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Home Buyer Beware - Know the Signs of Real Estate Market Trouble

Lots of articles have appeared recently about the booming real estate market in the United States. Home prices, especially on the East and West coasts, are not only at record levels, but are increasing at record rates. In some areas around Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, home prices have tripled in the last five years. While many homeowners have been enjoying huge increases in their equity, realized when they either sell their home or borrow against it, the market has become increasingly difficult for those trying to buy homes. It may get worse, as there are now some strong signs that the market may be near its peak:

  • The prices of homes in many markets are so high that few buyers can purchase them using traditional mortgages. In Washington, D.C., for instance, 48% of new mortgages are of the interest-only variety, where the buyer pays only the interest on the loan for the first few years. This keeps the payments low enough that the buyer can qualify for the loan. The problem is that the buyer is only paying interest and not actually contributing to the purchase price of the home. The fact that so many buyers are obtaining interest-only loans suggests that prices in those markets may be too high to be sustained.
  • Many home appraisers have complained that lenders are constantly pressuring them to "make the numbers" when appraising homes. Appraisers in some modestly-appreciating markets, such as Buffalo, NY, say that they are often given a value when assigned an appraisal, with the unspoken understanding that their appraisal is expected to come in at or above that figure. The lending industry is competitive, and lenders want to issue as many loans as possible. It would appear that quite a few of them are even willing to lend money when the home doesn't appraise for the asking price. Appraisers point out that if they don't provide the "requested" figures, then the lenders will simply hire other appraisers.
  • The foreclosure rate is increasing. The rate increased in March and April over the same months last year, suggesting that more buyers may have discovered that they have mortgages on which they cannot make the payments. The foreclosure rates are the highest in Florida and Texas, which have foreclosure rates that are nearly triple the national average. With interest rates near historic lows, mortgages are more likely to become even less affordable as interest rates increase.

What this means for prospective buyers is that they must do even more research before buying a home. Buyers should genuinely consider whether or not they could actually afford to make home payments that include a reduction in principal. If a buyer can't afford a home without taking out an interest-only loan, the buyer probably can't afford the home. Buyers should be suspicious of home appraisals and should, if possible, ask the appraiser if they are being pressured to provide a predetermined figure. Every buyer wants his or her home to appraise for at least the amount of the loan. But the current market is one where buyers are straining to make payments on prices that are at record levels. The last thing any buyer wants is to strain to make payments on a mortgage that exceeds the value of the home. The real estate market is in a precarious state at the moment, and prospective buyers should do as much research as possible to make sure that they can both pay for, and keep, their new home.

©Copyright 2005 by Retro Marketing.

Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including, a website devoted to debt consolidation information and, a site devoted to information on home equity loans.


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Mortgage refinance share jumps 5% despite rising interest rates
The refinance share of mortgage activity increased a full 5% from December to January, rising to 45% of all closed loans, according to the latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae. The share of FHA refinances increased three percentage points ...
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Ellie Mae, Inc. - ELLI - Stock Price Today - ZacksZacks

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Birmingham Business Journal

Study: Even with rate upticks, metro Bham homeowners miss out on refinancing savings
Birmingham Business Journal
Many homeowners in the Birmingham metro area could be missing out on savings by not refinancing their mortgages – even with the recent uptick in rates. Jefferson County was listed as No. 1 in the state where homeowners are missing out on refinance ...

Real Property – Mortgage Refinance – Attorney Preference – Prepopulated Form
South Carolina Lawyers Weekly
Holding: Given plaintiff's wife's filling out of an online loan application, the court predicts that the South Carolina Supreme Court would conclude that the defendant-lender ascertained the preference of the borrower as to legal counsel relating to ...

Construction Business Review

Stage set for launch of State-backed mortgage company
Construction Business Review
“We need Sh2 billion for delivery of the housing units. This money will also be used to restructure the National Housing Corporation and establish the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company and set up the National Housing Development Fund,” Aidah Munano, the ...

Refinance Calculator : Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?
The Mortgage Reports (blog)
That's why this mortgage refinance calculator shows monthly savings as well as lifetime savings. While you might save money each month by refinancing, it doesn't always mean you'll save money in the long run. Of course, there are other reasons to ...


Mortgage refinance applications surge 9 percent as rates fall back
Total mortgage applications rose 4.7 percent last week, driven by applications to refinance.

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Nigeria's Own Fannie Mae Sets Out to Double Mortgage Loans ...
After suffering through an economic contraction that restrained demand for housing loans in Africa's most-populous country, Nigeria's state-backed mortgage guarantor is anticipating that a return to growth will help double its nascent asset base.

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MBA: Mortgage refinance apps increase from week before | 2018-02 ...
The Refinance Index increased 1% from the previous week, however, the refinance share of mortgage application activity continues to decrease. But even as refinance apps increased, purchase applications remained unchanged.

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Philadelphia Business Journal

The rationale behind PHH's sale to Ocwen - The Business Journals
Philadelphia Business Journal
After an almost year-long review of its operations, PHH Corp. unveiled a new strategic plan last year designed to help rescue the company from the damage caused by the housing market crash of almost a decade ago. Called PHH 2.0, it involved operating a ...
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all 52 news articles »

4 ways to get the best mortgage refinance rate
If you can shave at least one-half of 1 percentage point off your current mortgage rate, it can be worth your while to trade in your existing home loan for a new one. Here are some tips for getting the very best refinance rate. 1. Polish up your credit ...

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