Is a Down Payment Assistance loan right for you?

October 15, 2019

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Not having enough cash to make a down payment on a home is a common concern. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the road! I recently spoke with Mark Sherman of Atlantic Trust Mortgage, who provided valuable insights on another option: a DPA (Down Payment Assistance) loan.

 

Mark said in addition to understanding the ins and outs of traditional loan products (e.g. Conventional, Jumbo, USDA, VA, FHA), mortgage brokers are also responsible for being well-versed in a variety of niche and first-time homebuyer products. This includes knowing how and when these alternative products are valuable to buyers.

 

Key among these products is the DPA loan. Though there are 3% down, 3.5% down and even 100% conventional, government and USDA financing options, some buyers still can’t cover the down payment and closing costs. However, they might have good credit and the necessary income to qualify for the monthly payment.

 

For these buyers, Mark says the DPA portion of their financing is provided as a “second” mortgage “grant” that requires no payment (or a reduced interest-only monthly payment). Then they can apply the funds from their “grant” to their down payment and closing costs. In many cases, the buyer needs no cash at closing.

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All is Well in Northeast Florida Real Estate: August Market Stats

September 24, 2019

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I attended a great event hosted by NEFBA this week featuring Robert Dietz, the National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist. He shared some very positive information about the Jacksonville MSA (metropolitan statistical area) performing better than the state and nation in many areas. For instance, the population growth for 2018 in the U.S. was 0.6%, the state of Florida was 1.5% and the Jacksonville MSA was 2.0%.

 

Robert Dietz also shared that the Builder confidence index rose to 68 in September from an upwardly revised reading of 67 in August. A reading above 50 is considered positive.

 

Another interesting slide he shared shows the number of young adults between the ages of 25 to 34 living with their parents almost doubled since 2005. Approximately 12% were living with their parents in 2005 and around 22% are living with parents now. Many young adults in this age group have student loans and auto loans which make it difficult to afford housing payments. Student loans are 142% higher since the recession and auto loans are 60% higher. Housing formations for this group are being delayed.

 

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How Federal Reserve Rate Decisions Impact Mortgages

September 23, 2019

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As mortgage loan originators, we are often the first phone call when customers hear the Fed (Federal Reserve) has “cut rates” during one of its Open Market Committee meetings.

 

Typically, if the Federal Reserve makes a cut, usually .25% at a time, it is designed to stimulate short term interest rates, encourage investment by businesses and encourage consumers to make durable goods purchases like automobiles, appliances or recreational vehicles. It is also meant to encourage homeowners to dip into home equity for home improvements, debt reduction or possibly college expenses for a child.

 

Short-term financing rates move in the same direction as the Federal Funds rate. So if you are considering a 3-5 Year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), you may see a dip in those rates. I like to refer to these downward cuts as a “loosening” of credit.

 

As for fixed rate loans at 15-30 Year terms, the Federal Funds rate does not always have an impact. They are not directly linked to each other.

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All is Well in Northeast Florida Real Estate: July Market Stats

August 27, 2019

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All is well in Northeast Florida real estate this summer in the most recent report from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. The pending sales and closed sales are up, the median and average sales price are up, and the inventory of homes for sale and months supply of homes for sale are down.

 

There were 2,983 contracts written in July which is up 6% over last July and 6% year-to-date. The local data continues to be positive and in June the national numbers were also positive. A National Association of Realtors article says, “The Pending Sales Index (PHSI) – a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings – moved up 2.8% to 108.3 in June, an increase from 105.4 in May. Year-over-year contract signings jumped 1.6%, snapping a 17-month streak of annual decreases. The 2.8% increase is likely the start of a positive trend for home sales, predicts NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.”

  • The closed sales in July of 2,820 were up 1% over last July and 4% year-to-date.
  • The median sales price of $242,000 is up 5% over last July and 2% year-to-date.
  • The average sales price of $283,038 is up 3% over last July and 2% year-to-date.
  • The inventory of homes for sale is down 7% from last July to 9,173.
  • The months supply of inventory is down 12.5% from last July to 3.5 months.
    Five to six months of supply is a balanced market.

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Why New Construction Negotiations Require a Realtor’s Savvy

August 6, 2019

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One of the many reasons to use a real estate agent to buy a home is their negotiating expertise. But when buying new construction, buyers can be tempted to purchase straight through the builder’s agent (an on-site agent operating on behalf of the builder).

 

It’s not uncommon for a buyer to say, “I work in sales! I know how to negotiate.” Negotiating skills are valuable in virtually every industry, so many buyers assume their own skills can seal a great deal. But good Realtors have honed negotiating techniques that are specific not just to the industry but also to all builders and will benefit you big time at the closing table.

 

Here are five ways a Realtor’s negotiating savvy will benefit you when buying new construction:

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