Friday, January 17, 2014

Fourth Quarter Numbers are in

ROCHESTER, NY - January 17, 2014 - Fourth Quarter 2013 statistics were released today by the Genesee Region Real Estate Information Services (GENRIS), the information subsidiary of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR).

The momentum from the three earlier quarters offset a sluggish fourth, ending 2013 with solid gains overall.  The Greater Rochester Multiple Listing Service (MLS) saw a 4.7% increase in the number of homes, condos and townhouses sold to 11,267 units as compared to 10,765 the previous year.  Pending sales also grew by 4.1% year-over-year to 11,350, up from 10,904 in 2012.

Area homes steadily continued to gain value, indicated by a modest 1.8% climb to $127,200 overall.  Median home prices in the City of Rochester specifically posted a 5.3% gain to $78,900.  Neighboring counties generally followed suit, with Wyoming and Steuben outpacing the norm, reporting sales increases of 21.1% and 16.7% respectively.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Buyers Want a Clean Slate and Fresh Start

One of the most important steps in preparing your house for market is de-cluttering and staging.  While common sense would tell you that all the clutter leaves with the seller, most buyers just can't see past it.  Maybe they have a clutter problem in their current home and a new home represents a fresh start.  They just can't picture that start in a cluttered house.

Sometimes we also need to give our walls a clean slate and fresh start.  There is an awesome colonial in Fairport that just hasn't gotten its fair share of attention and so the seller spent much of the holiday season stripping wallpaper.  Take a look that the before and after shots of their sons' bedroom.  The transformation is remarkable.

For more shots and details of this home, go to 81 W Church

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

New Loan Requirements for Getting a Mortgage

It seems that many people would rather visit a dentist than talk to a loan officer to qualify for a mortgage.   And while there is more physical pain from the dentist chair, there is something extremely uncomfortable about having your entire financial history scrutinized and analyzed while your future hangs in the balance.  I get it.  My credit score is in excess of 800 and I still feel weak in the knees when I need to get pre-approved.

Effective January 10, 2014 there are new lending rules that make it essential for potential home buyers to get qualified for a home purchase as soon as possible.  It is not that the criteria to qualify has changed drastically, it that there is now no fudge room.  There is a strict maximum debt-to-income ratio if the lender wants to sell the loan through one of the agencies, such as FNMA, GNMA, VA, etc.  and many banks just are not interested in giving loans that don't qualify to be sold. 

Getting approved for financing is not just about credit scores.  It's about verifying income and assets.  Employment is also verified, which is not as simple as it seems, since today many more people are contract employees or independent contractors.   In addition, all debts and liabilities are looked at, including child support and alimony.  And then there is the credit history.  Mortgage qualifying is also about determining a monthly payment that includes taxes and insurance that works for the buyer as well as determining how much cash will be required at closing. 

There is a lot that can go wrong in this complex formula of mortgage qualification and the sooner that the borrower knows, the sooner it can be corrected.  Whether it is saving more money for the down payment, paying down debts or improving a credit score, time and sound financial advice from a seasoned mortgage professional are key to success.  A loan officer can advise on what bills to pay off first for the most rapid improvement in score and whether or not it makes sense to close accounts or consolidate debts. 

I don't send my clients to a loan officer to torture them.  I do it because I want them to succeed in their goal of purchasing a new home.  And I want them to succeed as painlessly as possible.   There is a lot of information on the internet about mortgage qualification and some of it is good, some of it is totally wrong and all of it is very general.   It does not replace the specific advice that you will get from a loan officer. 

So go ahead and make the call.  Hopefully all your news will be good news.  And save all your fretting for the dentist chair.  Just don't forget to brush twice a day and be sure to floss.  :-)

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Look Back at the Past Year

My year ended with a bang and I'm not talking about fireworks.  Around 11:30 am on December 31st, a healthy Jonah Jensen was born, making me a grandma for the 4th time.  Ending the year on such a high note, sure made the rest of the year a blur.

I've said it over and over, but the best part of real estate is really getting to know some wonderful people and this year was no exception.  This year I worked with a number of young families and one provided an experience I will never forget.  Thanks to the latest technology, they signed a purchase offer on their dream property within an hour of giving birth to a beautiful baby girl.  And then upon being released from the hospital, they proceeded to prepare and place their home on the market.  Wow!  I don't recommend other families follow suit.

And just a few weeks later, I arrived at a listing appointment as one of the owners was taken to hospice care.  Bob had lived at the same place for 41 years and always said he wanted to leave feet first.  Well, he did and past away about 12 hours later.

So I've seen more than my fair share of life this year and hopefully I'm wiser for it.    I appreciate the trust people have put in me when they decide to buy or sell real estate and look forward to new relationships in the new year.

Happy new year everyone!