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New River Valley Real Estate Blog

Desi Sowers


Displaying blog entries 731-740 of 793

Mortgage Applications Steady in Latest Week

by Mortgage Bankers Association (12/31/2008)

The number of mortgage applications filed last week was essentially unchanged from the week before – at least on a seasonally adjusted basis.

This week’s index stood at 1245.7, compared to 1245.4 the previous week, adjusted for the Christmas holiday. On an unadjusted basis, the index decreased 40 percent compared with the previous week and was up 155 percent compared with the same week a year ago.

The refinance shore of mortgage activity declined to 82.3 percent of total applications, down from 82.9 the previous week.

Mortgage rates declined slightly:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.03 percent from 5.04 percent
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.79 percent from 4.91 percent
  • One-year ARMs decreased to 6.15 percent from 6.36 percent

10 Real Estate Predictions for 2009

by Desi Sowers

2009 is likely to be a year of continuing adjustment to a changing real estate marketplace. Prepare yourself and your business with these predictions from HGTV’s Web site.

  • Sellers will continue to face falling home values in the new year because they’ll be competing with banks and builders who are slashing prices to sell off the still-huge inventory of foreclosures and new homes.
  • The Obama administration will act on its plan to crack down on abusive lending practices.
  • Mortgage holders in danger of losing their homes will receive more assistance from a variety of programs since the Senate's Joint Economic Committee has predicted two million foreclosures in 2009.
  • Banks' restructuring should bring increasing calm, making loan modifications and short sales easier to obtain. Eventually this will lead to a decrease in the number of bank-owned properties on the market.
  • Mortgage applications will continue to receive a comprehensive review, requiring borrowers to provide extensive income and debt documentation. Those with the best credit will get the best rates.
  • The foreclosure crisis has created wiser consumers, with a deeper understanding of real estate, mortgages, and credit enabling better decision-making going forward.
  • Green is good with increasing numbers of buyers opting for smaller homes that are within walking distance of school and work.
  • Buyers and sellers will be more and more tech savvy, relying on tools like video, webcasts, and mobile search. Consumers and practitioners will benefit from being ahead of the curve.
  • Prices will be low as will interest rates, creating great buying opportunities, and likely, inspiring reluctant buyers to make their move.
  • The recession will end and buyers will regain confidence in the market.

Source: (12/03/08)

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance?

by Desi Sowers

Refinancing now sounds appealing, but for lots of people, it isn’t all that easy.

Applications for refinances tripled earlier this month after the Federal Reserve promised to buy up $600 billion of mortgage debt. And rates for 30-year fixed mortgages are falling below 5 percent – the lowest in 50 years – but many home owners will have trouble doing the deal.

Having at least 20 percent equity in a home is important. A credit score of at least 720 and a debt ratio that is less than 43 percent are both essential.

Jumbo mortgages are still expensive. A 5/1 adjustable-rate with an initial interest rate for five years and an annual reset is averaging 6.6 percent. Traditional 30-year fixed are at 7.49 percent. Home owners in this situation may have to just ride it out.

Mortgage Rates Plunge to Record Lows

by The Wall Street Journal, Steve Kerch (12/19/08)

Mortgage Rates Plunge to Record Lows
In response to the Federal Reserve's cut in the federal funds rate to near zero, Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 5.17 percent during the week ended Dec. 18--down from 5.47 percent last week and the lowest since the survey's inception in 1971.

Interest on 15-year fixed loans slipped to 4.92 percent from 5.20 percent.

Meanwhile, the five-year hybrid adjustable mortgage rate dropped to 5.6 percent from 5.82 percent; and the one-year ARM dipped to 4.94 percent from 5.09 percent.

A year ago, the 30-year fixed rate stood at 6.14 percent, the 15-year fixed rate at 5.79 percent, the five-year hybrid ARM at 5.9 percent, and the one-year ARM at 5.51 percent.

30-Year Rates at Lowest in 4 Years

by Desi Sowers

Freddie Mac reports a decline in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 5.47 percent during the week ended Dec. 11 from 5.53 percent last week and 6.11 percent a year ago.

Some lenders are locking in even lower rates as they build on momentum started when the Federal Reserve announced plans last month to purchase a substantial number of mortgage-backed securities. HSH Associates and Inside Mortgage Finance are reporting interest on 30-year fixed loans at 5.33 percent and 5.09 percent, respectively.

Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft says mortgage rates also were driven downward by the recession and rising unemployment.

Source: The Washington Post, Dina ElBoghdady (12/12/08)

Say Hello to Digital TV

by Desi Sowers

 Effective Feb. 17, 2009, televisions stations in the U.S. will stop broadcasting in analog and convert to100 percent digital broadcasting. For millions of Americans who are already hooked up to cable or satellite, or who have televisions with built-in digital tuners, the transition should be relatively smooth. But homeowners who still receive analog signals through a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears" may need to purchase additional equipment or services to keep their televisions operating properly., or call 1-888-DTV-2009.

Homeowners with analog TVs can either 1) connect to a converter box; 2) sign up for cable or satellite service; or 3) purchase a TV with a built-in digital tuner.

Through a program backed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, households can get two $40 coupons to help defray the cost of the converter boxes, which cost between $50 and $70 each.

Congress approved the switch to digital broadcasting to help free up channels for police, fire and emergency personnel. The Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the nation’s airwaves, says the digital transition also will open the door to new wireless services for consumers, improve TV picture and sound quality, and enable TV stations to broadcast several programs at the same time.

For more information or to order coupons online, visit

Top Tax-Friendly Communities for Retirees

by Desi Sowers

Spending the least amount possible on taxes is smart money-saving strategy for retirees.

To find the most tax-friendly places to retire, U.S. News & World Report sifted through more than 2,000 U.S. locales to find spots with low taxes and the amenities that are important to retirees like an economical cost of living, good recreational opportunities and attractive cultural amenities.

Here are the magazine’s top 10 communities:

  1. Billings, Mont.
  2. Cheyenne, Wyo.
  3. Doral, Fla.
  4. Henderson, Nev.
  5. Juneau, Alaska
  6. Manchester, N.H.
  7. Nashville, Tenn.
  8. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  9. Spokane, Wash.
  10. Stafford, Texas

Mortgage Rates Take a Big Dip This Week

by Desi Sowers

For the week ended Dec. 3, Freddie Mac reported the lowest interest on 30-year fixed home loans since late January.

The rate came in at an average of 5.53 percent, down from 5.97 percent the previous week and 5.96 percent a year ago; while 15-year fixed mortgages settled at 5.33 percent compared to 5.74 percent last week and 5.65 percent in the year-earlier period.

Borrowing costs for short-term loans also were lower, with one-year adjustable-rate mortgages dipping to 5.02 percent from 5.18 percent a week ago and 5.46 percent a year ago.

Five-year hybrid ARMs, meanwhile, fell to 5.77 percent from 5.86 percent last week and 5.75 percent during the same period of last year.

Sizing Up Remodeling Returns

by By Inman News, Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Siding and window replacements and wood decks had among the highest return of project costs upon resale, according to a report prepared by research company Hanley Wood LLC in cooperation with the National Association of Realtors' Realtor Magazine.

The 2008 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report found that the average upscale fiber-cement siding replacement project cost about $13,177 and recouped about $11,424 of that cost -- or 86.7 percent -- upon resale.

Wood deck additions, which cost an average of $10,601 per project, recovered an average $8,676, or 81.8 percent of the cost upon resale, the report found.

Midrange vinyl siding replacement projects returned about 80.7 percent of project cost, followed by upscale foam-backed vinyl siding replacement at 80.4 percent, minor kitchen remodels at 79.5 percent and upscale vinyl-sided window replacements at 79.2 percent of project costs. Wood and vinyl window replacements and major kitchen remodels followed on the list of projects

NAR noted that it was the second year in a row that exterior projects recouped the highest percentage of project costs.

The report compares construction costs with resale values for 30 midrange and upscale remodeling projects -- including additions, remodels and replacements -- in 79 markets across the country, NAR reported.

The least profitable remodeling projects in terms of recouped costs include home-office remodels, sunroom additions and backup power generators, according to the report, which return from 54.4 percent to 57.1 percent of project costs, on average, according to the report.

In some cities, homeowners can recover all of their costs on projects, the report found -- some projects in Charlotte, N.C., as an example, can net more than they cost at resale, and Seattle, Jackson (Miss.) and Billings (Mont.) also topped the list of cities with a high rate of return.

The Pacific region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington); the West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas); the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee); and the South Atlantic region (Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia) generally had higher recouped costs for projects than other regions in the U.S.

Top 10 Christmas Shopping Mistakes

by Written by Dave Ramsey

Here are the top 10 Christmas shopping mistakes and how you can act differently:

  1. Not prioritizing.
    Instead of getting stressed out with all the parties, baking and shopping, in addition to your normal daily life, set some priorities before you’re bombarded with a million requests. Think about which things are “must do” and which are “would be nice to do.” It’s all right to say no to keep yourself sane. Shopping for gifts is more fun when you’re not completely stressed out.

  2. Not using a budget.
    Before you make a gift list and head to the mall, set aside a reasonable amount of money for gifts. Make a commitment that you won’t add $20 to the fund every week just because you saw something cute that your niece would love.
    Get budgeting advice here.

  3. Using credit cards.
    Once you have your budget finalized, stay away from credit cards! You will still spend 12-18% more if you use plastic, and you’ll be paying it off come 2009! Doesn’t paying with cash sound more freeing than having a credit card balance looming over your head? You bet.

  4. Buying for everyone.
    Do you really need to buy gifts for every family member and friend you have? That can get overwhelming and expensive for everyone. Talk with them and work toward an agreement to draw names for gifts or donate money to a common cause.

  5. Not listening.
    Listen to the hints your loved ones drop about what they need or want this year. Maybe your Aunt Sally mentioned that she would love someone to help her in the garden, or Cousin Bob keeps losing guitar picks. A thoughtful gift like this will mean a lot.

  6. Not having a thought-out list on paper.
    If you think you can spend time in “Christmas retail world” without getting distracted by all the shiny toys, you’re in for a big surprise! You’ll be more likely to buy impulsively if you do it that way. Write down what each person you’re buying for would like and stick to the list. Stay focused!

  7. Not shopping around.
    “Shopping around” doesn’t mean you have to spend 24 extra hours running from store to store to save 10 cents. Take a look at your gift list and do some comparative price-checking online before you head out into the retail and traffic madness. This will save you money, time and stress!

  8. Waiting until the last minute.
    Procrastination is not the most appealing gift out there. Don’t find yourself stressed out on Christmas Eve just because you didn’t invest a little bit of time to plan.

  9. Forgetting to plan for next year.
    Throughout the next year, look for outrageous sales on things your loved ones will need. If you time the sales just right and clip some coupons, you could land a major discount on something you were going to buy in a few months for a birthday or wedding gift. Remember to have a list and budget for this, too.

  10. Forgetting why we celebrate.
    If this season becomes all about shopping and gifts, you’ve missed the whole point. People—not things—matter. The miraculous birth of a baby who changed the world is what matters.

Displaying blog entries 731-740 of 793




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