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8 Tips for Protecting Yourself When You Buy a House If you're getting ready to buy a house during what is typically the busiest buying and selling time of the year, then offers may be flying, loans may seem confusing, and everything may be moving way too fast. That's why it's important to do everything you can to protect yourself throughout the entire homebuying process. Low mortgage interest rates and a strong underlying demand for housing drove total state existing-home sales to a new record in the first quarter of 2003 with 34 states experiencing sales increases over the first quarter of 2002, according to the National Association of Realtors. And the NAR says that many
Mortgage Rates U.S. averages as of May 29, 2003:30 yr. fixed: 5.31%15 yr. fixed: 4.73%1 yr. adj: 3.63%30 yr. jumbo: 6.98%-->
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states that saw sales decline actually had a shortage of homes for sale - and the biggest price increases. What this means if you're buying during the frenzied spring and summer months is that you'll need to do everything you can to protect yourself
Wondering What Your Home Is Worth?Let me show you.
Realty Profits Understated -As Usual If you've seen the June issue of Money magazine you know that the topic of the month is real estate and specifically, "How Real Estate Really Builds Wealth." Money does a great job with a number of insightful articles and a bevy of statistics. And yet there is one particular item with which I disagree. Emblazoned in black and white on page 73 the magazine tells us that, "the pace of home appreciation nationwide will cool from last year's 7% to more like 3% to 5% this year." Why am I discomforted with such numbers and predictions? There are two reasons, actually. First, I'm not sure how anyone can predict tomorrow's home appreciation, either nationwide or down the street. For decades teams of soothsayers and economists have attempted this trick and no one seems to have consistently determined what the future will bring. Such forecasts would be much more interesting if there was a penalty for being wrong, say the loss of a crystal ball, advanced degree -- or both. Second, and more significantly, real estate appreciation is greatly understated at 7 percent.
HUD Acts to End 'Flipping' The Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking a major step toward preventing an abusive lending practice known as flipping that has left thousands of unsuspecting home buyers on the hook for properties worth far less than what they owe on them. Effective June 2, the Federal Housing Administration will no longer insure mortgages on properties that have been sold more than once in 90 days. And if a repeat sale occurs between 91 and 180 days, lenders will be required to obtain an additional and independent appraisal. The new rules are designed to stop "flipping," a maneuver in which speculators buy a rundown property, often at foreclosure, make a few cosmetic repairs, and sell them, sometimes within days, at artificially inflated prices. Sometimes the houses are sold to fictitious buyers and then resold again and again at ever higher prices until they carry mortgages that far greater than their actual worth. Then, when the monthly payments stop, if they have been made at all, lenders take over the properties and file claims with the FHA, which guarantees to make lenders whole if borrowers fail to meet their obligations. Often when flipping schemes are discovered, sellers, lenders and appraisers are found to have been working together in the scam. The new rule "represents a major step in our efforts to eliminate predatory
Get Turned On ToLandscape Lighting As you trim your hedges, plant colorful annuals, stain the deck and break out the grill, there's an element you may be missing out on - lighting. Landscape lighting will improve the look of your backyard landscape, and will be especially attractive for those outdoor get-togethers that last until after dark. And lighting up your front landscape not only illuminates your greenery, but also makes your home safer by staving off would-be burglars. Many local law enforcement agencies across the country urge residents to install some sort of exterior lighting to thwart criminals. "Dollar for dollar, exterior lighting is the best investment for burglary prevention," the Bellaire Police Department in Texas tells web site visitors. "Dusk-to-dawn lighting illuminating the entire exterior of the home will reduce the probability of a criminal victimizing your home."
CONTINUED >>>Local Market Conditions
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