Real Estate News 12/24/18

REAL ESTATE NEWS
 House shoppers hurrying to find dream homes before interest rates go higher often turn to online calculators offered by personal finance and real estate sites to get a feel for just how dreamy a home they can afford. When they do, they risk getting bad information, experts say. "Most online calculators fall short of giving all the information you need to estimate a house payment," said Bob Harkson, a certified financial planner with Phase 2 Wealth Advisors in Gig Harbor, Washington. Philip A. Seagraves, an economics and finance professor at Middle Tennessee State University Jones College of Business puts it more pungently. "My opinion of the online calculators is that they're really just click-bait to get people to a site," Seagraves said. Property taxes are often the biggest omission. Many online calculators have only three input fields — loan amount, interest rate and number of years. The resulting payment includes only principal and interest. Yet monthly payments usually include a sizable contribution to an escrow fund for annual property taxes. Property taxes vary significantly depending on local tax rates, but can amount to thousands of dollars a year, adding hundreds a month to the housing payment. Insurance is another important item often skipped. The costs of a homeowners' insurance policy is usually also collected monthly into an escrow fund from which the annual premium is paid once a year. Online calculators are hardly the last word when it comes to figuring out your payments. Lenders are legally required to give borrowers a loan estimate form that includes estimated taxes and insurance as well as interest and principal payments. Borrowers must get the loan estimate within three days of submitting an application. Source: CNBC -- Don't forget to check with me first to get a more accurate reading when trying to estimate your payments

FHA has released their 2019 loan limits, with a base loan limit of $314,827 for lower cost areas and a limit of $726,525 in high cost areas. The high cost limits are identical to conforming limits for high cost areas. The FHA national low-cost area limits, are set at 65 percent of the national conforming limit of $484,350 for a one-unit property. Additional base limits include: two-unit properties: $403,125; three-unit properties: $487,250; and four-unit properties: $605,525. Additional high cost limits include: two-unit properties: $930,300; three-unit properties: $1,124,475; and four-unit properties: $1,397,400. FHA has published a separate list of counties with loan limit increases. You may view this list, along with a list of areas at the ceiling and a list of areas between the floor and ceiling, on the Maximum Mortgage Limits web page or you can look up an indivudal area using this link: Click Here. In addition, the national Reverse Mortgage limit (HECM) was set at the conforming high cost limits, or $726,525 and VA has set their 2019 loan limits as the same as conforming as well. Overall, these higher loan limits will mean more choices for the average buyer in 2019. Source: FHA

Although the national inventory level is down 2.5 percent from one year ago, the number of homes for sale during the third quarter dropped to its slowest annual pace since 2015 and has climbed in several major markets. "Homebuyers may be pleasantly surprised to see more homes on the market, as housing inventory starts to make a comeback after years of decline," said Cheryl Young, Senior Economist, Trulia. "While this is ultimately good news for frustrated buyers, years of steadily increasing prices mean that those hoping to buy a home will need to spend a bigger share of their income once they find one. Nonetheless, those buyers daunted by low inventory and high prices have reason to be cautiously optimistic as parts of the housing market begin to ease." Source: Trulia 

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