. 1. In that case, a contract must be signed and the mortgage accepted by Oct. 1 if they hope to secure USDA funding. However, due to potential paperwork delays, Realtors are advised to start the process as early as possible to avoid a last-minute problem.

The USDA currently has two search engines online. A specific address can be checked, or a map can show the broad areas impacted by the map changes.

To view the map, visit the USDA website.

To see check current addresses that qualify for the USDA program, select the applicable type of housing under “Property Eligibility.” To see if the address will be included after the Oct. 1 changes, select “Future Eligible Areas.”
© 2014 Florida Realtors®


FHA HAWK Program a Good Start but Needs to Go Further, Say Realtors®

August 19, 2014

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2014) – In a letter sent today to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Association of Realtors® offered support for the Federal Housing Administration’s efforts to reduce mortgage insurance premiums for first-time buyers through its Homeowners Armed with Knowledge, or HAWK, housing counseling pilot program but is concerned the program won’t significantly reduce premiums or reach enough qualified buyers.

“As the leading advocate for homeowners, Realtors® are concerned about FHA’s high annual mortgage insurance premiums and the insurance requirement for the life of the loan,” said NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc. Realtors® in Dayton, Ohio. “FHA fees make up nearly 20 percent of a monthly mortgage payment today and are making it more difficult for qualified buyers to purchase a home. Since FHA is on target to meet and exceed its capital reserve requirements in the next fiscal year, we encourage FHA to support premium reductions across the board.”

First-time home buyers who participate in the four-year pilot program will benefit at closing from a 50 basis points reduction in the upfront mortgage insurance premium and a 10 basis points reduction in the annual premium. If buyers complete post-closing housing counseling and do not have delinquencies greater than 90 days in the first 18 months after closing, they will receive an additional 15 basis points reduction on the annual premium starting the loan’s 25th month.

In its letter, NAR said HAWK fees could be prohibitive to buyers if lenders or counseling agencies aren’t able to pay a portion of fees and encouraged FHA to allow for coordination with other pre-purchase counseling programs, which also typically include fee-based education. It could take buyers two years to offset the cost of counseling with the premium reductions offered under the HAWK program and even longer if buyers have to satisfy other financial programs separately. NAR also urged for future expansion of the program to repeat buyers.

Brown said NAR also has concerns about the amount of time it will take for buyers to access and complete the counseling program. If renters decide not to renew at the end of their lease and contact a real estate agent to begin the home search process, they could be pushed beyond their target move out date if the next available counseling class isn’t for 30 to 60 more days.

NAR plans to work closely with FHA to educate its Realtor® members and consumers about the availability and benefits of the HAWK counseling program and recommends that FHA heavily market the program to lenders, real estate agents and consumers so there is awareness about its ability to make FHA loans more affordable.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


Latest Existing Home Sales Data Release

August 13, 2014

◦NAR recently released a summary of existing home sales data showing that existing home sales continued to improve in June, reaching an annual pace of 5 million for the first time this year. June marks the third consecutive month of increased sales, and June’s figures represent a 2.6% improvement from last month, though sales are still 2.3% below a year ago.
◦The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $223,300 in June, up 4.3% percent from June 2013. June’s data also continues a trend of year-over-year price gains for the past two years.
◦All regions showed growth in prices, except the Northeast, which experienced a minor decline of 0.1%. The West continues to maintain the biggest price gain at 7.2% from a year ago.
◦June’s inventory figures increased by 6.5% from a year ago – it will take 5.5 months to move the current level of inventory. It takes approximately 44 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market.
◦Distressed sales are showing signs of thinning out. All cash buyers are still strong, representing 1/3 of the home purchasing population. Home buyers are moving into condos at a higher rate than single family homes while single family prices are rising faster than condo prices.

◦NAR recently released a summary of existing home sales data showing that existing home sales continued to improve in June, reaching an annual pace of 5 million for the first time this year. June marks the third consecutive month of increased sales, and June’s figures represent a 2.6% improvement from last month, though sales are still 2.3% below a year ago.
◦The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $223,300 in June, up 4.3% percent from June 2013. June’s data also continues a trend of year-over-year price gains for the past two years.
◦All regions showed growth in prices, except the Northeast, which experienced a minor decline of 0.1%. The West continues to maintain the biggest price gain at 7.2% from a year ago.
◦June’s inventory figures increased by 6.5% from a year ago – it will take 5.5 months to move the current level of inventory. It takes approximately 44 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market.
◦Distressed sales are showing signs of thinning out. All cash buyers are still strong, representing 1/3 of the home purchasing population. Home buyers are moving into condos at a higher rate than single family homes while single family prices are rising faster than condo prices.


What to do about Tracking, Targeted Ads on Facebook

August 6, 2014

What can you do about tracking, targeted ads on Facebook? Although you can’t stop receiving ads on Facebook, you can keep Facebook from aiming specific ad topics at you. Based on things you click on while on the web, you are being tracked.

If you prefer to opt out of the targeted ads, you can do so by visiting this website: http://www.aboutads.info/choices/

This information can be found in greater detail in the Wall Street Journal of today, August 6th in the Home & Digital section.