Tag Archives: First Time Home Buyer

Home Buying in 6 Steps

Six Steps

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1) Get Ready for Home Ownership

  • Build a good credit history
  • Get mortgage pre-approval
  • Find out what type of mortgages you quality for
  • Consider hiring an attorney to review all contracts and agreements associated with the home buying process
  • Save up for a down payment (typically 10-20% of property’s value; if FHA-qualified, then possibly less)
    • Consider closing costs which can include taxes, attorney’s fees, and transfer fees
    • Consider utilities and monthly bills, such as homeowner’s assessments

2) Find a Real Estate Professional

  • Get a referral from friends, family, and work colleagues, or search realtor.com® and look for real estate yard signs and advertisements
  • Ask the real estate professionals you interview about buyer’s representation contracts and agreements; make sure you understand the terms
  • Explain your needs and expectations to the real estate professional you choose to work with

3) Find the Right Property

  • Determine what is important to you, such as particular schools, neighborhood amenities, monthly mortgage payment, public transportation, walkability, etc.
  • Make sure you include home owner’s assessments, utilities, and taxes when calculating the monthly mortgage payment

4) Finance the Property

  • Contact your mortgage broker or lender
  • The lender or attorney will run a title search to ensure there are no clouds on the title
  • Make sure you understand the financing terms—ask the lender for clarification, if needed

5) Make an Offer

  • Ensure the property is inspected by a licensed home inspector
  • Acquire title insurance
  • Make sure the title is clear, or make your offer contingent upon title clearance
  • Read all contracts before signing—make sure you understand all of the terms, ask questions
  • Place a competitive bid and be prepared to make a counter-offer
  • Keep your credit score stable and in-check by waiting to purchase any big-ticket items until long after the closing
  • Only one offer will result in a sale, so be prepared to move on if your offer is not accepted

6) Closing and Life After the Big Purchase

  • Protect your new asset by obtaining insurance such as homeowner’s, flood, disaster, and fire
  • Weatherproof your new home
  • Maintain files—digital or print—for all warranties, insurance documents, contracts, etc.
  • Keep original closing documents in a safe place, preferably outside the home (such as a safety deposit box)
  • Set up utilities bills in your name, maintain files
  • Implement desired aesthetic changes such as painting, minor construction, and re-flooring
  • Set a move date and hire movers or plan a move party with your friends
  • Get to know your neighbors and explore your new neighborhood
  • If you’re happy with the work of your real estate professional, be sure to recommend her/him to friends and family

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Huntsville among the best places for home ownership in the U.S.

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Financial literacy and consumer advocacy site NerdWallet has ranked Huntsville and Birmingham-Hoover among some of the best places for homeownership in the U.S.

NerdWallet, which studied 100 populous areas and categorized the winning metros by size, listed Huntsville as its No. 1 small metro and Birmingham-Hoover as its No. 9 large metro for homeownership, affordability and area growth.

The city of Huntsville was lauded for having a homeownership rate of 70.9 percent, median monthly household income of $4,534 and a 1.2 percent population growth from 2011-12. The analysis also found that homeownership costs are 26.6 percent of a resident’s monthly household income in Huntsville.

“Huntsville is located in northern Alabama where the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center anchor the local economy in the technology, space and defense industries,” said Jaime Ortiz, an analyst for NerdWallet. “The area is also home to the University of Alabama in Huntsville where tech-focused programs like UAH’s College of Engineering train a highly skilled workforce. The deep talent pool of engineers attracts top employers like Boeing to Huntsville, providing local residents an abundance of job opportunities.

Other areas to make the small metro list were Fort Wayne, Ind., Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach/Conway, S.C., Charleston, W. Va., Ocala, Fla., Naples/Marco Island, Fla., Columbus, Ga., Springfield, Mo., Fort Collins/Loveland, Colo., and Wilmington, N.C.

The NerdWallet analysis said Birmingham-Hoover has a homeownership rate of 70.1 percent, median monthly household income of $3,888 and a 0.4 percent population growth from 2011-12. The Jefferson County metro averages $1,264 in monthly homeownership costs.

The large metro list featured several other areas, including Raleigh/Cary, N.C.,
Charlotte/Gastonia/Rock Hill, N.C./S.C., Salt Lake City, Indianapolis/Carmel, Ind., Nashville/Davidson/Murfreesboro/Franklin, Tenn., San Antonio/New Braunfels, Texas, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky., and Denver/Aurora/Broomfield, Colo.

Do you live in one of Alabama’s Top 10 cities? Click here to find out.

via Which Alabama cities are the best places for homeownership? 2 state metros make national list | AL.com.

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Huntsville Realtors launch new mobile app

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ValleyMLS, the new mobile app from the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors, gives users the ability to find property listings nearby and directly contact the Realtor who listed the property. (Kristen Hwang | al.com)

The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors (HAAR) launched its new home-finding mobile app Wednesday as part of the first Huntsville Realtor technology expo.

ValleyMLS, the GPS-enabled app, allows consumers to find homes, rental properties, commercial properties and land for sale near by. The app gives users the ability to directly call the Realtor listing a property. Users can also save, favorite and share searches.

HAAR wanted to host a technology expo and launch the app because technology, social media and online real estate databases like Zillow have changed the market for Realtors, said HAAR CEO Kipp Cooper.

“We’re among the highest per capita PhD’s in the nation,” Cooper said. “Realtors are dealing with tech savvy buyers and sellers, and we need to find a better way to communicate with them.”

Mobile apps and online software have allowed Realtors to close transactions with military personnel overseas or people in other states, Cooper said.

Nobu Hata, director of digital engagement from the National Association of REALTORS, encouraged attendees of the expo to revamp their websites and share as much information as possible with buyers and sellers.

Google and online real estate data base websites like Zillow have made Realtors’ jobs harder because buyers and sellers can look up an abundance of information online, Hata said.

Realtors need to start providing that information on their websites because if they don’t, people will move on, Hata said.

“You’ve got literal rocket scientists moving here,” he said. “Do you think that they’re calling you? No.”

Hata also said that Realtors need to emphasize how they are different from websites like Zillow, which often have false or misleading information on them.

“Technology should make it easier for clients to reach you,” Hata said.

via Huntsville Realtors association launches new mobile app | al.com.

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Cedar Park Open House – This Weekend

Cedar Park Open House

Stop by this weekend to see most of the 12 floor plans offered on the ground in different stages of construction. Plans and pricing for all 12 designs will be available in the model home on Belltown Drive. We build these homes all over Madison County so if you like a plan but want a different location we can do that as well. Any move-in-ready home purchased this weekend in Cedar Park or Bell Grove Manor will receive a FREE wood fence for the back yard (a $3000 value)!

Directions – South on Memorial Parkway. Right on Hobbs Rd. (At Chick-fil-A). Left on Bell Rd. Cedar Park will be ½ mile on the right

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New Home Sales in Alabama Post Gain for First Time in 4 Years

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Indicator of future supply – Alabama residential building permits up 8.4% from 2011. New home sales up 7.2% in 2012. Infograph courtesy of ACRE. All rights reserved.

Click here to view or print the entire monthly report.

In 2012, eighty percent of metro areas have experienced an increase in new home sales compared to 2011 with Tuscaloosa leading the state in 2012 with the highest growth rate of 18.9% followed by Birmingham (up 16.3%), Montgomery (up 12.4%) and Huntsville (up 1.6%). New home sales declined in Mobile (down 11.5%).

Demand: December new home sales in Alabama’s five metro markets, representing approximately seventy percent of all statewide transactions, experienced a 12 percent increase from the prior month but only .6 percent compared to the same period last year. Alabama’s new home sales growth rate in December was outperformed by the US market which experienced an increase of 8.8 percent from December 2011 but sales that slipped 7.3 percent from the prior month, according to the US Census Bureau & HUD. The release also reported that the results from the South region were up 15.6 percent from December 2011 but 8.4 percent below last month.

Supply: Statewide new construction inventory is 7.3 percent higher than last December as Alabama home builders are gradually increasing production to match improving levels of demand. US supply of new homes is down .6 percent. Only Birmingham has experienced reductions in inventory from last December. As a cautionary point of information, just a couple of month ago, it was all metro markets with the exception of Mobile. 

Alabama’s metro markets in December reflect 4.9 months of new home supply, an increase from 4.6 months of supply in December 2011 and slightly lower than 5.6 months last month. According to the US Census Bureau & HUD, the US inventory of new homes for sale increased to 151,000 homes or 4.9 months’ supply, an improvement from 5.4 months of supply in December 2011 (down 9%).

Pricing: Alabama’s metro market’s median new home sales price in December was $223,103, an increase of 2.3 percent from last month and 3.4 percent when compared to December 2011.

New Home Pipeline: December statewide housing starts decreased by 11.1 percent from the prior month but increased 16.6 percent from December 2011. Housing starts were up 6.5%. December statewide building permits slipped 3.9 percent from the prior month but were 19.3 percent above December 2011. Building permits were up 8.4 percent in 2012.

via Breaking News: New Home Sales in Alabama Post 7.2% Gain in 2012 | al.com.

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Alabama Housing Affordability reaches record level

Third quarter index of 240.5 represents new high. Infograph provided by ACRE. All rights reserved.

The affordability index associated with Alabama housing during the third quarter increased by 8.5 percent compared to the third quarter of 2011. Another record level for this period of the year  (see graph).

According to ACRE’s quarterly report, the Alabama Statewide Housing Affordability Index for the third quarter of 2012 was computed at 240.5 eclipsing the prior record for the third quarter (2011) of 221.6.

Sixteen of seventeen, or 94 percent, of the local markets areas tracked in Alabama showed an increase from the same period in 2011. Monroe County was the lone exception.

The standard definition used by the Alabama Center for Real Estate in describing the statewide housing affordability index is as follows:

“The statewide housing affordability index is calculated as the ratio of the state’s actual median family income to the income needed to purchase and finance the state’s median priced home. An index number of 100 means that a family earning the state’s median income has just enough buying power to qualify for a loan on the state’s median priced, single-family home, assuming standard underwriting criteria.”

The higher the index number is, the more affordable the housing.

The median home price for the quarter used for the calculation is computed from the median prices of homes sold in the reported areas during the third quarter in Alabama.

The Alabama Housing Affordability Index of 240.5 calculated for the third quarter of 2012 means that an Alabama family which earned the statewide median income of $55,400 had over twice (or 2.40 times) the income needed to qualify for a loan to purchase the statewide median priced home.

The median price of homes sold and the composite monthly interest rate are the two primary factors that fluctuate and affect the affordability of homes in Alabama, as well as the nation.

The combination of a downward trend in interest rates and lower selling prices of homes in Alabama have resulted in the highest affordability levels on record and a tremendous opportunity for those ready and able to make a home purchase

via Alabama Housing Affordability Index reaches record level for 3rd quarter | al.com.

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Real Estate Market Strengthens: Homes Sales Rise

With growth forecasts pegged at around 2% for the year, 2012 marks the third consecutive year of slow growth from the steep declines seen in 2008 and 2009.  Growth is expected to pick up some in the second half of the year, but problems in the Euro Zone will likely have a dampening effect on theU.S.recovery.  Despite the anemic outlook for growth, the housing market is expected to continue to strengthen as the glut of unsold inventory is slowly absorbed by rising demand.

Home sales and construction began trending upwards in the middle of 2011.  Housing sales picked up in April after a couple of weak months that were attributed to the push forward effect of an unusually warm winter.  Normally, the season represents the nadir for activity in the market, but there was less of a slowdown than might be expected early in the year which was seen to subtract from the sales in late winter and early spring.  Compounding the problem was concern over the rising price of gas.

Now that gas prices have stabilized or declined, the sales pace for the last three months has settled into a better than 4% increase from the figures of last year.  Housing starts in April were 8% higher than the average number found over the last 12 months.  While multi unit housing is also increasing, the greatest gains have come in single family homes.  The growing numbers of new starts indicates increased levels of confidence among the nation’s home builders.

via Real Estate Market Strengthens: Homes Sales Rise – South Alabama Living Real Estate Team : South Alabama Living Real Estate Team.

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