The Mortgage Process and what you need to know…

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Single Family Home Sales Jump 8.4 Percent In Westchester In Second Quarter

by Tom Renner, Yonkers Daily Voice

featured-home-for-saleWESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. — Second quarter sales zoomed up 8.4 percent for single family homes in Westchester County compared to the same quarter in 2014, according to figures released by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

Sales escalated 14.8 percent in the four counties in the HGAR report. They are Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange. Realtors in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, a subsidiary of HGAR, reported a total of 3,669 closed residential transactions in the four-county service territory, 474 more than last year.

While activity increased, price appreciation has been slow but steady. The median sale price for a single family home rose 1.4 percent in Westchester

Sales of single family homes rose 12.3 percent in Putnam for the second quarter with a price appreciation of 1.6 percent.

“It’s a tale of two inventories,’’said Leah Caro, President of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and President and Principal Broker of Bronxville Real Estate. “I think there are two distinct markets, well-priced homes and over-priced homes. Things are really taking off and buyers are lined up if homes are priced in the sweet spot appropriate for the region. If a home is over-priced, the homes are sitting there and could be on the market for a long time.”

Caro said the some sellers are misinterpreting data from the strong sales numbers. “A lot of sellers are concerned about leaving money on the table,’’ Caro said. “So they’ll price their home a little bit above the sweet spot. Buyers are looking at the inventory that is priced well and they’re not going to engage homes that are overpriced.”

Jennifer Maher, the HGAR Regional VP for Westchester and Putnam, said correct pricing has been hard to define in Putnam. “A lot of homes are under priced,” said Maher, the office manager in Mahopac for J. Philip Real Estate.  “That causes bidding war on homes in the same price point. It’s hard to find the right zone. The numbers are all over the price.”

Westchester County led the way among the four regions in the Hudson Gateway report with 2,183 sales, about 60 percent of the region’s total. Multifamily property sales jumped 59 percent.

The median sale price for a single family home in Westchester is $660,500 and $289,500 in Putnam.

Caro said sales figures are a reflection of “Economics 101.” “There has been this pent up exuberance for the market to return,’’ she said. “There’s an over exuberance by some sellers. They’re hearing the numbers without understanding the background.”

Caro said sellers would be wise to price their homes appropriate for the region to get the best result. “The successful sellers are pricing them at the market price or even a little below,’’ she said. “Then buyers will purchase at market or a little more. The buyers’ mentality is that they will buy what somebody else wants. None of this is new. It’s just black and white.”

Maher sees similar trends for Westchester and Putnam through the remainder of the year. “It’s a stable environment with low interest rates and low unemployment,” she said. “I’ll think we’ll see this stability for the rest of the year.’

Click on the attached PDF for the complete report.

Attached: (2ndqtr2015final.pdf)

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This Month in Real Estate – July 2015

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Adjustable Rate Mortgages: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Adjustable rate mortgages are loans with variable interest rates that change according to the market rates, as opposed to fixed rate mortgages, which guarantee a set rate for the entire period of the loan.  ARMs may seem like a great idea some years, but in other years, you may wonder what you were thinking when you agreed to the loan.

Many financial experts advise home buyers to seek fixed rate mortgages. The set interest amount makes it easier to calculate monthly payments with no surprises. An adjustable rate mortgage can leave you with unpleasant surprises if the interest rates suddenly soar.

There are some pluses as well as minuses to adjustable rate mortgages. As with any financial decision, learn all you can about the topic and weigh the pros and cons carefully before choosing a loan type.

On the Plus Side…

  • ARMs may be good for buyers who plan to sell in a few years. If you know your job requires you to move every five years, an ARM may be worth the risk of interest rates rising, depending on the current rate.
  • Paying off your loan in a short time period may make an ARM better for some homeowners. For those who know they can repay the entire mortgage amount quickly but just need a short-term loan, ARMs may actually save them money.
  • Some ARMs offer a combination of adjustable and fixed rates. These may offer the best of both worlds, depending on market rates. For example, a mortgage may be fixed for five years, and then adjust annually.

On the Minus Side …

  • Interest rates may be low now, but that only means they’ll rise later. When interest rates rise, your interest rate rises too. Your monthly payments will increase. This may be a hardship for some people.
  • Adjustable rate mortgages may be saddled with a prepayment penalty. This means that if you suddenly come into a windfall and wish to pay your entire mortgage loan, you may actually be penalized for paying it off early.
  • ARMs can be difficult to understand. There are many variables, and you have to carefully read all the fine print to understand the nuances of a particular ARM. Fixed rate mortgages are a lot easier to understand: borrow this, pay that; it never changes.

Adjustable rate mortgages come in and out of fashion, but the truth is that you shouldn’t take out such a loan unless you understand the worst-case scenario and how it may impact your financial health. While they are not for everyone, ARMs do offer some advantages, and those who can take advantage of these opportunities may find them useful. Talk to your lender about all the ramifications of an adjustable rate mortgage compared with a fixed rate mortgage.

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Home Sales Surging in Hudson Valley



Real estate sales surged in the second quarter of 2015 in the lower Hudson Valley, the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors announced Friday, July 10.

Sales eclipsed last year’s second quarter sales by 14.8 percent.

Realtors participating in the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors) reported a total of 3,669 closed residential transactions in the MLS’s four-county service territory, 474 more than last year.

The transactions included single-family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and 2-4 unit multi-family houses, and generally reflected listing and marketing activity that took place during the opening months of the year.

Officials said the strong second quarter performance built on the first quarter’s results, which itself had posted a gain of 12.1 percent over 2014’s level. On a year-to-date basis there were 6,460 sales constituting an increase of 12.4 percent over last year’s half-year results.

Here are details from the report:

In Rockland County, second quarter sales were 11.2% higher than in 2014. The median sale price of a single family house was $410,000, just a third of a percentage point higher than in 2014. Putnam County followed the same pattern with a 12.3% gain in sales volume and a moderate 1.6% increase in its median-priced house, to $289,500.

The main engine for sales volume in the Hudson Gateway region is Westchester County.

During the second quarter the county accounted for 2,183 sales or about 60% of the region’s total. All four property types tracked by the MLS showed healthy sales increases ranging from 8.4% for single family houses to 59% for multi-family properties. The median sale price of a single family house was $660,500, just 1.4% more than last year. The mean sale price of a house was $866,707, also barely increased from last year. The two measures together strongly suggest that the Westchester market was in balance as to a smooth distribution across the pricing spectrum.

By far the largest gain in sales activity occurred in Orange County, where total sales of 742 units—mostly houses and condominiums—surpassed last year’s second quarter by 30.4%. Orange County’s market has been powered in the last several years by an abundance of very moderately priced properties. The second quarter median sale price of a single family house was $209,950, nearly 10% less than last year’s median. The condominium median was $151,625, about 8.0% below last year’s level. Inventory in Orange has stayed in rough proportion to the rate of sales, indicating a balanced market with ample choices for prospective purchasers.

The sales data from these four counties indicate a region that has achieved a good level of sustainability in its real estate market. Sales volumes are strong. Notwithstanding field reports of bidding wars and other indicators of overheated markets, the fact from the data is there is ample choice at most price points and that price increases have been more or less in line with inflation. Also, the inventory situation, while different in each county, is not so difficult in any of them as to suppress the market or drive up prices.

Outside factors could spoil the market, but there is no immediate threat from any of them. For example, unemployment, which can discourage prospective purchasers from even thinking of buying a property, has steadily decreased in all four counties. In May, in Westchester, the unemployment rate was 4.6%; last year it was 5.0% and in 2013 it was 6.2%. The other counties have followed a similar pattern.

Steadiness with mortgage interest rates has also contributed to healthy sales activity, both in our region and across the country. The average rate on a 30-year conventional loan seems nailed to a plank at 4.0% and near vicinity. Action to increase the Federal Reserve rate later this year may – or may not – drive up mortgage rates as well. There is no necessary linkage between the two, but even should there be an increase, if it is small and carefully phased in, the real estate market in our area as it is today can handle it. Sustainability is what we have.

CHART: Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, 2nd Quarter Report

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Reverse Mortgage Policy Leaves Widows, Widowers Homeless
Monkey Business Images

By Juliette Fairley

Karen Hunziker was 60 when her husband, Charles, secured a reverse mortgage on their Pollock Pines, Californina, home. At the time, Hunziker was advised by the mortgage broker to remove her name from the title to qualify for the loan. “We were both very concerned that I could be giving up my property rights, but the salesperson assured us I would be protected until 62 years old, when I would be put on the title,” said Hunziker.

However when she turned 62, Hunziker and her husband were informed by an attorney that the only way she could be on the title would be to refinance into a new reverse mortgage. She was subsequently told the couple would need to contribute $60,000 to get a new loan. “That was impossible because of the first reverse mortgage,” said Hunziker, who works as an artist craftswoman.

Although the couple had lived in the home for 19 years, Hunziker received aforeclosure warning letter from Financial Freedom ten days after her husband passed away in May 2014. That’s because Hunziker is a non-borrowing spouse.

HUD Changes the Rules

“Married couples were not informed that the consequence of taking the non-borrowing spouse off the loan could be that HUD [the Department of Housing and Urban Development] would allow the servicer to later foreclose on them,” said Kevin Stein, associate director at the California Reinvestment Coalition. “We believe HUD allowing these foreclosures is both against the statute authorizing this program and contrary to how these loans are advertised as safe financial products to provide extra income while remaining in your home.”

Although it was legal for brokers to make the mortgage only to Charles Hunziker, it wasn’t accurate to say that his wife, Karen, could be added to the mortgage when she turned 62 or that she wouldn’t face foreclosure if the older spouse passed away.

“HUD knew that reverse mortgages were being originated to only one spouse yet still allowed foreclosures on the surviving spouses, which is why they got sued,” Stein said. “These foreclosures are contrary to how these products were marketed and to the statute authorizing these products.”

HUD was ordered by a federal judge to revise its policies to address this problem after AARP and the Mehri & Skalet law firm sued. It did so in in January, but even HUD’s new reverse mortgage policy won’t protect Hunziker. “After a borrowing spouse passes away, the reverse mortgage servicer could assign the loan to HUD however even if the servicer chose this option at their discretion, the surviving spouse would then need to make a large, lump-sum payment to meet the principal limit test, which is something that most surviving spouses are unable to do,” said Stein.

Another problem with the new HUD policy is its restrictions. “The policy is dependent on servicer discretion, so if the servicer doesn’t want to provide relief, they don’t have to,” Stein said.

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Think You Should FSBO? Think Again! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Think You Should FSBO? Think Again!! [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

According to NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers:

  • 88% of buyers look for their new home online
  • Using a real estate agent can net you 13% more than FSBO’ing
  • There is a long list of people that you will have to negotiate with when you decide to sell your home, using an experienced professional can help ease the process.

KCM Blog

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Spring sales and price growth continue in the New York State housing market

NYS Association of Realtors
May 21, 2015
Albany, NY –May 21, 2015 – Home sales and selling prices continued on an upward trend in April, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS. The April 2015 sales total of 7,207 units was up 1.3 percent from April 2014. The April 2015 statewide median sales price was $221,000, a 5.2-percent increase from the April 2014 median.

“Among the sure signs for REALTORS that Spring has arrived is the traditional rise in activity among both homebuyers and sellers,” said Duncan R. MacKenzie, CEO of the New York State Association of REALTORS. “Not only was there an uptick in April sales compared to a year ago, but also healthy increases in forward-looking market indicators such as pending sales and new listings.” He noted that April pending sales were up more than 10 percent from a year ago and there was a 6.6-percent increase in newly listed homes.A3DJUKHCA6Q319CCAE61MEACAABN952CA11E5F8CA91Y8TVCA0OQEAPCALDU751CAM5RVTSCA1BECLFCABIN2B6CAEWGUMNCAPYTXA6CA0FGYT7CAMF48ZGCAB6FERZCA1HYTE1CAT2YFKSCAKP6SEK

“The increase in new listings begins to address the low inventory challenge experienced in many of the state’s housing markets, which has consistently caused a significant drag on closed sales,” said MacKenzie. “Viewed in a historical context, inventory levels still remain well below normal and far from the market peak.”

April 2015 pending sales increased by 10.6 percent from a year ago to reach 11,421.

The months supply of inventory dropped 12.4 percent at the end of April to 8.5 months supply. It was at 9.7 months at the end of April 2014. A 6 month to 6.5 month supply is considered to be a balanced market. Inventory stood at 81,181, a decrease of 6.7 percent compared to April 2014.

The year-to-date (Jan.1 – April 30) sales total of 27,328 represents a 2.7-percent increase from the same period in 2014. The year-to-date (Jan.1 – April 30) statewide median sales price of $225,500 is a 1.8-percent increase compared to the first four months of 2014.

Additional data is available at

Editor’s Note: All data is compiled from multiple listing services in the state of New York and the data include townhomes, condominiums and existing single-family homes.
The New York State Association of REALTORS is a not-for-profit trade organization representing more than 47,000 of New York State’s real estate professionals. The term REALTOR is a registered trademark, which identifies real estate professionals who subscribe to a strict code of ethics as members of the National Association of REALTORS. These REALTORS are also members of the New York State Association of REALTORS as well as their local board or association of REALTORS.
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