Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Washington, January 27, 2011

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Washington, January 27, 2011

Pending home sales improved further in December, marking the fifth gain in the past six months, according to the National Association of Realtors®

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator, increased 2.0 percent to 93.7 based on contracts signed in December from a downwardly revised 91.9 in November. The index is 4.2 percent below the 97.8 mark in December 2009. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, credits good affordability conditions and economic improvement. “Modest gains in the labor market and the improving economy are creating a more favorable backdrop for buyers, allowing them to take advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions. Mortgage rates should rise only modestly in the months ahead, so we’ll continue to s“In the past two years, home buyers have been very successful, with super-low loan default rates, partly because of stable home prices during that time. That trend is likely to continue in 2011 as long as there is sufficient demand to absorb inventory,” Yun said. “The latest pending sales gain suggests activity is very close to a sustainable, healthy volume of a mid-5 million total annual home sales. However, sales above 6 million, as occurred during the bubble years, is highly unlikely this year .”The PHSI in the Northeast increased 1.8 percent to 73.9 in December but is 5.3 percent below December 2009. In the Midwest the index rose 8.0 percent in December to 84.6 but is 5.1 percent below a year ago. Pending home sales in the South jumped 11.5 percent to an index of 101.9 and are 1.7 percent above December 2009. In the West the index fell 13.2 percent to 105.8 and is 10.7 percent below a year ago. The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.

NOTE: Existing-home sales for January will be reported February 23 along with revisions for the past three years, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be released February 28. Fourth quarter metro area home prices and state home sales will be published February 10; release times are 10:00 a.m. EST.

Why 2010 is the Time to Buy a House

Friday, May 28th, 2010

In recent months, consumers have shown more confidence in the economic state of America. In fact, according to the Consumer Research Center, consumer confidence posted its third consecutive monthly gain-up 63.3 from last month’s 57.7, and though this is still weak by historical levels, it appears to be gaining ground. This 5.6% increase may seem minor, especially given that a consumer confidence number over 90 means that the economy is on solid ground, but the higher number shows that consumers are feeling more confident about the upcoming months.

This increase, when paired with the current low interest rates has many analysts saying that now is the time to buy a house or have a house built. In fact, according to a May 25th Associated Press report, the rate of home building has now risen by 40% since April of 2009. The article goes on to say that the Commerce Department reported this week that the amount of construction of single family homes and apartment buildings increased 5.8% last month, which matched the high of October of 2008. More encouraging is that the sale of new homes rose 27% in March for the biggest increase in 47 years; matter of fact, this week’s top headlines in the housing industry are:

  • Existing Home Sales Data: Home sales for the month of April come in at 5.77 million, versus the consensus of 5.62 million. On a month-over-month basis, existing home sales rose 7.6%, which compares to the economist consensus of up 5.1%.
  • Home Price Index- First quarter numbers were released
  • Home Sales Data- What areas of the country are doing better/worse in the house buying/selling market

This increase in buying/selling and building, likely precipitated by the tax credits, means more opportunities for consumers to take advantage of the lower interest rates currently hovering at 5%. And while all is not perfect, things are looking better.

If you have been thinking about building or buying a home, now is the time to act. After all, low interest rates paired with lower home prices, won’t last forever. And while the housing market varies from state to state (as well as by city), the areas surrounding Raleigh, North Carolina are seeing an increase in residential building and home sales. According to recent reports, the Raleigh real estate market is on the rise with home purchases in the north and northeastern part of the city increasing by 10%. For homes listed with area realtors, there was an average of 101 closings in February with numbers rising since then. Also encouraging is that Raleigh area showings increased by as much as 22% (depending on the asking price) and listings by 7%. Popular neighborhoods for buying and selling were those in Falls Lake and Brier Creek, though many others saw growth as well. Local mortgage analyst  feel that the increase in home buying and building is a combination of a slightly lower Raleigh unemployment rate, the lower interest rates and the current concern over the European market.

So, if you have been thinking that a move is looming your future, don’t delay. This is the time to buy or build the house you have always wanted.

How to Get the Tax Incentive Before It’s Gone!

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Even with everything that has happened with the economy, there is still no better time to buy a home. If you are even considering home-buying, you would be wise to move from consideration to serious action.

The Home Buyer Tax Incentive is still in effect; however, as the title of this article states, time is ticking away. Homes must be under a contract by April 30, 2010, and closing must occur by June 30, 2010, in order for homebuyers to receive the tax incentive.

Remember, also, that this tax incentive program is different from the “first-time home buyer tax credit” that was being offered during 2008 and 2009. Both first-time homebuyers AND those who have lived in the home they currently own for a period of five years consecutively out of eight years are eligible.

So, with all that in mind, this is a good time to sit down and take a good look at your current credit status. If you are like most people, you may not even know where to begin, so we’ve provided a checklist of things to look at when you are examining your credit records and history, to help you with your home buying decision.

First, obtain a copy of your credit report. TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax are the three credit reporting companies who have this information. You can obtain a separate copy from each one, or there are websites and other locations that will let you obtain all three with just one request.

Once you have your credit report, sit down and review it thoroughly. This is not at hard as it may sound, as clear explanations are given on each report regarding how to read the report.

You are looking for three things: errors, inaccuracies, and suspicious entries. Errors can include paid off and/or closed accounts still showing open or with an open balance. Inaccuracies can include reports of late payments when there were none, or inaccuracy in reporting the amount of payments. Suspicious entries are those accounts which you do not readily recognize or know for certain that you never opened or applied for.

If any part of your credit report is inaccurate, take steps immediately to correct them. Go to the website of the credit reporting company where the error appears, and submit a request for correction of your credit report. The company must, by law, review your submission, and, if necessary, correct any errors or inaccuracies.

If you do have to file a correction request, make periodic contact with them. You don’t want too much time to pass before the corrections, if any are needed, are made.

Next, look at your current debt-to-income ratio. You should have no more than 20% of your income going towards paying bills. If it is more than that, you will want to immediately start lowering that percentage.

If, after doing all this, you realize you are in a position to buy a home, please “Mouse-Over” the “Move In Inventory” tab on the left-hand side of our website and you will see a number of locations with homes that are ready for immediate occupancy. We look forward to seeing you in your new Freedom Family Home.

Home Buyer Tax Credit Extended

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

On November 6, 2009, President Obama signed “The Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009”, otherwise known as the “The Home Tax Credit”.  The new bill extends the housing credit that was about to expire plus adds new benefits for many that would not have qualified before.

The Home Tax Credit is an act whereby first-time home buyers will receive a tax credit of $8,000, and “move-up/repeat” home buyers will receive a $6,500 tax credit. Because these are tax credits, the IRS has provided definitions or explanations for the terms “first-time home buyer” and “move-up”/repeat home buyer.

According to, “first-time home buyer” is “someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.  A  move-up/repeat home buyer “must have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years”.

The $8,000 and $6,500 figures are the maximum amount of tax credit that can be received. In other words, your tax credit amount may be less than $8,000 or $6,500, depending on what 10% of your home’s purchase price is. It will not be more than $8,000 or $6,500. Further, the purchase price of the home must be $800,000 or less in order to be eligible for the tax credit.

First-time homeowners who bought houses after January 1, 2009 and before or by April 30, 2010, are eligible. If, however, first-time home buyers enter into and sign a binding sales contract by April 30, 2010, they will be eligible as long as all purchase arrangements have been completed by June 30, 2010.

Tax credit eligibility for repeat home buyers applies to homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and before or by April 30, 2010. Repeat home buyers have the same rights concerning entering into and signing a binding sales contract by April 30, 2010 and purchase arrangements being completed by June 30, 2010, just as first-time buyers do.

Home buyers purchasing houses on or after January 1, 2009 and by or before November 6, 2009 can only make up to $75,000 if they file single tax returns and up to $150,000 if they are a married couple who files joint tax returns.

Single taxpayers who purchase homes after November 6, 2009 and by or before April 10, 2010 can earn up to $125,000 however while married couples who purchase homes during the aforementioned time period can
earn up to $225,000. If this is the case, they will qualify for the full tax credit.

As you can see, the new Home Tax Credit will help not only new home owners but many others that need that extra push or helping hand to get into the buyers market.  This in turn will also help others who are involved in the home sales industry. This includes, although it is certainly not limited to, realtors and builders and lenders. This in turn will strengthen the housing market, which we believe will have a positive effect on the economy.

Congress Considering $8000 Home Buyer Tax Credit Extension

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

The $8000 first time home buyer tax credit  is set to expire on November 30th, 2009. Congress has considered extending this, a move that the the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) applauds. Under a recently introduced bill, the credit would be extended for one year for any qualifying service member. If the service member experiences a change in duty station and must move within three years, the recapture requirement would also be waived.

Another bill introduced would only extend the tax credit for six months. This bill is not as popular with the NAHB, who wants to see a one-year increase for all buyers, but it has six co-sponsors and a lot of support. It is estimated that more than 383,000 additional home sales would be seen if the $8000 first time home buyer credit were extended for a year and made available to all Americans, regardless of whether they are first time buyers or not.

There are programs in Congress to extend the tax credit and raise it to as much as $15,000, but none of these bills have passed yet. Whether any of them will pass or whether time will run out and the credit will expire remain to be seen. The US housing market, while improving, is still weak in comparison to where it used to be. With that being the case, a lot of people who are struggling right now want to see the credit extended so that the economy can stay strong.

Some economists believe that an extension of the credit is required, or there will be even more weakness in the housing market. Part of that weakness comes from the fact that so many people have lost their homes to foreclosure, and allowing these people to purchase homes again can help them recover as individuals and can help the US economy as a whole. Under the current credit, a person has to be purchasing his first home or not have been a homeowner for at least three years.

Extending the credit by one year would cause more people to fall into that three year window, thus affording them the same tax break that people who qualify for the credit now enjoy. Extending the $8000 home buyer credit to everyone would allow for people who have sold a home to relocate or simply find a lower-cost home in their area and purchase it while still getting the tax break that could help them succeed and move forward.

There are concerns about where the money for the tax breaks will come from, but right now it appears that it will come from money that’s being recaptured from the stimulus funds. Some places refused these funds or have not used all of them, and these can be reused in order to help offset the home buyer credit. Congress has little time to make a decision, however, so whatever it decides to do will need to be put in place quickly to avoid an interruption in the home buyer tax credit.

Mortgage Demands Up as Interest Rates Continue Down

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

These are some of the toughest economic times that many of us have ever seen. With rising unemployment rates, record number of foreclosures, and a bleak economic forecast, it would seem rather difficult to find a silver lining. However for those in the market to buy a house or even considering this important purchase, there can be some great incentives. With interest rates continuing to go down over the last three weeks, there is even more motivation to start looking for that dream house.

Mortgage demand was up in June, and this is due to a couple of various factors. There is a good portion of this demand that is attributed to those that wish to refinance their current homes while the rates are in their favor. In the midst of a rather bleak economic state, this can offer some the opportunity to incur lower monthly costs and a better long term big picture for them. Another major factor in mortgage demand being up is the fact that potential first time home owners are starting to see that now is the time. With low interest rates and very enticing added incentives, first time home owners are probably the luckiest segment in these tough economic times.

Bernanke’s Stance on Interest Rates

Special attention is being paid to Bernanke’s last session with Congress as interest rates were a big topic of discussion. He defended the low interest rates and concluded that they should stay at the low point they are currently at until the unemployment rate starts to decrease. While some may argue with this logic and it sparks a rather heated debate amidst excessive government spending, this too can benefit those who wish to purchase a home with no end in sight for the potential this holds. If interest rates continue to stay low, this can even benefit the currently unemployed once they are back on their feet and in a place where they are capable of and interested in purchasing a home.

Mortgage Demand May Signify Beginning of Crisis’ End

Though it may be tough to see a light at the end of the tunnel, particularly for those unemployed or in a bleak financial situation, there are some that can benefit from these economic times. We may very well continue to see the mortgage demand continue to rise month after month, acting as another boost to an economy that wants to get back on track. With the additional $8000 tax incentive acting as a carrot for first time home owners, it’s pretty hard not to start seeking out your dream house. So whether you are a household that just wants to get a better rate on your current home through refinancing or considering owning your first home, the low interest rates can be extremely beneficial to you. As long as the rates stay this low and incentives continue to be thrown out there, mortgage demand can be expected to steadily increase. This is good news for a staggering economy that is expected to get better in the coming months.

FHA Housing Credit Expires Soon!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Take Advantage: FHA Housing Credit Expires Soon!

When it comes to saving money on taxes, most people are willing to do just about anything to cut a few dollars from what they owe. We learned earlier this year that because of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, new homeowners were able to get serious benefits on their 2008 tax returns. One of those benefits is the FHA Housing Credit, which allows you to take a tax credit of up to $8,000 if you’re a first-time homebuyer.

And while this was beneficial at tax-time, you can still take advantage of this tax credit. But you’ll need to act fast as it expires in December!

The great thing here is that you can take advantage of this opportunity upfront. That means, you can obtain the housing credit from a third-party lender and use the $8,000 to put toward your upfront housing costs. For instance, if the home needs fixing up, you could use this cash to put toward repairs or additions. This is especially beneficial because you are then reinvesting the money in your new home, which subsequently boosts the value of the property.

Normally, mortgage interest is tax deductible, but property taxes are also deductible now and allow you to save even more. These are all vital things to keep in mind when deciding to purchase a new home. Even though the economy is in a difficult spot right now, there has never been a better time to invest in real estate. Property costs are down and with incredible tax credits and benefits like these, if you have the means to make a purchase, you should do so now, before the FHA Housing Credit expires.

Need more convincing that now is the time to act? The FHA housing credit now provides you with a new ability to borrow against the credit you receive. So instead of having to wait until the deal goes through, you can borrow money upfront so you can get started with your home renovation projects, moving costs, or what have you.

The important thing to keep in mind is that while purchasing a home is a costly endeavor, there are numerous expenses that aren’t included in your mortgage. Like I said, the cost of moving, fixing up the home, buying appliances and other costs add up quickly and can be next to impossible to deal with if you don’t have a sizeable savings.

So, instead of going it alone and dealing with the expenses one your own, why not take advantage of the upfront FHA housing credit before it expires this December? It won’t cost you a penny and you can get settled in your new home much faster than you would have if you’d been forced to piecemeal your initial costs over time. Using this once-in-a-lifetime tax credit now gives you the unique opportunity to borrow against the credit right away, before you even move into your new home. To make a long story short, when else will you have an opportunity like this one right at your fingertips?

Job Loss Protection for New Home Owners

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

There’s no denying the fact that the economy is tough right now. People are cutting back their budgets to the bare essentials and postponing plans. But if you’re one of the lucky few that have managed to tuck a bit of cash away, right now is the perfect time to buy a home. I know it sounds unreasonable, but with home prices down, interest rates down and the range of homes from which you can choose going up, right now is the time to act on your dream of becoming a homeowner.

Of course, this isn’t something you should just jump into without considering the finer details. Buying a home is one of the biggest commitments you can ever make. In such an uncertain economy, you’ll want to make sure that your investment is protected, no matter what happens. That means making sure your income can support your new mortgage and that you are generally prepared to handle the responsibility of being a homeowner. But even the most prepared people can sometimes fall into troubled times. That’s why there are certain protections you can ensure are attached to your mortgage in case life doesn’t go as planned.

One thing in particular you should look for when considering a home loan is to pick a lender that offers job loss protection. Job loss protection is basically a feature that is written into your loan that affords you insurance for a given period of time if you lose your job. That means your home is insured and protected. You won’t be foreclosed on and you won’t lose the roof over your head during this period.

No two job loss protection programs are the same, but they are usually targeted toward new homeowners and act as a bit of reassurance for those that are hesitant about buying a home in today’s rocky economy. Even if your job is stable now, it is possible that you could lose it later, making such insurance all the more valuable.

Freedom Family is proud to offer this protection to new homeowners through their select lender, Bank of America. This special job loss protection program insures all closed and funded loans for 12 months. This will be a big sigh of relief for many struggling families that are in a good financial situation now but are concerned about where they will be in the future.

Everyone wants to hope for the best, but sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. And that’s okay, so long as you’ve accounted for the unexpected when applying for a mortgage. By making sure job loss protection insurance is included in your mortgage, you safeguard your family, your home and your life against the troubling fact that this economy is uncertain.

The market for new homeowners is too good to pass up right now. Just be smart about your investment… and you can’t help but be smart with Freedom Family. You’ll obtain job loss protection and numerous other assurances that will keep your new investment safe. After all, safety in your investments is something we all can appreciate.

Housing Interest Rates at All-Time Low

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

There has never been a better time to buy a home. Even though that sounds counterintuitive with the economy in such a downturn, it’s an honest fact. Home prices are dropping and better yet, interest rates are lower than ever. Take that in combination with the amazing tax benefits laid out in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that provide new home buyers with a tax credit of up to $8,000, now is the perfect time to take the plunge into home ownership.

So why on earth are interest rates lower now than ever before? In response to the foreclosure crisis and the generally poor health of the economy, the Federal Reserve started up a renewed effort to help the housing market. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, Freddie Mac, the mortgage financing company, reported an interest rate drop from 4.98 percent to 4.85 percent on 30-year fixed rate mortgages. This is actually a rate drop of a whole percentage point from just a year ago.

Even though most people seeking mortgages at this time are merely looking to refinance, you can take this moment to delve into your first real estate investment. And really, there’s no reason not to.

So, there’s probably an alarm going off in your head right now that’s saying, “But the economy is weak! I don’t want to take the risk of getting a mortgage! What if I lose my job? It’s just too risky!” This is a valid concern, certainly. Especially since a lot of people are getting laid off. But, if you feel relatively secure in your job, there hasn’t ever been a better time to take out a mortgage.

Think about it: interest rates are super low, home prices are going down and there are plenty of properties to choose from. Add on the fact that you could get a serious tax credit and there’s really no reason not to buy a home.

Home ownership has never been more affordable than it is right now in 2009. Of course, this might not be the most practical choice for you if your job is unsteady and you don’t have enough money saved up for a down payment. But if you do, it is strongly advised you at least consider the great deals in the mortgage industry today.

If you already have a mortgage, now might also be the time to consider refinancing. After all, if you purchased your home a few years ago, you most likely did so at a much higher interest rate. By refinancing, you can have your mortgage adjusted to a new lower rate. And don’t forget, you can use the equity you’ve built up in your home to remodel and further increase your home’s value.

These are just some reasons you should consider getting a mortgage now, in this market and all. Once the economy is on the rebound, interest rates will likely climb once again, so it’s in your best interest to jump on this opportunity while it lasts. It might seem a bit macabre to take advantage of such a poor economic situation, but really, it is people that take smart financial leaps that will help catapult us out of this mess.

- Freedom Family Homes

Tax Benefits for Home Owners

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Tax Benefits for Home Owners

It’s tax season and everyone is interested in making sure that they get every possible deduction- charity contributions, ad valorem, medical expenses. All of these deductions are important because every penny counts, but with homeownership comes the real benefits. Thanks to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, you can buy a home now and get major benefits on your 2008 income tax return!

These benefits start when you very first buy your home. If you are a first time homebuyer you may qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000! This is a new tax credit recently passed as part of the economic stimulus efforts. This tax break is unique because it allows you to receive the tax credit on your 2008 income tax return, as long as you close on your home before April 15, 2009! This means that you could buy a home now and get a credit on last year’s tax return. For example, if you qualify for the $8,000 tax credit and you owe $1,000 in taxes, instead of having to pay, you’ll get $7,000 back!

Not only will buying a home benefit you on last year’s return, most of the expenses associated with the purchase of a home are tax deductible in the year that you make the purchase. When you take out a loan to purchase a home, there are often loan origination fees, sometimes called “closing costs.” These are deductible on your income taxes, even if the seller pays them when you close! Additionally, many people, in order to lower the interest rate on their loan, pay points at the beginning of the loan. These points are also tax deductible. This means that the year that you buy your home, you will be eligible for thousands of deductible dollars when you complete your income taxes for that year.

Even after the first year of homeownership, the tax breaks continue. The interest that you pay on your loan, which is the majority of your monthly payment for the first several years depending on the terms of your loan, is also tax deductible. This is true not only for the interest that you pay on your first mortgage, but also for any interest paid on a home equity loan, even if you don’t use the money on your house. This means that once you earn equity in your home, you can take out a loan using that equity as collateral, and spend the money on whatever you like. Any interest you pay on that loan is then deductible from your income taxes. This is an especially good deal when you use the money to improve your home, because not only to you get the tax benefits, but you also increase the value of your home.

In addition to mortgage interest, the property taxes that you pay on your home are also tax deductible. Many people escrow their property taxes, meaning that the pay a little extra on their monthly mortgage payment and then the lender pays the property taxes from that account. Whether you escrow your property taxes or not, you can deduct the full amount from your income taxes.

All these tax deductions are great while you are living in your home, but the real tax break comes when you decide to sell. If the home that you are selling has been your primary residence for at least two of the past five years, any profits that you make on the sale of your home is yours to keep, tax free. For example, if you buy a home now for $150,000 and live in it for two years and then sell it for $200,000, the $50,000 is yours to keep in its entirety. You still have to report the income to the IRS, but you do not have to pay taxes on it. Previously, in order to receive this benefit, you had to reinvest the money in a new property, but the laws have changed and now you are allowed to do whatever you like with the proceeds.

Properly utilizing these tax benefits help make home ownership more affordable and a great investment in your future. If you already own a home, make sure that you itemize these deductions, and if you don’t yet own a home, now is the time to buy so that you can receive the tax credit on last year’s return and to maximize the tax breaks on this year’s return.

Note: Tax laws are complex and constantly changing. Always consult a tax professional regarding the impact of a home purchase on your taxes.

- Freedom Family Homes